Apr 25, 2023
Fiverr vs Upwork: The Best Platform for Freelancers + Comparing Workflow, Cost, and More
Millions of people are considering becoming freelancers, but choosing the right place to network with clients remains a challenge. Among the available platforms, Fiverr and Upwork stand out because of their huge client base, variety of skill sets, and excellent reputation in the freelancing world.
If you’re one of those aspiring freelancers, read on to see a detailed Upwork vs Fiverr comparison. We’ll explore different aspects of these top freelancing websites, including their workflow and cost, so you can decide the best option to start looking for your first freelance jobs.
Let’s start by discussing how these two freelance platforms work.
What’s the Difference Between Fiverr vs Upwork
The main difference between Fiverr and Upwork is that Fiverr is better suited for smaller, one-time projects, while Upwork is better for larger and more complex projects. Fiverr is known for its simple interface and affordable prices, making it a good option for freelancers and small businesses. Upwork, on the other hand, offers a more comprehensive set of features and a larger pool of skilled freelancers. Additionally, Upwork has more stringent security measures and payment protections in place, making it a safer option for larger projects.
How Does Fiverr Work?
Initially, Fiverr started as a platform where clients could hire freelancers to finish a project for only $5. It has evolved since then as freelancers can now set their own prices.
This freelancing platform refers to employers as buyers and freelancers as sellers. Fiverr is a freelancer-focused platform that lets sellers create packaged services or “Gigs” and list them on sale. It also has a Buyer Requests section for employers to post jobs that sellers can apply for.
As a result, making appealing packages is crucial since they increase your chances of getting hired. By default, the Gigs are one-time purchases, but buyers can extend the contract using Gig Milestones or repurchase a Gig multiple times.
Fiverr categorizes sellers on four levels. The high-level ones will get more perks, like faster earnings withdrawal and better customer support.
How Does Upwork Work?
Unlike Fiverr, Upwork is more client-focused. Clients publish job listings in the Talent Marketplace and choose freelancers to work with. Freelancers will need to bid for the jobs and pitch their skills. Alternatively, they can display predefined offerings on the Project Catalog.
Upwork uses a virtual currency named Connects. Freelancers use it to apply for jobs posted by clients, and clients need this currency to invite certain freelancers. Upwork freelancers will get ten free Connects each month.
This freelance marketplace is geared towards hiring freelancers for long-term projects by supporting ongoing contracts and hourly projects, which Fiverr doesn’t have.
Similar to Fiverr, Upwork also has freelancer levels and badges based on specific criteria, including your experience and diversity.
Fiverr vs Upwork: Workflow and Profile
In this section, we’ll cover Upwork and Fiverr’s workflow – from creating a profile to getting a job. We’ll answer whether the platform is easy to use and discuss how freelancers can earn money online.
Creating a seller account is easy – you just have to sign up via its homepage, create a username, and set up a profile by adding:
- Personal information. It includes a full name, a profile picture, languages, and a profile summary.
- Professional details. Specify your occupation, skills, education, certifications, and linked accounts, such as social media profiles and personal websites.
After verifying your account, you can start listing your first Gig. This platform helps sellers easily map out services by providing tiered packages for one offer. In addition, buyers can make a custom request for sellers.
Note that Fiverr will only publish an account with a minimum of 65% completion.
From a buyer’s perspective, Fiverr’s interface is more about directing them to individual Gigs. It will show the freelancer’s profile with its Gig image, service packages, rating from previous clients, starting price, and a brief description of their service.
After receiving a request, a freelancer will discuss the project details with the buyer, finish the work, and get the payment. While waiting for clients is the main way of getting work on Fiverr, sellers can also get projects by searching for them on the Buyers Requests or sending tailored offers.
However, many freelancers complain about buyers choosing the wrong package. Unfortunately, Fiverr’s customer service mostly favors the buyer and requests the seller to give the money back, which can decrease their’ rating. This decline can also happen when sellers take long to respond, get a negative review, or reject the client.
Upwork’s profile is resume-based, consisting of the following:
- Job title
- Profile picture
- Employment experience
- Other experiences, for example, volunteering
Completing this profile will give clients comprehensive information, help the platform match you with more relevant freelancing opportunities, and reward you with a Rising Talent or Top Rated status badge.
Important! Upwork doesn’t accept all applications. After you create a profile, its team will review it and let you know when you get accepted. We recommend getting a business email address to make you look more professional. You can use either Google email for business or other trusted email services to have one. Rejected applicants can always update their profile and reapply whenever they improve their skills or get more experience.
To get a job on Upwork, freelancers have to submit a proposal by setting their rates and writing a cover letter. Another method is to list your services on the Project Catalog and wait for clients to contact you. Although it may seem like an advantage – freelancers can gain control over the project they’ll work on – many think that this job application process is too complicated.
Once you get a job offer, discuss the project details with clients and sign a contract once both parties agree. During the project, log hours worked and update the progress status. Finally, submit the work and receive payment after the client approves.
This freelance marketplace has features to help you manage the freelance job, from project management to billing and payment, and ensure both parties are on the same page. These include automatic invoicing, time trackings, and multiple client communication tools, like direct messaging and Zoom video calls.
If you’d like help finding job opportunities, consider applying for Talent Scout. This free program will match skilled talents with clients. Note that it’s only available for freelancers in the Design and Creative, Sales and Marketing, and Development and IT categories.
In this section, Fiverr comes out on top. These platforms offer a different workflow which may not be comparable – Fiverr uses a client-first approach, and Upwork requires freelancers to actively bid on projects.
However, Fiverr’s workflow makes it easier for beginners to register and find a job. They don’t need to pay to get a job and can sit back until a client purchases their service. On Upwork, freelancers have to undergo a long process to get a job and need to pay to apply for more.
Fiverr vs Upwork: Cost
There’s no upfront cost to create a freelancer profile on Upwork and Fiverr. However, each platform charges some commission per transaction and a membership fee for additional services.
Fiverr freelancers don’t need to pay anything to sign up and list services. However, the platform will charge 20% of the paid Gigs, regardless of how much you make or how long you’ve worked with the buyer.
This freelance platform provides safe, in-platform payment withdrawal methods:
- Fiverr revenue card
- Bank transfer
- Direct deposit
The fees and minimum withdrawal amount depend on the method, currency, and location.
Most freelancers must wait for a 14-day clearing period before withdrawing the funds. This timeline is for buyer satisfaction guarantee and financial processing. However, top-rated sellers can opt to receive their earnings after seven days.
This platform has a membership program called Fiverr Pro for established freelancers. It is free and open for everyone, but the team will filter the applications according to the freelancer’s education, professional background, and portfolio.
Freelancers need Connects to apply for jobs on Upwork. You will get 10/month for free, and then you need to buy them starting at $0.15 if you want to apply to more positions. It’s also possible to get Connects on certain occasions, like the first registration and completion of Upwork’s skill certification.
Alternatively, earn Connects by upgrading your account to Freelancer Plus for $14.99/month. This plan comes with 80 Connects/month, a dedicated account manager, increased visibility, and the possibility to see how much competitors bid for the job.
Unlike Fiverr, which uses a flat-rated commission, this platform has a tiered fee structure on a sliding scale:
- 20% for the first $500 you bill a client.
- 10% for total billings between $500.01 and $10,000.
- 5% for total billings that exceed $10,000.
The more you work with a specific client, the smaller the commission fee. For this reason, Upwork is perfect for long-term relationships. Freelancers can withdraw funds to their bank accounts or use third-party payment vendors like PayPal and Payoneer.
In this comparison, there is no clear winner. Freelancers don’t need to pay to get a job on Fiverr, but the cut is quite high due to its flat-rated commission, especially for expensive projects. Meanwhile, Upwork has a flexible commission structure, but you must pay for Connects if you want to apply for more jobs.
Fiverr vs Upwork: Types of Jobs
Fiverr and Upwork offer various freelance opportunities in many fields, from programming to meal planning.
Fiverr’s Gigs Directory divides its freelance opportunities into:
- Graphics and Design
- Music and Audio
- Programming and Tech
- Digital Marketing
- Writing and Translation
- Video and Animation
Each category has tons of subcategories. For example, sellers under the Programming and Tech section can focus on website development, blockchain and cryptocurrency, or NFT development.
When signing up on Upwork, freelancers will pick a niche from 14 primary job categories:
- Accounting and Consulting
- Admin Support
- Customer Service
- Data Science and Analysis
- Design and Creative
- Engineering and Architecture
- IT and Networking
- Sales and Marketing
- Web, Mobile, and Software Development
From here, new freelancers will choose a range of specializations in each category. You can also further specify your profile by adding up to ten skills.
Besides multiple job categories, Upwork enables clients to engage freelancers in highly customizable contracts:
- One-time projects
- Ongoing freelance contracts
- Discrete projects with milestones
- Hourly projects
The platform lets clients form a team, so you’ll work with multiple freelancers. For example, a website development company can simultaneously hire a freelance web developer, a copywriter, and a graphic designer.
When comparing Upwork vs Fiverr in terms of types of jobs, Upwork is a winner. Although Fiverr provides a wide range of job variety, Upwork offers more job and contract options.
Fiverr vs Upwork: Security and Verification Standards
Security should be a priority for any freelancing site since they accept payments online and keep clients’ and freelancers’ personal information. Now, let’s see the Upwork vs Fiverr comparison regarding security.
The platform itself is secure as Fiverr meets the security standards like the Level 1 PCI-DSS for payment and is GDPR-compliant.
However, you can still get scammed. For example, a scammer can pose as a buyer and ask a seller for a custom order. Once the seller has completed it, they’ll request a refund claiming that they didn’t receive the order.
To avoid getting scammed, keep the deal on the platform because Fiverr doesn’t guarantee transactions outside. Be transparent and clear in your Gig descriptions, so the buyer doesn’t expect something you don’t offer and ask for a detailed brief before accepting the project. Additionally, define your ideal client and specify your niche in your profile to prevent working with the wrong clients.
Fiverr has levels indicating sellers’ number of orders, revenue, and active period to let clients know who are the best freelancers in the marketplace:
- New Seller. You’ll be automatically ranked as a New Seller when you first create a Gig on Fiverr.
- Level 1. This means that a freelancer has been an active seller for at least 60 days, completed ten orders, and earned $400 or more.
- Level 2. Get this badge if you have been an active seller for at least 120 days, completed 50 orders, and earned $2,000 or more.
- Top-Rated Seller. Reserved for highly skilled freelancers who completed 100 orders and earned $20,000 or more in the last 180 days.
To get these badges, you also must maintain a 4.7-star rating, deliver a 90% response rate and on-time delivery score, and receive no warnings over 30 days.
Upwork provides secure contracts and payments by:
- Employing multi-factor authentication.
- Offering the Enterprise single sign-on (SSO) and session timeouts.
- Encrypting data.
- Verifying every freelancer’s and client’s profiles and payment methods.
- Using the PCI DSS Level 2 compliant for secure payment processing.
- Complying with the GDPR and CCPA requirements.
This platform’s dispute team is also available to resolve issues between clients and freelancers, involving billed hours, refunds, or unresponsiveness.
To ensure clients’ credibility and avoid scams, freelancers can view their profiles and contact other freelancers that have worked or are working under them.
Similar to Fiverr, the Upwork platform has profile badges and seller levels:
- Rising Talent. It’s for freelancers that have a strong background in the field.
- Top Rated. This represents the top 10% of Upwork talents based on positive feedback from clients.
- Top Rated Plus. Ones with proven success on large or long-term projects.
- Expert-Vetted Talent. Freelancers that have passed evaluation from Upwork’s Talent Managers.
- Diversity-certified. A special badge for minorities, women, veterans, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ members.
- Skills certification. Earn this badge by joining the Upwork Skills Certification and feature it on your profile.
Upwork and Fiverr comply with basic protection standards, ensuring that freelancers and clients have a secure transaction experience. However, Upwork gets more points because it lets freelancers see clients’ reviews before doing the work and is more transparent about the security features.
Fiverr vs Upwork: Difficulty in Getting a Job
Both Fiverr and Upwork have a huge client base and support millions of freelancers. A good freelancing site should ensure a balance between the number of projects and freelancers, so they can easily land a job. Let’s consider which platform offers easier opportunities and a higher salary.
Fiverr marketplace lets clients hire you, avoiding wasting time applying for jobs, especially when you still have little experience in the field. Potential clients review your expertise and pricing before contacting you. As a result, you have a high chance of closing the deal once they contact you.
However, since Fiverr’s original vision is to provide five-dollar jobs, many buyers still expect to get potential freelancers as cheaply as possible, resulting in many of them being paid lower than they deserve.
For example, the average freelance writers earn $4/hour on Fiverr, as many come from developing countries. Initially, it’s okay to remain competitive with lower prices to get orders and reviews. However, increase your rate once you’ve built your reputation and acquired higher-level badges.
With more than 12 million freelancers registered on Upwork and around five million clients, finding opportunities on this platform can be tough. Still, the number of available Upwork jobs depends on your industry.
On Upwork, clients only need to choose freelancers from submitted proposals. In this case, new freelancers on the platform are at a disadvantage because they compete against top freelancers with a good client history and portfolio.
Additionally, Upwork doesn’t accept all profile applications because it tries to keep a balance between freelancers and projects available.
To get this platform to approve your profile, you should be at least 18 years old, have relevant professional experiences, and create a complete profile with high-quality images or videos and well-written descriptions.
Although both Upwork and Fiverr have fierce competition, Fiverr has the edge over the other in terms of the convenience of getting freelance work. Upwork will filter freelancer identities before they join, and freelancers need to actively bid for projects to find jobs which can take a lot of time. Meanwhile, Fiverr encourages freelancers to freely sell their services and wait for the clients to approach.
Fiverr vs Upwork: Final Verdict
Upwork and Fiverr are excellent freelance job platforms, but each has its own pros and cons. Choosing one will depend on your skills and preferences.
Let’s recap each aspect we’ve compared:
- Workflow and profile. Fiverr is more suitable for beginners as they can create a profile and offer services without waiting for application approvals or paying for applying to more jobs.
- Cost. Both platforms are comparable. Fiverr sellers are free to sell their services, but the commission fee is flat-rated. Meanwhile, Upwork has a tiered commission structure which requires sellers to pay for more job opportunities.
- Types of jobs. Upwork has a wider range of job categories and provides long-term contracts like hourly rates and ongoing projects.
- Security and verification standards. Upwork is more responsible for its site’s security by using protection features and being ready for a dispute.
- Difficulty in getting a job. Although both platforms are competitive, Fiverr is a better choice for new-level freelancers because it lets them register easily and wait for clients’ offers.
Fiverr vs Upwork: Best For
Now that you understand the detailed comparison between Upwork and Fiverr, let’s see which is the right freelance platform for you.
Choose Fiverr if you:
- Want to get started on your freelancing journey quickly.
- Like short, one-time projects over long-term contracts.
- Are confident in mapping out your services and scope of work.
A few factors to consider before using Fiverr are its flat-rate commission, bias towards buyers, and a five-dollar project reputation.
Meanwhile, Upwork would be the best option if you:
- Have professional experience in the field.
- Like having control over the clients you’ll work with and hunting for work instead of waiting for them to come to you.
- Prefer forming long-term relationships with clients.
Before creating a profile on Upwork, prepare yourself for its long-winded registration process and job bidding system by building relevant skills and making attractive proposals.
Other Freelance Platform Alternatives
If you don’t think Fiverr or Upwork is the right platform for you, check out these freelancing sites specializing in web development, graphic design, and writing.
Toptal, which stands for “top talent,” is a freelancing platform connecting highly qualified and experienced freelancers with clients. It supports web developers, designers, project and product managers, and finance experts with two or more years of experience.
Applying to Toptal requires passing five steps of the screening process, from English and communication to test projects. This process can take a few weeks to complete, and failing the test will put your application on hold for up to several months.
Although the registration process is more complicated than others, Toptal offers various benefits for their freelancers, including networking opportunities with the leading Fortune 500 brands and startups and expert freelancers, no service fees, and financial support for technical certifications.
Whether you’re a fashion designer, a web designer, or an illustrator, Behance offers a free place to get discovered by potential clients. This platform also provides a job list where a specific freelancer gets personalized freelance or full-time job recommendations according to their skills and category.
Freelancers who want to sell services on Behance can link to their website directly from the profile using descriptions or project text. They can also connect social media accounts on their profile.
Best Writing is an excellent freelance job platform for people in the writing industry, including copywriters, journalists, and editors. It has a job board listing freelance, contract, or full-time writing jobs from reputable companies across sectors. Among the top businesses are Wix, NerdWallet, and Study.com.
Joining Best Writing is free, but you can start a paid monthly membership at $9 to get additional benefits like a daily newsletter with the latest writing jobs and an attractive public writer profile.
Fiverr and Upwork are great freelancing platforms for finding jobs online, making connections, and earning money.
They offer a free membership to create freelancer profiles, standard security features, multiple payment options, and tiered levels. Both options also support freelancers with different skills, from graphic design to songwriting and tax consulting.
As Upwork and Fiverr have a large selection of job categories, consider choosing Toptal, Behance, or Best Writing if you prefer joining industry-specific platforms.
We hope this article has helped you choose the best platform for your needs and build a successful freelancing career. If you work with multiple clients, check out our list of client management software to help organize your projects.