Finding clients, when you’re starting out as a freelancer, is the hardest part of launching your new career. Word-of-mouth and local advertising are always great, but to make the most of your career, you need to use the Internet to your advantage. After establishing your own website and joining all the right social media groups, the next place to turn to is freelance hiring platforms. And you’re in luck! We’ve found some of the best freelance websites for 2020.
Connect With Future Clients on Freelance Hiring Platforms
Using a freelance hiring platform is a great way to help you start making the connections you need, in order to build a client base. These sites offer you connections to clients from around the world and jobs for beginners to well-experienced freelancers. Each platform has their pros and cons, so most freelancers are members of several until they become more established.
Annette Densham looked to UpWork when her PR business bloomed and she needed some help picking up the slack. It took a week to find the perfect person, who still works with Publicity Genie 3 years on, and she still turns back to the platform for smaller tasks: “I use Upwork for a lot of short term work. It’s easy to use and to manage communication and payment.”
There are hundreds of websites that claim to offer freelance work. However, we have found that the best freelance websites are not the ones that offer work, but instead… help you connect to businesses seeking your skills.
Things to Consider When Using Freelance Websites
When you are ready to start using a freelance service, there are some important things that you should consider before signing on to a service. Being aware of the following information will allow you to make the best decision on which sites to use.
- Cost For Service – Each site charges differently, so it’s always good to take this into consideration before joining. Some sites will charge a registration fee and that is all. Meanwhile, other sites will allow you to register and bid on work for free — but charge a commission on your earnings. Some sites will do both. Before you sign on, make sure you familiarize yourself with the fee structure and are comfortable with how and what they charge. Along with differences in cost, there are also varying features and benefits. Each platform offers something unique to stand out from the other.
- Freelancer Protections – On occasion you may run into a client who won’t pay. To protect yourself, make sure to check the policies of each site. Most of the major freelance sites have programs in place that will make sure you are paid for your work. However, in the event they don’t, you may want to consider getting paid in stages based on completion of work so you’re never in an all or nothing situation.
- Limits On Services – Some sites may offer different levels of membership. These memberships may limit the amount of work that you can bid on each month. Remember that you may want to have a higher limit at first. It is always harder for a beginner to land that first job, so you will want to bid more often than a seasoned freelancer. You may also consider charging less than you would normally expect to make. Once you have some work experience, you can reduce the number of bids you need each month and increase your prices to where you would like them to be.
- Terms of Your Service – Make sure to read the terms that a site requires for your work. Will you be required to provide a specific number of revisions? Will you have deadlines set by the site for your work completion? Will you be limited in any way for your pay or creativity? This is everything that you should be aware of, with any freelancing website, before taking the first client.
- Services – Many of the larger freelance sites offer valuable services in addition to their job boards — Do they allow you to build an online portfolio? Do they offer any benefits that can improve your freelance skills? Do they offer benefits to help you bid more effectively? Do they offer support if you encounter problems with their website? Have in mind, a list of services that matter to you.
Joseph Liu, personal branding consultant and host of the Career Relaunch Podcast shared his insights with us:
“My work involves providing guidance to employers and business owners on how to find, hire, and manage freelance talent. I’ve also been a client/buyer on many freelancer platforms including Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer, PeoplePerHour, designCrowd, Squadhelp, CrowdSpring, 99Designs, using them for my business including brand building, technical assistance, and design tasks. I’ve seen how leveraging the freelance economy can be an efficient & cost effective tactic to grow your small business, but you have to approach it in a smart manner.
I would generally recommend Upwork or PeoplePerHour for more in-depth projects, as I’ve found the quality of freelancers to be higher there vs. platforms like Fiverr. However, Fiverr can be great for simple, executional tasks like photo editing, basic design, and artwork refinements.
Hiring a solid freelancer tends to take a solid 3-4 weeks, which includes preparing a brief, posting the job, vetting applications, interviewing candidates, and kicking off the work. For simpler tasks, I’ve found freelancers in a matter of minutes on platforms like Fiverr.”
Our Top 7 Picks
We consider the following seven sites, the best freelance websites in 2019. This is based on the availability of jobs, customer service, additional services, and protections offered to the freelancer.
Upwork is the leading site for connecting freelancers with potential clients. Formerly known as O-Desk, this site was once dedicated to remote office work. It has since expanded to include freelance work of all kinds, especially for those with web-based applications. Upwork has recently acquired Elance, another top-performing freelance website service. The merging of these companies into one large freelance job site has made this the dominating freelance job board on the Internet.
Charlie Worrel, an Executive with imaginaire.co.uk, had this to say about our #1 pick:
“After using the tool for a few months we’ve found that most of the people we hire are professional, efficient and friendly. Using UpWork frees up time for our in-house staff, allowing them to focus on future projects and advancing our company. Whether it’s contracting a freelancer to write regular blog posts or asking for a one-off infographic, UpWork makes it a lot easier. While there is the option to hire an in-house designer or copywriter it can be more cost effective to use a fleet of freelancers. This means that the clients are happy because costs are lower too.
Milestones allow us to keep projects on track, set clear targets for contractors and quality control work before the freelancer is paid – having the ability to give a bonus at the end is great because if we’re delighted with the work we’re more than happy to reward the people we employ.”
Fiverr was first started as a way for people to make a few extra bucks on the side. People could post a task or a job that they would perform for $5.00. Most of the jobs were blog posts or reviewing completed homework for accuracy. The popularity of the site was so great that they have expanded their offerings and how much a freelancer can charge. Now, you can offer any type of freelance service and offer a per-job rate or hourly rate. This has been a great place for beginner freelancers to start because they can land jobs at a lower cost and build their portfolio. Jeroen Minks from Vazooky used Fiverr to get his logo professionally designed as he didn’t have the design skills in-house. His advice is that as long as you give clear instructions on what you want, you can get great work for a very competitive price.
Freelancer is one of the more common freelance websites for graphic designers. The site literally has millions of projects available from clients around the world. You must be very aggressive and competitive when you bid for work on Freelancer, since you will be competing against candidates from all over. However, this is a great place to get started as a freelancer and it is also a great place for small design agencies to land larger clients.
4. 99 Designs
99 Designs was created specifically for designers to launch their freelance careers. Freelancers can compete for clients and showcase their work on the site. It is a great way to learn how to discover what clients are really looking for in a design. This site is also a great way to build a portfolio that you can use for other freelance sites.
Hubstaff Talent is very similar to all of the other freelance sites in terms of having a large volume of work and potential clients. The one difference in this site, is that you do not pay a commission on your work. Lawrence Ladomery from Automatico has used most major freelance platforms in the past but has stuck firm with Hubstaff for a couple of reasons – it’s free to use for both businesses and freelancers, and the quality of work he’s received has been above average.
This freelance site is geared towards web developers. However, there is a significant amount of demand for graphic designs for web-based projects. If you are seeking freelance sites for web design or development, this one should be on your list of sites to check out and join.
Toptal claims that their freelancer’s are in the top 3% of talent. Freelancers must apply to work through Toptal and pass a 5-Step screening process. This ensures that Toptal’s freelancers will be dependable and a great fit for your team! They also offer a no-risk trial and quality guarantee. If you are looking for a hassle-free freelance hiring process, Toptal is the place to look.
Regular Job Sites & Classified Ads Vs. Freelance Platforms
There are freelance positions being offered on job opportunity websites and classified ad sites such as Craigslist. Some of these positions may lead you to a remote position for a company in your area. While others may allow you to work as a home-based designer for a national company as your full-time job. This may be what you are looking for, but it will be more of a job than a freelance opportunity — Working for someone versus being self-employed. Using a freelance website allows you the flexibility that a traditional full-time job may not.
You must be careful though because on occasion, job listings found on websites that are not geared toward freelancers, may be a scam. Some people post ads for jobs with the sole intention of getting your personal information. Be very cautious about responding to ads that are not protected through background checks like many of the freelance sites listed above.
New to the Freelance World
When you are starting out as a freelancer, your safest choice is to stick with the major freelance sites that have protocols in place to protect the freelancer and the client. Work with these sites that have proven track records of connecting freelancers with quality clients of all sizes and from all areas of the world. This is the best way to establish yourself in the industry, with the lowest risk factors.
Collaborating with Web Designers, Developers, and Business Clients
Once you have your freelancing site (or sites) of choice and have a contract with your first client, you may find the site’s communication features challenging to work with. It is often necessary to collaborate on a project in the designing, developing, and planning realm. Plus, having a safe and easy place to do so can put your clients at ease. This will help create a connection for repeat work.
Thinking about scaling up operations in the future? Freelance platforms can provide an excellent opportunity to meet and forge relationships with other professionals with who you can partner with on future projects. In fact, you can even register your collaborative as an agency on platforms such as Upwork, much like ap development agency Techuz.
Commercial director of Agile Drop , Iztok Smolic, started his career using freelance platforms and gives us his tips for would-be employers
“About 10 years ago I was on the other side of freelance portals, looking for work as a web designer and developer. Now I am running a company and use freelance portals on occasions. I’ve used UpWork and Fiverr mostly and had many successful and some less successful experiences. I would say that when it was not so successful it might be my fault. Clients must provide detailed briefs and be patient when communicating with freelancers.”
Whether you are writing content, managing seo, designing, developing, or planning websites — we recommend taking a look at Slickplan. Get everything you need to collaborate on a project in a seamless and intuitive app built for freelancers, agencies, and in-house teams. Your client will feel connected to the work process every step of the way!
Written By Jenn Marie
Jenn Marie is a freelance copy writer and internet marketing strategist based out of the Seattle area. A true tech evangelist, Jenn previously helped individuals utilize the full potential of Dell, Microsoft and Amazon products. She now focuses on building authentic online presences for small businesses and entrepreneurs through her company, Jenn Marie Writing & Marketing.