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Table Of Contents  The Online Freelancing Guide
 >  An Analysis and Review of Popular Online Freelancing Marketplace Sites
      >  Criteria for Choosing Online Freelancing Marketplace Sites

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Payment Methods and Mechanisms
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Escrow Services, Work Tracking Systems and Payment Guarantees
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Bidding, Client Interaction and Project Award Policies and Mechanisms
(Page 2 of 3)

Project Search Mechanisms

As mentioned above, most of the responsibility for establishing a client-contractor relationship falls on the contractor. As an online freelancer, you will spend a significant amount of time looking through project listings, so the mechanisms for how this is done are very important.

This is one area that cannot be easily described in an objective manner; differentiating between good and poor project search engines is much more a “you know it when you see it” type of deal, and is to some extent a matter of personal preference. I’ve used many of these sites and looked through thousands of listings, and over time have developed a list of attributes I look for when doing a project search. In my assessments of the various sites, I describe both the most important positive features and the most annoying irritations I have encountered.

Here are some of the key considerations:

  • How fast is the site’s response time?

  • How quickly is the database updated to add new projects and remove ones that have been awarded?

  • How many projects are shown per page? (Scrolling through many pages gets old quickly.)

  • Is it possible to search for projects only in the particular disciplines applicable to a contractor? How many options are available to filter the search results?

  • If both fixed rate and hourly projects are allowed, can you show only one or the other?

  • Does the project listing page include a short summary of the project?

  • How much information about the client is provided in the list of projects, to help decide if this is someone you even want to consider working for? (Many freelancers pre-screen job listings by the client’s award rate, for example.)

  • Are any features provided to allow you to keep track of projects you’re interested in?

I also make note of alternative methods to searching, such as RSS feeds or the ability to set up notification rules when new projects are listed.

Bidding Process and Policies

Next, I assess the overall process associated with placing proposals, and also consider and evaluate relevant policies related to bidding. This is really the heart of the entire online freelancing concept, since it can easily be argued that proposal writing is the most important part of being an online freelancer.

Some of the considerations I take into account in assessing a site’s bidding process include:

  • Whether bidding is open or closed; this refers to the visibility of competitive bids and proposals among competitors.

  • Who is allowed to bid on proposals (members versus non-members, whether you must subscribe to a particular category to bid on projects in that category, etc.)

  • Whether or not there is a cost to bid on a project.

  • Availability of premium or sponsored placements, and what they cost.

  • How many bids a freelancer is allowed to make over a particular period of time.

  • What information is required, or requested, from the freelancer when a bid is place.

  • How clients are informed about placed bids.

  • Project value minimums or maximums.

  • Policies that the site has established to ensure fair competition among bidders.

  • Policies that prevent abuse by either contractors or clients.

There’s actually a lot to talk about here, so I try to stay focused primarily on the aspects that are unique or noteworthy.

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Payment Methods and Mechanisms
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Last Site Update: October 21, 2011

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