Since I couldn’t find an objective comparison between freelancing sites, I decided to create one myself. The following reviews of freelancing sites are based on my personal experiences.
Did you know that there are approximately 1.1 billion freelancers around the world? Use this guide to find the best freelance websites and get more work done.
Every freelance website will tell you they are the number one destination with the most qualified freelancers. But you should take that with a grain of salt. If you're looking for talent, here's an unbiased review of your best options broken down by category.
Table of Contents
- Best Freelance Websites
- Best Freelance Websites by Category
- How do Freelance Websites Work?
- Things to Consider When Using Freelance Websites
- The big difference between freelancing sites is usability
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Freelance Websites
Best freelance website for beginners and fixed projects
Fiverr is a great option for anyone looking for freelance work on a budget. The name came from their initial offer, which was all services priced at just $5. While they don't have that same pricing model any longer, it's still possible to find low prices while retaining quality work. Fiverr lets freelancers create their service offerings, tiered packages, and rates for clients to browse and choose from.
If you want something turned around quickly without breaking the bank, Fiverr is an option worth checking out. It's also a great option for freelancers looking to make a little extra cash on the side. If you have a unique service offering and are creative at marketing, you can really stand out from the crowd and make a solid living off of the site.
Best freelance website for developers and programmers
For those looking for the best developers and programmers that the web has to offer, Toptal is likely the place to find them. The site proclaims to house the “top 3%” of developer talent, hence their name.
They’re known for their rigorous screening process when selecting developers for their hiring staff, with various skill reviews and test screenings dwindling their candidates to the top 3% of all qualified developers. This means if you choose to go with Toptal, you’ll be getting the best of the best.
Toptal works with each client personally and connects them with the right candidate or team of candidates based on specific needs. These could include the time frame for a project and the cost of the overall project.
Best freelance website to find work
Upwork was created under a different name, Elance oDesk. Today, as one of the world's most popular freelancing sites for both freelancers and clients alike, Upwork is a great place to find work especially if you're a freelancer. From a client point of view, it's easy to post a job listing that you need to fill and find freelancers. You can sort through the applications manually and reach out to anyone you're interested in.
Best freelance website for graphic designers
Kimp isn't technically a “freelancing website”. It's more of a graphic design service that is ideal for companies looking to save on freelance graphic design costs. If you're looking for on-going graphic design work and are tired of paying high hourly rates, then consider Kimp. They provide unlimited graphic design requests and edits for a low fixed monthly fee. This keeps graphic design costs predictable and increases the amount of projects you can get done each month without breaking the bank.
Kimp is also a great addition to freelancer designers that are looking to scale their graphic design business. They can provide you with the additional bandwidth required to tackle multiple projects at once, allowing you to more effectively focus on creative strategy, conceptualization, client management and other work critical to run your business more smoothly.
Best freelance website for writers
Content Cucumber follows a similar business model to Design Pickle, where clients pay a flat monthly fee to get unlimited requests. In this case, you can send in an unlimited number of requests for written work.
Content Cucumber is best for clients looking for simple blog articles, email newsletters, product descriptions, or well-produced landing pages. Once you sign up, you’ll utilize a project management system called JAR to put in as many project requests as you want.
The best part, other than the unlimited requests you can put in, is that there’s one flat fee for all of the content you want. There’s no hassle with figuring out a writer’s rate or having to go through convoluted portals and middlemen to send a single payment.
While the overall quality of each project depends on the writer you’re assigned, Content Cucumber is the most cost-effective option for any business or company looking for affordable written content.
Best freelance website for virtual assistants
Onlinejobs.ph is the best place to find talented virtual assistants from the Philippines. Founded back in 2008 by John Jonas, Onlinejobs.ph has since become the largest online marketplace to find Filipino VAs or specialized talent.
This platform is unique because it only highlights the skills of remote workers in the Philippines, which comes with several benefits. Most Filipino workers speak English, which makes it easy to communicate about projects. They're also some of the most hard-working talents you'll find and often have much lower rates than some US freelancers.
While Onlinejobs.ph is known as a virtual assistant site, it also has members that are skilled in areas like SEO, graphic design, and CRO.
If you're interested in working with talented Filipino designers, be sure to give Onlinejobs.ph a look.
Best freelance website for digital marketers
MarketerHire makes it easy to hire great marketers.
The talent team behind MarketerHire is constantly finding and recruiting the best marketers to freelance on their platform. They have fantastic experience, proven expertise, and excellent communication.
Some of the types of freealncers that you can get paired with on MarketerHire include:
- Amazon Marketer
- Brand Marketer
- Content Marketer
- Email Marketer
- Growth Marketer
- Paid Search Marketer
- Paid Social Media Marketer
- SEO Marketer
- Social Media Marketer
MarketerHire will also hand-match you to a marketer that fits your project and budget in 48 hours. Most of their client projects are kicked off within a week. Their pricing is very straight-forward and they don't lock you into a long-term contract. Like any other hire you can do hourly, part-time, or full-time positions.
The big advantage to using MarketerHire over other freelancing websites is that they have a talent team is dedicated to finding and recruiting the best marketers to freelance on their platform. They have a rigorous freelancer screening process and accept less than 5% of the marketers that apply for their platform. This saves businesses time and money as they have faster implementation and higher retention times.
Best Freelance Websites by Category
Looking for more of the best freelance websites but need to browse by category? Check out our below freelance website reviews to either expand your portfolio or hire a freelancer for your next project.
- See our full list of the best freelancing websites for developers
- See our full list of the best freelancing websites for graphic designers
- See our full list of the best freelancing websites for writers
- See our full list of the best freelancing websites for digital marketing
How do Freelance Websites Work?
There are typically three ways a freelance website works:
- You can search and filter freelance worker profiles and invite a candidate to work on your job.
- You can post a job and wait for freelancers to apply.
- You can sign up and a recruiter will match you with pre-screened job applicants.
Different Types of Freelance Website Pricing models
Freelance websites typically make money by charging in these ways:
- Charging a % of billable hours – Sites like Toptal and Upwork will markup the freelancer’s rate and charge the employer on a per project or monthly basis.
- Recruiting fee only – Some sites will charge a one-time recruiting fee to match you with a candidate.
- Fixed monthly fee– Sites like Penji and Kapa99 provide unlimited graphic design services for a fixed monthly fee.
- Design contests – Sites like 99designs will charge a fee to run a design contest where multiple graphic designers submit alternatives and you pick your favorite.
- Charging the freelancer – Some sites only charge the freelancer to submit their profile. These are to be avoided.
Do I have to Generate a 1099 for Gig Workers?
Check with your accountant, but many websites will generate a Form 1099-MISC on your behalf when payments are made to a U.S. contractor through their platform (usually above a $600 threshold). If you pay contract workers directly you are typically on the hook for tax forms. The exception to this rule is if you hire foreigners working outside the U.S. or use a payment processor like PayPal who will generate the 1099 for you.
Things to Consider When Using Freelance Websites
These are the factors I considered when evaluating freelance marketplaces.
- Ease of Use – Some websites are easier to use than others. The two most important usability features for me are search+filtering and the ability to see your previous communications with contractors during your selection process.
- Platform Cost – Many platforms will markup contractor rates and charge you ongoing fees. I prefer platforms with a one-time fee or allow me to hire a contractor directly.
- Quantity & Quality of Freelancers – There are literally hundreds of freelance marketplaces out there. But I prefer the big names because they attract more candidates and increase the chance of you finding the right hire.
- Freelancer Specializations – While many platforms have overlapping job specialties listed, most become known for some type of specialty. For instance, Toptal is known for high-end coders and financial consultants while OnlineJobs.ph is known for Filipino virtual assistants.
- Employer protections – What systems are in place to weed out scammers and low quality contract workers?
- Escrow payment processing – Some sites will put your freelancer payment into an escrow account and only release it after you’ve confirmed the work was completed.
- Background checking and ratings/review system – Some sites, like OnlineJobs.ph will provide background checks on applicants. And equally important, it’s good to see reviews from other employers to help weed out any bad apples.
- Dispute resolution – Most sites will provide a mechanism to address employer-contractor disputes to help protect both parties.
- Employee time tracking and screen capture software, like Timeproof. Some sites provide systems for workers to record hours worked and automatically take occasional screenshots during working hours to provide proof.
- Freelance Statistics – Understanding data and trends surrounding the freelance industry is very helpful when evaluating freelancer websites. It goes beyond just evaluating the platforms with the biggest market share. Knowing how others compensate freelancers, the most popular freelance positions, and the overall outlook of the gig economy will equip you to make better decisions. To acquire more insight on freelancing as a whole, check out our Freelance Statistics post.
The big difference between freelancing sites is usability
You'll find qualified freelancers (and duds) on every site and some people have profiles on multiple sites. That’s why I focus on freelance websites that are easy to use. To get a feel for which site works best for you, test-drive freelancers from several sites by creating a freelancer test assignment.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are freelancing websites?
Freelancing websites are online marketplaces where skilled workers can create a profile and connect with businesses to earn income as an independent contractor. They often provide an easy to use interface where freelancers can build their profile and showcase their expertise. From a hiring perspective, most freelancing websites come with job posting, freelancer search tools, and messaging capabilities so you can quickly hire and collaborate with your freelancers to get more work done.
What is the best freelance website for beginners?
Fiverr and Upwork are the two most popular freelance websites for beginners (up to a point). While it's easier to get started with these sites, you still need to provide quality services and market yourself well to increase the likelihood of getting more gigs. The most successful freelancers on online marketplaces have effectively honed their craft prior to setting up a profile. Having job experience, testimonials, case studies, and a strong portfolio right from the jump will provide a strong base to get noticed and hired more often.
What is the largest freelance platform?
Upwork has over eighteen million registered freelancers and five million registered clients. Three million jobs worth over $1Bn USD are posted annually, making Upwork the largest freelancer marketplace in the world.