If you ask anyone who has done some freelance work at one point or another in their career, they’ll probably tell you it’s growing in popularity. Many of them are will also make some reference to Upwork in their history. It was formed when two other popular freelancer platforms, oDesk and Elance, merged. Upwork is one of the best-known platforms for anyone looking for a freelance job or a remote employee, but there are plenty of other Upwork competitors out there.
Upwork is popular because it’s huge. It’s been around for more than 10 years and boasts millions of freelancers in a multitude of fields. Its strengths, though, are also its weaknesses. Posting a job on Upwork can be a hassle because the sheer number of applicants to any one job can be overwhelming, and many applicants will mass-apply to jobs they definitely aren’t qualified for. Sorting the wheat from the chaff can be a job in and of itself. Then, when you find a freelancer who you think might work out well, there’s no real way to tell if they’re trustworthy.
Yes, Upwork has a rating system for freelancers, but that rating system doesn’t show you how readily a freelancer communicates and other key work habits you should observe before hiring someone. You also run the risk of hiring an individual who is actually an agency, so you may not even be able to interact directly with the person doing the job for you. Lastly, Upwork’s messaging platform and payment systems are cumbersome and rife with bugs, making communicating – especially if you have multiple freelancers to communicate with – a giant pain. It can also be quite costly to hire and work with freelancers through the platform.
Upwork may be the biggest name in the game, but there are Upwork competitors out there, some of which are gaining solid steam. Before we look at them, though, let’s look at the benefits of hiring freelancers and remote workers.What are the best alternatives to Upwork for finding freelancers Click To Tweet
Why work with freelancers?
Unlimited talent pool
One of the clear benefits of hiring freelancers and remote workers is that in doing so, you aren’t limiting yourself to any strict geographic location, which makes your talent pool almost limitless. If you’re in New York City and the absolute best person for the job you need done is firmly rooted in London, that’s no problem; there are tons of tools and platforms out there that make collaborating across oceans and time zones a breeze.
Depending on your payment structure, freelancers can be a huge cost saving. Actually, they’re pretty much always a cost saving option when compared to full-time salaried workers. Whether you pay hourly, by contract, by project, or by some combination thereof, you don’t have to pay for an office space for your freelancer, or for their health insurance, vacation time, sick time, or any other benefit. You simply pay for their work.
Say you suddenly have a huge contract come through and realize you simply do not have the manpower to deliver what you need to deliver in the timeframe you agreed to with your client. Freelancers to the rescue! Freelancers don’t have to give two weeks’ notice to their previous employer; most of the time, they can start immediately, and are accustomed to quick turnarounds. This doesn’t hold true for every freelancer; some are in extremely high demand and will require a much longer lead time, especially if what they do is in high demand or limited quantity. But by and large, if you need to staff up in a fast and furious way, freelancers are the way to go. This is especially true for projects that have a clear end date.
Autonomy and flexibility
Working with a talented and capable freelancer is a freeing experience. The relationship is simple; there’s no drama to sort through like there might be with a long-time, in-person employee. Freelancers know what it takes to self-motivate and exist autonomously, and those that have been doing it successfully for a while are exceedingly reliable.
It’s clear that under the right circumstances, freelancers are an excellent choice for many businesses. These benefits, though, don’t mean that freelancers are perfect. There are tools that were designed to help you work with freelancers in a transparent setting. By using a time tracking program like Hubstaff, you can easily see how your freelancer’s work is progressing, what they are spending the most – and least – time on, and ensure you are on track to meet your project goals and deadlines.
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We’ve seen why Upwork, while popular, may not be the best choice for finding a good freelancer – or 10! – for your business needs. Let’s look at some viable Upwork competitors.
Hubstaff Talent connects freelance professionals and clients with efficiency and finesse. It’s a free directory for companies looking for remote talent across the globe. There are no markups and no fees on either side (freelancer or business owner). That means freelancers get exactly what their client pays them.
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.
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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.
To complement the free directory, Hubstaff’s time tracking software allows you to manage a remote workforce. Along with the numerous features the software offers, such as time tracking, activity monitoring, automatic payroll etc., one of the major benefits is that all this comes with a simple and flat pricing structure (~$5-9 per user per month).
With more than 9 million projects posted and more than 17 million users, Freelancer is a massive and constantly growing site that offers similar benefits to Upwork without all of its downfalls. It’s been in business for more than 10 years as well, making it probably the most robust among the Upwork competitors out there.
For employers and small businesses, signing up and getting started on Freelancer is quick and easy. You post a project to get started, filling out information such as project details, skills you want all applicants to have, pricing options such as whether you will pay a fixed budget or by the hour, and you can also add project files for applicants to peruse. You can post a project at a free, basic level, or you can pay to have your project classified as private, urgent, NDA-required, and much more. Employers can also skip this process entirely and reach out directly to a freelancer they find attractive for the job.
Once you submit your job, freelancers will bid on your project. You can review their portfolios, history of work, qualifications and other details. If you find a freelancer you like – and you probably will given the sheer amount of them – work starts. While Freelancer offers time tracking tools, they’re not free, and your freelancer is incentivized to bill as many hours as possible if your project is being paid by the hour. Once the project is completed, businesses have the option to rate and review their freelancer. Membership starts free but increases as users go from Basic to Standard and then to Premium. Critiques of this service include payments processing very slowly and lackluster customer support.
Outsourcely was actually born from the frustration of using platforms like Odesk and Elance (now Upwork) and Freelancer for many years. The main frustrations the founders of Outsourcely wanted to solve were the difficulty of finding reliable freelancers, paying high payment processing fees (now even higher), and not being able to hire directly.
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.
How does Outsourcely work? Search remote workers by skill or by posting a remote job. Then contact 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.
How is it different? Outsourcely allows you to 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%). Also once you hire on Outsourcely you can also manage everyone via their Team Workplace platform. You can even invite your existing team to their Team Workplace platform.
Plans start at $9 – $99 /month depending on how many candidates you’d like to interview and how many jobs you’d like to post. They are also offering all Hubstaff customers a 30% discount. Enter hubstaff30 to get 30% off all plans.
Fiverr exists on a different model than most other Upwork competitors. It bills itself as the world’s largest online marketplace for $5 services, and those services can get pretty insane, including folks who will “say anything you want,” paint their body with your logo, and lots of other wild services.
While it’s named Fiverr, the site lets users post projects for much more than $5. The twist is that users post these services, not buyers/employers. Buyers can search for and browse the marketplace, but it’s the sellers who post what they are willing to do and for how much, not the buyers.
As you might suspect, Fiverr isn’t very likely to yield a high-quality outcome for you or your business. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and when have you ever gotten a quality job done for just $5? A buyer’s options are limited on Fiverr as most of the power is in the seller’s hands. If you are looking to accomplish a very quick, clear-cut job that you know is virtually impossible to mess up, it might be worth looking at Fiverr. But don’t expect to establish any long-term, trusting relationships with high-quality freelancers there.
If you’re specifically looking for high quality writing services, Textbroker could work for you. The benefit to this specific site is that it guarantees your work will be done, even if your writer gets sick, can’t complete the job, or otherwise drops off the face of the earth. Buyers post a request for content and the site itself matches the request to one of its thousands of writers. Writers are categorized by skill level, and the pricing matches, so buyers chose what quality level they want from their writer and move forward. If the writer you chose is unable to complete your assignment, it is re-assigned automatically without you having to do anything, which is a neat feature.
The downside to Textbroker is that your communication with your freelancer is limited. And, again, you get what you pay for, so if you chose a lower-quality content writer to complete your task, you’re likely to get low-quality work. While the site does boast some high-quality writers, you may be better off forming more personable relationships with writers directly, especially since content is such a nebulous field with a lot of gray area.
Workhoppers.com is the anti-thesis of the Upwork kind of freelance sites and was designed for companies to find and hire professionals in their own city, for contract, gig or part-time work at a flat rate.
With Workhoppers.com, there are no commissions paid neither from the freelancer nor from the company looking to hire. Unlike other freelance sites, there is also no bidding or complicated processes to estimate the cost of a project.
Workhoppers believes in the advantages of working face to face even if it is just once a month for a coffee. Companies and ‘workhoppers’ can communicate directly and agree together on the terms of the contract. Built like a dating site, Workhoppers.com uses a powerful matching algorithm to offer the most qualified freelancer to a company so they do not have to sort the “wheat from the chaff”.
Once the job is completed businesses have the opportunity to review their freelancer. All companies and jobs are vetted before they can post on the site. The intent of the site is to encourage companies to hire and meet with freelancers in their community, to create long-term relationships.
The obvious downside of Workhoppers is that, depending on where you live, the cost of a local freelancer could be higher if you live in an area with a high cost of living. You can specify that you are seeking a freelancer in another city but, since there is no escrow payment processing, the twist is you need to establish trust together. The site is a great option for projects that require meeting face to face.
The list of Upwork competitors is never-ending…
Whichever alternative to Upwork you choose to work with, remember that you need a reliable solution to manage your team of freelancers and/or remote workers. Many of the platforms outlined above will try to tie you in (understandably, provided this is how they make money), but remember that you have the freedom to choose another solution that makes more sense for your business.
How does our list of Upwork competitors look to you? Have you found a better alternative, we missed above – let us know in the comments below.