Freelancing Platforms – Searching for Alternatives to Upwork (formerly oDesk + Elance)

Especially for small business owners, either business or trouble tends to arrive in waves. For instance, if I pick up a phone call from a potential new client, that’s the exact moment when the house phone will be ringing nonstop, and someone is also ringing the doorbell. For hours before or after, there’s a flat calm in the sea of commerce around my little island of industry.

[*Full Disclosure – this blogpost is about the search for, not the finding of, a new platform on which I can consistently find clients. Apparently, freelancers and those who hire them  can complain about Upwork’s inadequacies but no one has been able to top them as yet.]

Surf the Wave – Bidding Requests

After neglecting my editing work to attend to some non-urgent but important matters (i.e. filing, pile reduction, and paralegal training), I got hit with a wave of bidding requests from both Upwork and Peopleperhour.com. I chose to keep profiles on both freelancer platforms, on two very important small business or SMB principles:

  1. You never know how or from where your next client will appear; and
  2. It’s best to have multiple streams of prospects and referrals.

So far, most of my clients have arrived through Upwork; it’s the biggest and best freelancing platform for writers and editors that I have found so far. (Peopleperhour is mostly used by British and European SMB’s.)

Surfing the Wave – Upwork Has Problems

Today, a potential client expressed some real reservations about continuing to use Upwork, and I told him, “If I knew of a better platform, I’d be on it already.” Then I started thinking, if he’s the fifth client/prospect who’s mentioned the difficulty of this site, surely there is a better competitor who can blow Upwork out of the water? I began researching other alternatives for two other very good SMB principles:

  1. I’ll be in trouble if my main source of freelancing dries up; and
  2. If I find a better alternative, I can help my existing clients by introducing them to a better site and/or my current trickle of clients will expand.

Surfing the Wave – Finding Replacement Freelancer Platforms

I had to immediately discount a few popular alternatives (Fiverr, Guru, 99 Design, and Texbroker) because they cater to a quite different demographic and business industry.

  • Fiverr is geared toward one-time transactions
  • Guru offers great profiles of talented freelancers but not enough jobs
  • 99 Design is geared toward website design projects
  • Textbroker is geared toward content creation

One of my great frustrations, as an editor, is trying to explain the nature of editing to prospects and networking contacts. Often, it’s not their fault; the sphere of journalism has created an unholy matrimony between writing and editing, so that ‘editor’ can mean anything from ‘person who looks for spelling errors’ to ‘person who puts together op-ed pieces before publication’.

Based on the following articles, I have found a few expansion ideas. However, Freelancer may be the first (or only) platform where I ought to post another profile.

  1. Out of the 17 Upwork Alternatives
    • Freelancer – add my profile for lead generation.
    • Twago – to expand my offerings to ESL clients (those who speak English as a second language).
    • Staff.com – in a year or two, I might use this site to find other freelancers who are sick of wasting time on bids that go unanswered.
    • Time Doctor – replace Freshbooks with a service that offers time tracking + screenshots of work.
  2. Out of the Hubstaff blogpost of Upwork Competitors, Workhoppers looks like the most viable option. However, since Safari shut down unexpectedly, I’ll have to finish my half-finished profile later on.
  3. By now, I can’t remember all of the sites that I’ve quickly checked to find the exact same offerings, other than iFreelance, whose most popular jobs include marketing and data entry. No thanks.

I’ll come back to this idea once I’ve let it wash around the tide pools of my brain. Today, I’m just too tired to keep on looking for the elusive replacement.

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