Upwork vs Freelancer – Which Platform Is Right for You?

Can’t decide between Upwork vs Freelancer? That’s okay. With the freelancing community thriving, more and more freelancer platforms are popping up. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages and the best one for you might not be the best for everybody. That’s one thing you need to understand from the get-go—not all platforms may offer the same rewards for you as they would with your fellow freelancers.

As of today, there are dozens of freelancer platforms that you can check out. But two platforms that stand out are upwork.com and freelancer.com. If you are having trouble deciding between the two, know that you are not alone. For starters, you can compare Upwork vs Freelancer by the number of users on it—Freelancer has 25 million while Upwork has 14 million. Both platforms are open worldwide so if you get on them, it is possible to score a gig from a client in a different country from you.

To find out which platform is right for you, we need to take a closer look at the two freelancing platforms. Check out the details below:


Upwork.com home page

A marketplace for freelancers, Upwork allows freelancers to sign up for free. This US company is a result of a merger between two other companies, Elance and oDesk. There are two ways you can start finding jobs on Upwork, either you submit a proposal to a potential client or clients will find you through your profile.

Upwork Connects

Now, you can’t just apply for every job you find on Upwork. What sets Upwork apart from other freelancing platforms is it has its own currency known as “Connects”. Connects are then used for you to bid on jobs and also to highlight your profile so more clients can see you and your work.

Free Connects are provided every month for free users. However, if you run out, it is possible to purchase these. Connects can also be earned (for example, by registering your account). If you want to receive more Connects per month, then you will have to subscribe to a Freelancer Plus account, which costs US$14.99 per month.

You have to weigh in the worth of subscribing or buying Connects or simply relying on a free account.

Upwork Badges

Another way you can differentiate Upwork vs Freelancer is the former has a freelancer hierarchy. This platform recognizes the skill level and experience of freelancers. As you can see below there are 4 badges for freelancers: Rising Talent, Top Rated, Top Rated Plus, and Expert Vetted.

Upwork Freelancer Badge Levels

The higher up you are on the Upwork pyramid, the more chances you get of being hired. Think of these badges as a blue checkmark on an Instagram profile. There are also certain perks you get as you move up the ranks of freelancing on Upwork, this may include reduced fees and additional Connects.


Freelancer.com home page

Between Upwork vs Freelancer, the latter is a little more straightforward. It also has memberships, which will be discussed below, but it is not as complicated as Upwork. Freelancer.com is also a marketplace for freelancers, it is based in Australia but has offices in other countries, like Canada, Indonesia, the Philippines, and the UK.

Freelancer Contests

One thing that makes Freelancer.com unique is it isn’t reduced to bidding on projects. This freelancer market also has “contests”. As a freelancer, you don’t have to bid in a contest, but you need to submit an entry. Contests are simpler projects and there can be multiple winners. However, take note that there is also a limit to the number of entries you make for different contests depending on your membership.

Freelancer Membership Plans

When it comes to membership options, Upwork vs Freelancer, Freelancer.com comes out on top as it offers 4 membership types. You don’t have to be a member to be able to sign up, create a profile, and try to get a job but the membership helps.

Freelancer.com membership options

Depending on the membership of your choice, you will be able to find out how many bids you can make in a month. The more bids you have, the more chances you can get hired. Also, the level of your membership can also determine how many skills you can put down on your profile. Again, each membership plan has its own perks but they all come with a price.

Fee Comparison: Upwork vs Freelancer

Yes, both Upwork and Freelancer platforms take fees from freelancers. However, there is a difference between the two. Upwork has a tiered fee that will depend on the amount of money you will get from a client. For example, if you earn $500, they get a 20% service fee. However, if you earn more than that they get subsequent fees of 10% for $500.01-$10,000 earnings and 5% for $10,000.01 and above earnings.

For Freelancer, the fees are a little easier to understand. $5 for each project (or contest) or 10%, whichever is higher. If you are working at an hourly rate, the fee is also 10%.

For both Upwork and Freelancer, fees are subject to change, depending on a couple of factors, like memberships, referral programs, etc.

Freelancing Platform Alternatives

Maybe you really can’t decide between Upwork vs Freelancer or you just want more options. Yes, the service fees can be really steep that’s why you are looking for some alternatives to freelancer.com. That’s alright because there is a way to get hired and work a freelancing job with you taking home all of the pay. Check them out below:

1. Hubstaff Talent

Initially, a time-tracking site, Hubstaff also offers employee monitoring, workforce management, and more. Under the site is Hubstaff Talent, where you can search for jobs. It’s pretty straightforward and more importantly, there is no fee for getting started or making a profile. Since they don’t take commissions, you’ll get to take home 100% of all of your earnings.

2. Facebook Groups

Not exactly a freelancer platform but Facebook Groups can be more helpful than you think. You might be surprised but there are dozens and hundreds of Facebook groups that are dedicated entirely to freelancing. There are even freelancing groups that are specific to certain industries, such as writers, UX designers, artists, and more.

Now, it may be a bit harder to find a job here, but it’s free. Also, you have to do your own diligence when it comes to vetting clients. That’s the good thing about sites like Upwork and Freelancer, there’s less risk and lower chances of getting scammed.

3. Professional Accounts or Pages

Another unorthodox way of finding work is by letting the clients come to you. Use the power of social media and create relevant professional accounts for your work. For example, if you are a graphic designer, why not make a TikTok account where you can highlight or showcase your skills? Think of it as a portfolio. Who knows if your post goes viral, you may attract potential clients.

4. Referrals

If you can’t find work in a marketplace full of strangers, then maybe you have to start with a network that you know. Now, this can be tough if you are just starting out as a freelancer or you are fresh out of school. But, if you want people to hire you, you really need to start somewhere. It can be with family members, friends, friends of friends, or former classmates. Pretty much anywhere, but you really have to start somewhere to kick off your career.

How to Choose the Right Platform For You

Woman sitting by window, using a laptop

It can definitely be hard to decide which platform is right for you, Upwork vs Freelancer, or maybe something else. If you need to know which is right for you, do consider the following factors to help you out:

1. Fees

Fees are very much a huge factor for freelancers. You really have to do the math to make sure that you are not operating at a loss. Remember, as a freelancer, you are working to sustain your lifestyle or to keep running your business. It’s not enough to break even when you are working as a freelancer, you have to make sure that you are making a profit.

This can b fairly difficult, especially when you are just starting out and these freelance marketplace platforms are eating up your hard-earned money with fees. But, you have to remember the reason why these fees are here. Upwork and Freelancer are attracting the right type of clients, you don’t have to be afraid of scammers as these platforms offer support. They also do their own vetting process for clients. You just have to weigh if the fee justifies all of the advantages that you get from them.

2. Competitiveness

The freelancing world in general is very competitive. However, you get to see this up close when you are on freelancer marketplaces. You’ll be able to see your competitors and other freelancers bidding on the same projects as you are. This can both be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on you.

If you are a competitive person, then this freelancing lifestyle might just work for you. It can help motivate you to become a better freelancer and hone your skills or offer competitive hourly or per project rates. If you aren’t too competitive, then you might want to skip the platforms that show other people’s bids so as not to make you feel conscious about your own pitches.

3. Skills and Experience

Do consider the level of experience that you have as well as your skills. You will not stand out on freelancer marketplaces if you have a blank resume or a resume that looks just like everyone else’s. If you have excellent skills or good experiences (that can be backed up with references), then by all means, do join the arena of Upwork or Freelancer.

But, if you are still starting out, you might want to consider less competitive freelance platforms. You may also consider getting memberships if you think this will be able to help you jumpstart your freelancing career.


When it comes to Upwork vs Freelancer, there is no clear winner if you don’t factor in your own situation. Remember that these freelancing platforms differ from one another and it is up to you to find out which one to use to your advantage.

One thing you can do is try out different platforms, maybe at the same time, or one at a time. Depending on how much you can handle. Once you have tried both, then you may have a clearer answer on which one comes out on top between Upwork vs Freelancer.

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