Sites like Upwork: our short-list of the best Upwork alternatives
“Upwork alternatives” is probably one of the most popular search queries among business owners considering to hire an independent contractor.
It’s not that Upwork is bad. On the contrary, its reputation is well-earned. Many customers and freelancers fruitfully work together on projects in jolly cooperation.
So, what’s the problem?
If you want to learn a bit more, just read on. If you already know your reasons, you can
Jump to the list of alternatives now
So, why bother searching for websites like Upwork?
The reason for this is that… No, wait. Three reasons for this are:
Yes, Upwork does have ID verification procedures. And yes, the platform does have an escrow service to protect your payments. But oftentimes, this still fails to protect you from scammers and cheaters, who defraud your money and disappear. Encountering a problem like this for the first time you contact the support service, but BLAM!
Upwork’s support sucks
Sad but true. Perhaps, with millions of customers and freelancers using Upwork it is impossible to address all requests properly. Perhaps, someone has had a wonderful experience with Upwork’s support.
But in reality, Upwork’s support seems to be working according to pre-compiled manuals. If the problem is not typical and isn’t described in the manuals, it will probably take days or even weeks to resolve. And, in this case, the solution will probably be in Upwork’s favor, not yours.
Bidding sucks too
As the CEO of a technological startup, you are probably busy fighting turmoils that young companies typically face. Considering this, do you really have time to wade through dozens of bids to find just one competent freelancer?
This is not to mention that unscrupulous contractors can try to win the enormous competition on Upwork by lowering their prices to the minimum or just cheating. Qualified professionals who value their time and labor leave Upwork in favor of other platforms.
Simply put, if bidding ran for president, we wouldn’t vote for it.
Is it that bad?
Well, no. There are good things about Upwork too. There is an escrow, due to which your payments are safe. It is possible to find truly amazing freelancers for ridiculously low prices. Also, there is an ID verification system – not perfect, but it’s still something.
But, all this does not overlap the need for sites similar to Upwork, only better.
So, this raises a question:
Who is the best Upwork competitor?
It depends (surprise!) on what you need a freelancer for. Some websites like Upwork house contractors of all possible professions, others specialize in several narrow fields, focusing on quality.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the sites similar to Upwork. As for the Upwork alternative for you to use, we’ll leave the choice up to you
Since Lemon.io specializes only in web and software development, we’ll be comparing it to Upwork only in this regard.
|Freelancers’ skill||In various juice commercials companies “carefully handpick every lemon to deliver you the freshest morning juice ever.” Similarly, Lemon.io selects only the best freelance developers for you to work with. How? Due to its multi-stage vetting procedure:|
– general check
– assessing professional skills
– test assignment
– live interview.
|Upwork is a bidding platform, so there is no such thing as vetting here. You get to work with whoever applied to your order, and there is no guarantee that this person will be a qualified pro.|
|Speed||Lemon.io finds you perfectly matching developers in no time. Like, “Hey, we’d like to hire a deve… oh, thanks.” Okay, it actually looks like this: you describe your project → magic going on → you get yourself a developer. Usually, within just 24 hours. |
98% of Lemon.io clients hire the 1st candidate the platform suggests them. You probably will, too.
|It can take you forever to find a freelance developer whose skills and expertise would match your needs. And even when you do, they can disappear at any moment, and no one will compensate you for the time and resources lost, or won’t provide you with a substitute contractor.
|Prices||Working with Eastern European developers, Lemon.io provides you with a better price-quality balance than some of its more famous competitors such as Toptal or Gun.io.||Upwork is one of the largest freelance marketplaces in the world, which means you can find devs from anywhere. Hourly and fixed rates differ greatly here. Just keep in mind that “cheap” does not mean “good.”|
|Security||Safety! You sign an NDA with every freelancer you hire on Lemon.io. Besides, your data is protected with encryption algorithms, so you should not be worried about the safety of your project data.||Despite the fact that Upwork uses escrow and has ID verification, your risks of running into a scammer on this platform are considerable. Also, Upwork is full of ghosts!|
|Customer support||Lemon.io support does its best to actually prevent problems instead of solving them. If an issue still occurs, Lemon.io works as a mediator between you and a freelancer, solving complicated arguments instead of advising you to “look up in our user agreement.”||Upwork’s support service is infamous for its inoperability. We’d not be surprised if they had a pink slowpoke on their logo.|
|Miscellaneous||Lemon.io is a recent rebranding of Coding Ninjas, a well-established freelance platform for vetted developers.||Upwork is a veteran of freelance marketplaces. Is it good for you? Well, the old dog never learns new tricks, doesn’t it?|
|Lemons cause people to make funny faces.||Upwork can make you cringe and grind your teeth sometimes – especially when dealing with the support service.|
And the winner is…
An obvious victory. Lemon.io is just by all means better for hiring developers than Upwork. Simple as that.
|Freelancers’ skill||Known for meticulously testing freelancers for their professional and personal qualities before hiring, Toptal truly lives up to its name: Top Talent. The platform claims only 3% of applicants pass all vetting procedures.||No vetting, no tests, no interviews with the candidates. To apply to Upwork as a freelancer, you need to simply provide your ID and fill out a couple of registering forms. Any wannabe freelancer, any newbie can do the same.|
|Specialization||Unlike many regular freelance marketplaces, Toptal specializes in few fields: software development and engineering, finance, and design. Such specialization allows the platform to set more accurate screening criteria.||Upwork is the jack of all trades (and the master of some, to be fair). No specialization means a wide variety of available skillsets, but also increased time to find the right contractor for your project.|
|Trial period||A trial period helps you understand whether a freelancer is a good match for your project. You deposit $500 and work with a contractor Toptal assigned to your project. If you are not satisfied, your money is refunded.||If there was a trial period on Upwork, it would be great! Alas, hiring freelancers on this platform goes by trial and error.|
|Prices||Hourly rates are sometimes comparable with the top-tier salaries for full time employees on the US-market. If you’re on a tighter budget, we suggest looking at alternatives like lemon.||In general, Upwork’s hourly and fixed rates are affordable, but occasionally can hit the ceiling too. But, unlike Toptal, you can’t be sure what you’re paying for.|
|Customer support||Toptal is large, so its support can sometimes be slow. However, they still try to help you out when you address them… it just may take some time.||This is what Upwork does equally good (bad? same?) as Toptal. Sometimes it’s helpful, sometimes it’s not. Pure randomness, we’d say.|
And the winner is…
In the Upwork vs Toptal competition, the latter wins unconditionally. We honestly believe platforms with pre-screening will soon force bidding sites like Upwork out of the market. Toptal, Lemon.io, Gun.io, and other vetting alternatives to Upwork can be on the edge of the big changes.
Perhaps you expected something like a clash of titans or a planetary collision under this heading, but in fact, these two marketplaces have a lot in common.So, it makes more sense to show their similarities and differences in lists, not tables.
Both Upwork and Freelancer are bidding platforms. As a client, you post an order with a job description. Freelancers whose qualifications meet your requirements apply to the order, naming their prices and deadlines. You then review their portfolios and testimonials, and choose one or several contractors whose experiences match your needs.
Diversity of skills available for hire
As these platforms are the biggest freelance marketplaces in the world, the number of freelancers working there is astonishing. This means that you can find experts of any profession here – if you can afford to hire by trial and error.
Varying hourly and fixed rates
Registration and order placement is free on both platforms. Since the sum that you will spend greatly depends on a hired contractor’s hourly/fixed rate, there is little point in discussing Upwork vs Freelancer in terms of prices.
Both websites share the same issues with support.
On Freelancer, depending on whether you hire a freelancer for a fixed price or an hourly rate, you will need to pay different fees. For fixed-price projects, it’s going to be 3% of the sum or $3, whichever is greater. For hourly-rate projects, the platform levies 3% of each payment you make to a freelancer.
Upwork, in its turn, only has a 3% payment processing fee, that’s it. Freelancers, however, pay a fee of 20%, which is one of the favorite arguments for many scammers persuading you to work with them off-site.
Upwork has a cleaner and more user-friendly interface, but lacks features such as live chat. Freelancer.com interface can look overloaded with all those menus, categories, and filters, especially if you are new to the platform. Live chat is present, though, which is nice.
And the winner is…
Upwork. By a slight margin. It just seems to be investing more into its ID verification and the quality of work than Freelancer. Guys in Upwork realize that many customers who hire contractors for the first time do it on Freelancer – just because they are first in Google by the search query “freelancer.” Things you do for the win.
|Prices||Fiverr is a platform where contractors can provide all kinds of smaller services (usually in creative and digital fields) for $5, hence the name. This does not mean that you can’t spend a fortune on Fiverr freelancers.||Upwork is a freelance marketplace housing pros who work for any rates.|
|Freelancers’ skills||If you can’t decide which one to choose, Fiver or Upwork, consider this: on both Fiverr and Upwork you can find skilled and honest contractors working for reasonable prices. Many positive reviews on Trustpilot often commend on the competence of the freelancers hired on these websites. But, Fiverr often has better freelancers in categories like “video reviews,” “voiceovers,” “animation,” and other media.|
Naturally, Fiverr can cost much more than $5. It depends on freelancers’ rates, but also on fees and commissions. There is a $1 processing fee for the jobs costing up to $20, and a 5% commission on orders that cost more.
|Upwork only takes a 3% payment processing fee, regardless of the order sum.|
|Security||There were reports about client bank card having been charged multiple times by the platform, with no appropriate reaction from the support team.||Upwork uses escrow, so your payments are safe.|
|Customer support||That being said, customer support is rather mediocre on both websites.|
And the winner is…
Well, both platforms win. How? Fiverr is better for outsourcing for smaller design tasks: fix a logo, add a banner, change colors of an app icon. Also, Fiverr historically employs better media specialists. For everything else, we’d recommend using Upwork.
Fiverr is okay, but Upwork takes the upper hand due to escrow, fewer fees, and a greater variety of skill sets available for hire.
|Reviews||The platform has a lot of negative reviews on Trustpilot, and an F rating on BBB. To us, it doesn’t look like a good reputation.||Despite its flaws, Upwork is one of the first websites many people think of when they make a decision to become freelancers.|
|Reliability||The inaccurate rating system can mislead you into hiring a contractor who lacks skills to work on your order. Mind that Guru.com has an option for freelancers to remove negative feedback from their profiles (for a fee).||Contractors cannot edit or delete feedback left by their previous customers.|
|Customer service||Both Guru and Upwork are bidding platforms, so you can expect all the typical outcomes: severe competition among freelancers, multiple bids on every order for you to look through, varying hourly/fixed rates, lots of underskilled contractors, and possible risks such as ghosting or scam.|
|Security||Guru.com uses SafePay: you must upload the money to a SafePay account before a contractor starts working on your project. Once they are done, they send you an invoice and you release the money to the contractor. The problem is, according to some reviews, SafePay does not save you from scam freelancers.||Upwork escrow ensures the safety of your money when hiring freelancers for a fixed price. Either a contractor does a good job and the money goes to them, or you are able to withdraw payment if anything goes wrong.|
And the winner is…
It is just less controversial, and its payment and feedback mechanisms are more transparent and reliable.
So, who’s the best Upwork alternative?
|Lemon.io||Agility and efficiency can do wonders. If you want a quick and reliable solution to any of your development-related problems, better call Lemon.io|
|Toptal||The golden standard among other platforms for vetted freelancers. Somewhat pricey and sluggish, it is still a great choice if you have bigger budgets.|
|Freelancer||Just like Dr. Strange and Dormammu, Upwork and Freelancer are stuck in the eternal struggle (you decide, whom of the two is Dr. Strange). But, in our opinion, Upwork is a tad better.|
|Fiverr||Fiverr is good for tasks related to design and media, but Upwork has qualified freelancers in a wider range of professions.|
|Guru||It’s not bad – otherwise, the company wouldn’t last since 1999. But, compared to other alternatives on the list, Guru.com might be not the best choice.|