oDesk vs Elance vs Freelancer and 99designs – Infographic

Online global outsourcing is growing at a rapid pace with a projected growth of over 40% for the industry. The biggest platforms are oDesk, Elance and Freelancer. 99designs is really in a different category as it’s a crowdsourcing site more focused on design, whereas the other platforms encompass any type of online work.

In this infographic we compared the funding received, number of freelancers and jobs posted, percentage they charge and cumulative earnings of freelancers. Great information if you are interested in the online outsourcing space!

oDesk vs Elance vs Freelancer and 99designs - Infographic

We got a comment from Matt Barrie, CEO of Freelancer. I have posted it here as it points out that some of the figures in the infographic (based only on publicly available information) are inaccurate:

“The graphics are neat but the numbers sourced for the infographic are way off. Freelancer user earnings are much higher. vWorker alone had $140M in user earnings before Freelancer acquired it. Also the commissions are 0-3% for employers and 0-10% for freelancers, not 13%. At 3% for freelancers, this is the cheapest by far for a freelancer doing any volume. The amounts raised by all companies is also incorrect. Elance and Odesk have raised significantly more than reported by Crunchbase and Freelancer hasn’t raised anything near $40m. Freelancer hits 8 million users today.”

How did you find this infographic? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Rob Rawson is a co-founder of Staff.com, a global recruitment platform where you can access very talented staff at affordable rates. They also have a technology called Time Doctor which is software to improve productivity and help keep track and know what your team is working on, even when working from home.

Rob resides in Sydney, Australia but can also be found in major cities around the globe, like Paris, Kiev or San Francisco.

Find Rob on Google Plus



  1. avatar kevin April 18th, 2014

    We are featured on Indiegogo.com to raise money for new packaging.

    We are promoting 99designs on the crowd fund but 99designs backed out of a link agreement. You can see it by searching dashcrab.

    We asked them like, tweet, and mention the campaign if we featured them to be used on the campaign. We just learned their PR person left the company and they cannot do anything for us. I’d like to remake my video and website to cite that once our funding is complete, we will use designcrowd to create the new packaging.

    Is there anything in exchange as in mutual support of each other?

    Please visit http://igg.me/at/dashcrabusa/x/7035779

  2. avatar Atiar Rahman March 5th, 2014

    Nice topic. I have learned many things from this article about outsourcing. I have a dumb question. I have a site named khowab.com and want to redesign it by freelancers from 99design. The problem why 99design cut 40% of anyone’s earning? Isn’t it too much? I’m sorry because I’m newcomer in outsourcing field :-)

  3. avatar Hasib Khan February 2nd, 2014

    Hi..Rob !!

    Thanks for your great post. Now we can understand about current ratio about Biggest marketplace. I love oDesk. About 4 years I work with oDesk. It’s a Better marketplace from any other. Now a days we faced some problem for oDesk new update Bast Matching system. That’s why I’m little upset. Maybe it’s update work properly asap. otherwise I don’t leave from oDesk. Just personally I Suggest for oDesk Please clear properly your new bast matching system. Thanks again Rob for your nice information.

  4. avatar K Goldsworthy December 15th, 2013

    Having recently registered with both Freelancer and oDesk, I have several issues with Freelancer as well;
    - Fees – you are encouraged as a bidder to upgrade your bid but so far many of the contracts are not finalised at all, or are still not awarded, long after the closing time – seems unethical that they can take money from you for bid upgrades when contracts might never be awarded! Also Freelancer charges you every time to do their online tests, whereas oDesk does not charge for any tests.
    - Job Content – maybe its the searches I am using, but the site seems completely infested with jobs for SEO writing at pitiful rates – a few cents per page or less, and also with requests for people to write term papers and assignments, even a thesis paper or two! Unfortunately these types of listings completely overwhelm other offerings for writing at present.
    - Fake Reviews – these are hundreds of jobs asking people to write and register hundreds, even thousands of fake “Likes” and reviews of social networking sites. Disappointing that there is no policing of standards for so many entries.

    If this is the way of online contracting its pretty disappointing when the bar has been set so low.

  5. avatar Hosam Nabil October 26th, 2013

    From this figure, i see that oDesk is the best one which freelancers can earn with.

    I am thinking to start a freelancer job in grant and proposal writing , if any one can help me or have information about this field i wish help me and give advice about how can i start, what is the hourly rate that this job need & any other useful information.

    I’m looking forward for your answers :) :)

  6. avatar Zeeshan Akhter October 22nd, 2013

    HI, that’s great work but please provide and prove or reference links …

  7. avatar John October 18th, 2013

    I previously used Freelancer.com as well. I just registered today for elance to give it a try. My main concern is with privacy. I get the feeling that everything I enter into the freelancer website is available for public viewing. I asked once to remove something from the website and they refused to! I later wanted to delete my account, all projects, etc hoping that I could manually remove the information myself. I THEN discovered that it costs $5/project to have them deleted from the website. In my opinion this should be illegal (although I am not a lawyer and don’t know what the laws are regarding privacy).

    So far with Elance they make it VERY clear what information I enter will be public and what information I enter will be private. So far it’s looking VERY promising. It feels like Elance is there to help me succeed and be comfortable. Whereas, it feels like Freelancer exists solely for profit.

    I also get a “bad taste in my mouth” every time I use freelancer.com. I feel like I get charged for clicking on anything on the page. They upsell everything that they can think of. There are so many “hidden” fees it’s not funny (I say hidden because you don’t discover them until you’ve already been charged, at which point Freelancer will just refer you to some page online burried deep in their website to explain their fees).

    Also, do not use freelancer.com on your cell phone (for convenience). You’ll accidentally click something and be charged for it.

  8. avatar apollyon October 16th, 2013

    oDesk have big problem for developers.
    I was developer on oDesk,too.
    I have worked hard for oDesk,but oDesk have suspended my account and didn’t allow to withdraw my funds on oDesk.
    For withdrawing my funds, first, they asked that I complete successfully my all contracts.
    When I have completed successfully, they need to confirm my work from clients and they told that they allow me only if clients allow .
    so in order to confirm,they have wanted that I ask clients opening ticket between client and oDesk.
    If I am client and client finished contract, I’ll think uncomfortably contractor who waste their time.
    oDesk torment developer with developer’s funds.
    In fact, It seem that oDesk want my funds(14000$).
    oDesk is trifling site.

    • avatar Rob Rawson October 16th, 2013

      I am approving this comment but honestly I don’t believe this. I think there is more to this story and it’s very unlikely that oDesk would confiscate $14k of developers funds. There is likely a legitimate reason why oDesk did this.

  9. avatar Kristine October 1st, 2013

    I have bad experience with freelancer.com. They charges and up selling to much! hate that.

    Even if I want to delete my project, they will charge $5.. it doesn’t make any sense for me.

    I stick with elance for now. Good infographic btw

  10. avatar Liam Kyle September 23rd, 2013


    This was an interesting comparison. I’ll need to do some more digging. However, as a direct result of Matt Barrie’s (CEO of Freelancer) post, my firm will never use Freelancer.

    He accused you of having erroneous information, but provided no data/sources to validate the information he provided.

    And he failed to mention the membership fee requirements that Freelancer imposes.

    I will be sure to reblog this.


    • avatar Rob Rawson September 23rd, 2013

      Hi Liam,

      To be fair, the information that we provided is based on publicly available sources. As there is not a lot of information available for Freelancer.com I would think that it is fair for him to challenge the figures and I think that he is correct in saying that the figures we provided are not accurate. However he can’t totally challenge the figures without revealing all his numbers which he doesn’t want to do.

      We could revise our graph based on adding in the vworker.com information of $140 million, however instead of doing this we just added his comments to give extra perspective to the figures.

      Not that total revenue through the platforms:
      oDesk reached $1 billion.
      I would estimate that including vworker.com Freelancer.com is likely over $400million at this point.

      Also regarding this comment “Elance and Odesk have raised significantly more than reported by Crunchbase and Freelancer hasn’t raised anything near $40m”, I have no information to the contrary and I would say that there is no reason to not believe what he has said, so I would assume that this is also true.

      So overall we added in his comments because we do believe that are numbers are inaccurate, but we did the best we could with publicly available information, and anyone interested in the numbers will have to do their own analysis and come to their own conclusion.

      Regarding the membership fee, I think you have to come to your own conclusions about this. Personally I don’t agree with a membership fee for freelancers, however it’s not a big deal for freelancers that are making a lot of money through the platform.

      Also it’s true that with the membership fee, freelancer.com has the lowest percentage take from any of the platforms.

  11. avatar Paul Dang September 7th, 2013

    We meet and talk with many people who use Elance for their freelancing works. Btw, most of them hate Elance because this website doesn’t protect freelancers as other websites do. Also, they will block your account whenever they “think” you’re not professional freelancer. And most of cases, they keep your money that you worked hard to receive that money. In our case, we lost totally $20k when they blocked our account. We hope they sleep well in the night time after doing such things with us.

    • avatar Rob Rawson September 8th, 2013

      Approving this comment but really would say that I would need a response from Elance to trust this information. I find it highly unlikely that they took your $20k. If they did you can go to the better business bureau and I’m sure that Elance would return the money. I am pretty sure that Elance would never keep $20k of a freelancer’s money.

  12. avatar Husaini August 26th, 2013

    I love Odesk as I’ve been working for 4 years there.
    I hate frelancer because you need to pay for upgrade ALMOST everything, as for free member you’ll just get limitation everywhere. That means you need to deposit some money first before getting jobs (of course if you’ll have it).

  13. avatar Red Man August 20th, 2013

    Thanks for all the tips, a basic google search will also show you many unhappy freelancers and employers of one of your suggested companies above and I mean many complaints, I am glad I found your page, that with the many bad feedback comments I read, I am off to join eLance.

  14. avatar Alleli Aspili August 14th, 2013

    I have experienced getting jobs from oDesk and to be honest, I actually liked their first website design and layout. The current one seems to have been inspired by the trend with web designs right now, but it did make me more confused before. I never tried ELance or Freelancer. I probably won’t get to do that anymore since I have a stable job right now. Guess where? In an outsourcing company – cool!

  15. avatar Alex August 9th, 2013

    Which website that I can outsource different language freelancer? For example: Chinese.

  16. avatar This Guy July 23rd, 2013

    Hmm.. where should I go to outsource my article writing? Freelancer, odesk, or elance? still confuse..

    • avatar Rob Rawson July 24th, 2013

      In my experience for high quality article writing you are best to look at getting guest posts from experienced bloggers. Someone who has their own blog and is looking to do some guest posts. If you are looking for someone to re-write existing content or for easier tasks it’s possible to find someone on any of these sites (Freelancer, oDesk etc)

  17. avatar Jay July 19th, 2013

    Matt Barrie should have also noted that Freelancer additionally makes money from its freelancers by charging them monthly memberships, while oDesk has free membership.

  18. avatar Karen July 19th, 2013

    Hi Rob, great information. Hope you will update the graph and include the right data.

  19. avatar Erwin Castro July 15th, 2013

    I’m a blogger and web developer, nice infographic neat and smooth, I’m on freelance and done already some freelance jobs with those sites- oDesk, Elance and Freelancer, of the three oDesk is far more advance and better, well-established, nice navigation.

  20. avatar Matt July 1st, 2013

    Hi Rob

    The graphics are neat but the numbers sourced for the infographic are way off.

    Freelancer user earnings are much higher. vWorker alone had $140 in user earnings before Freelancer acquired it. Also the commissions are 0-3% for employers and 0-10% for freelancers, not 13%. At 3% for freelancers, this is the cheapest by far for a freelancer doing any volume. The amounts raised by all companies is also incorrect. Elance and Odesk have raised significantly more than reported by Crunchbase and Freelancer hasn’t raised anything near $40m. Freelancer hits 8 million users today.


    • avatar Rob Rawson July 3rd, 2013

      I apologize for the errors this is based on the publicly available information that we could find. I will add a comment in the article also

    • avatar Nham Nguyen December 14th, 2013

      Hi Rob,

      I think you don’t have acknowledge about freelancer.com. If you want your project fee is 3%, you need become gold member. You have to pay $50 to become GOLD MEMBER.

  21. avatar Web Eminence June 30th, 2013

    Great info. I was actually looking for some of this info a few days ago and had to go to the different sites just to compare the different stats. It’s nice to have them in one convenient place on a slick infographic.

    I’m a big fan of elance. I just started with them a long time ago and never really had a reason to switch. For those wanting to post projects on elance, I did a video walkthrough of the process of posting a project. It’s pretty easy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cpm2qTBrWJQ

  22. avatar Alice June 26th, 2013

    As a copywriter, I’m not familiar with 99designs, but I was curious to know which of the other three rules:) Freelancer has the bigger freelancer to job ratio and the lowest freelancer earnings – it did seem more competitive to me than oDesk or Elance. Clever of me to be present only on these two :D Thanks for the statistics, Rob, very useful!

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