Odesk is one of the best freelance site to find freelance works with a lot of projects to bid. However, in order to start bidding for projects, you need to pass the oDesk readiness test; the said test is free to take. For those who failed, you can take the test again for free after one month. Once you are a certified oDesk ready, you can start bidding for projects. Your free basic membership comes with an allocation of 5 bids per month. However, you can also increase your allowable bids up to a maximum of 20 bids per month by passing more skills test. Each skill test passed increases your allowable bids by 5 more per month. Hence, you need to pass at least 4 skills tests in order to maximize your allowable bids of 20 per month. All skills tests are free. At oDesk, payments can either be based on hourly rate or per project rate; and transactions can be secured with escrow.
Elance is a great freelance site to start your online career, with a lot of opportunities to bid for quality projects at a higher rate. It is free to join and your basic free membership comes with 3 free connects or bid counts per month that allows you to bid for projects under one category only. Each job posted at Elance have their corresponding connect/s required to bid depending on the quality of the project. Usually, projects below $500 budget requires only 1 connect. $500-$1000 project budget requires 2-3 connects; and projects with more than $1000 budget requires more than 3 connects. You may upgrade your membership in order to acquire more connects and increase your job categories to apply. One good thing about Elance is that it offers more than a hundred skills test for free to improve your profile.
2010 update: Good news, starting this year 2010, Elance increased the number of Free Connects from 3 each month to 10 free connects per month. This means that you can now apply to more jobs; as well as apply for high paying jobs as a free member.
VWORKER (formerly Rent-A-Coder):
Vworker is another excellent freelance site for both project providers and service providers. Projects posted in this site are great for both writers, programmers and coders. Bidding is still required; hence, it is important to create excellent profile if you are looking for work. For project providers, there are plenty of competent workers in this place; giving you flexibility on your choices on the ideal outsourcer to work on your projects.
Freelancer is a great way to start your online career. This freelance site is FREE to Join and you can have 15 bids per month. Unlike other sites that reserve high-paying projects to premium members, most projects are available to basic subscribers. The only challenge you will encounter here is that, many members bid for most projects, you need to be competent and unique in your bid profile or cover letter in order to win the bid. One downside of Freelancer is that there are too many bidders, and this usually results to lower your service rates.
Have you ever heard of Lime Exchange? Previously this freelance site was featured in this hub as one of the top 5 freelance sites to outsource your tasks and services. Late last December 2010, it was acquired by Freelancer.com; and many members of Lime Exchange were migrated to this freelance site; making it even more bigger to give you utmost flexibility on your selections of projects and workers.
March 2011 update:
Just some words of precaution about Freelancer. I just encountered account suspension problem after being with the site for some time already. Their main reason is to verify my account by sending them some of my credentials like passport and driver's license which I did but with no reply from them. In fact, I already sent my credentials 3 times already with no reply. I emailed their customer support and still there is no reply todate. I have some amount from my account which I cannot withdraw due to the suspension. I already made withdrawals in the past.
Conversation with other freelancers revealed that some of them encountered the same experience. Hence, be careful freelance workers. Your hard-earned money might just be lost with this freelance site suspending accounts for no reasons at all and their customer service is poor or non-existent at all.
Considering the huge numbers of members, I am still posting this freelance site in as one of the top in terms of numbers of members; but definitely not in terms of reliable and good service.
ScriptLance is a haven for programmers and web designers. Jobs posted on this freelance site usually involve programming jobs and web design; although there are also some few writing jobs posted here. Scriptlance is free to join and one good thing about Scritplance is that there is no limit to your number of bids as long as you are qualified. The downside for Scriptlance is that there is a 30-days holding period (from first deposit to your account) before your money can be withdrawn from your Scriptlance account to your bank account. After that, it takes another 5 to 10 days to process your withdrawal.
Once you have signed-up for a free account with the aforementioned freelance sites, the first thing you need to do is to create a very impressive user profile and take skills tests to reinforce your qualification and start bidding for projects. The moment you have completed a project in a particular freelance site, be sure to ask for a positive review from your project providers to improve your profile and increase your chances of winning more projects.
In order to increase your chances of winning bids, join as many freelance sites as you can, and apply to many projects you are qualified. Use all your free bids in each freelance site and make sure to make an impressive profile and cover letter.