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Table Of Contents  The Online Freelancing Guide
 >  An Analysis and Review of Popular Online Freelancing Marketplace Sites

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vWorker - Freelancer Community Characteristics
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Report Card for the Big Five Online Freelance Marketplace Sites
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Cost Comparison for the Big Five Online Freelance Marketplace Sites
(Page 1 of 5)

Contractors care a great deal about the fees that online freelancing marketplaces charge—in fact, sometimes I think they care too much. Of all of the particulars related to these sites, fees seem to get a disproportionate share of the attention. Yet ironically enough, it’s notori­ously difficult to compare the real total fees associated with using freelance marketplaces. People have a tendency to focus on nominal figures such as monthly membership costs or transaction fees, rather than considering the total cost of using each site. And they don’t understand how the decisions they make impact the bottom line.

Here are a few reasons why the comparisons are so tough:

  • The sites use widely divergent fee models. Some charge for memberships while others do not; some have high transaction fees while others have much lower trans­action costs; some have category and bidding fees; etc.

  • The cost of using sites depends largely on how they are used. Some cost more or less to use depending on choices that you make about features such as optional member­ships. Some provide a noticeable discount (as a percentage of money earned) to users who conduct a lot of volume on the site, while others don’t. Some cost more for freelancers who work in multiple categories while others do not. And so forth.

  • Some sites have hidden fees that aren’t immediately apparent unless you really dig into the details of their terms of service.

  • Sites have big differences in the services they provide, some of which have an indirect impact on their real cost of use. This is especially the case when it comes to escrow and dispute resolution, where a site that is cheaper in nominal terms can cost extra when a problem leads to a non-paying client, if those cheaper fees mean there isn’t a proper arbitration service.

So, did I find the magic bullet that can resolve these issues and allow a perfect comparison among freelancing sites? Sadly, no. But I realized that even if I couldn’t eliminate all of the variables, I could create a model that would give at least a ballpark idea of how the sites really compare in terms of cost of use.

To create this model, I determined with a set of assumptions for how the sites would be used, and then crafted four scenarios that represent what I believe are somewhat typical examples of contractors and how they might use the various sites. I then used the assump­tions and the variables associated with each scenario to compute the monthly cost of each of the sites, allowing them to be compared to each other.

Here’s how it works.


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Report Card for the Big Five Online Freelance Marketplace Sites
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