Freelancers frequently ask where they can find work. And, for remote jobs, two sites — Upwork and Fiverr — stand out. Almost any type of remote work — from animation to virtual assisting — can be found on these sites. However the sites operate significantly differently. Here we compare Upwork vs. Fiverr so you can determine which is better site for you to find freelance work.

Similarities

Both Upwork and Fiverr are broad freelance marketplaces that connect workers with individuals and companies that need help. It doesn’t matter whether you provide accounting or AI services, drafting or web design. Both sites have copious clients and freelance experts in hundreds of work categories.

Both sites also allow freelance workers to set up a profile for free.

These profiles provide a snapshot of who you are; your professional experience; and samples of (or links to) your work. They also indicate what special skills you might have. This is also where potential clients will see ratings and reviews from your past clients.

Upwork and Fiverr also both use keywords and artificial intelligence to match freelancers and clients.

But, outside of these similarities, the sites are vastly different.

Differences

The biggest difference between the two platforms is who controls the scope and price of the work. With Upwork, control is in the hands of clients. With Fiverr, it’s largely in the hands of the freelancer.

Here’s how it works:

Upwork

With Upwork, clients create job listings. These include the nature and amount of work they need done and roughly what they’re willing to pay for it. The client also notes whether the pay is calculated by the hour or by the project.

Freelancers “bid” on those jobs, saying why they’re the right person to win the work. Bids also include how much the freelancer would charge to do the job. Clients review the bids and decide who, if anyone, to hire.

Because bids include what the freelancer will charge the client, work often goes to the lowest qualified bidder. That can lead to “a race to the bottom” in project pricing.

If a client accepts your bid, you’ll set up a contract. The contract specifies the scope of work and when you’ll be paid. This may include progress payments for longer-term projects.

Clients also can find freelancers by searching by a type of project or work. In those cases, they’d look at your profile — and this includes your preferred hourly rate — and invite you to bid on their project.

Fiverr

With Fiverr, freelancers not only post a profile, they post “package” job offers. For instance: “I will create a AI chatbot for your website for $100.”

Each job package says what the freelancer will do; what it costs; and the specific details of what is included in the offer. With many types of gigs, the site encourages freelancers to create basic, standard and premium “packages” for each service that they provide on the platform.

So, for instance, one freelancer who offers custom songs, offers a “basic” package that is lyrics and music for one verse for $20. His standard package offers two verses, a chorus, and vocals recording for $50; while his premium package is a whole song, with all the bells and whistles, for $70.  Each package also says how many revisions clients can ask for without additional charges; and how quickly the project will be delivered.

Clients don’t shop their own projects around to freelancers. They shop for packages they want to buy.

There’s no bidding nor negotiating on the price, what’s included or how quickly it must be delivered. Everything is spelled out, by the freelancer, in advance.

Fees

Fiverr charges freelancers a flat 20% commission on all sales. Freelancers pay nothing until they make a sale.

Upwork’s commission is lower — 10%. However, freelancers must have “connects” — a type of Upwork currency — to bid on jobs. Typically, you’ll need 12 to 16 connects to bid on any given job, freelancers say. And you must buy these connects in advance.

You get 10 connects with Upwork’s free plan and can buy more for 15 cents each.

However, if you upgrade to Upwork’s premium membership plan ($20 a month), you’ll get 100 connects per month. This plan also gives you the ability to see what other freelancers are bidding on projects. That doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get work here. But, it improves your odds.

Because of the connects issue, you’re likely to pay money to Upwork before you ever land a job.

Getting paid

Both sites hold customer payments in escrow until the money is disbursed to the freelance worker at the end of the project, or when a progress payment is due.

Overall: Upwork

Freelancers either love or hate Upwork. There’s little in between. And the main area of demarkation is when you started working with the platform. Early adopters are often positive; newcomers are not.

The reason: For newcomers, it’s extremely difficult to get work here without cutting your fees to almost nothing. Some do that to get clients and enough reviews to win repeat business and more clients. But, there are continuing costs (for connects or a monthly plan) and no guarantees of work.

And, because Upwork is an international work platform, U.S. workers are competing with freelancers from countries where the cost of living is far lower. That bodes poorly for ever being able to charge premium prices for your work.

Says one freelancer on Reddit: “Most Upwork clients…are looking to hire with an hourly rate that is not sustainable in a lot of Western countries. And there are freelancers from low-wage countries that are happy to work for this rate. When not happy working for these rates, Upwork has a lot less to offer.”

The old-timers on the platform, meanwhile, benefit from repeat business.

Repeat customers are a key for making money on Upwork for two reasons: Repeat customers are less price-sensitive. And freelancers do not need to pay “connects” to bid on projects when they’ve been invited to bid by the customer. Thus, this group of freelancers pays less and gets better gigs.

Overall: Fiverr

Freelancers face two big challenges on Fiverr.

The biggest challenge is standing out from the crowd. This site has nearly 400,000 freelancers vying for customers. And the number of areas of expertise is mind-boggling. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 different business services are offered here.

And, because you are in the driver’s seat — saying what you’ll do and how much you’ll charge — you need to be very thoughtful about how you put together your work offers. Not only do you need to anticipate what clients will want to buy, you’ve got to figure out how much to charge and what to include.

That said, you can do your market research here by looking at other freelancers who are successful in your space. Next to each freelancer’s listing is their rating (1-5) and how many people have purchased that package. You can study those with thousands of past customers to see what they’re offering and read their reviews to see what clients respond to.

Upwork vs. Fiverr: Our view

We like the fact that Upwork gives freelancers the ability to see a project; say, “I could do that!”

The fact that clients ask for what they want allows freelancers to potentially nab jobs that they might never have thought to offer. (You can read our full review on Upwork here.)

However, we think the structure of Fiverr works better for freelancers. That’s because you don’t have to waste time and effort bidding on jobs that you might not get — nor lower your rates to nab customers.

And because you’ve created a standard offer, you can save additional time by streamlining your work process.

Better yet, Fiverr is growing at an exponential rate and is increasingly adding premium services. Indeed, Fiverr has launched a “pro” program, which allows experienced and vetted freelancers to work with the site’s business clients, who pay premium prices. (You can read our full review on Fiverr here.)

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