Hi there, my name is Damien and I’m the founder of Scalable Path, a network of 4000+ technical freelancers.
Many of the top platforms have already been listed. I thought it might be beneficial to share some of the experiences i have accumulated from running afreelancer platform – Scalable Path. Understanding how freelancer sites work ‘under the hood’ will help any developer choose the platform that best fits their skills and requirements.
So what are the best freelance sites for developers then?
A common issue in the industry is that many of platforms treat freelancers as a commodity. Thinking in volume rather than quality, they believe that agood platform is one with thousands of freelancers on hand.
This by the numbers approach is clearly not beneficial to freelancers (or client in many cases!) There are now several platforms that do not subscribe to this approach. They understand that great brands want to work with great talent.
What do these premium freelancer sites do differently?
To start with they have a model which discourages ‘race to the bottom’ bidding. The upshot is they pay freelancers industry rates.
But isis about much more than rates. Take Scalable Path as an example: a huge aspect of our business is finding and, importantly, holding onto our top-level contractors. We keep our best talent by matching them with big brand, reputable and exciting clients. Our team of leaders personally keep in touch with all our freelancers. They hand pick them onto projects based on their skills and interests. This isa personal approach – not one based using a first/come first served or algorithmic model. We even offer a lucrative profit sharing leadership program for developers to step up into when they are ready to become software architects and start managing teams.
This low turnover of talent has turned Scalable Path into a community as well as a freelance platform. This is what we do to attract the best freelancers. Toptal do something very similar. The secret is to keep the numbers low enough to be able to offer a more personal service but high enough to have talent on hand. This means a roster of thousands, not millions, of freelancers. This personal service involves using rigorous screening processes such as video interviews.
We’ve been tweaking our own process for years. It currently includes an English proficiency test, a technical skills test, admission of previous work and an interview with a lead developer.
The interview is arguably the most important step. It assesses a freelancers ‘soft skills’ such as communication, leadership, teamwork, attitude, self-learning ability, task management, and reliability, amongst others. We have come to value soft skills as highly as technical skills. The trouble with technical skills tests is that someone can pass but still have a bad attitude and be painful to work with. I’ve found that good communication skills directly correlate with good development skills. A great developer is able to understand problems clearly, break them down into hypotheses and propose solutions in a coherent manner to the client.
Platforms like Upwork or Freelancer have millions of freelancers on their books. So they rely heavily on customer ratings and automated tools (online tests for example) to verify freelancers abilities and experience level. But these systems are open to abuse which means employers must do the careful vetting of each candidate themselves.
In short, if you are an experienced developer you may want to consider the more premium platforms. This will give you the opportunity o work within a larger community of technical talent while working for larger brands and on more interesting projects.