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What are the best freelance websites?

5-minute read

Freelancer working at a desk
Conor Shilling

Conor Shilling

24 November 2022

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As a freelancer, finding work will be a top priority. There’s a host of websites you can use, but they don’t always pay well and the quality of work on offer can be low.

Read our guide for more information on how to navigate freelance websites and the best places to showcase your specialist skills.

How do freelance websites work?

Most freelance websites have a simple model: employers post jobs they need doing and freelancers apply to do them.

Some sites also manage the work approval process as well as payment and invoicing. Depending on the site you use, you could be paid hourly or by project.

The global nature of the most popular freelance websites means that competition for work is high. This can lead to eroded fees, short deadlines, and unreasonable expectations.

On the other hand, these websites create opportunities for freelancers on a global scale.

Three of the best freelancer websites

Here’s an overview of some of the best-known freelancer websites that have jobs for all skills and levels.

Fiverr

With over three million employers, Fiverr is probably the best-known freelance website. And by 2021, freelancers using Fiverr had collectively earned almost £500,000 in the UK.

Here’s how it works:

  • freelancers are known as ‘sellers’
  • jobs are known as ‘gigs’
  • employers are known as ‘buyers’

As a freelancer, you post your skills such as copywriting, web design, or voice overs with set prices for individual projects. Businesses can then browse Fiverr, buy a gig, and brief the freelancer.

What pays well on Fiverr?

These are the Fiverr ‘gigs’ that attract the highest average fee for a project, according to a report by Canva:

  • presentation design (£130)
  • mobile app development (£129)
  • website design (£114)
  • web development (£87)
  • coding (£72)
  • website building (£70)
  • video editing (£70)
  • illustrating (£65)
  • ghostwriting (£51)
  • animation (£50)

What sells most on Fiverr?

With the minimum rate for Fiverr projects set at $5, it can be a useful platform for freelancers who can mass produce something and sell it frequently.

Some of the most popular jobs for freelancers on Fiverr include:

  • creating logos
  • photo editing
  • designing flyers and adverts
  • processing data

Upwork

Upwork is a similar size to Fiverr. Freelancers and employers from all over the world can use it to connect.

As a freelancer, you’ll need to set up a profile on Upwork. You’ll need to include as many details about yourself as possible, as well as examples of your work.

When employers are looking for freelancers, they’ll look at freelancers’ profiles so you need to make sure yours stands out.

To get work on Upwork, you can:

  • offer a predefined service in the product catalogue
  • respond to a job post by an employer
  • create an ‘agency’ with other freelancers to work on bigger projects

Is Upwork better than Fiverr?

Although Fiverr and Upwork are very similar in terms of size and available jobs, there are some key differences:

  • freelancers pay Upwork between five per cent and 20 per cent, depending on how much work they do, whereas Fiverr takes a 20 per cent commission fee of all projects
  • both sites are free to join with no subscription fee, but Upwork users sometimes have to pay a small amount when bidding on projects
  • Upwork has a paid service called Freelancer Plus that can help you to stand out from your competitors

Does Upwork pay well?

Research from Upwork found that 60 per cent of freelancers who left a full-time job to go self-employed made more money than they did in their previous roles.

It says that some of the highest paid jobs on its site are programmers, CRM managers, developers, and online marketers.

The more you earn using Upwork, the lower the commission fees you’ll pay. Fees are taken as a percentage of your lifetime earnings with each employer:

  • 20 per cent for the first $500 you bill your employer
  • 10 per cent for total billings between $500.01 and $10,000
  • 5 per cent for total billings over $10,000

PeoplePerHour

PeoplePerHour has a similar model to Upwork and Fiverr. It’s based in the UK, so all jobs are priced in pound sterling. This means the earning potential for freelancers can be slightly higher.

Freelancers using PeoplePerHour can earn a fixed fee for their work or get paid at an hourly rate.

Once you’ve set up your profile, you can send 15 proposals a month for free and pay for any extra on top of that.

PeoplePerHour takes a 20 per cent commission fee for project earnings under £250. It decreases to 7.5 per cent for earnings between £250 and £5,000, and 3.5 per cent on project earnings over £5,000.

According to PeoplePerHour, the most popular categories for work on its site are:

  • content writing
  • search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • website development
  • logo design
  • voice over
  • illustration and drawing

What are the best specialist sites for freelancers?

The biggest sites like Fiverr, Upwork, and PeoplePerHour have the most jobs, but they’re also competitive.

Sometimes freelancers can earn more through specialist websites, or build better long term relationships. Here are some you could try out depending on your skills:

  • Elevate – a dedicated site for IT contractors
  • Contently – suitable for copywriters, PR professionals, and journalists
  • Bark – ideal for professionals, such as accountants or consultants
  • Guru – a good site for voice over artists
  • Dribbble – offers jobs for graphic designers and creative professionals

How can you improve your chances of getting work?

Signing up to freelance websites is the first step, but there’s more you can do to stand out in a competitive market:

  • add detail to your profile – before choosing to work with you, employers will want to know as much about you as possible. Make sure you give details of your work history, plus examples of your best work
  • pitch for jobs – the more jobs you pitch for, the more work you’re likely to get. Make sure to only pitch for jobs that you can complete to a high standard and fit with your workload and salary expectations
  • ask for reviews and feedback – positive reviews can help to build trust and make you more appealing to employers, while feedback can help you to improve your work on future projects
  • build relationships with employers – if you build a good working relationship with an employer, they’re more likely to hire you regularly. They may even want to work with you outside of a freelance website, which could increase your earning potential

What do you need to do about tax and insurance?

Alongside finding work, freelancers need to make sure they’re paying tax correctly and have the right insurance.

When it comes to paying tax, you’ll either need to submit your return as a sole trader or limited company.

If you’re a sole trader, you’ll need to register as a freelancer with HMRC. If you set up a limited company, you’ll need to register with Companies House and complete a company tax return.

Having the right freelance insurance in place can help to make sure you’re covered if something goes wrong and allow you to focus on running your business.

Some popular covers for freelancers include:

Read our ultimate guide to becoming a freelancer in the UK for more on paying tax and getting the right insurance.

More useful guides for freelancers

In your experience, what are the best websites for freelancers? Let us know in the comments below.

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Conor Shilling

Written by

Conor Shilling

Conor Shilling is a Copywriter at Simply Business with over two years’ experience in the insurance industry. A trained journalist, Conor has worked as a professional writer for 10 years. His previous experience includes writing for several leading online property trade publications. Conor specialises in the buy-to-let market, landlords, and small business finance.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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