Are you bored with the everyday drudge of heading to the office, or staring at the walls at home? Maybe you are a student fresh out of university or college and not keen on starting mainstream work. Perhaps you just want to be your own boss. If you can answer ‘yes’ to any of those questions then it’s time to find another job, and joining the growing band of freelancers who enjoy their job and work when it suits them has got to be high up the list of potential careers.
But while making the decision to start as a freelancer is one thing, actually being able to get going is another, and it will take tenacity and dedication. Depending upon what kind of freelance work you can do – writing, image and logo work, accounting, web design, etc – you are going to need skills, a computer and specialist software, even if it is only MS Office (nb, other word processing packages are available) or something a little more specialised like CAD or Photoshop, as a minimum. But then you are ready to go and just need the work, so where are you going to get that? Luckily, there are an increasing number of freelancer websites where clients advertise jobs and you, as a freelancer, can bid to complete it. But with so many sites around, which are the most likely to provide fairly consistent work?
Freelance Sites Worth a Second Look
Formally known as Elance until it merged with competitor, Odesk, this American based site is one of the highest grossing in the freelancing sphere, so if you are looking for freelance work, you should definitely start with this one. It is estimated that Upwork has around twelve million registered freelancers and a further five million registered clients looking for work to be done. Approximately three million jobs are posted on the site annually, which are worth around $1 billion. That makes it the world’s largest freelancer marketplace and a good place to start. Beware though if you are in the UK as most of the work comes from American clients so you may be working in a different time zones and you are likely to get paid in dollars, with a charge for converting in Paypal or when sending it to your bank.
Start working now: upwork.com
Usually foreshortened to PPH by those of us who know and love it, this UK-based site is renowned as a haunt for start-up business owners looking for help in setting up and getting their company off the ground. Being one among the best freelance websites out there, many people are looking for logo design, web design as well as blogs and articles to populate their new business with. Like Upwork, clients can be from anywhere in the world but PPH has a greater majority from either the UK or Europe and therefore has an option for payment in Euros as well, but since the pound is currently getting a battering from both the Dollar and the Euro, that may not be a bad thing.
Take a look: peopleperhour.com
American site, Guru, has been around longer than you might think. It seems fairly fresh and new but has been connecting sellers with clients since 1999. Originally conceived as a high-tech site designed to marry up those with skills such as programming with people who needed small-ish programming jobs done. Fast forward to today and Guru, like almost every other freelancer site, now caters for jobs from every sector of the market. Be it website authoring, software development & IT, design, art & multimedia, writing & translation, management, sales & marketing, engineering or architecture or even administration, there are plenty of jobs on the site to be had. Like Upwork, Guru is predominantly paid in dollars and the job-search defaults to American addresses but you can search worldwide. However, since most freelance work is remote, the actual location usually matters little. Guru is a good but generally, underrated site.
Check it out: guru.com
Also hailing from the States, Toptal, is relatively new on the block, but making big waves. Founded by Taso Du Val, and Breanden Beneschott in 2010, it has been playing catch-up against the other, more established sites, but is already well considered, mostly due to its in-built professionalism. Toptal – it’s an amalgamation of Top Talent, by the way – claim to be well thought of amongst major employers such as JP Morgan, Pfizer, Emirates, and Hewlett Packard so you have the chance of picking up some seriously good paying jobs through it. Typically, Toptal focusses on either developer, coding or financial jobs, and not much else.
Toptal makes much of its screening process in which it claims to weed out those not worthy at various stages until they are whittled down to just the top 3% of experts in UI development, web development or financial experts. This process involves actively demonstrating work capabilities, completing detailed tasks, a 20-minute interview process, so it’s probably best left to those who are at the top of their game. So if you’re looking for freelance work and you’ve got the required skills, make sure to give Toptal a chance.
Go here -> Toptal.com
Up and coming UK site Freelancer may be a lot younger than some of the other but the thirst for freelance work has made it expand quickly to become a mainstream job repository. As with many UK sites it has its share of clients posting jobs in the native language, so if you don’t speak French, or German, or Taiwanese, then you may miss out on some but then the reverse is true and the client is reducing their potential pool of freelancers too. There are also so many different work headings that things get a bit confused. A quick look at Engineering > Materials Engineering pulled up all sorts of jobs, including one on creating cartoon illustrations, so you may have to search around a bit to find your job-fit. Freelancer has an app which keeps you in touch so you can follow your workflows so that you never miss a deadline.
Other Freelance Websites You Could Try
99Designs – Specifically aimed at designers, this site has design contests in which the clients choose their favourite.
CollegeRecruiter – As its name implies, this site is aimed at those who are new to the freelance game and gives them the opportunity to gain experience while making a bit of part time money.
SimplyHired – This site offers one of the widest ranges of job titles, and includes on-site work too so you can find a real job rather than ones involving working on a laptop at the coffeeshop.
Fiverr – One of the oldest and best-established freelancer sites around, Fiverr offers a huge range of jobs in a bewildering number of categories.
LocalSolo – Freelancers apply for profiles on this platform to begin working away. Additionally, it is free to use, and there are no commission fees to pay.
Take Your Pick… Carefully
Freelancing is becoming the new norm and the proliferation of websites offering work pay testament to the growth of the sector. But while there doesn’t seem to be much to choose between them, there are a few things to watch out for. As stated, US based sites will generally pay in dollars, European sites in Euros, but all of them will take a slice of your earnings at different amounts, and may then go on to take a bit more when you transfer from your on-site ‘wallet’ to your bank account.
Most sites also offer a rating system, based on previous work to help guide potential future freelancers and clients. As an example, PPH has the facility for a star rating system where both parties have the opportunity to rate each other – and leave comments about the job, the payment, or the general attitude – in a publicly-viewable area, so it is in the interests of everyone to get the best ratings and most positive comments that you can. Furthermore, PPH, like others, offer a ‘level’ system so that a potential client can see how good a freelancer is based on their overall rating. A rating of five or six means that the freelancer is a professional – and may charge a higher hourly or job rate – whereas a level one is either new to the freelancing scene or struggles with their current skill level. All freelance sites have variations of this system.
Freelancing is enormously satisfying and prosperous if you pick the right site, but it can still take some time to build up a reputation that will routinely get you some great work.