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Table Of Contents  The Online Freelancing Guide
 >  An Analysis and Review of Popular Online Freelancing Marketplace Sites
      >  oDesk - Freelance Marketplace Site Analysis and Review

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oDesk - Project Quality
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oDesk - Project Quantity and Marketplace Size

In stark contrast to sites like Guru that tend not to be too forthcoming about their own operating statistics, oDesk is not only open about sharing this data, it seems to be eager to do so. The company maintains a large section on its website, which it calls oConomy, where a plethora of information can be found about how the site is being used. At the oConomy page you’ll find links to a surprising amount of real-time data that shows figures and trends about oDesk: project totals, information about contractors, country-based breakdowns, summaries of rates earned in different categories, and much more. The company adds to this further by also publishing a monthly Online Employment Report which provides even more detail.

This wealth of information makes it relatively easy to see where oDesk is at any point, to view its growth over time, and to compare it to its competitors. And what this data shows is that while many marketplace sites lay claim to being the biggest in the industry, oDesk is the one best able to substantiate that claim. Based on what I consider the most important measurements—number of projects posted and total billings—oDesk really is the biggest online freelancing marketplace.

Project Quantity

oDesk’s main oConomy page shows the number of new projects listed on the site in the past 24 hours, updated in real time. oDesk also gives an estimated number of projects posted per month in its Online Employment Report.

The number of projects posted in the preceding 24 hours goes up and down, of course, and there is also a natural variation between weekday and weekend figures. I took a sample on a weekend (at around 1 pm on Sunday) and it said there had been 1,627 projects posted in the trailing 24-hour period. A sample on a weekday (at about 9 am on Tuesday) showed 2,700 projects. If we take five times 2,700 plus two times 1,627, divide by seven and convert the result to a monthly figure, it comes out to 71,800 projects per month.

These figures match up fairly well with the numbers that oDesk reported in its February Online Employment Report, which listed 70,274 projects for the month. (A header in the report incorrectly claims 72,000 projects in the month). February is of course a short month; this figure works out to about 2,500 projects per day, which means more like 75,000 projects in a typical 30-day month.

Based on these figures, oDesk is clearly in first place in terms of number of projects posted, ahead of Elance and Freelancer.com, which are both in the range of 1,500 projects per day. oDesk is growing at a staggering pace: the report from one year prior showed only 37,580 projects posted in February 2010, so the site has almost doubled in volume in just a year.

Other Marketplace Size Metrics

Here are a few other metrics that help illustrate oDesk’s position in the market and where it stands relative to its competition:

  • Project Billings: WhichLance reported $31 million dollars in billings for oDesk for the third quarter of 2010, and $37 million for 4Q2010. oDesk’s monthly reports show $13.5 million for January 2011 and $14 million for February 2011, which would put oDesk on a pace for over $45 million in earnings for the first quarter of 2011. This puts oDesk solidly in first place, somewhat ahead of Elance and well ahead of everyone else.

  • Number of Contractors: This is a bit hard to get a handle on. oDesk’s main oConomy page reports 1,025,511 “total contractors in network”; however, doing a contractor search on oDesk.com with no parameters or qualifications yields a total of 372,568 matches. I’m not sure what accounts for this discrepancy. The smaller figure would put oDesk in the same ballpark as Elance and vWorker; the larger one would put it in second place, ahead of those two, but still well behind Freelancer.com.

  • Number of Clients: This is the one place where oDesk doesn’t provide data. I simply don’t have any information on the number of clients using oDesk.

  • Alexa Traffic Rank: As of the day I write this, oDesk has an Alexa traffic rank of 264. This makes oDesk obviously one of the busiest sites on the Internet. It also puts it in first place among the freelancing marketplaces, a little ahead of Freelancer.com, a little more ahead of Elance.com, and well in front of the others.

As you can see, in addition to oDesk being the biggest marketplace site right now in terms of number of projects, it also leads in billings and web site traffic. The project billing figure is in my opinion the most important real indicator of how big a site is, and oDesk is not only in first place here, it seems to be pulling away from the competition.


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