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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.
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
- 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
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The Online Freelancing Guide (http://www.FreelancingGuide.net)
Last Site Update: December 13, 2011
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