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Project Quantity and Marketplace Size
iFreelance is a relatively small marketplace. The company does not provide any statistics on the number of projects posted, but based on visits to the site and searches of open projects, it appears to have a volume on the order of about 20 to 30 new projects listed per day. The site had billings of $350,000 in the third quarter of 2010, according to WhichLance, and its Alexa ranking is currently hovering in the top 20,000 range. There are about 4,200 provider profiles currently listed on iFreelance.
Because of how iFreelance works, though, projects aren’t necessarily the best way to measure its value. The site charges no transaction fees, as mentioned above, and allows contact information in its profiles, which means clients can look for contractors and work with them directly. Thus, it is probable that the total amount of business done on iFreelance is substantially above the $350,000 figure I just mentioned.
Based on a review of a number of projects on the site, the quality at iFreelance appears to be average to above average. The site screens projects before posting to improve quality and avoid chaff listings, which is one advantage of having a smaller site. I also don’t see a lot of the “bargain hunter” clients here that I do at some of the larger venues. And I believe that the smaller size indicates that the management of the company is not trying to dilute project quality for the sake of increasing the number of listings.
iFreelance is a general purpose freelancing site that includes categories for all of the types of projects typically encountered in online freelancing. It is somewhat unique, though, in that it actually has more projects in its Graphic Design & Multimedia section than anywhere else: about one-third of open projects are in this field. Most of the remaining projects are split about evenly among Writing, Programming and Marketing & Sales, with a smaller percentage divided among several specialty genres (Legal, Photography, Training / Education, etc.)
As mentioned in the overview, iFreelance uses a membership-only fee structure. Joining iFreelance is free, but in order to create a profile that can be seen by clients, or to bid on projects, you must buy a monthly membership. Once that is done, though, there are no transaction fees, which is unique in the industry (at least in my experience).
There are three levels of membership: Basic at $4.69 per month; Silver at $6.75; and Gold at $9. The more expensive memberships provide perqs such as the ability to be listed in more subcategories, and higher placement in both provider searches and bid lists on projects. You must pay an additional membership for each category in which you want a profile, so if you want a profile in four categories, that means four monthly membership fees.
The mandatory membership and lack of transaction fees has a big impact on how the site works. Because the site isn’t taking a cut on each project, it doesn’t have to impose draconian rules about off-site contact between clients and contractors, or even how payment is made (see below). Contractors also make more money the more active they are, since the monthly costs are fixed. The downside, as I mentioned in my own case, is that this system discourages new freelancers from joining the site, because the number of projects is small and many of them wonder if they’ll get any work at all to justify the monthly expense.
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Last Site Update: October 21, 2011
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