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Upwork vs. Fiverr: Which freelance job site is best?

We take a deep dive into freelance service platforms, and here we look at key differences between Upwork vs. Fiverr.

Remote work is increasingly taking off as technological developments continue to change and shape how we live and, more importantly, how we earn. Freelance job sites have become a new lifeline to both old and new professionals who need a new start, a new client, or simply a new challenge.   

Two of the most popular sites for freelance work include Upwork and Fiverr. These are both popular sites within the digital and virtual employment realm, but which one is better for freelance services? 

Here ZDNet takes a deep dive into the differences between Upwork and Fiverr.   

What is Upwork?

A beginner-friendly freelance job platform

upwork-freelance-platform.jpg

Upwork is home to big-name clients, including Microsoft, Airbnb, Bissell, and GoDaddy, giving instant credibility for curious freelancers. There are three ways to find work on the platform: the Talent Marketplace, where you can post jobs and get hired, the Project Catalog to post and sell projects, and Talent Scout for recruiter services that pairs talent with employers. Job opportunities are expansive and include areas like development & IT, design & creative, sales & marketing, writing & translation, admin & customer support, finance & accounting, and more.

To get started, create a free profile and filter between domestic and international jobs. Upwork uses its own virtual currency called Connects, which allow you to apply to jobs. You get ten Connects with the basic free plan, but if you upgrade your plan, you get 80 each month. Connects can be used to apply to jobs directly, or you can simply post projects that are available for hire and wait for employers to come to you. Or, if you can benefit from professional help, recruiters will do the heavy lifting with a skills-based approach to your job search. You can also add Badges that quickly and easily showcase your qualifications to employers visiting your profile. 

Payment works a few different ways: traditional hourly pay or fixed-price protection that uses project milestones to release payments in full or over time. You can choose how you get paid, with options that include traditional direct deposit and wire transfer, in addition to PayPal and Payoneer. There is an invoicing feature available to simplify things and keep your records organized in one place. 

How much does Upwork cost to use?

Upwork is free to join. The free plan gives you the ability to create your own profile, add a video introduction, perform job searches, and create your own projects. You have ten Connects to use to apply to jobs on the platform. If you want to purchase additional Connects, they are $0.15 each and are sold in the following bundles:

You also have the option to upgrade your plan to Freelancer Plus for $14.99 per month. This gives a total of 80 Connects each month instead of the standard ten that come with the free plan. Freelancer Plus also provides increased visibility to employers and exclusive insights regarding competitor's bids so you can price your bid accordingly. 

Upwork uses a commission-based fee structure based on a sliding scale for your jobs and projects. The more you earn, the smaller the fee. 

Total Client Billing

Upwork Commission Fee

Up to first $500

20%

$500.01 - $10,000

10%

$10,000 or more 

5%

If you participate in the Upwork Payroll service, service fees are waived. Additionally, if Upwork awards you with Top Rated or Rising Talent status, reduced fees may apply if you are hired for a Featured Job

What are the pros and cons to Upwork?

Pros:

  • A multi-faceted approach to hiring.
  • Recruiter support.
  • No service fees with payroll enrollment.

Cons:

  • A limited number of Connects each month.
  • Must pay for extra Connects.
  • Varying service fees.

What is Fiverr?

A gig marketplace to sell your services

fiverr-freelance-platform.jpg

On its website, Fiverr proudly boasts that a gig is purchased every four seconds. It is a service largely known for its logo design, with over 50 million transactions sold on its platform to date. There is also major name recognition with clients that include Facebook, Google, Netflix, and PayPal. 

Jobs are available for freelancers in several areas like graphic design, digital marketing, writing & translation, music & audio, programming & tech, lifestyle, data, video & animation, and business. Website design, copywriting, SEO, and illustration are all popular services that you will see listed on the platform. However, there are tons of categories to choose from. Clients can use a comprehensive search tool to find the right freelancer for their needs, or you can be proactive and simply add your own products or services for sale. It is free to sign up, and after creating your seller profile, you can begin to create gigs or packages that show off your skills and attract employers. 

There are four seller levels for every freelancer using Fiverr:

  • New Seller: Inexperienced sellers new to Fiverr begin here.
  • Level 1 seller:  A seller must successfully complete 10 highly-rated gigs and have an active Fiverr account for a minimum of 60 days.
  • Level 2 seller: A seller must successfully complete 50 highly-rated, on-time gigs and have an active Fiverr account for a minimum of 120 days.
  • Top-rated seller: A seller must successfully complete 100 highly-rated, on-time gigs for a minimum of $20 000 and have an active Fiverr account for a minimum of 180 days.

Once you post your profile and your jobs or services, you are ready to go. When a client purchases a project, you get a notification to begin work. New to the service is Fiverr business, which is created for teams and allows businesses to work with experienced freelancers. If you're a brand-new freelancer, there is no need to worry, either. Fiverr has excellent resources to help you grow, like the on-demand tutorial Learn from Fiverr. For simpler bookkeeping, it integrates with the AND CO app, which allows for proposals and task management, in addition to invoicing. Fiverr skips the hourly rates, instead opting for flat-rate gigs and projects. 

The platform offers the capability for projects that range in price from $5 to $10 000.

How much does Fiverr cost to use?

Fiverr keeps it simple with no fees. There is no subscription to sign up for, and you do not have to pay anything to list services. When you complete a job, Fiverr simply takes 20% off each transaction.  

What are the pros and cons to Fiverr?

Pros:

  • Free to join.
  • Complimentary ads for services.
  • Tons of freelancer resources.

Cons:

  • No hourly projects.
  • 20% service fee.
  • $10 000 project cap.

Which is the right one for you?

At a Glance: Fiverr vs. Upwork


Upwork

Fiverr

Free plan

Yes

Yes

Commission

5% - 20%

20%

Customer support

24/7

24/7

Both have many similarities so it is important to consider several important factors that can help you find the right freelance job site for you. 

  • Cost: When you are a freelancer trying to make money, the last thing you want to do is spend your earnings on expensive membership fees. Before you sign up, consider what costs are associated with using the service, whether it is a membership fee or a commission. 
  • Customer service: Consider which service offers the type of customer support that is most beneficial for you. For example, if you work late hours, you may prefer a freelance service that has 24/7 customer support.
  • Terms and conditions: It often pays to read the fine print so you are aware of what requirements and fees govern the site. 
  • Clients: One way to tell a service's legitimacy is through the customers that they service. Take the time to see what kinds of projects have been successfully completed on the platform and for whom.
  • Payment: When it comes time to be paid, you want to be sure that your service will work in conjunction with your preferred payment methods. Check to see what payment and deposit options are available, as well as timelines for each, so you can be sure that these payment terms will work with your finances. 

What is the primary difference between Upwork and Fiverr?

Although very similar, Fiverr and Upwork conduct business in separate ways. While Fiverr creates a welcome environment for gig work, Upwork tends to possess a more singular focus toward hourly and flat-rate projects. 

What is the primary cost difference between Upwork and Fiverr?

Fiverr takes a flat 20% commission off all projects, but Upwork uses a sliding scale. Depending on your plan, Upwork takes between 5% and 20% off each service. 

What is a freelance job website?

A freelance job website is a way to collect, apply, and sell services to clients using a third-party platform. It is a popular type of virtual work for freelancers. 

Are there alternative freelance job websites worth considering?

The best freelance sites for jobs are a great place to start when considering which job sites to use. In addition to Upwork and Fiverr, these services also offer attractive features for freelancers looking for virtual and remote jobs:

See more: The best freelance websites: Find jobs and remote work