Which Digital Workroom Works Best For Freelance Service Providers
As a freelance writer, finding work consumes a great deal more of my time than actually doing the work. I have a handful of sites that are my go-to spots, which post daily jobs aggregated from many different job boards across the internet. They tend to just pick (what they perceive to be) the cream of the crop. Some days there’s just a crop shortage which means it’s on to the next tier of websites: the digital workrooms.
For those who are unfamiliar with the term, I am referring to sites such as Elance, iFreelance, oDesk, etc. These are sites where job providers post their job along with details, pay and any other necessary info and freelancers (and other businesses) get to bid on them. Most of these sites offer some means of timekeeping, billing, etc. for both the provider and the freelancer. Having used all three of the aforementioned sites, I thought I’d weigh in on them and offer my thoughts regarding their usability.
User Interface: How easy is it to use?
Elance: This site has the best UI of the three. It is easy to look at, easy to use and intuitive. I had no trouble navigating the site right from the start.
oDesk: The UI isn’t visually overwhelming, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense either. It took a tutorial and a couple tries to get the navigation down. I am currently beta-testing their new UI and, while it is improved, it still has a ways to go.
iFreelance: You’re going to get frustrated if you use this site more than once. Everything is sort of haphazardly strewn about, the color scheme is distracting and the fonts can be hard to read.
Quality of Jobs Posted
This is a hard one because the people posting jobs here aren’t very good at it. They aren’t writers and they don’t know how to communicate what they need in a way you as a freelancer can clearly understand. Still, that issue aside, there are real jobs and then there are people trying to get work done for free or cheap.
Elance: While their job quality runs the gamut from several-thousand dollar corporate gigs to pennies a page, on the whole, the quality here is solid. I respond to about 5-10 ads a week here and out of those maybe 1 or 2 turn out to be a cheapskate or someone who really isn’t worth working for (i.e., they could do the job themselves or the job isn’t necessary- “Rewrite my already professionally written site so I sell more” kind of deal). There are also quite a few international postings.
oDesk: There are a lot of corporate job here, but not many of them pay well. There’s a lot of .03 cents/ word jobs. Not bad work if you live in a developing nation, but as it stands, much of what’s here isn’t worth your time if you live in the 1st world.
iFreelance: As far as writing goes, the jobs posted here are few and will not make you reach. They aren’t even very likely to improve your resume. They are okay for a quick buck, but not much else. Perhaps if you are just looking for a month’s worth of laundry money or cash for a night out on the town, you’ll get what you need here.
Making Payments With Digital Workrooms
Elance: Quick and simple. Their fees are lower if you are using methods such as PayPal or wire transfer. I always stick with the free direct deposit, even if it does take up to three days. There are clear cut records of your time, invoiced and delivered to your provider. When the jobs complete they have a time limit within which they must remit payment. Elance’s method strikes me as the best.
oDesk: Not too shabby. Same as Elance, you have the option of direct deposit, paypal, wire transfer or once your profile accrues a predetermined amount of cash, they will cut you a check. They also have a convenient invoicing system that ensures both parties hold to the agreement. One thing I noted is that oDesk’s dispute policy is very prominent. Probably the one thing that sets it apart from Elance in this regard.
iFreelance: What do you expect? I’m not sure I can find the payment section of this site in less than 30 seconds. Somehow this is one of the larger providers out there and still this site is quite a mess.
Bottom line? Stick with Elance if you are a freelancer. It is simple to use, protects your interests and offers a wide variety of work in high quantity. If you are a provider, oDesk is built more with you in mind. It may take a little longer to find the person to do the work, but once you’ve found them it should be easy sailing from then on.