Guru: Some Proprietary Benefits, But More Of The Same?

Guru is one of the more established sites in the “freelancer for hire” marketplace. It’s been around since the turn-of-the-century and has quite a good reputation. As with the other sites a fee is charged to the employer and a percentage of the money paid out is retained from the freelancer. You can define milestones as well as tasks, communicate on a two-way basis through the Discussions tab and share documents. As at the other sites funds are retained in escrow in the middle and are paid out when the employer is satisfied with the work performed.

Guru claims that they have a proprietary system for matching people up, where they analyse performance data to make recommendations, simplifying the selection of freelancers each and every time.

As with the other main competitors in this market, oDesk, Elance and so on you can find a wide variety of outsourcers specialising in writing, editing, translation, the creation of websites, implementation of e-commerce, programming and coding, administration, graphic design, computer aided design and general business services. Guru has over 400,000 people “on the books.”

So why should you choose Guru versus the other sites? Feedback from those who have indeed played the market indicates that elements such as site navigation and the quality of the interface score very well here. Freelancers can maintain a “watch list” of projects that they may be interested in, receiving notifications when something meaty may be posted. For those looking to outsource this can be particularly handy, especially if appropriate use of the right keywords is maintained through the posting process.

Just like some of the others there’s also an invoicing tool for freelancers and this could provide a consistent record-keeping tool for the employer, to boot.

There again, a number of negative reviews seem to quote familiar reasons for holding some of these sites at arm’s length. Employers tend not to state exactly what they’re looking for and many of the projects are described in very basic terms. Many of the employers are unrated and subcontractors have a hard time believing that they’re going to be working for somebody who’s going to treat them well and is going to pay them fairly when it comes to settling up.

A number of these mega-sites now exist with the stated goal of providing opportunities for freelancers and providing an “easy” way for employers to find people to do their jobs at reasonable costs and reasonable commitment. However, perhaps one of the biggest downfalls is the sheer scale. There’s so much activity and so many participants that it’s often difficult to determine the quality of the party on the other side of the equation. There is of course a certain amount of social proof delivered when former employers talk about the particular freelancer in question, or when feedback is given by the freelancer regarding their experience with the employer. Often, however, there’s a lot of experimentation involved here and there may be a certain amount of negative experience to endure before you can be sure that you’ve found the right partner for your project.

Have you used freelance sites to help with projects? What’s been your experience?