We could all use a little help sometimes. And by “a little help,” we mean…well, a lot. Enter virtual assistants (also known as superheroes without capes). The problem is that choosing the right platform for hiring a virtual assistant can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. To help you decide which platform to use, we’re about to compare ‘the Holy Trinity’ of freelance platforms: Fiverr vs Upwork vs DIY.
The last one, Doing It Yourself, is effectively an option to AVOID using freelance platforms (opting instead to finish a project using other methods).
The sad reality behind comparing Fiverr vs Upwork is that neither platform is likely to meet your expectations.
Both platforms connect business owners with a talent pool consisting of freelancers from around the world, offering a wide range of services and opportunities to meet any project demands or price point.
The primary difference between Fiverr vs Upwork is that Fiverr is better suited for smaller, one-time projects or gigs.
Upwork, on the other hand, is a better option for larger and more complex projects.
Fiverr is known for its simple interface and affordable prices. In addition, it’s known for speed — the ability to quickly connect buyers with sellers.
Upwork is a better fit for a longer-term staffing need. Or a more permanent type of role for a larger, more established business.
Otherwise – if you’re a solopreneur looking to fill a one-time need, Fiverr will be a better match for you.
The short answer – Upwork and Fiverr are both stable, profitable, well-run and established businesses. Where you will end up choosing your freelancers will not depend on the financial track record of either platform, but the type of work you need done, your preferences, and your budget.
Choosing between Fiverr vs Upwork will be a personal decision based on your unique needs. Let’s do a quick recap on the advantages of each platform.
For most companies, Upwork will be the better option. Especially for larger projects or tasks that require the knowledge and insight of a specialist. If you’re just looking for someone to handle something simple, then Fiverr could be a great way to save cash.
Upwork is a freelancing platform that connects individuals and businesses with talented freelancers from around the globe. There’s currently ~12 million people on the platform.
Upwork offers more than 90 categories, across 12 specialisms including Design & Creative, Accounting & Consulting, Data Science & Analysis and much more. Upworkfocuses on building strong and long-term relationships between clients and freelancers.
It is normally suited to a business or organization with a bigger project and is looking to work with a freelancer for a longer period of time. On top of that, Upwork has more robust security measures for making payments, making it a more reliable and secure choice for clients.
Fiverr is one of the most popular freelancing platforms out there, with an intuitive platform interface and filter system to help you find the right freelancer for your job proposal.
Fiverr offers its services across 9 categories from Graphics & Design, Digital Marketing, Writing & Translation and much more.
It is a freelancing platform that offers its services a little cheaper than average, so if you are looking for a one-off project, it might be the best option. The Fiverr platform normally appeals to a small team or individual freelancer, due to its lower prices and smaller projects.
Upwork is the perfect example of what the modern market of freelance marketplaces calls a “generic bidding marketplace”.
And although this model proves to be popular for some, throughout the years both freelancers who get jobs from Upwork and clients who want to hire remote or part-time employees have discovered that it also has some major flaws.
Despite what we all know about bidding sites, Fiverr has outdone itself in building what some might call a bit of a shady platform that punishes designers and customers, whereas things are not $5 at all because of all sorts of surcharges and extras.
Upwork could be a good place to learn how to do accurate estimates and to interact with clients online, but once you have those skills, or if you already have them, you may find the quality of the clients lacking. Non-Upwork clients tend to be more reliable, are looking for a higher quality of work, and are willing to pay for the work they contract for.
A platform like Upwork was created to help freelancers gain access to clients (and vice versa). However, its business model sides with the clients entirely – and that makes sense because that is where they generate their revenue from. However, this spells bad news for more independent workers. These platforms tend to charge transaction fees and commissions as high as 20%, and also end up making independent freelancers shell out more money for certain ‘extra’ gigs.
Furthermore, look just beneath the surface and one finds that Fiverr, like most multi-million dollar enterprises, is a platform built upon the exploitation of those it claims to serve — low-quality output, high fees (Fiverr take 20% of a seller’s revenue), and a lack of oversight combine to create a platform guilty of every misdemeanor found on other bidding sites.
Moreover, systems for dispute management regarding payments are often biased, putting freelancers at a huge disadvantage.
Essentially, all the decision making relies on a centralized system that is prone to many biases and opinions that may or may not favor freelancers.
Upwork is possibly a way to break into freelancing, but I don’t see it as a viable option for serious freelancers who are hoping to make a living in a developed country.
Clients tend to want a lot for very little, and frequently object to paying even what they have agreed to. If you are taking a fixed-price job, make sure the client has placed the entire amount in escrow, which is difficult to manage on Upwork.
Fiverr is one of a number of high-profile bidding sites, its gimmick being the fallacy that a service cost five dollars. It’s part of the gig economy that is quickly overtaking traditional and stable work, forming a kind of “Airbnb or Uber type of workforce.” Fiverr and corresponding sites inhabit a strange place in the market, a part of many industries while existing outside of them all.
Freelancers taking smaller jobs (<$500USD) pay 20% in fees, which is just too much when you’re making so little. We’ve seen people advise, “Well, just charge more”, but these jobs aren’t really worth more.
One should charge what a job is worth, not what it takes to cover commissions and secondary costs.
It starts a cycle of driving up prices that is not good for either freelancer or client. Having to charge more for these reasons also takes away from integrity as a freelancer, which is important.
The review process has become a defensive maneuver. People using it have found that employers often do “defensive” reviews.
An example of this is a friend who worked with a client for a year:
There was no place for my friend to appeal, even though Upwork was in possession of ALL the positive notes (and not a single negative comment) my friend had received from the client and the stated reason for the ending of the contract. In the end, my friend was stuck with an unearned black mark despite mounds of evidence to the contrary. Upwork was uninterested in even reviewing the matter.
The freelancers with higher professional skills have left the website for good. They don’t want to compete with the less qualified contractors who won the projects over by bidding much lower rates, and that has caused an overall decrease of the Upwork/Fiverr job success rate and quality.
Fiverr or Upwork reviews are filled with the unfortunate stories written by former customers who have been scammed. This happens because freelancers only have to go through basic verifications which don’t include any background checks or vetting procedures.
This leaves every employer questioning, “Is Upwork/Fiverr safe, or are there better options?”
As a client, you can never be sure who you hire from this platform. Anyone can fill out and send an Upwork proposal for the order they are interested in, and there are basically no professional requirements they have to meet, and no way to prove the person you want to hire is qualified for the job.
Platform’s customer support team and their inability to solve any complex issues their clients’ encounter is one of the most popular complaints seen through almost every negative Upwork review. They are slow to provide feedback, they rarely show flexibility and desire to be involved in your problem, and, worst of all, they seem to believe in one thing only: the house always wins.
Fiverr is keen that its customers are aware that its services are more affordable and have a tighter turnaround than traditional design. Naturally, there is no mention in the site’s marketing as to what is sacrificed to this commitment to cheap and quick design. Rather, customers are encouraged to pursue the lowest price possible regardless of quality or professionalism.
Fiverr claims to be a platform replete with benefits for buyer and seller alike, but the disparity between them is alarming. While buyers are encouraged to seek out the cheapest services, this often comes at the expense of sellers.
Working with Fiverr, many entrepreneurs will never know that many businesses don’t need certain things at all.
FYI: Here is an article describing a professional approach.
It is a signal that Fiverr’s disregard for its users is likely to continue. The development of a system whereby practitioners are expected to work for free, uncertain whether their work will ever sell, in which the only one profiting is Fiverr — it’s very on-brand.
“Upwork/Fiverr alternatives” is probably one of the most popular search queries among business owners considering hiring an independent contractor.
It’s not that Upwork or Fiverr is that bad. On the contrary, its reputation is well-earned. Many customers and freelancers fruitfully work together on projects in jolly cooperation. Yet, we’ve provided you with enough food for thought.
We hope this article comparing Fiverr and Upwork was helpful to you. Should you need assistance finding some great team members…
Get in touch with our HireUA team to book a call or seek friendly advice.