Freelancers are a godsend to start-ups.
As your business grows, expands into new markets, and pivots into new specializations, you may often use freelance websites to fill skill gaps. However, finding the best freelance website to suit your needs can be an uphill battle. There are literally thousands of job postings with even more job seekers to choose from.
This boom in freelance talent across virtually every industry has allowed companies to increase their service offerings without needing to go through all the full-time hassles like the hiring process, onboarding, getting benefits sorted, and tax implications. This is particularly helpful when you have flexible working hours, manage projects with an unclear time frame, or when the work request is outside your normal expertise.
Freelance talent was a massive lifesaver for many start-ups during the Covid-19 outbreak. Companies increasingly turned to freelancers to fill various roles and needs throughout the pandemic.
But how do you find the best freelancer websites? You can’t hire just anyone. Your project’s success often hinges on finding the right creative at the right time, and unfortunately, not every freelancer will be right for you.
Thankfully, it’s easier than ever for businesses of all sizes to find the exact freelancer fit for their needs.
The Rise of the Freelance Marketplace
Freelancing has gone from a fringe industry to a significant portion of the workforce. In 2020, 36% of the U.S. workforce was doing some form of freelance work. This explosive growth was already on its way thanks to technological changes, but Covid-19 accelerated the switch in work style.
As freelancing has become a legitimate force, the freelance platform has emerged along with it to help connect freelancers and start-ups.
You can find a freelance marketplace for almost every niche and job imaginable, like creative writing, IT support, programming, graphic design, customer service, and other specialized services.
While the end goal of every outsourcing service provider website is to help business owners discover and hire talent, each website does this differently. Some simply list their freelancers, leaving you to comb through their networks to find the right fit. Others have dedicated agents that work on your behalf to find the perfect new addition to your team.
How do I find the best freelancing websites?
The most successful freelancer websites focus on long-term happiness. They’re not after a quick, cheap sale. These sites realize the need to provide equal support to the freelancer communities that make up their networks and the businesses looking to hire.
By nurturing their talent pool, they help their freelancers grow, learn and develop their skills further. This ensures everyone in their network is fulfilled and knowledgeable about the latest industry trends and best practices.
Likewise, the best freelancing sites understand that the clients that come to them seek painless solutions to their problems. So, these freelancing sites have dedicated support personnel who take the time to understand their client’s needs, vet their freelancer network members, and place the right person for the job the first time.
It’s a delicate balance to get right.
It’s worth taking some time to explore the top freelance websites currently available to understand your options as well as their pros and cons. Here are ten of the best freelancer service portals operating in 2022:
For many, Fiverr is synonymous with the “gig economy.”
It’s one of the most well-known freelance websites with thousands of remote jobs in categories ranging from web development, freelance writing, account management, digital marketing, web design, and hundreds more, working in over 200 categories. The site made waves early on for its low pricing, with job opportunities starting for as little as five dollars. The company has expanded since its founding to include higher-quality freelancers that will set you back much more than a fiver today.
Fiverr is a lot to take in for many potential employers due to the large size of its network. If you’d like their support in narrowing down the field of possible candidates, you can pay a premium rate to search only the top candidates in their respective fields. Only when you access the pro network can you gain assurance that the worker’s education, experience, reviews, and portfolio have been thoroughly vetted and verified. Some businesses also report that users can suddenly change their hourly rate once contact has been made or after services are rendered, making it difficult to plan out project costs.
Upwork is another giant name that connects freelancers to employers. While Upwork doesn’t publish the exact numbers, one study found around 16 million designers, software development gurus, social media managers, web developers, content marketing professionals, and a myriad of other technical and creative freelancers are connected to the network.
The site services more than 150,000 clients and has a revenue of over $374 million. With Upwork, you’ll do almost everything through the service portal. Communications between the client and freelancers take place almost exclusively inside the platform. They also feature a payment protection plan that will not pay out to freelancers until the client has approved work.
Due to the popularity and size of the platform, it can be susceptible to scammers, poor matching, and unverified members. They have worked to alleviate this problem by issuing a credit system, so freelancers “pay” to submit a proposal. This limits who might submit work and could make you miss a good match.
Also, due to the size of the platform, you can often end up swamped with unverified pitches to wade through.
Toptal is one of the more discerning freelancing websites on the web.
This freelance website gives you a bit more assurance that the freelancers you’re looking to hire have been vetted. They use a five-part screening process to ensure the quality of workers they bring into their freelancer marketplace. They boast an acceptance rate lower than most Ivy League schools, accepting less than 3% of applicants. You can use the service to find on-site and remote workers. They are also known for recruiting some of the best freelance programmers on the market.
Their scrutiny and talent pool come with a high cost. Their commission structure is one of the highest in the industry (sometimes over 100%) and is out of the range for most startups. Many businesses consider Toptal overkill for minor tasks or assignments that require minimal oversight. You also lose hiring flexibility and must opt to hire freelancers for either 20 or 40 hours a week.
Freelancer.com is considered one of the best freelancer marketplaces for those looking to find freelance jobs and those who need access to a global talent pool.
With freelancers from over 250 countries representing the service, you can find someone working at virtually any hour of the day. This is also a top-choice freelancer marketplace for those who need translation services.
This freelance website allows automated bids from freelancers, making it difficult to know if someone is truly matched to your job or just bidding because there’s work available. Also, as with many of the larger sites, many report issues with fake accounts. Businesses must be careful about giving access to any login information as the freelancers are often not verified. Because of the size of the site and the number of freelancers available, it can be difficult for many businesses to locate the right candidate for smaller tasks.
Guru targets experienced freelancers and companies in eight different categories.
Anyone can post jobs for free and evaluate the quotes they receive from prospective freelancers. Once you’ve approved a freelancer, you get started inside their project management dashboard. Businesses have the choice of short and long-term contracts on every job and can opt for their SafePay option, which operates like a payment escrow service.
Guru has probably fallen from what most would consider one of the best freelance websites over the years. Many cite a complicated billing structure as one of the reasons. For example, freelancers can select to have the business pay part or all of their side of the service fee, but that information is buried inside the contract and easily missed by businesses. Also, the service lacks live support from a dedicated agent, instead using an email-based ticketing system. Others have also expressed frustration with the work arbitration process, which can cause delays in project disputes and billing issues.
Flexjobs is known in the freelancer industry for its highly reliable job postings.
This freelance website goes to great lengths to ensure that the job board is legitimate, which helps encourage more freelancers to join. Unlike other freelance sites, Flexjobs is used by many leading companies to find full-time, part-time, and project-based freelancers like PWC, Apple, Dell, and more.
Businesses need to know they want to use the service thoroughly before diving in, as they do not offer free service trials. The monthly membership price that will allow you to list your job with the site is more than the cost of hiring someone for a week on other freelancing websites. The site leans heavily towards technical jobs instead of finding creative professionals and therefore doesn’t always have the talent pool required to help find graphic designers, freelance writers, and other niche industries. Flexjobs also pushes upgrades on top of their membership fees to improve your chances of reaching talent.
People Per Hour
PeoplePerHour is a trusted freelance website that relies heavily on its CERT algorithm to connect talent with work positions.
They offer freelance placement in various categories like technology, writing, design, video, marketing, and social media. The marketplace offers businesses a variety of ways to search for freelancers. They can choose between freelancers offering service packages, search for freelancers based on skill level, and post their own projects for freelancers to bid on.
Due to the large number of freelance applicants on the network, it can be difficult to screen out scam accounts and ensure the identity of your hire. This freelance site also has higher buyer service fees placed on businesses than other marketplaces. It also doesn’t offer any specialized or live customer support in the event of technical issues.
SimplyHired is one of the largest job posting boards in the world.
The same company owns it as Indeed and Glassdoor, so it has a robust job-hunting pedigree. They do things a bit differently from indeed in that there’s no service fee to list your job on their network. The site also offers human resource tools such as free skills testing to help you manage the hires and various aspects of your business.
While there’s no fee to list your job, you have to pay a flat fee to view candidate information if someone responds to your post. This fee is not refundable if the candidate doesn’t get back to you after you make contact or you find out they’re not a good fit after all. The site also has over 6 million job postings, and there’s no way to promote or sponsor your job listing to help it cut through the noise.
Aquent has been working in recruiting for over 35 years.
They have a large US and global presence, with more than 2 million postings. They have placed workers into some of the country’s top companies like Apple, Disney, and Levi’s. Their Aquent Scout services let companies post job listings in their extensive network.
Aquent Scout posts jobs to recruiters who will then locate freelancers or full-time workers for your company, adding extra personnel and service fees to your new hire. Their service gives you access to information about the recruiters you’re working with, not the freelancers you’re looking to onboard.
Quickly Hire assigns dedicated project managers to each start-up to assist in finding the perfect freelancer the first time. These reliable pros handle issues like compliance and other extra details that commonly cause administrative headaches. The pros also stay in direct contact with the business and freelancers, providing constant progress updates. All of Quickly Hire’s talent are verified freelancers with years of experience. Their hourly rates and portfolios are visible to potential employers, so there are no nasty surprises at any part of the journey.
Quickly Hire is newer to the freelance marketplace than some others. They keep their freelance and job network smaller and therefore don’t have thousands of freelancers to choose from. Dedicated professionals and not algorithms do job placements, so businesses must meet with a pro before finding a candidate.
At present, Quickly Hire focuses on startups and small-to-medium businesses that need website developers and virtual assistants, as well as freelance creatives who can perform writing jobs and graphic design work.
How Quickly Hire solves your freelancer conundrum
We should start by clarifying one key point–there’s no single best freelance website for every business.
Most marketplaces excel within their niche but would fall short for a business that didn’t align with their vision or strategy. For example, TopTal is a fantastic option for top-tier companies, but it would be overkill for a local startup looking for someone to help on a short-term project. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s impossible to learn if you meet that niche until you’ve spent some time in the network, costing you time and money.
Also, because many freelancer marketplaces are set up for bulk membership, some other overarching downsides are inherent in their setup.
Algorithms can be hacked
Because of the size of many freelancer marketplaces, they rely heavily on algorithms to help you find the right freelancer for your job. This sounds great on paper but can be easily exploited or manipulated. Platforms that offer smaller transactions can be manipulated, with low-cost jobs being used to artificially inflate review scores, boosting freelancers who might not be a great fit.
Someone who did a great job, but isn’t reviewed after the job is complete, can be penalized from getting future work. They won’t be pushed through the pack without hitting a certain threshold in reviews so that you can discover them. People are far more likely to share negative feedback than positive. So, a freelancer who quietly does their job on time is less likely to receive feedback than someone who did a lousy job.
Freelancer Marketplaces that use dedicated professional support to match businesses with the right freelancers side-step this issue and get the right candidate in front of you.
Many of the more extensive networks have exhaustive numbers of freelancers, making it impossible to thoroughly vet and scrutinize every account to ensure everyone is who they say they are. They might share information about the freelancer, but you cannot verify their qualifications and integrity.
This could pose significant issues if, for example, you were hiring a developer to gain admin-level access to your website. Irreparable damage to your business’s reputation can be done in a manner of seconds.
Suppose you’re working with sensitive information or want the utmost protection of your brand’s image. In that case, it’s imperative that you can trust who you work with, and that they have greater accountability.
Leaving everything up to you
For some start-ups, having complete control over all the details, communication, paperwork, etc., is precisely what they want. But most businesses are turning to freelancers because they lack the time and energy to deal with a regular hire.
Many freelancer marketplaces serve only as a portal for discovering and accessing freelancers. You find the right freelancer, manage all the communication, handle payments, etc. Some setups result in more headaches than if you simply hired someone full-time.
The Quickly Hire difference
At Quickly Hire, we understand the needs of both sides. Our team has experience working in some of the nation’s largest companies and as freelancers. We use that experience to deliver a premium experience for everyone involved.
We’re not a basic job posting board or freelancer rolodex. By getting to know our clients and our freelancers, we can help create a team that will work for the long term.
A done-for-you service
We also understand that the devil is in the details. So many little things, like compliance issues, protected payments, administrative concerns, taxes, etc., that can be glossed over or forgotten. These details surprise many when they spring up down the line, causing unnecessary interruptions to work and delays in timelines.
Your time is one of the most valuable things you have when running a business. Our rigorous screening process ensures we find freelancers for potential clients at a fixed price. That means no more scrutinizing the multitude of freelance websites for your ideal candidate. Along with diligent customer support geared toward helping you every step of the way, you can focus on getting back to the work you do best.
Please contact us today if you have any questions or need a freelancer for your next project.