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What Are Freelance Platforms? Analysis of Features, Benefits and Pricing

Category: B2B News
What are freelance platforms?
Freelance platforms are a meeting place where qualified and skilled freelancers from anywhere in the world can find work and get payment. In this regard, online freelance platforms can be compared to eBay and Airbnb which have totally transformed the way we shop and travel respectively.

Freelance work has grown immensely over the past decade and is expected to further increase in the coming years. With such growth it is predicted that freelancers will account to as much as 80% of the entire workforce worldwide by 2030. Previously considered as mere side gigs and extra jobs, freelance work has now become a major employment option.

One reason for its overwhelming development is the notion that conventional 9-to-5 office work is evidently not compatible in this highly interconnected globalized world. Another rationale behind this global upsurge is the corresponding growth and sophistication of freelance platforms. Which is why we’ve prepared this article to provide you with a detailed analysis of the top freelance platforms in the market today.

freelance platforms

Freelance platforms are important for both workers as well as employers. An Upwork report indicates that 80% of large corporations are planning to increase their use of freelancers. In fact, there is a 30% demand-increase in the number of work projects accomplished through these types of platforms.

If you think only small businesses use freelance platforms you are in for a surprise. An Accenture report states that 100 of Fortune 500 companies are using Upwork. Likewise, freelance work is getting more popular today as more people find it profitable and convenient, which means, more talents out there for companies.


What do Freelance Platforms do?

What is the purpose of freelance platforms? Businesses located anywhere in the world can use freelance platforms to hire temporary workers for job roles and projects that do not require permanent employment. Freelance platforms allow freelancers to create a profile, display their work portfolio, and chat with employers. Businesses can search a directory of freelancers based on experience, skills and related criteria. Thus, companies can outsource labor- and time-intensive work, and focus on their core activities.

What are freelance platforms and what do they offer? They are at once a hiring platform, a talent marketplace, a communication and collaboration workspace, and even a time sheet for payroll.

  1. Shortlist candidates. You can shortlist applicants worldwide and conduct interviews to select good fits for your project. You can review each candidate’s skills, client feedback, related experience, rate, timezone, and language fluency among other factors to prepare your shortlist for interviews. The way to attract the best global talent is to create an impressive online brand presence. This will create interest in qualified freelancers and they would wish to work for your project.
  2. Track work time. Many freelance platforms provide a work diary and desktop app to enable businesses to track work time and results.
  3. Communication and collaboration platform. Some platforms provide a workroom and chat tool to enable workers to contact clients any time for clarifications.
  4. Quality control. Businesses can release payment only after thoroughly checking the final submission for quality and other specified criteria. Plus, they can define milestones and make payments only after they are satisfactorily reached.
  5. Rate freelancers. These platforms also have a mechanism to rate freelancers based on their outputs. You can highlight your best performers or warn other businesses of problematic freelancers.

envato studio dashboard example

Why Use Freelance Platforms?

What are the advantages of freelance platforms for freelancers and hiring businesses? Here are some of the major benefits to businesses:

  1. Access talent anywhere. Companies can access a global talent pool of thousands of freelancers so they can easily find suitable workers for their projects. By posting a professional and detailed job post, enterprises can attract a wave of applications from qualified freelancers.
  2. Appeal to millennials. Today’s millennials do not want to be saddled with the boring grind of traditional 9-to-5 work. They want the freedom to work at their own pace and observe a good balance between their professional and personal lives. Many millennials also wish to give more time to develop their interests and want to live a fulfilling and meaningful life. What do freelance platforms do for them? They are a boon to such people as they can work to earn as much as they need and spend the rest of their time on their other interests and activities.
  3. Cut costs. Businesses also benefit as they can save a lot of money. Hiring full-time workers are much more expensive as you need to give them a fixed salary, perks, etc., and also pay rent for office space. Freelancers are a much more cost-effective option. You can get the same work done at a fraction of the cost.
  4. Hire talent on demand. You can hire talents on a need-to basis and terminate their contract once the work is done. In case a freelancer does not submit good quality work, you can easily terminate their services without the hassles involved in the case of full-time employees.
  5. Offer work-life balance. Freelancers working from home can save this time and instead it spend it on doing additional work to earn more money. Likewise, freelancers can opt to work at their own pace and do only as many projects as they wish. They can complete their tasks anytime during the day or night. In many big cities, commuting from home to office takes up a lot of time.
  6. Nurture merit-based system. Pay freelancers based on the quality work that they do;  freelance platforms have processes to ensure this. As mentioned earlier, they will step in and resolve any dispute that arises between the employer and freelancer.

fiverr dashboard example

How do Freelance Platforms Work?

How do freelance platforms work? Freelance platforms are a marketplace for businesses and freelance workers from all over the world. They typically make money by taking a cut from both the employer and the freelancer. For the money they charge, these platforms provide a hassle-free and convenient business experience to both parties.

  1. Talent marketplace. You have at your disposal talents from across the globe. Using filters you can drill down to the specific skills requirements that you need.
  2. Hiring platform. Once you’ve shortlisted applicants, you can conduct tests and interviews right inside the platform (some platforms do not feature this). Many platforms feature video and chat integration so both HR and applicants can get in touch in one place.
  3. Time tracker. Many platforms also provide a workspace to track freelancers’ outputs. Some solutions even allow you to see in real time the work being done. This is helpful when you need to micro-manage urgent projects.
  4. Process payment. Some platforms offer this service or integrate with top payment gateways to consolidate payments. Charges usually apply to the business, not to the contractor.

freelancer dashboard example

Examples of Freelance Platforms

Here are a few examples of freelance platforms that you can try out to start with:

  1. Fiverr helps employers finding the best talent for their projects. This platform aids entrepreneurs to find and hire workers who can help to build their brand or improve their marketing. The best part is you can hire quality freelancers for your project as you can view all the reviews given to them. For instance, you can view freelancer details such as the number of gigs completed, feedback, ratings, and cancellation instances. This way you can weed out unworthy candidates and select only those with proven skills to ensure you get quality work for the amount you shell out. In addition, the platform protects the private and financial data of employers and gives them the confidence to make payments securely. Plus, it offers a private chat channel where employers and workers can communicate securely about the project details. Key features of Fiverr include multi-currency support, secure payment gateways, multi-category jobs, and custom offers. You can signup for Fiverr here.
  2. Upwork is the new avatar of the platform that was formerly known as Elance-oDesk. This site is arguably the most popular freelance platform in the world as it boasts the largest number of employers and candidates as well as the broadest coverage. A major highlight is its robust search engine that helps freelancers find the gigs they are interested in, while employers can scour the site for qualified and skilled workers. In addition, both parties are fully protected from scams and fraud as Upwork has implemented vigorous standards and procedures to ensure the integrity of business transactions. This platform’s in-app messaging service facilitates seamless communication between employers and workers. You can use it to send and receive files and the tool also supports text and video communications. Upwork also provides mobile apps for iOS and Android devices that employers can use to review work and make payments on the go. Main features include invoicing and reporting, work diary, global payments, chat scheduling, and feedback sharing.
  3. is a crowdsourcing marketplace that boasts more than 25 million users. Entrepreneurs and business owners can easily find suitable talent for their projects such as website design, data entry, social media marketing, content writing, and more. The site fully protects employers by enabling them to monitor their hires to ensure they are working on the project during billable hours. Plus, they can easily communicate with the freelancers on the web or by using the mobile app to keep them updated about project needs. Employers can search the site for qualified freelancers and can contact suitable ones via chat or send them a direct offer. Elite workers are included in the Preferred Freelancer Program which gives employers a talent pool of highly skilled workers to choose from. Employers can set project milestones and pay freelancers once the milestones are satisfactorily reached. All electronic and card payments are fully secure on this platform. Top features include invoicing, time tracker, job sample viewing, and contest posting.
  4. Envato Studio is different from regular freelance platforms as this site is meant for creatives, designers, and developers. Its most popular categories are WordPress theme customizations and logo design. The site handpicks freelancers which assure employers that they are working with some of the best talents in the world. Employers can easily find affordable vendors and get full value for the money they spend by receiving quality final products. Service providers also have a lot to gain as they can post their prices to enable employers to compare rates and select those within their budget. Both parties can utilize the messaging tool to transmit project files such as briefs and communicate about other aspects. The client can also give feedback via this feature. Key features include job approval workflow, project management tools, community recommendations, and portfolio viewing.
  5. PeoplePerHour enables global businesses to select freelancing experts from different territories, regions, or countries. Big businesses stand to benefit as they are provided enterprise solutions that help them to recruit the brightest talents for their projects. Another benefit for employers is this platform reviews the applications of all freelancers and curates qualified professionals. Talents are assessed to ensure they are able to provide quality services to employers. The site also provides a pool of workers who are willing to start work immediately for a fixed price. Businesses can utilize the account management dashboard to perform a range of tasks. The dashboard provides tools such as messaging, project history, project progress tracking, and more. Freelancers can also be rated from this screen. The escrow feature ensures no one is cheated and that all financial transactions are conducted satisfactorily for both parties. Main features include invoicing, in-account funds, file sharing, global and local freelance directories, and no-cost contest posting.
  6. P.E. For Hire is designed primarily for sourcing professional engineers. This online project bidding and service sourcing platform allows contractors and consultants to find the best-suited engineering subcontractors for their projects, allowing them to list a contract project for free and quickly find and contact engineers who match their specific requirements through various filtering options. Meanwhile, professional engineers gain access to an extensive network of companies, contractors, and consultants looking for talents.

upwork dashboard example

Cost of Freelance Platforms

What is the cost of freelance platforms and what do they charge freelancers and hiring businesses. Here are the details:

  1. Fiverr: As the name suggests, prices start at $5/job. You get features such as success managers, dedicated customer support, secure communications, safe transactions, buyer protection, feedback and reputation review, vetted talents, and freelancer search.
  2. Upwork: Upwork’s basic plan is free and you get features such as payment protection plan, payment processing, collaboration platform, search features, and verified freelancer details. The Pro plan for businesses costs $500/hire plus 10% of invoice. It includes all basic plan features, plus account pre-funding, hiring assistance, and pre-vetted freelancers. Pricing for the Enterprise plan is quote based. It includes all Pro plan features plus dedicated account management, customized reporting, worker classification compliance services, user-defined contract management, custom company portal, and consolidated invoicing and billing.
  3. Job posting is free on this site. Rates for accepted projects depend on job type or size. There is a fixed charge of 3% or $3, whichever is higher, on fixed price projects. In addition, members and employers can subscribe to the following plans.
  4. Envato Studio: On their profiles, service providers can display the fee they charge for the number of days they plan to work. Enterprise pricing ranges from $5 to $2,000 depending on the category.
  5. PeoplePerHour: Employers can post jobs for free. They are charged a payment transaction fee of £0.6 + 5% and a service fee of 5% for credit/debit card and electronic payments. This platform also provides a quote-based enterprise pricing plan for large businesses. The package includes features such as single monthly invoice, dedicated account management, and full marketplace access.
  6. P.E. For Hire: Contractors and consultants looking for professional engineers can list a contract project for free with unlimited ads runs and talent proposals. Meanwhile, engineers looking for a contract project need to pay a $19.99 proposal fee.

peopleperhour dashboard example

Some Drawbacks to Consider

Indeed, freelance platforms offer a treasure chest of job benefits that in the past were not possible and even thinkable. Now, online freelancers can enjoy numerous advantages such as unlimited earning potential, the power to choose your clients and work hours, improved work-life balance, the shift from local to global operations, among others. However, no matter how ideal and advantageous are the jobs offered by these freelance platforms, there are still quite a handful of disadvantages and flaws with the services, protocols, and overall offerings these online marketplaces provide. Some of these drawbacks are either common across all freelance platform or specific to a one or a few.

One major drawback that’s common in most freelance platforms is the degree of competition. Freelancers are compelled to continually compete against others and go the extra mile to land that highly coveted job that many are fighting for. Aside from the great psychological toll this intense job market environment can do to freelancers, the situation is further aggravated when the competition defeats you to a job, not because they are better, but because of a better rate offer.

There are also the common issues of payment which could take several weeks before they get credited and the high commission that platforms charge on your earnings. Commission fees can be as high as 20% to 30%, which is really quite especially for those who depend solely on freelancing to pay bills and support their families. Fiverr charges a flat rate of 20%, while UpWork uses a pro-rated approach per client, starting with 20% for the first $500, 10% from $500.01 to $10,000, and goes down to 5% once you surpass $10,000.

Some platforms like UpWork also observe the strict exclusivity policy when it comes to communication between you and your client. This can be self-defeating as you can’t market yourself to your clients, which whom you are able to build good relationships and job experience, once your gig with them expires or when you leave the platform.

Furthermore, not all clients are a joy to work with, some are very difficult to communicate in terms of poor language skills, a number of employers have the propensity to change terms or project details even when a project is already live, while others are just too busy or slow to respond. In case you want to start looking for a part-time freelancing job or have decided to leave your regular job and start freelancing full-time, it’s but reasonable to start with the currently regarded best freelance platform. You can signup for Fiverr here.

By Nestor Gilbert

Senior writer for FinancesOnline. If he is not writing about the booming SaaS and B2B industry, with special focus on developments in CRM and business intelligence software spaces, he is editing manuscripts for aspiring and veteran authors. He has compiled years of experience editing book titles and writing for popular marketing and technical publications.

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