In this post, I am putting Fiverr and Upwork up to the test.
So if you are looking for deep comparison of the two popular freelance platforms, you have come to the right place.
Because in today's post, I am going to compare Fiverr vs Upwork in terms of:
Freelancers' vetting process
Projects management tools
Unique special features
Quality and quantity of freelancers
Are you ready? Let's do it!
Introducing: the two competitors
On the right side, we have Fiverr.
Fiverr is best known for cheap freelance services starting at $5, but in the last couple of years, they have introduced lots of new professional tools, like Fiverr Pro.
Which is why it's even possible to do a Fiverr vs Upwork comparison. A few years ago, Fiverr was focussed 100% on $5 gigs.
Today, Fiverr has a ton of features that makes it a direct competitor to UpWork, including:
Fiverr Pro - verified, hand-picked, exceptional talent only.
Fiverr Studio - a team of specialist for your entire project, managed by one project lead.
Fiverr for Business - for businesses who need the talent to complete their in-house teams.
And on the right side, we have UpWork.
Upwork killer feature is that you'll find a freelancer for basically any category.
That way, you don't have to search around to find the right freelancer or agency, just enter the skill you need and Upwork will find it for you.
As you'll see, Fiverr has a better feature. And we will compare the two later.
But it's important to know that Upwork started as the largest freelance platform, which means none of the freelancers was vetted and selected because anyone can just create an account and become a freelancer.
They focus on the largest offer of freelancers.
That said, Upwork has recently updated its selection process quite a bit.
In fact, today you are shown on Upwork only freelancers who have:
A high number of reviews
Many projects completed
Are online at the time of enquiry
Upwork has recently noticed that the quality of freelancers is better than the quantity. They still have the largest number of freelancers, but they show you only the best ones, first.
For example, for Search Marketing, you only have 3 options.
I have joined Upwork in 2016 and only recently joined Fiverr Pro as well and talked about my experience as a freelancer. In my short experience with Fiverr Pro, I have worked with 20 new clients in a few months and 0 with Upwork in 4 years.
I have also used both platforms for hiring freelancers and they are tied in the quality of work delivered to me.
The bottom line is that Fiverr and Upwork have a similar set of functionalities, but they are very different in how they hire, select and recruit their freelancers.
So it's time to give this question an answer: which freelance platform is best overall?
Let's get started.
Which platform is best for the quality of freelancers?
First, I have decided which platform is best when selecting the candidates you'll work with.
Let's see who came out on top.
Fiverr has two main pools of freelancers and agencies to choose from:
Non-vetted freelancers on fiverr.com
Vetted, professional and world-class talent on Fiverr Pro.
Let's see how each one works.
Fiverr is like any other freelance platform on the market.
Type a skill and get a list of available candidates.
Pro tip: Check if the candidates have actually passed their skills tests to prove that they know the subject inside out.
What's unique about the freelancers' selection is the fact that Fiverr doesn't just show you a list of candidates that have success on Fiverr.
(Although they give you that data too).
They also let you know which freelancer is succeeding OUTSIDE Fiverr, by selecting Pro Services.
Why is this important?
It's no secret that talented freelancers deliver more valuable work thanks to the qualifications and experiences that they had even outside the platform.
But how do you establish talent?
When professionals show diplomas, certifications, speak at conferences, write a book, have a large following, many case studies, their own blog, lots of positive reviews from happy customers, it's obvious they are experts in their field.
Their reputation is valuable for your business.
And Fiverr Pro takes this into account.
For example, Zima Media was a real SEO agency, even before joining Fiverr Pro.
If you search for my name, you probably already know that I have been working in SEO since 2011, way before I joined Fiverr Pro.
This is very helpful.
My profile together with others on Fiverr Pro has passed a very tough selection, that only 1% of the applicants is able to pass.
You can also filter the freelancers by location to find local ones.
And also filter by online sellers, which means you get an answer to your project faster.
As you are about to see, this is very different from the way Upwork recruits its freelancers.
Like Fiverr, you can see a list of freelancers for your selected skill.
Pro Tip: remember to check if candidates passed their skills tests.
The unique thing about Upwork is that you can customise the type of project according to your requirements and Upwork shows the best fit.
You first estimate the scope of work:
Then estimate your project duration:
And finally, pick the freelancer's level of experience:
But how do they work out the level of experience?
Level of experience is based on the experience freelancers had ON THE PLATFORM, on Upwork. It's not based on the experience outside the platform.
Differently to Fiverr Pro, which takes into account the REAL experience of candidates, Upwork only establishes experience by the number of projects completed inside of Upwork.
In fact, my Upwork profile shows me as a Beginner, despite me adding all my case studies, my previous 9 years' experience, my job positions, qualifications and my Master Degree in Digital Marketing.
Why is this important?
Fiverr Pro goes WAY deeper in assessing the real quality of freelancers before they are allowed to their platform. Upwork, instead, let's everyone subscribe.
Whether this is a good or a bad thing, it depends on your needs. I personally prefer to hire real professionals that have success even outside of the platform, as their reputation matters.
But if you are a business owner that needs a quick project and you trust Upwork's reviews, then Upwork might be the right way to go.
So if you are a Director or run a company who needs a specialist project done, you are probably delegating specialist projects outside your company.
And having a freelancer is super helpful.
Overall, I have to say that Fiverr Pro wins the battle when it comes to selecting the right freelancers. And it wins by a lot.
Upwork might match you with the right freelancers, thanks to their onboarding process, but Fiverr Pro has already done most of the hard work of vetting, selecting, and hiring the absolute top talent for you, taking into account experiences and qualifications obtained outside Fiverr.
Which platform is best in pricing systems?
Next, I wanted to see which platform is best for pricing your projects.
Let's see which platform costs you less for the same type of project.
For this mini-test, I want to start an SEO consultation project, with an expert SEO over a period of 6 months from a 5 star-rated freelancer, with a budget of $1,000/month.
I wanted to see what freelancers were proposing to me for those requirements.
Upwork proposed me this initial list of SEOs starting at $4.99/hour.
It doesn't stop here.
Freelancers can also contact me because I have submitted a job.
This means I suddenly started receiving emails and LinkedIn connections from these freelancers, and I haven't even picked one yet.
I find this very annoying pushing me to pick a freelancer doesn't make it any easier for me. I still need to choose the right person.
Anyways, once you pick a freelancer, you get a history of works and feedback:
This allows you to:
Match their previous project with yours in terms of scope, topic and budget
Assess what kind of feedback they have received from previous customers
Fiverr proposed me this curated list of SEOs, with much higher monthly fixed prices starting at $500/month. As you can see my profile has been proposed to potential clients:
So based on this mini case study, you notice suddenly two differences:
Fiverr has a much more expensive list of SEO freelancers starting at $500/month
With Fiverr Pro, you can suddenly gather the price you pay per month
Upwork is way cheaper than Fiverr but the count is made on an hourly base, not a monthly base.
That said, the monthly cost is only one option to consider.
For example, you might want to pay by the hour, not monthly. And Fiverr doesn't provide this option. Upwork does.
If you want to pay someone by the hour at $4.99/hour and you feel confident he can get the job done, then go for it.
Another thing to consider is the list of skills and services included in the price:
Fiverr freelancers provide clearly what you are paying for:
This makes it easy to see WHY you are paying $900/month. Upwork doesn't provide you with this information, so you only pay by the hour and that's it.
It also depends on whether you already have clear requirements, in which case Upwork might come handy because you just delegate your project to the cheapest freelancer.
I personally find Fiverr Pro much easier when it comes to spending my money. It takes less time to find out the total price. The freelancers (or agencies) have a clear list of tasks and pricing for each. And it's good to have a second opinion.
After all, they are the experts and they should be providing you with the direction of what needs to be done in your project.
For pricing, Fiverr wins but not by a lot. It was a very close battle. Fiverr gives you precise time-frame, pricing and list of tasks. Upwork works better when you have clear requirements and want to delegate your work quickly. I find very annoying the fact that many freelancers have now access to my email address and can contact me to pitch themselves.
So when I want to get something done, I still open Fiverr and book a freelancer (mostly because I am not harassed by irrelevant pitches).
Which platform has the best project management tool?
In the next feature, I wanted to look at how projects are managed.
In other words:
Which platform is best for communicating and managing deadlines and milestones.
Let's see what happened next...
As soon as you make an order, Fiverr asks you to fill in the list of requirements to share with the freelancer and enable him to start your project.
This is the direction you want your order to take. In my little test, I have ordered "content marketing" for $10 per 500 words.
You share these requirements AFTER you have made an order.
Once the order starts, you are moved into a project dashboard, where all communication and milestones are shown:
One nice feature is the countdown, from the moment in which you make the order, you have a giant watch counting the time towards your deadline:
If you run into any kind of trouble, for example, you need more time to finish a project, you can submit a resolution ticket.
In my test, I was happy with the result, but the freelancer needed more time to complete the project. So he filed a resolution ticket to ask for 1 extra day and I have agreed to it.
Also, if you have a largr project divided into milestones, you can manage it easily with this workflow:
You receive one milestone, approve it and pay for it
You receive the second milestone, approved it and pay for it separately.
To me, this is a really useful project management functionality. Instead of delivering one big project that required a month to complete, you can split it into smaller pieces and get it approved each time.
This avoids the huge risk that freelancers and buyers both have:
Freelancers can deliver a huge project with low quality, that will take the same amount of time to improve;
Buyers might not be happy with the final result and submit a poor review. Or, worst-case scenario, file a resolution ticket and ask for a refund altogether.
Believe me, that happened to me.
Upwork also has very solid project management functionality.
Once you submit a job, a list of the available candidate is shown to you.
You also get the usual dashboard where you can control milestones, communication and payments:
Plus you can do a whole of other things with Upwork:
Add milestone during a project
Create an hourly contract
Create a fixed price project
Move outside Upwork
Which you cannot do with Fiverr.
Particularly interesting is the last option, move out Upwork. If you decide to work with your chosen freelancer outside of Upwork, you are allowed to do so.
But there is a fee. In my test, the fee wasn't cheap:
$12,480 to work outside Upwork? How did they calculate this fee?
They have estimated that the yearly revenue of my freelancer is $104,000, which I don't know where they have estimated from.
Then they subtract Upwork fee of 12%, which makes is $12,480.
I don't agree with this calculation, first because it doesn't estimate the freelancer revenue for your projects only, it also includes all works done with several other clients.
Second, if I wanted to work outside Upwork, I could just arrange a Zoom or Skype call with the freelancer and take it from there, without paying Upwork any expensive fee.
When it comes to project management, both platforms are very good but Upwork comes on top. Its number of functionalities makes it very easy to pivot, change, reschedule and edit a project. The only way to do this with Fiverr is by submitting a resolution request.
Which platform has cool unique features?
At this point, we’ve compared the main features of each platform. Now it’s time to look at some of the unique features that makes Fiverr and Upwork unique.
In my opinion, the best feature Fiverr has that makes it unique to other competitors is "Fiverr Studio"
This feature is still in beta as it has been released a few weeks ago.
If you need many freelancers to work on the same project, this comes very useful.
Explore the Studio gigs...
and find out how to hire one Project Lead to manage 2 or more freelancers for your projects.
Fiverr Studio makes all Fiverr Pro Freelancers available to you, so you can have both quantity of skills and quality of work delivered, with one point of contact only.
Upwork also has a set of cool features that Fiverr doesn't have.
The biggest is their number of available categories of freelancers. I have counted more than 150 different categories in very tiny small niches. From ActionScript 3 Specialists to Algorithm Engineers and Astrologists.
I have to say Upwork is the overall winner in the cool features department. Honestly, both Fiverr and Upwork have features that no other platform does, but Upwork's number of available and diversified freelancers is unrivalled. Upwork becomes a must if you have a specific, niche and specialist project need.
A few words on processing fees
Both platforms are free to sign up, however, they charge a processing fee when making an order.
Fiverr charges you a processing fee of $1.00 for purchases up to $20.00. They charge you 5% of the total for orders more than $20.00.
For Upwork, most payments are subject to a standard 3% processing fee.
Which tool has the best overall features?
Now it's time to answer the question that you have probably in your mind:
"Which platform has the best return on investment?"
Obviously, it depends a lot on what your need is. And what type of project you need work on most.
For example, if you want to have a simple task done in astrology, then Upwork is the best option.
But if you need to find a vetted, real-life specialist and you got a higher budget to spend for a very high quality of work, then Fiverr Pro is your best bet.
Both platforms allow custom projects and pricing so it's really hard to say which one is more or less expensive.
When it comes to availability, Upwork wins. That's mostly because you find any type of freelancer under the sun.
When it comes to quality, Fiverr Pro wins. That's because they spend time vetting and selecting the best candidates for you.
Upwork vs Fiverr: And the winner is...
I personally use both tools for my projects since 2014. So to decide a winner, I have taken lots of factors into account:
Freelancers' vetting process
Projects management tools
Unique special features
Quality of the freelancers
Quantity and availability
But if I had to go with one platform, I'd have to choose Fiverr.
I honestly think you can't go wrong with either platform. So my decision is a really hard one to make.
And if you need a necromantic, you'll find him on Upwork.
But taking the whole features in mind, quality of freelancers, project management tools, communication tools and support, I have crown Fiverr as the winner here.