Freelancer.com (Formerly GetAFreelancer.com) - Analysis and Review
Freelancer.com was founded as “GetAFreelancer.com” by a Swedish company in 2004. It was purchased by an Australian corporation in 2009, which also bought the rights to the more snazzy name “Freelancer.com” (reportedly for a six-figure sum!). Since this change of ownership, the company has embarked on an ambitious plan of expansion, and Freelancer.com is now one of the largest online freelancing marketplaces in terms of number of users, website traffic and project volume.
The site differs from some of its big competitors in that its entire operation is geared towards simplicity: it is very easy to sign up and start posting projects or bidding on them. The site uses an integrated account system, so everyone can act as either client or contractor, or even both. Fees are quite reasonable, and for those who are very active on the site, the $24.95 gold membership drops transaction costs to among the lowest in the industry. Customer service is entirely online with fast response times.
The flip side of the relative simplicity of the site—and its moderate or even low fees, depending on how much you use it—is that you won’t find features here that are present on other sites. There are no fancy work tracking systems, work guarantees or sophisticated profile management systems. Nearly all postings are for flat rate projects; there are no hourly jobs, but there are a tiny number of full-time job listings. The site does not have an escrow service, but it has a feature called milestone payments that operates in a similar way. To its credit, Freelancer.com provides reasonably-priced arbitration for projects that go into dispute (but only if the milestone payment feature is used).
Unfortunately, the site has a couple of serious issues that make it, in this author’s opinion, less attractive than its big competitors for professional freelancers. The most significant is that it is a good example of what happens when a company places an emphasis on quantity over quality. It has a huge base of freelancers, but a huge percentage of them are less skilled or less professional workers who compete on the basis of price alone. The site advertises widely to get clients, but its reputation and its marketing as a low-cost alternative means many clients are here looking for those cheap workers. It has many projects, but compared to other sites, relatively few of them are for the sorts of high-quality projects that good freelancers desire. There are many issues with users breaking Freelancer.com’s rules with little consequence, and a disappointingly large number of cases of unscrupulous contractors and clients trying to rip each other off.
In many ways, Freelancer.com is the “Wild West” of freelancing sites: it provides lots of opportunity to make (or save) money, but also lots of ways for things to go wrong. And like in the stereotypical frontier town, even if there’s a sheriff, in many ways you are on your own.
In this section of the Guide I provide a complete look at Freelancer.com, sharing with you my own experiences using the site, and other information I’ve gleaned, to help you decide if this is the marketplace for you. The review is broken down into the same thirteen criteria that I use for all sites in this Guide, covering topics such as project quantity and quality, fees and payment methods, details on how the site is used, policies and enforcement, customer service, and much more. If you want full details about these different analysis factors, each one is discussed in a topic in the section Criteria for Choosing Online Freelancing Marketplace Sites.
A couple of important notes.
First, as mentioned earlier, the company used to be called “GetAFreelancer” and now refers to itself as both “Freelancer.com” and also just “Freelancer”. I find the latter term confusing, even if used as a proper noun with a capital “F”. It is more clear that I am referring to a specific company when I say “Freelancer.com”, so that’s my standard in this Guide.
Second, as with all of my reviews, this discussion is based on information gleaned from a number of sources, mainly my own personal experience, feedback from users, and online research both on Freelancer.com and also other sites. However, my own experience with this particular site is somewhat less current than for a few of the other marketplaces, because my last project on Freelancer.com was in 2009. As always, if you find any mistakes in my description of the site, or just disagree with my opinion about something, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Also bear in mind that sites and companies change over time, and especially given how much Freelancer.com is growing, it is possible that changes will make some of what I’ve written out of date.
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Last Site Update: December 13, 2011
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