Comprehensive PeoplePerHour Review

PeoplePerHour ReviewThis PeoplePerHour review is from a freelancer who has seen and worked on a lot of freelancing sites online. Is this legit or scam? Is it worth my time? Is it better than the other freelancing sites? I’ll attempt to answer these and many other questions about the site, so you can make an informed decision about whether to join PeoplePerHour or not.

What is PeoplePerHour?

PeoplePerHour is an online freelancing portal. This is very similar in concept to oDesk and Elance, the more popular freelance marketplaces. An online marketplace brings together buyers and sellers. The buyers propose projects and the sellers bid on these projects. The sellers of course are almost always freelancers.

PeoplePerHour isn’t the first online marketplace for freelancers. There have been several in the past, some having a strong hold on the industry. Elance is one of the oldest, still popular marketplace. oDesk is newer but has grown at a really good rate over the years. For freelancers looking for work or for employers (usually start-ups and small businesses), there are plenty of options. When evaluating this site, therefore, you need to look at it from the larger perspective and compare it to existing businesses. This is what I will base my PeoplePerHour review on.

Check out my oDesk review and oDesk vs Elance to get a better idea of online marketplaces.

Quality/Quantity of Jobs Posted

The number of jobs at PeoplePerHour is definitely less than those of its bigger competitors like oDesk and Elance. However, I found the quality of jobs to be surprisingly high. I don’t have the statistics (yet) but the average pay on PeoplePerHour is far higher than either oDesk or Elance. I think I can safely say that the quality of jobs is the highest I have seen.

As a result, it is only natural that the freelancers are high quality too, which is great news for the buyers.

One of the major complaints about online marketplaces is the quality of jobs is really bad. This affects both sides of the equation. The freelancers are unhappy because of a downward pressure on their wages due to increasing competition from low quality providers. This drives the good workers away to other avenues which now affects the buyers because they cannot find enough quality people to do the job they want. As a result, the serious buyers look elsewhere. Thus what is left is a deteriorating marketplace. This is particularly stark in oDesk but present very well in Elance.

Surprisingly, this hasn’t yet happened with PeoplePerHour. The wages are decent and appropriate for the skills required for the jobs. I am not sure how they pulled it off and if this can be sustainable. Only time will tell. As of this moment, however, if you are a quality freelancer, this is certainly a site to check out. In addition, if you are a buyer looking for some good quality freelancers, it is definitely worth taking a look.

The obvious drawback however is that there are not enough jobs posted here. Besides, new freelancers might have a hard time competing against high quality and established workers.

Bottom Line: The quality of jobs posted is very high as compared to other marketplaces. The number of jobs is modest. If you have the right skills for the job, definitely worth checking out and being a part of. At the same time, accomplished freelancers might still find that they are better off on their own. The wages are good, but not extraordinary either. If you are looking for highly qualified workers, this is the place to look.

Subscription and Fees

PeoplePerHour subscription model is a layered one which I personally don’t particularly like. Elance has one too. I like oDesk the best in this sense – no membership upgrades; the fee structure, although high, is very straightforward (You pay a 10% project fee flat, no exceptions, no membership upgrades). However, this isn’t the case with PeoplePerHour.

PeoplePerHour Membership

As a free member, you have several restrictions and you can buy credits. As you can see from the chart above, basic free members pay a high fees of 10% as opposed to just 4.50% paid by Platinum members. The concept of freelancers picking up the tab for all the site’s workings too is a little weird for me (oDesk, on the other hand, is more uniform in this sense because everyone pays the same service fee and thus can be negotiated). I am not a fan of membership upgrades in general, but perhaps my fellow freelancers have a more favorable view of this.

Bottom Line: The service fees depends on your membership type, and so do limits on how many projects you can bid on. I am no fan of this model.

Transparency

PeoplePerHour can be very open as compared to the other online marketplaces. For example, you can find the team and know about them. Some client testimonials are also refreshingly open. In addition, the profiles look more professional, with a photograph, portfolio, feedback, etc. The earnings are open too, unlike oDesk (but like Elance). All this provides added credibility.

At the same time, I don’t like that they are not very transparent with some things especially those related to the fee/membership structure. The chart I displayed above is accessible only to members after joining the site. I would like to access this information before joining the site.

The PeoplePerHour Economy is another great feature to check out. You can get some really interesting statistics here about the freelancers and clients who use the site, the size of projects and other information that would interest both freelancers and buyers.

Bottom Line: Some great steps towards a more transparent experience benefiting both freelancers and businesses. However, the sites need to be more transparent about its fee/subscription structure.

Hourlies

This is a new addition, and I thought I should add to the existing PeoplePerHour review. Hourlies is a great concept that this site started. Instead of the traditional way where employers post projects and freelancers bid on it, hourlies reverse this process, i.e., the freelancers post what they can do and the cost of doing it and the employers can ‘buy’ that hourlie and the freelancer delivers. This is a great concept, although it seems a little crowded. The concept is new but promising. I would like to see more statistics though – it shouldn’t become of those features that becomes incredibly hard to navigate because it is cluttered with low quality posting.

Bottom Line: Some innovation finally from PeoplePerHour in terms of bringing a new feature to the freelancing marketplace that more established sites like oDesk and Elance lack. It’s still too early in the game to define them successful, but hourlies are definitely promising.

Update: As promised, I need to revise my review of hourlies at PeoplePerHour. In a nutshell, they absolute, terribly suck. The whole approval process is ad-hoc and random and frankly too frustrating to deal with. When I made an extremely minor correction to an already published hourlie, it was rejected. Recently, they rejected another of my hourlie that was just about publishing an article about a business on EzineArticles. Obviously it makes no sense (their argument is without the slightest merit. I’ll publish their whole ‘explanation’ for those who are interested).

Conclusion

PeoplePerHour is a relatively new online marketplace and this PeoplePerHour review might not capture all aspects of the site. It is still growing and faces several challenges. The most distinguishing feature of the site so far is its ability to maintain quality. This can degrade very soon if the site aims only for growth without regard to quality. It seems to be at a critical stage in that sense. Both freelancers and workers know the better quality the site offers and it should stick to it. PeoplePerHour is still a great site to join and every freelancer should at least check it out to see if they want to be a part of the site. Definitely worth considering.

Hourlies is a great idea with terrible terrible implementation. Hopefully other sites can take the model and improve it.

Photo Credit: laverrue

oDesk vs Elance: Comprehensive Guide

oDesk vs ElanceoDesk vs Elance is an important question to ask because they are two of the biggest freelance marketplaces online today. If you want to start your freelancing career, both oDesk and Elance are good places to start because they have a good supply of employers looking to hire you. In the long term, however, you would probably be better off searching for projects by yourself. However, when you are starting out, an established platform definitely helps.

Elance is older, but oDesk is faster growing. They both have their own strengths and weaknesses. As a freelancer, you should be able to choose the site that better suits your needs. Ultimately, you want to earn more money, in a consistent manner and get paid as high as possible for your skills. With this in mind, lets look at oDesk and Elance and evaluate them based on different aspects of a freelancing site.

I wouldn’t suggest joining all the freelancing sites at once simply because it can overwhelm you. I would suggest being active on one of them. Another important reason to concentrate on one of them is the feedback system – if you have excellent feedback on one of them, you will still need to start over at the other, which would be equivalent to underselling yourself.

Freelancing is growing fast. Quoting statistics from Elance research, CNN recently asked whether 2013 is the age of the freelancer. It’s not just the young, unemployed people looking to be freelancers. In fact, boomers are booming as freelancers! If you want to be part of the action, choosing the right freelance marketplace to get started can be a crucial decision.

oDesk vs Elance: Quality of Job Postings

Quality of job postings is a very important aspect of any freelancing marketplace. No one wants to work on crappy assignments with low pay. In terms of overall quality, Elance beats oDesk in almost all cases. oDesk has seen a drop in quality job openings and this decline has been consistent. Of course this is a very general trend I am talking about – there could be certain types of jobs where the quality is getting better. Unfortunately a criteria such as this one is hard to quantify.

If you look at major players and small businesses, they seem to prefer Elance. These bigger companies are more likely to look for better quality providers and also willing to pay more. If you own a small business generating a million dollars and looking to post freelance projects, chances are, you will go for Elance. I think the main reason is because it is old and has some good freelancers working on the site for a long time.

Of course on the flip side, if you are just getting started, I think it might be easier to break into oDesk. More on that later.

oDesk vs Elance: Fees

Freelancing sites like Elance or oDesk charge you money for using their services. These are usually not a one time charge but you need to give up a percentage of your income. This is unlike a jobs board, for example, where you pay a flat rate to get access to all the jobs. Fees can actually be a very significant part of what you earn, especially if you are looking to get into freelancing more seriously.

oDesk has a flat fee structure: you pay 10% of your gross income as fees. Thus if the employer pays you $100, you end up with $90. However, the good thing with oDesk is that there is no fees to join. There is no concept of premium memberships at the site. Therefore if all you are looking to do is play around and take a look at how things are, you might find this attractive.

Elance has a more complex fee structure. From their website,the per assignment fees are 8.75% for standard Service Fee for relationships less than $10,000 and 6.75% discounted Service Fee for relationships that exceed $10,000 and new relationships referred to Elance. Then there is membership fees. Individual membership is $10/month for premium membership. There are other levels for small and large businesses. There is also a free membership level but is very restrictive in terms of what you can do.

oDesk vs Elance: Payments and Protection

Of course at the end of the day you want to get paid. Both Elance and oDesk have systems in place which ensure that buyers pay freelancers. However, they go about it in very different ways.

At Elance, there is the concept of Escrow payments – the buyer puts aside money for the project with Elance and Elance releases it when the job is completed. If there is a dispute, Elance will not release the funds, so freelancers cannot ‘take the money and run’. This is quite a reasonable system and helps protect both buyers and sellers.

oDesk on the other hand has a payment guarantee for hourly assignments. oDesk monitors workers through screenshots, keystrokes and mouse clicks (more on this later) and above a minimum threshold of activity, oDesk will guarantee that the freelancer will be paid. However, on fixed price assignments, there is no system of escrow payments. Most buyers will not pay a percentage of assignment in advance. This means freelancers are at risk and if the buyer is dishonest, they lose out. Fixed price assignments inherently make more sense for many types of projects and it is a pity that they are not protected better.

oDesk vs Elance: Privacy

Elance wins hands-down. This is a no brainer. oDesk has the policy with hourly assignments where you have to install a software that takes screenshots of your screen at random intervals and sends it to the employer, making sure that you are working on the project at hand. In addition, the software collects keyboard strokes and mouse click information. This is an extremely intrusive method of monitoring workers and frankly doesn’t even make a lot of sense. Did anyone hear about “thinking” while doing a job? Needless to say, this is still a controversial thing.

I know a lot of freelancers don’t like to be monitored like lab rats every waking hour of their life when they are working. After all, as long as they get the job done, they are entitled to some time off while working too. No company in the world monitors workers in this fashion anyway.

oDesk vs Elance: Feedback System

Feedback is an integral part of any freelancing marketplace because it distinguishes the good workers from the bad. It is also a good way to establish trust with future potential employers.

oDesk feedback seems a little more transparent and truer. Most good workers at Elance seem to have a 5 or near 5 rating. Even though many at oDesk do that too, there is a better differential. This differential is important, after all, if you want to distinguish yourself, which is the very purpose of feedback to begin with. If everyone is a 5 star, there is nothing you gain by being one yourself.

oDesk vs Elance: Customer Service

Both Elance and oDesk have good customer service. This is an important aspect because the sites handle all the administrative tasks for freelancers, like getting paid, invoicing, money transfers, etc. I tend to like oDesk customer service more than Elance. I think they are more prompt with their replies and provide good solutions to your problems. both sites have a good amount of information in their help pages, so you can find most answers there. Again, I tend to like oDesk help pages more.

In addition, oDesk has a whole Community – forums, which can be immensely useful for freelancers and employers looking for solutions or voicing their complaints or ideas. This is a great feature to have and can be very helpful especially to the people new to the site.

Learn More
There is a great book on Amazon about freelancing on Elance that is equally applicable to oDesk. It’s called The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Elance
Check it out, and may be you’ll learn something new!

Know more about these by visiting Elance and oDesk and comparing them yourself. I hope this review was useful. Feel free to drop a line in the comments and share your experience with others, so we can all benefit.

Photo Credit: Ionics

Is Freelance Economy the Future Economy?

Freelance Economy Future EconomyIs freelance economy the future economy of the world economy? Is the nature of work undergoing a fundamental shift away from traditional “stable” jobs and more towards a “plug-and-play” economic system where each worker provides his services for a project rather than a company? Well, it is hard to predict the future, but it looks like such a shift is indeed happening. I just read an interesting article on the freelance economy and its future on MSN which got me thinking more about this. It seems that the future economy can be significantly different from what we know today.

Why Small Businesses Like the Freelance Economy?

It looks like more and more small businesses are hiring freelancers as and when they need. This does make sense Рsmall businesses need to be smart about their decisions. They will choose the best possible way out which will increase their chances of success and survival. From a small business point of view,  the freelance economy is a huge boon. Why is that?

Consider that you are a small business. In order to reach your target audience, you want a website and a blog so you can connect with your customers. How would you solve this problem? If you tap into the freelance economy, you hire the best professional web-designer for a fixed price. If you hire a full-time employer for this job, it is just going to cost so much more.

In addition, the freelance economy can provide several projects down the line. Need some articles and blog posts? Hire a freelance writer to write an article a day. Need to collect some leads online? Hire a virtual assistant. Need a new logo? Hire a graphic designer. The freelance economy gives a lot of freedom to small businesses.

Access to Specialized Skills

Many people have a very wrong concept that freelancing is about outsourcing. It is not. Even if all the jobs are within a country, it provides great flexibility. It is not that businesses profit from cheap labor. In fact, in the freelance economy, talent everywhere demands similar price. However, as a concept, the plug and play system is very powerful.

The reason is that small businesses now have access to one of the best people in an industry without ever needing to hire them at a ridiculous price. This gives them a great competitive edge as well. For example, a small business can hire a very good graphic designer for a few hundred dollars to design their company logo. Even they spend a thousand dollars for the logo, it could be well worth it in the long term. In the traditional economy, they will perhaps have to find an agency, post a contract or advertise for a temporary position. In the freelance economy, they have access to great skill directly without involving middle men.

Freedom to Expand

In the freelance economy, businesses have the power to expand beyond their core expertise. They can take on a risky idea with a high chance of failure but a highly lucrative result in case of success. Such ideas can be explored more easily because they have access to a very diverse pool of specialized talent ready at their disposal that will work on a specific project.

In the freelance economy, it is easier to take on risk and explore new options. That this comes at a lower cost is an added benefit which should help small businesses enter new areas.

Free Market Access to Talent

The freelance economy more accurately represents the future economy or rather the free economy as it can be. Freelance work for hire doesn’t come with additional baggage that usual full time jobs come with. They are not restricted by geographical boundaries – a company in the United States can hire a freelancer in Australia.

It is also free because it is a bidding process in most cases – freelancers bid on projects depending on their skill sets and small businesses choose between skills and price as it should be in a truly free economy. This bidding process is what is followed at well known freelancing sites like oDesk and Elance.

So what do you think about the future economy? Do you think the freelance economy can last and redefine the way we understand work and employment?

You can also read my posts about 5 freelancing ideas for dummies and 5 creative ways to make money as a freelance writer.

oDesk Review: Good and Bad

oDesk ReviewThis is my oDesk review. oDesk is a site where you can get a ton of freelancing jobs. It is one of the largest freelancing marketplace on the internet. The total value of contracts at oDesk was $16 million for the month of April 2011, so you can imagine that it is a really huge business. Huge doesn’t always mean good, so here in my oDesk review I’ll discuss both the good and bad aspects of oDesk. If you are an employer, also read my oDesk Review from employer’s perspective.

I have been a freelance writer at oDesk since March 2009, at which time it wasn’t half as big as it is now. I have seen it grow rapidly and have seen the number of jobs being posted steadily increase in almost all areas. Since I am a freelance writer, I follow the jobs in the writing section very closely and have some insights that I wish to share with you on oDesk review with respect to these jobs.

The first thing I would like to mention here before going into the detailed oDesk review is that the site takes a 10% fees for what you are paid. For example, if you are paid $50 for a task, oDesk will get $5. This is similar to the industry standard. oDesk doesn’t have any membership fees and is completely free to join. There are no paid memberships either, which is very good, in my opinion.

Also to those wondering, oDesk is not a scam. If oDesk was scam, it wouldn’t be the place of choice for millions of members. oDesk is just a platform to bring employees and employers together. Some people who talk of the oDesk scam were duped by some employer there – this happens sometimes. However, if you are careful, e.g. by asking for an upfront payment or working with high-feedback employers, you can avoid these oDesk scammers.

After reading this oDesk review, if you decide to join the site, do read my 7 oDesk Tips which will help you land your first job with ease. You may also be interested in how I make money from my blog. These are tough economic times and employers have ridiculous requirements for hiring. Freelancing is one way out of this mess and oDesk is definitely an option to consider.

Looking for work at oDesk?

oDesk Review: Quality and Quantity of Jobs Posted

Good: There are plenty of jobs at oDesk for almost all the categories that you can think of. Personally, I know about writing jobs – they have more than doubled in the last year itself and perhaps will keep increasing. Since there are so many jobs to choose from, you can find the jobs where your skills are in demand and apply for those with your expertise. For example, some writers are better at creative writing while some are good at writing sales copies. Since there are many jobs, you can always find some that are tailored to suit your skills.

Bad: Even though there are many jobs at oDesk, their quality isn’t the best. For example, there are only a few jobs with reputable businesses. In writing, there are almost no jobs posted from magazines or even local newspapers or other famous businesses. I am not sure how bad this is – it is similar in most similar sites like Elance or Guru, but Elance tends to get a few of the better quality jobs just because it is older than oDesk. Hopefully, things will change in the future.

Bottom Line: If you are looking for small to medium jobs with small businesses, oDesk is great! If you are looking to be hired as the next NY Times columnist, you will be disappointed. Take this into consideration when you present your oDesk review to others.

oDesk Review: Getting Paid

Good: In terms of getting paid, oDesk perhaps has the best system in place. There are two kinds of jobs – hourly and fixed price. If you are working on an hourly job, you can post the hours you work at oDesk. You will need to install their special software which allows it to track your activity: keywords and mouse clicks. If the activity is above a certain threshold and the random screenshots taken by this software show that you are working and not browsing the internet unrelated to the job, you are guaranteed to get paid. This is a very good safeguard in place which new freelancers especially like (those who are skeptical about the whole system!) Since freelancers are guaranteed to get paid, it is certainly a positive aspect of oDesk review that no other site can beat.

Bad: The software is too intrusive. Plus, working is not the same as typing and mouse-clicks. For example, the software cannot know that I am thinking when I am not typing. Many clients do understand this but you can never be sure. Another thing that I don’t like is it gives the feel of big-brother watching you at all times. That is not how any work is done – you cannot oversee every aspect. I do like to browse the internet and check my mail while I am working too.

If you do end up choosing the fixed price assignments instead of the hourly ones to avoid this trouble, there is no guarantee you’ll get paid. This happens much less with serious clients but there are a few who post small jobs and will not pay you. In those cases, it is better to demand an upfront payment. oDesk doesn’t have an escrow system, which is really bad.

Bottom Line: Look what suits you – if you are fine with your employer monitoring every minute of your work, you are guaranteed to get paid for every hour of work. If not, just look for fixed price assignments and work with clients who have a good feedback so you are not scammed.

oDesk Review: Feedback System

Good: The feedback system is wonderful at oDesk and is much more revealing about both employees and employers than at similar sites like Elance or Guru. After the assignment is done, oDesk will ask both the parties involved to give a feedback on a scale of 5 for different parameters like quality of work, communication, deadlines, etc. In addition, both parties should leave a comment that appears on the profile page. This is a very good resource for both employees and employers to work with long-term oDesk members only so that there is little or no chance of getting scammed.

Bad: There is nothing very bad about the feedback system that oDesk uses. However, there are times when an employer can give an unjust feedback and it will affect your overall score and profile. A bad feedback, even if given unjustly, is hard to get rid of. Worst case, you can refund the whole amount of the project to the employer and your feedback will not count.

Another aspect of oDesk feedback is that you can make any comment that you get private (but the score will remain). This sometimes makes it hard to really know why the particular employer or employee was not recommended.

Bottom Line: oDesk feedback is excellent but be careful of unjustly given low feedback.

oDesk Review: oDesk Tests

Good: oDesk tests are actually wonderful. They allow workers to give online tests and these scores are displayed on the homepage. This helps employers weed out people who lie in their profile (e.g. people saying they have perfect English skills when they don’t know the basics of grammar). Apart from the actual score, the percentile is also shown which makes a lot of sense. If you are first place, top 10% or top 20%, it shows again with your test scores and is a nice achievement to have. oDesk tests are also extremely useful for people totally new to oDesk who don’t have any prior feedback, to show they are good. If you want to do well on your oDesk tests, read my oDesk test tips post for more details.

Bad: oDesk tests don’t seem to figure in the overall scheme of things, while determining the best employers of the month or calculating an overall score. I would like to see the test scores given more importance. Also, few employers seem to care much about these scores in their job requirements, which is a pity.

Bottom Line: oDesk tests are great to improve your overall profile and show that you know what you are doing.

oDesk Review: Support Provided

Good: No good site is complete without good support. oDesk has a very good help and support system. There is live chat available most of the times and even otherwise you can always send a ticket. Apart from these, there is an active forum where you can get advice, voice your complaints and give feedback and suggestions.

Bad: Compared to the number of people using oDesk, the forum is not that active. I think oDesk should do more to provide a more vibrant community.

Bottom Line: oDesk has a very good support system, from their staff to your peers. oDesk review for support has overall been good.

oDesk Review: Data and Statistics

Good: My oDesk review is going to be incomplete without this point. Data and statistics are very important to know how the site is doing and where the business is coming from. The oConomy, for example, provides a good idea of the value of all the jobs at oDesk. You can get many other estimates as well.

Bad: Some of the statistics are highly outdated. If you look at trends, you can find the data is from March 2008. That’s an eternity in a fast growing business! Who cares about statistics four years old? Worse, it is highly misleading to prospective employers and also freelancers. You can see the average wages are almost always above $15/hour for a writer even in the developing countries. I am sure it is far from the truth now, but oDesk refuses to publish the statistics or make them up to date. I am sure they have the data, so if they have nothing to hide, I don’t see any reason why they don’t want to publish the latest figures.

Bottom Line: Some statistics are good, but others are not updated in ages, and can be very misleading. Make sure the statistics that you see on oDesk make sense in terms of when it was last updated. Figures from half a decade are completely meaningless when the industry and the website are growing at the rate that it did.

So I hope you liked my oDesk review. If you have any thoughts on this subject, don’t forget to share it in the comments. I would also love to know your experience in using oDesk.

You should also read my post on oDesk Cover Letter Tips and 5 Freelancing Ideas to know more about freelancing and working with oDesk so you can have a successful freelancing career. Also, to know more about how oDesk compares with competitors, read my posts on oDesk vs Elance and PeoplePerHour Review.