I wrote the post ‘ Comparison of the Top 4 Freelancing Websites‘ just over two years ago. Since then Elance and Odesk have merged and the two comparatively less popular sites Guru and Freelancer have seen their numbers grow. So I felt it was time to recompare the freelance writing opportunities on these portals.

Comparison of Popular Freelancing Websites for Writers

Number of freelance writing jobs:  Upwork ( formerly oDesk) continues to have the highest number of jobs in the writing and translation category. However it is a case of quality versus quantity because Elance with fewer writing projects tends to have better paying jobs.

Competition:  Compared to Elance, Guru is the more competitive website with higher number of potential bidders for each ‘writing and translation’ job. 

Information on number of registered writers was not available for Upwork and Freelancer.

Writer Profiles: What I really like about Freelancer and Guru are the dynamic contractor profiles (much like your Facebook business page) with a header and profile image. Also you can use your business logos instead of a photo which Elance insists on. Writer skills and experience are much more neatly categorised and available for viewing on Guru than on Elance or Upwork.

Cost: The cost of using these websites has two components –

  • Membership fee: You can get started for free on all four sites. However, given the high proposal reject rate, you will need to upgrade to a paid membership plan to be able to apply for higher number of writing jobs.
  • Website Commission: Apart from the membership fee, all websites charge a project fee, which is deducted as a percentage of your project earnings. Freelancer and Guru have higher paid membership plans where the project fee becomes substantially lower. For instance, Guru’s free plan has a job fee of 8.95%, and its executive plan at $39.95 per month has a job fee of 4.95%.
  • Payment protection: All sites offer some form of an escrow payment system. The employer funds the project when the work begins. As approved milestones are completed and the employer approves the work, the website releases the payments.

The infographic below is based on review of ‘freelance writing and translation’ jobs listed on the four sites (Elance, Upwork, Guru and Freelancer ) as of 10th June 2015 –

Freelance websites for writing

As a freelance writer based in India and as someone whose location changes every few years, it is difficult to land writing projects. Moreover, most Indian companies still prefer in-person interactions. Freelance websites like Elance, help overcome these obstacles and offer an excellent platform to work remotely with international clients.

What has been your experience in using freelance job portals like Elance and Guru?  


Addition date: 03 July 2015

I just received this email from Elance confirming that I can now replicate my Elance to Upwork.

Hi Rhea,

We’re excited to invite you to copy over both your freelancer and client profiles to Upwork. To access your client account once you’ve joined Upwork, simply click on your name in the top right hand corner of your Upwork screen.

We make it easy to create a stellar reputation on Upwork.  If you already have an Upwork account, you can choose to combine your Elance and Upwork work histories, or replace your existing Upwork account with your Elance profile.

Leverage your Elance reputation today to start working on Upwork, the world’s
largest workplace.