Freelancer.com - Project Discipline Focus
Just like the other major freelancing sites, Freelancer.com is a general purpose marketplace. It is not aimed at any particular area of work, and projects on the site encompass every type of work typically done over the Internet.
The site does tend to have an overall leaning, but this is not a result of its managers trying to concentrate on certain disciplines; rather, it is a residue of its focus on the lower end of the market. This tends to skew the number of jobs towards low-end disciplines (like article rewriting) and away from higher-end ones (such as legal work). That said, there is still a good amount of work in higher paying areas, especially Web development, and on the whole, there’s a wide breadth of projects on the site.
Most sites use a hierarchical system of categories and subcategories to organize projects, and also to restrict how and when freelancers can place bids. Freelancer.com uses a “flat” categorization system, where all projects are shown in a single database, but each is “tagged” with skills that the client feels are relevant to the project. Which is better for freelancers is largely a matter of taste, as we’ll discuss in the section on project mechanisms.
For the purpose of looking at how projects are split among disciplines, though, the Freelancer.com system makes things pretty difficult. There are literally hundreds of individual skill “tags” that can be associated with projects, and Freelancer.com does not provide statistics for what percentages of their projects are given any of these tags.
I was able to take a snapshot of all the current projects open at a specific time, and then sort them by currently open projects; the top 50 categories are shown in Table 1.
Bear in mind that this is based on a relatively small sample size. Also, the data may be skewed because it only shows open projects, and some categories that are popular may see their projects filled (and closed) more quickly than others.
We can also get a hint at how the site works and which areas are most popular based on the company’s own reporting. On January 27, 2011, Freelancer.com put out a press release (PDF) that, among other things, shows some limited statistics on the work categories that are growing fastest on the site. Table 2 shows the top 20 on the site listed by percentage of increase in number of projects in 2010.
As you can see, most of these are growing quickly, but are still quite small (under 2,000 projects per year). On the other hand, the “Article Rewriting” and “Articles” categories are rather large and yet still growing at a healthy pace.
The same report includes a list of the top 10 categories by absolute growth (meaning, how many more overall projects were listed in 2010, not sorted by percentage); this is shown in Table 3.
There’s some overlap here, with both “articles and article rewriting” leading the pack, but the number of PHP jobs actually being larger overall.
Finally, Table 4 has the report’s list of the top 10 category “losers” in terms of percentage decrease in 2010:
Some of these aren’t a big surprise, but others are; XML and Web security are not exactly going the way of the horse and buggy, so why would they be down by 25% or more in one year? I think that in the case of these and a few other advanced disciplines, reductions in projects here may simply reflect clients moving away from Freelancer.com and towards higher-end marketplaces.
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Last Site Update: October 21, 2011
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