If you're a small business with a job to be done but few resources to make it happen, Freelancer.com could be your first port of call. Designed essentially as a conduit between western world businesses and developing world workers, Freelancer.com operates much like TradeMe whereby a business posts a job, a website design for instance, and freelancers bid to do the work.
To date, Freelancer.com has posted some 800,000 jobs since its inception in 2004 and its users have earned over $87 million dollars. The site is currently the largest online outsourcing marketplace globally.
Company ceo Matt Barrie told PC World this morning that New Zealand was chosen as the first country for an individual site because of its reputation as the land of the small business, a tech-savvy population and good internet infrastructure. It's also just across the Tasman from the company's head office.
At present, the bulk of jobs originate in the US, so the company is making a concerted push to raise its profile in Australia and New Zealand and other western countries.
Freelancer.co.nz will have all pricing in New Zealand dollars and Mr Barrie said a range of services will be rolled out over time to further customise the site for local businesses.
There is an argument to be made that a site like this simply undercuts the incomes of New Zealand resident freelancers but Mr Barrie preferred to emphasise the opportunities it provided to developing world workers who wouldn't otherwise be able to get such work. He also said some businesses were looking for local freelancers because the jobs required some onsite work or closer interaction.
Freelancer.com started as an outsourcing site largely for IT jobs but has now expanded beyond that to encompass the likes of writing, design, engineering and marketing. The average job is priced at US$200 and jobs start at just $30. At the time of writing 1.8 million freelancers were signed up to the site and bidding on work in 360 different job categories.
The company earns its income by standing in the middle of transactions and taking a cut from the poster of the job and the successful bidder. Job posters pay $3 or 3% of the price, whichever is higher, and successful bidders pay $5 or 10% of the agreed job price, whichever is higher. Freelancer.com holds the payment for the job in trust until the job is completed to the client's satisfaction. There is also a team of lawyers on hand to settle any disputes.
Like TradeMe, the site operates on a reputation basis whereby feedback is posted about both freelancers and the businesses offering jobs.