Upwork vs Fiverr | Which is Better for You, a Freelancer?
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Upwork vs Fiverr
You already know the differences between Upwork and Fiverr if you’re hiring a freelancer, but what about if you yourself are an intrepid young freelancer trying to make a name for yourself? This guide will explore each platform’s policies and how they treat their freelancers, as well as other options that may be worth your time.
Because they’re providing a service to you, the freelancer, both platforms take fees out of the money you make on contracts. This is reasonable, of course, but it can be tedious when money is tight.
Upwork takes a substantial 20% cut from all transactions that comes directly from your payment and doesn’t really affect the client you’re working with at all. If you work with the same client for over $500 worth of contracts than the rate goes down to $10, which is still pretty significant.
On the Fiverr side of things the fee is also 20% of your cut, but without the option of going down in the future.
Additionally, both sites use an escrow system in order to make sure no tricky business is going on. This means it may be up to 14 days following the completion of a job.
One of my biggest issues with platforms like Upwork and Fiverr is the amount of overhead they insist on instituting over the clients and freelancers using their services. Again, this is understandable given that it’s in their best interest to keep people accountable, but in many cases I feel that they just make more trouble for everyone.
In general, both platforms’ list of priorities is themself, then the client, and lastly you, the freelancer.
For example, Upwork has been known to routinely shut down freelancer accounts if they feel that there is not sufficient demand for their services, ie. if they are bidding on too many projects and not getting enough work. Sometimes, essentially no reason for the deactivation is given at all.
This can be a huge drawback for freelancers, as this deactivation of freelancer accounts is largely or entirely algorithmic and there is little hope of appealing the decision. Sometimes it even happens by mistake and there is still no way to reverse it.
With this overhead and lack of support for freelancers in mind, it is unwise to use either platform as your sole means of making an income, as there’s always a chance that you could be dropped for a single unfortunate incident (or sometimes no incident at all).
Since Upwork and Fiverr are on similar levels when it comes to fees and being obnoxiously “hands-on,” most freelancers will probably make their decision based on how each platform is set-up.
Upwork is pretty straightforward. Clients post jobs which are filtered through algorithms and appear to you, after which you can bid on offers of interest. This is a pretty good system for freelancers who are flexible and have a wide skill sets.
Fiverr, on the other hand, allows freelancers craft their own profile or service. Potential clients can then approach freelancers to do the work within the boundaries described in their profile. This system is better for freelancers who have a very specific skill set or service that they want to offer, for example, if you are an expert logo-designer.
It is also especially good for people who offer a gimmicky service, such as spokesmanship, anime drawings, or the classic Kermit impressions. If you want to offer an odd or fun service, Fiverr may be the better place to be.
As mentioned earlier, it may be a good idea to not focus all of your attention on a single platform. You may try both and find that you perform better on one than the other.
Take It Off Platform
The benefits of freelancer platforms like Upwork and Fiverr is that they give you a base and essentially send clients your way. The drawbacks, of course, are that you are subject to fees and third-party overhead, not to mention that it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd of other people bidding on jobs.
If freelancer platforms don’t sound right for you, the other best option is the obvious one: go off platform altogether. This could involve starting your own website and business, but that takes a lot of time and work to get it off the ground.
The Benefits of Forums
Otherwise, you can “peddle your wares” on forums such as the 256Kilobyte’s Buy, Sell, and Trade section, where things are more casual and you don’t have to worry about your host platform looking over your shoulder. Payment is more casual and you don’t have to wait up to two weeks to be paid for your work. While scamming is a thing, it is usually pretty easy to avoid as long as you use your brain.
You can also dispense with typical job interview bullshit like resumes and cover letters--talking about a job on a forum is typically just two people having a conversation.
People Like a Familiar Face
Although I made it sound easy, it does take a bit of commitment to become successful on a forum as well. Although Upwork and Fiverr has community reviews of freelancers, a client never truly knows what you’re like until they are talking to you.
If you are consistently active on a forum (not purely the buy-sell-trade section, but other sections as well) people will know who you are through first hand encounters and probably have a good idea of what your expertise is by your post history.
Although it requires some laying of the groundwork and dedication to sticking around active forums, this method can be the most rewarding for many people. Going off-platform is the only way you can become a truly independent contractor.
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Louis Cicalese is a person who has written about the hacker known as 4chan, the hacker known as
2channel 5channel, lesser-known search engines, CSS color names, Leeroy Jenkins, hiring Kermit the Frog impersonators and various other topics.
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