Upwork is a popular gig marketplace that connects freelancers and those seeking contract or gig services such as administrative work, design services, and IT help, among other things. If you’re thinking of building a gig marketplace, here is an outline of the product considerations for a marketplace like Upwork.
Upwork has two audiences it must cater to: freelancers and people or organizations seeking freelance work, otherwise known as clients. For freelancers, Upwork provides a platform to find work and promote their services. For clients, Upwork helps find talent for short term projects. Organizations can either browse through freelancers and solicit services from them directly or they can create a job posting that receives bids and proposals from freelancers.
The platform handles the discovery and discussion of terms and facilitates the transaction. Freelancers are encouraged to transact on the platform because they are reviewed at the end of the contract, which in turn helps them get more business. For the marketplace to work, it needs a few basic things:
Upwork’s primary business model is taking a service fee as part of the transaction. This starts at 20% and decreases after a certain threshold. Upwork also has additional business models such as charging freelancers to get additional credits for submitting proposals, but this guide will only focus on the transaction fee.
With a marketplace like Upwork, getting the freelancers on board is likely the place you want to start with as it will be easier to attract buyers with completed freelancer profiles. You’ll want to capture basic profile information and details about their skills and expertise to create their account. However, it is also important to have clients create accounts as well since they could be posting jobs that freelancers will bid on. Below are the onboarding components to focus on for both parties.
The next thing to think about is how clients will search for and select freelancers. They will likely want to search and filter based on things like skillset, price range, and experience. From there, they may want to click in and view more details about their profile.
It’s common for clients to message freelancers to describe their needs and assess if the freelancer can perform the required tasks or discuss terms.
In addition to clients being able to find freelancers and contact them directly, they may also want to post the job they are looking for and let freelancers contact them and bid for the work. Clients will need to browse through proposals, message freelancers if needed, and select the proposal they would like to go with.
To ensure trust in the platform, you’ll want to assure freelancers will get paid and that clients will receive the services, which usually has a time delay as the freelancer does the work. Holding the funds in escrow, either through Stripe or another service is the best way to cater to both sides. The transaction should be released after the client approves the work (or when you as the admin confirm the work has been completed if that is easier to start with).
Reviews can be a critical way to encourage quality work from freelancers and help clients find the best talent. This can be a two way street with freelancers also reviewing the clients. This should be set up as part of closing the transaction so both sides must fill out the reviews to close the job and transfer the payment.
After setting up the seller and buyer sides of the platform, you’ll want to add a few administrative things to manage your platform overall. Being able to see all the users on your site, the transactions that have happened, and general metrics will allow you to get insights into how your marketplace is performing and give you a place to handle any problems.
Now that you’ve finished your basic Upwork MVP, you can launch your marketplace and start getting feedback! Early on, it’s helpful to be hands-on and talk to your users directly. Find out what they like or don’t like and where you can add or modify things on your platform. Check in with freelancers or clients that may have lapsed and with those who are active to fix the things that aren’t working and double down on the things that are. And remember to take time to enjoy all the progress you’ve made - you’ve gotten past the hardest part which is starting!