Amongst a number of other guises, including the whole marketing thing, I am a voice artist. And it is as a voice artist that I dip into these freelance sites, but there are all manner of jobs on them all broken down into categories and sub categories from design and digital art, to animation and proofing jobs.
So, whether you are a web designer or a singer, bear in mind what I do and why I use these sites as my experience may differ from yours… I am seriously going to paraphrase here – don’t expect breakdowns into the sites’ intricacies, you’ll simply have to trust my judgement then go for a nose around yourself. Right, blogs with long rambling intro’s never get read, we all know we read the title then look for the first bullet point, so without further ado…
1. Elance 8/10
Elance has been well constructed and makes you feel most comfortable whilst using it. Incredibly, particularly when you consider how many designers work through these sites, a lot of freelance sites tend to feel dated, but Elance doesn’t. The UI is pretty slick and the features are way better than most. The pop out dialogue box works well and finding work in your specific genre is easy. Little touches like having a store of your demo files to simply attach to a proposal at the click of a button is nice and having a massive limit to how many files you can use is perfect as well as a massive individual file size limit. It all works nice and smoothly, has the freelancer in mind and this is the one I go to first. Top billing.
2. Skillpages 8/10
This is gathering momentum and looks like the way forward for freelancers. It’s essentially a social network for work but without the horrible boundaries that makes LinkedIn so bloody frustrating. No fees for a start, Skillpages let’s you advertise a position or role for free and similarly respond to other’s jobs. They don’t want to muscle in and hijack your chosen and preferred methods of communication and let’s you handle your own business. It is without it’s own system to protect both parties in terms of the transaction, but let’s be honest, that’s all a façade created by these websites to warrant the fee and to keep it all in-house. I’m pretty sure we are quite capable of protecting ourselves in a business transaction without the need for a big bro watching over us anyhow. Definitely check it out. One of the reason’s it’s not toppling all these other sites is that it’s a little on the quiet side and you don’t have the immediacy of job turn-arounds as you do with these other services, but a quick look round this week suggests it’s definitely getting busier and I have now had work through it and have turned to it to advertise two roles – one of which has been filled and the other is looking good for applicants so far. Let’s just hope there is something in place to stop those darned spammers who jump on this kind of free loveliness. Go and sign up and give it a go.
3. oDesk 5/10
This is favoured by India and the East. As a guy based in the UK my bids can’t compete with the simply enormous amount of bidders on there. This doesn’t mean I haven’t had work from oDesk but I tend to give it a wide birth. The favoured hourly rate just doesn’t suit the voice work either – for my line of work you have to bid for a complete product. It’s filled to the rafters with freelancers prepared to work at an exceptionally low rate and people expecting work to be done at that kind of rate. I find the bidding perplexing – you’ll have a guy asking for people to work at an outrageous $5 per hour for something and then you’ll have people bidding a fee for the completed job and some bid way over what he has asked for – it’s a bit of a mess and if I can, I forget about the site and venture in when times are hard. It is a pretty good functional website and it may suit certain genres and industries, but not mine, but if you have a “voice talent” sub category, you should cater to it.
4. Freelancer 5/10
It’s no Elance but it’s not too far off in terms of the site’s functionality but there are lots of little niggles. There is a strange “bid and then PM (personal message) your files” approach which makes no sense at all and just leads to people bidding with “Please see my PM for details.” If you have the job list for your industry you can’t work off that list simply, you can’t open the jobs in tabs for example. You can only get one file at a time over to the customer too. But perhaps most importantly you should be aware that Freelancer take their fee regardless of whether you get paid or not. When challenged they will tell you that they are merely acting as the “introduction” service and that the dealings between you and the employer are nothing to do with them. That could be translated as “we don’t give too much of a shit, just as long as we take our lump of the transactions going on round here.” If you win a job for $1000 your account will immediately go to -$100 as Freelancer immediately take their 10% fee; if the employer gets cold feet, deletes his account and runs you are left with a $100 debt to Freelancer and ironically NO contact details for the guy who ran because Freelancer frowns upon sharing contact info! Why not a compulsory 100% escrow or why they can’t take their fee from the transaction, I don’t know. When it comes to withdrawing your money, if you want to use Paypal they inexplicably charge you $1 for withdrawals in dollars and £1 ($1.60!) for withdrawing in GBP. Why the difference?! It’s suspiciously random (ie what is the fee for exactly? If it’s an expense for them, then Freelancer should have one cost that is equal across all currencies). That’s anasty little sting in the tail after your work is done and if you have a lot of transactions going on, particularly when you have fees for each job, potentially a subscription to the service and Paypal’s own over-inflated fees on top, it all adds up. The profiteering runs right throughout the service and it’s score has suffered because of it.
5. People Per Hour 4/10
Hmm. They’re working on it. It still has some way to go to catch up but they have recently reached out for feedback in a big way (see the red feedback tab on the right side of every page). It doesn’t feel as old skool as it did a few months ago but someone seriously needs to get hold of that logo; it feels like an 80’s supermarket! Aside from the aesthetics it has some major issues that you can’t get passed. For me as a voice artist for example there is no “audio” category so jobs are strewn across categories such as “design” or even “secretarial” but you can only bid in a small set of categories so I can’t even get to the jobs without fiddling with my categories! When you bid for work you have an upload limit of an utterly ridiculous 2mb (it was 1mb up until a couple of weeks ago!) so when it comes to showcasing media files – you’re stuffed, and if you link to a hosted file, the link isn’t even live leaving clients baffled. Lots of these minor/major gripes make up a big one; but they are working on it apparently.
6. Guru ?/10
I don’t know how this has evaded me for so long but I have just discovered it and early indications are very positive. They don’t look uptight about you making contact off the website which is refreshing. The threats from all of the above about daring to make contact on Skype, for example, isn’t solving a problem and is very off-putting. I need to get to grips with Guru but so far it looks up there with Elance and could eventually turn out to be a regular spot for me; particularly as the site is the first to differentiate between male and female voice jobs (note to all freelancer sites please also do this, and differentiate between accents required and character or commercial work – it’s far deeper than just “voice talent” and would help us enormously).
Office Cavalry New to the scene. While the interface looks nice, the horrific stereotyped characters on the home page is enough to put anyone off and it’s dead quiet!
Freelance Just seen it whilst Googling – think it has just launched. Looks like a fresh look and really quite promising but no apparent audio category (on a personal front). Is this PPH reincarnated?!
Google+ Will it trump the lot? It certainly has the potential to. Keep a close eye on it; particularly as its business elements get launched.