At Expend, as with many startups, we have so far operated on a lean basis (as popularised by Eric Reis).
Therefore we occasionally find ourselves searching for extra help to fill shortfalls in knowledge - or labour - and turning to our much loved freelance job websites in the process. We’re not alone either, with the UK freelance economy booming post-Brexit and 71% of US based freelancers saying the amount of work they found online has increased in the past year. We've used a number of websites for this, so we thought it would be useful to share our favourites and why you might consider sourcing work - or help - through them too.
Before that, why bother with job websites in the first place? After all, according to many, networking is the best way these days and used to find over 60% of jobs. Well, apart from the broader exposure gained through advertising your services on one of these sites, you can also augment your portfolio through smaller 'practice' projects as and when you have the time.
It’s a huge bonus too if you can get personal recommendations from your clients and build relationships with them (aka networking). Before long you’ll be one of the mythical freelancers who appear to inhabit a world where jobs arrive unbidden on their doorstep! (Because we all know one of those don’t we?)
However, sometimes even the most successful freelancers just can’t get work and need to cast their nets broadly in search of their next project - enter the comprehensive freelance job websites.
The sites we list below are quite broad, but don’t discount the smaller specialist sites - we always recommend pursuing places with a narrower focus that is closer aligned to what you offer or need. Because occasionally, when the larger ones have become a bit overwhelming with the sheer volume of offerings, we’ve found ourselves drawn to the smaller, localised or niche websites. So, whether you’re just starting out, in a lull, or looking to hire someone, the following are some of the places we’ve found the most helpful so far.
Home to some 1.5 million clients, Upwork is the biggest online workplace in the world. Once signed up, you can browse a mind-boggling array of jobs, offered on both an hourly and a per-project basis. And with work suitable for everyone from experts to those just getting started, it’s a great all-round option for freelancers at any stage of their career.
Working in finance, development or design? These are high-powered careers, and they need a specialist freelancing service to match. At Toptal, you’ll have to prove that you’re at the top of your game and doing your best work – but once you do you’ll have access to top companies all keen to pay the highest rates in return for your skills.
At the other end of the scale, we find Gumtree. The UK classifieds site is best known as a marketplace for buying and selling second hand goods, which is why it’s often overlooked as a useful source of freelance work. However, while it rarely offers the highest paying jobs, it’s ideal for those who are just starting out.
Another overlooked benefit is the ability to search for work by location, allowing you to target & establish yourself in a specific (read: your local) community. It’s important, where possible, to meet your clients and encourage their word of mouth promotion of your abilities. Because, as we all know, word of mouth is perhaps the most important promotional tool available to you and a main contributor to why work would come to you.
Edit: Gumtree has now just launched a new jobs portal that 'offers workers a better job search functionality'!
Looking for a way to show off your skills against the competition? Unusually, this website lets you compete against other freelancers to grab the attention of potential clients. On top of that, its bid-based system allows you to set your own rates on a project-by-project basis while giving you the flexibility and freedom to really stamp your personal style on your chosen project.
If you’re confident in your abilities this could be an interesting option, and you’ll never feel underpaid! The only downside is a need to work in advance without knowing if you’ll get a reward - though this is tempered when you consider all experience as valuable, portfolio enhancing, and you can potentially take unused ideas to another project.
Time management is key to effective freelancing, especially on Freelancer.com. You can read more via this great blog post by Time Doctor, that provides time tracking software.
Someone was paid to do this.
Indeed is a market leader with 140m-odd unique users. It offers a useful way to source freelance and contract work with options to customise your search by location, salary range and sector. A simple search of ‘freelance’ and your desired role will give you a range of opportunities you may not encounter elsewhere.
However as it is essentially a jobs search engine, Indeed can be more time-consuming to use than some of the other options mentioned (with a proper application and established portfolio required to help you stand out). On the plus side, the jobs can pay well and you don’t lose out on high commissions and fees (i.e. 20% at PeoplePerHour!).
With over 1.6m people using it, Airtasker is a trusted community platform that connects people who need to outsource tasks and find local services, with people who are looking to earn money and ready to work. We love the community emphasis being built around the service - as sometimes the larger sites can seem somewhat impersonal - and you can never be certain the freelancer you've hired is 100% committed to your task.
They cater for a broad range of services too. From tasks around the home like deliveries, cleaning and handyman jobs, to tasks for businesses like office admin, promotional work or computer & IT support. Its mobile app makes things even more convenient, and in smoothing things like insurance & payment, you save even more time for more important things than putting up those new ("7 L happy") office shelves.
And we're all for saving time!
No list of Freelancer sites would be complete without Fiverr! Sure it’s not going to pay your rent with ‘Gigs’ starting at $5 (£3.80), but Fiverr can give you a platform to pick up small work during those quiet times and now also offers a FiverrPro option, aimed at more more complex, bespoke and specialised services for those who prefer a more collaborative approach.
This is a bridge to a more targeted world, which is ideal if you’re further into your freelance adventure when we believe promoting yourself on more focused specialist sites is certainly worth doing. Regardless, whichever site or sites you use you’ll always need to make sure you stand out from the crowd.
Thats a good point at which to conclude our handy list of some of the broader freelance job websites we’ve consulted during our lean quest make expenses effortless! We hope this is a good starting point for you too and will help you towards inhabiting a world where jobs arrive unbidden on your doorstep!
We'd love to hear which is your favourite! Or have we missed any? Vote below, or get in touch!