Freelancing is growing in popularity thanks to the flexible income it provides people around the globe. In fact, in the US alone, there are now 57 million freelancers.
You want to find work online as a freelancer, too, and have researched your way to figuring you’ll start finding freelance jobs on one of the two most popular freelance marketplaces around.
Very astute of you!
BUT how do you choose between Fiverr vs Upwork?
When choosing a freelance marketplace for you, it’s a smart idea to weigh each of the factors that will affect you, like job types, fees, how safely and quickly you can get paid, and more.
And since doing this on your own can quickly turn into an overwhelming mountain of information, I’m here to make things easy for you.
I’ll go over how both sites work and all the factors you need to know, so you can confidently choose the best option for you.
What is Upwork, and how does it work for freelancers?
In 2015, two separate freelancing platforms called Elance and oDesk merged and rebranded to become Upwork.
Upwork is a massive freelancing marketplace that provides a convenient and secure place for freelancers and clients to connect, buy, and sell services.
And thanks to their immense size, freelancers can find demand for their skills quickly.
But before you can dive into finding work on Upwork, you’ll need to get approved by their moderators.
After that, the Upwork is your oyster. If you can learn to market yourself well, you’ll be able to land gigs with top clients that meet your salary and scheduling preferences.
Freelancers can take on hourly and fixed projects for a short or long-term duration and easily set and adjust their rates to ensure each job is worth their time.
If you want to learn more about setting your rate effectively on Upwork, here’s a helpful video from some of their top freelancers:
Now, let’s talk about the different ways you can find jobs on Upwork:
- Scroll through the job feed: Freelancers can easily scroll through job listings and send proposals to the ones they like. Upwork uses a sophisticated algorithm to find and highlight jobs that match your skills.
- Optimize your profile to attract clients: After crafting a killer profile, freelancers can sit back and wait for clients to send them invitations to apply or direct offers.
- Post a service package in the Project Catalog: Like Fiverr, Upwork just (today, actually) introduced a Project Catalog where freelancers can post and sell service packages.
Though you can get started finding opportunities pretty quickly on Upwork, it can take a while to build your reputation and create a reliable network of clients.
To do well on Upwork, you’ll need to ensure you’re completing projects successfully and getting great reviews from clients.
Now let’s check out the basics of Fiverr to see how they compare.
What is Fiverr, and how does it work for freelancers?
Fiverr started in 2010 and was originally a platform where clients could buy any service for a “fiver,” or $5.
Since then, they’ve grown into one of the most popular freelancing marketplaces where a large variety of professionals and clients can meet and work together—only now, their project earnings cap is $10k.
Like Upwork, the opportunity volume and ease-of-use of Fiverr present freelancers with an appealing option for finding work online.
And you don’t have to go through an approval process when signing up, so it’s a good option for freelancers who want to get started right away.
An interesting thing to note about Fiverr’s sign-up is that freelancers don’t have to show their real names to clients.
You can pick whatever you want as your username, choosing to remain anonymous or use your brand’s name if you’d like. You’ll still need to let Fiverr know your real name, though.
What does using Fiverr look like for freelancers?
After signing up, the first thing you’re going to do is set up your seller profile. This is where you’ll package your skills into services—called “gigs”—for clients to shop from.
You’ll want to brainstorm how to package your services effectively to appeal to clients and set yourself up for success.
This is important because, on Fiverr, freelancers largely rely on clients coming to them to get work.
So, it’s a great idea to add a video to introduce your services and give clients a chance to know you better. Showing the human behind your services helps create a personal connection that can win clients over.
When putting together your gigs to sell, you can create tiered packages up to three. This offers clients defined pricing options for different scopes of work.
And after setting things up, you can pretty much sit back until a client purchases your service. Then, you’ll get a notification and can begin working right away.
As a seller, there are four different “seller levels” that affect some aspects of your Fiverr experience. I’ll take you through how that works:
- New Seller: New users automatically start here.
- Level 1: Sellers who have completed 10 orders, maintained good stats, and have been active for 60+ days.
- Level 2: Sellers who have completed 50 orders, earned $2,000+, maintained good stats, and have been active for 120+ days.
- Top-Rated Seller: Sellers who have completed 100 orders, earned $20,000+, maintained good stats, and have been active for 180+ days.
Basically, the higher your seller level, the more perks you get, like the ability to create more gigs to sell, faster earnings withdrawal, better customer support, and more.
You can read more about Fiverr’s seller levels here.
While selling is the main way to (passively) find work on Fiverr, freelancers can also view projects listed by clients and send tailored offers to actively bid for work.
This section—called “Buyer Requests”—is limited, but it’s still a good idea to take advantage of while you’re waiting around for clients to purchase your services.
Keep in mind that because of Fiverr’s popularity and accessibility, you can expect to face higher competition.
However, like Upwork, once you get the ball rolling with good reviews, you’ll be able to establish a secure stream of incoming clients.
Fiverr vs Upwork: Quality of jobs
What jobs can you find on Upwork?
Freelancers can find tons of great jobs on Upwork, with opportunities to work with big clients like GoDaddy and Airbnb.
When signing up, you’ll start out by picking from their 14 main job categories. I’ll list those out here:
- Accounting & Consulting
- Admin Support
- Customer Service
- Data Science & Analytics
- Design & Creative
- Engineering & Architecture
- IT & Networking
- Sales & Marketing
- Web, Mobile, & Software
From there, you can choose from a range of specializations in each category.
You’ll also be able to further define your unique skills by adding up to ten skills to your profile. And you can customize your services through your job title, profile description, and job proposals.
Basically, Upwork makes room for a lot of different types of freelancers, so there’s likely a place for you regardless of your field.
There are tons of jobs listed daily in any given category too. And to save you some time scrolling, their algorithm pulls the best options for you depending on your main job category, specializations, skills, and more.
You can definitely find high-paying work on Upwork, too; I know freelancers who have secured six-figure salaries on the platform.
Of course, freelancing has no guarantees, but Upwork provides a secure setting and the tools needed for freelancers to find work quickly.
What jobs can you find on Fiverr?
On Fiverr, because you’re in charge of defining and listing your services, you have a lot more control over the work you do. I think this is a pretty big plus.
Of course, you’re still going to need to pay attention to what’s in demand if you want to make good money.
There’s a multitude of job opportunities available for freelancers in a lot of fields, though. In fact, Fiverr lists over one hundred job types in their Gigs Directory.
The main categories they have listed (with tons of subcategories within) are:
- Graphics & Design
- Music & Audio
- Programming & Tech
- Digital Marketing
- Writing & Translation
- Video & Animation
Because of Fiverr’s original reputation as “the platform where people can get work for $5,” as well as their focus on smaller, one-time gigs, you may find it difficult to set high rates while staying competitive.
With that said, it’s still definitely possible to make a solid income on Fiverr. But for some, it may be a better option to consider as supplementary income only.
Fiverr and Upwork alike offer freelancers plenty of opportunities to start working and making money. But let’s compare their fees.
Upwork vs Fiverr: Fees
Once you start applying and completing jobs on Upwork, you’ll quickly run into some fees that are worth considering. Their fees can seem a little complicated, so I’ll walk you through them.
First, let’s talk about “Connects.”
When you go to send a proposal on a job that interests you, Upwork uses a virtual currency called Connects that you’ll have to spend to apply. This helps to keep competition in check and prevents spam applicants.
New users get 80 free Connects after passing the Upwork Readiness Test, with 10 free Connects a month after that. And each job currently costs around 2-6 Connects to apply.
After you run out of free Connects, you can purchase additional ones for $.015 in bundles starting at 10.
Then, after landing and completing a gig, Upwork takes a cut of your earnings too.
They charge earnings fees based on a sliding scale, where the more you make, the less of a fee they’ll take. Here’s what Upwork’s fee structure looks like:
- $0-$500: 20%
- $500.01-$10,000: 10%
- $10,000.01 or more: 5%
When you go to withdraw your earnings, you’ll run into some processing fees as well. For instance, on Upwork’s end, they charge a $2 processing fee for Instant Pay withdrawals.
Fiverr’s fees are more straightforward; they take a set 20% off your earnings, regardless of how much you make.
Unlike Upwork, there’s no fee to bid on jobs. You’re just limited to 10 proposals a day to help prevent spam and keep competition lower.
You’ll also run into some fees when trying to withdraw your money, but these fees come from the withdrawal provider, not Fiverr.
I’ll talk more about how withdrawing your earnings work below.
Fiverr vs Upwork: Membership pricing
Apart from the fees discussed, Upwork is completely free to join; no one-time or monthly payment is required to use the site.
However, they do offer freelancers the option to upgrade from the standard Freelancer Basic account to Freelancer Plus for $14.99 a month.
This gives freelancers some added perks, like:
- 80 Connects each month
- A customized URL
- Insight on what your competitors bid
- Ability to keep your profile active if you take a break
- Keeping earnings confidential on profile
You can upgrade at any time (no need to qualify), but you’ll also be able to use the site pretty seamlessly without it.
Fiverr is also completely free for freelancers to sign up and use, with the ability to become a Fiverr Pro for added benefits.
BUT Fiverr Pro is by application only and still100% free for freelancers. So, there’s no pricing for freelancers to consider here.
Upwork vs Fiverr: Quality of customer support
How is Upwork’s customer support?
Upwork’s customer support is one of their lower points. You’ll see this reiterated in many Upwork reviews.
While you can easily talk with their support chatbot for simple questions and issues 24/7 (and their chatbot is actually pretty good!), it’s still just a chatbot with programmed responses. They make it more difficult to reach a human.
And even when you do reach someone, you’ll find that they often respond slowly with regurgitated statements that don’t attempt to address or solve more complex issues.
If you have a complex issue that needs to be resolved, a common suggestion is to go through Upwork’s social media instead.
How is Fiverr’s customer support?
Similarly, Fiverr is not known for stellar customer support.
In their Terms of Service, they state that their customer support is available 24/7; however, you have to submit a request to reach them. They typically get back to people within a day, but you’ll see mixed reviews about this.
They also offer a help page for common questions freelancers might have, but they don’t have a live chat feature, chatbot or otherwise.
For more pressing issues, there’s a support number floating around Google (not readily advertised on their site), or freelancers can try their social media as well.
So, it’s not particularly easy to get a hold of them, which can definitely cause problems for freelancers.
Also, many freelancers complain that Fiverr support always takes the client’s side, so it’s worth keeping that in mind.
Fiverr vs Upwork: Getting paid
Payment options on Upwork
Of course, one of the perks of using a reputable freelancing platform is the ability to get paid quickly and safely.
Upwork offers payment protection on hourly and fixed-price contracts and provides secure, in-platform options to receive your earnings. Payment protection, in particular, is one thing that Upwork does better than Fiverr.
But how quickly can you actually get paid?
On Upwork, when your earnings become available depends on your contract type. Here’s how that works:
- Hourly contracts: Clients are billed weekly. The billing period ends on Sundays, and you can withdraw your funds 10 days later on the following Wednesday.
- Fixed-price contracts: Once your submitted milestone is approved, you can withdraw your funds five days later.
- Tips: If your client decides to give you a bonus payment, you’ll be able to access this after five days.
And once your earnings are available, there may be a slight additional wait time depending on your withdrawal method.
You can withdraw your funds in any of seven ways:
- Direct to U.S. Bank (ACH): Free
- Direct to Local Bank: $0.99 per transfer
- U.S. Dollar Wire Transfer: $30 per transfer
- Instant Pay for U.S. Freelancers: $2.00 per transfer
- M-Pesa (Kenya only)
You can set things up to get paid on an automatic schedule, or you can choose to withdraw your earnings manually.
Payment options on Fiverr
Fiverr also provides a safe, in-platform method for freelancers to get paid. However, their holding period is a little longer.
For most freelancers, you have to wait for their standard 14-day clearing period to pass before you can withdraw your funds.
But selected freelancers (sellers at a higher “seller level”) can opt to receive their earnings before the clearing period is over for a 1% fee.
Fiverr offers four methods to withdraw your money:
- PayPal: free withdrawal
- Fiverr Revenue Card: $1 fee within 2 days; $3 fee within 2 hours
- Bank Transfer: $3 fee per withdrawal, with additional fees depending on your location and currency.
- Direct Deposit (US only): $1 fee per withdrawal
They also provide freelancers protection from fraud chargebacks, but there’s no payment protection otherwise, and Fiverr support heavily leans toward supporting buyers in payment disputes.
Upwork vs Fiverr: Main advantages
Now that we’ve covered a lot of ground, I’ll highlight the top advantages of each site to help you weigh whether Fiverr or Upwork meets your priorities better.
Advantages of using Upwork
- More ways to get hired
- Larger projects and long-term relationships encouraged
- Talent Specialists to help freelancers find jobs quicker
- Hourly and fixed-price protection
- Faster earnings withdrawal
- Membership option for added benefits
- Higher-quality clients
- Lower fees for freelancers in high-paying fields
Advantages of using Fiverr
- Easy to get started immediately; no approval necessary
- Complete control over project scope of work
- Clients come to you
- Certificate courses available
- Complimentary ads for your services
- Clients are encouraged to give tips
- 10 free proposals a day for easy bidding
- User-friendly mobile app for freelancing on the go
Fiverr vs Upwork: Common complaints
On the other hand, let’s go over some common complaints so that you can get a complete picture.
- High competition; difficult to get started and build your reputation
- Limited free Connects to apply with
- Higher commission fees for lower earners
- Customer support isn’t always reliable for freelancers
- Abundant spam and scams
- Longer wait for payment withdrawal
- High commission fees for everyone
- No hourly projects
- $10,000 project cap
- A lot of scams and spam
- Poor customer support for freelancers
- High competition; lower rates
Upwork vs Fiverr: Which online freelance jobs platform is best for you?
Upwork is one of the main Fiverr competitors and vice-versa. Both are huge freelancing platforms that provide a pretty frictionless way for freelancers to work online.
They’re great tools to walk you through finding and completing jobs online, from making connections, communicating with clients, submitting work, and getting paid.
However, each has unique features and disadvantages that tend to suit different freelancers better.
Ultimately, the choice of Upwork or Fiverr falls on your individual needs and preferences.
So, which freelancing platform is better for YOU?
Choose Fiverr if…
- You want to get started quickly without jumping through any hoops.
- You prefer shorter, one-time gigs over long-term work.
- You want the ability to map out your services with complete control over your scope of work.
Choose Upwork if…
- You prefer to take the reins and actively hunt for work instead of waiting for clients to come to you.
- You’re interested in building a stream of high-quality clients with the potential for long-term work.
- Job quality and payment protection are top priorities for you.
There you have it.
For those of you just starting your search for the best freelance websites, many people opt to check out both Upwork and Fiverr to see where they fit best—especially since both sites are free to use.
But you should have a pretty solid idea about how Upwork and Fiverr compare now. You can use this as a source to weigh your decision, whether you’re thinking of trying both or going for just one.
And if you still want to get a feel for some other options, you can learn about 25 other sites like Upwork here.
I say this often, but there’s no promise for success on any freelancing platform, so it’s important to learn to market yourself well. But don’t stress, this is totally doable regardless of your experience level.
Long-term, I recommend creating your own client relationships OUTSIDE of freelance platforms like Fiverr and Upwork. This will help you earn more without giving up any money in transaction fees!
To learn how to sell yourself without using a freelance marketplace, check out my courses on marketing yourself and selling more projects.