As a freelancer:
I joined up to Freelancer.com a number of years ago- my first experience with crowd sourcing- which is basically a case of assigning work you need done to a crowd of potential bidders on the internet.
Sounded like a great idea- lots or work to go around and providing you can put forward a good case for each project, there didn’t seem much reason for employers not to provide you a regular stream of work.
There’s a few issues I wanted to highlight after having used the site several times.
1. Getting work is difficult!
When bidding on a project you start at the bottom of the rankings list. That’s until you complete more jobs, earn more money and receive positive reviews through the site itself. Competing against established freelancers on the site can be challenging since they will have completed work through the site and received reviews perhaps despite not being the most talented, hard working, professional or suitable candidate on the list. Therefore to compete you’ll need to under sell your services to stand a chance of being selected to work on any given project which may already have a several, if not dozens of bidders already.
2. Reviews can be bullshit
I entered a design competition on the site, won it out 20 or so other entries. Great, especially considering I’m more an illustrator than graphic designer! Being given a 2 star review from it wasn’t great however! I was marked down for things like lack of communication despite the fact there was never an opportunity to communicate – the format simply allowed submission of entries and then a winner was chosen. As a rule I never take on any task unless it’s worthy of a 5 star rating, always go the extra mile and take a ton of pride in everything I do. So it’s pretty annoying, gives a completely wrong impression and lowers my chances of getting hired for future projects.
If my art or design ability wasn’t up to an employers standards, I’d be more than happy for them to choose someone else, or in this case I’d rather just give them the work for free than give a poor review… Yeah, it pissed me off.
Reviews count for a lot on Freelancer since they contribute to your ranking as a professional, but they don’t indicate a freelancer’s actual knowledge, ability, experience or professionalism.
3. Can’t compete with the rest of the world
I don’t live in a developing country. I need to earn and charge a fee to be able to pay the cost of living in the UK. Most freelancers are from countries such as India and Bangladesh where the cost of living is less and so are able to complete a project for 10-50% the cost of out-sourcing to a UK freelancer. If you want to earn a fair amount for your time and pay your bills with the money you earn through Freelancer, forget about it!
As an Employer:
I’ve also used the site as an employer to find assistants to help with parts of a project I couldn’t quite finish myself. When it works, it’s great- you get exactly what you want for a very reasonable price. When it doesn’t work out however it can become a very stressful experience.
1. The standard of freelancers vary
Communication is an issue- since most are from non-english speaking countries. Be prepared to deal with broken English and a degree of rudeness from many freelancers on the site.
2. Lots of Time Wasters
I’ve awarded 7 projects to bidders, but only two ended up starting and completing the work. The others would either ignore messages or make endless excuses, stating they’ll start it tomorrow and tomorrow never comes. This wastes days or weeks dealing with freelancers who have no intention of working.
3. Piss takers
Right now I am listing a micro project to edit a few lines of code on a web page. I’ve listed my budget of £10-£20. It’s 1-4 hours work max. Yet some freelancers will ask for hundreds of pounds. One guy is currently asking for £2600 for the job! Obviously they can charge whatever they like, but surely a lot of freelancers don’t even read the briefs of the jobs they bid on.
Freelancer.com acts as the middle man between Freelancer and Employer and always looking to leach as much money off everyone as they can. Making Paypal deposits incurs a fee. Awarding a project incurs a fee, accepting a project incurs a fee, resolving disputes incurs a fee, deleting a project incurs a fee and that’s before dealing with the many up-sell services the site constantly pushes for. They even steal your earnings or deposits if you don’t log into your account on a regular basis!
So I’m currently listing my last micro project on Freelancer and hopefully once it’s finish, I’ll never have to waste my time with the site again.