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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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Project Discipline Focus
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Payment Methods and Mechanisms
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Fees
(Page 1 of 4)

There is always a cost associated with using a freelance marketplace. After all, they are not charities set up to help you grow your business; they are businesses themselves. The sites require income to both cover the expenses associated with running them (hardware, software, bandwidth charges, development costs, customer service and so forth) but also to provide a return to the shareholders who invest in them.

While all sites have fees associated with them, they differ dramatically in how they charge those fees. Since that money is ultimately coming out of your pocket, this is an important consideration in comparing freelancing project sites. There are a number of issues to look at here, including what types of fees are charged, who pays for them, and even why the sites differ as much as they do.

Fee Types

There are a surprising number of different ways that project marketplaces separate you from your money. Here are the most common types of fees encountered on freelancing marketplace sites:

  • Membership Fees: This is a flat charge that you must pay in order to be a user of the site. Most companies charge this on a monthly basis, while some offer quarterly or yearly plans, often at a discount. Note also that many sites that charge for membership also have limited “free plans”; see below for more on this.

  • Category Fees: Some sites give you the ability to bid on only one category of work for your basic membership fee; for example, only writing, or only administration support. You must pay an additional fee to get access to more work disciplines.

  • Transaction Fees: A cut that is paid to the site for each payment made on a success­fully completed project (or portion of a project). This may be broken down into a service charge for the site, plus a fee to cover monetary transfers using vehicles such as credit cards. On some sites the fee is fixed, while on others it may be reduced for high-volume accounts. Some sites also impose a flat minimum charge for small projects.

  • Bidding Fees: A charge to freelancers for the right to place a proposal on the site. This is often only charged after a certain allocation of “free bids” are used up each month. In my discussion of bidding fees I also provide an overview of non-fee bidding restriction methods.

  • Premium Listing Fees: An extra charge to give you the right to more prominent placement of your proposal on a project. This may be charged indirectly via a higher bidding fee.

Some sites also charge fees to clients for listing projects, but that obviously doesn’t apply directly to freelancers (though it has an indirect impact, as we’ll see shortly.)


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