As a business owner looking to hire a freelancer, the first two places you’d probably go to are Upwork and Fiverr. In this article, we’ll make an in-depth comparison of these two gig economy staple names to help you find out which would be better to find the right freelancer.
Upwork vs Fiverr is a common dilemma of business owners in need of a remote worker with a certain set of skills. These two freelancing platforms boast the highest number of top skilled professionals that they can hire for both larger projects or short-term gigs. They have a vast user base, including graphic designers, digital marketing experts, data science professionals, and voice over artists, to name a few.
Here we will compare both of the platforms based on 4 criteria:
The conclusions are based on rates, vetting systems, fixed prices, and dispute resolution frameworks that both platforms offer.
Upwork offers a few packages, out of which only one (Upwork Basic Plan) is free. Fiverr has just one option: it has no additional fees apart from what you pay the freelancer (1% of payments under $20, 5% on any payments above that). So, straight off the bat—Fiverr is cheaper. There are a few things to keep in mind while choosing, though.
On Upwork (which came to be after a merger of oDesk and Elance), there are several different types of profiles you can register: Basic, Plus, Business, and Enterprise.
With the Upwork Basic Plan, you only pay the rate you agree upon with a freelancer you hire and a processing fee of 3% per project.
The only plan on Fiverr is similar to the Upwork Basic Plan. Remember that Fiverr refers to companies as buyers and to freelancers as sellers. The process to join this freelance marketplace is very simple—just register a buyer profile and confirm your email. You can immediately start searching for sellers (i.e. freelancers).
Back to Upwork, the second, costlier plan is Upwork Plus, which costs $49.99 a month. You get the same services as the Basic Plan, as well as assistance in talent sourcing, premium customer support and a dedicated Account Manager. This is the perfect option if you’re a small-to-medium company.
The most expensive plan is Upwork Business, with quite a higher price of $849 a month. This option is perfect for companies that almost completely rely on hiring through the platform. With this plan, you get help with HR and Payroll needs, administration and legal matters, plus all of the benefits of the Upwork Plus plan. It charges a 10% service fee on all payments you process to freelancers.
For companies who need a different approach than the one-size-fits-all, there is Upwork Enterprise. It’s essentially a completely customizable plan with costs varying in line with the plan itself. It is fairly popular with companies like Airbnb and Microsoft.
The fees a freelancer charges on Upwork are a minimum of $3 an hour, or $5 per project. Still, most freelancers have an hourly rate.
Fiverr, on the other hand, has a much lower fee, which is why it’s a favorite for small and cheap jobs. There are no different plans or prices, and the system is quite direct in handling this: as we mentioned before, a gig that is up to $20 only has a $1 processing fee. If the price exceeds the $20 mark, Fiverr will only charge you 5% of the total amount.
There is also a special category: Fiverr Pro Seller. We will elaborate more on Fiverr Pro in the “Ease of Choosing and Hiring a Freelancer” section and focus only on the pricing here: while** a regular Fiverr gig starts at $5, the minimum for Fiverr Pro sellers is $100**.
Who wins: If you’re looking for a cost-effective, one-time solution, Fiverr is the absolute winner. However, if you rely on outsourcing freelancers more regularly and need assistance with the administrative side of outsourcing, you should look into some of the Upwork plans.
The main difference between the two giants in this category is that on Upwork, you get bids from freelancers, while on Fiverr only you can contact the sellers. Fiverr also has a much more refined and detailed search system that is definitely in their favour. But let’s take it step by step.
Hiring on Upwork is pretty simple: you make a post in which you describe the job and what skill set is needed from the freelancer. You’ll then get matched to the top freelancers that suit your job description best. You can either review the profiles and send invites to profiles that you feel are good for the job, or wait for bids from freelancers.
But Fiverr has something that buyers really appreciate: it only allows them to hire freelancers for the job they need, and sellers can’t make bids for the job. As a buyer, this puts you in the driver’s seat and you can be in absolute control over who you hire.
Your job posting will be visible to the sellers, who also have short and precise descriptions of their gig (e.g., I will create captivating social media graphic design for you). You can see how much each freelancer will cost you, and decide on criteria such as their star rating or tier.
But before you can hire freelancers, you have to choose which one fits you best. Fiverr has great filters, which you can narrow down to find exactly what you need. Apart from searching by category, you can also filter by language, price, delivery time, location, age, and more. There are 12 categories of jobs, and each of them has subcategories.
Upwork has similar search filters, but they aren’t as extensive as Fiverr’s. What makes freelancers stand out on this platform is that** top-rated freelancers have a high Job Success Score (JSS)**. The individuals with a very high job success rate have a badge on their profile. They get the badge by having a job success rate of over 90%, and annual earnings of at least $1000. You can also expand the vetting process by reviewing cover letters that freelancers send with their bids.
Another badge that helps you seek the right freelancers is called Rising Talent. Upwork assigns it to a freelancer that it deems to have excellent potential based on the information on their profile, including any work they’ve done in the past outside Upwork. Freelancers also complete skills tests that prove their proficiency in certain areas.
If a freelancer on Fiverr has an exceptional offer that he’d like to put as a separate, highly sought out gig, they are part of Fiverr Pro. It’s a category of handpicked and vetted freelancers, and not everyone can join this specialized program. During the vetting, Fiverr is checking the sellers’ professional background, higher education, portfolio of previous work, examples of notable projects, etc.
Who wins: The great search filters are a huge ace up Fiverr’s sleeve, because it’s a lot easier to find the person you need. And if you’re looking for A-grade work and willing to pay more, you can go straight to Fiverr Pro and find your pro freelancer. As a business, you can choose the person you want to hire the most, instead of reading through dozens (maybe even more) of offers from freelancers.
In this category, Upwork definitely has the upper hand. Here is how they handle solving issues between the two parties: there are several different sectors in which Upwork categorized the dispute claims since there is a very high number of people on the platform and many different issues.
For example, if you’d like to request a refund from a freelancer, you can contact Upwork within 180 days of the payment. You can also file a dispute within five days of the billing period if you feel like a freelancer billed you for more time than they worked.
An escrow refund can be requested if you have remaining funds in escrow that you no longer need. Another option is to release a partial milestone payment if you want to continue the contract, but not release everything from the escrowed funds. Everything you’ll have left can be used to pay the freelancer upon reaching the next milestone.
If the freelancer you’ve hired is unresponsive for a longer time, Upwork advises you to pause the contract and wait for a response. Sometimes you can reach out to the platform and they’ll contact the freelancer on your behalf. This process also functions vice versa, if a client becomes unresponsive.
Fiverr has a less detailed and easy to navigate Resolution Center, but they do have a framework that helps customers with frequent issues.
In the case of a dispute, Fiverr encourages both buyers and sellers to visit the Resolution Center and try and find a solution there. If that doesn’t work, you can take an extra step and contact customer support.
Some of the basic advice regarding quality of work and workflow are as follows:
If none of this helps bring better results, you can message the seller and ask him to cancel the order. If you do this, you need to give the freelancer a valid reason for your cancelation. They then have to respond within 48 hours, either accepting or declining your request.
Who wins: Upwork went a few steps further in building a highly successful customer support framework, and has a generally faster response time on customers’ questions and nurturing their satisfaction. They win this round.
Upwork has an external software called Work Diary, which the freelancer downloads and runs every time they’re working. It can track how many hours of work are done effectively, through monitoring the total number of mouse clicks, scroll actions, and keystrokes per segment. It also takes a screenshot of the freelancer’s screen every 10 minutes.
This way you have a detailed overview of how much has been done and pay the individual for the exact number of effective work hours. This is a good way to avoid disputes and it’s mostly used for transparency reasons, but both sides must agree to it during the contract negotiations.
Some jobs encapsulate offline work or Manual Time, and you can agree to add it to the work with the freelancer. That is why the Work Diary also has different types of billing segments connected to this. They are color-coded inside the Work Diary and can be:
Green – Time that is tracked automatically Yellow – Manual Time Red – Time that is over the weekly limit
If the freelancer goes over the weekly limit, they should discuss the proper course of action with the client.
Fiverr doesn’t have an equivalent to the Work Diary, so if you want to track your freelancer’s workflow, you’d have to find another external tool or your own system.
Who Wins: When it comes to tracking work, Upwork wins because of the Work Diary software and color-coding system. Yet, the freelancer you want to hire might not want to use this method of tracking their workflow, so its existence doesn’t have to be a determining factor. A successful freelancer-company relationship is based on mutual trust, transparency, and goals that both parties set together.
So, after an in-depth analysis of both of the biggest freelancing websites, the result is that both platforms get two wins. Upwork has a better dispute solving framework and an external software for tracking work, while Fiverr is cheaper and easier to browse and hire freelancers on.
Picking an outright winner is difficult. They are both great for different reasons and needs. While Upwork makes it far easier for you as a company to build a long-lasting relationship with both the service and the freelancers you use, Fiverr is better for a one-time-thing, occasional hiring of freelancers for a better price and through a simpler method.
If we base our decision on the type and timespan of the project, the conclusion is this: if you’re looking for someone to do a small, short-term task, your choice will probably be Fiverr.
However, if your company has multiple long-term projects, Upwork is perhaps your best bet.
In the end, it’s up to you as a business to define what exactly you need out of a freelancer, and how frequently you might need it.
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