Upwork vs Freelancer vs Fiverr: Freelancer Platforms Compared

Article by:
Maria Arinkina
13 min
As the workforce evolves and traditional employment practices are being replaced, many companies are turning to freelance work. But which platforms does one go to hire a freelancer? And when is hiring freelancers a reasonable approach? Keep reading to find out.

Outsourcing work to third parties has become commonplace in modern business. Instead of going through the time-consuming process of recruiting people to join the team in-house, companies often find freelancers to assist with one-time tasks or other work. This may be a more budget-saving alternative to screening, interviewing, onboarding, training, and paying permanent full-time staff.

But what is your go-to place if you want to hire a freelancer? And when is this employment approach reasonable? On this page, we'll review the possible outsourcing paths and give a detailed overview of the best freelancer platforms, comparing Fiverr vs Upwork vs Freelancer.

What Are the Most Common Outsourcing Paths?

Choosing between in-house software development or outsourcing is never easy. After all, each option implies various collaboration terms, costs, and processes, in general.

There are several main alternatives to directly hiring developers for a startup or taking on people in-house. As such, you can search for talent on freelance web developer sites or find a tech partner who'll "lend" you the talent you're missing (or even assemble an entire team to work on your project).

In the former case, an employer goes to one of the popular online freelancer platforms to find talent or sometimes uses social media or professional networking sites to connect with freelancers for work opportunities. Then, they post job listings describing the project or task, the budget, desired skills, and required experience. Some platforms are equipped with an autosuggest feature, pitching possible candidates to employers. In turn, freelancers may also apply for the listed job, and the two parties communicate to discuss project details and progress. 

Recent statistics suggest that there are currently over 73 million freelance specialists in the USA alone, with global projections exceeding 1.5 billion self-employed people. Therefore, the freelance talent pool is large.

How many freelancers are there in the USA? Statistics

In the latter case, an employer searches for a tech partner. There are various possible IT outsourcing models to choose from, such as selecting a vendor according to location or based on the sought-for relationship type. In any scenario, this approach implies entrusting a third party to find appropriate talent to complete a specific work scope.

As a rule, such a collaboration usually entails ongoing and more large-scale work volumes rather than one-off requests. It basically involves scaling or team augmentation from a third party's existing talent pool, yet you need to properly evaluate tech vendors to find the perfect match.

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What Are the Best Freelancer Websites?

If you're unsure where to find freelance developers and specialists in different fields, then consider visiting Upwork, Fiverr, or Freelancer. These are among the best freelancer platforms with lots of active users. The websites have different features, yet all provide ample opportunities for job seekers and employers. They allow you to indicate pricing, note your expectations, and manage the interaction between parties.

We'll compare Upwork vs Freelancer vs Fiverr in more detail later in this article.

Other Freelancing Platforms to Consider

Surely, there are more freelance sites similar to Upwork. Some are more specialty- or niche-focused, whereas others follow a more general approach to finding a broader range of freelancers according to the provided services or skills. Plus, the terms may also differ, i.e., some platforms are subscription-based, while others charge transaction fees. Therefore, it is best to look into the options, compare them, and select one that fits your needs most.

Below we list 8 popular alternatives to Upwork, Fiverr or Freelancer:

Most popular freelance platform alternatives to Upwork, Fiverr and Freelancer
  • Toptal (has a wide range of talent, including UX/UI designers, software developers, finance specialists, project and product managers);
  • PeoplePerHour (a freelancing community with expert specialists in various fields, such as web development, web design, marketing, and others);
  • Guru (a platfrom for finding freelancers around the globe, e.g., designers, web developers, translators, legal specialists, and others);
  • SimplyHired (connects employers with different kinds of job seekers like software engineers, consultants, etc.);
  • ServiceScape (a long-running platform for hiring graphic designers, translators, writers, editors, proofreaders, and other talent);
  • FlexJobs (a job search website for finding work and hiring remote employees);
  • 99Designs (a freelance labor platform focused on helping employers find web designers, logo creators, illustrators, and other design-related specialists);
  • Communo (a subscription-based service for hiring different marketing and design specialists, like SEO, SMM, video production, motion design, among others).


Upwork quick facts

Upwork started out back in 1999 and was then known as Elance. It was focused on outsourcing IT work, yet soon began to include other fields as the platform expanded. After merging with oDesk, Elance-oDesk became Upwork, the biggest freelance marketplace today that's renowned around the globe.

How Upwork Works

Any user, regardless of being a freelancer or employer, has to first create an account and fill out the profile. Then an employer can post a job listing that outlines the specifications of the project and the requirements. Freelancers can then submit their proposals so that employers can review them and choose the best option. An employer can invite a freelancer whose profile they like to take the job too.

Plus, the platform has a Project Catalog feature, allowing freelancers to post predefined flat-price offers for one-off jobs that employers can purchase.

Upwork has an intuitive interface and convenient chats that ease communication between parties. Collaboration is available on hourly or fixed-price bases, and you can split work into milestones. When the freelancer finishes the task, the employer can approve it, informing Upwork to release the payment via the built-in safe payment protection system.

What Are the Upwork Benefits?

Upwork has a reputation as a trustworthy platform with a strong matching algorithm that can speed up the process of finding the right workforce. It offers many billing methods, including a variety of cards, PayPal, and even ACH bank accounts for U.S. clients. Besides, it has a diary feature capable of tracking the freelancer's time spent on the work, which can simplify verification.

The rating system is transparent, so leaving reviews on the freelancer and client is also possible. Freelancers have to undergo a lengthy identity verification process, which may include skills testing. The detailed profiles resemble resumes with education, work history, and other information.

In addition, the platform displays each freelancer's vital statistics (for example, how many projects the freelancer has already completed, how much they've earned on the platform, their job success rate, or if they're "Rising Talent").

The figures below can also be attributed to Upwork's advantages:

Freelancers registered: 12+ million
Client users:
approximately 5 million
Jobs posted daily:
Monthly website visits:
46+ million

What Are the Upwork Downsides?

Upwork is more suitable for larger-scale and long-term projects, which can be either a benefit or a disadvantage differentiating Upwork vs Fiverr. This point depends on the employer's needs.

Interestingly, Upwork was renowned for having a variable service fee for freelancers ranging between 5-20% based on the order. However, starting May 2023, there will be a single Upwork service fee of 10% for freelancer earnings instead of the sliding commission. Employers, a.k.a. clients, are charged a one-time initiation fee of up to 4.95 USD for new contracts and a 5% marketplace fee when issuing payments to freelancers.


Fiverr quick facts

Fiverr is one more popular freelance platform created in 2010. The company had the vision of offering the lowest prices on the market without compromising the quality of delivery and focusing on specialized services. It allowed adding small projects with the rate margin being as little as 5 USD, which helped it stand out from the terms provided by Freelancer or Upwork.

How Fiverr Works

Any type of user has to create a free account to register on the platform. Employers, or people who pay for the freelancers' services, are called "buyers", and those who provide services are called "sellers".

Freelancers propose available services, referred to as "gigs", which employers can browse, select, and should pay for right away (payments are collected in the system). The gigs often come as packages, such as creating logo designs, and the freelancers set their own flat rates for the work. When the freelancer delivers the work, buyers can accept it and review the freelancer.  

What Are the Fiverr Advantages?

This platform is a good option for short-term contracts and finding someone to complete one-off work (which is one of the factors setting apart Fiverr vs Upwork). Competitive pricing is among the biggest benefits of Fiverr. The average service rates that freelancers set are 5 USD - 500 USD. Plus, you can issue payments in different currencies.

Moreover, thanks to the clear rating system, employers can make more informed decisions about who to hire. Fiverr also offers Pro and Business versions designed to connect buyers with top-notch professionals and agencies.

Additionally, here are some short facts about Fiverr:

Employers (aka Buyers) registered: 4+ million
Job categories available:
Monthly website visits:
61+ million

What Are the Fiverr Disadvantages

One of the disadvantages is that employers have to pay for the order in advance, not upon completion. Nonetheless, just like other popular freelance platforms, Fiverr holds on to the money and will only issue the payment to the freelancer if the employer releases it, marking that he's satisfied with the job.

What is more, the Fiverr fee for freelancers is 20% and 5.5% for employers, which is one of the points differentiating Upwork vs Fiverr. Clients are charged an extra 2 USD if they purchase gigs that cost under 50 USD.

Notably, this platform is more geared toward smaller projects, often one-time work rather than long-lasting collaborations. Hence, if this is the case, perhaps other alternatives are better.


Freelancer.com quick facts

Freelancer.com is another popular freelancer platform that was founded in 2009. The company quickly put the common pain point of freelancers to use by making payment acceptance possible in various local currencies apart from USD. This became its unique selling point and competitive advantage.

How Freelancer Works

After account registration, employers are allowed to list their job post with the requirements free of charge. In turn, freelancers can place bids to get the order, indicating their quote and other details, such as the expected time of delivery. Likewise, employers may also offer freelancers whose profiles they like to apply for the job. The employer can then select the most suitable bid, and, usually, the process is rather fast.

Once a candidate is "signed" for the task, one-on-one communication begins within the platform via the chat. Importantly, the employer makes an upfront payment on the platform using Freelancer's secure payment system, but it'll be issued when the milestone is complete, and the employer approves it.

What Are the Pros of Using Freelancer?

The platform is rather straightforward in use and provides round-the-clock support if required. There are plenty of categories to choose from, and the fees are compatible. Here are a few key figures to note about Freelancer:

Users registered: 65.5+ million freelancers and employers
Job categories available:
Monthly website visits:
6.8 million

What Are the Cons of Using Freelancer?

One of the obvious disadvantages is that the platform charges both parties, employers and freelancers, meaning that the Freelancer fees may be more noticeable if the project is small. As such, an employer will be charged either 3% or 3 USD for a fixed-price project, depending on what is higher, and 3% for hourly projects. On the freelancer's side, the platform charges 10% or 5 USD for a fixed-price project and 10% for hourly ones. There may also be additional fees, for instance, for Freelancer to PayPal transaction transfers.

Furthermore, the website's measures in terms of quality control aren't that strict, which may possibly pose a problem during the candidate search. Users sometimes note that they've encountered technical problems with the platform. 

Comparing Upwork vs Fiverr vs Freelancer

So, which of the three platforms should you choose? Let's recap on the mentioned above and list a few major takeaways.

Upwork vs Fiverr vs Freelancer Comparison Chart

When to Choose Upwork

As shortly noted earlier, Upwork is a better fit if you have a larger-scale and long-term project in mind. The platform is proposal-based, and freelancers bid to get an order that either has a fixed price or an agreed hourly rate.

Upwork is quite competitive, and there's a large variety of specialists to choose from. The profiles are transparent and abundant, and the verification process to get accepted on the platform is strict, meaning there's a pretty high chance that an employer will find a great match.

The fees for freelancers are shifting to a single 10% commission in May 2023 (which is probably good news as previously freelancers were charged 20% for contracts under 500 USD, and the percentage went down to 10 only after you've hit that sum). Nonetheless, the commission for employers stays the same (when you start a new contract, you get charged up to 4.95 USD plus the 5% marketplace fee when issuing payments).

When to Choose Fiverr

The website is a wonderful choice for those searching for talent from creative industries, such as digital marketing, seeking unusual offers, or looking for short-term, simple projects or one-off "gigs". This platform can be compared to a directory, where freelancers set their own prices and offer their services (commonly as packages) available in catalogs and categories for employers to browse. This sets apart Freelancer vs Fiverr as the employer is the one to browse the gig listings. That is, you hire freelancers for a fixed price on their terms, not yours. 

The freelancers are charged a 20% commission, meaning they may put a higher price tag on their services to compensate for their losses. Topping that, as an employer, you'll pay the platform a 5.5% service fee.

When to Choose Freelancer

Freelancer allows posting jobs with detailed information about the work indicated in briefs. In this scenario, freelancers approach employers (not vice versa), which may be more beneficial in some cases. Freelancers browse the postings and bid for them, providing employers the opportunity to choose the best-fit applicant. Also, freelancers can share their online portfolios to present their previous work.

This platform is abundant in choice of categories, so, in this respect, it may be an alternative when choosing between Freelancer vs Fiverr. What's for the commissions, the fees are generally lower (freelancers: fixed-price projects 10% or 5 USD, hourly-based projects - a flat 10% fee; employers: fixed-price projects 3% or 3 USD, hourly-based projects - 3%).

When Should You Hire Freelancers via Freelancer Platforms?

Hiring freelancers can be cost-effective and provides the opportunity to get a hold of the required workforce from a global talent pool. So, let's dot the i's by noting when freelancer employment is the optimal move for a company.

It is reasonable to hire freelancers when:

  1. You need just one or two people to assist your existing development team. For instance, there's a specific task that your team doesn't have resources for.
  2. You don't have the budget for hiring employees in-house full-time.
  3. Your current team lacks certain skills or expertise, or you're in search of a super unique tech stack (usually, this is some one-off task or transactional work, which doesn't require much business involvement from a non-staff employee).
  4. You have the time for looking for freelancers, interviewing them, and handling communication with remote individuals who may have limited availability and be located on another continent.
  5. Your business processes allow for taking on people on the side in such one-off cases and managing their work.
  6. You don't have a consistent task flow (say, lots of ongoing web development tasks), and you need someone for a short period of time to fill the gap. 

When Is Hiring Freelancers NOT the Best Option?

However, it's important to know that hiring freelancers for your tech needs is not always reasonable.

  1. As such, outsourcing partners may be a better choice if you're looking for a long-term partnership or someone to work on a complex project.
  2. Additionally, if you need a team with diverse skills, a tech partner may have a more comprehensive solution (offering web designers, project managers, developers, and QA testers in one go).
  3. If you'd like to augment your staff with specialists or a team that'll be fully devoted to your project, it also makes sense to find a dedicated software development team.

In such circumstances, you'll quickly get access to the missing talent from a vendor's pool of experienced employees without the time-consuming recruitment troubles. And these people will work on your project as if it were their own (i.e., fully immersing in your business needs and not straying off course when it comes to your product approach). Upsilon provides such services.

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Concluding Thoughts on Upwork vs Freelancer vs Fiverr

All in all, freelancer platforms and websites could be a way for companies to streamline the process of finding and hiring independent talent externally. This may be an alternative to in-house employment, especially if you have a one-time task.

We've given a detailed overview of the top freelancer websites, comparing Upwork vs Fiverr and Freelancer. You may consider using them if you need specialists to complete a specific task or whose services you'll need only for a limited time.

However, bear in mind that choosing in favor of a freelance workforce may not be an optimal decision if you have long-term or larger-scale work scopes. As such, if you'd like to enforce your team, accelerate delivery, or delegate an entire side project that your existing team can't take on, then finding a tech partner is a better option. Upsilon can assist with that as we provide IT staff augmentation services and can deliver turnkey projects. Feel free to contact us to discuss the details!

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