Best freelance websites in 2021: free and paid sites

Asia's Tech News Daily

If you’re a freelancer, then you’ve got to be on top of new opportunities so you can keep working – and it’s worth using specialist freelance websites to find new clients and jobs across all of your skills and specialties.

The best freelance websites

Click the links below to go to the provider’s website:

1. Toptal

2. Guru

3. Upwork

4. Freelancer.com

5. People Per Hour

6. Aquent

7. 99designs

8. Solidgigs

9. FlexJobs

10. Fiverr

A top-notch freelance website can help you no matter the situation, whether you’re a full-time freelancer, a person who wants to work from home on the side, or someone who’s just entering the world of self-employment. Freelance sites can help on the other side of the fence, too: they’re perfect if you need to find a freelancer to do some work for you or your business.

There are lots of factors to consider when you want to find a freelance website. Some have more jobs and opportunities than others, while some handle a wider variety of industries and opportunities. You’ll find some that are faster and others that are slower when listing new openings. And, of course, you’ll have to think about the pay rates – and how quickly sites make those payments.

We’ve put together a list of the best freelance websites around, so read on if you want to discover which sites you need to use if you’re going to make the most out of your self-employed life. And head to this link if you want a broader view of the best US job sites of 2021.

(Image credit: Toptal)

1. Toptal

Designed to discover the world’s best freelance talent

Reasons to buy
+High-end positions+Rigorous screening process+Lucrative awards

Reasons to avoid
High barrier to entry

Toptal doesn’t have the most extensive database of jobs or users, but that’s the point: this site only lists world-class freelancers. That’s why companies like Microsoft, Bridgestone, and Salesforce rely on Toptal to find top talent.

Toptal uses a rigorous screening process to ensure that only the best candidates are available, with language and personality reviews, skills tests, live screening, and test projects all used to find world-class talent. The firm says that only 3% of its freelance applicants end up listed, and Toptal also uses industry experts to hand-pick freelancers for each project.

That’s a high barrier to entry, but it means that freelancers can pick up lucrative projects and that companies will find high-quality workers. Also, consider that Toptal only works with developers, designers, finance experts, and product and project managers.

The focused job titles and high barrier to entry mean that there will be lots of situations where Toptal just isn’t suitable. But if you’re a world-class freelancer or if you need to find that world-class talent, this is the place to start.

(Image credit: Guru)

2. Guru

A huge, flexible freelance marketplace

Reasons to buy
+Huge user base+Affordable options+Verified freelancers

Guru is one of the largest freelance marketplaces on the web, with more than two million freelancers and 800,000 employers listed, and that means you’ll be able to find experts in a variety of fields. Guru covers programming and development, design, writing, sales, marketing, and management, and you’ll also be able to find freelancers who work in the legal, engineering and education fields.

The site’s colossal database has freelancer verification – so you can be sure you’re hiring a legitimate person. Secure payments and low fees mean that the process is reliable and trustworthy for both freelancers and employers.

Freelancers also have feedback ratings on the site, so you can see how well people perform before you reach out. It’s possible to hire people based on a fixed price contract, an hourly rate, a task-based rate, or a recurring fee, so there’s loads of flexibility for everyone involved, and you can manage projects from the site’s built-in dashboard.

Guru is free to join as a freelancer or an employer, but the site takes a fee from both sides on every paid invoice. The site’s paid memberships are also worthwhile: if you’re a freelancer, you can receive more bids, pay lower fees, boost your ranking, and send highlighted quotes, and paid employer accounts mean you get lower fees, unlimited job postings, and access to top freelancers.

(Image credit: Upwork)

3. Upwork

One of the most familiar freelance websites

Reasons to buy
+Ideal for longer-term contracts+Focus on software and marketing+Ideal for complex projects

Upwork is one of the most prominent freelance marketplaces on the web, and there’s plenty of reasons to use this vast site. It lists freelancers in every conceivable job and every big industry and focuses on marketing and software development.

Upwork verifies and reviews freelancers, so you can be sure you’re hiring someone legitimate. You can even check a freelancer’s work samples before you make an offer. Freelancers can also take advantage of articles and resources to help them find work and grow their careers.

Once a company has posted a project, freelancers can apply for the position, allowing employers to find the best fit for the job. There’s a wide variety of short- and long-term contracts on Upwork, and it’s easy for freelancers and employers to chat thanks to text and video messaging.

Upwork’s Talent Scout feature matches projects to top-quality freelancers, and freelancers can join the site for free. As usual, though, Upwork does take fees from each job, but if you work on larger projects, the rate is lower. Upwork’s sheer size means freelancers and employers shouldn’t ignore it.

(Image credit: Freelancer.com)

4. Freelancer.com

A simple, straightforward site with loads of options

Reasons to buy
+Competitive platform+Broad array of freelancers+Easy communication

Freelancer.com is one of the most straightforward freelance marketplaces online, so it’s no wonder that it’s trusted by companies like Amazon, IBM, and Google. It’s also one of the largest freelance sites, too – the company claims that it has a global pool of fifty million users who have expertise in more than 1800 different skills.

If you’re an employer, you can browse people’s portfolios and quickly post a listing, and Freelancer.com says that 80% of its jobs receive a bid from a freelancer within sixty seconds. The size of this site means that it’s suitable for all kinds of large and small projects, and you can use the site’s recruitment and project management experts if you need a little guidance.

This site also has modules for generating ideas and learning about different subjects, which supplies a great all-round experience.

Employers can post any size of project with any kind of payment method on the site, and you only pay when you’re satisfied with the work. The site’s live chat and dedicated app make it easy to manage your project, and freelancers can use the app to stay in touch with managers and get alerts about relevant job postings.

Freelancer.com’s massive database of users, straightforward job posting, and mobile app mean that this is an impressive and versatile option for both freelancers and employers.

(Image credit: People Per Hour)

5. People Per Hour

This international site boasts a wide variety of categories

Reasons to buy
+Varied opportunities+International community+Straightforward ratings

More than three million people and one million businesses use this site across every key category, from SEO and web development to content writing, voiceovers, and marketing. If you need a person for a job – no matter how obscure – you’ll find them on People Per Hour.

Employers can post any small or large projects on this site, and freelancer ratings and reviews mean you can pick people who are more likely to produce good work.

Freelancers can apply for certification, which will make them more trustworthy in the eyes of employers, and you can spend time building an eye-catching profile to make you stand out. Similarly, freelancers can also post adverts to attract employers. The site uses a bespoke AI system to match freelancers with potential projects based on their experience and abilities.

Freelancers and employers can combine using this site’s Project Streams, which allows easy communication, asset sharing, and project management. You can raise invoices from here, too, and secure payments are made quickly and easily. And, happily, People Per Hour’s fees are among the lowest in the industry, so this site is a good-value choice.

(Image credit: Aquent)

6. Aquent

Perfect for creative and marketing roles

Reasons to buy
+Creative opportunities+Smart talent matching+AI-powered insights

Lots of freelance marketplaces concentrate on having a huge database of freelancers and jobs in every industry, but that’s not the case with Aquent. Instead, this site prioritizes creativity and diversity, and it uses machine learning to match projects with expert recruiters – and it’s those recruiters who find the right talent.

Aquent says that its machine learning, language processing, and image analysis procedures provide better insight and better results when matching projects with freelancers. Aquent also promises to provide freelancers with great projects and fair rates of pay.

This site isn’t just a freelance marketplace, either. The firm offers loads of online courses and modules to help existing staff improve their abilities, and Aquent also has in-house teams that can handle creative and techy tasks – it’s like being able to hire a whole department at once.

Aquent is not the cheapest site, and it doesn’t have the biggest database. Also bear in mind that it focuses on several key areas, like content, creative tasks, marketing, and tech. But this site places a firm focus on creativity, diversity, and equality, and it’s a vital service if you’d like your business to follow suit – or if you’re a freelancer who appreciates that kind of working environment.

(Image credit: 99designs)

7. 99designs

A specialist site for designers and creatives

Reasons to buy
+Specific to creative jobs+Loads of relevant categories+Ideal for collaboration

As the name suggests, 99designs concentrates on design. If you need logos, branding, book covers or websites, this is the place to look, and this is a site you should use if you’re a freelancer in any of those creative fields.

Employers can use two different methods to find talent on 99designs. You can use the traditional freelance marketing method to list a project and invite bids from freelancers, or you can pay 99designs to find you the perfect designer – ideal if you’ve got a firm idea of what you need.

Freelance creatives can join for free, compete in contests to bid for work, and designers are reviewed to check for their legitimacy when they join the site. There are over ninety distinctive design categories on the site, too, so you’ll be able to find work no matter the field.

As usual, 99designs charges fees when you complete a job, and there are extra fees when designers start working with new clients, so this is not necessarily the cheapest site. But if you’re a creative or need to find a creative and want to ensure quality work in a collaborative and encouraging environment, 99designs is worth the cost.

(Image credit: Solidgigs)

8. Solidgigs

A good option for learning and finding hand-picked opportunities

Reasons to buy
+Weekly list of gigs+Courses and tools to use

There are an incredible number of freelance opportunities around, but that can be daunting and confusing. Happily, Solidgigs takes the hassle out of hunting by manually checking more than 100 freelance marketplaces to find the best opportunities.

Solidgigs aims to find the best 1% of freelance opportunities, and the site curates a list of top jobs and sends them to your inbox – so you can quickly see and bid for the best contracts.

If you’re a freelancer who wants to get access to Solidgigs’ hand-picked list of opportunities, though, then you’ll have to pay. There’s a thirty-day trial that costs $2, but it costs $19 a month after that. That makes it one of the only freelance sites that has an upfront cost to freelancers, but many people will find that excellent value in the face of other sites that don’t hand-pick their listings.

Solidgigs is made by the people behind Millo.co, which has articles, courses, podcasts, and tools for freelancers, so there are plenty of educational opportunities here as well.

(Image credit: FlexJobs)

9. FlexJobs

A trustworthy option for all sorts of freelance and remote opportunities

Reasons to buy
+Hand-screened listings+Loads of extra features

FlexJobs is a site designed for people who want to find remote and flexible working opportunities. So while it’s not a pure freelance website, it’s packed to the gills with freelance positions – so it’s a great option if you’re an employer or a self-employed person.

Listings on this site are hand-screened for legitimacy, so you’ll always find something trustworthy and relevant on FlexJobs, and jobs are listed in virtually every industry – this isn’t like other sites that concentrate on techy jobs or creative opportunities. Companies receive verification too, so freelancers can be confident when people make contact.

Beyond job listings, FlexJobs offers articles, events, and career coaching sessions. You do have to pay to get the most out of this site, though – it costs $6.95 for a week of access or $49.95 for a year, and that gives you more information, discounts on loads of products and the ability to apply for positions right there on the site.

FlexJobs doesn’t focus purely on freelance roles, but its concentration on flexible working means that it has loads of them listed. Combine this with its hand-screening and verification, and you’ve got a trustworthy site that’s well worth the money.

Read the full review: FlexJobs

(Image credit: Fiverr)

10. Fiverr

One of the biggest and broadest freelance marketplaces

Reasons to buy
+Huge database+Free access for freelancers and employers

There aren’t many bigger freelance websites than Fiverr. It’s been around since 2010 and claims to be used by more than three million employers, including big companies like Netflix and Facebook.

Fiverr’s sheer size means that employers can find every kind of freelancer on the site, and if you’re a freelancer you’ll be able to find opportunities no matter what kind of work you do. Whether you’re after a long project, a small job, or anything in between, you’ll be able to find it here, and at all sorts of budgets. Free listings also mean there are plenty of low-cost opportunities here too.

It’s free to join the site and free to list opportunities on Fiverr, and everyone can benefit from protected payments and 24/7 support. Businesses can also pay to enjoy an upgraded package that offers verified freelancers, hand-picked talent matching, and a dashboard to manage your projects.

Fiverr has plenty going for it, not least its size, but its low barrier to entry means that you may have to sift through many unsuitable projects or freelancers before you find the right fit. Free listings also mean that Fiverr’s eventual transaction fees are a little higher than many other sites.

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