Does the Name Match the Quality?
Let’s be fair: if you’re going to have a name like “Guru,” I expect you to be good. If you’ve taken the time to acquire the domain of Guru.com, you’d better do the domain justice. Of course, many of you in the freelancing world have already heard of this job-hunting behemoth, so I’ll spare you the soliloquy on Guru’s brand-ambition and get down to the nitty-gritty: does Guru (www.guru.com) deliver the freelance goods?
It’s got some stiff competition. Elance is my own personal gold standard, if a little pricey. oDesk is functional, has plenty of work, and uncomplicated. Freelancer has plenty of jobs available for anyone who’s spent more than five minutes using the Internet before. There’s a lot of projects out there for someone who’s really looking to work. Why add Guru to the mix and just complicate your whole online freelancing enterprise?
Well, as it turns out, Guru’s got plenty of reasons to join. Heck, simply being a somewhat populated freelance site with reasonable fees should be enough for any freelancer to consider signing up. It’s always good to be diversified, even if you’re not talking about stocks: why put all of your eggs in the oDesk basket when there’s plenty of good, honest money to be made at Guru?
But in this Guru review, we’ll have to judge the site on its own merits. We can’t give it credit simply because it’s another freelancing site. So to do that, let’s tackle Guru’s own characteristics one by one and see how it stacks against the freelancing elite.
Simplicity and Functionality
One of the first things I personally look for in a freelancing site is how easy the site is to use. What’s the point of signing up for an excellent freelance service if their navigation is incomprehensible and it’s impossible to find all of the latest posted projects? That question’s rhetorical, but let’s answer it anyway: there is no point.
That’s why Guru had better deliver the goods here. The good news is that it does. Log in, click “Get work” and you’re off to the races. You can even make things simpler on yourself by setting project notifications that tell you when a project you’d be interested in – say, a project with a certain budget – has been posted. That’s reason enough to add Guru to your freelancing arsenal if you still work primarily somewhere else: letting Guru do your job searching for you is a great feature.
Navigation is easy upon logging in – all of the goods are put up front. You can edit your account profile, search for new jobs, check out project notifications and do a myriad of other things just a click or two away from your main navigation page. True, not many freelance sites out there are much more complicated than this, but it’s a good way to start.
I’m a big fan of escrow payments. You know – you start a project with a client and they fund an “escrow” account that shows you that the money is there. But you don’t get paid until the client’s satisfied. It’s a generally reliable and safe way to push money across the web and if a freelance site doesn’t have it, I die a little bit inside.
Luckily, Guru.com has it. Having somewhere over $100 million in transactions go through its fingers over the years, Guru’s definitely made a system capable of both simplicity and security – the two big “s’s” when it comes to getting paid. You can also use Guru’s system to create invoices and manage your overall money situation. Simply tie in a bank account to Guru and you’re ready to get paid.
Of course, none of this really matters if Guru charges you ten thousand dollars a month and demands 99% of all your project payments. So how does it stack up in the always-important pricing category?
First, Guru is free to sign up to. This is common across freelancing sites, so it’s not a particularly noteworthy achievement. Like Freelancer.com, Guru takes a fairly hefty project fee (5 to 10 per cent, depending on the scope of the project) that can be scaled down with the purchase of a regular membership, which includes a flat fee. This isn’t particular noteworthy for any reason. The prices aren’t exceptionally low (Freelancer takes only 3 per cent after you sign up for their membership), or exceptionally high (though 10 per cent is higher than Elance’s standard 8.75%).
To put that in vertical terms, here are the pricers freelancers pay explained:
- Guru: 5-10% of project fees depending on scope of the project; less with regular membership
- Elance: 8.75% standard, membership additional
- Freelancer.com: 3% after signing up for membership
If Guru could change its pricing system to beat out its competition, it would become an even more attractive alternative to the other big-name freelancing sites.
Bells, Whistles, and Other Miscellanea
What about Guru’s other overall function? You’ll find it to be pretty similar to the comprehensiveness of an Elance. Employers can recommend your services, giving you the street cred needed to aim for those bigger projects. Managing your account and handling escrow payments are a snap, putting you in some pretty nice control over your money. Creating invoices is another good way to helpfully remind your clients that they need to pay up without sending goons after them.
Overall, Guru.com is certainly a worthy addition to your freelancing tools. Since signing up is free, you should sign up right now if you haven’t already. Having three or four different freelance sites from which to choose can be a great thing because it takes your eggs out of one basket and moves them to several different baskets. Any wise freelancer should be aware of this strategy.
Guru’s prices aren’t exceptionally low, but since there’s no risk to sign up, there’s no reason you shouldn’t bookmark it and consider it a place to find some work. In today’s economy, any place to find work should be considered a must-bookmark. Freelancing success isn’t as easy as signing up to Guru or oDesk, but you won’t go very far if you can’t see the benefits to adding Guru to your list of sites to visit on a regular basis.
Or, heck, don’t sign up and leave more jobs to people like me.