A Freelancing Platform Review for Uncertain Times
With COVID-19 placing the world’s workforce under house arrest, there has been a significant rise in employees working from home, a concept that was largely first pioneered by freelancers operating on a plethora of platforms. We recently highlighted the shift towards freelancing, workforce flexibility, and how it can be beneficial to a majority of firms, be it a new startup or an already established MNC. Continuing on our theme of the “Future of Work”, we have provided a review of some of the big players, as well as smaller up-and-coming platforms. Most importantly, though, we have detailed some of the shortcomings and areas for improvement of the more popular platforms. We expect that as the world of freelancing grows and more and more people take on flexible work these sorts of identified issues will become a thing of the past.
It should first be noted that freelancing in the United States is now a trillion-dollar industry, with freelancers specializing in skilled services earning 70% higher than the median income in the country. 53% of Gen Z workers opt to freelance and at least 25% of workers in the other generational brackets operate as independent contractors.  We only expect this to grow in the near future and beyond.
Three freelancing platforms have been dominating the market in recent years: Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.com. They are the go-to websites for anyone looking to freelance or employ a freelancer; however, how do they stack up against one another? Every platform seemingly has its own benefits and pitfalls, but if you’re looking to offer your services or hire someone to write a blog, for example, where do you go?
Upwork is one of the largest freelancing platforms in the world, they host freelancers with skills ranging from software development to sales and marketing. If you’re looking to hire a freelancer, you can set up a post on the platform with a detailed description of your requirements and UpWork can send you a list of candidates. You could also open the job posting to all relevant freelancers or individually get in touch with them.
If you’re working as a freelancer, you can set up a profile with your experiences, portfolio, pay rate, etc. You can bid on proposals or communicate with clients who contacted you for the use of your services.
Fiverr started off as a platform that enabled you to hire someone for $5 and that still remains true today, to a certain extent. You can still hire freelancers to help you develop a website or grow your social media presence, but Fiverr also hosts more abstract sellers. You can hire someone to coach you on Fortnite or Warzone and significantly increase your skill level, or even just play video games with you. The hiring process is still similar to its competitors. After Fiverr, we have noticed a significant decline in the quality of the platforms available.
Freelancer.com claims to host more than 16.5 million freelancers with more than 8.5 million projects being completed. Much like Upwork and Fiverr, the platform has a similar procedure to post a job, you create a posting with a description and freelancers flock to respond to you. However, when scrolling through Reddit, reading reviews about the website, and just generally skimming job descriptions, we discovered that despite its size, Freelancer.com is just not up to the mark compared to its competitors. Any job posting gets responses from a large number of candidates who do not seem to be at the same quality level as their competitors on Fiverr and Upwork.
Scraping through forums and subreddits, it’s clear that freelancers face significant issues when dealing with freelancing platforms. The platforms generally prioritize the buyers over the sellers and shortchange their freelancers. From research, it appears that many freelancers struggle to break out onto the platform and once they do, even a couple of unwarranted negative reviews harm their exposure on the platform.
A lot of buyers will also lowball freelancers on these platforms. Buyers want steep discounts on already low priced services and new freelancers who do not charge that much to begin with, struggle to acquire clients. Scams are prevalent throughout the websites too, posted by buyers and sellers alike. Underqualified sellers apply for jobs and clients need to sift through a large number of inane applications. Buyers will try to get sellers to complete a job and then request a refund while using the deliverable for free.
Some sellers completely disregard the buyer’s requirements, and although these issues can be resolved, they can harm the reputation of the platform and other freelancers within the same price range.
At times, the buyers do not exactly know what they need (especially when they are a relatively small company who need services they are not proficient in); they tend to post vague job descriptions, which will attract a whole host of inane sellers (as mentioned above).
What if you are a freelancer who is just starting out? You do not have enough experience yet to thrive on platforms such as UpWork and Fiverr and you want to gain some experience before heading to the big leagues. The next best solution is to look at smaller platforms which do not have a lot of buyers, but also do not have a lot of sellers to compete with; if you can get jobs here to build up your portfolio, you should be able to thrive on larger platforms in the future.
As a buyer who needs relatively rudimentary services, these smaller platforms can provide you with the basic services you need without needing to use UpWork and their relatively more complex service offerings.
Freelancer Club is a London-based freelancing platform hosting contractors of varying skills who can work on projects ranging from animation to UX design. Their user base is comparable to Rev and SageGroupy but they seem to have a diverse range of freelancers operating from their website.
However, they also have a paywall to access their website in its entirety. You can sign up for free, but can only build your profile and showcase your work, among other things. If you pay £7.99 monthly fee you can build out a larger profile and apply to jobs worth £250 or less. The highest tier, £11.66 per month, allows you to build out an even larger profile and apply to any job you fancy. However, all these tiers allow you to access resources on the website and events that the platform hosts to better hone your skills.
Rev is a fairly peculiar platform. They offer only five services, namely: transcription, machine-generated captions, English captioning or foreign language captioning, and live captioning for zoom. They have fixed rates and you cannot seem to even choose your own freelancer despite the fact that they brand themselves as a freelancing platform.
However, Rev does provide you with a standardized service at a standard rate. So if you know exactly what service you need and don’t want to deal with sifting through freelancers and negotiating with them, this might be the service for you.
Sage Groupy – the best of the rest
SageGroupy is by far the best for smaller businesses and freelancers with not as much experience. SageGroupy is completely free to use, buyers and sellers don’t have to worry about any hidden fees whatsoever. Sellers can form agencies to work together and provide a more cohesive service for buyers. Developers can team up together and if you’re a company that needs a back and front end developer you can use their SageGroupy agency for a lower cost than hiring them individually.