Do You Miss Elance and oDesk? Here Are Their 7 Best Alternatives

If you used Elance or oDesk before they merged, and find yourself unsatisfied with the result, you’ll find this list of the best Upwork/oDesk/Elance competitors and alternatives invaluable.

Feeling let down by @Upwork? Here are the 7 best alternatives to find work or freelancers Click To Tweet

As this San Francisco Chronicle article explains, the merger has made many people unhappy. One former user said the platform was inundated by spammers; another compared the situation to combining a McDonalds and a gourmet restaurant, then shutting down the gourmet restaurant.

If you’re one of those people who miss the quality of both projects and experts that were available on Elance and oDesk, we’ve got good news for you: We collected the 7 best alternatives to Upwork. Learn how each works, along with their pros and cons.

But before we get there – keep in mind that, regardless of where you choose to hire freelancers, you can always rely on Hubstaff for accurate time-tracking and remote employee management.

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1. Hubstaff Talent

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Did you know that Hubstaff offers its own alternative to Upwork? Hubstaff Talent is a 100% free database of talented freelancers and agencies available for work. There are no markups and no fees on either side (freelancer or business owner). That means freelancers get exactly what their client pays them. You even get to operate on whatever platform you want!

This free platform displays a freelancer’s hourly rate, skills, experience, availability, resume, and languages spoken. Freelancers also have the option to add a short “about” description to provide more information on themselves. Profiles can be filtered by skill, availability, years of experience, or country. You can also run a search for keywords or phrases.

In order for business owners to find freelancers and agencies, they simply have to browse the profiles on Hubstaff Talent, contact the team of choice directly, decide on work terms and get started.

Agencies can start a profile and add team members in order to be found by business owners. Freelancers only need to start a profile, get found, contacted, and then hit the ground running.

Find a talented contractor, for free

Hubstaff Talent charges 0% fees!

2. Freelancer.com

With more than 17.4 million users, Freelancer is the biggest freelancing marketplace in the world.

Employers can hire two different ways: by posting projects or hosting contests. The project model is fairly common; you publish a description of the job and what you’re willing to pay, then pick from a pool of interested freelancers.

Contests work a little differently. Let’s say you need a new logo—you’d start a logo design contest and set a prize. Freelancers would submit their ideas for a logo, and then you’d pay for the winning entry.

Pros:

With so many users, you’ve got a good shot of finding someone with the right skills and background. There are freelancers available for all sorts of services, from writing and software development to sales and marketing and graphic design.

In addition, Freelancer’s review and ranking system makes it easy to filter out unreliable workers. Not only does each user’s profile show reviews from former clients, but it also gives you a snapshot of his or her work.

Freelancer | The 7 Best oDesk/Elance Competitors and Alternatives

Having the option to mete out payment based on pre-set goals (or when the project is complete) further protects you from risk.

Cons:

Freelancer has a complex system of fees and charges.

Freelancer 2 | The 7 Best oDesk/Elance Competitors and Alternatives

The site also takes a cut of the freelancer’s profits—up to 15%. This will be indirectly passed to you, as many freelancers boost their rates to account for the fee.

Freelancer.com has a desktop application that periodically takes screenshots of the worker’s desktop. Users can also manually take screenshots, chat with their employers, and share files. Unfortunately, downloading the app is voluntary, so there isn’t any guarantee the freelancer you choose will use it.

3. ProFinder

LinkedIn recently released a beta version of ProFinder, a platform for connecting professionals with short-term job opportunities. As of now, you can only hire people who offer graphic design, copywriting, accounting, or content strategy. However, a whole range of services will be available soon, including accounting, legal, real estate, IT services, software development, and business consulting.

ProFinder | The 7 Best oDesk/Elance Competitors and Alternatives

As an employer, you’ll fill out a brief form describing your project. LinkedIn promises up to five responses within the first 24 hours.

Pros:

ProFinder is free to use for both employers and freelancers.

Furthermore, unlike many freelance marketplaces, it doesn’t have a spam problem. The majority of active users are both experienced and qualified. (However, we’ll have to see whether the quality is maintained as the program expands.)

The speed of the responses is another plus. With a 24-hour timeframe, you won’t have to keep logging back in to check bids—you’ll be able to quickly pick a freelancer and move forward.

Cons:

Since ProFinder is currently only available in San Francisco, when signing up you’ll need to pick a random San Francisco zip code.

Furthermore, the platform doesn’t handle anything beyond the initial match. If your freelancer ends up being unreliable, you’re on your own. There is no option to review the transaction.

4. Guru

Guru’s 1.5 million members have completed more than 1 million technical, creative, and business projects.

It works similarly to ProFinder: employers post project briefs, and freelancers respond with quotes. You can also browse through skills-based lists of freelancers and reach out to any you’re interested in hiring.

Guru | The 7 Best oDesk/Elance Competitors and Alternatives

The site uses a system called “SafePay,” which guarantees that you won’t need to pay the freelancer until you’ve approved the completed project.

Pros:

In addition to SafePay, there are a couple other cool features. Each project comes with a “Work Room,” e.g. a dashboard you can use to assign tasks or milestones, get updates, shares files, and more.

Guru’s recommendation score incorporates the quality of the freelancer’s quotes, earnings, and repeat business earned—so you can make a more informed decision about which freelancer to choose.

Finally, Guru is free for employers.

Cons:

Guru isn’t free for freelancers. They pay between 4.95% and 8.95% in transaction fees, along with membership fees ranging from $8.95 to $39.95 per month. Because these fees are pretty hefty, you may see higher rates than normal.

Also, to find a good freelancer, you may need to sort through a lot of less desirable options.

5. PeoplePerHour

Unlike the majority of freelance marketplaces, PeoplePerHour (PPH) pre-screens its freelancers (or sellers, as they’re called on the site).

Sellers are available in four domains: design, web development, content, and promotion.

As a buyer, you have three methods of hiring. First, you can purchase an Hourlie: fixed-price jobs that can be completed in a little as one hour.

Second, you can post a job. PPH searches its seller database to find potential matches, interested sellers submit proposals, and you pick the winning entry.

Third, you can browse freelancer profiles and request proposals from those you like.

Pros:

Hourlies are a great concept. They allow you to test out someone’s work at a small scale and cost before deciding to move forward.

PPH’s WorkStream feature is also pretty handy. It aggregates your job history, seller communication, and payment info.

PeoplePerHour | The 7 Best oDesk/Elance Competitors and Alternatives

Apart from a 1.9% credit card fee, PPH is free for buyers. And you don’t need to pay your freelancer until the job is done.

Cons:

Because PPH pre-filters its freelancers, your selection is smaller than average. (Of course, it’s also better than average.)

Also, even though most of the freelancers charge by the hour, there’s no accurate way to track how much time they’re actually spending on your project.

6. TextBroker

This site allows you to outsource content: product descriptions, blog posts, press releases, social media posts, news stories, technical articles, and more.

Textbroker acts as the middleman between you and the freelancer. After placing an order, (including desired quality and price), Textbroker will find the appropriate person to write it. Then, you’ll receive the finished order.

You also can choose to select the author and negotiate the agreement yourself.

Pros:

Every freelancer on TextBroker speaks English as their first language, which is important when hiring content writers.

If you’re fairly hands-off, you’ll really appreciate how little effort it takes to get a job done.

There’s also a lot of flexibility in terms of quality and content type.

In addition, the platform allows you to maintain ongoing relationships with freelancers, so you can keep going back to the ones you like.

Cons:

Using TextBroker is a pretty impersonal experience. When you’re running a content marketing campaign, you typically want to spend some time with your freelancers communicating your brand values, value proposition, objectives, and culture. The site doesn’t allow for that.

TextBroker | The 7 Best oDesk/Elance Competitors and Alternatives

In addition, Textbroker’s extremely low rates have generated a lot of anger within the writing community.

7. AwesomeWeb

AwesomeWeb launched in September 2014 as an alternative to traditional freelance marketplaces.

As of right now, you can only hire designers and developers. And it’s an exclusive pool—each of the 900 freelancers on the site have been carefully vetted.

AwesomeWeb | The 7 Best oDesk/Elance Competitors and Alternatives

Rather than posting a project, you search for a keyword, like “brand identity,” or “mobile app.” You can filter the relevant freelance profiles by industry, country, and cost.

If you want to hire someone, you simply send them a message.

Pros:

AwesomeWeb is easy to use. The interface is streamlined and intuitive, and unlike other sites, the freelancer portfolios aren’t overly packed with information.

There’s also the option to rank freelancers by best match, quickest turnaround, and lowest price, which makes finding the right one simpler.

Plus, the platform is free: You don’t even need to make an account.

Cons:

You can’t use AwesomeWeb for services other than design and development.

There’s no protection if something goes wrong; the site helps you find freelancers, but it doesn’t facilitate the actual agreement or payment.

AwesomeWeb is one of the only platforms that doesn’t offer a rating or feedback system.

8. Fiverr

With its “five dollar gigs,” Fiverr helped popularize the freelance marketplace concept. However, the site has since expanded into more pricey services.

You can either search for the specific job you’d like completed, such as “fix WordPress issue,” or browse seller profiles and make a custom request.

Pros:

You buy specific services from the freelancer’s drop-down menu, which is refreshingly straightforward: no haggling over price or project length.

There’s also a lot of different gigs for sale—including some you probably won’t find on other platforms, like “I will create an HD Minion Christmas video with your text.”

Cons:

The quality can be fairly horrible. Most of the gig descriptions are littered with grammar and spelling errors, and that’s before you even get to the gig itself.

Fiverr | The 7 Best oDesk/Elance Competitors and Alternatives

Furthermore, it’s pretty hard to distinguish which sellers are credible and which aren’t; they all use the same wording for their services, and Fiverr’s feedback system is imperfect.

9. Outsourcely

Outsourcely

Outsourcely differentiates itself by letting employers hire freelancers (or remote workers as they call it) directly as well as pay their hires directly. This eliminates middle man fees companies like Upwork and Freelancer charge. So what is Outsourcely? It’s an easy way to find, hire and work with reliable, vetted remote workers from over 130 countries looking to build long-term relationships (not short-term freelance projects). This is great for employers who are looking to build sustainable working relationships and dedicated remote teams.

Employers can hire in two different ways: by posting a remote job or by searching their talent pool by skill and contacting candidates immediately using real-time private chat, browser to browser video & voice calling, video & voice messaging or just regular email. This makes hiring fast and easy.

Best of all, Outsourcely is offering all Hubstaff customers a 30% discount. Enter hubstaff30 to get 30% off all plans.

Pros:

The main frustrations Outsourcely wanted to solve for employers were the difficulties of finding reliable freelancers, paying high payment processing fees, and not being able to hire directly. So with Outsourcely you can hire remote workers directly and pay your hires directly. This can save you thousands in fees the other platforms charge. (Upwork now charges up to 20%).

Once you hire on Outsourcely you can also manage your remote team via their built-in Team Workplace platform. You can even invite your existing team and manage everyone under one platform.

Cons:

Outsourcely was launched in late 2014 and is not as established as some of the other platforms. But they have been growing quickly since they are solving a few main pain points for employers and remote workers the other platforms aren’t. It’s 100% free for remote workers and employers don’t have to pay increasingly high fees since they can hire directly and pay their hires directly, as well as being able to easily find reliable candidates looking for long-term remote jobs, not short-term freelance projects.


Between our solution and these 7 other alternatives, you’ll be able to find the perfect freelancer for every project.

Hubstaff an easier way to manage remote workers
  • Elaine

    So for someone looking for quality and willing to pay a bit more, looks like PeoplePerHour vs. Outsourcely. Do both of these still pull from offshore talent for businesses on a tight budget?

    • Hey Elaine,

      You can definitely find offshore talent on these platforms – they’re not limited by location in any way. PeoplePerHour also screens their applications in order to make sure you get real people who have the necessary experience.

  • Dina Lynch Eisenberg

    Great round-up. I agree with others that the merger didn’t benefit anyone, not Odesk, Elance and certainly not buyers. I coach on building a remote team and how to use platforms like Upwork and Fiverr effectively. Both platforms were initially geared to help small biz owner, specifically solopreneurs, to get affordable help without enormous risk.

    The whole industry is migrating away from micro business to the more established (read: profitable) small biz market. Elance used to have excellent performance indicators that helped weed out bad providers. FIverr offered game-changing price predictability. Odesk wasn’t so techie that a layperson couldn’t find reliable help. That’s all changed now. The sites are almost inter-changable now, in terms of user experience, and the experience is bad.

    The auto-billing on Monday that Upwork does really is questionable. The other day they paid my provider before he’d even delivered the work, leaving me in a vulnerable position. I’m searching now for alternatives to recommend. Too bad these sites care more for their sellers than the buyers who generate their income.

  • Fatih Keçelioğlu

    “combining a McDonalds and a gourmet restaurant, then shutting down the gourmet restaurant”
    Perfect description hahhahah

  • gmb

    On oDesk, I used to get 40 – 70 replies for each project whether big or small. I used to be a Silver employer on oDesk and now would be a Gold employee. As time went on with Upwork, the number of replies for a project dropped substantially.

    I recently posted on Upwork a real easy development project. I can’t even call it “development” because it was a question that someone that knows jQuery could have completed in 5 minutes. (I’m not kidding about the 5 minutes.) I mean REAL easy.

    I only received 6 or 7 replies. I didn’t read the new fee schedule email that they emailed me so took a look at it. Unbelievable. They will never get any new developers to their business because the fees to the new developers are outrageous. They will never be able to compete on pricing which is how new developers get noticed.

    Years ago before I used Odesk, I used to use Freelancer but when they were bought-out, they lost my account for a few weeks and spending lots of money always got me noticed when putting out work. I tried out oDesk and never went back to Freelancer.

    As for the new 2.75% fee to employers, that really isn’t a big deal but combined with the destruction of fresh blood of new developers, time for me to find another site. Why these staffing companies drastically change their business practices is unknown to me. But there are enough of these staffing businesses to just change companies.

    • archangel

      They change them because they are money mongers who care nothing about human relationship, and because they may also have shareholders who want to see profit, or else they will walk. It’s a money-funnel made on the backs of the talent.

  • Thanks we have a directory starting – I actually just created this short form so you could give your information and we can follow up when we’re ready to release – http://goo.gl/forms/GrdS6ZMFVs

  • RobT

    Dave. There’s a revolt going on at Upwork with the news of their fee hike June 1, 2016. I hope you don’t mind I posted a link to this article over at https://www.facebook.com/Alternatives-to-Upwork-1605680813087568/?fref=nf

    • Awesome, Rob, thanks. If you want to direct people here as well, we have a new directory that we’ll be releasing – http://goo.gl/forms/GrdS6ZMFVs – there are no fees to connect companies to freelancers.

      • RobT

        What is the Option 1 button for at your site?

  • Hi Dave, how do i get on the hub staff staffing vetted list?

    • Rick, we have a directory releasing soon. It will work a little bit differently – we won’t be vetting, but it will be more of an open directory where companies can find freelancers. There are no fees for it – probably ready in 30 days.

    • Rick, please enter your info here, and we’ll follow up when we are ready to release – http://goo.gl/forms/GrdS6ZMFVs