Hiring an unfamiliar freelancer is scary, but not as scary as hiring an unfamiliar freelancer on an unfamiliar platform. For a lot of people, it comes down to Fiverr vs. Upwork, but if you haven’t used either before, or you’re unsure of how they work, choosing a freelancing service is just as tricky as choosing a freelancer.

In this guide, we aim to clear the air on Fiverr vs. Upwork. We did an in-depth comparison of where each platform stands on pricing, job quality, usability and more, plus how they stack up against one another. Before you make your final decision, let’s start with a brief overview of each.

Fiverr vs Upwork
Fiverr vs. Upwork—when to choose which? Illustration by OrangeCrush

Fiverr vs. Upwork at a glance

If you’re in the dark about one or both of these platforms, here’s a short summary of how they work and what clients can expect.

Fiverr

Fiverr logo for Fiverr vs Upwork comparison

Founded in 2010, Fiverr was one of the first gig marketplaces where users could either buy or sell services. Although it originally specialized in digital services only, Fiverr has since expanded to include other freelance business opportunities like consulting, management and administrative assistance—not to mention “odd jobs” like cooking lessons, online tutoring or sending reiki energy.

The appeal of Fiverr has largely been the low costs of its services: gigs usually start around $5, which is where the name comes from. However, in more recent years they’ve attracted some higher-quality talent with fees to match, so now you’re able to find a range of pricing, skill levels and services.

Upwork

Upwork as it’s known today started in 2015 when Elance and oDesk merged.

Upwork logo for Fiverr vs Upwork comparison

It has since grown into one of the largest freelance marketplaces in the world, specializing in all business services, with freelancers for administration, finance, design, content creation, legal, marketing and even engineering—although without the “lifestyle” gigs Fiverr is famous for. One of the perks of Upwork is that both buyers and sellers can post, so clients can browse freelancers’ profiles while freelancers can browse clients’ job postings.

Comparatively, Upwork is a more professional and business-oriented platform. User profiles read like resumes or CVs, with rates, work history and even education. Upwork is also more involved in the employment process, awarding badges to freelancers and monitoring work diaries, as well as enforcing payment protections.

Fiverr vs. Upwork: a quick comparison

Whether you want longer-terms hires from Upwork or one-off gigs from Fiverr, there are many other considerations like security, payment options, price and quality, to name a few. For some, quality is the most important, and for others it could be the process or communication tools. Take a look at our quick comparison to find what you need to know or scroll down to keep reading.

Upwork

Fiverr

Our choice

Type of work

  • Freelance business services: Development & IT, Design & Creative, Finance & Accounting, Admin & Customer Support, Engineering & Architecture, Legal, Sales & Marketing, Writing & Translation. (See full list of categories.)
  • All of the business services from Upwork, plus additional fields like Music and Lifestyle, where all the odd jobs are listed. (See full list of categories.)
  • Fiverr for quantity
  • Upwork for quality

Ways to get something done

  • Post a job (designers apply with portfolios)
  • Find & hire a freelancer
  • Post a request and receive custom offers
  • Find & hire a freelancer
  • Upwork

Communication tools & process

  • Standard communication tools
  • Handles payments
  • Upwork

Price

  • Negotiable with freelancers. Either hourly or per-project.
  • Upwork’s cut is 3% from clients, plus 5-20% from designers, depending on their earnings with each client
  • Negotiable with freelancers. Fiverr’s cut is 5% on purchases over $40.
  • Fiverr has less costly freelancers, and a wider range of cost

Quality

  • Amateur to Expert.
  • Can compare based on seller levels aggregated from ratings, earnings and past
  • Pro Sellers have been vetted by the Fiverr team.
  • Upwork

Special product features and tools

  • Talent Scout
  • Payment protection plan
  • Mobile apps
  • Privacy options
  • Permission to post designs
  • Upwork

Agency and pro options

  • Pro & Enterprise options (access to vetted designers, Talent Specialist helps you recruit)
  • Connects, Upwork’s virtual currency required by freelancers to submit on certain proposals
  • Upwork

When to use fiverr or Upwork—and when to avoid them

Platforms like Upwork or fiverr are great if you are looking to have several freelancers in a wide—and possibly unusual—range of fields at your fingertips. However, if you’re looking for a freelancer in a specific field, like graphic design for example, we’d recommend looking into specialized platforms that focus on the skill you need, like 99designs for graphic design (shameless plug).

If getting freelance work done for the lowest price point possible is not your number one concern, a more specialized platform may offer you more security, choice and expertise.

In the case of graphic design, you can find good and bad graphic designers on Fiverr and Upwork and the quality you receive can vary a lot, especially with low-budget designers. So it’s worth looking very closely at what they’re offering and what quality you can expect to get from them. 99designs vets each designer manually, offers more design categories, allows you to either run a Contest or hire freelancers individually and has search functionality and briefs tailor-made for working with designers, which makes the process more seamless.

Pricing

Fiverr

Screenshot of a Fiverr freelancer package plans for Fiverr vs Upwork comparison
via fiverr

In sheer cost, Fiverr is usually the cheaper option in the Fiverr vs. Upwork debate. However, don’t be misled by the initial cost you see when browsing. Fiverr sellers often use a package or tiered system, so if you see “from $5,” that typically means the bare minimum service is $5, whereas a complete project is more commensurate with industry rates.

Because Fiverr is designed for individual projects, most sellers are fairly transparent about what’s included in each package—including fine details like the amount of revisions or the type of file they deliver.

When purchasing through Fiverr, however, there’s always an inherent risk involved. Getting a professional quality logo design for $5 might be too good to be true, so read the fine print. On the bright side, Fiverr has implemented a “Fiverr Pro” option with only verified professionals, but don’t expect cheap options as they represent the top 1% of their talent.

Upwork

With its emphasis on professionalism, Upwork tends to be pricier than Fiverr. While both platforms feature top talent, Upwork has fewer quick-and-easy freelancers with low costs and fast turnovers. Upworks is closer to a standard job forum, with workers from entry-level to expert.

Interestingly, Upwork sellers often use the same tiered packaging model as Fiverr sellers, although the starting prices on Upwork are typically more realistic (“from $50,” not “from $5″). Again, they’re transparent about what’s included, so you can scale your pricing accordingly.

Screenshot of a Upwork freelancer package plans for Fiverr vs Upwork comparison
via Upwork

Moreover, Upwork also features hourly rates for certain jobs and profiles, again making it more attuned to long-term work. Fiverr uses a flat fee for everything, which gets complicated if you’re looking for an in-house job like administrative assistant. However, you won’t find any of those suspiciously cheap gigs on Upwork, for better or worse.

Quality

Fiverr

Fiverr is a mixed bag for sure. There’s a good blend of expert professionals, entry-level beginners and amateurs trying to make a quick buck. Sifting through them and telling them apart is the real challenge.

Aside from verifying top sellers as Pro, Fiverr doesn’t really interfere with how users present themselves. Fiverr labels sellers who maintain a 4.7-star rating throughout 10, 50 and 100 orders (“Level 1 Seller,” etc.), but those are mostly generated automatically.

Screenshot of Fiverr for Fiverr vs Upwork comparison
via fiverr

You could rely on user reviews and testimonials, but even those are suspicious. Fiverr has been under fire for fake reviews since the beginning, and even today you can openly buy positive Fiverr reviews. As an employer, your best bet is to judge freelancers based on completed samples, and use a second website to verify that those samples belong to them.

Upwork

In general, Upwork has higher-skilled workers, but lacks that “dirt cheap” tier from Fiverr that literally works for $5. This speaks further to Upwork performing better for long-term work, while Fiverr appeals more for short, one-off projects.

Screenshot of Upwork for Fiverr vs Upwork comparison
via Upwork

Upwork is also more hands-on about verifying a freelancer’s skill. Specifically, they include a Job Success Score, which accounts for the user’s client feedback, rehires and cancelled projects. This is on top of automatically generated “talent badges” similar to those of Fiverr.

However, also like Fiverr, Upwork reviews can be bought so you should always be skeptical. On the other hand, because more people use Upwork, there are more authentic reviews overall. Accounts with over a thousand reviews are more trustworthy.

Usability

Fiverr

Fiverr helped spearhead the card-style layout of freelancing platforms where users browse row after row of alluring profiles. This system works well when coupled with Fiverr’s search mechanics, which let you filter out specific options for skill level, turnover time, language, location and min/max pricing.

Screenshot of Fiverr Studios for Fiverr vs Upwork comparison
via fiverr

Moreover, Fiverr offers additional services to facilitate the hiring process. They also have Fiverr Studios, which allows multiple freelancers to work together and sell packaged deals. For example, a web designer, content writer and SEO specialist can offer an all-inclusive website building package. This works great for agency teams, as well as buyers looking for more than one project.

Likewise, if you’re working with multiple Fiverr freelancers, Fiverr Business provides a central dashboard for communication and project management, not unlike Slack or Asana.

Upwork

Upwork has three different types of search: Talent, Projects and Jobs. The Talent search shows scannable freelancer profiles, while the Jobs search shows posted job listings for freelancers to apply to. The Projects search, newly implemented, appears to be a clone of Fiverr’s card-style layout, where you can browse what different freelancers have to offer.

The versatility of this is pretty significant, especially considering that Fiverr doesn’t offer job posting. Freelancers can proactively find clients just by responding to their job ads, although they still need to sign up with Upwork to make contact.

Screenshot of Upwork job listings for Fiverr vs Upwork comparison
via Upwork

While Upwork’s Job search only uses keyword filters, the Talent search has all the useful filters you need—hourly rate, location, language—plus some extras like Job Success Score, total amount earned and total hours billed. The Projects search has even options, with project attributes (like programming language and other specialties), user rating and delivery time in case you need something in a hurry.

Ways to get something done

How to get something done on Fiverr

Screenshot of Fiverr Buyer Request form for Fiverr vs Upwork comparison
via fiverr

Really, there’s two ways to get something designed on Fiverr: select a gig from the site, or post a custom request and hope someone responds.

The pre-existing gigs are easy enough to find. Just search for whatever category you’re looking for: logo design, web design, digital marketing, etc. You’ll see all the search filters we mentioned above to help you hone in on precisely what you’re looking for. It’s pretty convenient, as the entire site was built with this usage in mind.

If you’re looking for something truly unique, you can create your own request, which sellers may browse and respond to if interested. These require you to set up a (free) Fiverr account, and once you do just click your account icon and then “My Requests.” From there, you fill out a small form and explain your project in your own words. It goes live after Fiverr approves it.

Depending on your request, sellers will hopefully start applying shortly. You’re then free to review and choose the one you like best.

How to get something done on Upwork

Like Fiverr, Upwork lets you both browse existing designers and then contact them, or else post your own job requests and wait for them to come to you. However, Upwork offers a third option, Talent Scout, which lends a recruiter to help you. At no additional cost, you can schedule a phone interview with an Upwork recruiter, who then delivers a shortlist of freelancers that meet your criteria.

Screenshot of Upwork Talent Scout form for Fiverr vs Upwork comparison
via Upwork

If you want to browse freelancers’ profile, simply search for the category you’re interested in, or click the corresponding tag. Their setup is similar to Fiverr’s, including prominently displaying the freelancer’s fee, so you can easily scan for profiles that match what you’re looking for.

Posting a job on Upwork is even more effective than posting a Fiverr request, as Upwork gets more use out of their job posting forum. Keep in mind that to post a job you need a client account.

Fiverr vs. Upwork: final verdict

So in Fiverr vs. Upwork, which one wins? It really depends on what you’re looking for.

Fiverr is better for pricing and speed, but those don’t always equate to a job well done. Because Fiverr is rougher around the edges, you can get faster turnarounds and unbelievably cheap deals, but there’s always a risk involved.

Upwork the slow and steady option: there’s more money at stake because it attracts higher-level professionals, but there’s also more safety. When you’re looking for a long-term hire or a freelancer that you’d like for ongoing work, Upwork creates a more conducive environment to meet them.

Of course, neither Fiverr nor Upwork really excels at specialization. Both lean towards all-in-one freelancing platforms, targeting people who will want services in more than one field. For example, both Fiverr and Upwork target logo design and other design services, but neither cater exclusively to design work.

If you want to use a platform that truly understands graphic design and can help match you with the designer you’re looking for, you’d have to use one like 99designs—a platform that specializes in design work.

Screenshot of 99designs for Fiverr vs Upwork comparison
Browsing designs on 99designs

Crowdsourcing platforms that only focus on one field attract better quality professionals in that field. Communities like 99designs win in both quality and quantity: better designers, and more of them. How does 99designs compare one-on-one with Fiverr and Upwork? See our comparative guides 99designs vs Fiverr and 99designs vs Upwork to see which one works best for you.

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