Boom Seen in Freelance Work Over the Web

Unemployment is still high and the economy uncertain, but job seekers aren't giving up—they're logging on, said Gary Swart, CEO of oDesk, a Web site that matches freelancers with companies looking for online contract workers.

"We see a lot of people that haven't been able to find work other places, and they're turning to our marketplace," said Swart. "Similarly, we see a lot of people that want to work this way. They want the flexibility to be able to work from home on the hours that they want, on the type of jobs that they want as well, so it's a combination."

Swart said oDesk's marketplace adds about 2,000 new contractors a day, with more than 300 full-time jobs going out each week. The most popular sectors are in marketing and web design and management.

"Anything essentially that can be done in front of a computer," said Swart. He said the company is even beginning to see an increase in accounting and legal job postings.

Rival site Elance also sees much of its traffic come from information technology and marketing.

Swart said the consistent growth oDesk has seen since its founding in 2003 implies that the freelancing model is applicable in both an up and down economy, as companies are always looking to reduce costs, and people want the best work situation.

"You can tap into Flint, Michigan or Van Alstyna, Texas a lot more cost-effectively than you can in the (San Francisco) Bay area," said Swart.

Companies "are looking for talent not available in their local market, and they're leveraging the Internet to get access to talent outside their geography."