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Table Of Contents  The Online Freelancing Guide
 >  An Analysis and Review of Popular Online Freelancing Marketplace Sites
      >  Elance - Freelance Marketplace Site Analysis and Review

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Elance - Project Quality
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Elance - Project Quantity and Marketplace Size

Elance is clearly one of the top five marketplace sites in terms of project quantity and overall marketplace size, and depending on which metrics you consider most important in making such assessments, it can lay claim to being either the biggest or second-biggest marketplace overall.

Project Quantity

Like many of its competitors, Elance has seen a steady increase in the number of projects that clients have posted on the site over the last several years. I can recall that when I started at Elance in late 2008, I estimated that there were around 500 or so new projects being posted every day. By the end of 2010, it seemed to me to be more like 1,000 per day.

This matches well with figures provided by Elance, which reports 105,308 projects posted in 4Q2010, or around 1,140 projects per day. This is up 7.4% from the third quarter figure of 98,032 (about 1,065 projects per day). Note that it is not clear whether these project numbers include repeat and invite-only projects, which arguably should be accounted for separately since they are not available for general bidding.

However, the current number of projects per day being posted may be even higher; as of this writing, the site reports 46,293 new jobs posted in the last 30 days, which would be over 1,500 projects per day. Part of the reason for the increase may be that in late January, Elance revised its client verification procedures to remove the $10 payment that used to be mandatory, and thus make it easier for new buyers to post jobs. Of course, there are concerns about what impact this will have on project quality as well.

Elance’s numbers likely put the company in the #2 spot in terms of projects posted, a little ahead of Freelancer.com and a bit behind oDesk. It is hard to compare Elance and oDesk in this particular area, because Elance is mostly a fixed-rate project site while oDesk tends to have more hourly projects. However, oDesk is growing very quickly and seems to have more projects posted per day despite also having a large number of ongoing hourly projects as well.

Other Marketplace Size Metrics

Elance has been around a while, and as mentioned above, scores well on most other metrics of marketplace size. Here are some figures as of the fourth quarter of 2010:

  • Project Billings: Elance reported about $27 million in billings for the quarter. This puts the company in second place behind oDesk, which is in the $37 million range for 4Q10. oDesk is also growing faster than Elance is in billings.

  • Number of Contractors: Elance claims 316,580 active providers (their term for contractors). How “active” is defined is not clear; this is probably just the total number of open accounts, not the number of providers who are actually active on the site. This figure puts Elance roughly in the same ballpark as oDesk and vWorker, a little ahead of Guru, and well behind Freelancer.com.

  • Number of Clients: Elance reported 117,130 active clients for the fourth quarter. The same caveats about the word “active” apply here as well. Elance is well behind Freelancer.com here, and close to but behind vWorker and probably oDesk.

  • Alexa Traffic Rank: At the time I write this, Elance.com has an Alexa traffic rank of 366, making it a top-tier Web destination. The site’s ranking has shown steady growth through both 2009 and 2010, but trails oDesk.com and Freelancer.com, both of which passed Elance.com during 2010.

The bottom line is that if you’re after a place with a lot of projects and activity, Elance is not a bad place to look. It is one of the leaders in the industry in marketplace size, trailing only oDesk in most metrics. While it is smaller than Freelancer.com in terms of traffic rank and number of contractors, that’s not necessarily a bad thing!


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