By Laura Castonguay

When it comes to finding a job on the Internet, there are hundreds of sites that gather data about possible jobs and make listings available for the prospective job seeker. But what if you are a freelance writer and you aren’t looking for one job, but for a hub of consistent contract work?

Listed below are five contract websites ranked in terms of benefit to a freelance writer. Not only do all of the sites allow a writer to create a profile, download a portfolio, search for specific contracts and then bid on jobs, they provide a network that encourages professionalism for both freelance writers and employers.

1. oDesk

By far the site with the most benefits to a freelance writer, oDesk offers free membership with no option for costly membership packages. This maintains that all freelancers have equal opportunity for jobs. In addition to a user-friendly profile, they offer hundreds of free skills tests to allow employers to view your abilities, thousands of contract jobs, employer endorsement ratings, and a dispute assistance guarantee. Though oDesk’s 10% commission fee is higher than some of the other sites, it seems the benefits far outweigh the administrative cost.

2. Elance

With a simple, easy-to-use interface and a free sign-up option, Elance ranks second only because of its $10/month option. While the site claims a paying member is twice as likely to score a job, this may account for the allowance to apply to twice as many jobs. The free option isn’t a dud though – it includes free skills tests, a profile that allows up to 5 portfolio pieces, and a lower commission rate than oDesk at 8.75%. Limit for free membership: 15 clients/month.

3. Freelancer (a.k.a. Getafreelancer)

Though this site boasts a wide array of membership packages ranging from $4.95 to $49.95/month, it does offer a free membership. The basic plan includes a healthy dose of perks including: up to 10 bids/month, 20 free skill tests and 5 portfolio entries. Like oDesk, it takes a 10% service fee. The reason it beat out Guru for 3rd place… Prize Competitions.

4. Guru

While providing a free user-friendly interface, the site charges a whopping $4.95 for each skills test. Though it maintains the same options as the other sites, paying to show off your skills to potential employers doesn’t seem like a benefit – especially when the commission fee is as high as 11.95%. Signing up for membership packages can decrease the fee by 2% and if you’re willing to pay, Guru will make sure it puts you ahead of your competition.

5. PeoplePerHour

Offering a free membership and most of the other benefits of the other contract sites, PeoplePerHour charges a fee for its skills tests and does not offer dispute assistance. The positive side: Service fees as low as 4.5%.

Laura Castonguay is a freelance writer in Pittsburgh. Her creative writing is featured on her blog FinallyWrite, where she delves into the intricacies of life and nature. When she’s not writing, she can be found on her porch, watching her garden grow.  

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