The Best Freelance Platforms
November 16, 2021
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by Stephen Kanyi

With freelancing becoming more popular as more companies and professionals switch to remote work, the number of freelance platforms has exploded. From just a few dozen, today there are thousands of options for both professionals and employers to choose from. The challenge today is to find one that works for you.

And this is much harder than it looks. There are a number of questions to ask yourself.

For one, as a professional what exactly are you looking for? Is it a temporary gig or a long-term contract?

What skills do you have?

Is proof of skills or certification needed?

What are the realistic chances of you landing a job?

And most importantly, are there any upfront or hidden costs?

For prospective employers, the questions do not get any easier. One has to consider onboarding and offboarding costs, skills available, delivery time, quality of work and so on.

All of these considerations make the process of selecting the right platform a nightmare, for both professionals and employers. However, like any market, there is no platform that comprehensively covers all these needs. Most fall short of market demands; specializing in fulfilling one need and completely ignoring others. Toptal is a good example of this, the platform has one of the largest databases comprising of the world’s top 3 developers, designers and product managers.

For other freelancers, below are some platforms you should consider :

Upwork

As the largest and arguably the most popular freelance platform on the globe, Upwork’s number one listing comes as no surprise. Formerly O-desk, Upwork boasts over twelve million registered freelancers and five million clients spread over 180 countries. All of whom have contributed to more than $ 1 billion in freelancer billings as of 2017.

Hype aside let us look at its pros and cons for both employers and professionals.

Professionals.

Pros

  1. Large marketplace so there are millions of job openings available at any one time.
  2. Opportunities exist at all levels; whether you may be a beginner or an expert.
  3. Provides payment protection to ensure that freelancers get paid for their work.

Cons

  1. High Service Fees
  2. One requires paid connects to bid for jobs.
  3. Takes a long time to build an online reputation.

Employers

Pros

  1. Large Pool of labor to choose from
  2. Upwork regularly verifies and reviews freelancers to ascertain their legitimacy.
  3. One can check prospective employee’s samples to get a clear picture of their skill level.
  4. Can find experts for virtually every position needed.

Cons

  1. Costly to hire experts at the top of their respective fields
  2. Does not guarantee the quality of work.
  3. Does not ensure timely project delivery.

Fiverr

With more than three million employers among them large companies such as Meta (Facebook) and Netflix, Fiverr is another noteworthy freelance giant platform. Contrary to its direct competitor Upwork which mainly offers semi-permanent gigs, the Israeli based freelance platform’s bread and butter is listing temporary work positions.

Professionals

Pros

  1. Low barriers to entry, virtually anyone can open an account and start bidding for jobs.
  2. Offers basic payment protection with refunds available for any payments subjected to chargeback fraud.
  3. Professionals can create service packages so that all services offered by an individual, are bundled together for a higher price point.

Cons

  1. Takes a massive 20% cut on all earnings
  2. Payout takes longer; from 7-14 days

Employers

Pros

  1. Large pool of labour to choose from
  2. Cheap labor as there are a lot of hungry but inexperienced beginners
  3. Slick website and mobile app making it easy to use.

Cons

  1. No guarantees on delivery time
  2. No project support

Yougig

While not as large as the first two, Yougig is doing pretty well for an industry disruptor. With more than a million professionals to choose from the platform is giving thousands of clients a large pool of labour to choose from. The Sweden based platform also boasts pretty decent delivery times coupled with project support from start to finish. This is also boosted by the use of AI to make choosing a professional easy for the client.

Bonus

Other worthy mentions include Guru, 99 Designs and Freelance Writing Gigs. With over 800000 employers and millions of professionals, Guru should be up there with the best but my experience with it left much to be desired. For one the site provides little protection to workers there, it is fraught with cons and scams. Also, it is notoriously difficult to and a legitimate gig on Guru.

99 Designs and Freelance Writing Gigs are specific to designers and writers. These I feel do a pretty decent job of providing legitimate gigs for specialized platforms.

Last but not least who can forget good old Craigslist? A strange mention I know but there is simply no denying the power of this humungous platform when it comes to online commerce.

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