The Internet has drastically changed the corporate landscape, shifting it from a one-size-fits-all 9 to 5 set-up, to a skills rich professional workforce that has managed to wrestle some control from employers, and now partially dictates the terms, times, and places of work.
The current workforce immensely values flexibility. And this flexibility is fueling the growth of the “gig economy.” For businesses, outsourcing work to these freelance remote workers is a smart – and financially savvy – decision.
Why should you choose online crowdsourcing platforms to hire freelancers?
A third of the workforce in the United States relies on the gig economy as its primary source of income. Not only is hiring online a smart move in keeping with such trends, it also provides the following benefits:
- Drastically cuts down operational costs
- Eliminates the need to maintain brick and mortar office spaces
- Does away with FTE salary structures
- No need to develop and maintain enterprise software, or invest in extensive databases Online crowdsourcing platforms are the quickest route to hiring freelancers in hundreds of categories, with varying levels of experience and domain expertise, from beginner to expert
- The burgeoning online marketplace of remote workers has the added monetary benefit of keeping service prices competitive, further driving down the costs associated with running a business
- Online hiring platforms are global marketplaces with the legal framework to move money across borders and facilitate payments in multiple currencies to freelancers based in diverse locations across the globe.
- There’s support for various payment gateways as well as multiple languages
- Hire from a global pool of talent instead of limiting your business to the skills of the local talent pool
- Only pay for the work completed. Other transactional and service charges accrued are negligible in comparison to a single offline office expenditure, like leasing office space
- On some platforms, tailored algorithms and dedicated account managers match the best talent with your job requirements
- Ability to reject work – with payment protection, if you aren’t satisfied with it
- Insights on job applicants responses, easy tracking tools for hiring pipelines, and performance management
When should you choose online crowdsourcing platforms to hire freelancers?
Would getting the job done offline be more cost effective? If not, then you know what to do.
When you are working with a limited budget, only have few resources to rely on, or are a one-man operational team trying to get your business off the ground, turning to online hiring platforms can help ease your load. Outsourcing menial and long drawn out tasks – like data entry, for example – frees up your time and bandwidth to tend to other, more pressing, work.
But, individuals and small business owners aren’t the only entities that can benefit from crowdsourcing freelance services. Big businesses can – and often do – tap into these online marketplaces for support with sales, marketing, and accounting.
How to choose the best online crowdsourcing platforms to hire freelancers?
When evaluating your options, ask yourself the following questions:
- How specific are your hiring requirements?
- What’s the turn around time you’re looking at?
- How often do you outsource your work?
- Are you in need of someone on a short-term basis, or ongoing?
- What kind of work is it that you outsource?
- Will the skill level of the freelancer effect the performance of your business?
- Is the service you’re looking for budget friendly?
- Are you looking to pay an hourly rate, or per project?
- Which platform provides the most cost effective plan for the kind of services you seek?
- Are the additional features included in a package worth the extra costs?
- How reliable and trustworthy is the marketplace?
Ask yourself as many of these questions so you can zero in on the right online crowdsourcing platform to address your hiring needs.
What to look for when hiring freelancers online?
Online hiring differs majorly in one aspect from offline hiring: most gigs do not require any face time between employers and employees. Gauging professionalism, mastery of skills, and suitability to a project all remain the same.
Here are some things to evaluate before choosing the freelance websites that make most sense for your needs.
All crowdsourcing platforms weren’t created equal. Just like the kind of audiences they cater to, the in-built features are also designed to enhance your user experience.
Small business should focus their efforts on websites that offer features like:
- Extra search filters to streamline your searches.
- Customizable templates to reach out to freelancers, which cuts down on time spent writing new messages.
- Discounted packages for bulk job postings, in addition to allowing access to advanced features
- Payment Protection – stay away from sites that do not provide security features to safeguard your monetary data
- Excellent customer service that will step in with helpful advice and actions when things go south.
If a one-time payment gets you the services of a dedicated account manager, go for it. They’re industry veterans who understand the ins and outs of the business and can recommend the best candidates for your jobs, best keywords for your job postings, and more.
Upwork provides the best in the industry features to both employers and freelancers, creating a benchmark for useful and functional design elements that manage to serve all your online hiring requirements.
Price is perhaps the single biggest deciding factor in choosing the right freelance hiring platform. Small businesses that have tight operating budgets need pricing packages that provide value for money. While it looks like most online hiring platforms charge on the steeper end when it comes to monthly and yearly subscriptions, a simple mathematical comparison with the cost of paying for the services of an HR manager, or a full-time employee, reveals how economical hiring online is, even on platforms that command top dollar.
At the end of the day, choose a service that’s the most suitable for your needs. So, for example, if you’re in need of graphic design, 99designs is probably going to end up being cheaper than Fiverr. If you’re hiring writers for brand building, paying for a qualified copywriter from ProBlogger will probably result in more leads than hiring someone for low wages from Freelancer. Weigh your costs against long term gains instead of going for the cheapest available option.
As the gig economy grows, the user base for such platforms also diversifies in terms of familiarity with website navigation, understanding of filters, and other functional features. Crowdsourcing platforms that understand and address this need attract more freelancers to their website.
If you can’t make sense of the service, or find the features intimidating, the website is doing a poor job in compelling you to stay with them or part with your money.
Toptal and MTurk, our highest rated platforms, facilitate ease of use with their intuitive design, and between them, cover the lowest and highest rungs of the gig economy. Behance excels in usability amongst graphic design related platforms while ProBlogger stands out for its simple bulletin board.
4. Customer service
Most hiring services offered by crowdsourcing platforms charge transaction fees. Some require upfront payments like Toptal, while others offer monthly or yearly subscription plans to allow access to specialized search features, filters, messaging services, and more.
In this scenario, it’s imperative that businesses have access to some sort of customer support structure that takes over when job postings and/or payments run into glitches. Sorting out payment related issues, especially when large amounts are involved or when money gets stuck in escrow accounts and delays the completion of projects, calls for a support representative who has internal access and can resolve such issues with ease and quickness.
Experiences with scam artists, dispute resolution, issues with accounts and services, all require human intervention to be resolved with expediency and judiciousness. Online hiring platforms that standout in this regard not only offer excellent customer support but also touch base with their customers through other online channels.
Toptal, Behance, and FlexJobs stand out with their exemplary customer service reputation amongst hiring platforms for freelancers.
The top 10 best sites to hire freelancers in 2021
Having explained the hows, whys, and when, of hiring freelancers, here’s our roundup of the ten best freelance hiring marketplaces in 2021.
99designs is the most cost-effective crowdsourcing platform for hiring freelancers in the graphics design niche. It has freelancers offering a wide variety of design services at various price points that are feasible for small businesses as well as large corporations.
Buyers can choose from a slew of designs submitted via the contests page, and pay only if they like a particular design and are desirous of buying it. Purchasing a design guarantees complete ownership of copyrights.
Paid range from $299/month to $1299/month. Prices can also be customized for single projects.
See the full review of 99designs here.
Large-scale businesses and corporations looking to hire freelancers for senior positions will be well served by Toptal. Unlike other freelance marketplaces, this platform only provides services in 5 niche categories and the professionals who sign up command the best prices in the industry.
Toptal has an easy interface, a responsive customer service team, and a directory of domain expert professionals who deliver high-quality work consistently. Rates are expensive, but for businesses in need of highly-skilled talent, Toptal is the industry leader.
See the full review of Toptal here.
MTurk is the polar opposite of Toptal in that it is ‘the’ micro-gigs platform for the cheapest labor. Individuals and small businesses on shoestring budgets can outsource their jobs on MTurk and get their work done at throwaway prices starting at a few cents.
Mechanical Turk by Amazon makes it easy for novices, students, and freelance beginners to dip their toes into the gig economy for the lowest rates in the industry. The interface is easy to use, and there’s no bidding for work. Once posted, your gig will be picked up by a freelancer and finished within the specified time frame.
See the full review of MTurk here.
Behance is a crowdsourcing platform marketed toward graphic designers that allow the creation and promotion of designer portfolios for free. Businesses can browse through their database of 12 million+ freelancers simply by registering for an account. Posting jobs and communicating with freelancers requires upgrading to a paid account, however.
Behance is on the pricey side, so it’s definitely not a great option for businesses that are on a shoestring budget. A single job listing costs $399, while a monthly subscription costs $1499. Most people find it easy to use and appreciate that their customer support team is so responsive.
See the full review of Behance here.
Upwork serves the freelance hiring business needs of small and medium businesses, as well as corporate entities, with its diverse pool of talent in 50+ categories, and competitive pricing packages. It isn’t as bloated as Freelancer, and still regulates the quality of applications, monitors jobs posted, and regularly hands out bans to both buyers and sellers found in breach of its rules.
Pricing is flexible, freelancers can be hired on a contract basis or paid by the project. Customer service is iffy, but overall the platform is safe and attracts talented freelancers with a wide range of skill sets.
See the full review of Upwork here.
FlexJobs is similar in operations and structure to Upwork and Freelancer but differs in its pricing and vetting process. Signing up with FlexJobs is free for employers. You gain access to a pool of pre-vetted professionals. Posting jobs and approaching freelancers is also free. Upgrading to the premium package costs $399/month and includes social media marketing of job posts, insights on job responses, application tracking, dedicated account services, and more.
Businesses that are willing to pay a little more for a hassle-free freelance hiring experience should give FlexJobs a try.
See the full review of FlexJobs here.
ProBlogger is a blog that hosts a job board for employers to openly broadcast job listings. It attracts the best freelance writers across the globe and is perfect for small businesses building up their brand, in need of some content writing for their website, products, and services.
It is limited in scope to freelance writing services, charges $70 for a single listing, and since actual hiring happens off the blog, customer support is virtually non-existent.
See the full review of ProBlogger here.
Freelancer is the most popular and the biggest crowdsourcing marketplace on the planet. It has more than 30 million registered users and sees a frenzy of activity 24/7.
Individuals, small businesses, and large-scale enterprises are all served well by Freelancers’ varied price packages. Services encompass a wide array of categories and levels of expertise. It also offers the option to hold contests like 99designs.
On the downside, buyers need to be wary of scammers and not rely too much on the rating system for hiring, since they are rarely accurate.
Although Fiverr began as a platform for micro-gigs worth $5 each, it has expanded its repertoire over the years to serve small businesses and corporations alike. Sellers offer prices in three tiers and buyers can choose the appropriate package in accordance with their working budgets.
Fiverr has a big problem with scammers and inaccurate reviews, since the platform is completely free for both buyers and sellers for signing up as well as establishing communications. It isn’t as well managed as other closed platforms either.
See the full review of Fiverr here.
LinkedIn ProFinder is a new paid service for businesses looking to hire freelancers within their zip code. It’s USP is the complete outsourcing of the hiring process once a business has placed a service request for a freelancer with specific skill sets. The in-house team is on the hook to find up to 5 matches within 24 business hours, as well as communicate about the opportunity to matched freelancers. Businesses can then sort through the applications and begin the interview process. This service is currently only available in the United States.