More freelancers expect to earn more this yearPopular crowdsourcing sites like Freelancer.com, Elance.com, and oDesk.com have each reported positive growth in quarterly and annual revenue as well as freelancers and employers transacting business together. Even though economists report the recession is easing and employment numbers are rising, these freelancing sites continue to attract more service-skilled workers who remain unemployed, part-timers, or need the extra work to pay bills and reduce debt.
A 2013 survey on outsourcing reported that over 3,000 people who now freelance have earned more money in 2012 than the previous year. A majority—67%—expect to earn even more this year.
Daniel Pink, who wrote the book, "Free Agent Nation," said the recent shaky economy has made employers reluctant to hire standard full-time workers. Freelancers don't require office space, health benefits or vacations.
Freelancer.com, an online outsourcing job site located in New South Wales, Australia, has connected over 7 million employers and freelance workers globally since the company's launch in February 2004. Popular categories include writing, data entry, software, engineering, sales, marketing, accounting and legal services. Within a 24-hour period of time, the site offers more than 3,500 writing projects and about 5,000 registered freelance writers bidding on those projects.
Elance.com, a similar job site, proudly claims to offer "amazing online freelancers" to employers. These include 150,900 programmers, 16,800 mobile developers, 107,000 designers, 160,400 writers, 34,700 marketers. Clients are invited to post their jobs, free, and 101,835 jobs have been posted in the last 30 days.
Elance has paid out $725,279,888 to workers. The idea is workers are supposed to post a profile that will interest employers and then bid on individual projects. Freelancers must compete with one another, making the process very competitive. Workers and employers can collaborate online and get paid when the employer approves the work.
oDesk.com, another popular site with freelancers, achieved the most annual contractor earnings for 2013, and held almost twice the market share compared to its next online competitor. During 2013 it posted 1.5 million jobs. Many of its 3.1 million contractors said they were happy with Odesk.com and had no need to jump to other crowdsourcing sites.
Many Odeskers like the two variety of jobs offered at the site. They are "hourly" and "fixed price." Some freelancers dislike the hourly work because oDesk requires them to install software that tracks the time spent working on the client's project. However, once the freelancer has downloaded and installed the software, the consensus among freelancers is that the time-tracking software is accurate and ensures fair payment.
Guru.com, another leading job site, offers clients 400,000 freelancers, "ready to work." These include 60,000 programmers, 55,000 web developers, and 79,000 writers. A person can join Guru.com for free, but Guru will subtract a 9% per project fee once the work is completed and the client has paid. Membership fees range from $9.95 to $34.95 per month for workers, and for employers, from $12.94 to $45.44. Annual membership brings a 50% discount. All freelance workers are charged either a 4.5% or 9% fee per project, depending on the membership. Employers pay a 4.5% fee. Freelancers who have worked for Guru.com seem happy with the quality of work and customer service, even if it costs more to land assignments.
PeoplePerHour.com, a U.K.-based outsourcing site, offers 10,000 hourly projects in such categories as writing, graphic design, programming, book writing, and event planning. Freelancers who have participated at the site have complained about the site's lack of response, incorrect postings, increased cost for jobs (formerly 10% now 15%), and rude responses from customer support. Every crowdsourcing site has its "growing pains" and times of difficulties. The fact that PeoplePerHour.com now has over 300,000 freelance professionals ready to complete clients' projects is a testament to the site's positive changes toward making the job site one of the best and most trusted.
Crowdsourcing sites offer a promising future for writers
In the past, young and out-of-work English majors were advised by their professors to "get a job at a newspaper." This is probably not good advice today— newspapers can barely afford the writers they have. But getting a job through one of the crowdsourcing sites might offer a viable option for people in the writing, art and IT fields.
Of course, just like every job, online job sites, because of their transparency and anonymity of their users, can create potential scams—both on the worker and the employer sides. Despite a few common obstacles, the Internet is a bright frontier for finding freelance jobs, especially for writers who desire to start a writing career, if even part-time.