According to oDesk (now called Upwork) I currently have made 154 hires on their platform. Double that number to count for the hires outside of oDesk, on other platforms like Elance, Freelancer and forums. While I don’t claim to be an expert at hiring freelancer, I’m going to share some of my thoughts about the websites I’ve used to hire freelancers and why I like each one.
The biggest website is oDesk, which was founded in 2003. I’ve used this platform the most. It is very straight forward. This platform has a lot of spam applications. Basically, you will post a job and a bunch of freelancers will apply, without reading your posting, and they’ll just paste a cover letter. There are ways of dealing with this, like using Google Forms to qualify their interest. oDesk also has their own survey system built in but I like the capabilities of the Google Forms. Many of your applicants will not even respond because by the time they’ve finished spamming, they’ve lost track of all the jobs and what they’ve applied to. oDesk is planning to limit the number of applications that can be submitted per day, after Elance found success in doing that. oDesk recently renamed themselves as Upwork, likely to rebrand and remove all of the negativity surrounding their brand.
Elance is the sister company of oDesk and was founded in 1999. I tried their platform in the past but never stuck with it. Recently I tried it again after getting sick of the spam on oDesk and I’m starting to like it. Freelancers are limited the number of applications they can submit per day. This causes freelancers to take a quality over quantity approach to job application. Many will read and understand the job before applying. This is a big winner for me because I usually post complex jobs and I’m very particular the way something is made, especially when it comes to coding. With Elance you generally get a smaller amount of applications but they are higher quality. However, that doesn’t mean some coding jobs don’t get 15 or 20 applicants.
While I have not used Freelancer in a while and I did use it consistently for a few months, I think much of their platform is based on gamification. Your account starts at level 1 and as you have more activity, you gain experience which levels your account up. You can win rewards at higher levels which is kind of cool. I think the highest reward was a call with the CEO. That is kind of cool but I don’t really have any reason to talk to the CEO.
While I am really enjoying Elance, I still post to oDesk. The amount of responses that a data entry post on oDesk gets is overwhelming. You can find qualified data entry workers for $2/hour, and lots of them. I’ve had some jobs gets over 50 applications. However when it comes to a project that I am allocating a larger amount of time, effort and money into, I like to post on Elance because they give so many metrics about the freelancers. My favorite metric is likely the percentage of clients that rehire the freelancer. If a freelancer has done 20 jobs in the past 12 months and most of them were rehires from previous clients, I have a strong feeling that that freelancer is hard working, honest and knowledgable.