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17 Great Websites to Find Freelance Jobs

by Guest Author  |  January 16/2013  |  ,

I’ve been working online for four years now, and I’m still amazed by how many freelancing sites are available. When I first started, I relied on one site for all of my work because I earned enough money to pay the bills. Once I started branching out though, I was able to get significantly higher paying jobs, many of which required less time than what I was already spending on work, which was a huge win.

I can’t say I’ve used every freelancing job site on the planet, but I’ve certainly weaved my way through the major ones. Some of them did wonders for my savings account, and others made me think about getting a day job – yes, they were that bad. Lucky for you, I’ve compiled a list of the good guys so you know where to turn without the headache – I hope. Here are the best places online to find work as a freelancer.

ODesk

1 – oDesk

oDesk will forever be my favorite freelancing site because this is the one I first started getting work from. It has jobs for beginners to professionals, with clients and employees from all around the world. You’ll see plenty of low-budget jobs on here, but you can also find great clients who are willing to pay well.

Fun fact: I’m the pale girl with her hand on her chin on the home page – bottom row. Hollywood here I come!

How it works: Simply sign up for an account on the site, and you can browse through thousands of job postings. Search by category based on your skills, and fill out applications for anything you like. If you get interviewed or hired, you can track your hours or project status on oDesk and then get paid directly through the site.

Do:

  • Fill out your entire profile, with samples and references. Clients may contact you about jobs, so you need to make your profile as enticing as possible.
  • Take multiple tests. You will have to take the oDesk Readiness Test before you can apply for jobs, but then you should take others related to your skills. This shows clients what you can really do.
  • Link a withdrawal option to your account. This takes a long time to set up, so you should get it going while you work on your first project.
  • Include a cover letter for every job you apply to, just as if you were applying to a 9-to-5 gig.

Don’t:

  • Request upfront payment. Without any experience or feedback on the site, no one is going to trust you to just give you their money.
  • Get discouraged if you don’t get a job right away. You may have to take something cheaper than expected to gain experience and feedback.
  • Forget to leave feedback after a project is complete. When you leave yours, your client’s will show up on your profile.
  • Be afraid to apply for something different. Some of the best jobs I’ve ever gotten were for topics I had to learn more about.

Final takeaway: oDesk is a great site to start off with, and it still provides steady income for the pros. I’ve stuck with it for four years for a reason. It works.

Elance

2 – Elance

I used Elance when I first started freelancing, but I stopped because I liked oDesk better. Nevertheless, this is a great alternative, with a huge assortment of job postings for all sorts of freelancers. If you find that oDesk doesn’t tickle your fancy, definitely give this site a try.

How it works: Sign up for an account and complete your profile. When you have the basics in place, you can browse through jobs and bid how much money you could realistically do the project for. If you beat the other applicants, either in skills or in pricing, the client will choose to work with you. Payment and project completion are all done through Elance.

Do:

  • Look at the average proposal bid, located above the applicant list on each job. This will help you gauge what you might want to bid.
  • Complete your profile entirely. The more people can see about your work, the more likely they are to hire you.
  • Communicate with your clients. You’ll see your messages on your homepage, so this should be easy to keep track of.
  • Set up your payment account. Whether it’s PayPal, a bank, or something else, you’ll have to wait a few days to use it.

Don’t:

  • Get intimidated by the average bids. If they seem low, you still might get the job because of your experience.
  • Take on more than you can handle. Clients need to know they can trust you with deadlines, and one piece of feedback could be all she wrote for you.
  • Forget to withdraw your money. It takes several days to process, so when it comes through, withdraw it.

Final takeaway: Even though I prefer oDesk over Elance, there are plenty of freelancers that think the opposite. It’s worth giving it a shot.

Craigslist

3 – Craigslist

Wait, what? I thought Craigslist was only for buying and trading random stuff in the neighborhood…?

Believe it or not, Craigslist is actually a fantastic source for freelancing jobs. I have found five of my top ten highest paying clients through Craigslist. That’s because I’ve developed a system, which I’ll explain below.

How it works: You can either choose the city you live in from the list, or you can select one of the major cities in your country. I use the U.S. cities list that pops up on the right hand side once you actually go into a city’s page. Check both the “jobs” section and “gigs” section for the city and see if anything fits your skills. Freelance writers look in writing – developers look in web / info design…etc. Read the posts and follow the instructions for applying. If there are none, send an email with a cover letter and resume to the address next to “Reply to this post” at the top. If you hear back, you can proceed like you would a regular job interview.

Do:

  • Look in as many cities as possible. I check all of the U.S., Europe, and Canada when I apply for jobs.
  • Read each post carefully. Some give you words to put in your email to make sure you read the whole thing.
  • Include links or attachments with your work so employers can see what you can do.

Don’t:

  • Fall victim to a scam. Craigslist offers tips to avoid this matter here.
  • Go back too far in the postings. I usually limit my searches to the past week, and then I move on to another city.
  • Sort by telecommute. Even though this would be logical to do for freelance work, many clients don’t click that option for their posts. You may miss out if you limit your search this way.

Final takeaway: Craigslist isn’t the obvious choice for freelancing jobs, but it can lead you to some extraordinary opportunities online. Best part of all – you don’t have to pay anything to use it.

Other sites to check out

Need more than 3 options to land your next freelance gig? Listed below are 14 more freelancing sites & job boards.

Everyone:

Writers:

Designers and Programmers:

About the author: Heaven Stubblefield is a wife, writer, and self-proclaimed know-it-all who makes a living working online. She started her writing career in an attempt to make a little money in college, but she found the lifestyle too tempting to get rid of. You can see her on oDesk and countless other places on the internet.

More great ideas to grow your business

Want more ways to land gigs? Check out the 9 great ways to find freelance jobs.

Discover the 6 steps to creating a freelance profile that wins business.

Find out how to make sure you get paid for your great ideas.


  • http://www.towoglo.com/ DavidTWG

    Towoglo is another valid alternative

  • Heaven Stubblefield

    I have had to work bad jobs, to the point where I was working 14 hours a day just to make ends meet. That may not sound terrible for people who are used to labor intensive jobs, but don’t underestimate the difficulties of the mental arts. Writing for more than a few hours straight gives me massive headaches…but that is all beside the point.

    I am where I am because I have worked extremely hard to build a reputation online. I’m efficient with my time, communicative with my clients, active in my job hunts…etc. I don’t think it’s right for clients to pay pennies for jobs that are worth dollars, but at the same time, I don’t think the sites hosting those jobs should be held accountable for them. It’s the client who is choosing to hurt his employees, not the website.

    The entire point of this debate was that freelancing is far from slavery, as Roland originally stated. It is a career choice that you just have to get through. If that means working for less than what you think you’re worth at first, do it and get through it. Even a slow writer online can usually make more than minimum wage from the start – if he or she is active in finding work. Unpaid interns aren’t considered slaves in the real world. Freelancers shouldn’t be considered so on the internet. No offense, but it comes across as an excuse not to do well, rather than an opportunity to learn and grow.

  • Heaven Stubblefield

    For one, making an article that detailed every single pro and con of every single website would be monstrously long. It wouldn’t make a lot of since for me to do that. The sites on here are all mere suggestions of places to go to find work. What you do with them is entirely up to you. I can only write about what has worked for me, and as you may notice in my Elance comment, I said that other freelancers may disagree with my opinion. Despite the fact that oDesk has gone downhill, I STILL get work from it from time to time. I have a client now who pays $.05/word for relatively simple work, and I picked her up from oDesk. Sorry that I did not include everything you wanted in the article, but as with anything online, you cannot rely on it as a singular source of information.

  • Snoopy – Your Friendly Neighbo

    I understand your point about freelancing not necessarily being slavery (If anything, the whole point of Freelancing is that it’s anything but). But what I’m trying to argue is that it’s all semantics at this point. In our situation, we’re Americans and we’re also coming from a place of privilege: it’s a lot easier for us to not trust any online job that tries to sell the allure of working offsite for pennies an hour, and for a reason: If you can’t build any in-person connection, it’s harder to trust the person who you’re working for. And a lot of these people seem to not be real contacts but random folks in the middle of nowhere. However, for someone in a third world country, I imagine that they see these contracts in a country like America, and they don’t make that connection. They think they’re working for a real person when in reality, they’re being manipulated.

  • Cbf

    Rentacoder doesn’t exist anymore. Great research.

  • Heaven Stubblefield

    I can understand that perspective. Even people in America who aren’t familiar with the industry can get caught up in scams. I’ve probably lost a few thousand dollars worth of work from people who just chose not to pay me one day or who decided to drop their rates for no reason…without warning. Freelancing is far from the “right fit” for everyone, but it can be wonderful if you find a route that works for you. Some people just take longer to find that than others.

  • Snoopy – Your Friendly Neighbo

    Oh Definitely! And heck, there’s places here in the US that have fooled me too and made me believe they were legit. It’s always the hardest pill to swallow when you realize you’re in bad company. It’s sad but after one too many bad clients, you’re forced to develop business savvy fast in this field.

  • montebank

    There’s probably 300 or so million people in India educationally on par with anyone in the United States. Technically, that is, but not even in the ball park when it comes to writing colloquial English. So the foreign employers low ball and they’ll wonder why their site turns away revenue. Consumers want the familiar. Consumers who pay top dollar speak English. “Bouncy ball Ok for young ones” will not help your business. I’ve worked with a lot of great foreign workers over the years but 98.9% percent could not master English prose (and they didn’t care).

    I’m not worried about foreign competition. Great programmers a dime a dozen but decent writers to help your image, sales and the rest..right.

  • Andy

    ODesk is a joke compared to other freelancing websites. They set ridiculous standards, don’t encourage groups, and require lots of bulky software. Furthermore, the pricing is just ridiculously low. The clients expect you to design their entire branding campaign for peanuts.

  • Emily

    Great points, indeed I found it very useful. In my case, I use to visit “WTB Section” in SEOClerks and there hundreds of buyers are looking for talented sellers every day.

  • Jackie

    I set up a detailed profile on odesk based on this article, only to find that most people are charging ridiculously low rates like $2 an hour. How can you consider this worthy of any freelancer’s time?

  • workhoppers.com

    I completely agree with you and that is why at Workhoppers we connect local talent with flexible jobs. Check it out! Easy and free.

  • hempfestival

    I would like to thank you for this blog on freelancing jobs, I have been looking to do something with the knowledge I’ve acquired for all my years in schools and self-studying. I have been looking into volunteering but I would rather do something that I enjoy and can get some $$ in return. What is your field of expertise if I may ask ? Mine is on Information Technology support and lately I’ve been exploring into designing ecommerce web stores.

  • Heaven Stubblefield

    With ANY freelancing site, you have to spend time finding the good jobs in the bunch. There are tons of employers who want to get the cheapest rates possible, but there are also a number of them who are willing to pay good money to the right candidates. It’s frustrating, I know, but there is hope at the end of it all.

  • Heaven Stubblefield

    Content development. I can essentially handle all forms of writing on the web, from eBooks to product descriptions and everything in between.

  • GilbertCuevas

    Detailed and very helpful. : Outsourcing Business Tasks is the future of outsourcing. Though that may be limitless.

  • Idelvice

    oDesk is my first job in my whole career. and all of the clients are getting cheaper.. If you’re working as a Data encoder, they’re job objectives is included with their budget limit and that is $0.15!!!! if you’ll bid below $0.15 cents will be hired!! oDesk clients are cheapskates! that’s why I never returned on that trash site.

  • Emily

    ListingDock is a cool marketplace, quality stuff, talented buyers, great support, unique features, and lots of other amazing feature, I do super well here.

  • Webnettechs

    Websites are a bit like cars – they tell the world about who we are, our core values, and what we have to offer. When was the last time you upgraded or redesigned your website? Have you upgraded your car in the last five years! Doesn’t your website deserve the same treatment?

    So you can allow us to design and develop the customized websites for you. Even if you want you can outsource your projects to us we deliver the projects on time with great quality and tremendous support.

    You can directly email to us webnettechs@gmail.com or add us on Skype :- webnettechs

  • tereza23

    i agree with you ,people are ready to work for $1 per hour on oDesk ,Elance and guru are the best ,peopleperhour is too expensive

  • http://www.datesofasia.com Jose Abril

    I agree with you ,people are ready to work for $1 per hour on oDesk ,Elance and guru are the best.

  • Beth Jackson

    I was able to find a job using Gradzpower. They were really useful and helped match me up with a great company.

  • RWB99

    One of the biggest necessities for me when I decided to branch out into freelance work was the ability to work from home and set my own schedule (which I know seems like something all freelancers would be able to do, but that’s really not the case). At the time, we were moving a lot for my husband’s job and I wanted to be able to take my job with me. I would up using the site www(dot)flexjobs(dot)com which posts only super-flexible jobs. I found my first freelance gig using that site and even though it’s turned into a pretty steady job, I still maintain my subscription to find one-off projects and short-term jobs. The thing I liked best is that there isn’t a bidding process, so it’s a lot more like applying to regular job listings than some of the other freelance job sites.

  • NOEL TATA

    O’desk is all bumph; Elance is overcrowded with people bidding the lowest allowed. Guru is complex navigation, but OK. PPH is far and away the best, paying 3 times as much for the same job. Ask me, I should know. I made $13,160 in 4 years with Elance and Euros 8,350 in ONE year at PPH. And I’m a freelancer. I write well too, so I’m generally an invitee.
    NM

  • Jeff Swanson

    I’ve had a lot of success with Freelanced.com (www.freelanced.com) and Elance (www.elance.com). I am a web developer/programmer and have managed to land a few jobs. I also see that Freelanced seems to have alot of illustration/art jobs.

    Has anybody else found other good sites for IT people like myself (i.e. Web Developers)??

  • R.D.

    I just got finished checking out oDesk. Wow. The pay is ridiculous. I did’t even bother looking at the other sites because this one (your favorite!) was so pathetic. Someone wants me to write a book for them in three days time and pay me a generous $2?! I could make more money selling lemonade at a cardboard stand on the corner for gods sake. How insulting.

  • shahid hussain siddiqui

    shahid hussain siddiqui

  • Lucy Chastain

    Craig’s List is a waste of time. 99.999% job offers are by cheapskates bartering for services or offering “no pay, but a wonderful opportunity to build your portfolio.”

    99D is garbage. I used to do that way back in the day. Not anymore. What happens is that if you’re the front runner in a contest, cheaters study your design, listen to the contest holder’s feedback, and then produce a copy of your idea at the last minute, winning the project. Most contest holders even encourage this kind of theft. Thanks, but no thanks.

  • John

    CopyShoppy is another great freelance writer marketplace for advertisement writers/brand name developers

  • Rajesh kumar Shakya

    SEO freelancing services in Delhi, SEO freelancing services in Delhi
    India and sem freelancing services in Delhi India basis at very
    affordable rates SEO Services, SEM Services, PPC Advertising , Social
    Media Marketing and Link Building, Facebook Fan Page Creation services
    mail id- seobrijesh1@gmail.com , my skype is id is- seo_brijesh

  • I.S.M. Habibullah

    At this moment Odesk is surely the best freelancing platform though the pay rates are considerably low. There is a steady income opportunity for everyone out there. But I should also mention that the pay rate is low if you lack quality and don’t know how to negotiate it.

  • Umar

    @heavenstubblefield:disqus The list is nicer and it’s even nicer to see you’ve added Do and Don’t section for some of them.

    My Craigslist experience has been pretty bad. It seems they don’t deliver the email if you are from a country that is not job poster’s country.

    Before you say I must have sent canned emails or spammed. That was not the case. Over a period of 4 days I sent around 30 replies and all of them were custom written specifically for each job/gig. Most of the gigs/jobs were in New York

    All the jobs/gigs wanted help with their websites and that’s what I do on all freelance websites that you mention in your article.

    I did not get even one reply to 30 custom written highly specific applications. That never happens when I apply on other freelancing websites. Because I write highly specific applications.

    That brings me to the conclusion that may be Craigslist only trusts people from the US or developed countries.

  • tarickTDS

    I dont understand the problem with low paid gigs. look at fiver, its based around cheep gigs. anyone gonna say its an evil site? All I ever read is people using shock words such as Slavery, Globalisation etc to try to add impact to a non existant argument. or so it would seem. can someone please make a good quality sound and intellegent argument as to exactly why hiring someone for $1 an hour is in some way a problem?

    other than that it makes life hard for the middle class that is.

    In my mind at least its a new era, a new dawn, a new world. A world no one has ever needed to compete in before, a world where previously millions of excluded participants have now entered our areana. The world of global communication. so guess what, were here and we aint goin back so best buckle up and enjoy the ride cos its only the beggining of this thing.

  • Sandeep

    Elance is better than odesk.

  • Johnny

    I also started with oDesk for about 1 or 2 years I think until I got absorbed in the website where I am working for. It works for me and maybe for others as well but if you are looking for a gorgeous pay to begin your career, this is not your place. Instead, start your own company.

  • hasan

    ODESK IS VERY CRUEL WITH CONTRACTERS AND THEY DONT HAVE ANY SYSTEM ABOUT THE pricing day by day the price is going down with all types of project work I THINK U.S GOV SHOULD BAN THIS SITE ..why the rates are droped to much for projects atleast for hourly project rate 5 and fixed price 50$ ..no more 1$ or 10$ what the hell is this people working all day work and they just get only 10$ per day..its a very shame for odesk…thay dont have any good policy about the pricing..some one have to notice to update to odesk ,,and i m seeing that odesk will be no more number one…

  • http://www.vectorpsdfree.com/ vectorpsdfree

    Well! the list above presented are very good. I love odesk too its very good as compared to other! you can all check my professional guide ebook on my website. It will explain how you can become professional

  • Yan

    How in the world is Freelancer any good. You have to pay a monthly plan just to bid then you have to pay to take exams to bid the projects and even the projects that I saw so far suck. I mean WTF either you pay a monthly plan to access the whole shabang this is ridicoulous.

  • Deepak Sharma

    It depends from person to person. I find oDesk as the best place to get projects.

  • Manoj Garg

    Hello Sir,
    First of all thanks for your post about freelancing websites. I am doing work on Odesk and elance. I like your best 3rd option that is craiglist.

    I have one question. How to bid on craiglist? I can only bid without login there. But When i logged in there. Then I can only post a job there.

  • John

    As a person who has never done this before , freelance writing. How do you make money? Where exactly do you start? Is there classes you should take ? Sorry for all the questions but I want to live in another country and this seems like a nice way to make a living.

  • Matt

    Thank you for this! It was just what I needed at this moment in my freelancing endeavor.

  • USMC

    I don’t get it. Heaven, why would you even write an article about freelancing and include oDesk when, in fact, you know it has gone to crapolly? I just saying!!!

  • USMC

    Sorry, but pennies on the dollar is “economical slavery”!

  • Laurence Pollwade

    I have lists of over 100 sites…I am redoing a book I wrote ages ago that had tons of sites because I found a lot more. I will publish it soon.

  • Rachelle

    So true. I wonder how many people in Seattle will freelance online when the minimum wage rises to $15 an hour.

  • mikhan86

    bhai g ma ne newly join kiya hai Odesk ko accounts for thora sa kam janta hoon and mujhe help out karo i will be thxful to u if u like my id onemorechance_is@yhoo.com or number 03224510294 just miss call i will call u

  • Renato Francia

    Thanks for the Article!!


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