In the past, I’ve written popular guides on how to create an Upwork site or how to create a Freelancer site using WordPress. Those were theme-based solutions and are good only if you will create a full-fledged Freelancer/Upwork type niche site.
However, what if you want to add a freelancer like a feature to your existing WordPress site?
That’s where Freelancer Marketplace comes in.
It’s a new plugin to transform any existing or new WordPress site into a Freelancer marketplace plugin.
Now if you ask me why a Freelancer Marketplace?
It’s simple! people are now embracing Freelancing more than ever, in fact, they are now more confident with freelancing as a long-term career option.
According to a recent survey by Freelancers Union and Upwork,
- Freelancing income now stands at almost $1 Trillion USD, which is close to 5% GDP of the U.S., surpassing other major industries such, as Construction.
- Freelancers are making $28/hour on an average, which is more than 70 percent of the entire U.S. economy.
- Freelancers who are working as a long-term career choice, the share of these have been increased from 17% in 2014 to 28% in 2019.
- Freelancing is flexible – A good 46% of Freelancers agree freelancing gives them the required flexibility, which is not available with working as a traditional employer.
Altogether, Freelancing has a bright future ahead.
Today, I’m going to tell you how to turn your existing WordPress site into a Freelancer Marketplace.
Now coming back to the plugin, it’s a paid one starts at $199 and is developed by Plugins & snippets, an India based team that specializes in creating plugins/add-ons for WordPress based eCommerce platforms, including Easy Digital Downloads and WooCommerce.
Freelancer Marketplace plugin is not a standalone plugin and relies on the Easy Digital Downloads. That means, in order to make the Freelancer Marketplace plugin to work, you first need to install the Easy Digital Downloads plugin, alongside.
Requirements to integrate Freelancer marketplace
- A copy of Freelancer Marketplace plugin
- A WordPress site – Plugin is claimed to be tested with WordPress version 5.1-5.3
- Easy Digital Downloads Plugin – The plugin works in conjunction with any version of Easy Digital Downloads.
- EDD compatible theme – Presently the plugin works flawlessly with any WordPress theme compatible with Easy Digital Downloads
- Recommended – External email service – considering the fact that the plugin will require to create and send a lot of emails for maintaining the workflows, which may result in the usage of excessive server resources and slow performance of your WordPress website. Therefore, it’s suggested to use an external SMTP service on your WordPress site, such as Mailgun, Sendgrid, etc.
Installing the plugin is simple, just navigate to your Plugins menu inside the WordPress Dashboard.
Click on the “Add new” button and upload the plugin zip. Once done, you can now activate both the plugins.
Important – You need to install Easy Digital Downloads, it won’t work without the plugin.
Once the plugins are activated successfully, you can find the plugin menu in the WordPress admin menu at your back-end.
A custom post type will appear on the menu, where you can find numerous options to configure your Freelancer Marketplace plugin settings. I’m going to briefly showcase each and every option on the back-end of the plugin.
Under this menu option, you’ll be able to see all the freelancers registered on your portal.
You can view all the necessary information about each freelancer, including approval status, email verified, number of complete projects, the total number of bids, total amount earned, consolidated rating, and also the registration date.
There’s a handy search box on the top right, that allows you to search for specific Freelancer by name.
Bulk options help you to approve, suspend, un-suspend and even delete a specific freelancer or multiple.
In case if you need to know all the detailed information about any specific freelancer, all you need to do is hover over the name of any specific name of the freelancer and a set of links will be revealed. You need to click on the view button and the complete dashboard of that particular freelancer will be presented.
Freelancer Details – back-end
As the name suggests, this is a complete dashboard of any freelancer but, from the back-end and is only available to the admin of the site.
If you want to find out all the profile details, activities, payments, bids, milestones, ratings, withdrawals, disputes, messages, etc of any individual freelancer, then this is the place, where you can find it all.
Under this tab, you can find everything related to the listed projects on your Freelancer marketplace site, be it Project ID, project status, project title, project budget, the total number of bids, the customer who has created the project, Freelancer selected, and modification dates.
In case if you wish to see this list of projects submitted by an individual customer, just use the dropdown list to select any individual customer and click on the filter button.
In order to check more information about any of the listed projects, you need to hover over the project ID of the selected project and a view button will appear, click on the link and you’ll be able to view a dashboard of any specific project listed on your freelancer portal.
Okay, things are neatly organized, even at the back-end. You’ll get all the exact details related to any project, all at a single place. This makes it easy for you and your team to manage anything related to any project posted by your customer on your freelancer marketplace.
Next up are customers, in this section, you’ll be able to access details about all your customers. In order to find more details about individual customers, you can hover over the customer name and click on the view link.
Once you get into the customer profile area, you can see all the customer-centric details.
As you can see, there are a number of tabs, such as notes, tools – a nifty button to re-calculate the purchase count and total value of any customer, and under freelancer marketplace, you will be able to find all the content generated by any customer, including projects, milestones, messages, ratings, and disputes.
If you need to know about all the bids posted on your site, this is the section to look for. As you can see, every single bid is associated with a dedicated bid id, the bid status feature shows you whether the bid is open or closed.
Other important details about all the bids are readily visible such as project associated with a bid, bid proposal, bid amount, project duration, the freelancer who’ve submitted the bid, and the day a bid is last edited.
To view more details about any bid, you can click on the bid id, and you’ll be presented with the entire bid proposal and also milestones.
Skills are just the initial requirements of any customer for their projects, skills can be anything, not just related to the world of computers or to be more appropriate, skills related to the niche of your WordPress based freelancer marketplace.
You can create n number of skills, edit the existing or moderate them, all as per your needs.
In case if you don’t know, milestones are like a payment security system for a freelancer to save the time of freelancers from fake projects or the customers. Once a freelancer is awarded a project, milestones are set for a project
For instance, the cost of the project is $200, then a milestone is set for $100 and the customer will deposit $100 milestone payment to the funds, and he/she cannot withdraw the amount unless the project is canceled or closed.
Here in the Freelancer marketplace plugin, you’ll also get the milestone functionality for your freelancers.
The plugin comes with a sitewide rating system, where both customers, as well as the freelancers, can submit their ratings for each other. Both parties can rate starting from 1 to 5 stars, along with additional comments. This is a neat method of appreciation and feedback to enable a layer of trust between both parties.
You will also get a dedicated messaging system to let your customers and freelancer communicate easily over a project. Not only it serves the purpose of communication for both parties, but it also helps you to sort out any possible disputes in the future regarding any project.
Under the messages, you’ll be able to access the entire messaging between your customers and freelancers along with the timestamps of each message.
You can’t deny the fact that there will be disputes between the customers and freelancers on a freelancer portal. At times, there will be disputes between both parties, it could be due to deadline, no response, poor quality of work, false claims, etc.
In such cases, a dedicated dispute system is a must, where either a freelancer or customer can raise a dispute order.
To facilitate easy payout request, the withdrawal feature lets the freelancer request for any balance. You can generate a complete list of pending withdrawal requests by selecting the period.
Once you get the withdrawal list, you can make the payments for the same, via PayPal transfer. For mass payments, you can upload the file in the PayPal.
Freelancer Registration form
To on-board a freelancer, there’s a freelancer registration form with numerous per-ready fields and options, which is to be filled by all the new freelancers.
The form is simple and highly customizable, you can further make changes to the form by adding numerous form fields or by adding additional custom fields such as action hooks, checkboxes, date box, HTML box, radio buttons, multi-select, toggle, terms & conditions, URL, and even re CAPTCHA.
Customer Registration form
Similarly, there’s a customer registration form for new on boarding customers. Again this is pre-created with several necessary fields.
You can make all the necessary amendments by adding the registration form fields or any of the custom fields .
Freelancer Marketplace Settings
As I’ve already mentioned above that the Freelancer marketplace plugin works in the only conjunction with Easy Digital Downloads plugin. Hence, the core settings of your freelancer marketplace are also configured inside the settings area of Easy Digital Downloads.
Once you click on the “Settings” button in the Freelancer marketplace plugin’s WordPress menu, it’ll take you to the page below.
Here you can see there are multiple tabs under Freelancer Marketplace settings. I’m going to briefly describe about each section.
Main settings –
This section allows you to configure the commission settings, you can define the percentage amount of commission that you are going to charge from a customer and also from the freelancers for each project
You can also define the categories of project values for small, medium and large, according to the project value you define.
You can define the title length of any project, the minimum can be set to 5 characters till max 255 characters.
Similarly, the project description length can also be configured with 5 characters till max 3500 characters.
There are several settings related to project including, such as you can define a lifespan of project if it doesn’t receives any bid.
You can define the total number of projects that can be visible on the project page archives.
The maximum file size that can be supported to be uploaded with each project or message, max is 100 MB limit. There’s also a setting to restrict a number of total files that can be uploaded by the users on your Freelancer marketplace website.
If you wish to allow ratings, even before a project is completed, then you can check the tick box.
You can define the minimum or maximum length for the rating description.
Under the bid settings, you can find several settings to configure, including the option to allow bids less than the minimum project budget.
You can set the minimum bid amount for freelancer, the length of bid description text can be set to minimum 5 characters to 3500 characters.
And lastly, the total number of bids that should be visible per page, on the back-end list page of bids.
You can also set the maximum length of text that is allowed to be posted in messages with max length supported is 5000 characters.
The automatic project delivery can be set to specific days, in case the employer or customer fails to review the delivery of his project within the due time-frame then the project will be automatically marked as accepted.
I like the feature to post announcements, there will be cases where you may want to post several notifications related to the site, payment, or any other event. There’s a fully WYSIWYG editor that lets you post the announcement, which will be visible on the dashboard of Freelancer.
The withdrawal threshold can be set to be as per your needs, with 1 being minimum.
Here you can set site-wide labels on your site, including for the users, projects, skills, bids, and dispute. For your convenience, the plugin comes predefined labels, and in most of the case, you won’t need to alter them, unless you’re using some specific niche for your Freelancer site.
Under this section, you will be able to configure the default form or pages for each page type across your Freelancer marketplace. Again, all of the pages or forms are preset and if you want to manually create those pages or forms, then you must include the provided short-code for individual page type.
This is the page, where you can enable or disable several permission system available with the plugin.
You can allow guests to become a freelancer, or existing WordPress users on your site to become a freelancer.
You can set the system to automatically approve the freelancer, projects, or even customer edits to a project, without being manually reviewed.
However, if you don’t want your customers to edit the project, once it’s submitted, then you can simply uncheck the checkbox, with the default being set to allow.
You can also restrict customers to cancel the project, or it can be only done by the admin.
In case if you don’t want the names of the customers, to be visible to the visitors, you can uncheck the box. For Freelancer names, there are enhanced settings to limit the name visibility only to customers, or registered users, or everyone.
The bid amount can also be set to visible to everyone, registered users, or bling bidding ( where only the customer will be able to see the amount of the bid.)
There’s a feature to restrict the freelancer to contact the customer unless he/she has already submitted the bid they cannot contact the customer.
You can allow the option to enter new skills by the registered users, or they will be only allowed to select the skills only from the given list across your freelancer marketplace.
The plugin comes with a well-integrated email system, which automatically generates and delivers an email for various activities, such as user registration, activation, new project submission, bidding submission, bid accepted, new messages, project updates, new milestones, disputes, payments, etc.
This page is kind of messed up, and there are tons of things that can be configured. However, you don’t need to panic, as by default the plugin comes with predefined email templates, and several settings configured.
There’s a handy list of email tags, that can be used automatically in the mails.
There’s just reCAPTCHA integration as of now, which can be configured and required to be filled before a project is being submitted by any customer.
For disputes, you have the option to enable or disable the dispute process. Further, there are several preset for dispute reasons, and you can also define your own dispute reasons.
The styling settings are close to none, with just one color picker to select the background for the dashboard menu program.
You can instruct the plugin to use Freelancer Marketplace plugin’s CSS or simply uncheck the box, and let the plugin rely on your WordPress theme’s style sheet instructions.
You can set the active payment gateways to accept the payment whenever a project goes to the checkout page. The plugin relies entirely on Easy Digital Downloads settings to configure or integrate any payment gateways.
If you want to check a demo of the Freelancer marketplace, with demo projects, freelancer profiles, you can do so by using this feature.
Freelancer Marketplace plugin Front-end
When it comes to the front-end, the Freelancer Marketplace plugin comes with predesigned templates. If you’re using the demo content of the plugin, then all these templates will get automatically published and yes, you can create them manually by adding the provided shortcodes.
The above is a Freelancer list page that showcases, all of the registered Freelancer profiles on your freelancer marketplace. Any customer can hire any freelancer, by filtering to the required set of skills for any project.
There’s a sort feature to view freelancers by highest to low ratings and vise-versa, or by name from A-Z to Z-A.
A search button is also available, if you directly want to find a freelancer by the name.
The Freelancer profile page showcases, profile picture, timezone, aggregated ratings, a description and a set of skills offered by any Freelancer. The reviews submitted by the employers will be visible beneath the profile.
Here’s the default page/template for the list of projects, approved on the site. The design is pretty basic and to the point, there’s a list of projects with a brief description of each project, status of the projects, budget range, an option to submit a bid, the total number of bids and lastly date on which the project was posted.
Here’s the project page template, with the clear title of the project, and the status of the project, the name of the employer, total bids, average bid amount, budget set for the project by the employer, duration and date posted.
Further, you can see the required skills set by the employer followed by a description of the project.
Any visitor can opt to bid for the project with submit bid button, and a pop-up registration form for the user will appear.
You can choose to register using the pop-form or you can also opt to register on the site using the dedicated registration page.
The registration page is equipped with minimal design, you can either register as a Freelancer and opt for “I want to Work” or you can choose “I want to Hire,” as an employer.
Submitting a new project
In order to test the functionality, I went ahead and submitted a fresh project for my app “Hotel reservation app.” The system will ask you about your project requirements, the skills, any attachments you want to make available to the bidders, your budget, the time duration under which you wish to get your project delivered, and the lastly the skill required.
If you’re already a registered user and logged in then your project will be submitted and pending for approval. However, if you’re a guest, then the system will ask you to either login to your existing account or let you register for a new customer account.
As soon as, your project will be approved by the admin, it’ll go live and available for the users to bid.
Registering a new Freelancer account
In order to showcase the bidding process, I’ve also registered a demo freelancer account, the process went smooth and glitch free.
Once, I got my email address verified with the generated email link, my account was activated instantly. I was able to apply for the bidding on any project of my preference.
You can see, I was able to apply for bidding from my dedicated dashboard. To submit a bid, I gave a brief idea about my proposal, my bid amount, the duration of days under which I can deliver the project and the commission I’ll be charged from the final payment.
As soon as I’ve submitted the bid, it went live on the project.
If at any moment, I want to edit my bid on any project, I can easily do so from my own dashboard.
A notification was received on the customer account from where I’ve submitted the project. The bid appeared on my project, I have the option to accept the bid, decline bid, or chat with the bidder/freelancer. I can also many amendments to my project, with an edit button available on the top.
I choose to have a word with the bidder on my project using chat messaging system, and share my detail plan about the application I need for my project.
As you can see in the images above, the chat system is pretty good for a WordPress plugin. It’s to the mark and works flawlessly with a cool sound notification system.
Overall the chat system functionality is wonderful and it surely accelerates the entire process.
To further test the functionality, I clicked on the “Accept Bid” button and it took me to the checkout page, where purchase request is generated. The purchase also shows the total service fee I paid along with the accepted project bid amount.
One the purchase process was completed, it redirected me back to my project.
Now my dashboard shows that my project is marked as “accepted,” shows my purchase status of the bid milestone, and the selected bid highlighted beneath my project. There’s now also an option to create additional milestones if further required by the project.
Next available options are
Messages – all the conversation in chat will be visible here
Documents – the file attachments exchanged between both the parties will appear here
Dispute – If the customer face any issues with the freelancer which is not resolved by the same, then he can raise a dispute over here.
Rating – If a customer is happy or not happy with the freelancer and his quality of work, then he can give a rating with comments.
Timeline – all the major activities related to a project are mapped here, the day project was created, accepted and a milestone is paid, etc. Everything will automatically map over here.
Close project– In case if the customer wants to close any project due to any reason, he can do it over here from this dashboard.
On the the other hand, the freelancer on its dashboard gets his bid marked as accepted.
Once the freelancer gets the approval from the customer about the project quality and fulfillment, he may now mark the milestone as delivered. The customer will be prompt with releasing the milestone or reject the request if the project isn’t completed yet.
Immediately after the customer approves the milestone the request to release the milestone to the freelancer and the project is marked as completed. The customer will be taken to the rating tab, and he’s requested to provide the rating of a freelancer and his work.
Similarly, the freelancer is requested to provide rating feedback for the employer.
Now since the milestone amount is added as balance in the freelancer’s account, he can now request for withdrawal of funds from his dashboard.
The request for the withdrawal of funds will be reflected in the back-end of the admin, where he can review the project status and transfer the funds to the freelancer’s PayPal account.
This is the entire workflow of the Freelancer system with Freelancer marketplace plugin by Plugin And Snippets. I’ve tried to cover nearly all the aspects of the plugin and how it works, in a detailed manner.
There’s detailed coverage about the back-end system, and a neat amount of interaction with the front-end of the plugin.
Help Documentation & Support
Alright so I’ve already written a lot about the features of Freelancer marketplace plugin, but how about support?
Well that’s crucial, prior of choosing any WordPress theme or plugin, once must learn enough about the kind of support and help documentation provided by the creator of any WordPress product.
In case of Freelancer marketplace plugin, you will get access to official documentation, which comprises of introduction, entire workflow of the system, core areas of the plugin, settings, other important aspects such as maintaining the site performance and secuirty.
To answer all of your primary queries related to the plugin, there’s a set of FAQs setup by the authoer.
Other than, self help documentation, you will also get ticket based support by developer.
While writing this guide, I faced an issue related to the theme compatibility and they were prompt to respond me back with a satisfactory reply.
Freelancer marketplace concept is now already overcrowded on the web, and there are tons of portals with millions of freelancers and employers onboard. To create a new portal with a similar set of features from scratch, can be extremely challenging and time-consuming affair.
Therefore, according to me, it’s a fair choice to opt for readymade solutions, like Freelancer marketplace plugin, in order to taste the water and figure out whether there’s scope for new entrants or how you can differentiate and create your own position in the Freelancer ecosystem.
Now coming back to the point I made in the beginning of this guide, do I recommend Freelancer marketplace plugin?
Well after using the product for good amount of time on my setup, here are my opinion about integrating Freelancing Marketplace on your existing WordPress site/blog
Why you should choose Freelancer Marketplace
- It has got everything to jumpstart your Freelancer marketplace site on your existing WordPress installation
- It’s fairly easy to use and interestingly a lot of things come pre-configured.
- Extended documentation and prompt support.
- Considering the number of features and functionalities of the plugin, I believe it’s fairly priced.
Things to consider before you buy
- There’s little to no customization feature – All it comes with is a basic color selector for the menu background, and the plugin’s own styling is too simple to be attractive.
- Theme compatibility issue – presently it works flawlessly only with EDD (Easy Digital downloads) compatible WordPress themes, the developer is still testing with other major WordPress theme houses.
Let’s wrap this guide, I believe I’ve written enough to form your opinion about Freelancer marketplace plugin. If you want to give it a try before you buy, there’s an option to try it on the demo server.
Are you interested in creating your freelancer site with Freelancer marketplace plugin? let me know your minds in the comments below.