Upwork vs Freelancer.com: 2023 comparison

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Get a head-to-head comparison of Upwork and Freelancer.com, two of the leading freelance platforms, to help you decide which one is the best fit for you in 2023.

Image: Rebecca Olason/TechRepublic

Whether you want to hire freelancers or you are a freelancer in the tech sector, your best bet for finding workers or work, respectively, likely isn’t in the traditional job posting services. It’s with services like Upwork and Freelancer.com.

Why? Because freelancing is unlike most work, and most freelancers do what they do because they enjoy working with multiple clients and because they often have the freedom to work on their schedule. Platforms like Upwork and Freelancer.com cater to freelancers and companies needing to hire freelancers.

I’ve used Upwork and Freelancer.com and found they pale in comparison to word-of-mouth referrals; however, not every industry is as niche as tech journalism and writing. If you happen to be in a much larger field, you’ll find such services to be a must. Let’s look at these two freelance platforms, so you can determine which might be the best fit for your needs.

Upwork and Freelancer.com are best for these businesses:

  • Upwork: For any size of business looking to hire top-tier freelancers but don’t have the budget to spend on feature add-ons, this is your best bet.
  • Freelancer.com: If budget isn’t an issue and you’re having trouble finding the right talent with traditional means, Freelancer.com contests as a unique recruiting tool, this is a great and unique recruiting tool.

If neither Upwork or Freelancer.com meet your needs, one good alternative is SolidGigs because it offers a gig hunter to help you find the right talent.

Jump to:

What is Upwork?

The Upwork logo.
Image: Upwork

Upwork is a freelance platform where freelancers can find gigs in development, IT, design, sales, marketing, writing, translation, admin, customer support, finance, accounting, engineering, architecture and legal. Upwork calls itself a marketplace for freelancers and can help pros find gigs, communicate with clients and get paid.

Upwork works like this for freelancers:

  1. Create a profile.
  2. Choose a membership plan.
  3. Connect with employers.
  4. Set your price.
  5. Start work.

For employers, the process looks like this:

  1. Create a job post title.
  2. Add required project skills.
  3. Set the project scope.
  4. Set the project budget.
  5. Review and fine-tune the job post.
  6. Post the job.

What is Freelancer.com?

The Freelancer logo.
Image: Freelancer

Freelancer.com is a freelancer marketplace that allows clients and freelancers to collaborate for mutual benefit and gain. Any business looking for skilled freelance workers for short- or long-term projects can use Freelancer.com to locate the talent to take on the task. A freelancer looking for a gig will find Freelancer.com a platform that can help them find work and get paid.

Freelancer.com works like this:

  1. Create a profile.
  2. Search for a job.
  3. Respond to a job with a bid.
  4. Start work.

For employers, the process looks something like this:

  1. From the main menu bar, click Post a Project.
  2. Give your project a descriptive title.
  3. Describe your project and provide its requirements.
  4. Upload any optional files for the job.
  5. Add up to five skills necessary to complete the project.
  6. Choose whether this will be a project or a contest.
  7. Select the appropriate project type.
  8. Provide your budget.
  9. Select any optional upgrades.
  10. Click Post My Project.

Upwork vs. Freelancer.com: Feature comparison table

Feature Upwork Freelancer.com
Job posting Yes Yes
Custom offers Yes Yes
Profile browsing Yes Yes
Secure chat Yes Yes
Secure payments Yes Yes
Invoicing Yes Yes
Contest posting No Yes
Job sample viewing Yes Yes
Time tracker Yes Yes
Milestone payments Yes for fixed-priced jobs Yes
Work diary Yes No
Candidate shortlist Yes No
Proposal review Yes No
Mobile app Yes Yes
Send and receive files Yes Yes
Verification badges Yes Yes

Upwork and Freelancer.com membership pricing and fees

Upwork

Upwork caters to hourly projects and fixed-rate projects, with fees that depend on how much a freelancer makes from a client:

  • If you make $0–$500 from a client, Upwork takes a 20% service fee.
  • If you make $500.01–$10,000 from a client, Upwork takes a 10% service fee.
  • If you make $10,000.01 or more from a client, Upwork takes a 5% service fee.

For businesses, Upwork offers Upwork Enterprise for which the fees vary. With Upwork Enterprise, you’ll also gain extra features, such as curating your company-specific pool of freelancers, aligning Upwork with your internal policies and configurable contracting features, optional compliance classification for freelancers, and optional Upwork Payroll.

SEE: Upwork launches Upwork Academy to support freelance workers (TechRepublic)

Upwork Connects is an internal currency for inviting freelancers to apply for a job. Businesses get 60 free Connects each month, but beyond that, more Connects must be purchased for $0.15 each and are sold in bundles of 10, 20, 40, 60 and 80. Freelancers receive 40 free Connects to start but do not have to spend Connects to apply for a job to which they were invited.

Freelancers can also upgrade to the Freelancer Plus plan for $14.99, which keeps their profile visible at all times, helps them stand out against other freelancers, and offers 80 Connects per month.

Freelancer.com

Like Upwork, Freelancer.com caters to both hourly and fixed-rate projects. At first glance, the pricing of Freelancer.com looks much cheaper than Upwork, with Freelancer.com only taking the greater of either 3% of the project cost or a $3.00 fee.

SEE: Top payroll processing services for small businesses in 2023 (TechRepublic)

Freelancer.com makes up the difference by charging for different perks and upgrades. Where Upwork offers all of its features for free, Freelancer.com goes with an à la carte menu:

  • Feature a job, so it appears on top of freelancer searches: $9
  • Hire a recruiter: $9.50
  • Mark a job as urgent: $9
  • Set a job to private: $19
  • Add an NDA to a contract: $19
  • Hide bids: $9
  • IP agreement: $19
  • Full-time work: $199

For freelancers that want to take advantage of more bids, rewards, and other features, Freelancer.com offers four membership tiers, billed monthly:

  • Basic: $4.95 for 50 bids per month, unlimited project bookmarks, and five employer followings
  • Plus: $9.95 for 100 bids per month, client engagement, and free project extensions; this plan also features a 30-day free trial for those interested in trying it out
  • Professional: $29.95 for 300 bids per month, bid insights, and premier freelancer insights
  • Premier: $59.95 for 1,500 bids per month, unlimited external invoicing and free NDA projects

Companies looking for freelancers can also give themselves more visibility and trust with a Freelancer Corporate membership for $9.95 per month. Businesses with a membership to Freelancer.com can take advantage of corporate bid cards with an inline portfolio, a corporate profile page, high value projects and corporate cover photo.

Pros and cons of Upwork

Pros

  • Gigs and talent are easy to find.
  • There are numerous freelance fields available.
  • Upwork handles contracts, billing, invoicing and mediation
  • Freelancers can make considerable money.
  • Upwork includes higher-paying gigs than many other sites.
  • Freelancers often get hired quickly.
  • The payment process is simple.
  • Remote work gigs are available.
  • Upwork recruiters make it easy for businesses to hire the right candidates.
  • Many Fortune 500 companies are Upwork clients.

Cons

  • The Connects system can be expensive.
  • Commission fees can get costly.
  • Clients must remain on the platform for a minimum of two years.
  • Most gigs are low paying.
  • Freelancer.com has a poor website user experience.
  • Every payment made is accompanied by a 3% fee.
  • There is an initial 20% service fee for a freelance hire.
  • Freelancers must be exclusive to Upwork for at least two years unless a client pays a Conversion Fee, which is calculated by taking the freelancer’s highest hourly rate and multiplying it by 2,080 (40 hours per week × 52 weeks).

Pros and cons of Freelancer.com

Pros

  • Freelancer.com is one of the largest freelancing marketplaces available.
  • Freelancer.com offers a wide range of services.
  • Contests are a unique way of finding talent and earning money.
  • There are numerous freelance fields available.
  • Freelancer.com offers real-time chat between freelancers and employers.
  • Base pricing is cheap when not adding extra features.
  • Recruiting officers make connecting gigs to freelancers simple.
  • The preferred Freelancer Program is reserved only for the most skilled freelancers.
  • With every accomplished project, freelancers gain experience points and credits that can be used in the Credit Shop.

Cons

  • Fees for hourly projects are considerably high.
  • Freelancers must pay fees, even before they receive payment for a gig.
  • Freelancers can only apply for eight gigs a month before having to upgrade to a paid plan.
  • Accounts can be banned for no reason.
  • Withdrawing funds can take up to 14 days.
  • Costs can skyrocket with added features.
  • Recruiting officer feature is an add-on expense.
  • There are too many low-paying gigs.
  • There are too many spam bids.

How to decide between these freelance platforms

Whether you choose Upwork or Freelancer.com depends on your intended use of the freelance platforms.

If you’re an employer looking to hire a freelance worker, Upwork is much easier to use, it offers more transparent fees, and thanks to its vetting process, the quality of freelancers you can hire might be better.

From my experience, I found Upwork clients to be more reliable, pay better and are more likely to offer long-term gigs than Freelancer.com clients. And although the service fees on Upwork might seem higher, you won’t have to spend extra to get added features.

In the end, if I had to recommend one service over the other, Upwork gets the nod every time.



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