This is what freelancers need to know before they sign up to a freelance website
There are numerous freelance/freelancing websites out there. Most of them, if not all, pride themselves as the best outsourcing and freelance website for all forms of businesses. I have personally tried a few of them. I must say, they are indeed a global workplace. Since I started work as a freelancer, I have learnt a few things:
Always beware of fraudulent activities. These may a times be presented as projects by prospective employers or buyers seeking freelancers. These projects are usually fraudulent in nature but a new freelancer may not realize this in good time. A pointer that one can use to check whether the said project may be fraudulent is by looking out for disputes especially in the payment method at the very beginning. You may also realise that these projects always tend to offer very little payment as opposed to the workload. If you also find that the project description as advertised does not match the actual work, there is a high probability it is fraudulent. Most of these jobs come as data entry jobs or easy typing jobs.
If an employer is genuine, they will not ask you to log in to another website to start work before engaging you on a contract from your freelancing website. A genuine employer/buyer will always guarantee the payment by giving you an upfront payment of by funding the escrow account. If the freelancing website offers an escrow account, e.g. Elance, my advice is not to start on any work if it has not been funded. If however, the website does not offer an escrow account, e.g. oDesk, insist on an upfront payment. If the employer says they do not offer upfront payment due to bad experiences in the past, then, look into their profile feedback. You may be able to draw your own conclusions by seeing what other freelancers have to say about that particular employer. If there is no feedback, insist on an upfront payment. An upfront payment can be a percentage of the total project amount.
In my own opinion, a freelance website should ideally be free. However, some of these websites offer different membership plans with different charges according to the user’s preferences. These range from free accounts to premium accounts. Premium members tend to pay the most and also tend to have the best services offered by a particular website. An example of a website that is completely free is oDesk. It is free to join, bid on projects and accept contracts. The only fee payable is a percentage of the project amount. Elance operates more or less the same except, it offers different membership plans and fixed prize projects have guarantee payment unlike oDesk. A site like freelancer charges the users on almost everything. There free account is actually the most expensive account. You get charged a fee for accepting to work on a project; this is just a rip off. What if the employer never gets to pay? Does that mean you will pay for a job you never got to do? This is why I personally found myself losing money instead of making it. What a shame. Perhaps I need to learn how to use the site and make profit instead of losses.