Outsourcing on Fiverr vs Upwork: Which is Better for Small Business?

Hiring on Fiverr vs. Upwork: What's the Difference?

Both Fiverr and Upwork are freelance platforms where you can hire professionals to fulfill various business needs on a project-based or ongoing basis. From our experience, Fiverr has the potential to deliver high-quality work for lower rates. Upwork tends to be pricier while delivering more consistent quality.

The thought of outsourcing important projects to a contractor or freelancer can feel like a big risk to many small business owners. Why should you trust someone, who you don’t know well, to do important things for your business? Well, because some of the best talent can be found on freelancer websites like Fiverr and Upwork.

What is a freelancer?

Freelancers offer business services, creative services, and even dog walking to businesses based on an hourly or project based fee. They aren’t employees but can help with specialized projects and tasks.

For example, if you run a consumer goods business, you probably don’t have time to research keywords and post to social media every day. Instead, hire a freelancer to spend a few hours a week creating content for you.

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In 2020, freelancing saw a big boost. Unemployment wasn’t the main driver for this change. In fact, 61% of freelancers do so by choice, not out of necessity. More so, 77% of full time freelancers say that their work-life balance has improved because of increased flexibility.

While there are a lot of dirt cheap freelancers that return questionable work quality, most freelancers provide diverse skill sets and expertise. On average, they are more skilled and earn higher wages than their fully employed peers. This is because 45% of freelancers provide services like writing, design, IT support, computer programming, marketing, and other business services.

Should I hire freelancers for my small business?

It’s not always feasible to hire full-time staff to cover the wide array of services you need. Your business probably doesn’t need a website redesign very often; so why hire a full-time developer?

There’s also work that’s important, but time-consuming, like graphic design or writing blog articles. Freelancers provide on-demand help with these projects because they’re already experts in what they do.

But if you haven’t outsourced work before, you may worry about the trustworthiness of someone you really don’t know. In reality, there are many incentives for freelancers to produce high-quality work.

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Freelancers are motivated to meet deadlines and work within a set budget so that they can retain their ideal clients. If they can’t deliver on their promises, they have no chance of building long lasting relationships with their customers.

There are many benefits in outsourcing work to freelancers including:

    • High quality work – A full time employee will be juggling multiple priorities, while a freelancer is hyper focused on their project.
    • Less risk for your business – If you hire a freelancer and are not happy with the work they delivered, you can fire them (but remember, they can also fire you if you’re not a great client). Since they are not employees, you can quickly move on to another freelancer; you’re not stuck with an employee who’s a bad fit.
    • Diversity of people and ideas – It’s only human to approach a project from just one perspective. Bringing in an outside voice can freshen up the brainstorming process – especially because they already know what works and what doesn’t within their niche.
    • Meet short term deadlines – Sometimes an opportunity presents itself and you need to act on it ASAP. If you are still finalizing your website development or haven’t settled on a logo design, you can find someone to complete these tasks within a day, or even a few hours.

Choosing a freelancing platform

There are many ways to find and hire freelancers. You can search on LinkedIn, ask peers for referrals, or take a look at Craigslist. One way to gain access to large pools of talent, from novice to expert, is to use freelancing platforms like Fiverr and Upwork.

Both sites serve as marketplaces where a business can find independent professionals with the right skills, experience, and even location. For freelancers, they have a centralized system to find clients, complete work, and get paid.

One of the main benefits of Fiverr and Upwork is easy billing and payments. Businesses are able to hold freelancers accountable if they deliver low quality work, and freelancers don’t have to chase clients to pay their invoice. Ratings and feedback can be recorded for both parties. Aside from these, Fiverr and Upwork are suited for different needs.

What is Fiverr?

Fiverr: Freelance Services Marketplace for Businesses

We’re cultivating a space for a community that wants to play a part in changing how the world works together. We’ve built a global network of writers, designers, producers, videographers, business owners, and professionals across hundreds of industries, who use Fiverr every day to create something they believe in.

Fiverr offers tasks and services for as low as $5, hence the name. Of course, that price often goes up depending on the service and the quality you want. If you are looking for an easy one-off task, like designing a logo, it can be $5 well spent. But if you are looking for someone to create sales collateral, you’re going to need to pay more.

Businesses and entrepreneurs looking to hire talent on Fiverr are called buyers. This site offers buyers an array of gigs, which are pre-set deliverables provided by freelancers like, “I will create one marketing email sequence for you for $200.”

Gigs cover a very wide array of services including:

    • Graphic design
    • Content writing
    • Backlink-building services
    • Video or animation services
    • Audio or music services
    • Voiceover professionals
    • Animation services
    • Search engine optimization (SEO)
    • Business services- data entry, project management, lead generation
    • Lifestyle gigs- cooking lessons, tutoring, life coaching
    • And much more

Crowdsourced reviews rate Fiverr fairly high for both buyers and freelancers and there are many reasons to hire talent here like:

    • Depending on the service, you can have a task completed within hours.
    • For simpler needs, you can get exactly what you want for cheap.
    • If you are looking for quality work, you can hire a Fiverr Pro. Only 1% of freelancers are verified as Pros.
    • Aside from Pros, there are plenty of skilled freelancers charging market rate.
    • With tens of thousands of gigs on offer, you’re likely to find someone that fits your specific niche.
    • Buyers find that Fiverr usually backs them in any type of dispute and will refund money if you are dissatisfied with your experience.

Because the structure of Fiverr is intentionally designed to help promote both expert and amateur creators, it comes with a few downsides:

    • When you buy a gig that is very cheap, it’s hard to come back and ask for edits or improvements. You get what you paid for.
    • Their top sellers and pros can offer unrealistic deadlines. If they have hundreds of orders in their queue, you may have to wait weeks for your deliverables.
    • Lots of scams. There are many gigs charging rock bottom prices and advertising higher quality work than they actually deliver. You can end up with something completely unusable and have to start over.

What is Upwork?

Upwork: Join the world's work marketplace

Our mission is to create economic opportunities so people have better lives. We’ve become the world’s work marketplace where every day businesses of all sizes and independent talent from around the globe meet here to accomplish incredible things.

Upwork differs from Fiverr in many ways – most notably, there are no lifestyle gigs. Upwork is completely dedicated to business needs.

Another key difference between the two sites is that on Upwork, clients can post exactly what they are looking for in a job posting. When freelancers find a job posting that interests them, they can send through a proposal with a cover letter, their rates, links to samples, and files. Clients can also invite individual freelancers to apply to their jobs.

Job postings cover all kinds of business services and creative content work like:

    • Accounting and financial planning
    • Virtual assistants and customer support
    • Photography, product design, branding
    • Civil engineering
    • Legal services
    • Sales and Marketing services
    • Writing, editing, proofreading, translations
    • And a lot more

Reviewers really like Upwork with over 1,600 ratings and 4.6 stars on G2. The benefits of using Upwork when outsourcing for talent include:

    • You can filter freelancers by time zone which is very helpful when hiring customer support or virtual assistants.
    • Clients can create comprehensive job postings that set expectations for language requirements, price ranges, industry expertise level, and even set a minimum amount of Upwork earnings in order to apply.
    • Unless the job is hyper niche, you can usually expect to receive at least 5 to 10 proposals from freelancers.
    • The user interface is easy to use when searching for the right freelancer for your task.
    • Freelancers can track hourly work through the platform. This accountability takes a lot of stress away from the client.

There is a lot of transparency on Upwork, which can sometimes backfire, and there are some UI bumps including:

    • Clients are put on the spot with the rating and feedback system. One reviewer said that it's uncomfortable to give an honest review saying that, “it puts me in an awkward position to give a negative review when I know they have the passwords to my site and will be working on it in the future.”
    • Both freelancers and clients tend to be flakey. Since work isn’t simply picked up pre-packaged, there is back and forth communication required. It’s easy to ghost and never hire anyone for the job.
    • The platform has some buggy processes and workflows. It’s not clear how and when to close contracts. Reporting for payments and transactions is not intuitive for the freelancer or the client.

Best practices when outsourcing and hiring talent

Between Upwork and Fiverr, you are likely to find exactly what you are looking for from a freelancer. No matter where you decide to source talent for your projects, here are some general best practices when hiring:

Avoid the inclination to quickly scan through your list of proposals or freelancers before selecting one. You can glean a lot about the attitude and professionalism of a freelancer by reading the full description of their gig, proposal, portfolio, or project catalog.

Sellers aren’t mind readers. Take the time to speak directly with the freelancer about your expectations in this project. Come prepared with at least a rough description of the work. Don’t assume they know what you want. Encourage them to ask clarifying questions.

Before assigning a large project to a freelancer you haven’t worked with before, start things off with a one-off task. This could be one blog article, one email template, or a couple of hours of work for a virtual assistant. See how the work goes and how you gel with this person. If they are not a match, find someone else.

Speak with your freelancer about budget expectations, especially for hourly work. If you have a set amount for this assignment, consider hiring on a per project basis instead of hourly.

On Upwork, you can set a max weekly hours limit to avoid being charged more than discussed. Encourage the freelancer to let you know in advance if they foresee a problem staying within budget.

Good freelancers are often busy and may not always be available for every project. Try working with a few other skilled professionals so that you have backups in case of availability problems.

Time to start hiring

Whether you need straightforward gig work or a long term relationship, you’ll find great freelancers on both Fiverr and Upwork to help with almost any business needs.

Small Business Resources

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A special high five to Tahera Ali Khan for her outstanding research and contributions to this article. We love working with and supporting like-minded entrepreneurs. Thank you Tahera! ❤️

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