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Freelancer Review

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Boasting over 15 million users, the Australian-based company Freelancer hit the ground running. Though they’ve only been around since 2009, they’ve quickly become one of the most popular sites for clients and freelancers to collaborate.

Freelancer

Freelancer Features

Contests: The most unique feature of Freelancer.com is the ability to host a contest. You can outline your needs and have the freelancing community submit complete projects like fully-designed logos, newsletters, t-shirt graphics, book covers, short articles and more. Your favorite is awarded the prize money amount that you determine when you post the contest.

Local Jobs: In early May 2015, Freelancer launched its local jobs platform. This location feature helps clients look for freelancers that need area expertise or with whom they can meet in person. You can also look for non-technology workers or post ads for interior designers, home cleaners, movers, gardeners, electricians, errand-runners and more.

Dual-Membership: This unique feature allows members to function as both client and freelancer from one account. This allows, for example, a website designer to take on projects and then outsource specific tasks, like graphic design for a new banner.

Bid Allotments: Most freelancing sites have implemented a bidding limit system to prevent freelancer accounts from spamming job postings, especially ones irrelevant to their skills. What makes Freelancer’s system unique is the gradually increasing allotment. Like other sites, each month, freelancers are given a set number of bids depending on their membership level. However, to reward long-time­ (and therefore successful and proficient) freelancers, the site also gives 1 additional bid for each month of membership. A 2-year Basic member (with a fee of $4.95/mo) will receive an extra 24 bids for a total of 74 bids.

Range of Job Posting Add-Ons: Freelancer.com has the most post upgrade features of any of its major competitors. We’ll review some of these options under “The Good.”

Mobile Apps: You can accomplish pretty much everything from the Android and iOS apps, whether you’re a freelancer or a client. In a way, the visually simple apps can even make it easier.

Freelancer Desktop App: This free download allows freelancers to track their hourly projects, communicate with their clients, and take and send screenshots of the projects’ progress.

FreeLancer Pricing

Standard projects are charged a flat fee or percentage, whichever is greater. Hourly projects are charged the percentage fee shown, while full-time jobs are only charged a fee if the work exceeds $5000.

For clients:

Your fee per project transaction depends on your level of membership. Posting a job is free.

For clients:

Your fee per project transaction depends on your level of membership. Posting a job is free.

  • Free Membership
    • Project fee of $5 or 10%, whichever is greater
  • Basic – $4.95/mo
    • Project fee of $5 or 10%, whichever is greater
  • Plus – $9.95/mo (Free 30-Day Trial)
    • Project fee of $5 or 10%, whichever is greater
    • Free project extensions
  • Standard – $49.95/mo
    • No project fees
    • Free project extensions
    • Free sealed projects
  • Premium – $199.95/mo
    • No project fees
    • Free NDA add-on

For freelancers:

  • Free Membership
    • Project fee of $5 or 10%, whichever is greater
    • 8 bids per month
    • 20 skills & 3 services
  • Intro – $0.99/mo
    • 15 bids/mo
    • 30 skills & 4 services
  • Basic – $4.95/mo
    • Project fee of $5 or 10%, whichever is greater
    • 50 bids per month
    • 50 skills & 5 services
  • Plus – $9.95/mo (Free 30-Day Trial)
    • Project fee of $5 or 10%, whichever is greater
    • 100 bids per month
    • 80 skills & 10 services
  • Standard – $49.95/mo
    • Project fee of $4 or 5%, whichever is greater
    • 300 bids per month
    • 100 skills & 25 services
  • Premium – $199.95/mo
    • Project fee of $3 or 3%, whichever is greater
    • 1500 bids per month
    • 400 skills & 50 services

The Good On FreeLancer

Lots of Job Posting Add-Ons

While posting a barebones project is free, the extra services Freelancer.com provides can help your posting in a few ways. To get more eyes—and bids—on your posting, a “Featured” or “Urgent” spot will cost you $29 or $9 respectively. Private listings ($19) will hide your post from search engines, and NDAs ($20) will ensure your freelancer keeps project details private.

One of the most useful add-ons for busy professionals is the Recruiter ($29). A Freelancer.com employee will review your job posting with you and find a well-suited freelancer for your project. They may also invite other qualified freelancers to bid.

Another good feature is the Sealed add-on ($9). This hides all of the bids on your project, which discourages freelancers that may try to match the top—or beat the bottom— few bids.

Paid Skills Tests

Freelancers have the option of paying a $5 to $10 fee to take exams in specialized skill areas. Popular areas have exams at level 1, level 2, etc. Those who pass are given a verification badge of the level of their competency. This helps clients confidently choose a freelancer with proven skills. The pay-to-test also helps discourage freelancers from re-testing after multiple failures or testing in areas outside their actual skill set.

Milestone Payments

You can break up larger projects into smaller milestones that are agreed upon before the freelancer begins the project. Payment is usually made by the client upfront and released as each milestone is met. These payment agreements are especially attractive to top freelance talent who know what their work is worth.

Contests

All clients should try the contest feature at least once. You really get the most for your money with this option by receiving not just bids but fully completed projects to choose from. Keep in mind that most of these projects will be completed quickly, so the average quality may be less than that of posting a project. Contests work best for small, quick gigs. Most freelancers who enter are upstarts trying to forge long-term business relationships. Offer a high value prize, and you’re more likely to get real quality work and potentially a reliable freelancer for future projects.

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The Bad On FreeLancer

Potentially Confusing Memberships

It’s nice to have options, but Freelancer’s membership benefit breakdown can quickly get confusing. Some have free trials with no monthly cost listed. There are so many add-on options and fees that your costs can inflate to more than you expected. Many of the benefits listed on the membership plan page are not thoroughly explained, making it hard to choose the right plan.

No Escrow… Yet

Freelancer.com does not currently offer an escrow service to allow a more secure working relationship. However, in April 2015, the company did buy Escrow.com with the hope of offering its services through Freelancer. It remains to be seen when they will institute escrow services.

Arbitration Fee

In lieu of escrow with set rules, Freelancer offers arbitration for a fee of $5 or 5% of the total project cost, whichever is greater. Both the client and the freelancer must pay the fee to initiate arbitration. Once the Freelancer “Dispute Resolution Team” reviews the case, it will assign a winner and refund that party’s arbitration fee.

Payment Reversals

It’s not entirely uncommon for Freelancer to reverse payments, taking money from freelancers who have successfully completed work. The company will take money directly from the account without warning or notification, and then cite “privacy policy” when asked for a reason. Some of these “payment reversals” have occurred up to 2 months after the fact and can even put user accounts in the red.

Maintenance Fee

This is a bit of a hidden fee that most users find out the hard way. If you fail to log in to your account for 6 months, the bank account or credit card associated with your profile is charged a “maintenance fee” of $10 per month. For clients who post only occasionally, this can sneak up on you. However, the terms of agreement state that Freelancer.com should refund the fees upon request.

Customer Service & “Scam” Complaints

All companies face the occasional negative review, but Freelancer.com has some of the most complaints in the online freelancing industry. This could be because of the sheer volume of users, topping out at 15.5 million. It may also be a result of not having an escrow service or the unexpected payment reversals, which leave many clients and freelancers feeling scammed. As freelance expert Charles Kozierok put it, Freelancer.com has the reputation of being “the Wild West of freelancing sites.”

Our Verdict On FreeLancer

Freelancer.com has a huge pool of talent, and its exam verifications combined with typical reviews and star-ratings helps separate the wheat from the chaff. This bodes well for those needing quality work, as long as they pay top talent rates.

Clients and freelancers looking to get started need to carefully examine the membership plans. Choose the free trials whenever possible so you can accustom yourself to the dashboard and better understand the value of benefits associated with the upgrade to each membership level.

Until its escrow service is started, large-cost projects are especially risky for both sides. For now, stick to smaller budgeted projects and pay special attention to any added fees. Clients will want to carefully read the job posting terms of service to avoid account banning that will also leave freelancers facing payment reversals, even if they’ve already successfully completed the project.

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About Johnson Hur

After having graduated with a degree in Finance and working for a Fortune 500 company for several years, Johnson decided to follow his passion by embarking on a path to the digital world. He has over 8 years of experience with large companies setting marketing strategy.

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