Odesk, Elance, Freelancer: An Objective Review of Freelance Bidding Sites

Written By: Guest Writer

Freelancing! Even two years ago, it was not something that you expected your 12 year old niece to know about or identify with. But the winds of change are roaring across the Indian subcontinent. Right now there are more than 10 million bona fide freelancers in the country and more than 32% of them are availing of this wonderful lifestyle full time. And why not? As a freelancer, you are your own boss! I as a Mobilizer and recruiter for a large freelancing portal need to literally stand on the side of the road and solicit talent. Hey people! There are way too many jobs that need doing and not enough good talented heads to get them done!! So you can imagine that I need to interact with potential freelancers almost every day. Many of them keep parroting the question, “What will I get out of it?”

The short answer is “Everything! From independence to a sense of achievement to a healthier lifestyle to a chance to pursue your passion.”

There is nothing like it. And in my opinion freelancing is a recession proof “job”. As the World banks become stingier with their money, more and more ventures, especially the startups look to the freelancing community for great work at affordable prices! Plus most freelancers have work ethics that can make a US Marine blush! You need to be the picture of prompt, attentive reliability if you really want to make your mark. But you do all this on your own terms! You can technically tell any client who is rapidly becoming a sour puss and a nuisance to “leave you alone” and still get away with it.  Obviously this is something radical and should not be done lightly. What most freelancing portals however allow you to do is cancel the job mutually so you can get on with your hassle free life and not be at the beck and call of someone who is not agreeing with you. Imagine telling your boss that! He (or equally she) will more likely “cancel” your name from the employees list.

The next best thing is free will! When you are a freelancer, you can choose what you do! That sounds like an insane luxury. Especially in these market conditions! But that is exactly what you CAN do if you prove to the freelancing community and your clients that you are worth the money! Since you do not need to pay the office rent and the high class receptionist…you can afford to work at one-tenth the price at which some of the bigger established firms do. Granted they have a better infrastructure. But let me tell you, I have browsed literally millions of jobs on all the major freelancing portals and only about 5 to 6 percent of ALL posted jobs actually need the infrastructure of a big venture. Especially if you are a graphics designer or an editor, it is your creativity and flow that will get the job done! You won’t need any other trappings!

Lastly the most important thing for us Indians is the fact that as a freelancer you don’t need to be servile or unctuous! To anybody! Friendly and professional will do just great! Forget about all those promotions you were passed up for!! Here you are known by your talent and not your ability of being the superior’s “pet”. That is why we have decided to use the slogan: “Sell it on merit” as our Indian marketing mantra! With freelancing, you can actually get back as much as you put in. The simple equation is:

                                                  GREAT WORK=AWESOME PAY

But one question still looms large. Which portal to sign up for? Well here I am listing, in a very unbiased way, the top pros and cons of the three major players- Odesk, Elance and Freelancer.


PROS: Huge site, great infrastructure, very detailed and easy to fill in portfolio section.
CONS: No “fixed price” money guarantee. Only hourly jobs are safe here. And that is a major con! You can’t expect to earn a lot, a CEO salary, on hourly jobs!


PROS: Easy site, great job variety, 24 hours support, guarantee on both fixed price as well as hourly jobs and 40 free connects (bidding currency) to bid with every month.
CONS: The profile section is a bit restrictive. You can’t say much about yourself in the overview. And sometimes, the recommended jobs list they send you has some very “unsuitable” jobs! But then Elance is in the process of fine tuning their job recommendation process with a huge, user customized survey and like everything else, the jobs for you will also become perfect matches for your skill set! Though I advise that to score real hits, you just have to go through all the jobs pertaining to your category irrespective of what has been suggested. No matter what portal you are on.


PROS: Payment guarantee
CONS: Not much to choose from and the sign up process is a pain. The site navigability also leaves much to be desired.

These are my very personal opinions generated on the basis of my individual experience on these sites! Obviously to a freelancer their pet portal is like a baby. So if I have ruffled some feathers out there, I am very sorry!

Freelancing is a joyous and incredibly free way of life which I believe everyone has the right to experience.

Thanks a lot to Ms. Shuchi Kalra. She is the embodiment of everything this lifestyle stands for.

Till then, keep bidding and keep rocking!


  1. Hi Trina,

    Good, uplifting article.

    In my opinion, Freelancer is the underbelly of the writing world - one may find the needle in the haystack eventually, but not a well paying job at Freelancer.

    Odesk - haven't tried it but based on those who use it, gets placed somewhere in between.

    Elance - a great portfolio, luck (to compete with native English speakers) and perseverance can get you jobs that pay atleast five times what most Indian content writing jobs pay you.

  2. I will rank this Article among top 5 in this blog----------I wish to have some insights on " how to reply when a job says ONLY NATIVE

  3. I have been doing this since the past eight years... and here's what I have come to know about the various websites listed here:

    Odesk: Is one of the websites that offer top dollar jobs, these things are actually like telecommuting and offers a decent amount of money for each project.

    Freelancer: Will be a freelancer's bread and butter for a few years, until they get a foothold into the freelancing world.

  4. You can actually convince people to use you when the job requirement says "native"! Tell them you speak better than one! The problem starts when they mention "US only" or "UK only". Leave those jobs alone! But you can bag the "native" jobs with a bit of persuasion! I have done it numerous times myself!! :). So best of luck!

  5. You are just lovely, I am respecting the contribution of especially the women in this blog, very helpful, good, sincere communication just love you guya or is it babes.

  6. Good points covered and I personally feel that Elance is good site to get jobs for any level. However the only disadvantage is if the bid is declined or some negative feedback is given by client without assigning the project, those comments are visible in your profile page. This can effect your reputation.

  7. I was freelancer, i was getting lots of work on oDesk also have more then 400 working hours & lot more other fixed price jobs. suddenly they have suspended my account. so i contacted to oDesk customer care. they said to replay with in 48 hours. but i was keep working on oDesk because my clients wants to keep working on their projects. so i continue working even my account suspended after week i contact them again same reply. after month i stop working. there is amount $1800. which they are not ready to withdraw me. its hang on oDesk site. i lots my time & lots of money. its question on survival now.

    isn’t it strange! they allowing me continue but now allowing me to withdraw money because my account suspended. if my account suspended then they should not allow any activity.

    Till 3 months after suspending i was requesting them lot but their answer is always same “We will response with in 48 hours.”. they are theft my money. Hell!!! i would request to don’t use such kind of fraud websites.


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