Upwork, the largest freelance marketplace in the world, boasts more than 12 million freelancers across 180 countries. It also wields outsize power to affect the bottom line of those writers, designers and others who rely on it for their livelihoods.
Along the way of Upwork’s meteoric rise, the company started charging freelancers to bid on each job and increased the paid membership fees, further eating into freelancers’ earnings..
Such increases to Upwork’s fees and subscriptions have prompted some freelancers (and maybe you?) to search for alternatives. Here are four sites similar to Upwork and a bunch of other organizations and job boards where you can find legit freelance gigs.
Sites Like Upwork
In the budding stages of your freelance career? You may be most comfortable finding projects in freelance marketplaces as you build up a client portfolio. And Upwork isn’t the only one. The recommendations below are alternatives to Upwork that cater to all types of freelance work.
You can find (and list) just about any service on Fiverr, a freelance marketplace through which anyone can search for services on an internal search engine.
As a freelancer, you can list your services and prices. Don’t worry, you can charge more than $5. Over time, you earn ratings that can help you rank higher in the search results.
It’s free to sign up as a “seller.” So is creating a listing. The fees come in when sales are made. That’s when a company hires and pays you for a service.. For each sale, Fiverr takes 20% of the purchase amount, according to the company’s terms of service.
The good news is that Fiverr has a deal with PayPal to waive withdrawal fees for any project completed on the site.
Want to deliver packages? Design websites? Write articles? Post it on Freelancer, another solid marketplace for projects big and small.
On Freelancer, both employers and freelancers can create listings and specify rates per project or per hour. If you want to work on a project an employer posted, you can bid on it. That alerts the employer that you’re interested. The standard free membership includes eight bids per month. You can add extra bids if you cough up some dough. Alternatively, the skills you list on your freelancer profile will appear in the search results if a business is looking for a specific service or is searching by location. In that case, the business can reach out to you directly.
Freelancer’s fee system is somewhat complicated but lower than similar marketplaces overall.
The fee for fixed-price projects is 10% or $5, whichever is greater, and 10% for hourly projects.
For services, Freelancer takes 20% from the payment amount. There are a ton of ways to promote your services, get fee exemptions and more, according to the fee breakdown.
To get started, make a free account and upload your portfolio.
Guru runs on a bidding system. An employer needs a document translated into French? Bid on it. Someone needs a logo for their cooking blog? Bid on it. An entrepreneur needs a ghostwriter for her new thought leadership book? You get the idea… bid on it. Alternatively, companies can reach out to you directly if you already have a relationship with them or if they find your profile among a pool of qualified freelancers.
One of the biggest mistakes beginning freelancers make is pricing themselves too low, Poole says. Factor in the fees and extra work that freelancing entails when setting your hourly rates.
Profiles are free to create. They include a basic membership, which comes with 10 bids per month. There are varying levels of paid memberships that give you extra bids each month, or you can purchase more bids directly if you don’t want to pay a recurring membership fee. It’s $10 for every 20 bids, or you can get discounts for bulk — $50 for 125 bids and $100 for 250 bids.
Similar to other freelance marketplaces, Guru takes a percentage from the selling price of the service, and it varies based on what kind of membership you have.
Interested? You can make a free profile and select what membership works best for you.
Moonlighting stands out in its ambition, as it offers a smorgasbord of features for freelancers. It’s part job board, part portfolio, part freelance-business management system. The platform launched in 2014 and is available only in the U.S. and Canada (cutting down on international competition).
Some features are free to use. You can browse the job board – with gigs such as local landscaping work or full-time jobs at national companies – and read advice blog posts without spending a dime.
Unlike most sites, payments aren’t funneled through the company, so you won’t be hit with 20% fees for completed work.
Instead, Moonlighting’s Pro Membership payment model is a flat $9.99 per month. Premium features include a freelance business page, unlimited proposals and invoices and free or discounted access to software that will help you run your business: tax services with H&R Block, healthcare benefits through HealthSapiens, legal advice from LegalZoom and more.
Other Upwork Alternatives
Freelance marketplaces are a fairly new concept and are exploding in popularity. But sometimes you just can’t beat the well-established methods.
Laura Poole, a freelance business owner who trains other freelancers at conferences around the nation, says freelancing is all about networking. The more people you know, the less you’re beholden to the ever-growing services fees of freelance websites.
“Figure out who your ideal client is,” she says. “Then go directly to your clients.”
Poole is a member of ACES, an international society for editors. She uses the perks of her membership to present at ACES conferences and network with people in her industry. She highly recommends presenting and public speaking.
“If you can present something useful, [clients] will remember you,” she says. “Better than handing out business cards. Better than even placing an ad.”
Several industries popular with freelancers have national organizations, such as the American Advertising Federation and the Society of Professional Journalists. Each organization has local chapters that host events and offer resources to members. Their websites often post niche jobs and freelance opportunities in the industry as well.
A free resource for freelancers of any field is the Freelancers Union. The organization helps its members with job boards, freelancing guides, assistance with health care benefits and more.
Freelance Job Boards
Freelance and remote work is booming in popularity. As a result, there are free job boards out there that specialize in this type of work. While they’re not as comprehensive as freelance sites like Upwork or Fiverr, they do aggregate gigs… for free.
- Remote.co doesn’t post 100% freelance gigs, but it does post 100% remote jobs, many of which are freelance. Industries include clerical work, editing, writing, marketing, software development, engineering and customer service.
- The Penny Hoarder’s Work-From-Home Job Portal: Our journalists personally vet every single job and company that we write about on our Work-From-Home Job Portal. Our focus is on hourly jobs at legitimate companies. Plenty of our posts are about freelance work, but we also include full-time and part-time gigs as well. Customer service, writing, editing, marketing and IT jobs are the most popular.
- Mediabistro: As its name implies, Mediabistro is focused on jobs in the media industry, which is ripe for freelance work. While the job board posts all kinds of media jobs, you can filter out exactly what you want to see — freelance, full-time, part-time, by industry and by location.
The Old-Fashioned Way
A cold pitch never hurt anyone. The worst a company can do is say no. So find a business or publisher in your field and send them an email.
Our guide, The Art of the Pitch, walks you through exactly what to include in your pitch email and how to find the right person to send it to.
“A polite, cold email can get good results,” Poole said.