One of the biggest things that has happened to freelancers over the past few years is the plethora of platforms available that connect freelancers to people looking to hire them.
On sites like Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr, you can submit and find gigs in an incredible array of categories. Freelancer.com claims that its freelancers have worked in 1,800 different categories.
How these sites work
On most of these sites (exceptions apply, see below), small businesses, corporations and individuals post the work they need. Independent entrepreneurs, “solopreneurs”, small businesses, and freelancers browse listings, view gigs and budgets, and then bid on the project. Whatever your specialty – whether it’s making videos, blogging, doing research, being a virtual assistant, social media marketing, sales, accounting or whatever – these sites offer you the opportunity to find consistent work.
Now the bad news
The bad news is that there is often a race to the bottom in terms of price. Capitalism being what it is and all, and given a global marketplace with competition coming from developing countries, there is intense pressure on many of these sites to bid low to win projects. That said, not everyone wants the cheapest – they want the best – so keep that in mind.
where to watch
So here are the top sites in my new book, “Your Small Business Boom,” ranked by reputation, number of gigs available, quality of those gigs, and earning potential. (Note: All of these sites are good, so this list isn’t in order of “best to worst.” They all have different strengths and things to offer.)
1.Upwork. I have to admit that I have a soft spot for this site because I have had so much success hiring freelancers there. The quality of work you can find on Upwork is quite impressive, with many large clients looking for help with one-time and long-term projects. I found Abby, who does all my technical work for me, when I was looking for someone for a one-off gig seven years ago. She still works for me today.
2. Independent. Upwork and Freelancer are probably the two oldest and largest freelance online gig sites. My take is that the gigs on Upwork seem to be of higher quality than those found on Freelancer; i.e. they seem to pay better and connect you with better customers, etc. That said, there is a ton of work to be found on this site. Fees paid are similar on both platforms, with a percentage of revenue generated from gigs going to the host.
3. Fifth. Fiverr returns the script. Instead of people listing jobs and freelancers bidding on those jobs, on Fiverr, freelancers make the listing. They list their skills, expertise, offerings, and products, and buyers search for the on-demand worker that best matches their needs. Fiverr seems to work best for freelancers who can create a simple product over and over again – short whiteboard videos, voiceovers, Photoshopping, etc.
As the name suggests, Fiverr definitely rewards low prices. While projects were originally listed for $5 each (a “five”), they certainly pay more now, although $5 projects can still be had. The site says their ads range from $5 to $10,000. Fees paid to Fiverr are flat – 20% of each sale.
4.SolidGigs. I really like this site and it also disrupts the traditional bidding model on a gig. One of the problems with other freelance sites is that it takes a lot of time and effort to find the right projects to bid on. SolidGigs solves this.
On this site, you select the types of work you are looking for, and then the SolidGigs team takes care of the rest. They will regularly (daily, weekly) send you a list of freelance jobs they have found for you (they scour other gig listing sites). In exchange, you pay them a flat monthly fee of $21/month on the annual plan or $35 if you opt for a month.
5. 99designs by Vista. This is another site I can vouch for. If you are a designer (websites, logos, branding, etc.) 99designs is the place for you. People list design projects or, interestingly, hold a competition where designers submit their ideas based on entry criteria.
6. Craigslist. Craigslist? You bet. Look at the bottom right of the homepage and what do you see? A “Concerts” section. There’s a ton of work to be found and had here too.