If you’re a freelancer looking for extra income or a new lifestyle, chances are you’ve already checked out a few freelancing sites in the past.
Similarly, while these websites might not be ideal for all industries, if you’re an employer looking for certain types of talent (tech in particular), freelance sites are often a good place to start.
As the professional freelance industry evolves and the number of freelancers rises, the quality of talent is skyrocketing as well. While many people still associate freelance websites with outsourced, cheap labor, a number of sites have innovated by specializing in different niches and prioritizing quality over volume.
This topic has been covered in the past, but with the rapid evolution of the industry and an increasing number of businesses tapping into the pool of talented resources, knowing the best options currently out there is critical to staying ahead of the competition.
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Here are the 15 Best Freelance Websites in 2015
Image via Toptal
Toptal is not your standard freelance platform, as freelancers can’t just sign up and start looking for a new gig. The network is designed for elite software engineers and all candidates must pass a stringent screening process, ensuring that they have plenty of experience, high technical expertise, and excellent communication skills. Toptal also hand-matches developers to client specifications and offers a no-risk trial period, enabling clients to move quickly and hire well while removing risk.
Toptal focuses on experienced developers and allows them to set their own hourly rates without worrying about low-bid contests, so it’s not suited for less experienced contractors or those with different skill sets. However, Toptal sets the standard for companies in need of top-notch technical talent for their important projects.
In 2014, Elance and oDesk merged, and the rebranded result is Upwork, the biggest freelancing platform in the market. With more than 9 million registered freelancers and upwards of 4 million registered clients, Upwork offers a lot of opportunities in practically any niche.
While size is generally a good thing, the sheer number of freelancers competing for jobs often leads to low-bid contests, despite the site’s fixed-bid approach. If you are new to the network, you may have to lower your rates for a few jobs to build your reputation.
Freelancer is another big platform, but it has a somewhat different approach. Freelancer hosts competitions, allowing you to go up against other freelancers and demonstrate your skills to prospective employers.
However, this approach may prove difficult for freelancers looking to get their start in the industry, and the high-volume approach of the network may also lead to lower rates than contractors might be accustomed to.
Guru started off with a focus on the North American market, but has expanded globally in recent years. It attracted many freelance developers during its prime and focused primarily on coding, but today other professions are well-represented as well.
While Guru has excellent project tracking features, users should be wary of high fees and a complicated withdrawal process involving additional fees, especially when dealing with small projects.
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99designs allows users to take part in design contests and connect with clients looking for anything from a new website look to a complete corporate identity makeover. While it’s a great way to see many design options rapidly, freelancers should note the difficulty with plagiarism in this niche.
Craigslist is not a dedicated freelance site, but due to its sheer size, contractors can always find jobs here by searching the classifieds for work. Although the process is simple and cost-effective, Craigslist lacks many of the services usually available on true freelancing sites.
Image via Peopleperhour
Peopleperhour focuses on web projects and is ideally suited to freelancers in several web-related niches. However, the network sometimes has problems with high fees and inadequate support services.
While it focuses on long-term hires, Staff.com is also used by many freelancers, and for many people it’s a good alternative to larger freelance networks. In short, Staff.com gives freelancers an opportunity to find steady work when they need it.
LinkedIn is a professional network, so it features a huge repository of resumes and professional profiles. In addition to merely providing candidates and job search functionality, the community will often help you decide whether applying for a certain position or hiring someone to fill a spot is a good idea.
Image via Demand Media Studio
10. Demand Media Studios
Demand Media Studios is unique in that its freelancers (mostly creative types such as filmmakers, photographers, etc.) work together to create high-quality content together as a team. It’s an excellent place to for these types of freelancers to grow their audience and for clients to find proven creative people.
Like Craigslist and LinkedIn, this is not a dedicated freelancing platform. However, StackExchange is a very popular Q&A forum and can be used to connect with freelancers and employers. It may involve a bit more engagement on your part, but an open discussion may help you choose the right person for the job, or to find the right job for yourself.
Just as you’d expect, GetACoder caters to coders, but also carries a number of different jobs for other professionals, like writers and designers. The focus is on small-scale projects, so the platform is ideally suited to small businesses or freelancers who don’t want to be swamped with 3- or 6-month projects.
Image via College Recruiter
13. College Recruiter
As the name suggests, College Recruiter is a platform for college students (and fresh graduates), so it’s good for smaller projects that can be handled by young freelancers who don’t have a lot of experience. The upside is that students can gain valuable experience and employers can access fresh talent, while at the same time providing students with a new source of income.
iFreelance is similar to a lot of other freelance platforms out there, but it tries to differentiate by allowing freelancers to keep 100 percent of their earnings. You can post projects for free and can communicate on-site or off-site, a deviation from most freelance platforms.
Unlike most freelance platforms, SimplyHired is not focused on tech, so you can use it to hire anyone from designers to plumbers. It’s a great option for certain types of projects and some industries that are not catered to by more some of the more traditional platforms listed here.
Working with great freelancers is easier and more prevalent today than ever before, and finding the right talent can be the difference between a project’s success and failure. Use the sites here to get the influx of talent you need.