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  5. Upwork vs Freelancer.com: One, Clear Winner [2022 Update]

Upwork vs Freelancer.com: One, Clear Winner [2022 Update]

Alexandros Melidoniotis Alexandros MelidoniotisFreelance Jobs Expert April 11, 2022
April 11, 2022

Choosing between Upwork and Freelancer.com can be difficult, as they’re both very popular freelance marketplaces. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages – but knowing what these are can help save you a ton of time, money, and heartache.

I spent the past few weeks testing out both platforms (as a client and as a freelancer), and I was pleasantly surprised by both. That said, Upwork scored more points overall for doing a couple of things better than Freelancer.

Upwork has greatly simplified the hiring process, and its work and management tools are probably the best I’ve ever seen. Freelancer charges a lower payment fee and is a bit cheaper overall, but I found that Upwork offers work of higher quality.

Whether you’re a small business owner looking to hire skilled professionals or a freelancer looking for work, my findings should help clear things up. Read on to figure out which platform will work best for you.

For Employers Looking For Freelancers

As an employer, you want to find the best possible freelancer for your project while staying within budget.

Both Upwork and Freelancer are good choices, but I found Upwork offers a better hiring experience. Here are some things you should keep in mind before making a decision.

Features

Upwork Is a Bit More Versatile

Freelancer and Upwork boast millions of registered users, giving you no shortage of qualified help to choose from. Due to Upwork’s vetting process, the pool of freelancers is slightly smaller, although arguably more qualified.

Both offer advanced search filters, making it easy to find and hire the right candidate. On Upwork, top-rated freelancers have their shiny badge displayed next to their profile, and Freelancer tags elite-level workers through the Preferred Freelancer Program.

Upwork discover feature
With Upwork’s advanced filters, it’s easy to find the right freelancer for the job.

You’ll find plenty of detailed reports and work-related tools on both platforms. But when it comes to the actual hiring process, Upwork is a lot more versatile. Not only do you get to choose from a huge talent pool, but you can also use the Project Catalog to browse jobs posted by freelancers.

Much like Fiverr’s popular gig system, Upwork doesn’t make you wait for freelancers to come to you.

If you’re worried about making online payments, know that both Upwork and Freelancer offer advanced payment protection plans where your money isn’t released until you approve the work.

Ease of Use

Upwork Offers a More Solid User Experience

Signing up and posting my first job on Upwork was relatively straightforward. It wasn’t the fastest or most intuitive process ever, but everything made sense once I got the hang of it.

The interface is clean, and I love how Upwork’s search engine and discovery feature are laid out. There are many categories to choose from, but even a simple keyword search is enough to bring up hundreds of capable freelancers.

Generating reports and monitoring hires is pretty easy on both platforms – no complaints there.

Freelancer’s interface is intuitive too, but it took me a bit more time to get used to all the different buttons and menus. Still, it’s a feature-packed platform, so I’m willing to let that slide.

Freelancer profile browsing
Freelancer’s filters and advanced search options aren’t as advanced as Upwork’s.

What really caught me off guard was the huge number of applications I received after posting my first job. It turns out Freelancer has a major bot issue, with slave-driver agencies posting as individual contractors. Sifting through all the automated applications was an exhausting, time-consuming process.

So, Upwork wins this round – it doesn’t have as big of a bot issue and offers a better user experience overall.

Pricing and Fees

Freelancer’s Upgrades Drive the Cost Up Every Time

Posting jobs on both Freelancer and Upwork is relatively straightforward. The fees charged on both these platforms are similar and only need to be paid upon successful completion of your project. Where these platforms differ is in the fees charged and the optional add-ons offered to clients.

Upwork charges a 5% processing fee, which is added to the total transaction amount paid to a freelancer. This is up from their old fee of 3% (although note that eligible US clients paying with a checking account will still pay 3%), but Upwork makes up for that by giving all users access to Plus features for free.

If you work for a larger organization and have a number of freelance needs, you may want to consider an Upwork Enterprise account, which comes with some extra perks. The fees for this service vary, so contact Upwork for a demo if you’re interested.

Here are some things you should know about employer fees on Freelancer:

  • Signing up and posting a project is free, although a fee is charged once a freelancer is hired. You have 7 days to cancel a project to receive a full refund of all associated costs.
  • For fixed-priced projects, you’ll pay 3% of the project cost or a $3 fee (whichever is greater). This is only charged once the project is awarded to a freelancer and the project terms have been accepted.
  • For hourly projects, you’ll pay a 3% fee for each Milestone Payment made to the freelancer. These payments are automatically created every Monday and released to the freelancer on Wednesday.

On paper, Freelancer is a bit cheaper than Upwork, but things get complicated once you throw perks and upgrades into the equation. You see, Upwork offers most – if not all – of its services (e.g., advanced reports, access to premium talent, advanced freelancer search) for free to all users.

Freelancer, on the other hand, doesn’t. You need to pay more for additional upgrades:

  • Feature your job so it appears on top of freelancer searches: $9
  • Hire a recruiter: $9.50
  • Mark your job as urgent: $9
  • Set your job to private: $19
  • Make freelancers sign an NDA: $19
  • Hide submitted bids: $9
  • IP Agreement: $19
  • Full-time work: $199

Phew…

As you can see, these upgrades quickly stack up, and you could end up paying quite a bit more than you originally anticipated. Personally, I’d rather pay a higher fee upfront than deal with this annoying add-on system every time I need to hire someone.

Support

Contacting a Real Human Shouldn’t Be This Difficult

We’re all familiar with the shortcomings of online marketplaces when it comes to support, and Upwork and Freelancer aren’t all that different.

Support is okay on both platforms – if you manage to reach a human representative. Yes, there are FAQs and extensive knowledge bases, but you can’t always get the answers you need from help articles.

Contacting Upwork’s live support will set off a perpetual bot chat cycle – you can only reach a human representative once you’ve outsmarted their clever AI. The bot itself is pretty knowledgeable, but it won’t be much help if you’re experiencing technical or payment issues.

Upwork chat bot
Beating Upwork’s bot takes quite a bit of skill and prior planning.

Freelancer has 24/7 live-chat support too, but operators tend to take ages to reply – if they’re not completely AFK. You can always write an email or submit a ticket, but you won’t always have time for that.

Neither platform offers phone support, but that’s not too surprising. So, since neither really impressed me, I’m calling this a draw.

Better for Employers?

It’s clear that Upwork is the better platform for most employers. It’s bigger and offers more hiring options – plus it’s considerably less spammy.

The quality of work is also higher on Upwork, and while you might have to pay freelancers slightly higher rates, all of Freelancer’s upgrade fees mean it’s not necessarily a cheaper alternative.

Upwork is more upfront with its cost and charges, so you’ll always know exactly how much a project will cost you. The Freelancer platform spams you with upgrades on top of upgrades for every job you post – an annoying and misleading monetization tactic.

For Freelancers Looking For Work

Whether you use Upwork or Freelancer, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find plenty of work. The main difference between the two platforms is what you’ll get paid – and what’s expected of you. In my experience, clients on Upwork often seem more willing to pay a fair wage, but with this higher pay rate generally come higher expectations.

Upwork job search
No matter your line of work or expertise, there are always hundreds – if not thousands – of jobs to choose from on Upwork.

While both platforms are good for freelancers of nearly all skill sets, it’s easier to find and secure quality job posts on Upwork, as their vetting process effectively narrows down the competition. You need to be approved to create an account on Upwork, while anyone can open a Freelancer account.

Paying Fees

In exchange for connecting you to potential clients and job opportunities, both of these platforms will charge you fairly high fees.

When it comes to Upwork, the fees start out high, and lower over time. The fee structure breaks down as follows:

  • Upwork charges 20% on the first $500 you earn from a single client.
  • This fee drops to 10% once you’ve earned more than $500 with the same client.
  • You only pay 5% on anything earned above $10,000 with a single client.

Freelancer’s fees aren’t as high, but there’s no incentive to form long-term relationships with clients. Here are some important things to know about the fees on Freelancer:

  • For fixed-price projects, you’ll pay a fee of either 10% or $5, whichever is greater.
  • For hourly projects, you’ll pay a flat 10% fee, making this a more popular choice for smaller projects under $50, as the total fee will be lower.
  • For services, you’ll be charged a 20% fee.

Working With Clients

When it comes to clients, both Upwork and Freelancer have their issues. While most clients are honest people simply looking to get their projects completed quickly and professionally, both platforms host a fair number of scammers.

examples of spammy posts on Upwork and Freelancer
Examples of spammy job posts on Upwork (top) and Freelancer (bottom).

From my experience working as a freelancer on both platforms, these issues seem to be far more prevalent on Freelancer.

Still, this can be an unavoidable part of being a freelancer, regardless of where you find your work. Here are some pro tips to ensure you’re working with an honest and reputable client:

  • Only work with those that have a verified payment method, as they have proven they have the ability to compensate you for your services.
  • Pay close attention to a client’s feedback score, and avoid those with a lot of negative feedback.
  • If possible, avoid working with clients who are new to the platform, as they have yet to prove their reliability.
  • Carefully go over your client’s job description and be wary of those that are vague, confusing, poorly written, loaded with typos, or send mixed messages.

With Upwork’s advanced filtering system, you can easily identify clients that have verified their payment and have previously hired on the platform.

Better for Freelancers?

For most freelancers, Upwork is the best choice. It’s better for long-term projects and finding honest work is much easier. However, due to Upwork’s screening process, the platform only allows new workers to join if there’s a genuine need for their services in the marketplace.

Freelancer is okay if you don’t mind lower pay, or if you lack experience, and want to complete a few quick, short-term projects. But even then, I still believe you can get a lot more out of Upwork.

So, Who’s the King?

If you’re an employer looking to hire a freelancer, Upwork easily pulls ahead. It’s easier to use, the fees are more transparent, and the overall quality of work is a lot better. Freelancer.com’s biggest flaw is its non-existent vetting procedure, which has allowed spammers to take control of the platform.

As a freelancer, getting accepted into Upwork won’t be easy – but it’s definitely worth the trouble. Upwork clients are more honest, pay better, and are more likely to offer you long-term work opportunities.

Comparison Table

Upwork Freelancer.com
Huge talent pool
Budget-friendly
Fiverr-like gigs
Advanced payment protection
Client fee 5% 3%
Freelancer fee 20-5% 10%

FAQ

Which Is Better: Fiverr, Freelancer or Upwork?Fiverr is my go-to freelance marketplace when I need something done quickly. There’s a massive pool of talented professionals waiting to be hired, and it only takes a few minutes to pick the perfect gig. I use Upwork when I need to find reliable candidates for long-term projects. You can browse more top choices by checking out our list of the 7 best freelance websites.Is Upwork Good for Freelancers?Upwork is great for freelance work, provided your profile gets approved. Clients offer honest, well-paid jobs, and the platform’s many work and management tools are designed to help you stay productive. The fees are fair and incentivize long-term relationships with clients – they are lowered as you make more money.Is Upwork Good for Beginners?If you’re a client looking for hires, then yes, Upwork is a great place to start as it’s very easy to use. And if you want to get hired, Upwork offers some exciting opportunities. However, in that case, you need to a) make sure your profile is as detailed and accurate as possible (Upwork’s vetting process can be tough), and b) take advantage of the advanced filters to find the perfect job for your skillset and experience.Which Freelancing Site Is the Best?In my experience, Fiverr is an excellent choice for employers who want to tap into a huge talent pool and find the right fit as quickly as possible. Alternatively, while Upwork’s solutions aren’t as quick or immediate, they’re a better fit for business owners who’re looking to hire long-term.

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Zobiya
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Will Upwork charge my debit card for verification because it did in freelancer.com, and Now I am unable to deactivate or withdraw?
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Website Planet Team
Hi Zobiya, thanks for your comment. No, it won't. Upwork won't charge you anything for verification.
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fariza
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good article, i have ready carefully this article. i will reference this article in my working. i am working on freelancer.com. i never worked upwork.com. i will try upwork.com and i will compare upwork.com and freelancer.com thank you about good notice.
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Website Planet Team
Hi Fariza, glad you liked the article! If you want to try Upwork our Upwork review could be helpful.
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bethanie
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I just got off of Freelancer.com's site and boy howdy was that just not accessible to those with autism and ADHD. The ads that popped up in the corner on the site kept distracting me, the neverending notification button that was always red and I felt like I always had to go to it and pause what I am doing, they just put everything onto one page. I am sure they have a way to turn it off, but I was not interested in finding out honestly. I have been using Upwork for a little longer, and it is much more accessible... I wish they did allow a little longer during the Upwork Readiness Test, but other than that. I also didn't enjoy Freelancer.com's never-ending greed no matter what I clicked on. I also didn't like being able to spy on other freelancers' proposals. Felt like I was entering some kind of privacy I wasn't okay with.
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alan p
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I've hired 20 different people on Freelancer.com for small projects over the years (average price is maybe $100 per project) with very mixed results. Of those 20 I've given additional projects to maybe 5 of them. In most cases the quality of work is poor - they just make it work, but the code is not professionally written. Its also very common for them to win the bid with one price, and immediately ask or more money. When estimating hourly work, their estimates are always about 4 times bigger than they should be. It is also a lot of time and effort reviewing their code and asking for changes, or fixing things. I've hired just one developer on Upwork and the quality was not great there, either. I found it difficult to connect with developers on Upwork. On both sites admittedly I have tried to keep the price really low (under $15/hour); doubling that may have better results. Also all the developers are on the other side of the world as I am, which makes communication very slow.
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Guptill
Hello Alan, Have you analyzed introspect. Not always its the fault of Freelancer, Buyers also donot provide full requirement in first place. Specially the resellers want enhanced project with initial fixed budget. Is that possible? Please think of it.
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anonymus
3 Reply
Very good article. I have been using freelancers for many years for a wide variety of jobs. I posted a contest on Freelancer for the first time about 10 days ago. The contest prize was $1500 for a website. I paid an extra $60 which supposedly gave me better exposure for the contest. I received 181 responses. Most of them were for logos. I didn’t ask for a logo in the project description. Some contestants referred to other work they had done. The ones I paid attention to were where the freelances did a mock up of the proposed website. I would estimate that 10 of the entries were qualified to do the work. But as stated in the article it was a hassle trying to find the right person. When I thought I found someone qualified it turned out they had limited English skills, were in a Country where the time differences would make it very difficult to communicate. Eventually I found someone that I am very happy with. I will not use Freelancer again too many unqualified people. I’ll probably shift to Upwork. One additional point, many of the contestants had not done jobs on Freelance for up to 2 years. I suspect that because of the competition they don’t get a lot of work,
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Bitbyter
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Both plattforms are a callenge if you are looking for really qualified freelancer as a client. Freelancer, I agree is a bit worse than Upwork even it got abit better over the years. Upwork is right now kicking out themself since they are too freelancer centered. By allowing to delete bad feedback for TOP rated freelancer it seems that the Quality dropped significant. Even if you hire Top rated candidates with 100% success level you might have hired a rotten apple. Later on, once you figured out the freelancers skillset is by far not what you need, there is no way to get back at least some of the money spent on useless results. The Upwork service is not existing for this case. I will not work either with freelancer or with upwork on major tasks, they might work out for smaller fix price jobs, but hourly jobs are burning your money without valuable return. Try yourself on your own risk and post here is you could proof me wrong. :) Trust real life people and stay heathy
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anonymous
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I found out that freelancer.com is not really the right place for me to hire freelancers. So i wanted to delete my acount. It turned out that this requires a Government Issued Identification, a Proof of Residential Address and a photo. All of this was not necessary for transferring credits to the account or completing projects. I do not understand what they will do with my personal information in the deletion process, so I'm a bit hesitant to enter my data there. It was not necessary for paying there or for completing projects, just now that I want to delete the account. Support is also not helpful. They answer, but not to my question. They just request me to do that verification process. I would really not recomment to register yourself at freelancer.com.
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Robert
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Well, I just completed my first project on freelancer.com, the project value was $30.00 and they removed $17.66+$2.83, incredibly I was left with only $9.51. That $17.66 fee is a project fee they call, it's not specified in any link in the platform, it seems they just made up that fee and is really making non-sense that they take more than half of the money for themselves. I'm really pissed off and still waiting for they to clarify this.
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