After the merger between Elance and oDesk birthed the Upwork platform in 2015, it instantly became one of the largest online job marketplaces in the world. One of the few competing platforms that can match its size and scope is Fiverr, which has been spearheading the online gig economy since 2010 and is currently the leading provider of temporary work positions online. When it comes to choosing between the two, their pros and cons should be considered from the particular perspective, depending on whether you’re looking to sell or buy services. Let’s dive in:

The Client Perspective

The ultimate goal of individuals and businesses using both Fiverr and Upwork to buy freelance services is basically the same: perform a certain task with good value for money. The details and the process are quite different though. First, it is important to understand that Upwork is based on jobs, and Fiverr is based on gigs; while these terms might get confused often, they determine the structure of the marketplaces.

A job is a project which consists of one or more tasks and can have a definite completion milestone or be recurring. Posting a job on Upwork creates a new entity which now functions as the “container” for your project; you can proactively invite particular freelancers to apply for the job, or make it public and let anyone apply.

A gig, it turn, is a specific task requiring a specific action. On Fiverr, you don’t create job postings as a client – instead, you can choose from a vast variety of freelance offers for your required task and directly approach the chosen freelancer with an offer. This both simplifies things in case you’re looking to complete straightforward, granular tasks, but removes the flexibility that comes with job postings on Upwork.

In terms of available variety, Fiverr clearly has the upper hand. While Upwork focuses mainly on the classic domains of web freelance: tech, design, writing, marketing, and support, services, you can find gigs on Fiverr from almost any imaginable category, from music promotion and file conversion to career advice and fitness tips. This makes the platform interesting not only for businesses but also for individuals.

Apart from the differences in the underlying philosophy, one should be mindful of the fee structures: while both are currently charging the sellers, on Upwork it is still common to negotiate the price based on the net amount the freelancer will get after deductions, while on Fiverr the prices go in increments of $5 and freelancers rarely bring up fees as their basis for calculating the offer.

To sum up, Upwork is more suitable for enterprises looking to complete larger, more complex tasks or collaborate with a particular freelancer on a regular basis, essentially turning them into remote employees. Fiverr, in turn, should be the first choice for those who wish to get a particular small task done quickly and easily, for the most competitive price. The platform is especially useful when seeking a freelancer to perform unusual or very specific tasks like playing a chorus with your brand name in it on a rock guitar or making a viral video.

The Freelancer Perspective

If you’re planning to sell your services online, the most important aspect to consider is the earnings potential. And the largest part of it is platform fees: the share of your income taken by the marketplace. Upwork and Fiverr are slowly moving towards a similar fee structure, yet there are significant differences that every seller should account for: in particular, Fiverr has been loyal to its 20% flat fee since its inception. Upwork, in turn, has recently introduced a new pricing scheme whereby the rate changes with the volume of work you perform for the same client: the first $500 billed are charged at a 20% rate, the next $9500 incur a 10% rate, and 5% is applied to any further transactions with the same buyer.

Being more seller-centric, Fiverr, provides more possibilities for promoting your services as a freelancer: in contrast to Upwork, where you have a classic profile, here you can create any number of gigs, each of which acts as an independent service offering. Each gig has a unique permalink, so you can share them individually or together on social media or use in ad campaigns.

It is also worth mentioning that Fiverr allows for much more freedom and variety in terms of which services you’re allowed to offer: on this platform, only your imagination is the limit. This allows you to monetize almost any skill or idea instantly, and if you’re able to come up with something really creative that hasn’t been offered before, you can even enjoy the perks of a competition-free environment for a while.

The fee structures clearly indicates that Upwork encourages larger projects and long-term commitments, while Fiverr goes for simplicity and smaller tasks, while other aspects of each platform help differentiate even further. You are better off choosing Upwork if you prefer larger, more complex projects, or would like to be hired as a remote freelancer to regularly perform certain tasks. Go for Fiverr if you are planning to complete smaller tasks and win by volume, value diversification and speed, and would like to have more freedom in creative offerings.

Let’s Discuss!

Still unsure whether to offer your services or search for freelancers on Fiverr or Upwork? Already have hands-on experience with any of the platforms (or both)? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below:

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1 comment

Justin Smith

I would definitely agree with the comparison at hand between Upwork and Fiverr. Personally, I quite like Upwork because I find that it has a higher quality of designers and developers at a great price. In fact, we built our entire company website and WP blog (with custom theme) for less than $500 using Upwork. Of course, we did some coding and wrote thepages ourselves, but we did no design work at all.