The world of hiring has changed with the Internet invading every area of our lives. More and more specialists no longer want to be bound by strict working hours, more and more experts are looking for additional sources of income if they need to. Working remotely is made possible thanks to the Internet, but it’s not the only reason why freelance is prospering.
The thing is, it makes financial sense for businesses to employ freelancers if all they need is a one-time job. They don’t need to hire someone for creating a logo or writing the content for the landing page because it’s not a long-term commitment.
This is why there is a variety of successful freelance marketplaces out there. Each of them occupies a certain niche and is unlike others. However, this market is full of uncharted territories with niches that are not occupied yet.
Launching your own freelance marketplace is a great opportunity for successfully investing your finances. Considering that marketplaces make a profit by taking fees from both freelancers and employers, you can get your return on investment in no time.
If you are ready to discover a new niche and take your place in the market, we would like to present you with all the information you may need to do it right.
What Is A Freelance Marketplace And How Does It Work?
Let’s start with the definition to be on the same page afterward. Freelance marketplaces are websites created to help businesses and freelancers find each other and cooperate without worrying about the quality of the work or the payment. The brightest examples of freelance marketplaces include Upwork, Freelancer. com, Fiverr, etc. We’ll take a closer look at some of them later.
There is a misconception that only small businesses hire freelancers on websites like Upwork. On the contrary, 100 of Fortune 500 companies use Upwork, according to an Accenture report. There are several reasons freelance marketplaces are doing so well:
- Building trust. Freelance marketplaces provide guarantees for both parties. On the one hand, freelancers can be sure that their work, if done properly, will be paid for. On the other hand, businesses can be reassured they will get the job done properly as they don’t have to make any payments until they see the results and are satisfied with them. Moreover, if there is a dispute, a freelance marketplace represents the third party that solves it fairly.
- Cutting costs. Hiring freelancers for one-time jobs cuts many costs for businesses: they don’t need to offer any perks or a fixed salary, and there is no need to find additional office space for new workers.
- Flexibility. This is a huge pro for people that don’t want to spend their life stuck in the 9-to-5 office routine. This is why they become freelancers: to work as much as they want when they want.
- No geographical boundaries. Businesses can find talented freelancers regardless of where either of them is located. Freelancers, in turn, can combine work with travelling or just moving once per several months.
Now, let’s figure out how freelance marketplaces actually work. If you run one, you will make profits by taking a fee for being the third party from both the businesses and freelancers. As for the functionality, it varies from one marketplace to another but the basic features of the best websites like Upwork include:
- Freelancer marketplace. This is where employers search for freelancers by filtering and sorting the potential candidates based on such criteria as their rate, experience, skills, etc.
- Hiring platform. Some marketplaces allow conducting tests and/or interviews via video calls or chats right on the website.
- Time tracker. This feature allows tracking the number of hours the hired freelancers have worked on the project. Some marketplaces also make it possible for employers to see the tasks being done by the freelancer.
- Communication and collaboration tools. They may include workrooms, chat rooms, video calls, etc.
- Payment processing. Payments are transferred to the hired freelancer only after their work’s quality was checked. Freelance marketplaces are usually integrated with third-party payment services.
These features allow the marketplace owner make a profit as they make the website easy and convenient to use. Therefore, if your website’s functionality satisfies all freelancers’ and employers’ needs, promoting it becomes more efficient and attracting new users and partners is made simpler. To understand how it works, we invite you to take a look at top freelance marketplaces that are not Upwork.
7 Freelance Upwork Alternatives
We all know Upwork as one of the most popular freelance marketplaces. However, it is not the only one out there – there are other websites like Upwork. Let’s take a quick look at the top 7 websites like Upwork alternative.
Freelancer is used by more than 25 million users. Its most popular job categories are web design, SMM (social media marketing), writing content, entering data, etc. This marketplace’s key features include time tracking, watching the freelancer working in real time, setting milestones for payments, invoicing, etc.
Toptal is created to bring together employers and freelancer that are the top experts in their lines of work. It is an exclusive network for financial experts, developers, designers, and project managers. Its key features are vetted freelancers, IP protection, no-cost freelancer trial period, flexible invoicing, etc.
PeoplePerHour allows businesses to find freelancers who are experts in their fields from all over the world. The platform’s key features include posting fixed price offers, downpayment released on completion, WorkStream threads, escrow protection, project progress tracking, and so on.
As you can guess from its name, Fiverr allows finding freelancers at the price from $5 per job. Employers can select freelancers based on how many jobs they completed on the platform, the feedback and ratings they received, and cancellation instances. The key features of the platform are multi-currency support, private chat channels, secure payment processing, posting custom offers, etc.
CloudPeeps is a freelancer marketplace that serves as a community of trustworthy freelancers that work in marketing, PR, and community building. The key features include screening tests for vetting freelancers, payment security, time tracking, etc.
99designs is a freelance online platform created solely for designers and those who are looking for them. The approach used is based on holding design contests. The key features are full copyrights of the final design, money back guarantee, expert design consultations, etc.
All of these freelance marketplaces are successful in their niches. You can join these front-runners if you do everything right. To make sure you do, let’s find out what steps you need to take and what you need to pay extra attention to.
How To Develop A Freelance Marketplace Like Upwork
If you intend to join the party and launch your own freelancer marketplace, you need to think through every step you need to take in order to enjoy your profits later. The development process is not a piece of cake in any case, but it is especially true when it comes to developing websites like Upwork and PeoplePerHour alternative. Without further ado, we invite you to take a look at the key 6 steps of developing a freelancer marketplace.
1. Choosing Your Target Audience And Location
First things first. Your project has to be economically viable if you want your business to survive in today’s cutthroat competition. This means you need to find your niche and occupy it. There are tons of freelancer marketplaces already, so you need to know why yours is going to stand out.
Think about your target audience, i.e. what kind of freelancers and businesses you want to create a marketplace for. Determine what fields your freelancers should be working in. You could specialize in bringing together freelancers that work in SMM or website development, for instance. Then, you need to determine businesses from what industries are likely to turn to you if they need freelancers. Consider whether you want to focus on engaging small and medium businesses or large enterprises.
Furthermore, you need to pay attention to your geography focus. There can be two types of freelance marketplaces based on this criteria: local and global. Sometimes, businesses are looking for local freelancers because it could help avoid the language barrier issue or because the job itself requires local knowledge. In other cases, the freelancer’s location could be irrelevant. This depends a lot on the industries you want to focus on.
2. Determining The Functionality
Think about the must-have features of your feature website. You don’t need to think them through in detail, but you need to have a clear understanding of what features your website can’t work without. They may include:
- signup and user profiles;
- submitting projects;
- project bidding;
- communication tools (chats, etc.);
- project management tools (dashboard, time tracker, etc.);
- payment processing.
You need to pay extra attention to securing all the data and payments. Users will share confidential data with you, including financial information. You need to make sure you will live up to their trust. Ensuring security means encrypting the data, making sure there are no vulnerabilities in the system, designing countermeasures to potential phishing techniques and hacker attacks, detecting malware, etc.
One more tip: you can occupy your niche by adding or enhancing some features that solve users’ issues in a better way and deliver a better user experience than other marketplaces.
3. Finding The Development Company
If you don’t have a team of experts in website development, you have two options: use templates offered by WordPress and other CMSs or hire a web development company to execute your vision. While it may be tempting to opt for using a template, think again as this option has many cons:
- templates are easily recognizable, so your website will look amateur;
- customization opportunities are rather limited, so you will not be able to get the website that looks and works the way you imagined it;
- such websites show lousy performance as they can’t work well under a huge workload.
So, if you opt for hiring a development company, you can avoid all these issues and get a custom freelance marketplace with the functionality and design you want. When choosing a development company, you need to consider two things among other criteria:
- testimonials and reviews from other clients (for example, you can check out Axisbits reviews on Clutch);
- other projects: find a website this company developed and visit it to see how good it is in their line of business.
4. Creating The Design
Once you have figured the first two steps out, it is time to determine what your website will look like. You need professional help to ensure that the user interface and the user experience are at their top. Your website should be easy to understand and to use. Even though it may seem simple, it takes a lot to design such a website. There is a golden rule that the user has to make a minimum number of clicks or gestures to perform a certain action.
As for the specifics of designing a freelance marketplace, it should be easy for the employer to see the most important information about freelancers (experience, rating, skills, etc.). The messenger and project management tools should also be designed to be intuitive to use. Besides, you need to design the user profile, sign-in and signup pages, etc.
First, you should get a wireframe – it is a set of sketches that depict all the main elements of the website. You can make changes to it, and afterward web designers create the designs in a graphic editor that are not clickable yet.
Two more tips: 1) opt for minimalistic design as it is the main trend right now, 2) remember about the mobile version of the website.
Coding itself includes front-end (i.e. client-side) and back-end (i.e. server-side) development. This is when all the magic happens and your website gets brought to life.
Any website is based on the interaction between the user’s machine and the server. Back-end development is what makes this interaction possible. It includes working with databases, setting up data exchange algorithms, securing the connection to ensure all the data is protected, etc. Besides, you will most probably need to integrate your website with third-party services for payment processing and logging in using Facebook or Google accounts, at the very least.
Let’s take a brief look at the technological stack for back-end development. Grape and the Rails API mode are the best choice for creating an API store-front for the market. Grape is used for validating the input data and building the data presentation logic. PostgreSQL is used for database management. Redis serves as a database, cache and message broker. Storing and managing data in the cloud is made possible with Cloudinary.
Testing is always a part of the development process. It is done to ensure that your website runs smoothly without bugs and errors. There are various types of tests that can be performed: unit tests, integration tests, functional tests, performance tests, security tests, etc.
6. Deployment & Maintenance
Once your website has been developed and thoroughly tested, and hosting and domain name have been purchased, it is time to launch the marketplace.
However, launching the website doesn’t mean the end of your cooperation with the web development company. Once it’s launched, you’ll get some feedback from the first users that will show you what needs to be optimized or fixed. In order to do this, you need the help of professionals. Besides, you need someone to update the website regularly and react to hacker attacks if they occur.
Developing your own custom freelance marketplace is worth it only if you strive to make a unique platform, not a copy of Upwork or any other marketplace. If you determine your niche wisely, think through your business strategy and hire a professional development company to execute your vision, you will have a good shot at running a successful business.
Are you ready to start your path to running a successful freelancer marketplace? Reach out to us to request a quotation for your project. We can make your journey to a successful platform hassle-free and quick as we know how to avoid all the pitfalls and create a state-of-the-art platform.