Like many of my fellow Upwork freelancers, I started to get a little disillusioned with the platform recently.
If you’ve spent much time there, you probably know why – low-quality jobs, difficult clients, ever-increasing fees, and the general feeling that Upwork just isn’t on our side.
This is becoming a common sentiment, and lots of competitors have sprung up to take advantage of the growing discontent around Upwork. I decided to check out the competition to see if they really did offer freelancers a better experience, starting with Outsourcely.
Here’s how it went…
What is Outsourcely?
Outsourcely is a platform that aims to connect businesses with remote workers around the world.
“That sounds a lot like Upwork…”
But there are two key differences.
First, the emphasis is on long-term engagements.
This is a great selling point if you’re looking for a reliable freelance gig with a steady income. And there are part-time as well as full-time roles, so in theory you could find a part-time job to fund your travels – perfect for the digital nomads among us!
Second – and this is a biggie – freelancers pay ZERO fees on their earnings from Outsourcely.
That’s right – zero, nil, zilch, nada, non.
They make most of their money from the client side, so you get paid directly from the employer and keep all of your glorious, hard-earned dollars for yourself!
So is Outsourcely all it’s cracked up to be?
Obviously, the fee-free model is a major positive. After paying 20% of my income plus transaction fees on Upwork, this was music to my ears.
Outsourcely is completely free to join for freelancers, although like Upwork, there is an advanced membership option. As you can see below, there are a few extra perks from upgrading.
Personally, I felt that $10 was a reasonable price based on what’s included, but let’s take a look at each benefit in more detail so you can decide if it’s worthwhile for you.
Outsourcely Membership Perks
I think the voice and video attachment is a brilliant feature!
Adding a video or voice message is a great way to add a personal touch to your application. Since most people won’t go to the trouble (myself included – my ‘I-work-from-home’ hair is impressing nobody!), it really sets you apart from the competition.
Having your profile or application show up higher in the search results is obviously a great benefit, too, especially for $10 per month.
My only reservation here is that the low price point makes it super accessible to the majority of freelancers on the platform.
What happens to my search position if everyone is ‘featured’?
Perks or no perks, they had me at ‘fee-free’, so in I went!
The Set-Up Process
I was initially impressed by how quick and easy it was to set up. Depending on how much work you want to put into your profile, you can be up and running within about 20 minutes.
There are countless skills on offer and you can be really specific about your level of experience in each.
As you’ll see later on, potential clients get to be equally as specific, so it helps to manage expectations and make sure you’re a good match.
Some employers proactively search for candidates based on these skills, so it also helps to make you more visible in the results.
Then came verification.
- You can’t apply for jobs or show up in the search results until your former employers have been contacted to confirm that you worked for them!
One of my main past employers is a company that no longer exists, but there was no option to submit payslips or contract documentation as alternative proof. My only choice if I wanted to apply for jobs was to remove a substantial chunk of relevant work experience from my profile, which I grudgingly did.
This won’t be an issue for everybody, of course, but it could be a potential roadblock in some cases. If you’ve worked for yourself for years, for example, I’m not sure how that would be handled by Outsourcely.
If you think it might be an issue for you personally, perhaps it’s best to contact somebody from Outsourcely customer support beforehand.
Finding Your Dream Job
I was finally set up and ready to find my dream remote job – what now?
Here’s where Outsourcely started to fall apart for me, I’m afraid!
Job listings on Outsourcely tend to be very detailed, so it’s easier to make an informed choice.
However, one key detail seems to be missing time and time again…
This isn’t a big deal for everyone, but personally, seeing ‘DOE’ or ‘TBD’ everywhere is really off-putting for me. Maybe it’s because the range of pay on offer is just so wide in copywriting (and freelancing in general).
I can’t think of a time I’ve applied to such a job and haven’t been offered a terrible wage. Now I’m wary of wasting my time, and I tend to think that if you were offering a reasonable salary, you’d use it as a selling point, no?
Then there’s a question of relevance.
Check out those search results.
As awesome as it sounds, I have no idea what a “Happiness Engineer” is and how it relates to my search (copywriting).
And I definitely never claimed to be a Japanese porn translator (not on Outsourcely anyway).
The Interview Process
Despite my hesitation, I did apply for a few jobs (not that one!) and managed to get two responses.
While the first potential employer and I mutually agreed that we weren’t a good fit, the second ghosted me when I tried to talk about payment.
The ‘interview’ process was very straightforward, but since no job came of either conversation, I can’t speak about the actual employment process.
For reasons that are about to become clearer, it would be some time before I had the opportunity to try again…
Volume of Jobs
The volume of jobs is staggeringly low compared to Upwork. Now I know that it’s a newer platform, and the emphasis is on long-term engagements, so this is to be expected – to a degree.
You can see that only 184 jobs showed up when I searched for ‘copywriting’, including completely random jobs that were irrelevant to my skills.
When I managed to filter them out, I was left with 63 results. Of those 63 jobs, only the first eight were active and the rest had expired.
- Only EIGHT out of 184 advertised jobs were in any way relevant or even available.
Just in case it was a one-off, I tried several times, a few weeks apart. No such luck – next time it was five jobs, the next time it was six, and the next time it was eight again.
Ok, eight jobs – that’s still something, right?
Not so fast!
Quality of Jobs
I can only speak for copywriting work here, but boy…let’s just say that if you’re trying to escape the Upwork content mill, you might be disappointed.
I was hard-pressed to find a job that paid more than $800 per month full-time, despite expecting A LOT from you in return.
A few examples…
On Outsourcely, Level 4 means ‘specialist’ and Level 5 means ‘expert’.
What can you expect in return for your specialisation and expertise in nine distinct areas of writing and communication?
You can expect $1 an article, or $30 a day if you can churn out 30 of them (at a minimum).
Let’s look at another…
On Upwork, there are so many other jobs that you can just bypass these without a second thought.
However, when there’s only a maximum of eight relevant jobs available at any given time and most of them look like this, your options drop dramatically.
I appreciate that depending on where you live in the world, some of these jobs might actually offer a pretty decent income.
But in the majority of places, working full-time for $500 per month is simply not feasible.
For an entry-level copywriter looking to beef up their skills or resume, a low wage is often a compromise they’re willing to make. However, many of these listings are NOT entry-level jobs.
Many are asking for high output, years of experience and/or advanced credentials, and barely offering writers enough to make rent in return.
Outsourcely Review: Final Verdict
I really want to love Outsourcely, and I do think it has the potential to be a great platform. Features like the zero-fee model in particular go a long way towards addressing some of the frustrations people have about Upwork.
Keep in mind that I’m a copywriter, so if you’re in a different profession, you might have a completely different experience to me. And if you’re looking for experience or a casual, reliable gig to supplement your travel fund, this is definitely a good place to look.
But if you’re looking for steady work and a higher wage, Outsourcely just isn’t there yet, at least not for writers.
If Upwork is the unsatisfying Tinder hook-up of the freelance world, then Outsourcely is the guy who says he wants a relationship but won’t introduce you to his friends.
Same problems, different packaging.
Outsourcely is a young platform competing with a giant, and I did take that into account. When it starts attracting a bigger audience of clients, I imagine the quality and the volume of jobs will go up.
I’ll definitely give it a try as it starts to grow, but for now, it just doesn’t have what I’m looking for.
Outsourcely is a platform that connects businesses with remote workers.
- Freelancers pay no commission or fees on their income.
- Freelancers are paid directly by the employer.
- The emphasis is on long-term, steady jobs or projects.
- The platform offers a good mix of part-time and full-time work.
- The advanced membership plan is very affordable at $10, and it has great perks like video and voice attachments to make your application stand out.
- Low job volume.
- Difficult to find relevant jobs.
- Inconvenient verification process.
- Jobs are generally not well-paid.
- Digital nomads looking for a side gig while travelling.
- Newcomers looking to build experience.
- Freelancers based in countries with a lower cost of living.
NOT SO GREAT FOR
- Experienced freelancers looking to earn a higher wage.
- Freelancers based in countries where the cost of living is higher.
Have you tried Outsourcely?
If so, let us know how you fared in the comments below.
- Do you find Outsourcely to be a good alternative to Upwork?
- Did you experience any of the problems detailed above?
- Are there other sites you’d recommend as an alternative to Upwork?
Update from Niall
I reached out to Outsourcely to let them know about this review and received the following response from someone there:
“I’ve read the article. Pretty interesting. This is the first time I’ve read an article about Outsourcely that is not all positive. Then again it cannot be helped at least there were pros and cons mentioned at the end of the article.”
That was it. Nothing more.