Bidding vs. Non-bidding Freelance Platforms: what’s the difference for clients & contractors

What is it all about?

One of the easiest ways for freelancers and customers to meet each other is freelance platforms. These are websites where independent contractors register and showcase their portfolios so that potential clients could decide whom to hire. 

Freelance platforms fall into two broad categories: bidding and non-bidding services. Each has its pros and cons, and below we’ll try to figure them out. 

How do bidding platforms work

  1. A client submits their order on an online bidding platform
  2. Registered freelancers see the order and start bidding for it (naming their prices for the job)
  3. A client reviews the profiles of those freelancers who applied for the job and selects one or several contractors to work with
  4. All the following interactions occur directly between the client and the freelancer(s) they hired, supposedly via the project bidding platform where they found each other
  5. The website takes a fee for its services.

How non-bidding platforms work

There is a great variety of non-bidding platforms, but the most popular and reliable ones are freelance platforms for vetted specialists. 

  • A freelancer registers on the website
  • They go through the tests to verify language proficiency, professional skills, work ethics, communication, etc.
  • If freelancer passes the vetting process, they become a part of a “freelancer pool”
  • A client submits their order to the platform, providing all the details about the job that needs to be done
  • The platform’s staff selects a freelancer whose skills and expertise match the client’s requirements perfectly and is available at the moment, and assigns them to the project
  • All the further interactions occur directly between the customer and the freelancer(s) they hired. However, the platform may serve as an arbiter between them, helping to clarify misunderstandings and/or solve any problems that may occur during the project. 

Some non-bidding platforms also offer services of project managers who take over the project to make sure it’s completed as agreed and delivered on time. Now that we know in general, how things work, let’s take a brief look at the pros and cons of each of the systems.

Non-bidding freelance platforms

A significant advantage of non-bidding freelance platforms is that they often have specialization. In other words, they work with narrow profile professionals. This way, freelance platforms can develop better criteria for selecting specialists to work with. 

Here are some services operating under such principles:

  • Lemon.io (software and web development)
  • ClearVoice (content marketing)
  • 99Designs (graphic and web design)
  • nDash (content writing)

We believe that the key to mutually beneficial cooperation between a customer and a freelancer comprises the following aspects:

  • A clear understanding of the principles that the work on a project is based on
  • Fair payment
  • Transparent and honest communication
  • Guarantees that a freelance platform provides to both customers and contractors. 

In our opinion, the best way to ensure all the mentioned aspects are observed is vetting. This is the process of verifying a freelancer’s professional and personal skills, necessary for working with clients. In Lemon.io, we have designed a procedure aimed at filtering the best of the best experts. Usually, only 4 out of 100 freelancers applying to work with us pass all the tests and are allowed to work with freelancers. 

Many other non-bidding freelance platforms operate under the same principles. We would recommend you to take them into consideration when posting/searching for a job. 

Pros and cons of using freelance platforms for vetted specialists 

Client’s perspective

Pros

  • You can be sure that a person you get to work with possesses all the skills necessary for the job 
  • If an assigned freelancer cannot continue working on your project any longer, the platform will provide you with a substitute
  • You know who you work with: you entrust the information on your projects to a legitimate legal entity, not some random person from the internet
  • You are safe from scammers and irresponsible freelancers disappearing right in the middle of the project
  • There is always an arbiter between you and the freelancer, whom you can address in for problem-solving and assistance

Cons

  • Platforms for vetted specialists usually possess the so-called expert pools, from which they select contractors suiting your order the most (in their opinion). They send you the resumes, and you decide whom you want to work with. However, you cannot browse through the whole pool. On the other hand, even small job bidding sites let you see through the profiles of contractors applying to your order. 
  • Hourly rates and/or fixed prices on such platforms are usually higher than the ones on regular bidding platforms.

Freelancer’s perspective

Pros

  • You do not need to search for work yourself: once you pass all the tests, the platform is bound to supply you with orders regularly
  • You get paid for your work on a guaranteed basis
  • In case any problems occur with a customer (discrepancies in declared and actual requirements or deadlines, for example), you can appeal to the platform for regulation and assistance
  • You do not have to bid for orders competing with poorly qualified freelancers

Cons

  • Vetting procedures may take some time
  • You don’t get to choose customers and projects to work on
  • If your most frequent Google search request sounds like, “best freelance websites without bidding for students,” you might be disappointed. Non-bidding platforms often have extremely high entry threshold and professional qualifications. 

Bidding freelance platforms

Bidding freelance platforms are extremely popular, and you must have heard at least of some of them. Among the most renowned representatives are:

  • Upwork
  • Freelancer
  • Peopleperhour

Сlient’s perspective

Pros

  • Finding someone for the job seems easy (it does not mean, however, that the person you find is a reliable professional)
  • Services such as Upwork or Freelancer gather freelancers from all over the world so that you can find a contractor from your time zone and even geographic location
  • There are all kinds of professionals out there, so you can always be sure you can find a person with the skills you need
  • Hiring at bidding freelance platforms is usually cheaper. 

Cons

  • There are no real ways for clients to check whether a freelancer they want to hire is good at their job, reliable, or safe to work with
  • Scammers often use bidding freelance platforms to find new victims, and the preventive measures used by such services are not always sufficient. Even the best job bidding websites suffer from this problem
  • Professional and communicative skills of the contractors applying to your orders can often be doubtful
  • Bidding platforms usually do not bother regulating conflicts between customers and freelancers.

Freelancer’s perspective

Pros

  • Bidding freelance platforms can be a quick way to start a career, build up a portfolio, and get the initial experience in the chosen field
  • Even if you are a beginner, you will find your client, eventually: bidding platforms are extremely popular, so there are always customers hanging out in there 
  • Freelance bidding process lets both beginners and pros compete for orders on equal terms. Google up some freelance bidding tips, and even if you are a newbie, you have good chances to find a job.  

Cons

  • Damping. Even if you are a skilled professional, you will most likely have to lower your hourly rates. Just because other freelancers applying to the same project as you will offer ridiculously low prices to get hired.
  • You have to waste a lot of time on completing profiles, filling out all kinds of forms, verifying your bank accounts, and passing numerous “proficiency tests.” 
  • Bidding freelance platforms usually take commissions. E.g., Upwork is known to charge freelancers for 20% for the first $500 they earn with every new client. 
  • Although there are services such as Escrow that allow safe financial transactions between freelancers and customers, sometimes there is no guarantee you are getting paid for your work. 

Conclusion 

Bidding platforms have been a popular solution for both freelancers and customers far too long. While posing a compromise between accessibility and security, bidding platforms cannot provide freelancers with high incomes (unless they make it to top ratings). They cannot provide customers with reliable and high-quality solutions to their requests as well. 

At the same time, non-bidding platforms operate under different principles. Security, reliability, and the high quality of provided services are often among the keystone propositions non-bidding platforms offer to their clients. 

Freelance platforms for vetted specialists are a popular solution among both freelancers and customers who value their time and money. Rather than searching for a perfect match, they prefer to address a mediator who ensures mutual security and benefit from cooperation. Clients know that they will be provided with specialists whose professional and personal qualities were tested and approved. Freelancers know that they will get paid for their work, and paid well. 

We like to make people happy. Who doesn’t? So, we at Lemon.io vet and test freelance devs to ensure that customers who hire contractors from us are 100% satisfied with their performance. 

The absolute majority of our clients love us. And even if they don’t (not all people like lemons) they still hire our vetted freelancers. 

Give us a try too!