Are you looking to kick off your freelancing career in 2023?
In recent years, many people have been turning away from the traditional 9-5 and seeking ways to become their own boss. Certainly, freelancing affords a degree of freedom that traditional jobs cannot provide. With the flexibility to work from anywhere in the world and set your own hours and pricing, freelancing has quickly become more than a side hustle for many people, especially after COVID. When starting out as a freelancer, it can be difficult to find work, as you don’t yet have a clientele base built up. This is where freelancing platforms become extremely useful. From newbie freelancers to seasoned veterans, millions of people use freelancing platforms and boards to find work and pick up gigs. As a freelancer, I have plenty of experience with these platforms. These are not the only freelancing services available by any stretch, but they are four of the most well-known and popular platforms. In no particular order, here are the best platforms for freelancing in 2023!
Upwork is listed as the largest freelance marketplace in the world. Every day, millions of users log into Upwork to post jobs available for hire or to search for work. Upwork has freelance gigs available for nearly every niche, and freelancers “bid” on client proposals using “Connects.” On Upwork, Connects are the tokens freelancers use to apply for jobs. Each job costs a certain number of Connects to apply, and you can spend more of your Connects to “boost” a proposal. Every month, 10 Connects are given to each active freelancer. If you run out of Connects, more can be purchased for a small fee, currently $0.15 each.
Pros and Cons of Upwork:
- Free to join: Upwork does not charge any upfront fees to use its platform. Anyone can create an account and start making money without spending a dime. For anyone looking to gain a competitive edge, Upwork does offer a paid plan, Freelancer Plus. This plan grants 80 Connects per month, a special profile badge, enhanced insights and more.
- Intuitive: Upwork’s search features allow freelancers to seek jobs in their niche with a simple keyword. The site also offers an impressive selection of filters to assist freelancers in narrowing down potential job postings.
- Built-in invoicing: Upwork takes care of the bookkeeping required for freelancers. Their platform handles invoicing, billing, and record-keeping, making it especially beneficial to new freelancers who might not know how to handle those things.
- Fees: Upwork takes a cut of every penny you earn on their site. When you first begin a contract with a client, Upwork will take a 20% cut out of any payment you receive. Once you reach a certain milestone with that client, the fees will be reduced to 10%, eventually decreasing to only 5%.
- Oversaturation: Because Upwork is the largest freelancing platform in the world, plenty of freelancers are competing for the available jobs. This means you must submit strong proposals to be competitive in this market. Oversaturation becomes less of an issue when looking at highly skilled or very niche jobs, which is something to keep in mind.
- International competitors: Unfortunately, there are plenty of freelancers, especially from underdeveloped nations, who will work for pennies on the dime. It can be difficult if a client seeks the best price to outbid people willing to work for next to nothing. Upwork does allow you to filter jobs for only U.S. applicants, which might help with your search.
Fiverr is another household name in freelancing. The platform offers freelancers the opportunity to post “gigs” that they offer, and clients can book them directly from the gig advertisement. For instance, if you are a graphic designer, you might post a gig offering to design a logo. Clients can search Fiverr for “logo design,” which will bring up pages of gig offerings from freelancers like you. If they choose your gig, you will receive a notification that someone has placed an order, and you can start working on the job immediately.
Pros and Cons of Fiverr
- No pitching: Fiverr operates more like window shopping, so you never need to pitch yourself to clients. All you need to do is post your gig offering, and Fiverr will show it to clients.
- Plenty of quick-turnaround jobs: Many of Fiverr’s clientele are looking for freelancers to complete quick-turnaround jobs. If your gig is getting noticed, you can probably make some fast cash from one-off client purchases.
- Offer diversified services: Because Fiverr lets you offer multiple gigs, you can diversify your skill set to attract a wider clientele. Make sure you’re only posting gigs for things you feel confident doing. If a client purchases a gig you have listed, they expect you to complete the work well.
- Cannot directly apply to jobs: Unlike Upwork, you can’t search for open jobs and apply to them. While some freelancers might prefer this hands-off approach, it can also make it more difficult to get your gigs noticed.
- Commissions: Fiverr takes 20% off every sale you make, including any tips clients give you. The clients are also charged an additional fee for tipping you, discouraging them from doing so.
- Response time tracker: While this can be a benefit, Fiverr does keep track of your average response time to clients. This is displayed on your profile at all times. If you go to bed and a client messages you right as you head to sleep, your response time will take a major hit. It can be frustrating when you’re a very responsive freelancer to see your score decrease drastically just because you were offline to sleep.
Freelancer.com is another platform that many freelancers worldwide use to find work. It operates similarly to Upwork in that clients post jobs, and freelancers respond to those ads rather than using a reverse approach like Fiverr. Freelancers can search for jobs based on their skill set.
- Multiple payment methods: Freelancer.com allows you to be paid in several ways, including ACH direct deposit, PayPal, and more. It’s always great to have options for managing your payments.
- Competency tests: If you are proficient in a specific area, Freelancer.com allows you to take a competency test, showing potential clients that you’ve met their requirements to be considered competent.
- Be wary of scams: Freelancer.com is known for having plenty of scams, or fake job listings, posted to their site. Always be careful and appropriately vet potential clients. Never send your banking information to anyone, and keep communication on the platform.
- Poor customer service: While I’ve never personally used Freelancer.com, I’ve read plenty of reviews criticizing their customer service as unresponsive and difficult to work with.
PeoplePerHour is another popular option for freelancers in search of work. Clients can post any job offer, whether a small gig or an extended contract and freelancers can browse them and apply. The platform follows a structure similar to Upwork in that each freelancer must use “bids” to apply to jobs, and only 15 free bids are given monthly.
- Set your own rates: PeoplePerHour, as the name implies, is all about hiring independent contractors by the hour. Therefore, each freelancer can set their own hourly rate!
- No fees to join: Anyone can create an account on PeoplePerHour and pay nothing to use the platform. It’s also fairly flexible, with many clients available, depending on your niche.
- Outdated interface: PeoplePerHour has a rather lackluster UI, and the platform is in need of some major updates to bring it up to modern standards.
- Account deletions: If you do not make at least $100 in a given timeframe, PeoplePerHour will automatically delete your account. While this motivates freelancers to take jobs, it could also lead to taking jobs you don’t want to meet the requirement.
Still looking for other options?
While at least one of these platforms is likely to be a good fit for most freelancers, there are plenty of other places to look! One option that is often overlooked is LinkedIn. While it may not be made for freelancing, LinkedIn has plenty of gigs available that are short-term or quick-turnaround jobs. Not to mention, using LinkedIn, you can create and leverage connections to help you succeed. If you are ready to start your freelancing career and aren’t sure what you could offer potential clients, check out this article to help you learn marketable skills for free. There are plenty of opportunities in 2023 to start or grow your freelance business, whether as a side hustle or a full-time job.