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The freelance industry continues to see rapid growth, with more than 59 million Americans now freelancing (source). More and more people are looking to develop a side hustle or establish a new career working remotely.
The main obstacle to freelancing is finding work. Fortunately, there are some solid freelance platforms that can help. Two of the most popular are Upwork and Fiverr. So, here we’ll delve into an Upwork vs. Fiverr comparison to help you compare them and decide which is the best option for you.
Upwork vs. Fiverr
The main difference between Upwork and Fiverr is related to how you get paying jobs. With Upwork, you’ll need to bid on jobs that are listed by clients. On Fiverr, you’ll create listings for the gigs you want to offer. Clients will find those gigs and order your services. Fiverr requires less time and effort to secure each job, but it will take some time and effort to build up your profiles so clients choose you.
The Fiverr Basics
Fiverr has been operating since 2010. The founders of the platform wanted to provide a two-sided solution for individuals to buy and sell freelance digital services. This platform allows freelancers to offer services worldwide.
Within just a couple of years, Fiverr had hosted over 1 million gigs. The Fiverr transaction volume continued to grow to 600%, leading it to become one of the USA’s top 100 most popular websites.
The Fiverr platform is easy to use. Once you create your seller profile, you can offer gigs. These can be for any digital service, but you can tailor your profile to maximize visibility. You can even add a video to introduce your services to potential buyers.
Fiverr allows you to add three packages to your gig page. This not only offers more choice for a potential buyer, but also increases your earning potential. So, you can offer a base service for $5, but charge more for higher tiers or upsells.
Once a buyer orders one of your gigs, you will receive payment as soon as the buyer approves your delivery. However, Fiverr does take a 20% commission from each completed job.
The Advantages of Fiverr
Fiverr offers a number of advantages for freelancers looking to find work. These include:
- Secure Payment: All clients who place orders are checked by Fiverr. This provides reassurance that freelancers will be paid correctly.
- You Can Earn Tips: While Fiverr has a fixed price model, it also encourages buyers to give tips if they are happy with the work.
- There Are Fiverr Seller Levels: Fiverr has a number of levels that sellers can qualify for. This boosts your visibility and can help you attract more clients. There are minimum gigs and timeframes to qualify for the levels. But, if you have worked on over 100 gigs and earned more than $20,000 in over 180 days, you could become Top Rated.
- Access to Fiverr Pro: Fiverr Pro is a relatively new program that is the premium side of the platform. You will receive a Pro badge, but this is very exclusive. Only 1% of applicants earn a Pro badge after completing the application process.
The Upwork Basics
Upwork is a newer company as it has only been operating as Upwork since 2015. However, the company was formed when Elance and Odesk merged. It allowed freelancers on both platforms to transfer their profiles across to the new Upwork platform. This created the largest freelance job site in the world, with millions of jobs and over 70 work categories. Although there are many sites like Upwork, it’s the largest of its kind.
This platform works a little differently from Fiverr. Clients post jobs, and then freelancers compete to win the project. You’ll need to create an Upwork account and set up a compelling profile page. Potential clients can browse your profile, so Upwork allows you to add work samples, an online resume, skills tests, and a project catalog to showcase your talents. Clients can rate your work and provide feedback on your services. You can even earn “Top-Rated” status.
You can browse the job boards for projects that appeal to you, but Upwork will also use its algorithms to highlight the best projects and jobs for you. You can also receive client invitations.
Upwork has a sliding scale for the commission on completed projects. This encourages you to build ongoing relationships with your clients. Whether you work on fixed price projects or hourly jobs, you’ll be charged 20% commission until your earnings with that client reach $500. After this point, the commission drops to 10%. If you reach $10k in earnings with that client, the commission is further reduced to 5%.
The Advantages of Upwork
Upwork also offers freelancers some great advantages. These include:
- Easy Communication: The Upwork platform features a workroom where you can communicate and share files with your client in a protected environment. Upwork also keeps records of all the communications, invoices, and transactions in case there are any misunderstandings or disputes.
- Escrow Protection: If you enter into a fixed-price contract, the client needs to place funds for each milestone in Escrow. Once you submit the work, if the client does not respond within 14 days, the funds are automatically released to you. Alternatively, the client can approve the work and release the funds immediately. You can then redeem your earnings five days after release.
- Hourly Work Protection: If you’re working on an hourly contract, you’ll need to complete a work diary. This ensures that you get paid for each hour of work with a billable time system.
- Encourages Long Term Relationships: With the variable commission structure, Upwork encourages you to build long term relationships. Once you have earned $500 or more with your client, the commission on further work drops down to 10%.
|finding work||you bid on projects||you create gigs and set your prices and visitors can hire you|
|fees on your earnings||5-20%||flat 20%|
|# of job categories||70+||200+|
How Upwork and Fiverr Compare
While both platforms are popular, there are some key differences between the two. These include:
The most obvious difference is in how you will be hired. As we touched on above, Upwork operates on a bidding system. To bid on a project, you need to submit a proposal and pay 1 to 5 Connects or tokens. The client will then evaluate the proposals and choose a freelancer for the job. If you get rehired by the client for another project, you don’t need to spend any more Connects.
Fiverr allows you to advertise your services. The buyer can browse the gigs and place an order if they find one they like. There is also a “Buyer requests” feature that allows job posting. If you see a job that appeals, you can send an offer.
Upwork has two types of projects; hourly and project based contracts. Hourly jobs allow you to retrieve your earnings within ten days of a complete billing cycle. Projects are set up with milestones. The client funds the payment for each milestone, and once the milestone is complete, the funds will be available to you in five days.
Fiverr considers orders complete once the client accepts the work. However, if the client does not take action, the platform automatically changes the project status to complete after three days. You can withdraw your earnings after 14 days of order completion.
As we touched on above, Upwork has a variable fee structure. This is designed so that the more work you do with each client, the greater your earnings. The maximum you will pay is 20%.
Fiverr also charges a 20% commission, but this does not vary according to how much you work with a client. So, even if you have repeat orders for gigs from the same person, you will still pay the 20%.
The other fees that apply relate to withdrawing funds. Upwork charges $1 for direct deposit payments. Once you request a payment, you can expect your funds in your bank account within a couple of days. Fiverr has variable fees for withdrawing your earnings. There is a $3 fee for Local Bank Transfers or $1 per Direct Deposit in the US only. You can also request a PayPal payment with a 2% fee up to $1.
While you may aim to deliver the best possible service to all your clients, there may be occasional misunderstandings or disputes. Fiverr doesn’t offer mediation services to settle any disputes. There is a resolution center that you can visit to extend the project delivery time, or clients can ask for order updates. But, if something goes wrong, Fiverr doesn’t really have provisions to help.
This is one area where Upwork really stands apart. In addition to holding funds in Escrow, this platform has a superb dispute resolution center where you can address any problems that may arise between you and your client. If the problem cannot be immediately resolved, Upwork will assign a mediator. This works to ensure the client is happy with the outcome without leaving you excessively out of pocket.
Which One is Best For You?
Upwork is a versatile platform that can help you to find work across a variety of industries. You can pick and choose projects that appeal to you and bid a price that seems fair. Potential clients can browse your proposal and profile to assess whether you’re a good fit for the job.
Whether you’re a freelance writer looking for long term projects or a web developer wanting to work on hourly projects, Upwork provides a solution. With over 70 categories, Upwork also provides the opportunity for many other freelance services.
However, Upwork does require that you apply and interview for new jobs. When you find a job posting that appeals, you’ll need to submit a proposal. If the client likes it, they may want to conduct an interview or ask further questions before sending a contract proposal. This can be a little long-winded, particularly if the client takes a great deal of time assessing the proposals. Additionally, you will need to be confident in your skills and interview skills. You will effectively need to sell yourself for each project.
Fiverr is more suited for one-off gigs. Although there is provision for longer-term relationships, there is no incentive like the drop in commission on Upwork. You can create one sales page for your gig and wait for potential buyers to find you. This is a less proactive approach to finding clients.
So the choice of Upwork vs Fiverr will depend on your preferred approach to freelancing. Each platform has distinct features that provide opportunities for freelancers. However, there is nothing stopping you from trying both. Upwork and Fiverr are both free to join, so you could use both and see which one is best suited to your personality and style.
Tips for Success on Upwork or Fiverr
Regardless of whether you choose to work on Upwork or Fiverr, there are some tips to help you find work and keep your clients happy.
- Don’t be afraid to sell yourself: If you’re writing a gig or Upwork proposals, you will need to showcase your abilities and talents. There is no point in trying to be modest, as you want to let the client know why you are the best choice for their job. If you have previous experience on a similar project, explain what you did well and why this will benefit any new clients.
- Respond to messages promptly: Although you may have other things in your schedule, if a client or potential client sends you a message, be sure to answer promptly. There is nothing more off-putting to a client than waiting days for a response.
- Maintain your professionalism: Most of us have encountered difficult people, and this is no different in the world of freelancing. Just remember that you need to maintain your professionalism. Don’t send an impulsive, argumentative response to a message or email. Take a moment to think about how to respond diplomatically and professionally. Your freelancing reputation can be easily damaged by a petty response.
Freelancing can be a rewarding career or lucrative side hustle, so it’s important to choose the right platform to offer your services. Both Upwork and Fiverr offer some great features, allowing you to showcase your skills to find work and new clients. Fiverr offers greater flexibility and a less proactive approach, while Upwork allows you to bid for jobs and has payment protections in place. So, you can choose the one that offers the features that are important to you. If you’re new to freelancing, consider using both until you decide which one is best suited to your working style.