Outsourcing tasks to freelancers is part and parcel of long-term business strategies today. It has opened new horizons, empowering businesses to work with top talents they don’t have readily available in-house. Whether it’s software development, blog management, or vital administrative tasks, it’s easy to work with independent professionals without necessarily having to employ them on a full-time basis.
Freelancers save time and money and bring to the table fresh and unique ideas. However, working with freelancers can be a huge step to take, especially if it’s your first time working with external employees. Fortunately, with the gig economy heating up, technology has given birth to freelance marketplaces. With freelance platforms, you connect with the right talent that can take the load off your shoulders.
In this post, we’ll dissect the top 3 freelance platforms namely, Fiverr, Upwork, and Freelancer.com. We’ll look under the hood of these platforms to reveal how they work, the quality of output you can get, and the type of freelancers you can find. The goal is to help you use a platform where you can find top talents and monitor your projects with ease.
Freelancing is making commendable inroads into the modern labor markets, gradually pushing full-time job structures out of the picture. With over 35% of the US workforce onboard, this mode of working is rapidly changing the corporate landscape, forcing employers to rethink their strategies. In fact, organizations are beating the path to the doors of the freelance marketplaces to tap into top independent talents.
There are myriad reasons why organizations are choosing to hire freelancers, but the subtle one has to be to lower the overhead costs. Picture this, on average, employers spend $11.55 per hour on employee benefits alone — this is about 31.8% of the total employee compensation cost. By hiring freelancers, businesses can save $11.55 per hour and invest it elsewhere. Essentially, hiring freelancers helps businesses sidestep employee compensation, office space, and office equipment costs. Most importantly, you’ll have fewer people on your payroll, thus reducing your taxes and the overall cost of hiring.
If the idea of working with freelancers has crossed your mind, here are some of the best freelance platforms you can consider.
Freelance platform Fiverr is one of the best websites designed for businesses or individual employers (buyers) with quick low-cost projects. The platform is a force to reckon with when it comes to services and skills. Whatever you want to be done is probably available on Fiverr, provided it’s legal, of course. The jobs range from copywriting and WordPress design to video editing and social media marketing campaigns.
Each job on Fiverr is known as a gig and clients/buyers make payments based on the number of gigs they purchase. Small business owners will find this platform to be affordable because freelancers provide services for as little as $5 per project. However, the price can also vary depending on the quality of work and how fast you want the gig to be delivered.
You can check the solution closely when you sign up for a Fiverr free trial here.
Besides, Fiverr ranks freelancers based on their customer satisfaction levels, delivery time, and service quality. The platform gives clients/buyers access to freelancer information they need about a freelancer. And not just that, it enables potential gig buyers to visualize freelancer specifications and ratings from previous employers. This way, they can size up the freelancer’s ability and make an informed hiring decision.
The best thing is that Fiverr allows you to contact a freelancer even before you commit to anything. It provides secure communication channels that let gig buyers get in touch with sellers via messages and shared documents. This makes it easy to share project information or other helpful information with a potential freelancer.
Online freelance hub Upwork is one of the most popular platforms in the industry boasting one of the largest pools of freelancers and employers. The platform has more than 12 million freelancers, five million employers, and posts approximately 3 million jobs per year. Freelancers on Upwork offer a wide of skills ranging from copywriting, graphic design, web development, to software development.
Generally, clients post their jobs on Upwork detailing the project specifications and the budget. Then, freelancers can view these projects and submit proposals or bid for projects that match their portfolio or skills. Upwork projects can be either short-term or longterm. Clients can break their projects into smaller tasks known as milestones based on the agreed budget. What makes Upwork unique is that payments can be made on a per-project or per milestone basis.
Moreover, Upwork screens freelancer identity to give clients peace of mind. Besides, freelancers are constantly rated (after every two weeks) based on their performance. Consequently, Upwork displays up to date freelancer job success scores (out of 100%) and previous client feedback to help clients choose the most potent freelancer.
Lastly, the platform offers effective communication channels allowing clients to connect with freelancers. This way, the client can interview, relay project information, or monitor projects via built-in chat and video conferencing tools. Most importantly, Upwork allows both parties to share documents and files to aid project completion, via these channels. The robust features of Upwork make it one of the top alternatives to Fiverr.
Freelance talent staffing website Freelancer.com is a robust platform built to help companies around the world connect with independent professionals. With more than 25 million registered users and nearly 12 million completed projects, this is one of the top 3 freelance platforms in the world. It offers services to millions of clients and freelancers in more than 247 countries across the globe.
What sets Freelancer.com apart from other platforms is that it allows payments to be made using multiple local currencies. Like Upwork, Freelancer.com enables clients to post jobs on the platform and invite proposals or bids from potential freelancers. Then, the client can scan through the freelancers’ portfolio and size them up to zero in on a freelancer who best fits their project requirements.
Besides, Freelancer.com allows clients to live chat with freelancers. The feature comes in handy during the interview phase, plus it enables clients to monitor the progress of their projects. Through Freelancer.com communication channels, both parties can chat, collaborate, share files and documents while on the go. When it comes to rating freelancers, Freelancer.com uses various levels, badges, and an intricate XP system.
In terms of payments, Freelancer.com doesn’t require clients to pay upfront fees for projects. They only need to release payments to the freelancer only when the job is done satisfactorily. Most importantly, the platform allows clients to break bigger projects into several bite-sized tasks and delegate them to one or numerous freelancers.
A fit-for-purpose freelance platform should make it easy to find verified talents.
Fiverr provides a wide range of skilled professionals for your project needs. Its pre-screening services are pretty vague and any freelancer, regardless of their qualifications, can set up gigs on this platform. Besides, Fiverr allows a freelancer to offer a wide range of services, which takes away specialization. For example, a freelancer can provide graphic design, copywriting, WordPress development services all at once.
On the other hand, Upwork takes freelancers vetting a notch higher with a more stringent policy in terms of who can become a freelancer. The platform goes to great lengths to verify freelancer identities, assigning an identity-verified badge to freelancers who pass the verification test.
Additionally, Upwork uses the job success score (JSS) as the mark of quality for freelancers. The JSS is updated biweekly and is based on previous clients’ feedback and ratings. Freelancers who have maintained a JSS of over 90% for 13 consecutive weeks have a unique top-rated badge on their profile. Besides, new freelancers who have performed exceptionally on past projects are assigned the rising talent badge.
Like Fiverr, Freelancer.com doesn’t have a clearly defined process of vetting new freelancers. This means that anyone can join the platform. As a result, Freelancer.com has one of the largest pool of freelancers, although arguably less qualified.
Verdict: With the staggering number of registered freelancers, it requires a rigorous vetting process to ensure clients are getting nothing but quality. Upwork has, by far, the best vetting procedures, but when it comes to the variety of skills and talent, Fiverr is the king.
Finding top talent on Fiverr is pretty easy. All you need to do is to search “website development” for example, on Fiverr’s search function. The best thing is that the platform offers multiple filters including categories, seller details, service options, delivery time, and budget. Once you set the filters to match your requirements, Fiverr spews out thousands of gigs from registered web developers. Then, you’ve to compare several gigs before pressing the hire button.
Alternatively, you can use the Fiverr Pro services if you dread the long hiring process. Through this service, Fiverr handpicks top-quality freelancers, allowing you to leverage specialist services from talents that have excelled working with the world’s biggest brands.
Upwork, on the other hand, plays by different rules. Once you post your project bids, potential freelancers start to stream in. You can then shortlist candidates by scrutinizing their cover letter, portfolio, and feedback. This kickstarts the entire hiring process, forcing you into a lengthy interview process with back-and-forth communications to zero in on the right freelancer.
Like Upwork, Freelancer.com allows you to post jobs on the platform for free and invite proposals from freelancers. However, hiring on Freelancer.com is a lengthy process which requires you to screen individual application to find the candidate who meets the requirements.
Verdict: It’s fairly easier to find top talent on Fiverr than on Upwork and Freelancer.com. This is because, with Fiverr, you can find the right candidate by typing keywords into the search bar. Besides, the platform provides a detailed comparison of gigs offered by different freelancers, which makes hiring more straightforward.
However, Upwork doesn’t lag far behind Fiverr in this category thanks to the built-in data science. The system empowers potential employers to track down top talent based on a highly effective algorithmic search.
Finding a great freelancer is one thing, and managing them to deliver quality work is another. You’ve to be in constant communication with the freelancer to ensure all requirements are met.
Fiverr doesn’t offer an elaborate work management system. Generally, clients (buyers) on Fiverr pick a freelancer who has demonstrated the capability to meet the set requirements. As long as the seller plays by the buyer’s rules, then everything works without a hitch. However, Fiverr has a built-in communication platform that empowers buyers to reach out to sellers anytime, anywhere with a quick message.
Upwork, on the other hand, provides all the powerful tools you need to manage fixed and hourly projects. The built-in chat and video conferencing functionality allow you to communicate with the freelancer with ease. Besides, the platform has a robust desktop app that is designed to facilitate collaboration, communication, and payment protection. Interestingly, the app has a built-in time tracking tool which makes it easy for a freelancer to log time on hourly contracts.
On a similar scale, the Freelancer.com desktop app allows clients to communicate, monitor hours, track project progress, and share documents. The app is designed to keep the client in the loop and in touch with the freelancer to ensure all benchmarks are met and the project is done to satisfaction.
Verdict: Upwork and Freelancer.com have the tools you need to track your projects and stay in touch with the freelancer, from the start to completion, hence suitable for complex projects. However, Upwork has the upper hand since you don’t have to find a separate video conferencing software and time tracking tool for remote employees. On the other hand, Fiverr isn’t as capable as Upwork or Fiverr, but it’s still effective when it comes to managing simple projects.
Whether or not you get the best value for money spent on a freelance platform, it boils down to two things – the quality of freelancers and the pricing.
Fiverr has a reputation for being one of the most affordable freelancer marketplaces. The platform has fees for both the seller (freelancer) and the buyer (client). The client pays in advance for the gigs they wish to buy. Over and above the gig’s price, the clients pay $2 for gigs less than $40, and 5% for gigs above $40. On the other hand, the freelancer gets 80% of the total amount paid for the gig because Fiverr deducts 20% as commission.
Upwork, meanwhile, charges the client a fee in a few situations. First, if you make a hire on this platform you’ll pay 2.75% of the project’s value as the processing fee. This fee is added to the overall transaction amount paid out to the freelancer. Besides, clients using the Upwork Pro services pay $500 per talent search and an additional 12.75% processing fee.
Similarly to Upwork, it’s free to post a job on Freelancer.com. However, a fee is charged for every successful hire. Additionally, the platform requires the client to pay 3% of the fixed project cost or $3 (whichever is higher). For hourly projects, Freelancer.com charges clients 3% of each payment that’s released to the freelancers.
Verdict: Fiverr is, undoubtedly, the most affordable freelance platform for small businesses. It’s processing fees are reasonable, plus it’s easy to find top freelancers offering inexpensive gigs. The only quibble we have about Fiverr is that clients are required to pay upfront for the gigs they wish to buy, which is not the case with Upwork and Freelancer.com.
Freelancers are unpredictable and working with them can be a daunting task. Quite often, you’ll hire a freelancer, strike the agreement, and start the project in high spirits. However, regardless of how excited the freelancer is at the start, serious disputes and disagreements are bound to happen.
Fiverr allows you to use the resolution center to solve disputes. The platform doesn’t offer a mediator to handle the disputes. Instead, once the buyer logs onto the resolution center they get the option to extend the deadline, ask for an order update, or ask the seller to cancel the order. Once you pick your option and send the request, Fiverr accords the seller 48 hours to either accept or decline.
Upwork, on the other hand, takes a definitive approach to dispute resolution. First, in the case of poor quality work, the platform allows the client to engage the freelancer and find the perfect remedy. The client can request changes or in some serious cases, a total refund. However, when it comes to payment disputes, Upwork intervenes and assigns a mediator to handle the case. The mediator reviews the case based on the terms stipulated in the Upwork Hourly Protection.
Lastly, Freelancer.com resolves all disputes via the Dispute Resolution Service. The aggrieved party files the dispute with all the supporting documents. Then, the other party is given several days to respond to the disputes. The platform reviews the case to deliver verdicts that are fair, final, and irreversible.
Verdict: Upwork is the undisputed king in this category, amongst the top 3 freelance platforms. When things go awry, the platform allows the client and the freelancer to find a middle ground. Besides, when things get messy, Upwork assigns a mediator to handle the case.
What you ought to know is that, when it comes to freelance platforms, the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. This means that the perfect platform for you will largely depend on the specific needs of your project. Besides, you’ll need to use the freelance website together with other tools like project management software and take an efficient approach to project management to excel.
Our comparison brought to the fore the strengths (and weakness) of the top 3 freelance platforms. As such, it should be easy to pick the best freelance platform for your project. Even though Freelancer.com didn’t claim a top spot in any of our categories, it’s still a reliable platform for businesses looking to exploit its large talent pool.
On the other hand, Upwork was a clear winner in two categories — dispute resolution and collaboration tools. Besides, the platform has one of the most rigorous prescreening processes. Upwork’s talent pool is relatively small but highly qualified compared to Fiverr and Freelancer because of its rigorous vetting process. That said, this platform is ideal for businesses with complex projects that belong to a specific niche.
Fiverr emerged top in three of our categories and is the overall winner by merit. The platform has a considerably wide talent pool, it’s relatively cheap, and it’s easy to find top talent. We highly recommend Fiverr, especially for small businesses that want to accomplish simple projects on a small budget. Should you want to investigate the platform firsthand, you can easily do so when you sign up for a Fiverr free trial here.
As a small business owner, you must keep all your communication channels open to inspire proper collaboration. For starters, you can read our guide on effective team communication strategies to learn how you can streamline online collaboration.
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