Witmart.com – the ‘Unknown’ competitor to Upwork and Freelancer.com

by Rob Rawson
Witmart campus in Houston

Where are you working right now? At an office or at a coffee shop?

If you’re one of the 53 million Americans turning to the world of freelancing then it could very well be the latter.

Over the past few years, professionals in a wide variety of fields – everything from financial services to graphic design, from marketing to technical writing – have gone into business for themselves. Or, in another way, they’ve embraced the contracting, freelance and gig economy.

Freelancing is the new norm, whether it’s as a full-time career or for passive income. With instant and constant connectivity, professionals can work with clients in every region of the globe. All they need at first is somebody or something to establish a connection between the two parties.

This is where the likes of Witmart steps in. If you haven’t heard of this website that’s OK.

Witmart: The billion-dollar competitor you haven’t heard of

Conventional hiring practices through the means of human resource departments is gradually disappearing. Companies and hiring managers are leveraging the Internet to recruit and tap into a vast talent pool since it’s more affordable and less time-consuming that way.

Jobseekers, or in this case gigseekers, will also utilize the web to find work and clients.

What an interesting and precarious situation, indeed.

Novice freelancers and contractors will often be directed to websites like Upwork, Fiverr or Freelance.com to find gigs. These are very helpful outlets with a wealth of postings. But it isn’t often a new independent worker will be pointed to Witmart.

Witmart is an international crowdsourcing service market that maintains a global marketplace to post ads in and to find jobs. Initially founded in China, there are millions of international users, and whether you’re in computer programming or social media marketing, you’ll be able to find something that could certainly pique your interest.

We all have some type of expertise to earn a dependable annual salary or some pocket money, if we put our minds to it.

Its platform is very similar to its competitors: employers list their service requirements, providers bid on the work and the clients select the most suited professional. Once the collaboration is established, both parties communicate, exchange ideas and make payments in an easy and secure environment.

Just to get a glimpse of how popular the website is, here are a few statistics (at the time of this writing):

  • 4.01 million jobs posted in the past 30 days.
  • 12.3 million global service providers.
  • $1.07 billion worth of work completed.

What is the most fascinating aspect of Witmart is that a large chunk of its growth originates from mainland China. Just two to three percent of user penetration comes from outside the Asian economic powerhouse.

Witmart has a total valuation of $10 billion and maintains approximately $400 million in capital access. Experts believe it is the fastest growing crowdsourcing and freelance platform in today’s immense Internet marketplace industry. In June, it received a massive 2.6 billion yuan ($4.1 billion) investment from Cybernaut.

And why not? It’s reported (Chinese) that the annual freelance numbers and revenue growth are at roughly 50 percent for the company.

Witmart vs. Freelancer.com vs. Upwork – a comparison

Here is a chart comparing the three websites – Witmart, Freelancer.com and Upwork:

Upwork Freelancer Witmart
  • Founded in 2003
  • Initially called oDesk and later merged with Elance to create Upwork.
  • Has around 9 million registered freelancers and 4 million registered clients with 3 million job postings annually.
  • Has a cleaner and more user-friendly interface as compared to Freelancer with a centralized notification system and an easy-to-use message centre. Provides the freelancer with all necessary information when browsing through a job post such as category, client rating, reviews, spending and so on.
  • Upwork does not allow live chatting option and does not let the freelancer know if the client is online or offline.
  • Upwork does not allow freelancers to see the current bids on a particular project unless they have a paid membership.
  • Upwork has both free and paid plans.
  • Upwork’s free membership includes 60 points per month which the freelancer can use when applying for jobs. A paid plan of $10 per month comes with 70 points. Paid membership allows users to see competitor bids.
  • Upwork retains 10 percent of what the client pays the freelancer.
  • Upwork provides skill tests which can be taken for free.
  • Upwork has both hourly and fixed price jobs but gets more hourly postings as compared to Freelancer.
  • Based on freelancer feedback and reviews, it is easier to find better paying jobs on Upwork as compared to Freelancer.com.
  • Upwork allows users to link their credits, PayPal and bank accounts to conduct transactions. It also offers payments protection as well upfront payments, escrow protection and an hourly billing system.
  • Upwork has a tracker app that helps users keep track of work logs and task notes. Apps are available for all major operating systems including Windows, Mac and Linux. The platform also allows use of third party trackers like Screenshot Monitor.
  • Upwork has a mobile app that helps connect freelancers and clients. The App is available for both Android and iOS users. However, Freelancer’s mobile app offers more features than Upwork’s.
  • Upwork has an excellent support system through live chat, phone line, ticket request system and FAQ.
  • Founded in 2009
  • Acquired several entities including Get a Freelancer.com, EUFreelance.com, vWorker, Freelancer.co.uk
  • Has 15 million registered members with more than 7.4 million projects posted.
  • Interface is a bit more complex as compared to Upwork. There are too many promotional widgets and navigation links which make the page look cluttered. There is also less information about client and there are too many categories and subcategories when searching for jobs.
  • Freelancer allows live chatting option and also allows users to see whether the client is online or offline.
  • Freelancer allows freelancers to see current bids without being a paid member.
  • Freelancer has both free and paid plans.
  • Freelancer’s paid plans range from 0 to $199.95 per month. It also takes a cut from the earnings but the percentage differs with each plan.
  • Freelancer also offers skill tests but charges $5 or more for each test.
  • Freelancer has both hourly and fixed price contracts.
  • Freelancer also allows users to link their credit cards, PayPal and bank accounts to conduct transactions. It also offers payments protection as well upfront payments, escrow protection and an hourly billing system.
  • Freelancer has a tracker app that helps users keep track of work logs and task notes. Apps are available for all major operating systems including Windows, Mac and Linux. The platform also allows use of third party trackers like Screenshot Monitor.
  • Freelancer also has a mobile app that helps connect freelancers and clients and is available for both Android and iOS users. Freelancer’s mobile app offers more features than Upwork’s.
  • Freelancer offers support in the form of FAQ, live chat and ticket/email support. It offers no phone support.
  • Founded in 2011
  • Has around 12 million freelancers with 4 million jobs posted.
  • Interface is not in the league of Upwork or Freelancer and is fairly cluttered. Category search is more refined in Upwork as compared to Witmart.
  • Allows multi-currency transactions as well as use of credit cards and PayPal.
  • Bilingual customer service available 24/7 with the North America hotline toll-free.
  • Offers payment protection to freelancers since all clients are required to deposit the full payment amount for the job when they post it.
  • Allows freelancers to know about clients and verified employers have the verified icon next to their usernames.
  • Offers different plans for freelancers including Basic, Silver, Gold and Crown Membership.
  • Basic plan is free and allows freelancers to bid on any job they want but Winmart retains 20 percent of all transactions. Silver, at $5 per month, allows freelancers to be hired directly by employers but also retains 20 percent. Gold at $10/month, Diamond is at $60/month and Crown is at $210 per month. Service fee gets lower with each plan.

Despite the tremendous growth at Witmart, some websites have compared it with Elance (now owned by Upwork). Knoji, a consumer knowledge blog, rated the two companies on an array of things, like popularity and Google ranking, trustworthiness, payment methods and social media presence. Elance either beat Witmart or tied it.

Knoji rating comparison for Elance and Witmart

Screenshot from Knoji rating comparison
As more and more people, both in Asia and in North America, enter the world of freelancing, there is even more room for Witmart to garner more business and freelancers.

Witmart is a reflection of the Uber labor market

The workforce and the labor market are drastically changing (or evolving). We’re witnessing this not only in the freelance market, but inside successful billion-dollar corporations, too. You can call it the Uber Effect, if you will. A labor market of flexible work schedules, telecommuting and productivity pay as opposed to hourly pay.

For instance, Netflix announced that it is offering unlimited paid maternity and paternity leave. Also, it is providing its staff unlimited vacation, a very popular trend in Silicon Valley. There is one caveat, of course: you have to get all of your assignments completed. In other words, it’s valuing productivity over just showing up to collect a paycheck and saving face for eight hours.

One Illinois business community leader may have stated it best:

“I think [on-demand work] is going to be a continued evolution, and as a society, we’re going to have to figure out how that work,” said McHenry County Economic Development Corp. President Pam Cumpata.

The pie graph below from the Harvard Business Review slices up the non-traditional job market in the United States.

non-traditional job market in the US

To those on the outside looking in, it’s generally believed that independent workers are starving. On the contrary, they’re flourishing and thriving: in 2013, they generated $1.2 trillion in total income. In a tough labor market, it should be kept in mind that a lot of self-employed professionals tend to hire other self-employed, remote workers, which leads to much needed job creation.

Although some are lambasting the likes of Witmart and Upwork – some attribute these web portals to the underground economy – a lot of observers are hopeful they will return the labor market to perfect health.

Here is an excerpt from a 2012 Outsource Magazine article penned by Steve Bynghall:

“Hopefully these marketplaces can, in their own way, fuel entrepreneurs and small businesses in both developed and developing markets, and contribute by nudging the global economy back to better health.”

There are seven billion people in the world, there are two billion connected to the Internet and more are expected to connect to the World Wide Web in the coming years. This means the online talent pool will only continue to expand, and more opportunities will be created.

With our desire to be independent and aim to reinvent ourselves, freelancing and contracting will be the common career route for the upcoming generation of workers. Full-time, permanent employment with benefits and perks will enter the dustbins of history, and will be as ancient as the telegram.

“Oh! There were people back in the day who worked eight-hour days at an office? Please do Tell me more.”

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