Online business owners and freelancers alike are looking to take advantage of the booming gig economy. And, there are now a huge number of freelancing websites that make it possible for clients and freelancers to connect and collaborate on projects.
Both Fiverr and Upwork are considered two of the best platforms by most freelancers and clients alike. Each has its unique way of helping both parties achieve their goals and have their own advantages and disadvantages.
We’ll help you answer a number of questions when it comes to Fiverr vs Upwork:
- Where to find budget-friendly freelancers?
- Which is best for various types of work, like full-time employment, once-off logo design, etc.?
- Do they offer services like recruiting or dispute resolution?
- Which offers the lowest fees and best payment terms?
- How does managing the relationship between clients and freelancers work?
- Is Upwork or Fiverr worth it?
So, without further ado, let’s jump in!
An Introduction to Fiverr vs Upwork?
As they are both freelancing platforms, Upwork and Fiverr share a lot of similarities. However, they both go about it in two completely different ways.
It’s important to understand this fundamental difference and keep it in mind throughout this comparison in order to make the right decision about which platform is best for you.
Overview of the Upwork
Upwork began its journey in 1999 as Elance, easily making it one of the first freelancing websites in the world. Also, Odesk merged into Upwork in the early 2000s. Today, it’s still one of the most popular freelance platforms for both freelancers and businesses.
Upwork is mostly free to use for both freelancers and clients. However, they do have a number of premium packages that provide small advantages to freelancers or make it easier for businesses of various sizes to meet their recruiting needs.
On Upwork, freelancers mostly apply to jobs posted by potential employers and compete against each other to get awarded the project. Upwork also has various ways of working together, including hourly projects, milestones, or one-off assignments.
How Does Upwork Work?
In most cases, the freelancing relationship on Upwork starts like this:
- A client creates a job listing with a description, requirements, duration, and an estimated budget.
3. Freelancers look for suitable jobs and compete for the job by sending proposals to the client.
4. The client can reply to the freelancer(s), schedule an interview, or accept someone’s proposal
5. You can then agree on a rate or set up milestones for the project.
6. The client funds their Upwork escrow account before kicking off milestones.
7. Upwork recommends and encourages that you carry out everything related to your service on the platform, including messaging, video calls, file sharing, etc.
8. Whenever you complete a milestone, you can submit it to the client and request for payment.
9. You can continue like this until you have completed all of your milestones with the client.
So, most of the time, it’s a very client-centric approach where the client sets the requirements, parameters, and scope of the work.
One catch is that Upwork uses a virtual currency called connects that freelancers must spend to apply to jobs.
However, clients can also approach freelancers. Freelancers can create their own profile pages with links to their freelance work, description of their experience and talents, a list of their skills, and their preferred working rate. Based on this, a client can decide that a freelancer is a good fit for their project and directly message them or send them an invitation for an interview.
Upwork does give freelancers the ability to create a basic list of individual services they offer to display on their profile, but it’s very limited compared to Fiverr.
Once a client signs off on milestones and releases the funds, a freelancer can withdraw their earnings after 5 days. This cooling-off period is to protect clients if they feel they’ve been duped.
Upwork Pros and cons
- Freelancers can look for jobs and clients can look for freelancers
- Potential low 5% service fees for long-term projects
- Escrow service safeguards payments
- Number of professional recruiting solutions
- Freelancers get payouts within 5 days
- Freelancers start with a high 20% service fee
- Many freelancers aren’t vetted thoroughly
- Upwork has a reputation for being plagued with fake reviews/ratings
Overview of Fiverr
Fiverr got its start much later than Upwork in 2010 in Tel Aviv, Israel, where it’s still headquartered. Like Upwork, Fiverr is a freelancer platform where you can find many skilled professionals trying to sell their services.
However, unlike many other freelance sites, Fiverr acts as an online marketplace where professionals, called “sellers,” sell their services in the form of “gigs.” A gig is a specified service offered by the freelancer that a client, called “buyers,” can order from them.
Fiverr is one of the few platforms where sellers control what they offer and how much they get paid. It gives sellers greater flexibility and profile to create an attractive, and potentially, lucrative profile for self-branding and to sell services.
How Does Fiverr Work?
Unlike Upwork, Fiverr takes a more freelancer-oriented approach. The basic process of finding work on Fiverr goes like this:
- A seller registers on Fiverr and creates a detailed profile that’s similar to an online CV.
- Sellers then start creating gigs. A gig is like a pre-made service or product. A gig can have separate pricing packages, extra services, a detailed description of the work scope, and even requirements for the buyer to order it. You can even add media, like pictures, videos, and downloadable documents.
3. Buyers browser through the categories and subcategories of gigs to find one that they want to order.
4. Then, the client purchases your order to a cart and go through a checkout procedure to pay Fiverr to make the order.
5. As a seller, you get the order from the buyer and can choose to accept or reject it.
6. Once you accept it, Fiverr encourages you to do everything from with the platform, just like Upwork.
7. When you’re done with the order and the buyer signs off on it, Fiverr will keep their 20% commission and send the seller the rest of the payment amount.
Unlike Upwork, there is no way for sellers to go “looking for work” other than to share links to their gigs on social media, via email, or over other channels.
However, it does give sellers the opportunity to set the terms of the arrangement. Buyers can not create job opportunities for freelancers to apply to.
Once the order is completed, Fiverr will pay the freelancer their earnings. However, new to level 2 sellers will have to wait 14 days before they can withdraw it. Top Rated Sellers, however, can withdraw funds after 7 days.
Fiverr Pros and Cons
- Clients pay freelancers upfront through direct deposit
- Sellers can create their own services and products to sell
- Fiverr tests and vets the abilities of freelancers
- High 20% flat service fees for sellers
- Buyers cannot create their own job listings
- Payouts to freelancers take up to 14 days.
What Jobs are Available?
Of course, you want a platform that supports the type of work you do or the type of freelance talent you want to hire.
Most freelance platforms focus on facilitating digital services. Upwork and Fiverr are similar in that regard but go about it in very different ways.
There are 12 top-level categories in Upwork, including Accounting & Consulting, Design & Creative, Admin Support, Data Science & Analytics, Sales & Marketing, Web, mobile & software development, Writing, and more.
Each has a large number of subcategories that freelancers and clients can use to refine their searches. What’s more, freelancers can add skills to their profiles and clients can add required skills to their job listings to further improve their chances of finding a suitable candidate.
As a client, you can also add required screening questions as well as advanced preferences, such as freelancer level, weekly availability, region, number of persons needed, etc. All of this information helps both parties not waste their time before engaging each other.
In general, almost nothing is off-limits on Upwork. Because it’s not based on “gigs” like Fiverr, clients can post just about any job they need to fill. This can involve once-off, short-term, fixed-rate projects, hourly jobs, or even long-term employment.
On top of the typical freelancing jobs, such as digital marketing, development, graphic design, logo design, etc., freelancers can also apply for clerical positions, legal work, or accounting.
On the other hand, Fiverr arranges their services directory under 9 main categories that are similar to those of Upwork:
- Graphics & Design
- Programming & Tech
- Music & Audio
- Digital Marketing
- Video & Animation
- Writing & Translation
Each of these categories are also further divided into a huge number of subcategories. Like Upwork, pretty much any job is available. You can find niche positions, such as data visualization, game concept design, and jewelry design amongst others.
However, where Fiverr is more limiting is that it relies on “gigs.” Sellers create gigs as pre-packaged services that clients can order. Gigs can be divided into various “packages” or come with extra, add-on services.
For this reason, Fiverr leans more towards short-term projects and tasks, although they can have a value of between $5-$10,000 per order. There is also nothing stopping you from working with repeat customers, and you can make yourself open to “custom offers” of up to $20,000.
Unlike Upwork, however, you won’t get trapped in a “race to the bottom” as they compete against each other for a client’s job.
This round is a split decision because which one is best depends on how you plan to use the platform. If you’re a client, or buyer, Upwork is best because you can create a job listing that describes exactly the work you want done, on your terms.
Fiverr is the opposite because you can’t create jobs. That means you have to search for a gig or custom offer that’s as close as possible to what you want to achieve. You also have to pay upfront, instead of negotiating a price with the freelancer, or seller.
However, for freelancers, Fiverr is generally better because you get to set your rate, what you’re willing to do, and take orders from clients. This frees you from having to compete with others or negotiate your rate.
Still, there are cases in which Upwork might be better for freelancers and Fiverr for clients. It just depends on your exact needs.
The degree to which a Freelancer platform verifies the skills, experience, and identity of their freelancers has important ramifications for both freelancers and clients.
Firstly, it protects clients from scam artists and helps reassure them that they will receive high-quality work. On the other hand, it prevents an over-crowded marketplace where good freelancers have to compete with unskilled workers.
However, it can also make it hard for new freelancers to get started or build a competitive reputation.
Upwork doesn’t vet individuals or take extraordinary actions to ensure that the information they provide in their profile is true or accurate. If they do find out that a freelancer is violating their terms of service, they will terminate their account. But, these cases aren’t actively pursued and not always investigated.
In that sense, Upwork is somewhat of the “Wild West” of the freelancing world.
However, they will display a “verified” badge next to freelancers who have verified their identity. A freelancer’s success rate and total earnings will also be shown on the freelancer’s profile so you can gauge their experience.
Like other Freelancing sites, Upwork also uses a rating and feedback system so you can see what previous clients had to say about a freelancer. However, there are often complaints that these are easily manipulated on Upwork.
That being said, Upwork reward a sliding scale of talent badges to help identify outstanding talent on their site:
This represents the top 10% of talent on Upwork. To qualify, users need a job success rate of 90%, a fully completed profile, and have a strong record of delivering high-quality work and receiving earnings.
Top Rated Plus:
This is supposed to represent the top 3% of Upwork freelancers. In addition to the above criteria, you need do have earned at least $10K over the last 12 months and completed larger projects successfully.
This badge is for the very top freelancers on Upwork. You need to have a Top Rated Plus badge to apply and then pass a rigorous pre-screening process by Talent Managers and experts in your field.
Although it’s not a guarantee, clients should look for these badges if they want to work with the best freelancers. Professionals that earn these badges also get extra benefits, like increased profile visibility, lower fees, and the ability to remove negative reviews.
Furthermore, if you completes the Upwork Readiness Test, they can qualify for the Rising Talent badge. Not only does it look good for your profile, but it also comes with the following benefits:
- Reduced fees (starting at 10%) on Featured Jobs
- A one-time bonus of 30 free Connects
- Access to chat and ticket support from our specialized support team
Freelancers must be active on the Upwork platform to qualify. Agencies can also apply for this badge if they meet certain criteria, like having two active members.
Fiverr has much more stringent requirements for becoming a verified seller that can post gigs and take orders.
Depending on the category in which you want to create gigs, you may have to take a test to prove your talents. For example, the test for writing and translation jobs is a 40-minute grammar, spelling, and language basics test. Tests on other platforms tend to be much shorter and less in-depth.
If you don’t take the test, you won’t be able to publish your gigs which means you won’t be able to take any work.
In general, Fiverr is also more active in trying to verify freelancer profiles to protect and investigating buyer requests.
Whereas Upwork uses badges, Fiverr uses seller levels to divide their sellers according to skill and experience:
This applies to all new sellers. You can see the perks below:
Active for 60 days, completed 10 orders, earned $2,00, a 4.7+ star rating as well as maintaining a 90% response, completion, and on-time delivery score.
Active for 120 days, completed 50 orders, earned $400, a 4.7+ star rating as well as maintaining a 90% response, completion, and on-time delivery score.
Top Rated Seller:
Active for 180 days, completed 100 orders, earned $20,00, a 4.7+ star rating as well as maintaining a 90% response, completion, and on-time delivery score.
For sellers, your level determines how many gigs and gig extras you can create. Level 1 sellers and up also get priority support while Top Rated Sellers can withdraw their earnings within 7 days, instead of the customary 14.
The ultimate on Fiverr is to become a Pro seller. Pro sellers have their own dedicated space to post their gigs, get paid faster, and get help from a dedicated success manager.
You need to apply for Pro by completing the thorough application form and then go through a rigorous vetting process to ensure all your information is accurate and complete.
However, Pro sellers can generally get away with charging much higher rates.
This Fiverr vs Upwork round is a very tight call to make. Both Upwork and Fiverr use similar ways to rank freelancers according to their reliability, quality, performance, and experience.
The main difference is that Fiverr more rigorously tests sellers’ abilities BEFORE they can take any work on the platform. For that reason, Fiverr wins this round by the smallest of margins.
Pricing and Fees
No matter whether you’re a freelancer or client, your ultimate goal is most likely to make money. Especially for budget-oriented work, you want to be sure that the pricing and fees doesn’t interfere with the viability of your project.
Upwork and Fiverr uses different fees and pricing structures. So, let’s see which is the right platform for you based on cost:
The bad news for freelancers is that Upwork service fees start at a relatively high 20% of your total work order. However, the good news is that this percentage goes down the longer you work with the same client.
After earning $500 with the same client, the fee for completing work for that client goes down to 10%. And, after $10,000 in earnings, it goes down to just 5%. That’s actually very competitive compared with other freelancing platforms. However, the majority of freelancing relationships don’t last up to that point.
Upwork offers one free and one paid package, called Freelancer Plus, for freelancers.
The free plan lets you use all of Upwork’s most important features, including browsing, finding, and applying or jobs, creating a profile, getting paid securely, using the communication and collaboration tools, etc.
Upwork also recently increased the number of free Connects you can receive. Not only do you get 40 free Connects as a new user, but you can also earn up to 50 free Connects every 7 days in the following ways:
- For each interview won (10 connects)
- Submit or responds to proposals/invitations
- 10 free Connects per month
The Freelancer Plus plan costs $14.99/month. The main difference is that you get a massive 80 new free Connects per month. You also get a handful of other features that make it easier to find you and improve your experience:
- Your profile will stay active and visible even if you’re away for a prolonged period
- See competitors’ bids on jobs
- Customized profile URL
- Keep your earnings private
As you can see, Freelancer Plus is completely optional. You can do pretty much anything and be a successful freelancer with a free plan, no problems.
However, the Plus plan might make it slightly easier to become, and stay, among the top performers.
In my experience, it’s easy to maintain your Connects as long as you’re active on the platform. You can also buy Connects at $.015 a pop, starting with bundles of 10.
For clients, there are a number of different packages depending on how you intend to use the freelance platform:
Upwork Basic – $0/month
The free tier for clients allows you to post jobs and find freelancers to work with. There is a standard 3% processing fee whenever making payment for a job completed through Upwork.
Upwork Plus – $49/month
This plan is for SMBs. It comes with dedicated support by an account manager as well as access to a Talent Specialist for any of your projects. You can also post Featured Jobs for free which usually costs $29.99/month. The 3% processing fee can be waved if you pay by bank transfer.
Upwork Business – $499/month
This plan is for growing, medium to large businesses that need a more scalable hiring solution. For this monthly fee, you get a dedicate account manager that provides a white glove recruitment service. You can also use consolidated invoicing. There is a 10% client processing fee that includes the payment processing fee.
Upwork Enterprise – Variable Pricing
Upwork offers an Enterprise plan on a quote-by-quote basis. The plan is customized to your business’ individual needs, such as compliance assistance, ongoing support, account management, etc.
So, how does Fiverr compare? Well, Fiverr pricing and fees are somewhat more straightforward. However, this isn’t necessarily good news, especially for sellers.
Fiverr’s commission fees for using their platform is 20%, the same as Upwork. However, the difference is that it doesn’t change with time or according to how much you earn.
However, because you set your rate as a freelancer, it’s slightly easier to compensate for this amount than with Upwork’s client-centric model.
Other than that, Fiverr is completely free to use for sellers with no paid tiers or pricing packages. Even becoming a Fiverr Pro seller is free.
If you’re a buyer, you’ll be charged a small service fee of $2 + 5.5% for orders under $50. For orders over $50, you’ll pay just the 5.5% rate. There are also no pricing plans or tiers for buyers.
This one is hard to pick because the two Freelancing platforms take such different approaches. However, we probably have to give it to Upwork in the end. 20% is a very high service charge and it’s unfortunate that you’ll be paying this for life if you use Fiverr. Also, they have slightly higher fees for business users.
It’s not all bad news, though, as Fiverr doesn’t benefit paying freelancers/clients over free users.
When Should You Use Upwork to Hire Freelancers?
On the Upwork freelancing platform, it might be slightly harder to actively find the right freelancer for the job because you have to wait for them to come to you.
However, clients choose Upwork because they can pick and choose from different freelancers and many freelancers can apply to a single job.
Freelancers who also aren’t sure of what services they want to offer can look for jobs suitable to them. They can build up a reputation and improve their freelancer profile by earning various badges.
In short, Upwork is best for new freelancers and clients who want long-term or custom working arrangements, or even a full-time employee.
However, some freelancers complain about being reliant on connects to apply for jobs.
When Should You Use Fiverr for Hiring Freelancers?
Fiverr gives sellers more flexibility to customize their individual seller profile and create a project catalog of their services. Creative professionals will find the Fiverr platform especially useful as they can quantify their potential services.
However, buyers and sellers are more limited in terms of the possible working relationships and payment options.
Conclusion – Both Upwork and Fiverr Work, But…
They do so for very different reasons. Upwork takes a more “open door” policy that’s easier for beginner freelancers to get into and find work.
Fiverr offers a more controlled environment with vetted sellers who sell their services.
Both platforms have tools to evaluate and showcase a freelancer’s performance to protect other freelancers and clients alike.
Both Fiverr and Upwork are user-friendly, feature-rich, and legitimate freelancing sites, offering features like facilitating payments and dispute resolution.
While they share many similarities, a Fiverr vs Upwork comparison is kind of comparing apples with oranges. They are both fruit, but they taste completely different