When it comes to best freelancing platforms, some full timers say it’s a scam!
So, what are freelance platforms? Well, these marketplaces are just like your average bazaar where both buyers and sellers meet. Except, it’s all online and the commodities on sale are skills.
Yes, you heard that right. You have a skill to sell? Maybe you are great at graphic designing. Or, maybe, people love your writing style. That’s a skill. A freelance platform will get you a buyer for that specific skill.
The best part? Well, there are two best parts. Freelance platforms provide a sense of security for both buyers and sellers so the chances of getting scammed go down. Secondly, with the overall change in the work dynamics and more focus on work from home initiatives, a lot of work has been shifted to online platforms and there is a huge demand for freelancer jobs.
Right now, it is the best time to start selling your skills on a freelance platform! With that set, let’s look at a brief history of this marketplace.
What are the best freelancing platforms?
It all started with Elance. It was the year, 1999, when a website came into being for the sole purpose of outsourcing IT work. The purpose evolved and soon gigs of all sectors like content and copy writing were also being traded on it. When Elance merged with its competitor, oDesk, in 2013, we got the rebranded website called Upwork.
The success of freelance platforms got us Freelancer in 2009. It’s unique selling point was allowing payments to be made in local currencies. This changed the entire game of freelancing. Now, the then Elance was at a disadvantage since its sole currency for trading was USD. Living outside USA? Tough luck bidding on projects.
2010 saw the next big player enter the industry. It was our very own, Fiverr. With gigs starting at just $5, the platform became the cheapest website to buy and sell freelancer jobs and cash strapped individuals and companies flocked towards it.
Today, with more than 80 million cumulative users, the three marketplaces provide a platform where millions of dollars change hands on a daily basis. One, or rather two, of those hands could be yours!
Freelancer vs Fiverr vs Upwork – How Well Do They Stack Against One Another?
So, which of these platforms is better for your freelancing work? Well, let’s look at what makes each platform set apart and assess their differences.
Registration & Hiring
The entire process of freelancing, from signing up to finally scoring a job varies on each platform.
Freelancer is as simple as freelancing gets. You are required to register yourself by setting up your profile which provides your skill set and picture. To have a better profile, you can even take various exams that showcase your skill sets.
Once your profile is set, you start bidding on projects by providing a tailored proposal for a job posting. You are limited to 6 bids a month but can buy more with real money. When the proposal is approved, the order details are discussed and agreed upon. Complete it, deliver it, and get paid for it. Such simple.
Fiverr tries its hands at the process aspect a little differently by removing the concept of bidding on projects. You create your seller profile and make it professional. We recommend taking some tests that the website recommends and displaying your scores to set your profile apart.
Next, you create the Gig you want to sell on Fiverr. The gig represents your skill on offer and provides the buyers with the information they need. We recommend adding an eye-catching image to it and a video if possible since it adds a personal touch to it.
The way you earn from these gigs is simple. You craft different packages with each subsequent package offering more of the same service and then you upsell extra services to bring in more bucks. Buyers can organically find your gig, or you can send them customized offers.
The process of Upwork is quite like that of freelancer.com. You start off with creating an optimized profile which talks about who you are and what makes you perfect for a certain niche. Once the profile is created, it goes for approval.
Why the approval? Well, Upwork aims at providing a premium platform where coherence between demand and supply exists. Did we go too economics on you? Well, in simple terms, Upwork will only approve your profile if the algorithm finds your supplied skill to be in demand. Once you do get in, it is now time to start sending in proposals to prospective clients.
Typically, a client will get lots of proposals for their job posting so you have to make sure that yours stands out from the rest. To ensure that freelancers put in due effort into the proposals, Upwork docks varying numbers of ‘connects’, something like a token, for each proposal sent. When you’re out of these tokens, you must buy them for real money.
If a client likes your proposal, they will send you a message where further details of the project will be provided and will be open for discussion. Once everything is discussed and agreed upon, you fulfill the order and submit the work.
Fee Structure & Payments of Freelancing Platforms
All three freelance platforms are free to get registered with but charge you and the buyer a small fee per order for providing their brokering, mediating, and hosting services. Why should this matter to you? Well, the amount charged to sellers is always more and is docked from your check. So, it is important that you price your offers accordingly.
Sadly, making your first paycheck from one of these freelance platforms isn’t as simple as work delivered equaling funds being credited to your wallet instantly. There are wait times in getting funds cleared and available for withdrawal.
Freelancing Platforms: Freelancer
The website charges you a flat fee of 10% for hourly projects. Fixed-price projects and contest winnings are subject to a fee of either 10% or $5, whichever is more
Services dock you a 20% fee. Perhaps the most intriguing fee that the platform charges is the maintenance fee of $10 per month if your account is inactive for six months or more. The fee will however be refunded upon the account’s reactivation. Weird, isn’t it?
There are also a couple of monthly plans that offer you goodies like extra bids and contest entries. We recommend checking out the complete list here.
As far as payments go, clients can make payments in milestones or in one go. These payments get cleared after 15 days for the first withdrawal, and in 2 days for subsequent ones.
We highly recommend utilizing milestone payments to ensure the client is willing to pay for the job and prevent getting scammed.
Freelancing Platforms: Fiverr
Fiverr’s fee structure may just be the least complicated out of all the other platforms. The marketplace charges you a flat fee of 20% on your order amount. There are some hidden costs though.
The platform will charge you for withdrawing the funds. These take 14 days to get cleared and 7 days for top rated sellers. A 2% fee of up to $1 is levied upon withdrawals via PayPal.
Local bank transfers via Payoneer can cost you $3 per transfer or US citizens can utilize Direct Deposit (ACH) for just $1 per transfer. Lastly, withdrawals via Fiverr Revenue Card can cost $1 for within 2 days or $3 for payment within 2 hours.
It must be mentioned that Fiverr allows the buyer to cancel their order at any time and get their funds refunded. This increased the likelihood of getting scammed. You may contact the customer support but sadly, we find it quite biased in favor of the buyer.
Freelancing Platforms: Upwork
Upwork is all about long-term relations with clients. This is reflected in their fee structure as well. You’ll be charged a fee of 20% for the first $500 worth of orders with a specific client. This fee will drop to 10% for the $500 to $10,000 cumulative order total range. Once you’ve earned more than $10,000 with that specific client, the fee will drop to just 5%.
Upwork also offers a Freelancer Plus membership for freelancers who would like extra tokens and the ability to view other bid prices on an order for a flat rate of $10 a month. For more on what is offered with the plan, check out their website.
All payments made by the buyer, including milestones and bonuses, get cleared in 5 days after which you can withdraw them via PayPal or bank transfer.
Final Verdict – Which Freelancing Platform Is Better for Your Freelancing Work?
Working freelancer jobs on marketplaces like Fiverr, Upwork, and Freelancer has its benefits. Due to the large pool of employers on these sites, you will have a better chance of scoring a job than on any other platform. Let’s not forget the secured transaction and relatively scam free dynamics too!
We made the cases for and against each site and if you’re looking for the best freelancing platform, we’ll have to say that it depends on your needs and circumstances.
If you’re a seller who boasts a serious competitive advantage and have the potential to spotlight your craft, we say you should go for Upwork. The premium marketplace has over 5 million active clients who are willing to pay good money for someone who is specialized in their craft.
Easier to use with relatively lower priced jobs, Fiverr should be your go to if you believe you can sell yourself well. Talking about selling oneself well, Fiverr, unlike Upwork and Freelancer, doesn’t restrict your capacity to send in proposals (up to 10 a day!)
We cannot talk about an easy interface without mentioning Freelancer’s mobile and desktop apps that are nothing short of being masterpieces. They are great for organizing your tasks and keeping track of them. The amazing chat feature is also something that is appreciated.
There are two ways that an order can go. It can go well, and it can go bad. In the case of the former, the client will have the option to review you. All the platforms have unique rating systems in place which determine your credibility. No matter which platform you opt for, we recommend prioritizing customer satisfaction and acing on the reviews.
In the case of the disputes, you will have to open disputes with the buyer to discuss changes to the scope of work or cancellations. Filling a dispute is easy. The platform will require you and the buyer to upload evidence. Next, arbitration will take place and a result will be reached.
We must mention that all three sites have a bias towards the buyer and chances of a result in your favor are low. So, we recommend that you avert the situation entirely by making sure that the order goes well. Ask lots of questions and always over deliver.
Never forget that the purpose of these freelance platforms is to create a brand out of your skill. It might be hard initially, but it will be worth it in the long run. You just need to keep going!