AUGUST 2020 UPDATE: At the time of writing this original post a couple of years ago, I was working exclusively on Upwork. Today, things have shifted a bit, and I’m actually doing a ton more on Fiverr. As a result, I’ve updated my recommendations a bit (towards the end). TLDR: I’ve found success on both platforms, and think many others can as well. Good luck!
Fiver vs. Upwork—where to even begin.
On one hand, it’s a great question!
Both platforms are among the biggest and most trusted options available for anyone looking to use their skills to earn money on the side, or to even earn enough to replace a full-time position.
On the other hand, it’s a terrible question.
Not in terms of you asking it, but more in terms of my ability to answer.
Reason being, I don’t know you. (I’m sure you’re lovely.)
But you could be either freelancer or looking to hire a freelancer. And then if you are a freelancer, are you a writer, a graphic designer, or someone different? Have you been freelancing for a while, or are you brand new and trying to figure out how to become a freelancer without any experience?
I could go on. But I think you get my point! (And hey, if there is something you’re wondering about, email me, or, let me know in the comments and I’ll try to add my answer here.)
So, for this time around, I’ll focus on the freelancers, and which of either Fiverr or Upwork is best for them.
Fiverr Vs. Upwork, for the Freelancer
If you’ve read anything on this site at all, you already know I’m a huge fan of Upwork. So, I’ve had more experience with it, and a ton more success than I’ve had with Fiverr.
With that said, a lot of that stems from the fact that I’m a writer, and not a creative of other sorts. Upwork, in my opinion, is better suited for such skills.
More on that specific reason, along with others below, but if you don’t have the time, here is a breakdown:
Getting Started On Each Platform
First thing to look at is how easy or difficult is it to get up and running between the two.
Upwork has been around for a long time. Even though, technically, the company was founded in 2015, its predecessors, Elance and Odesk are thought to be the original major players in the freelance game.
To get started with Upwork, you actually need to apply to be a freelancer. The entire process on its own deserves its own blog post, but briefly, to answer the relevant questions:
- You have to apply to Upwork; it’s a one-time application (once you’re in, you’re in)
- It usually takes about 24 hours for your application to be reviewed
- You can be denied if Upwork finds there aren’t opportunities for you based on your skills
- If you are denied, you can update your application as you acquire more experience and skills
That’s the first step with Upwork, so we will stop there for now.
Fiverr was launched in 2010, and while similar to Upwork in concept, is really a much different rodeo altogether.
For now, in terms of getting started, you really just have to supply answers to a few questions in order to get your profile created before you can start a gig.
Thus, it’s not an application, but rather just an exercise to ensure you have enough info posted about you in order for interested parties to find you when they’re looking for skilled individuals.
I guess a good way of looking at it is, Upwork is a bit more “exclusive” in the fact that one, you need to apply before you can get started, as mentioned above, and two, if you want many of the perks a freelancer profile could provide, you can opt for an upgraded membership (or “plus” membership). Let’s take a look.
With Upwork, you have two options—a free, “Basic” membership, or, a $10/month “Plus” option. As you can see from the screenshot below, the notable differences include:
- Basic membership is free, Plus is paid
- 60 Connects/month with Basic vs. 70 with Plus
- A number of additional benefits with the Plus membership
In terms of “joining” Fiverr, much of what was stated above in the “Getting Started” section is echoed here. You register, seamlessly, and then you’re ready to post your first gig!
Now, over time, if you build up enough sales and credibility, you can actually apply to become a Fiverr Pro. Per the linked blog post, the benefits of becoming a Fiverr Pro include:
“Fiverr Pro helps you take your talent to the next level, with a highly professional environment, serious business buyers and elite peers. We offer a hassle-free process, so you’ll get paid easily and on time, every time. Our dedicated Success Managers will assist you in maximizing the platform, and if needed, Fiverr will resolve issues that might come up between Buyers and Sellers.”
How do you become a pro? As mentioned, you’ll need to apply and be vetted, and thus, will supply info on your professional background, education, portfolio, etc.
So, while getting started with Fiverr is “easier” at least initially, you’ll face a similar application process to Upwork if you want to become a Fiverr Pro.
Finding Jobs (or “Gigs”)
Now, getting to the meat of it—what’s the process of finding jobs actually look like?
One reason I love Upwork is the opportunity that is “pushed” to you regularly.
Meaning, there are jobs on jobs posted every single day; every single hour for that matter—and jobs posted by clients who are looking to hire someone with your skills to complete the required tasks. As a writer, that means jobs across all of different types of copywriting, and so much more.
All you need to do is log in and go to “find work” and then you’ll see everything that has been posted. You can filter by keyword, category, etc. The power is in your hands; you can search for as long or as little as you’d like, and bid on as many or as few jobs as you want.
This is what the job search screen looks like:
While on Upwork, you get jobs “pushed” to you, on Fiverr, you create your “gig” and then hope that clients “pull” you into their needs.
Meaning, jobs aren’t posted by clients. Instead, they go to Fiverr and search for the type of service they need. Then, they are presented with the available “sellers,” or “doers” in this case, you, the freelancer.
In order to show up when someone is searching, you need to spend a little time creating and optimizing the aforementioned gig. This includes crafting basics like title, description, keywords, and then getting more involved with the setting of your packages—where you basically spell out your services in terms of what you’re specifically offering.
So, say it’s a blog post, you define the word count and other specifics, and then set a price. That could be your “basic” package and then from there, your “Standard” and “Premium” packages would be for blogs of longer word counts, or more SEO-involved, etc., and thus, set at higher prices.
Great, so there is obviously opportunity on both Upwork and Fiverr, with the main difference being Upwork requires you to be a bit more active in finding, bidding on, and ultimately landing jobs.
When you find an Upwork job you think is a good fit, the process looks a little something like this:
- Submit a proposal (which typically will “cost” you 2 Connects, etc.)
- Figure out how much you should charge based on the client’s budget and your needs
- State your duration or how long it will take you to complete the project
- Submit your “cover letter” which is basically your reasons why you’re right for the job
- Answer the client’s questions, if they’ve asked any
- Upload relevant attachments from your portfolio
Once all of your info is submitted, the client weighs your submission against others who are also bidding.
The thing I like about the process is that it is very structured, and everyone is working with the same set of tools to “sell” themselves and their skills to the client. The open format with the “cover letter” and Q&A also allows newcomers to state their case, where they might otherwise be overlooked.
We touched on most of this above, so not a ton more to add. Really, when it comes to landing a job on Fiverr, the process looks like this:
- The buyer “searches” by keyword or browses via different category options
- The buyer views the available gigs that match their needs
- The buyer reviews gig specifics, looking at freelancer profiles, portfolios, etc.
- The buyer selects a gig (hopefully you), and then places an order
Notice the big difference with this bulleted process versus that of Upwork above?
“The buyer, “the buyer,” “the buyer.”
I want to emphasize the fact that yes, while your profile and gig creation is under your control with Fiverr, and that you can go out and share your gig across social channels, etc., the act of seeking a job is out of your hands, more or less.
This is one of the biggest departures from the Upwork experience, where finding, bidding on, and landing a job is as much in your control as it could be.
We’ve already covered the fact that Fiverr is “free,” while Upwork has a free offering, along with a $10/month membership option. But, you should also know about the differences in the fees that appear when you finish a job and want to get paid.
With Upwork, there is a fee when you bill a client, but it’s sliding, meaning, it changes based on different factors. As stated by Upwork, “Freelancers are charged a sliding fee based on your lifetime billings with each client (across all contracts you’ve ever had with that client company).”
Specifically, there is a 20% fee for the first $500 billed to a client. (Ouch.). The more you bill the client, the more that fee decreases, so if you exceed $500 in billings, but come in less than $10,000, the fee reduces to 10%, and so on at different levels from there.
A quick example: If you bill a client for a $100 project, the service fee would be 20%, or, $20. If you end up billing that same client more, say, $500 more, your fees would be another 20% on the next $400, and then 10% on the remaining $100. Thus, your $600 project would pocket you $490 after fees.
If you thought 20% was a high fee to surrender, at least you can take peace in knowing Fiverr also charges 20%, or as they put in in their QA, “There is no subscription required or fees to list your services. You keep 80% of each transaction.”
You should also know, upon withdrawal, if you choose to do so with PayPal, you’ll pay another 2% fee on the sum.
So, where to go? What to do?
Really, when you look at all of the above, the process you must follow as a freelancer across the two platforms is very similar—but different at the same time! You might end up applying to join on both (if you want to go Fiverr Pro), and the fees are somewhat similar.
The biggest difference in my mind is how you land a job, which is by bidding on someone else’s terms via Upwork, or setting your own terms and having the client come to you on Fiverr.
And, as pointed out, it was my original personal opinion that Upwork is better for writers, while Fiverr is great for designers and other creatives, along with those who might have a more specialized skill, given that there are a number of gigs posted in categories like celebrity impersonators, genealogy, and more.
However, I’ve recently been having some really nice success on Fiverr, and some of the aspects I thought might be limiting are actually freeing.
Meaning, in the sense that I don’t have to constantly comb the platform for a new job, and then spend time bidding, etc. Once you build up some credibility, your gigs will be seen, your positive reviews and ratings will be seen, and the ball starts rolling downhill.
What has been your experience on Upwork or Fiverr?