11 Best Upwork Alternatives for Startups in 2022 [In Depth Review]
With a gross sales value of $786 million, Upwork is one of the biggest freelance platforms worldwide.
It has a decent talent pool, is affordable, and is easy to use. But there are some limitations and drawbacks to the platform.
In this article, we will talk about the drawbacks of using Upwork and discover 11 alternatives to replace Upwork and find better freelance talent quickly and easily.
3 Reasons Why You Should Consider Upwork Alternatives
Pricing Model & Fee
Upwork has both free and paid plans. You can hire via the free plan, but it doesn’t give you access to premium features.
For example, wherever you want to hire someone for your startup, you have to post a job, screen through the resumes, shortlist candidates, and finalize, all by yourself.
But with Upwork’s Plus plan ($49.99/month), you get a dedicated account manager.
In a startup environment where time is money, being a CEO, you can’t keep investing your time in hiring the right candidate.
So at some point in time, you’d have to buy the Upwork Plus plan to hire vetted talent.
Unsatisfactory Customer Service
When it comes to freelance hiring marketplaces, customer service is important to retain both freelancers and employers.
According to Khoros, 83% of consumers who buy online prioritize good customer service when deciding where to buy from. Upwork doesn’t seem to do a great job to resolve customer issues.
Here’s a review someone gave Upwork for its poor customer service:
Lacks Proper Vetting Process
Upwork has 12 million freelancers registered on its platform. And according to Backlinko, Upwork has ~145k employers (aka – core clients).
This means there’s a lot of competition, which is good, but in most cases, the number of applications you receive for your job post will overwhelm you. That’s because Upwork lacks a proper screening process.
You’d have to sit and screen through every candidate to get to the right one.
Now imagine yourself doing this for 10+ job roles you want to hire a freelancer for. Good luck!
Best Upwork Alternatives to Hire Executive Level Talent
Shiny – Hire Fractional Executives
Shiny is the latest marketplace to hire executive-level talent like CEO, CFO, COO, or CMO.
The best part about the marketplace is that it lets you hire C-suites according to your requirement and budget. You can hire them for 2 hours or 20!
Why Is Shiny Better than Upwork for Executive Talent?
- Vetting Process: When it comes to C-suites, Upwork has no significant vetting process. So there’s a good chance that when you post a job listing saying you need a CMO in the eCommerce niche, you get applicants from all other niches. Whereas, Shiny hand picks executives that are highly relevant to your job listing.
- We Do the Hiring for You: When you use Shiny, all you have to do is explain to us your requirements; our team will pick 5 highly relevant profiles and deliver them to you in 48 hours. Whereas with Upwork, you have to review and shortlist every applicant yourself.
- We take no deposit upfront and no fees until you find the right senior-level executive for your startup
- Our executives are spread across multiple fields like SaaS, FinTech, Energy, eCommerce, and many more
- More than half of the C-suites we have in our talent pool have 16+ years of experience
- We manage all the contract signings, payments, 1099s so that you can invest your time in other important things
As mentioned above, no startup has to pay any deposit to get started with Shiny. You can just create an account and tell us your requirements.
When it comes to payment systems, we use Stripe or Plaid (for ACH or credit card transfers).
The only fee we take is when you pay us via credit card; that’s to cover the processing fee the credit card company charges us.
Shiny Reviews on Product Hunt
Here’s a review by Ryan Hoover, founder of Product Hunt & Weekend Fund telling us how he loves a marketplace disrupting the 9-5 mindset.
Hiring a C-suite is one of the major decisions any startup has to take.
If you’re a CEO, there’s a high probability you might need a CMO, COO, or a CTO, but you might not have the funds to pay them a hefty salary.
The best alternative in such cases is to hire them via Shiny fractionally.
4 Best Upwork Alternatives to Hire Digital Marketing Freelancers
Mayple – Upwork Competitor for Hiring Marketers
Do you need a freelance writer or a web development expert for your startup?
Mayple is a new, modern, and competitive marketplace, disrupting the digital marketing freelance hiring market. It was founded in 2017 and is a growing community.
The marketplace has 600+ (exclusively vetted) top performing freelancers in 5 digital marketing categories, namely:
- Pay per click (PPC)
- Email marketing
- Conversion rate optimization (CRO)
- Social media management
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
Why Is Mayple Better than Upwork?
- Data-Driven Vetting: Any freelancer who applies on Mayple is tested against 141+ vetting criteria; only 12% of total applications are accepted on the platform; on the other hand, Upwork has no data-based vetting process.
- Superior AI-Powered Matching: When you post a job on Mayple, its AI-powered assistant searches for the best fit by taking into account 25 factors like niche, target audience, budget, etc., and delivers a perfect fit to you; Upwork doesn’t have a solid algorithm to match jobs with freelancers.
- Recommending Different Freelancers: Unlike Upwork, if you don’t like the freelancer recommended by Mayple, you can talk to them, and they will recommend a better one.
- Performance Dashboards: Has a dashboard that helps you in time tracking and keeping an eye out for other important KPIs to analyze project progress
- Simple Hiring Process: Create a brief and send it across; we will search the best fit for you and give you ongoing monitoring and strategic advice
- Growth Strategist: Get a growth strategist who will track important metrics & marketing activities, and suggest new ways to scale your business
The pricing model of Mayple is unique. They have monthly packages for all the categories.
For example, if you want to hire freelancers to run your ad campaigns, you will have to pay depending on how much money you spend on ads monthly.
You can check out the pricing for all the categories on Mayple’s pricing page.
Freelancer.com – Hire Versatile Talent
Freelancer.com is a Sydney, Australia-based company founded in 2009. It’s one of the largest freelance hiring marketplaces worldwide.
The marketplace has more than 1800 different categories. Apparently, on Freelancer.com, it’s actually tough NOT to find a category you want to hire freelancers in.
Why Is Freelancer.com Better than Upwork?
- Job Cancellation & Refund: With Freelancer.com, you get 7 days to test a project and get a full refund on the amount paid if you don’t like the work; whereas there’s no such feature on Upwork.
- Other Upgrades: By paying extra to Freelancer.com, you can avail its additional professional services like NDA creation, IP agreement, getting a recruiter, and much more. But with Upwork, to just get a recruiter, you will have to buy its Plus or Enterprise plan.
- Post Freelance Jobs with Ease: User-friendly interface to post jobs and find qualified freelancers quickly
- Search Freelancers: Browse portfolios, bid on them, select the one you like, and start working immediately
- Nine Filters: Filter freelancers based on category, skillset, country, and more to personalize your freelancer searches
You can get started with Freelancer.com for free. Post a job, pay the fees, and hire top talent.
But there are four memberships you can invest in if you want to unleash that platform’s full power.
Freelancer.com is a great Upwork alternative if you want someone to handle your content marketing or copywriting.
Indeed – Best for Hiring Part-time & Full-time Freelancers
If you’re looking for a part-time or full-time job candidate, Indeed might be the best choice for your startup.
Indeed is the world’s #1 job site with over 250M unique visitors every month.
Why Is Indeed Better than Upwork?
- Cost-Effective: On Indeed, you can post a job for free and reach out to better talent by sponsoring the job that costs $5/day. A similar feature is also available on Upwork, but you have to pay a one-time fee of $30.
- Optimized Shortlisting: When you visit the Indeed dashboard, at the top, you get a group of freelancers who are the best fit, followed by other candidates. Upwork has no such feature.
- Negotiate with Candidates: Indeed doesn’t come in the way of negotiating with the candidates
- Automatic List Cleaning: Just like the candidate profile you want to shortlist, all the other resumes will be deleted automatically
- Instant Match: With paid job posts, you can access candidates who match your job description and send candidates invitation to apply
Posting a job on Indeed is free, but if you want to increase engagement, you can select any plan from the ones mentioned below:
Indeed gives you a wide selection of freelancers across the world. It’s one of the best Upwork alternatives if you want to hire someone for a long-term gig.
99designs – Hire World Class Designers
99designs is a company by Vista founded in 2008. They aim to help small businesses meet expert design freelancers and grow.
You can choose which category freelancers you want to hire:
- Get online
- Logo design
- Web & app design
- Business & advertising
- Clothing & merchandising
- Art & Illustration
- Packaging & Label
- Book & Magazine
Why Is 99designs Better than Upwork?
- Create Contests: Along with listing hiring posts, you can create design contests on 99designs where designers send their ideas to you, and you can select the one you like. On Upwork, all you can do is either post a job or search for a freelancer.
- User-Friendly: The layout, dashboard, and user experience of 99design is better than Upwork.
- Creating Brief: Create a design brief explaining 99designs all the specifications about the project and let them find the best fit for you
- Payments: You don’t need to pay a dime until you’re satisfied with the project
- Application Estimation: For every job you post on 99designs, you get a rough estimation of the total number of candidates who might apply
99designs has different pricing for every service they provide. You can visit their pricing page and get to know the pricing estimation.
As for starting a contest, there are four plans to choose from:
99designs is a highly niched marketplace with some of the top design related freelancers.
If you’re looking for an Upwork alternative to design your website or build an app, 99designs might just be the one.
4 Best Upwork Alternatives to Hire Developers & Engineers
Toptal – An Expensive but Quality Upwork Alternative
Toptal is the brainchild of Taso Du Val, an elite US entrepreneur. It’s one of the most famous and expensive marketplaces you will ever come across.
The platform is known for its Top 3% test it conducts on freelancers who apply. This means out of thousands of applications they receive every month, Toptal selects only 3% of them.
Toptal is famous for its developers, although it has some other freelance services like:
- Finance experts
- Project managers
- Product managers
Why is Toptal Better than Upwork?
- High-Quality Freelancers: When it comes to quality, Toptal is hands-down better than Upwork. Upwork has more beginner freelancers and lacks quality experts in every category.
- Customer Support: Toptal has email and ticket support for all its clients, whereas Upwork doesn’t provide any support to clients on a free plan.
- Faster Employment: With Toptal, you can find the right talent in a couple of weeks; the same process might take months when you follow a typical employment procedure
- Freelancer Quality: Has an intense vetting process, so only the best of the best freelancers make it to Toptal
- Trial Period: With every freelancer you recruit via Toptal, you get a free trial; if you don’t like the work delivered, you don’t need to pay for it
Toptal is a free to use platform, but there’s a catch. You have to deposit $500 to your account (completely refundable).
If you’re not satisfied with the work freelancer does for you in two weeks, you get a refund on the freelancer fee paid and the deposit.
Toptal is a premium Upwork alternative to find quality developers and build software your audience will love.
Codementor – Hire Freelancers & Mentors
Codementor has been a freelance marketplace since 2013 that aims to bridge the gap between remote developers and clients.
The marketplace has 12,000+ developers in its talent pool.
Why is Codementor Better than Upwork?
- Hire Mentors: With Codementor, you can find mentors to guide you through the project. This feature comes in handy if you want to do all the heavy lifting (i.e. if you want to learn and do the coding yourself). On Upwork, you can only find the right freelancers to do the work for you.
- Processing Fees: Codementor charges a processing fee of 2.85%, slightly less than what Upwork charges (3%).
- Virtual Events: Attend or host virtual events for developers to spread awareness about the new and upcoming trends
- Arc Dev Platform: Hire long-term and full-time developers using the Codmentor’s arc.dev platform
You can post a job for free on Codementor, but with every developer you hire, you have to pay a processing fee of 2.85%.
Codementor is a great Upwork alternative if you want highly specialized developers. Yes, it might cost a bit more, but the developer quality you get will be superior compared to Upwork.
Lemon.io – Hire Silicon Valley Level Developers
Aleksandr Volodarsky and Vasyl Dzesa founded Lemon.io in 2015.
The marketplace is yet another alternative to Upwork for hiring freelance developers in multiple categories.
Why Is Lemon.io Better than Upwork?
- 24-hrs Match: The platform finds an engineer/developer for you in less than 24 hours, whereas with Upwork, you have to post a job and wait for freelancers to apply; it sometimes takes days to find the right candidate.
- Proper Testing: Lemon has a proper talent test for freelancers, not everyone who applies becomes a developer on Lemon; out of 1000, only 300 make it through.
- Weekly Reports: Get a list of tasks your developer has done so far and the total time dedicated to your project
- On-Demand CTOs: If you need an executive to look over all the freelance work done and company strategy, you can hire CTO via Lemon.io
- Gets You Quick Replacement: If you’re not satisfied with the developer’s work, you can just ask Lemon.io to replace them
Lemon.io has a simple pricing structure. You can hire developers worth $40-80/hour, and for CTOs, you can contact Lemon.io and explain to them your requirements.
Lemon.io is an affordable Upwork alternative that will get you intelligent developers in less than a day.
Guru – Old is Gold
Guru is one of the OGs in the freelancer market world. It was founded in 1999 in San Francisco.
The marketplace has 9 main categories:
- Programming & Development
- Design & Art
- Writing & Translation
- Administrative & Secretarial
- Sales & Marketing
- Engineering & Architecture
- Business & Finance
- Education & Training
These nine categories have numerous subcategories further.
Why Is Guru Better than Upwork?
- Varying Agreement Terms: With Guru, you can pay freelancers a fixed price per project, hourly rate, task-based, or give them a recurring payment, but with Upwork, you are forced to pay hourly.
- Lower Restrictions: With Guru, you have a little scope of negotiation with the freelancer, but when we talk about Upwork, the platform doesn’t even let you ask for the freelancer’s email id, let alone negotiate.
- SafePay protects all payments
- Has a 24/7 customer support
- Post a free job or browse through 2 million freelancers to find the ideal match
When you hire from Guru, you will have to pay a flat fee of 2.9% per transaction. Posting jobs and browsing freelance profiles is free on Guru.
2 Best Upwork Alternatives to Designers & Artists
Dribbble – Find Graphic Designers Quickly
Dribbble is a marketplace to connect with graphic design freelancers and creative talent worldwide. The company was founded in 2009 and has grown massively since then.
Dribbble has freelancers in 6 main categories that are:
- Product Design
- Web Design
Why Is Dribbble Better than Upwork?
- Better Talent Pool: The freelancers on Dribbble are pre-vetted and hand-picked based on their qualifications. Upwork doesn’t hand-pick talents.
- You don’t need to pay on a per-hour basis, Dribbble uses a per-project basis payment model
- You can post both job vacancies and freelance projects
- Has design specific filters which you can use to filter out the type of freelancers you want for your projects
Dribbble has two pricing options – You can pay $299/month and post 1 job post, or pay $499/month, tap into their talent pool, and do advanced searches.
Dribbble is a quality Upwork alternative. Yes, the marketplace is surely expensive, but it has some of the best designers.
Fiverr – The Evergreen Freelance Marketplace
When it comes to hiring niched talent, Fiverr can be your go-to marketplace. The marketplace was born in 2010.
Fiverr is an evergreen marketplace that has all kinds of freelancers.
From WordPress development to finance management, you can find freelancers in any niche you could possibly think of.
Why Is Fiverr Better than Upwork?
- Flexibility: With Fiverr, you can hire a freelancer for as low as $5 per project. Upwork is comparatively expensive and charges you per hour.
- Customer Support: When it comes to customer support, both platforms don’t do a flawless job, but Fiverr is comparatively better than Upwork at customer care.
- Has 9+ filters to sort freelancers out and pick the one you want
- Support payment in multi-currency and has a secure payment gateway
- Can chat with freelancers to know the scope of the project and later decide if you want to hire them or go to the next one
Fiverr charges a $2 fee for all orders below $40. You have to pay 5% of the total transaction amount for all the orders above $40 as fee.
Fiverr is better than Upwork if you want to hire a designer, artist, or any remote worker at a low price. It’s affordable and has a large talent pool to choose from.
The 11 alternatives mentioned above are tested and reliable. Upwork is a great marketplace, but why not try a better alternative and hire better talent?
When it comes to choosing one of the above alternatives, it will depend on your requirements.
Here’s a table to give you a clear understanding:
Outsourcing jobs to freelancers are replacing full-time employees at an exponential pace. After Covid-19, remote work became more popular because of its cost-effectiveness.
Choose an Upwork alternative that you think might be the best for your business and make a remote team of freelancers to help you grow your business.