My Report

Freelance Economic Conditions

The good news, even in this economy, is that the market for freelancers is growing as evidenced by several articles. On March 29th, 2011 Deborah Gage, writer for DowJones VentureWire developed a piece entitled, Odesk Secures $15M New CFO.  Ms. Gage reports that Odesk.com has 300,000 customers and 1.6 million contractors. Odesk.com revealed, in May 2012, that they have 146,746 jobs posted with an impressive average job size of $4127.  Sarah Mitroff’s column, in VentureBeat, Freelance marketplace Elance secures $16M in funding, says freelancers earned nearly $500 million, to date, with their service. At the same time Elance.com publicized they have 65,777 projects available.

Freelancer.com – Where Supply Meets Demand                   

On December 8th, 2011 Freelancer.com announced its 3 millionth user, via the following press release: Freelancer.com smashes through 3 million users, overtakes Kuwait for population.  A major reason why 3 million plus users (and growing) prefer this marketplace is that freelancing is a great way to stay proactive for people whose work relates to software, writing, data entry and design, and through to sales and marketing, accounting, legal services, and engineering and the sciences.

Freelancer’s current statistics can be found half way down the screen on their home page,  and  below is a recent snapshot.

Online Marketing Front

Businesses are learning, via online marketing, of the pulling power of the Internet; and that Freelancer.com is a fantastic tool for finding quality ad hoc workers.  Meanwhile, all these participants deploy online marketing strategies that assist the worker and the employer alike. For instance, the graphs presented below show the outcomes of their respective attempts at search engine optimization (SEO).

First page organic keywords in Google, Bing and Yahoo

  • Freelancer.com 5051 first page keyword appearances
  • Elance.com 2543 first page keyword appearances
  • Odesk.com 1459 first page keyword appearances

These estimated traffic values are based on organic keywords in Google, Bing, and Yahoo combined.  The value is derived from the equivalent pay-per-click (PPC) dollars had the company run PPC campaigns in all three search engines with the organic keywords.

According to these results Freelancer.com’s SEO traffic will most likely exceed their nearest competitors’ Elance.com and Odesk.com. Consequently, whether I am an employer or a freelancer, it is the greatest probability that I will select a Freelancer.com link from the search engine results page.  This also aids in explaining why the size of their market is nearly twice that of  their top two rivals.  I also examined text ads, PPC and social mention.  Table 1. shows that Freelancer.com runs more text ads, has the most relevant site keywords, and is amassing more social media mentions than the two challengers.

How Does Freelancer.com Do It?

Here’s a question for you to consider.  Let’s say that you or your boss wants to generate some interest in the corporate website and a $15,000 advertising budget is allocated.  Where would you start?  That’s pretty much what happened on freelancer.com.  Anyone (company or freelancer) can sponsor a contest on their website  so “practicing what they preach” they chose to run one.   In fact, this very blog is my entry into the event.

The title of this writing tournament is SEO & Writing competition to win a share of  US$15,000.00.  It ends June 30, and results (as of June 17th) are promising.  So far 693 entrees, from around the globe (www), have been posted on blogs, individual websites, and press releases.  Web hosts range from wordpress.com, tumblr, and PR Newswire to name just a few.   Furthermore, all these contestants have one thing in common, besides wanting to win the first place prize of US$10,000,  they have followers who subscribe, like, and/or post comments to their work.  Hence, this type of interest is responsible for creating the social media buzz that set Freelancer.com above the competition.

The User Interface

The online marketing strategy is what draws people to a website, initially; but it is the content and the user interface that convince them to stick around and conduct business. All three companies excel at capturing user data and funneling users through their respective sign-up process.  Given the massive size of the freelance industry today, the ability to easily bid on many projects over a short time span is critical to the success of each freelancer. In the three samples displayed below you will see that both Elance and Odesk resemble a careerbuilder.com interface in terms of the way they post their available job descriptions.  Only Freelancer.com presents available projects in a bid-type format listing (like Eday), including table format, the project name, a brief description, the number of current bids, the average bid price, the skills required, the project start date, and the end date.

Tracking One’s Project 

The following  points are not all-inclusive tools of the trade.  Rather they are a brief peek at each websites offer to their customers to help them keep track of projects and income.

Elance.com description of their support tools included:

  • Free Post Your Job/ Find Talent/Find Work database
  • Sponsors and Advertising
  • Affiliate Program
  • Workflow visibility
  • Financial controls – payment system – bank wire, check, paypal
  • Legal protections

Odesk.com offers:

  • Hire/Find work database
  • Sponsors and advertising
  • Affiliate program
  • Odesk team & work diaries track times associated with hourly-rate contracts
  • ODesk payroll – helps manage & pay W2 employees & 1099 contractors
  • FAQ type database
  • Trends section
  • Oconomy (Looks at economic factors that affect freelancing)

Freelancer.com provides:

  • Post projects/Find freelancers/Browse projects
  • Sponsors and advertising
  • Affiliate program
  • Financial dashboard (presented in a Google like analytics format)
    • P&L
    • Quick Stats: Projects awarded, Work in progress, Completion rate
    • Financial position
    • Income statement
    • Balance sheet
  • Exams section
  • Reputation system
  • Contest

In Conclusion, the above data shows that freelancer.com has enough of a competitive advantage for them to continue to stake its claim as “the world’s largest outsourcing marketplace”.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Walker MBA IMMS BBA is a self-employed freelancer and his specialist subject is online marketing. He has an MBA from Regis University, an Internet Marketing Masters in Science from the Full Sail University, and a BBA from Kent State University. He has been employed as a Consultant, Project Manager, Director of Operations and Sales Manager for various companies and has experience within online marketing, capital equipment and consulting industries. His clients or employers have included Champion Industrial Trucks, iMALL.comPro Data SystemsStack Container Companyinfo2TECHNOLOGY and International Profit Associates. He has geographical working experience in the United States of America, Canada and Puerto Rico and he speaks English. His service skills incorporate online marketing, sales, sales training and project management.

To contact Michael Walker, please forward an email to walkerenergy@me.com or alternatively to read more about Michael’s philosophy on SEO and online marketing please visit his blog page, on Michael’s company website.

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