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A guide to building a freelance website like Upwork: cost, time, features, monetization

Online freelance marketplaces are witnessing rapid growth. Millions of people are turning to freelance as they feel more secure when having the opportunity to work from home and cooperate with several clients. SMEs and enterprises are hiring third-party contractors to develop short- and long-term projects while reducing costs.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in increased demand for remote services and, therefore, online freelance platforms. Upwork reports that 12% of the US specialists began freelancing for the first time during the coronavirus outbreak.

According to Website Planet, independent professionals are projected to make up 42% of the US working population by the end of 2021. Analysts forecast that 43% of the US workforce will completely switch or at least try out this practice by 2024.

To meet changing needs of employers and contractors, companies build marketplace software that connects both parties.

This article describes how to create a website like Upwork, including timeline and cost estimations. Regardless of the type of freelance marketplace that you aim to launch, this guide will help you prioritize features, plan out the budget, and choose a monetization strategy.

Design of a freelance platform like Upwork

The design takes a major role in forming an impression about a freelance website. Experts at SWEOR discovered that 88% of customers are not likely to revisit a web platform after receiving a poor user experience.

Therefore, when building marketplace software, it is essential to focus on its visual appeal, involving fonts, colors, layout, and typography. However, design is not only about the visual part but also about organizing content and functionality in a way that users can interact with the system intuitively.

Furthermore, a software solution should look as intended across all screens and devices. Smooth navigation, responsiveness, and user-friendliness are key aspects of a design that attracts users and increases return on investment.

In our online marketplace development company, we recommend that you create a custom design instead of employing a template. This will allow you to work out a unique branding style and minimize chances to meet a clone of a freelance platform while improving user retention and engagement rates.

Time: 200 hours

The functionality of a freelance website like Upwork

Freelance marketplace features for remote contractors

1. Registration and authorization

Sign up/in is an essential feature of an online marketplace like Upwork that enables users to create personal profiles. An important rule is to make registration and authorization as simple as possible. For example, you can let professionals connect their profiles with Facebook or LinkedIn accounts.

Before adding a new user to the system, it is crucial to verify identity and qualification by requiring them to share documents, portfolios, certificates, and social network links. This will help you protect businesses from fraud and increase trust in a marketplace.

Time: 40-80 hours

2. Freelancer profile

A freelancer profile generally contains a photo of a specialist and basic information such as name and surname, services rendered, location, contacts, links to social network profiles, work history.

A profile should also describe skills possessed and languages known by a remote professional. In addition, it should display rating scores and reviews to facilitate the hiring process for employees while raising the credibility of your freelance marketplace.

Time: 80 hours

3. Project search

Task search is another key feature of a freelance website like Upwork. Specialists should be able to look for jobs using various filters, for example, type of work, category, start date, and salary. By allowing remote contractors to search for projects by their skills, you will significantly boost their engagement.

Time: 100-120 hours

4. Portfolio and resume management

When building an online freelance marketplace, it is important to enable specialists to create portfolios: write project descriptions, upload images, attach resumes and other documents that demonstrate experience, as well as edit information.

Time: 120 hours

5. Bidding mechanism

Independent professionals should have the possibility to reply to job offerings and set the cost at which they are ready to perform the necessary tasks. Employers, in their turn, will review applicant responses and choose the most suitable option.

Time: 200 hours

6. Invoice generation

After the project is completed and approved by the client, an online freelance marketplace platform has to generate an invoice while automatically calculating the cost. This will remove contractor headaches associated with bureaucracy issues while increasing trust due to the lack of human errors.

Time: 80 hours

7. Online payments

When creating a freelance website like Upwork, it is essential to provide online payments. By integrating a gateway service—an analog of a third-party virtual terminal that serves for transaction processing—marketplace developers deliver a variety of payment methods.

For instance, Stripe provides money transfers via PayPal, Venmo, cards (i.e., Visa, Amex, Mastercard), digital wallets (Google Pay, Apple Pay), and bank directs (i.e., SOFORT, iDEAL, eps, GiroPay, and Afterpay).

In order to protect against fraud and other security threats, payment gateways generally include features such as 3D Secure, CVV (card verification code check), and AVS (Address Verification System).

Time: 120 hours

To learn more about implementing this functionality, read our article “5 Steps to choosing a payment gateway for an online marketplace platform”.

8. Time tracking

With the time tracking functionality, you will enable professionals to indicate how much time they have spent on each task and change its status, as well as leave comments. As a consequence, businesses will be able to monitor project progress.

If you decide to add this feature, it is possible to integrate an online freelance marketplace with a specialized third-party service, for example, Jira REST API.

Time: 300 hours

Freelance marketplace features for employers

1. Company registration and authorization

Just like remote contractors, organizations should have the possibility to register on a digital freelance platform. When building a website like Upwork, it is reasonable to suggest employers sign up when viewing services and candidate profiles but this should not be obligatory.

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