Freelancer hits up outsourcing

BY ROB O'NEILL
Last updated 05:00 26/09/2010
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Chief executive Matt Barrie has high hopes for the new Kiwi freelancer site, below.
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FROM TOMORROW, New Zealand small businesses will be able to use a local version of global outsourcing site Freelancer.com to seek bids from freelance service providers all around the world.

Freelancer.com, founded and operated out of Australia, claims to be the world's largest outsourcing marketplace. Similar sites include Peopleperhour.com, Elance.com and Guru.com.

Matt Barrie, chief executive of Freelancer .com, said the service will allow businesses to outsource work anywhere. Businesses needing work done can post a job which goes live within minutes, after which qualified freelancers receive a notification of the work, and can begin bidding on it.

The new site, Freelancer.co.nz, will operate using New Zealand dollars and will, over time, be customised to local needs, said Barrie.

The service will allow New Zealand small businesses to be more internationally competitive through cutting costs and increasing sales. Already thousands of Kiwis use the .com version of the site, he said. About 200,000 unique visitors from New Zealand had landed on it since it was launched in February 2004.

It will also allow New Zealand-based freelancers to bid on work globally. Categories of work on the site include IT and website development, mobile phone and iPad application development, writing and content, design and architecture, engineering, science, and sales and marketing.

Barrie said an average of 40 bids are received per piece of work posted on Freelancer.com, but sometimes this can be as high as 500. This also allows businesses to assemble teams for larger projects. The smallest allowable project value on the site is $US30, while the average bid is $US200.

Freelancer.com has advertised 800,000 projects to date and executed $US65 million ($88.6m) in successful bids, he said. In April, it logged 1.5 million registered users.

Most of the advertised work comes from small businesses in countries such as the US, Canada and Australia, while most of the bidders are from countries such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and places like Romania.

In fact, 90% of work advertised is won by freelancers in developing countries, Barrie said, but advertisers can specify whether they want work completed locally.

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Advertisers are charged $US5 to post a project, but this is refunded when someone is appointed to do the work. They are then charged 3% of the winning bid price or $US3, whichever is the larger. The bidder is charged a 10% commission or $US5, whichever is the higher.

Signing up with the site is free.

Barrie said New Zealand was a good place to start the global rollout, as it is a country of small businesses, with good internet connectivity.

Barrie said a year ago, Freelancer.com was around the 5000th largest site in the world but, a few weeks ago, had climbed into the top 400. It is also among the top few Australian-operated websites.

An associated website, Freemarket.com, launched in July, allows writers, designers and others to sell digital content internationally.

- Sunday Star Times

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