Microlancer is one of the newest additions to the Envato group of online marketplaces. The site concentrates on connecting designers and developers with clients seeking to outsource their creative projects. Microlancer’s goal is to simplify the process of purchasing small creative products for clients, and to provide a safe working environment for freelancers. It strives to eliminate the clients’ need to browse through multiple portfolios or read dozens of bids that are copy-pasted by applicants, which a lot of currently popular job marketplaces use as their model. Microlancer promises to select providers with unique styles and different approaches to jobs, displaying their pricing upfront and having a clear dispute resolution procedure in place to protect both sides should anything go wrong. The site was started in a private beta in April of this year, focusing on graphics and other creative design areas. It has since moved to public beta, and more job categories are supposed to be added soon.
Services and Features
Some of the services the marketplace supports are logo design, illustration, e-book design, image editing, customization and Web development. You can purchase a digital painting here, have someone develop a customized WordPress plugin for you or even just put together a PowerPoint presentation.
A Live Preview is great feature unique to Microlancer. It provides a convenient way for clients to preview the work of any freelancer “in action.” For instance, if the designer has a magazine as part of their portfolio, you can use Live Preview to flip through its pages and see what the final product really looks like. If it’s a website, you can browse it without leaving Microlancer. Or you can see how the final app looks like on the screen of the phone.
Buying on Microlancer
Like with any other one in this group of marketplaces, creating an account with Microlancer gives you access to all Envato sites. Finding a service provider to work with is simple. You will first need to select a category, such as Website Customization or Marketing Design, among others. You’ll then see a list of freelancers available in that niche, which can be sorted by newest, most recommended, most favorited or having the most project deliveries. You can also set your search criteria by lowest to highest price, or the other way around. Search results display a brief preview of each provider, showing several portfolio samples, suggested project completion time frame, amount of revisions the designer is willing to make, project cost and the amount of favorites the freelancer has received so far. Once you click to see the detailed portfolio of any given provider, you’ll get a chance to read their bio as well as their project guidelines, which usually indicate the types of instructions they will need to receive before starting the job and any other notes. You will also be able to view additional portfolio samples and check what other services the designer provides.
Once you select the freelancer you like with a suitable price, you’ll need to write a detailed brief and attach any files relevant to the project. The payment is made upfront, but is held by the site and only paid out to the service provider once the project is completed and approved by you. The freelancer will need to approve that he or she is ready to work on the task, before the project officially begins. If you are happy with the job, the funds are released to the provider and the project files are sent to you. If the job is not of the quality you expected, however, you can raise a dispute. A staff member will then look into the problem, and full refund will be issued if the level of service is not deemed satisfactory.
After the job closes, all buyers receive an automatic message prompting them to review the service they have received. They can give thumbs up or thumbs down to the provider, and leave a written comment if they wish to do so.
Selling on Microlancer
When selling through the marketplace, developers and designers can set their own prices and adjust them whenever they want to. Reducing your price might be a good idea to increase your profile’s competitiveness in the beginning. As you get more jobs and gather a good amount of recommendations and favorites, you can then try to adjust your fees to see if clients are willing to pay more. You don’t need to spend time bidding on projects like you would on other freelance marketplaces, so after your portfolio is set up, you can spend more time doing the actual projects – your work should then speak for itself.
As a service provider, you can set your own vacation time whenever you want to, which will mean clients won’t be able to hire you during that period. You can also turn down any projects you don’t see as a good fit for you. You can set your own turnaround time for each task and decide on how many free revisions you want to allow for.
Microlancer system will do most of the administrative tasks for you and collect upfront payments from clients on your behalf. In addition to the dispute resolution system set in place by the site, the support team is also available to help resolve any situations that might come up between clients and freelancers. Thanks to its extensive Envato network, Microlancer promises to bring the clients to the designers, claiming to have “millions of buyers, right at your fingertips.” Being part of Envato marketplace also provides you with an opportunity to network with Microlancer’s large community of like-minded creative individuals.
Services providers can set their project costs on the site in $5 increments. The platform fee is 30% of the published price and is charged when the project is closed. Microlancer says this cost goes to cover the dispute resolution provision, service review and other indirect fees of running the site.
Becoming a Provider
Unfortunately, new applications from service providers are not currently accepted. The team behind the project explains it with a backlog of applications they have to sort through, as the process is not automated, but each applicant goes through a manual review. It is Microlancer’s goal to establish a community of recommended providers, hence the scrupulous selection process.
Considering that Microlancer is still in its public beta, it might be too soon to judge whether the website will be able to find its niche among other micro-job marketplaces. It did come up with several unique ideas, which might work well for designers with impressive portfolios and reasonable prices, and for clients who are not happy with the bid-based platforms. The fact that Microlancer has a powerful Envato platform to rely on means that it’s up to a promising start. Opening up to more freelancers is something it needs to work on, though.