If you’re a sole proprietor or a small business, then you might benefit from checking out a freelance marketplace to hire services or to provide your own. If you’re not already familiar with freelance marketplaces, these are websites where people can hire professionals on a contract basis to complete certain kinds of work, and where professionals can advertise their services. Examples of these sites are Guru, Upwork, Freelancer, 99designs, Envato Studio, and SEOClerks, but there are dozens more.
Both parties benefit from conducting business in a safe environment. In return, the marketplace takes a percentage of each transaction. Some of these marketplaces are geared for specific industries while others are all-encompassing, but in general, they can be used for tasks in writing, translation, design, software development, IT, analytics, engineering, sales, marketing, legal, accounting, administration and consulting. So if your business is in need of one of these services, or if you offer one, registering for the free or paid versions of these sites may be worthwhile.
Benefits for Employers
Pay For Only What You Need: As a small business owner, you may not have the budget or the need to hire a copywriter, designer, developer or administrator full-time. You may not even need to hire them part-time. You may only need help on an as-need basis, for varying hours during the week, or just in certain seasons. This is when hiring a freelancer can be your best option. You’re outsourcing some of your work so you don’t have to do everything yourself, and you’re getting professional services without having to worry about things like vacation days or healthcare benefits.
Lots of Talent in One Place: When you register on a freelance marketplace, you don’t have to spend hours scrolling Google search listings for someone who fits your needs. In many cases, the talent will come to you when you post the job, and then you’ll get to pick from a pool of applicants who you’d like to hire.
Can View Histories of Contract Workers: When searching for a contract worker, it can be hard to tell who’s actually experienced and who’s just talking a good game. With freelance marketplaces, you can get a pretty good picture. Depending on the site, you may be able to see how many jobs they’ve completed, how much money they’ve made, client reviews, and test scores that measure their industry knowledge.
Secure & Easy Payment Options: Working on a freelance marketplace means you don’t have to worry about which contractors accept which types of payment methods. Instead of paying the contractor, you pay the marketplace however you choose, which then pays the contractor once the job is complete.
Tips Employers Should Know
- Spend time on your employer profile. Companies that are willing to give up their name or include a profile picture are more likely to be trusted by contract workers than those that try to keep themselves a secret.
- When posting a job, the more details you’re able to provide about a project, the more likely you’ll receive qualified candidates and accurate quotes.
- You usually get what you pay for. Don’t expect to receive the same level of service from someone who charges $10/hr. as someone who charges $40/hr.
- Don’t expect free work. Asking a contractor to provide samples, references or a resume is acceptable. Asking a contractor to sketch you something or write you something (essentially, starting the project) to see if they’d be good at it, is not.
- Think carefully about contractors who seem desperate or are making promises you suspect they can’t keep. While everyone has to start somewhere, you should also think carefully about hiring contractors without any established reputation on the site.
Benefits for Freelancers
Can Advertise Your Skills: When you make a profile on sites like Upwork and Guru, it’s visible on search engines too, so someone in your community could be looking for a software developer, a virtual assistant or a blogger in the area, and then they find you. You then have the choice of conducting business on or off the marketplace.
Easy to Find Work: Increasing your SEO, creating a content marketing strategy, and joining your local chamber of commerce are all great things you can do to help you gain clients. Unfortunately, these methods can take weeks, months, or even years to really pay off. With freelance marketplaces, you can bid on a job today and start work tomorrow.
Bigger Client Base: Unless you’re in a very specific industry, a business that searches for contract services isn’t going to see your website if they live in a different state. At least, not unless they type your business name into the search bar, and even then, depending on where they’re located and how many other companies have similar names to yours, they might have trouble finding you. When you’re part of a marketplace, people from all over the world can see your profile and hire you for their services, making your client pool significantly greater.
Trust in Transactions: Because employers are required to dispense their funds into an escrow account before a project can begin, you can take comfort in knowing the client is serious and has the means to pay you for your services. Should a problem regarding payment arise, many of these sites have some kind of mediator or informal court system to help sort everything out.
Tips Freelancers Should Know
- The more information you’re able to provide in your profile, the more likely you are to get hired. Having a profile picture can hugely increase your chances of getting chosen for a job. So can adding samples, completing skill tests, posting a resume, and including references.
- Sticking with just one or two marketplaces can help you develop a strong reputation on those specific sites. A strong reputation will lead to more, better-paying clients.
- Spend ample time looking for and applying to gigs. Each application should be a little bit different, catering to the individual job posting. By bidding on jobs on a regular basis, you’ll have new work before you run out of the old work.
- Don’t bid on every job that’s available. You don’t want every job that’s available.
- If something doesn’t sound right with a job posting, your instincts are probably correct and you should move on to something else.