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Upwork vs. Freelancer vs. Fiverr

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UPDATE: Coronavirus (COVID-19) is forcing a lot of companies to review their traditional staffing, offshore, and Work-From-Home (WFH) options.  Outsourcing enables businesses to slash costs whilst at the same time maintain and rebuild their companies. Read our dedicated COVID-19 articles here: COVID-19 Business Recovery Action Plan

Several websites allow you to outsource one-off jobs to freelancers. The number of such sites is increasing, spurred by an uptick in online freelancers and abundant specializations.

What was once a long, tedious line at the bank and excessive wire transfer fees have now become cheap and hassle-free through these best outsourcing websites.

Elance, the pioneer among these sites, started in 1999. The website took its name from a Harvard Business Review article, The Dawn of the E-Lance Economy.

Originally built as a platform for outsourcing IT work, it soon evolved to include other sectors as well. In 2013, it merged with a competitor, oDesk, and later re-branded as Upwork.

Freelancer is another website that came about in 2009. Back then, Elance only allowed payments in USD, putting freelancers outside the United States at a disadvantage.

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At the time, many countries had limits on the amount of foreign currency that can be received and converted to local currency. This limited the capability of freelancers on Elance to bid on projects. Freelancer resolved the problem by allowing payments to be made in local currencies.

Another big player in the industry Fiverr was established in 2010. Setting itself apart from its two biggest competitors, Fiverr aimed to provide high-quality work at low prices. The starting rate for the projects on the site was USD 5, which was a boon for many cash-strapped individuals and companies alike.

A changing workforce: Why hiring freelancers is the way to go

Outsourcing work to freelancers has several advantages. Companies continue to choose freelancers and source some work through online platforms because:

1. It is cheaper compared to hiring a full-time employee

Competition is fierce in the freelancing world, be it in terms of quality or rates. Freelancers can charge what it costs to hire a full-time employee. To encourage clients to outsource work instead of hiring new in-house staff, they refrain from quoting high rates.

Freelancers charge their clients depending on the work that needs to be done. The price they demand can be quite inexpensive compared to the cost of hiring and training new employees and providing them with full benefits.

Aside from saving on expenses, companies that work with freelancers save time. Freelancers tend to have a much shorter turnaround time compared to full-time employees, which can help clients cut costs when it comes to spending on man-hours.

If you choose to outsource your work to freelancers in the Philippines, you stand to save even more. The Economist rates Filipinos as among the best speakers of business English in the world.

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At the same time, the Philippines ranks among the bottom three worldwide when it comes to wages, so clients are more likely to make the most of their budget if they choose to outsource to freelancers based in the country.

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Freelancing and outsourcing
Freelancing and outsourcing

2. It results in consistent and high-quality work

Freelancers often specialize in the specific kind of work that they do. They invest time and effort in improving a particular skill set, which they then market on freelancing websites.

To build their portfolio, they bid on assignments that are matched to their talents and skills, a practice that helps them gain more experience and improve the way they manage and execute their projects.

To retain their clients and justify their rates, many freelancers make the effort to maintain a consistent quality of work.

3. It allows clients to get more work done

Unlike full-time employees, freelancers are not bound by regular work hours. While many freelancers take projects on a per-hour basis, many also opt to be paid by the volume or the specific demands of the project.

As such, clients can assign the project to freelancers in the evening and come back to a completed output the next day.

Freelancers can work during off-peak hours, weekends, and holidays. Clients that combine the use of full-time employees and freelancers with flexible hours or part-time employees can ensure 24/7 business continuity.

Freelancing vs. outsourcing: Deciding which option to choose

There is another differentiator between freelancing and outsourcing that people should also consider.

Freelancing is typically more project-based, and non-supervised. Whereas outsourcing is typically used for ongoing roles and is usually done from within a supervised professionalized environment.

It’s really important to explore both options when considering getting work done. Below are some key differentiating factors of outsourcing to freelancing:

  • Ongoing roles (not project jobs), typically requiring a minimum of one full-time ongoing position
  • Supported and managed environments (HR, training, etc.)
  • Accountability hierarchy and account management
  • Established high-quality offices offering superior infrastructure, internet connectivity, security, and hardware
  • Allows for greater scalability of roles, teams, and space, providing enhanced institutional growth prospects
  • Producing far more reliable and professionalized results
  • Allowance for paid holidays (there are a lot of Philippine holidays) and sick leave and other welfare considerations

We have written an article about deciding between outsourcing and freelancing here, and this article discusses freelance vs full time [in-house] vs contractor [outsourced].

Top 3 outsourcing websites compared: Upwork vs Fiverr vs Freelancer

Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr are the three most active and popular freelancing websites worldwide.

Upwork has over 12 million freelancers registered with it, as well as 5 million clients. Some 3 million jobs are posted every year, with USD 1 billion changing hands. It is the largest freelancing site in the world.

Freelancer has 21 million users across the world. It won the Best Employment Website award for two consecutive years (2015 and 2016).

Fiverr has three million services listed on its website. Unlike other freelancing sites where clients can hire freelancers to bid on them. On Fiverr, freelancers list their services and rate them between USD 5 and USD 500.

Clients with different projects can then approach the freelancers and directly negotiate for their services.

Reasons why you need to outsource your business
Outsourcing can free up internal resources for other purposes

Freelancer

How Freelancer works

Clients can list their hiring details on Freelancer for free. From here, they have two options: invite freelancers to bid on the project or look at freelancer profiles themselves to make an offer.

Those who choose to go through with the bidding process are free to select the best “technical” bid. That means they don’t have to choose the freelancer with the lowest rate, but the one with the best quote for the job.

This may mean going with a freelancer who has higher rates and skills that are a much better fit for a particular project. The website’s users respond in real time, and projects usually get bidders in a matter of minutes.

Once the client awards the project to a freelancer, the two of them can communicate constantly through the website to discuss the particulars of the project. Freelancer allows users to chat, share files, and collaborate while on the go.

Clients don’t need to pay upfront on Freelancer; they only need to pay once the project is done and completed to their requirements. If the project is a complex one, they can talk about breaking it down into several smaller projects.

The client can arrange to pay the freelancers based on the milestones and goals they achieve. All payments are made through a highly secured and encrypted state-of-the-art system.

Should any user encounter any problem, they can contact Freelancer support round the clock.

Is Freelancer worth it?

Some of the clients who tried using Freelancer say that they had to part with their money first before engaging with a freelancer. Others say that the website has a lot to improve on when it comes to technical problems.

Some people encounter a few issues with billing, like a client who found that he was billed twice for creating a duplicate milestone. They were not able to outsource any more work or leave a rating on the freelancer that did an excellent job on the project.

Freelancers who use the site also face similar problems. Some complain about missing milestones and money. Some say that the website is not very helpful in resolving these discrepancies.

Just like clients, freelancers can leave reviews on the profile of those who hired them. Some take advantage of this system by leaving a bad rating, telling the other person that the rating will be edited as soon as they leave a stellar rating on the original rater’s profile.

Fiverr

How Fiverr works

Fiverr offers a very simple system for finding freelancers. Instead of inviting clients, it serves as a kind of directory for freelancers, or what the website calls “sellers.” 

The website has a number of categories and subcategories, and most of these feature specialists in the creative industry. 

The sellers under each subcategory are listed in order of their star ratings and the number of reviews their previous clients left on their profiles. The seller’s profile also includes the list of services or specializations they offer.

Is Fiverr worth it?

Going through Fiverr is a good decision if the project needs creative people for short-term or one-off engagements. 

However, one should note that the website offers limited categories. They have graphics and design, digital marketing, writing and translation, video and animation, music and audio, programming and tech, business, and fun and lifestyle.

Some freelancers stay away from Fiverr because the website allows buyers to cancel the project and get their money back even after the work has been completed. This seems to be one of the reasons why only a few sellers have 5-star ratings and excellent feedback from buyers.

Upwork

How Upwork works

The platform matches the project with a list of freelancers that specialize in that particular field of work. This makes it easier for clients to search for available people; if they have to do it manually, they’ll have to sift through the millions of freelancers registered on the website.

To help clients choose the right people, Upwork indicates the skills and percentage of projects completed on the freelancer’s profile, and sometimes even the amount of money they earned through the website.

In Upwork, clients can review and compare the profiles sent to them, and even interview the freelancer personally before making their choice.

The website allows file-sharing and various forms of communication. The website offers clients Upwork Protection, which guarantees that clients won’t have to pay for assignments not included in their commission.

Clients with a premium Upwork account receive hand-picked freelancer profiles as well as the service of a dedicated account manager.

Is Upwork worth it?

There are a lot of freelancers on the website, and some clients comment that only a certain percentage are experts in what they do. Clients who chose poorly might end up hiring the wrong people.

But there are many freelancers and clients on the website; as long as people keep on their toes when searching, they can always find another person or project that fits their bill.

What made outsourcing skill sets in the Philippines different
What made outsourcing skill sets in the Philippines different

Should clients and freelancers use any of these services?

Freelancer’s website should be ironed out to minimize the technical issues that both clients and freelancers complain about. The site also enforces a limit on bids, and freelancers are only allowed up to 10 bids at the same time. This discourages some freelancers from using the website.

Both Upwork and Fiverr offer freelancers and clients plenty of options. Fiverr has many options for clients who are looking for creative professionals. Upwork, on the other hand, has a more diverse category of talents and projects and offers free membership.

However, freelancers need to know that they have to pay a minimal amount whenever they bid on a project. For instance, Upwork uses a virtual currency called Connects that freelancers use to apply for projects.

Alternatives to Upwork, Freelancer and Fiverr

There are now endless alternatives to these three freelancing platforms.  There are already dozens of freelancing platforms, covering almost every vertical there is.

Some platforms are generalist – like Upwork. Others are very specialist – like Toptal. The aggregation of these platforms employs millions of people, from dozens of countries across the globe.

Some platforms are very basic, and almost function like an agency, whereas others have sophisticated interfaces that connect the workers, clients, and the workflow directly to each other.

Here, we have compiled a list of some of the world’s biggest and best-known freelancing sites.

The Top 25 freelancing platforms, agencies, and websites

Toptal

Toptal is a specialized freelancer platform.  It initially catered to software developers but has now branched out into finance and accounting.

People Per Hour

PeoplePerHour offers a big platform to find any kind of freelancer you need. It has a dedicated customer support team that can help you with your staffing needs.

Crowd Content

This freelancing platform specializes in providing the best brand descriptions. It has qualified content writers, within a curated and managed delivery platform.

Get Craft

GetCraft promises to bring you the best set of marketing, content creators, and media providers. It offers higher-end content and writing resources.

Simply Hired

Simply Hired is a job search tool that helps you zoom in on that freelancer that you need.

iFreelance

iFreelance enables you to search for and hire a freelancer without the middleman. 

College Recruiter

This site helps fresh graduates find entry-level jobs. College Recruiter also offers internship programs for undergraduate students.

Aquent

Aquent specialises in solving digital marketing staffing problems. 

Robert Half

Robert Half offers sophisticated matching technology and a personalized approach for freelancers.

FlexJobs

FlexJobs is a platform that connects people wanting access to flexible jobs, to prospective employers.

CrowdSource

CrowdSource is a platform that allows you to develop managed crowdsourcing solutions at scale.

Guru

Guru is a specialized higher-end consulting and freelancing platform.  It lists over 3,000,000 professionals.

Freelance Writing Gigs

This freelance platform is geared toward helping clients find freelancers in the content field, such as freelance writers.

Krop

Krop is a modern interactive freelancer platform specializing in the creative industries. This portfolio hosting site effectively connects freelancers to their employers.

99 Designs

99 Designs allows you to post a job and get a range of designers to pitch for the work.

Craigslist

Craigslist is one of the biggest classified listings sites on the planet. It has a number of freelancers looking for work, as well as people looking to allocate work.

Linked In Profinder

LinkedIn Profinder is an offshoot of LinkedIn.  It allows you to search and connect with freelance professionals.

Design Hill

Design Hill is the world’s number 1 website platform for design.

Communo

Formerly LocalSolo, Communo allows you to find some of the best freelancers in your own local area or town.

Patreon

Patreon is a freelance site that allows creators to create membership-style businesses around their fan base.

CoWork

Coworks is the easiest way to find and hire top freelancers and is the number 1 freelance work platform for brands and agencies.

Service Scape

This site is nearly 20 years old and is a global marketplace for freelancers with a range of skills and experience.  They specialize in graphic design, writing, editing, and translating.

Paying remote employees

Part of the function of these platforms is that they help connect the “buyer” with the “seller” in a safe and easy environment. Years ago, making small payments to people overseas was overly complex and also presented security risks.

These platforms have simplified the process and now offer a range of payment options. As for the payment terms, the platforms all usually offer to pay for entire projects, to protect you from the contractor’s suspicious activities.

You don’t need to worry about depositing directly, you can connect different payment platforms for an additional layer of protection.

Payoneer is a cheap, fast and safe global payment solution where you can transfer payments in different currencies hassle-free. This can also ease your burden of paying excessive fees through bank wire transfers.

Upwork vs Freelancer vs Fiverr: Choosing the best outsourcing website

To choose the right freelance platform for their work and projects, freelancers and clients should examine the safety procedures implemented on each website.

Questions like, can they protect themselves if a client refuses to pay for a job that has been completed? How responsive is the website’s customer support service? Can they help users effectively resolve issues and get what they’re due? should all be considered.

How Are You Going to Outsource Your Business
Essential things to consider before you start outsourcing

Essential things to consider before you start outsourcing[/caption]

Hiring freelancers offers a lot of practical benefits to clients, but finding the right freelancer for the job can be a grueling process. To make sure both clients and freelancers are on the same page, they need to clearly communicate all the details and requirements of the project.

Clients must take every effort to get to know the freelancer they plan to hire by checking their credentials and interviewing them properly. While seeing 5 stars on a freelancer’s profile is a good sign, clients still need to be reasonably cautious and check in on the project’s progress from time to time.

Finally, it is worth noting that hiring freelancers is a great option for one-off jobs and short contracts. If you want to ensure long-term business continuity, then you should look into outsourcing instead. Coupled with the right strategies and resources, setting your sights on a highly dependable virtual workforce is key to sustainably enhancing your company’s productivity while slashing the cost of running and expanding the business.

If you want to ensure long-term business continuity, then you should look into outsourcing freelancers instead. With the right strategies, you can set your business goals on a highly dependable virtual workforce.

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Outsource Accelerator is the trusted source of independent information, advisory and expert implementation of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO).

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Outsource Accelerator offers the world’s leading aggregator marketplace for outsourcing. It specifically provides the conduit between world-leading outsourcing suppliers and the businesses – clients – across the globe.

The Outsource Accelerator website has over 5,000 articles, 350+ podcast episodes, and a comprehensive directory with 3,000+ BPO companies… all designed to make it easier for clients to learn about – and engage with – outsourcing.

About Derek Gallimore

Derek Gallimore has been in business for 20 years, outsourcing for over eight years, and has been living in Manila (the heart of global outsourcing) since 2014. Derek is the founder and CEO of Outsource Accelerator, and is regarded as a leading expert on all things outsourcing.