There was a time when Elance, a global staffing platform, was undoubtedly the world’s largest and most popular freelancing hub along with oDesk. Established in 1999, it soon grew and today stands at 500 grand business and 2 million registered freelancers.
At the moment Elance caters to approximately 828,100 working freelancers worldwide (2 million registered users). With an average of approximately 500,000 businesses and 100,000 to 120,000 jobs posted monthly, basic mathematics makes it around 2 jobs per year for every freelancer. Tough luck, isn’t it? A further division with the total number of freelancers will drop the ratio even lower.
A fundamental concern with Elance today is the overcrowding of freelancers. You will find scores of proposals posted on jobs, especially the ones posted from Europe and USA. Although the highest number of freelancers using the platform is from America, India and Pakistan follow in rank.
Pricing is a major concern when it comes to freelancing online. At platforms like these, currency exchange rates and local costs are vital in setting prices. Since there are no pricing benchmarks and checks, penetration pricing is practised by most. This means that since no benchmark exists, in order to grab a larger market share, new users will quote prices at ridiculously low levels, making it difficult for a market equilibrium to remain stable.
Another equally important concern is the exchange rates. Most jobs are paid either in the American Dollar, UK Pound Sterling or Euro. Since most freelancers belong to developing countries, their currency exchange rates are mostly lower than these 3 giants. This results in a difference of earning and affects pricing. For instant, a designer in USA will agree to a price of say $100 for a logo. On the other hand, a freelancer from Pakistan, might agree to even $10 or $20 for the same logo, since it’ll result in around 1 or 2 grand in Pakistani Rupees, which will still be handsome.
Elance promises mediation and arbitration in cases of dispute and has a system that makes the process of work transparent and efficient. Despite this, numerous disputes occur on a daily basis. Incomplete job descriptions, payment delays, work that is not satisfactory etc. Elance charges for intervention. It is still next to impossible to govern these issues between international work partners. Arbitration is an area that needs strict policies and a lot more working.
Since check and balance is extremely difficult, although Elance has introduced credential verification, counterfeiting and scams are pretty easy to stage. Individuals can pose as huge companies, plagiarism is very common, job providers halt payments etc. This is also a complain of most job providers who need work completed on time schedules. Since they’re a part of a supply chain, con-freelancers cause inconveniences for them.
Elance charges between 6.75% to 8.75% upon earnings of freelancers, that is deducted upon payment. Also, more money is charged when money is wired internationally. A platform that according to 48% of its users is their sole source of income, also has additional charges on a variety of features. The Premium User and Free User facilities exist here too. How a person who is charged a minimum of 6.75% of his/her earnings, a free user?
Also a merger with oDesk: the world’s largest freelancing hub, makes the world of online freelancing defined in a single word- hegemony.