Guru - Freelance Marketplace Site Analysis and Review
Guru is the oldest of the major freelancing sites, having been established in 1998. It claims to be the largest freelancing marketplace, yet in reality, the company leads more with respect to quality than quantity: it can make a strong argument to having the best projects, overall, of the big sites. It accomplishes this largely due to its fairly stringent new project posting policies, and even more important, a willingness to screen project submissions to avoid junk projects from even being posted.
Guru combines the essential benefit of a high quality project base with strengths in several other areas. While it doesn’t have the most new projects posted, it does still have enough that many freelancers can find work regularly here. Clients will find that the overall quality of the freelancers on the site is among the best of the big sites. Guru’s website is mostly well designed, and it does a good job with both online and phone-based customer support. Its feedback system is mostly symmetric for clients and contractors, and Guru has implemented a limited blocking feature to try to help address the “feedback hostaging” problem. It also has easily the best online help system of any site in the industry, explaining nearly every policy and procedure in clear, readable English.
Of course, the company has a few places in need of improvement as well. Its fees are among the highest in the industry, and are borne entirely by contractors, while clients pay nothing. These fees include rather substantial membership and category fees for those who use the site regularly; these represent a barrier to entry that arguably helps improve the quality of the contractor community, but as a freelancer, they still come out of your pocket. The company’s process for bidding on, winning and managing projects is in some ways more cumbersome than it should be. Guru also charges an extra 2% fee to use escrow services, and this is required in order to get any dispute resolution assistance from the company. Worse, despite contractors paying that additional 2% cost, Guru puts them on the defensive in disputes, and leaves them high and dry in the event of client chargebacks.
This section contains my complete write-up on Guru, telling you everything you’ll want to know about the company before deciding if you want to pony up those membership fees. :) As with each of my reviews of the big sites, it is broken down into thirteen topics covering 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 is discussed in a topic in the section Criteria for Choosing Online Freelancing Marketplace Sites.
As always, this review is based on a combination of inputs: my own personal experience using the site, testimonials from other Guru users, independent research I’ve conducted, and information obtained from Guru itself. If you find any errors in my writing, or just disagree with my opinion about something, be sure to tell me—I am eager to improve. Also bear in mind that sites and companies change over time, and while I’ve done my best to be accurate, it’s possible something changed by the time you read this.
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Last Site Update: December 13, 2011
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