Elance vs. oDesk: Not All Freelance Marketplaces are Created Equal
Elance vs. oDesk: My Experience
Freelance marketplaces abound online. Each one claims to be the best resource with the most skilled providers and honest jobs. Because Elance and oDesk are the two websites most frequently mentioned, you might think that they are interchangeable. This couldn’t be less true.
Up-Front and Honest
Elance offers membership information and links on their homepage. One click takes me to information explaining membership levels and fees. This transparency is not matched by oDesk. It takes a search of the Help area and skimming several pages before finding oDesk’s fees.
Speaking of fees, I have heard criticism of Elance’s connect system. Basically, providers pay a monthly fee for “connects”. These are used to connect to buyers and bid on jobs. I maintain a professional membership at $10/month. This gives me 25 connects to use for bidding. I can carry over unused connects to the next month, not to exceed 50 connects (rollover connects are limited to the number of connects in the membership). This is more than enough for me. Additionally, this helps reduce the amount of “spam bidding” by providers. Elance also charges 6-8.75% of the final fees from each job. This is all up front and clearly outlined for providers and clients. oDesk does not charge monthly fees, but it takes 10% of the payment from each job.
oDesk and Elance both provide payment guarantees for providers. Hourly jobs on both sites utilize tools that take snapshots of the providers’ desktops. These images provide proof that the provider is working on the project that has been contracted. The utilities are very similar.Only Elance provides a guarantee for fixed-price work. By providing escrow services, buyers can fund escrow so that the provider is guaranteed that funds are available upon successful completion of jobs or milestones. This protects both the buyer and the provider. The buyer controls the release of funds from escrow after inspection of the work and the provider knows that the funds are available and he or she will be paid. I indicate my preference for using escrow on all of my fixed price jobs. It’s great to know that the funds are there and I don’t have to worry about getting paid. It’s like a safety net.
Bidding at Elance starts at $50 for fixed price jobs. In my experience, a majority of the jobs listed in the Writing and Translation category are fairly priced jobs. There are always a few looking for very cheap work, but most are looking for quality and are willing to pay for it. On oDesk, there is no minimum bid. I have seen many jobs for $3 or less for a 500 word article. Today, I actually saw a listing for $2/550 words. That is simply ridiculous. Unfortunately, it is an accurate representation of the types of jobs on oDesk.
On a purely aesthetic level, Elance is a very sophisticated site. Ithas aprofessional look and feel and is easy to navigate. Each page offers clear, complete information as well. oDesk’s site is not as visually appealing, but worse, it offers incomplete information. For example, when looking at the bidders on a job, oDesk only offers the contractor name and date applied. Elance lists the provider, verified credentials, premier status, portfolio link, location, rating information, delivery time, and level. This is very important information for both the buyer and potential providers. Elance makes it immediately visible on the job listing page.
When I started freelancing, I signed up for both oDesk and Elance. It took me less than a week to realize which site was worth working for. Elance is the freelance marketplace that offers higher quality jobs with better pay and myriad tools to get the job done.