Freelancer Alternatives

Online crowdsourcing isn’t just about Upwork vs. Freelancer, you know. Learn about other websites like Freelancer, and find an alternative that suits you best

Looking for a Freelancer Alternative?

Naming a crowdsourcing marketplace “Freelancer” was probably one of the most ingenious marketing moves in history. Thousands of people across the globe type in Google “hire freelancer online,” and the first search result they get is Freelancer.com. The first place a person registers at when starting a freelance career is Freelancer.com. The very name of the website sounds like the only viable option for hiring independent contractors. 

Sounds a bit like a masterplan by an evil genius, doesn’t it?

Why bother looking for sites like Freelancer?

Along with strong sides, Freelancer.com has some considerable cons. To us, they look like this: 

  • Hiring on Freelancer.com can be time-consuming due to a large number of contractors applying to every order
  • The website’s security measures are not enough to protect customers from scammers: you can run into one every now and then
  • There is no quality control, so despite what a contractor writes in their profile, you cannot be sure of their skills unless you try them out
  • Freelancer’s support is infamous for its slowness and unhelpfulness.   

In fairness, these downsides are typical for many other bidding platforms (we’ll cover what bidding is a bit later). Still, it’s always good to have a choice. So, let’s now take a closer look at  

Other sites like Freelancer

Without further ado, we’ll now start analyzing some of the most popular Freelancer alternatives.

Lemon.io

Formerly known as Coding Ninjas, Lemon.io has been on the market for over three years now. Working mostly with the Eastern European developers, believe themselves to be one the best Toptal alternatives.

Meticulous vetting, fast matching, and super-quality support gained Lemon.io a reputation of a trustworthy service providing some of the best developers on the market. So far, Lemon has already matched more than 500 startups with skilled, reliable web developers, web designers, and QA engineers.

It looks like Lemon’s aiming to become a one-stop solution for digital businesses.  

If Lemon.io has an elevator speech highlighting our strongest sides, it possibly looks something like this:

  1. 90% of the platform’s new clients hire the first candidate offered to them right away (yay for our precise matching!)
  2. Lemon.io is fast! The service assigns the right developers to the new projects within just 24 hours in 84%of cases 
  3. 97% of the clients the platform acquired during its first year have been staying with it for more than 3 years now! 
  4. Satisfied Lemon.io customers leave tons of positive reviews on Trustpilot (9.4 out of 10) and G2 Crowd (4.9 out of 5). Lemon vs. Freelancer. Check them out, people write very nice things there! 
  5. Lemon’s developers deliver 98.6% of the projects they were assigned to on time and in accordance to customer’s requirements

Lemon.io vs Freelancer

So, how is Lemon different from Freelancer and other Freelancer alternatives?

Thorough vetting

Out of 100 applicants, only 4 manage to pass the platform’s vetting procedures and get hired. 

Now, compare it to the “Let everyone in!” approach many sites like Freelancer stick to. 

Superb customer support

The support team replies to customer’s inquiries in mere minutes to maintain clear and efficient communication, troubleshoot, and provide any assistance needed

Last we checked, you can spend days waiting for Freelancer support to answer your inquiries. 

No guessing games when hiring

Every single Lemon developer is a reliable skilled professional. There’s no such thing as scams on Lemon.io

Fast and precise matching

Just send the description of your project to Lemon’s managers, and they’ll find the right candidate for the job. Lemon always knows who you need for the job better than you do (but you still have the right to veto an assigned developer and ask for a substitution at any time).

Complete safety

There’s a party responsible for your project, and it’s Lemon.io The platform provides anonymity of your data and the security of your transactions. Sign NDA with Lemon’s freelancers and enjoy safety while waiting for your order to be completed.

Upwork

This is probably the main Freelancer alternative out there. Why? 

Because Wikipedia says so. 

Jokes aside, it’s pretty obvious. A merger of Elance and oDesk, Upwork is one of the largest world’s online crowdsourcing marketplaces offering millions of customers and contractors a chance to enroll in jolly cooperation partner up on mutually beneficial terms. It’s the main competitor of Freelancer, sharing many of its weak and strong sides. 

The hiring process for you as a customer is pretty straightforward. You publish your job description and estimated budget on Upwork and wait for freelancers to start bidding. A bid is a contractor’s application to your order. In it, they specify their rates, provide an approximate estimate of the deadlines, and specify their skills. Once you receive a bid, you can review a contractor’s profile, look through their portfolio, read testimonials, and so on. How credible the provided info is? Well, it’s up to you to decide. 

In the case of Upwork, its rates are reasonable, testimonials on resources such as Trustpilot are great. What can go wrong? 

In fact, there are multiple pros and cons for using Upwork that you should be aware of before hiring on this platform.  

Pros

  • Easy to use. As we’ve just said, you need to simply place an order and wait for the freelancers to start applying 
  • The diversity of skills available for hire. Being one of the world’s biggest freelance platforms, Upwork houses thousands of professionals in all areas. 
  • Prices of the services of skilled contractors can sometimes be ridiculously low.
  • Escrow ensures the safety of your financial transactions. 

Cons

  • Remember we said Upwork accommodates thousands of skilled pros? Now we say it also houses noobies, wannabes and scammers of all sorts. ID verification doesn’t seem to help much with the latter. 
  • Poor customer service will sometimes make you want to pull your hair out in frustration. 
  • It takes time to find a skilled pro. If you thought you’re gonna hire the first freelancer who applied to your order and they’d be awesome from the start – you’re wrong. Just re-read what we wrote about the bidding process. Hiring on Upwork is often trial and error.

Upwork vs. Freelancer: what’s the difference?

In fact, the differences are few.

The main difference is the fees. 

Upwork has a 3% payment processing fee for customers. It means that you will have to pay 3% of the sum you’re going to pay the contractor you hired, that’s it. For freelancers, though, it’s not that rosy. They have to pay a fee of 20% of the sum you’re paying them. Many scammers and/or unscrupulous contractors will use this argument to try to persuade you to work or process payments off-site. Don’t fall for such arguments! Trying to be nice is… well, nice and all, but don’t forget they knew what they signed up for when they registered on Upwork. It’s not your problem. 

Freelancer, depending on whether you hire a freelancer for a fixed price or an hourly rate, wants you to pay different fees. For fixed-price projects, you will need to pay 3% of the sum of $3, whichever is greater. For hourly-rate projects, it’s going to be 3% of each payment you make.

Other differences are mostly related to small features such as usability, interface options, live chat (Upwork doesn’t have one, which is sad), and so on. 

Now, as for the quality of work to expect, it heavily depends on a contractor you manage to find. Both Freelancer.com and Upwork.com allow users to register as freelancers almost without any constraints, which means that technically anyone can become a contractor. For you, it means some kind of a lottery when recruiting freelancers for your project. Will it be a skilled and seasoned pro? Or a rookie just starting their independent career? Or a scammer who’s after your money, pretending to be super-qualified and having a great (but stolen) portfolio?

So, who wins the Freelancer vs. Upwork competition?

If you have to choose between Upwork or Freelancer, we’d say Upwork is slightly better for you as a customer. Why? The platform seems to care a bit more about its customers’ security and comfort. Its ID verification procedures are more strict, and the system of fees is not confusing for new users. Otherwise, there is no big difference when choosing between Freelancer or Upwork: these two websites are very much alike. 

Fiverr

The first thing that comes to mind when analyzing Fiverr vs Freelancer is the price. Fiverr, as its name suggests, is a platform where customers can find specialists to work on smaller orders for $5. In reality, project prices on Fiverr can go far beyond this rate. Fiverr houses many contractors working in creative and digital media fields, so if you need someone for this kind of job, Fiverr might be your first place to start searching at. Still, consider the following pros and cons.

Pros

  • Prices and fees. It is possible to find a pro for a small job for just $5 in 2019 on Fiverr. The fee system, in its turn, is similar to the one on Freelancer: you will have to pay an extra $3 for a fixed-price project (or a 3% fee, whichever is greater in your case), or 3% of the overall payment for hourly projects.
  • Top freelancers on Fiverr are actually able to do the job quickly and efficiently, although in this case, we’d rather not count on low prices.

Cons

  • We’d recommend you test a hired freelancer on smaller projects first. The idea of $5 orders sounds great and all, but in reality, for this money, people usually don’t work too hard. 
  • Financial transactions on Fiverr are not protected by escrow.
  • Customer support is terrible.  

Toptal

A completely different approach to outsourcing is presented by Toptal: a freelance platform for vetted specialists in design, development, and finance areas. Instead of bidding, when you have to manually review hundreds of applicants, Toptal introduces vetting: a series of tests and checks aimed at evaluating and verifying freelancers’ professional skills. Once a freelancer passes all the tests, they get into Toptal’s talent pool. When a customer contacts the platform with the job description Toptal managers simply check the pool for contractors with the matching skill sets and work experience and assign them to the project.

We’d say that in the Toptal vs Freelancer competition, the former wins: it’s just less risky than bidding and much faster. 

Still, let’s act picky and scrutinize Toptal in a bit more detailed manner.  

Pros

  • Hiring on Toptal is definitely a safe bet. Vetting makes sure your freelancer will be competent enough to do the job: incompetent ones never past the tests. 
  • You can hire freelancers for off-site work, or even hire them for in-house work
  • There is a trial period, during which you can try out a contractor Toptal assigns to your project (you will have to make a $500 deposit, but if you are not satisfied, you will be refunded)
  • The whole thing is easier than bidding, and you don’t have to act like an HR manager. 

Cons

  • Toptal services are rather pricey. Hourly rates for hiring a web developer, for example, start at approximately $70-$90 and can go even higher. Like, hiring for full-time can cost you more than $3,200 per week.
  • Toptal’s customer support is slow, and sometimes even reluctant to help. This is the fact mentioned by many Toptal users, so keep in mind that if you experience any trouble with the platform or its services, its team might need quite some time to fix it.  
  • You don’t get to choose whom you want to work with. This could be a bummer if you like to be in control and manage things on your own. 

Toptal vs. Freelancer: major differences

In case you were riddling yourself with the question, “Toptal or Freelancer?” we’ve prepared you a brief table of major differences between these two platforms.

 FreelancerToptal
QualityThe platform allows anyone to register as contractors. Except for minimal identity verification, there are no tests, screening, or quality control. The platform claims only 3% of applicants pass all of its vetting procedures. In other words, only skilled freelancers can work for Toptal.
Available skill setsAs on other sites like Freelancer, you can find people of all kinds of professions here.Toptal specializes in software development and engineering, finance, and design.
Trial periodTrial period? Never heard of it. Once you make an initial $500 deposit, you can try out a freelancer the platform assigns to your project. If you like their work, the money is used for further payment. If not – well, then Toptal returns the money back to you.
PricesGenerally low, but may vary depending on the order. Some freelancers here can charge you more than Toptal would.High, but worth it.

Considering all this, we’d recommend hiring Toptal devs when working on super-serious costly projects, where there’s no room for mistakes or delays. Freelancer, on the other hand, is a more affordable alternative when the stakes are not too high. 

Guru

Present on the market for almost two decades now, Guru is (in our opinion) the most controversial option among other Freelancer alternatives from this list. Let our list of pros and cons speak for itself. 

Pros

  • As a precautionary measure to protect your payments, Guru uses SafePay. Before a contractor starts working on your order, you must upload the money to a SafePay account, from which they will be sent to the freelancer once they complete the job.
  • As you would expect from a bidding freelance platform, Guru’s contractors offer their services for reasonable (read: pretty low) prices
  • The diversity of skills available is also an advantage.

Cons

  • Perhaps the biggest drawback of Guru is that it allows freelancers to delete negative reviews for payment. In other words, if a contractor screws up and their customer writes an angry comment about it, the freelancer can pay a fee and erase unwanted feedback. This can be misleading and trick you into believing that a particular freelancer is a better pro than they actually are. 
  • The platform has poor user reviews and an F rating on Better Business Bureau. Which means that neither regular users nor reviewers like Guru much.
  • Just like other bidding platforms, Guru suffers from the invasion of underskilled beginners and scammers.

Conclusion

Now, to save you time reading this huge article, here is a brief table with our conclusions on each of Freelancer alternatives.

PlatformScoreOverview
Lemon.io5A young but surprisingly good vetting platform, taking pride at its precise and fast matching, along with high quality customer support.
Toptal5A giant on the market of platforms for vetted freelancers, Toptal is a great choice for bigger companies having to budget constraints.
Upwork4The main Freelancer alternative and, in our opinion, almost its twin.
Fiverr3A cheaper and less consistent (in terms of quality) version of Upwork, so to say. Still a decent platform, especially if you’re looking for someone to provide you with media or design solution.
Guru2Honestly, a pretty controversial choice.