Best freelance websites 2021: Find jobs & remote work
As the shadowy cover of COVID-19 slowly lifts, America is getting back to work. For many, however, the workplace looks a little different than you remember from before, and many Americans do not have the option to just return to their pre-pandemic jobs.
Enormous nationwide layoffs and business closures prompted federal stimulus support just to make it through, but as vaccinations work to help make the world safe again, it has also come time to return to work so we can rebuild and prepare for our futures.
Today, there are many job websites that claim to help you find immediate employment, but the freelance gig industry is a world of its own. As a freelancer, your needs are far different from the average commuter and salaried employee, which is why a specialized freelance job website can better suit your needs.
Though seemingly similar, these services are much different from one another, not only in available jobs but also your membership structure. Pricing can include whatever charges and finder’s fees come with using a third-party provider of this nature. Accessibility and job quality can also vary based on the freelance website you choose.
To help, we have compiled the five best freelance websites to find work in 2021. This is how they compare.
Hardware specifications: Desktop, Android, iOSCurrent pricing details: $0-$14.99 per month
Upwork is great for jobs both domestic and international. You can make a free profile to advertise your skills, and then you can either wait for jobs to find you, or you can take a more proactive stance to find and apply to jobs yourself. Upwork uses a currency called Connects that allows you to apply to jobs. Connects are refreshed on a monthly basis, and up to 200 can roll over each month.
There are two plans that you can choose from. The Basic Freelancer plan is standard, or you can opt for the Freelancer Plus at a monthly subscription rate of $14.99 per month. With the Freelancer Plus, you receive a total of 80 Connects per month, plus a customized profile URL, confidential earnings reporting, and competitor insights when bidding on a job.
Regardless of your plan, payment is pretty simple. Jobs pay via project milestones at a fixed price agreed upon in the future, or you can choose to accept jobs that pay on an hourly basis. Upwork takes a service fee from all earnings, but the amount varies depending on your total billings.
Fiverr advertises that it has been used by over “11 million satisfied businesses” for freelance projects. It has an impressive client roster that includes notable companies like Facebook, Netflix, and Google. Through the Fiverr business plan, entire teams can use the platform to connect with freelancers who have proven business experience.
For freelancers, there are over 200 different categories with gig work and ongoing projects. It services a host of different professionals, such as graphic designers, developers, writers, musicians, social media marketers, and voiceover artists. To help out, there is also 24/7 customer support.
Joining Fiverr could not be easier. It is free to join, so there is no need to pay for a subscription, and there are no fees to advertise your services, either. The service simply takes 20% of each transaction.
Hardware specifications: Desktop, Android, iOSCurrent pricing details: $0 per month
Based in Australia, Freelancer is a popular global platform for freelancers the world over to connect with employers. Employers hire for specific projects, choosing from a pool of more than 50 million freelancers possessing over 1,800 different skills. Freelancers bid on the projects they want and then wait for an approval or denial.
Similar to Upwork, projects are either hourly or fixed-price. Payments are secured by the Milestone Payments System, so you do not have to worry about whether a client can pay. Payments are also available in 39 currencies, and there is 24/7 customer support if you have any issues. Freelancer takes a 10% fee for projects and contests and 20% off services.
As a freelancer, you can choose between the free plan and the Preferred Freelancer Program, which features priority access to jobs and reduced fees. Under the Preferred program, freelancers earn an average of $1,000 more in just six months than the average freelancer. Employers can also choose from different plans, including the Freelance Enterprise, which is specifically created for large corporations. With its impressive international reach, Freelancer counts Amazon, Facebook, and Deloitte among its million-plus users.
Hardware specifications: Desktop, Android, iOSCurrent pricing details: $0 per month
Exclusivity is the name of the game with Toptal. The company has made a name for itself in hiring just 3% of freelance talent. The platform connects employers with specific freelance professionals, including software developers, designers, finance experts, product managers, and project managers.
However, you have to apply and be approved before you can officially join. After approval, recruiters and industry experts help filter the applicant pool and pair freelancers with jobs. Hiring usually happens within 48 hours.
Toptal is available in 158 countries with 16,000 clients served. It counts Airbnb, Bridgestone, and Fortune 500 companies among its clients.
Hardware specifications: Web, Android, iOS Current pricing details: $0-$120 per month
LinkedIn is a great resource for the job-seeking professional. There is a strong emphasis on networking, and using your family, friends, and colleagues to build a professional network, collect references, and build recommendations. It is also known for excellent job opportunities for both corporate jobs and freelance positions, especially in copywriting, graphic design, and translation.
There are several plans to choose from, including a basic plan that is free for all users. For additional features, you can then upgrade to a series of plans based on your goals:
Paid plans include everything from unlimited messaging to advanced job features like its exclusive Sales Navigator to help you grow leads. LinkedIn offers a free one-month trial for all paid subscriptions, so you can test out a service before committing with your credit card.
A freelance website is a service that links job seekers with employers. Users are able to advertise services, post jobs, interact, and complete work all within the service platform.
How does a freelance job website work?
Every service has different requirements to get started, but typically, you begin by creating an account. There will likely be terms and conditions that you must agree to before you can begin searching for work or advertising your services. Be sure to carefully review the instructions for new freelancers.
How much does it cost to use a freelance job website?
The cost to use a freelance job website depends on which service you use. It is common for freelance websites to take a commission off your earnings, but this percentage can vary. Some services may also charge a monthly membership in addition to any commissions they take.
Which is the right freelance job website for you?
There are many websites out there that promise work to freelancers, but not all of them may be the best fit for your needs. Spam and fake ads abound, and you do not want to find yourself the latest victim.
These are some factors to consider when choosing the best freelance website to find work:
Fees and penalties: The amount that a platform charges is important to consider when choosing a freelance site for work. Many sites charge fees and penalties that can quickly cut into your earnings if you are not careful.Payment: Just as it is important to consider what you are paid, it is also important to look into how you are paid. Some services may pay right away, while others may pay in milestones or require a waiting period.Ease of use: Accessibility is important in a job website because you are likely to spend a lot of time on the platform. You want to be able to navigate the site with ease so it does not detract from your productivity.Membership requirements: Every service has its own membership requirements. While some sites help brand-new freelancers get started, a la Freelancer, others like Toptal have strict requirements and search for more experienced workers.Customer support: If you hit a snag while racing to meet a deadline, you may need customer support to help out. That is why you should consider what types of customer support are available through your chosen site to help out during the hours you need it most.Terms and conditions: Finally, do not forget to consider the terms and conditions for using the service at all. All services will have their terms and conditions available for review, and you want to be sure that you agree to these terms before you accept any jobs and complete any work on the platform.
Are there alternatives worth considering?
There are many freelance job sites to consider. Although these services did not make our top five list for 2021, they still may be worth your consideration based on your needs:
Craigslist: This is an email-based platform that allows users to post and apply to jobs via email.FlexJobs: This membership-based service features handpicked jobs based on your skills and preferences.TaskRabbit: This is a great option for the everyday person looking to make money off traditional gigs like shopping, errands, yard work, and home services.
No matter which service you choose, be sure to carefully explore your options and review the terms so you can find the best freelance website to get you back to work in 2021.
How did we choose these freelance job websites?
To find the best freelance websites to find work, we performed an in-depth analysis using our own ZDnet methodology. We considered several factors, such as how easy a site is to navigate — especially for new users — and what fees and penalties are assessed for using the service.
We also looked at what clients have used the platform with success, as this can inspire confidence to see large corporations like Facebook and Google successfully hire freelancers and complete projects.
Finally, we looked to see what membership and eligibility requirements apply for freelancers and the kind of customer support freelancers can expect to receive. Based on these factors and more, these are the best job websites for freelancers in 2021.