When it comes to third party freelancing websites, there are plenty of them out there to choose from if you are looking to land some editing, writing, or other writing related work. It can be difficult to know which freelance writing sites are worth the time it takes to create a profile, build your portfolio, browse job listings, and submit proposals or bids. In this article we will do a comparison of two third party sites, Freelancer and Guru in hopes of giving you some insight into how these sites measure up.
Guru has been around since 1999, and their headquarters are located in Pittsburgh, PA. Their pool of freelancers and employers seems to be made up of fewer third-world workers than other sites, which could be due to the fact that the company is headquartered in the United States. This is good for those freelancers looking to earn a decent U.S. wage by not competing with third-world workers.
Freelancer is based in Australia and was launched in 2004. When it comes to third party freelancing sites, Freelancer is one of the largest just by sheer numbers. They service nearly 8 million clients and freelancers combined and there are an estimated 4 million plus job listings available.
Just like with about every other third party freelance website, Guru and Freelancer require you to create a user profile. The profile will include your basic information as well information about your skills and the services you can provide. You can create your profile, build an online portfolio, and browse jobs for free.
Guru’s profile includes information about yourself and your skills, a portfolio section where you can upload samples of your work into similar categories called “work collections”, and any testimonials that you want to add. Your profile also includes your membership status, your bid count and history of use, and profile stats including visitors to your profile.
Freelancer’s profile includes your username and photo, your location, when you became a member and the number of recommendations you have received. Like other similar sites, you can add information about your experience, education, and certifications. It includes a listing of your top skills as well as any certifications you’ve earned via testing. You have the option to connect to Facebook if you choose.
Skill Verification Via Online Testing
One thing Guru offers to freelancers is the ability to take online skill tests through expertrating.com. Unfortunately, unlike Upwork, you are charged a fee for each and every test. Test fees for guru Basic level members are $4.95 each and for Basic+ level members each test is $2.95. In order to be able to take these skill tests for free, you must upgrade to a Professional, Business, or Executive Guru membership.
Freelancer offers a similar option to take tests under their certification section. Cost appears to be $5.00 per test although you can’t even get into the testing area without paying to take at least one test so I wasn’t able to see pricing for specific skill tests.
Browsing and Bidding on Jobs
Both Guru and Freelancer allow you to browse jobs to find ones that suit your skills. Freelancer offers nearly fifty different subcategories under the writing category. This makes it really easy to find the jobs that are a better match to your skill set. Guru only listed about twenty subcategories in the writing section and several categories were very similar or even duplicates such as ghostwriting, ghost writing and books, and book writing.
Freelancer tags some jobs as “Qualified”. These are jobs where the employer has required a specific skill in order for you to bid on the job. If you click on one of these jobs, it will indicate which skill or skills you need to get certified in so that you can bid on the job. You then have to pay the fee associated with the test and pass it just to bid on the job. It appears to me that this results in a system in which freelancers are required to “certify” in a variety of skills at $5.00 or more for each test with no guarantee that they will even be awarded the project.
Cost and Fees
Freelancer offers a 30-day trial of their free membership, after that you must pay .99 cents per month to maintain it. There is also 20% service fee when the service is ordered. This means if you agree to write an article for a client for $10.00, Freelancer will immediately deduct the $2.00. This could be bad for you if the client then doesn’t pay for some reason and you still are liable for that service fee. If you are a preferred Freelancer, then the commission is only 15% when you accept a Recruiter project and it is charged when you receive payment rather than upfront.
Guru.com does offer a basic membership which is completely free and allows you to bid on 120 jobs per year which is approximately 10 per month. Your bids do not roll over. Keep in mind that bidding on a premium job can cost 6 bids, so 10 bids per month won’t be nearly enough. Guru.com does offer a basic+ membership at $8.95 per month that allows you 600 bids a year which should be more than adequate for any freelancer just starting out.
The weird thing is that at the professional level, Business, and Executive levels of membership, you still only get 600 bids per year even though you are paying more per month. The only difference in the higher levels seems to be that the commission fee on each job drops from 8.95% down to between 4.95%-6.95% depending on which of the higher level memberships you choose.
As with other third party freelance sites, reviews on customer service for both sites seem to be mixed. There are a number of people who seem to have been able to successfully earn money on both sites. While the customer service complaints for Guru center around slow response times, the complaints from users of Freelancer are riddled with users who have had their accounts suddenly frozen, payments delayed, or refunded to the client without any arbitration.
After careful review of both sites, it appears that there is no evidence that these sites are intentionally scamming freelancers. Guru does seem to have a better reputation for freelancers receiving payments and for their customer service stepping up, albeit slowly, to mediate disputes over payments. Freelancer appears to be riddled with issues surrounding payments without much of a reputation for working with freelancers to mediate before taking actions such as suspending accounts and refunding payments.
Simply because of the reports of freelancer payment issues, I would have to recommend Guru over Freelancer. I would also recommend that anyone considering either of these sites do their own research into the issues being reported by freelance users and the monthly costs involved before making a decision as to site is best for you. It would be wise to compare both of these sites with other sites such as Upwork to ensure that you choose wisely.