Upwork vs Fiverr is a hotly contested debate by small business owners who use either respective platform to hire freelancers for their businesses.
There’s never been a better time to leverage “OPT”, aka “other people’s time” in your quest to financial (and time) freedom.
Any successful person knows that in order to run a successful business that’s future proof, they need to employ the services of others to help them offset the tasks that:
- They don’t know how to do
- They don’t care to do
- They don’t have the time to do
And so the question is: HOW?
In this quick article I’m going to break down Upwork vs Fiverr and which one is better for hiring freelancers.
The History Of Upwork
Upwork’s story began over 20 years ago when two friends (one a Silicon Valley based tech lead, the other in Athens) wanted to work together on a project.
And while the Upwork (then known as oDesk) team agreed that the Athens based friend was indeed the best choice for their project, they were concerned about working with somebody that was so far away.
Because of that, these two created a platform that brought transparency and security to remote work.
What started originally as a staffing firm, oDesk was built into a freelance marketplace where business owners, brands, and regular people could find, interview, and hire somebody anywhere in the world.
Fast-track to today, and the Upwork brand has 18 million + freelancers and over 5 million clients.
Upwork is touted as the largest freelancer marketplace in the world with over $1Bn posted annually which makes this a great platform to work with.
What Is Upwork? Platform Overview
Deemed as “The World’s Work Marketplace”, Upwork is arguably the most popular way to find freelancers for a range of projects, jobs, or tasks.
And because I’ve used the platform for so long, I can tell you that there’s no shortage of talent when you’re looking to hire.
Over the course of finding freelancers through Upwork, I have had to post jobs for things like:
- Graphic Design
- Website Design / Development
- Sales & Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Customer Support
And the list goes on and on.
Actually, I still use most of the people I have found on Upwork to this day (hey Alex!)
Upwork For Clients
This is the part of their platform that’s geared toward giving people like you and I the ability to hire for our needs.
When you use Upwork as a client, you’re actively looking for freelancers to help you tackle a job or a project.
Upwork For Talent
If you’re a freelancer or looking to get hired for your services then you’d want to create a Talent account.
Using a Talent account on Upwork, you can apply to jobs that are posted and potentially win the project.
This is the only way you can find clients using Upwork.
How Does Upwork Work?
As I mentioned in the article already, there’s technically two Upwork platforms (one for clients and one for talent), and we’ll discuss them here.
If You’re Looking To Hire On Upwork:
- The first thing you do is login to your client dashboard where you can use the “Post a Job” button to create your job post.
- Once you do that, you’re going to start the process of creating the application by providing the information necessary for Upwork to match you with the appropriate freelancers.
- After the job has been posted, you’ll have to wait for a bit while people apply to your job (this could be immediate, or could take a few hours depending on the category of work and the depth of the job post)
- Once people have applied to your job post, you’ll be able to review their proposals which is where they send you a message, send you examples of prior work, and where they pretty much pitch you as to why they should win this contract
- You can shortlist (thumbs up or thumbs down) any freelancers that you find could fit the bill, so you can then message them (or you can just reach out directly through their proposal and schedule a meeting/time to chat)
- Once you’re happy with the freelancer(s) you can hire them and start your contract, at which point they will be notified that they won the contract and that you’re ready to start working together
Using The Search Function In Upwork
The only way that you can work with a freelancer or agency in Upwork is to create a job post and then hire that person, but there’s also a great way to find freelancers that can fit the bill for the Upwork project you just posted.
That function is the search.
What I typically do is search for talent based on specific keywords (ex: Google Ads Expert) and review the list of candidates.
If I see any that fit the bill, I simply use the “Invite to Job” button which will then invite them to the job.
While doing that doesn’t guarantee they will apply, it’s a great way to nudge them to do so.
Using the search function is a great way to hand pick specific freelancers or agencies that you are interested in working with.
One thing to remember is that you can’t message the freelancers directly until they apply for your job.
So if you’re searching for freelancers but have no job posting, then there’s no way you can actually talk to them.
If You’re Looking For Work On Upwork:
- Create an Upwork Talent account
- Upwork will pull relevant jobs and contracts based on your specific account and give you the chance to apply to them
- As with the client dashboard, you can use the same search function to find work that suits your skillset
- Feedback provided from your past jobs help you get more frequent work as well as provide you with the higher authority, status, and visibility on the platform
Is Upwork Easy To Use?
Upwork is one of the most user friendly platforms on the market if you’re looking to find freelancers.
Over the course of their history, Upwork has refined and added many functions and features that help clients as well as freelancers find each other faster, easier, and in a more simple way.
Aside from that, if you happen to get stuck along the way, Upwork has a great support staff and an awesome helpdesk.
I’ve found that these resources always help answer any questions I might have while using their platform.
Upwork provides a history of all your invoices, allows payments directly through their platform (with buyer security), and they allow you to pay for the work once you approve it.
On the flipside, as far as freelancers go, if you get hired for hourly contracts then you have to submit timesheets via Upwork.
Some clients will allow you to add manual time, but others will require you to use the time tracker inside the Upwork dashboard to keep things transparent.
How Do I Pay My Freelancer?
There’s two types of job posts, or “projects” on Upwork that you can use.
You can either use what’s called a “Fixed Project” where you add a budget inside your job post.
That budget then becomes the actual price you’ll pay after you find the freelancer and the work has been completed.
The only way the freelancer will get paid is if you approve the work and release the funds from the Upwork escrow.
The other kind of project that Upwork allows you to do is pay per hour work.
I’ve found that it’s often cheaper to do a Fixed project because you can say, “Hey, this is my budget and if you’re interested then we have to stay within that.”
But, at the same time, Upwork allows a “maximum hour per week” limit that you can add to the contract so that you don’t spend more than your budget allows.
While a bit more expensive, I’ve realized that you get better freelancers with the pay per hour job posting.
What Fees Does Upwork Charge?
The fees associated with Upwork are different depending on what plan you have and if you’re a client or freelancer.
Below you can see a breakdown of the plans, with the basic plan everything you need to be able to look for, find, and hire freelancers.
That being said, the plus and/or business package is great and is worth the extra price should you need the added features.
|Features||Basic (Free*)||Plus ($49.99/month*)||Business ($499/month**)|
|Verifies work history and reviews||X||X||X|
|Safe, easy payments||X||X||X|
|Built-in collaboration tools||X||X||X|
|Upwork payment protection plan||X||X||X|
|Reporting||Transaction details||Team reporting||Company reporting|
|Job post and talent sourcing assistance||X||Advanced|
|Dedicated account management||X||Advanced|
|Invites to freelancers||3 per job post||15 per job post||Unlimited|
|Featured Jobs upgrade||X||X|
|Consolidated invoicing and billing||X|
The one thing you need to remember is that Upwork does charge a set fee of 3% per project for clients and a 10% service fee on all payments to freelancers which covers processing and administrative fees.
What Are The Advantages Of Upwork?
- Building Long Term Relationships
Upwork gives you the ability to continue working with any freelancer which means that you have the ability to build long term relationships. When finding freelancers, it’s always best to build long term relationships that can help both you and the freelancer grow and progress.
- Security & Buyer Protection
Upwork has in place all the right security measures to make sure that nobody gets scammed or ripped off. In the event that the freelancer you work with falls short of their agreed upon scope of work, you can either request a full refund, cancel the contract, or if the previous two are unavailable, you can proceed with the Upwork mediation team for resolutions of disputes.
- Easy Communication
The Upwork chat and message design is easy to use with your freelancer or agency. Bring in multiple team members and collaborate, or work one on one. Upwork also offers voice chat directly inside their platform to keep everything in one place.
- Upwork Escrow Protection
Once you choose a freelancer, you’ll be asked to fund and activate the project. Instead of paying the freelancer directly, your funds are placed in an escrow account which provides you peace of mind, but also provides the motivation from the freelancer to get the job done in a timely manner.
- Free Sign Up
Upwork is always free to sign up. While, as we discussed, there are premium (paid) plans that offer more in-depth features, I can assure you that the free (basic) plan has all that you need and more to find, hire, and manage freelancers and all the financials regarding every project.
What Is Fiverr? Platform Overview
Fiverr was launched in February of 2010 by Micha Kaufman and Shai Wininger.
The whole idea was to create a marketplace that would provide their users the ability to buy and sell various digital services.
In their early days, Fiverr scored a seed investment of $1 million dollars from a group of angel investors and by 2021, Fiverr locked down a $15 million investment from Accel Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners.
As with Upwork, I’ve used Fiverr for quite some time and I’ve seen the platform evolve into what it is today.
With anything else, as Fiverr grew, they started to offer more features to help their users achieve their goals quicker and with more security.
In 2017 Fiverr launched “Fiverr Pro”, which spotlights the top 1% of sellers that are on their platform.
In a nutshell, Fiverr Pro was the new way to vet freelancers in a way that Fiverr can make sure that their customers are receiving the best services.
I’ll tell you from experience, Fiverr has had some dodgy freelancers since their inception, so it’s good to see a more in-depth vetting process.
Fun fact: In 2018 Fiverr received an “F” rating from the BBB, which is the absolute worst grade possible. (Yikes)
How Does Fiverr Work?
Fiverr operates in a different way than most freelance sites, by the terms that they use to describe their projects.
Below you’ll get a quick overview of the terms that have grown accustomed and branded Fiverr as, well, Fiver…
Gig: Gigs are the actual services offered by Fiverr freelancers.
Seller: The freelancer that’s providing the actual service
Buyer: The client that’s buying the service
Order: The project purchased by the buyer is known as the order. The buyer and seller work together on the order.
If You’re A Buyer
- Create a Fiverr account
- Browse the services you want by using the search bar and a specific keyword (ex: seo services)
- Filter the sellers by using the dropdown “Seller Details” and choosing “Top Rated Seller, Level One, and Level Two”
- Review the sellers by clicking inside their gig offering, so that you can read their specific gigs and review their feedback profiles
- Choose a seller that you want to work with and choose your gig package (typically Basic, Standard, and Premium)
- If you have special requirements, contact the seller before purchasing. You might need a custom gig
- Continue to checkout
- Add a payment option or use a saved payment option
- Confirm and pay
- After purchase, you’ll be redirected to a form that you need to fill out. The seller will, more often than not, need specific details that will enable them to start and complete the gig. The more detailed you are during this phase, the better the seller can do on the gig you purchased.
If You’re A Seller
- Create your seller profile on Fiverr. Be sure to create the profile in a way that exudes professionalism and authority
- Create the gig that you’re looking to sell with Fiverr
- Be detailed when creating your gig and use good formatting to once again exude professionalism and detail. It matters
- Create a video to explain your gig to the potential buyers. This will increase conversion
- Add multiple gigs to your seller page to provide buyers more of a variety when choosing your services. It also shows that you are more active and not just offering one thing
- Add upsells to your gig at all times (before, during, and after purchase) to maximize your revenue.
Is Fiverr Easy To Use?
Of course. Fiverr is extremely easy to use and it’s becoming more and more easier every day.
The user experience in which you create your account, look for gigs, pay for gigs, and then work with your seller has become such an easy and refined process over the years.
I’m confident in saying even if you have no experience using a platform like Fiverr before, you’ll be able to easily find a seller and purchase their services.
The cool part above Fiverr is that there are no hourly gigs. Everything is project based pricing on what the seller offers.
The only difference in amount from what you see on their actual gig is when you need a custom gig amount based on a custom job.
What Fees Does Fiverr Charge?
As with Upwork, Fiverr is a completely free service. In Fiverr’s history, when purchasing a gig, it used to be without fees.
On today’s established Fiverr platform, however, there are fees for every purchase.
That said, Fiverr makes it fairly simple to understand with any gig purchased under $20 USD being only $1 USD in fees.
If, on the other hand, you’re purchasing a gig that is over $20, you will be billed 5% of the actual total of your gig.
Lastly, Fiverr does charge the normal processing fees associated with accepting payments which are as follows:
|PayPal||2% of the total withdrawal amount up to $1 USD|
|Local Bank Transfer (LBT)||$3 per transfer USD|
|Fiverr Revenue Card||$1 within 2 days or US$3 within 2 hours USD|
|Direct Deposit (ACH)||$1 per transfer (US only) USD|
Differences Between Upwork vs Fiverr
As we now know, when it comes to Upwork vs Fiverr, we know that there’s quite a big difference in the hiring process between the two.
For Upwork, it’s the client that actually posts the job or the project and waits for the freelancers to bid on the contract.
Upwork operates on a bidding system (for the freelancers).
With competition being at an all time high, and bidding that costs money, it’s really an advantage to find a bidding strategy that works on Upwork.
Fiverr, on the other hand, doesn’t have any kind of bidding system.
Instead, they work on a gig system in which the sellers offer their services as “gigs”.
Prospective buyers then search specific keywords and find those gigs to which they can purchase directly or inquire for a custom build gig.
In my opinion, when it comes to Upwork vs Fiverr, I think that they both offer their benefits and drawbacks.
If you fail to post a job description that freelancers can understand, they may be less inclined to bid and that means you get less applicants to choose from.
Whereas, on Fiverr, the buyer is the one searching out the services from the sellers.
As with the hiring process, another difference for Upwork vs Fiverr is that their service fees are not the same.
And that goes for buyers and sellers (clients & freelancers).
This article is mainly focused on people looking for the services, so we’ll be discussing those fees once again here.
On Upwork, you’re looking at a 3% fee that’s standard for any job.
On Fiverr, you’re looking at $1 USD for anything under $20, but anything that goes over that amount will be a solid 5% (which is a lot in my opinion.)
Which Platform Is Right For Me?
Both platforms, Upwork vs Fiverr, have their benefits and drawbacks.
In all honesty, I encourage you to use both platforms because they both are effective in their own right.
If I’m looking for something quick and I don’t want to wait for freelancers to apply to my job then I tend to use Fiverr.
That’s because I know how to weed out bad sellers on Fiverr.
I know that there’s bad apples when it comes to freelancers on Upwork and the same goes for bad sellers on Fiverr.
The key is that it’s a trial and error approach that you’ll learn as you start to use the platforms.