Fiverr or Upwork? Choosing The Right Freelancing Platform for Your Business

Fiverr vs Upwork: Client and Freelancer POV

For years now, Fiverr and Upwork have both been heralded as the two biggest hotspots for home-based entrepreneurs and expanding businesses. Particularly in the light of COVID, people are searching for ways they can start a new side hustle, and create solutions for remote working, leaving many to ask the question: Which freelance platform should I use, Fiverr or Upwork?

The answer might not be as simple as you think. While these two have indeed earned their spaces as the juggernauts of the online freelance world, they work quite differently, and each have their ups and downs, pros and cons, gimmicks and restrictions.

Whether you’re a freelancer or business representative, this detailed comparison takes you through everything you need to know about the two biggest freelancing platforms. In this article, we’ll discuss the biggest differences between Fiverr and Upwork, explaining how exactly each of them works, helping you decide which, if any, would work best for you.

Fiverr: Company Overview

fiverr homepage

Fiverr was founded in 2010 by Shai Wininger and Micha Kaufman, who set out to offer an online marketplace where people could buy or sell digital services.

The system is two-sided, and buyers and sellers can interact pretty openly to discuss transactions (or ‘gigs’, as the site puts it).

While initially marketed as a place to buy/sell small projects on the cheap, plenty of high-end services exist on the website too. Fiverr is incredibly popular with over 1 million transactions conducted per month. It currently has an Alexa ranking of 287, making it one of the most visited websites in the world.

Upwork: Company Overview

upwork homepage

The result of a merger between Elance and oDesk, Upwork began business under its new name in 2015.

The platform focuses on facilitating freelance and remote work to businesses, and is now the biggest freelance marketplace in the world, with over 12 million freelancers and 5 million clients.

The setup is simple: clients post job listings for work they need completing, and freelancers submit proposals. While low-end work is possible on the platform, Upwork definitely focuses itself on bigger, long-term projects.

Similarities Between The Two

Before we consider the differences, it's important to know that these two freelance marketplace share a lot of similarities. After all, some features are just essential to any freelancer marketplace.

1. Search Sorting and Filters

Regardless of which platform you're using, clients are able to narrow their search by sorting and filtering through results. They can specify the price range, seller location, language, feedback rating and more.

search filters on fiverr

2. Freelancer Rating System

Freelancers on Fiverr are given an aggregated star rating (out of five), based on their feedback from all of their previous clients. Fiverr also assigns each seller a Fiverr level, which depends on how successful and active they are.

Upwork also grades the quality of its freelancers based on their work history. Each profile has an associated job success score (a percentage) and Upwork reward top talent with 'rising talent' and 'top-rated' badges.

3. Escrow payment protection

Clients enjoy peace of mind when outsourcing work to freelancers on either platform. Regardless of payment method (credit card and PayPal are accepted on either platform), funds are locked in Escrow until the work is done.

As a freelancer, your client can't simply run away with money after you send them completed work, since the money is with the platform. As a client, if the job you ordered never gets completed, the money simply goes back to you.

4. Feature-rich Mobile Apps

Upwork and Fiverr both have Android and iOS mobile apps which let you manage orders and communicate with buyers and sellers on the go.

Fiverr vs Upwork: Summary Of Key Differences

If you don’t have the time to read our entire breakdown, we’ve summarized the main points that make Fiverr and Upwork distinct from one another.

These are generalizations, but they illustrate the key differences between the two freelance platforms:

Fiverr

  • Clients search for services offered by freelancers
  • Pre-made gigs for easy purchase and regular work
  • Short delivery times are the norm
  • Tailored for common project solutions
  • Great for jobs like logo design, translation, video editing etc.

Upwork

  • Freelancers apply to job listings
  • Longer and larger projects
  • Encourages repeat customers and clients
  • Fixed price tasks or hourly work (paid by an hourly rate)
  • Great for jobs like programming, social media marketing, bank reconciliation etc.

Clients Finding Freelancers (Fiverr) VS Freelancers Finding Clients (Upwork)

Since both of these sites are freelance marketplaces, it makes sense to evaluate how they exactly achieve connecting clients and freelancers.

For Fiverr, the company lays the responsibility on the client. If you’re looking for a graphic designer to create a new logo, you’ll need to browse Fiverr’s pool of talent, evaluating which freelancers you like best. You can also create a listing, where you can advertise your project, and invite freelancers you would like to hear from.

fiverr marketplace
Freelancers on Fiverr sell pre-packaged 'gigs'

Upwork isn’t so kind to its freelancer base, and uses a more competitive strategy to job acquisition. Clients on Upwork can expect a lot of replies for any given job listing, as freelancers’ only real method of getting work is through sending proposals. Proposals are answers to the job listings made by clients. On Upwork you’re required to fill in a cover letter, and usually encouraged to attach your resume, portfolio or samples of your work.

Note: Recently, Fiverr made it possible for clients to post jobs and let sellers find them. Likewise, Upwork now lets its talent sell packaged services. As a result, the lines are more blurred than ever.

A Fling, Or Something More?

One of the bigger differences in the Fiverr/Upwork experience is the sort of work that each of the platforms seem to attract. While you can definitely find a vast spectrum of different budgets and project lengths on both of the websites, customers usually choose one over the other, depending on what they’re after.

Fiverr, for instance, is the go-to place if you need something relatively basic with a fast turn-around. You probably wouldn’t expect to find a long-term business relationship on Fiverr, although it’s completely possible through the platform’s structure. Fiverr gigs are much more like flash in the pan scenarios. You’ll get plenty, but they definitely won’t last long. Typically, clients like to have their deliverables anywhere between 24 hours and 5 days.

Conversely, Upwork takes a much more committed approach to work. Remote work solutions seems to be the aim of the game with Upwork, so the clientele is often searching for reliable freelancers who can deliver regular work on a long-term basis. Upwork rewards these sort of projects, and nailing a few big projects can definitely help your standing on the platform. Plenty of low-ball projects exist on Upwork too, but these are definitely not incentivized from up top.

Service (Fiverr) VS Talent (Upwork)

As marketplaces, Fiverr and Upwork have very different ways of presenting the services on offer on their platforms.

Fiverr takes an approach that’s focused on services. While a freelancer’s profile is important—used to show reviews, qualifications, etc.—it is not the focal point of Fiverr’s gig market.

Instead, Fiverr is specifically tailored to its ‘gig’ system. Each gig is like a little pre-packaged project that includes job spec, budget and add-on packages. This means that clients can search through gigs in their price range and simply order one immediately, without even speaking to the freelancer.

Upwork on the other hand, works primarily off of reputation and freelancer profiles.

upwork marketplace
On Upwork, you hire talent instead of buying a service

A good Upwork profile is key to attracting projects, and since Upwork focuses on job listings from the client-side, it is one of the few ways a freelancer can make themselves stand out.

Clients get to view tons of info on their prospective freelancers, and because of this, an Upwork profile is usually considered more ‘professional’ than a Fiverr counterpart.

Fiverr vs Upwork: Client POV

If you’re after a great client experience, then each of the outsourcing platforms have some different benefits and downsides to consider.

Fiverr

Fiverr is fantastic for short, straightforward jobs. This is why the platform has fostered such a talented pool of graphic and voiceover artists, since these kinds of jobs are easy to describe and can be delivered relatively quickly.

fiverr gig details page

If you’re in need of a freelancer, you can easily search and shop around. Freelancers have their services listed clearly on Fiverr, so you can review their individual gigs to see what works best for your project. You can even request a custom order by contacting freelancers directly.

Upwork

For more complex work and projects that require expertise, Upwork may be the better option. Highly proficient freelancers are abundant on the site, because Upwork's vetting process keeps out low-skilled freelancers.

On Upwork you can find problem solvers for whatever niche you could think of. Whether you need a ghostwriter for your Scottish Romance novel, a legal expert to check compliancy of your business, or a bug fixer for your codebase, you’ll be able to find it on Upwork.

Since Upwork uses data science to match your job posting with profiles that have the right background and skill sets, narrowing applicants down is surprisingly quick.

When clients make a job listing, they can be as specific and detailed as they like. Clients can request certain levels of experience, budgets and even specific countries. What’s more, clients can include compulsory questions for freelancers to answer, to gauge more from the submitted proposals and to help shortlist applicants.

posting a job on upwork

Overall, the hiring freelancers on Upwork can be just as rigorous as the traditional hiring process.

Fiverr vs Upwork: Freelancer POV

Looking to sell your services online? There’s definitely some considerations to think about when you jump into the world of freelance marketplaces.

Type Of Work

If you find that your line of work suits lots of repeated, small jobs, then you’ll do very well on Fiverr. By advertising your gigs at a fixed price, clients can order your services right away without any fuss of pre-gig communication.

Upwork is less focused on fixed job description gigs and instead facilitates much more varied work with more specific and complex requirements. Likewise, Upwork encourages longer projects, and repeated work with the same clients.

Landing Your First Client

Job hunting on Upwork is obviously a great way to find work at the start of your freelance career. You can proactively seek work on the platform, whereas with Fiverr you'll either have to wait for clients to find you or market your services off-platform.

On the flip side, Fiverr can give you a regular stream of work without needing to spend time sending off proposals.

Success begets success on each platform, however. On Fiverr, you can expect more and more orders to roll in as you gain more reviews and a better reputation. Likewise, Upwork’s matching algorithm promotes the highest and most positively rated freelancers within the platform’s matchmaking system.

Obviously, in both instances you’ll be able to snowball your success as you continue to gain gigs and clinch projects.

Differentiating yourself on the platform

Fiverr demands you to really pour everything you can into your gigs. Custom, eye-catching photos are everywhere on Fiverr, and freelancers use every tool at their disposal to grab the attention of searching clients.

Upwork comes across as less gaudy and more professional. While Upwork’s talent is required to use a clear photo of themselves to prove their identity, the most important part of your Upwork profile is work history, testimonials and on-platform awards. Upwork also lets freelancers take online skills tests and show off their scores, potentially tipping the scale in their favor.

Turning Down Work

One crucial contrast between the two platforms is the workflow of freelancers.

Upwork is very much a back-and-forth process, and you can accept or decline any invitations without having to worry about your profile rating.

Fiverr is very different, and if a client orders a gig you will have to deliver within the deadline you set, or you will suffer penalties.

Fees, Charges and Bills

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Whether you’re buying or selling on either Fiverr or Upwork, you’ll probably like to know exactly how much the companies are going to be taking from your hard-earned cash.

Selling Fees

Fiverr’s policy on fees for freelancers is simple. Fiverr takes 20% on everything you earn from gigs, including tips.

Upwork takes an approach that gets better as you develop business relationships.

While Upwork takes 20% for the first $500 earned with a client, the fee halves to 10% if you earn between $501 and $10,000 lifetime earnings with the same client. If you reach above $10,000 with a single client, the fee drops to the minimum 5%. If you start working with a new client, you’ll have to start at that 20% again.

Buying Fees

Generally, Upwork is more expensive on the client side, due to its marketing towards businesses and agencies. At the bare minimum, clients need to pay a 3% processing fee in addition to the agreed amount for the task.

While the basic plan is completely free, to become an Upwork Plus member, it’ll cost a chunky $49.99 per month. The Plus membership comes highly recommended to those who’d like to speed up the screening process, as it gives you advanced search filters and increases the amount of invitations you can send. In addition to that, it gives you access to talent specialists and premium customer support which makes the whole process easier.

Even after you sign up for the paid membership, there is still a further $29.99 fee to feature your job (which means more freelancers will see it). It's completely optional, but it just goes to show the hiring process can become quite expensive if you're after the crème de la crème.

By contrast, Fiverr is considered to be the most client-friendly of the marketplace giants. Supposedly, they have a no-nonsense preference for clients in dispute resolution, offering extensive buyer protections. Fees are fairly minimal for buyers, with them taking $1 for purchases up to $20. After $20 they take a flat rate of 5%.

Fiverr VS Upwork: Verdict

So what’s the answer? Is Fiverr the favourite freelance site or is Upwork the ultimate choice? Well, it honestly all just depends on what you want. As shown above, neither platform does everything perfectly.

If you’re a business looking to outsource work, you can cover a wide range of needs through each of the two websites. If you need something simple doing within a couple of days, then Fiverr is definitely the best place to go. If you need a reliable, long-term freelancer and you have time to review candidates, then Upwork is better suited.

The same applies to freelancers, really. If you prefer shorter gigs that come directly to you, Fiverr is the best place to gain regular work. If you want to really aim high in your freelance career, and you want to build some potentially life-long contacts, Upwork is an excellent resource.

Of course, Freelancers just starting out might not have the luxury of being picky. Sometimes it's better to try out both platforms, and see which one gains traction. While the platform you work on might seem like a big deal at first, keep in mind that these job marketplaces are just a tool to find work.