Which one is the best?
There are so many job or “gig” brokers out there, it’s hard to find the right one. I have used UpWork, Freelancer, and Fiverr, and all three have pros and cons. But which one is best? Is there a best? I will share my experience with each.
I have been with UpWork the longest and have had the most success with it so far. I have used UpWork mainly for transcription jobs and some content writing jobs. It is easy to use and has the escrow feature, so you don’t have to worry about doing the work and not getting paid.
- Escrow feature
- Very responsive customer support
- Great overall work experiences
- Specialized profiles
No one wants to put in hard work and time and then not get paid; it’s just not cool. Escrow works like this: The person hiring you puts up the agreed-upon amount through UpWork. This means you, the freelancer, do not have to send an invoice or remind them you need paid for services provided. It is a safe way to work with people you don’t know.
When you deliver your work and it is approved by that person, the escrow is released and you get paid. You go in knowing that person has the funds available and don’t need to worry about whether you will get paid. I’ve never had a problem with this and have never not had my work accepted and approved for payment. There is a resolution center, but I don’t have experience with that.
UpWork’s customer support is very responsive and great to work with. I did contact UpWork once when I could not get in touch with someone I was working for and UpWork got back to me very quickly.
You can have more than one profile for more than one specialty. I do transcription work and copywriting and content writing. Each profile highlights your experience and skills for one specialty. This is great for a jack-of-all-trades freelancer who offers more than one service. My tagline, bio, and skills are different for my different services, and I really like this feature.
- A 20% service fee for each job
- Connects are not free
- Different proposals require different amounts of Connects
- Clearing time for funds
UpWork’s service fee is 20% for each job or milestone! This means a $50 job costs you $10, so you get $40. A lot of people do not want to pay you what you are worth on these sites; they want a lot of work for the least amount of money.
The higher your bid is, the lower your chances are of getting chosen unless they have seen your work and skills. The proposals can even include if someone is looking for the best work or the cheapest bidder. We all know there are people out there who will work for peanuts for the experience.
UpWork used to give you so many Connects a month, but now you have to buy them. They are 15 cents for one Connect, but some proposals require 4 to 7 Connects. You are not refunded these Connects if they do not hire you. However, if the job proposal violates the Terms of Service and is removed, you are refunded your Connects.
Funds Clearing Time
Clearing time for funds is a whopping five days. When you finish the project and it is approved, it takes five days after approval before your funds are available.
After your funds are available, you can give UpWork more money ($2 for each transaction) for instant withdrawal, which is on top of the 20% service fee and whatever you paid for Connects. If you go with the not instant, it takes 3 to 5 business days before you see your money.
UpWork is pretty much triple dipping, and you are the one losing money. I have not hired on UpWork, but I am sure those who are hiring are paying UpWork, too.
There is a direct deposit option available for every week, two weeks, or month (your choice), but you have to have a minimum balance of $100. This is not very helpful when you have bills to pay and need your funds as soon as possible.
UpWork is reliable, but slow and certainly not hurting for money. There are tons of freelancers and “employers” on UpWork, so they are making bank on the daily.
I just recently started using Fiverr because the original $5 “gigs” were not appealing to me. My work is worth more than $5, but like most “dollar” stores, Fiverr has made some changes and you can charge more for your services. To get noticed, it is recommended to start out cheap, around $5, and then raise your rates when you have some jobs under your belt.
- Escrow feature
- Tips feature
- Great community
Like UpWork, Fiverr has the escrow feature. It is pretty sad that it is needed, but that’s humans for you. Escrow works the same way on Fiverr as it does on UpWork, which was explained above and does not need repeating. Payment options include a Fiverr Revenue card, PayPal, and Direct Deposit through Payoneer.
Fiverr gives the option to tip your freelancer, which I think is a great feature, with some drawbacks I will mention below. I have received $15 and $7.50 tips from two projects, which I thought was pretty cool.
There is a Fiverr community which is great for networking and learning how to get clients and get your profile noticed and become a top seller. I have been too busy to really get into it, but it’s a nice feature and the people are helpful and kind.
You can “learn on Fiverr” by taking courses, which are featured on your profile when you successfully complete them. I took the free course offered by the founder of Fiverr and it offered some great tips and answered questions.
- A 20% service fee
- Any tips earned are included in the service fee
- Clearing time for funds
Like UpWork, Fiverr charges a 20% service fee and any tips you receive are not immune. If you are tipped by the person hiring you, Fiverr gets a part of that too, which I think is a bunch of BS. That is like splitting your tip with fellow waiters and waitresses at a restaurant when they didn’t do the work. It is not a fair practice.
Funds Clearing Time
Also like UpWork, it takes forever to get paid on Fiverr. I have made $94 on Fiverr from three projects and have received payment for one, which was $46. The clearing time is after the work is approved by the person who hired you, just like UpWork. Fiverr is basically UpWork and carries the same pros and cons with the exception of being able to tip your freelancer.
The courses offered on Fiverr are not free and they can be pretty expensive, ranging from $20 to $150. This may be worth it if you get more jobs by taking these courses, but I have not purchased any of them.
I am new to Freelancer as well, but have received three jobs so far. It is an okay platform, but full of non-US and non-Canadian workers. It is very much an ESL platform.
- Escrow feature
- High-paying proposals
- A 10% service fee
- Interesting work
Like UpWork and Fiverr, Freelancer has an escrow feature so you know you will get paid.
There are many, many high-paying proposals on Freelancer. Those who are hiring set a budget and there are many $250 to $750 proposals, and some higher ones. I have seen a $50,000 budget on two proposals! My three jobs were $500, $600, and $1125.
Freelancer’s service fee is 10%, which I love. It is half of UpWork’s and Fiverr’s fees. Instead of a $100 service fee for a $500 job, there is a $50 service fee. This fee is waived when you become a paying member, which starts at $4.95 a month. Not too shabby.
You can take exams on Freelancer, but they are not free, and they are not easy. Each level 1 exam is $5, level 2 is $10, and so on. The amount is debited from your Freelancer account if you have earnings in there. If not, your connected bank account, credit card, or PayPal is debited.
You are not refunded the fee if you do not pass. If you pass the exam, it is featured on your profile, which may net you more jobs.
There are some interesting proposals on Freelancer. I have bid on many just because the project sounded interesting. There are some nice people to work with on there as well.
- Very heavily saturated with ESL hirers and freelancers
- High amount of scam proposals
- Low bidders
- Clearing time for funds
- Service fee is taken before project is completed
- Withdrawals are one at a time
English as a Second Language (ESL) Hirers and Freelancers
This may not seem like a problem, but for Americans, Canadians, and other English-speaking countries, it is. The cost of living in the US and Canada and the UK is high and the exchange rate is high. A $250 job can be very lucrative for those outside of North America and Europe because the cost of living in other countries is much lower. This creates high competition and lower rates for US and Canada workers.
Likewise, some of the bids are riddled with spelling and grammar errors because the freelancers who place bids for English projects are not fluent in English. You have to count on the hirer to see this and choose accordingly. Searching for projects by country will net zero results if you choose North American countries.
I have seen dozens of scams on Freelancer. I have already been scammed on UpWork, and the amount of scammers on Freelancer is tenfold. I have made bids advising fellow bidders to not accept interviews or take their business off Freelancer, but the scammers just create another project. UpWork is more vigilant and proactive in this department. It doesn’t seem like Freelancer cares.
There are tons of low bidders on Freelancer who are willing to work for almost nothing. They bid the lowest amount, and this is not good practice! I know what I am worth, and I bid accordingly. I have been chosen over dozens of the low bidders because those hiring want good work and know it means good pay.
As with most places, there are low-paying projects. Some people want 1,500-word articles done for $10. One proposal wanted to pay $30 for 20,000 words and there were dozens of bids for it.
Know your worth, people! Your actions and willingness to work for nothing hurts those of us who are good at what we do and know we should be compensated fairly for that work.
I bid $500 on a $250 to $750 range project and was chosen out of 30+ low-range bidders. The minimum budget for my $1125 winning bid was $250. Bidding low shows companies and hirers that you are inexperienced and do not value your skills or time. Low bids mean low-quality work.
Don’t undersell yourself and drag the entire industry down with you. In both cases, I was fairly compensated and received great reviews for my work. Sell yourself and let them know you are worth your price tag.
Clearing Time For Funds
Your first sell takes three weeks to clear after approval. This is ridiculous, especially after all the verification requirements. I am still waiting on my first project to clear.
The 10% service fee is awesome. However, Freelancer takes the fee before you even begin the project. My first project’s service fee was $50 (10% of $500) and my account balance showed -$50 upon my bid being accepted.
When I won the $1125 project, $112.50 was debited from my $450 earnings from my first project, which hasn’t cleared yet because it hasn’t been three weeks. This is a terrible setup.
A new rule, or whatever you want to call it, is that you can only have one pending withdrawal at a time. All of my earnings are locked up in Freelancer. When my first project earnings finally clear, then and only then can I request to withdraw my second project earnings. Very bad business and logic.
All in all, Freelancer has the most cons, but I think they win out for me because of how high the proposals are and how low the service fee is. I have made the most from Freelancer, if the funds are ever released before I die. (Update: They were, and I did not die.)
It’s a personal choice, but there’s all the information I have for you so you can make a fairly informative decision. Your experience and methods may vary, as with anything. Happy bidding!