Fast Five in Search – Week 49, 2014

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If you saw my post earlier this week, you’ll know that I’ve decided to become an e-lancer. I’m spending 30 days totally immersed in the online job market as a way to earn income as a freelance geek-for-hire.

In preparation for this experiment, I needed to research and find the most popular outsourcing job sites and online work platforms on the Internet and register with them. And so the inspiration for this week’s Fast Five was born!

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) Elance – Elance is the world’s most popular outsourcing job site, used by approximately 500,000 businesses and 2 million registered freelance professionals, who have collectively earned nearly $900 million to date. The site launched in 1999, with a name apparently inspired by a 1998 Harvard Business Review article called “The Dawn of the E-Lance Economy”. In December 2013, Elance announced that it was signing a partnership to merge with its biggest competitor, oDesk, to create an online workplace for a combined total of 8 million registered individuals. The new partnership is unimaginatively named Elance-oDesk.

2) oDesk –  oDesk was founded in 2003 by Greek entrepreneurs Odysseas Tsatalos and Stratis Karamanlakis. Prior to merging with Elance, oDesk was the second most popular outsourcing job site. Unlike Elance, oDesk tends to have a more technical audience, with the majority of jobs available leaning more towards the IT and digital fields. Most freelancers in tech that I’ve spoken to suggest that oDesk offers better quality job opportunities than Elance, as well as higher earnings potential and a more professional network of employers and freelancers. There is also a stronger spirit of collaboration on oDesk, with freelancers regularly banding together to bid collectively for large projects.

3) Freelancer – Freelancer pitches itself as a marketplace where employers and employees are able to find each other. The site allows employers to post projects they need help with. Anybody is then able to submit bids to complete the project and the employer chooses the bid that appeals to them and awards the project. This can result in competitive bidding wars, where the price for a project actually goes down, rather than up.

The site was founded in Australia in 2009 and operates quite differently to other job outsourcing sites, in that it operates on a reward system and different levels of paid membership. Free accounts can only bid on 8 projects per month and cannot make direct deposit withdrawals. Higher tiers of paid accounts get additional bids, direct deposit withdrawals, and other features. You can also get rewarded with extra XP for performing actions such as “Like us on Facebook”. By earning XP, the user can “level up” his or her account and unlock more rewards, including features such as being able to bid on more jobs per month.

4) Guru – Guru.com directly connects businesses and employees in 160 different industries. Guru Inc. was founded in 1999 in San Francisco as an online clearing house for high tech workers seeking short-term contracts. The company, led by brothers Jon and James Slavet, raised $3M in angel funding and a further $16M in a full venture round. The company was acquired in December 2002 by Unicru, a human resources software company based in Portland, Oregon. Unicru later sold the Guru.com domain name and logo to eMoonlighter.com, and eMoonlighter was renamed Guru.com.

and finally…

5) Fiverr – Fiverr was founded by Micha Kaufman and Shai Wininger in 2009 to provide a platform for people to buy and sell a variety of digital services typically offered by freelance contractors e.g. writing, graphic design,and programming. Fiverr’s services begin at a cost of $5 per job performed (from which it takes its name), and can go up to thousands of dollars. Each service offered is called a “Gig”. The website was launched in February 2010. In August 2014, Fiverr announced that it had raised $30 million in a Series C round of funding, bringing their total funding to date to $50 million.

Happy job hunting!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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