Upwork vs Freelancer - contractor’s perspective

upwork and freelancer logoUpwork and Freelancer are two of the most popular online work platforms. Founded in 2003, the U.S. based oDesk is the older version of Upwork. Freelancer.com was incorporated in Australia back in 2009. In this article I will compare Upwork and Freelancer primarily from a contractor’s perspective.

Upwork has raised there fees recently – what are the Upwork alternatives?


As time passes, the world is moving towards outsourcing more and more. oDesk has been a secure place of online works for quite a few years. In May 2015, oDesk was re-launched as Upwork.

Freelancer has reached to its current position and brand by acquiring several similar entities including Get A Freelancer.com, EUFreelance.com, vWorker, Freelancer.co.uk etc.


As said by Upwork, the marketplace now has around 9 million registered freelancers and 4 million registered clients. Annually there are 3 million job postings worth $1 billion. With the new brand and merger, the company expects to grow these numbers tremendously.

On the other hand, Freelancer claims that the platform now resides a whopping 15 million registered members who have posted more than 7.4 million projects and contests worth more than $2.2 billion so far.


Upwork offers a cleaner user-interface than Freelancer. You will find its necessary navigation options easily. There is a centralized notification system, message center and settings option. When you visit a job posting, it will show available client information including rating, open jobs, reviews, spending etc. You can search jobs using its category, subcategory and filter options. Applying a filter is just a matter of click on the appropriate checkbox.

Freelancer puts so many navigation links and even promotional widgets (e.g. Freemarket, paid plans) on the dashboard which make the page congested. It has a long list of categories and subcategories. Freelancer’s project listing pages show the job titles and job descriptions in the same font size, just with different colors. I think the project headlines desire larger fonts (which I’ve found on Upwork). Freelancer’s project filtering system is slower than Upwork. On Freelancer job posts, you will find less information about the client. However, on Upwork, you need to pay the company to know the current bids on a project. But Freelancer shows this information for free.

Unlike Upwork, Freelancer’s messaging service includes live chatting option on desktop. On Upwork, you can exchange messages via the website, but you can’t see whether the client is online or offline. Freelancer provides this feature.

Costs for freelancers

Upwork and Freelancer have both free and paid plans. The Upwork basic (free membership) plan offers 60 points (aka Connects) per month. A particular number of Connects gets exhausted each time the user applies for a job. A $10 per month fee increases the default Connect points to 70 with carry forward ability up to 140 points. The paid membership scheme also lets the user see competitor bids. Upwork charges 10% from what a client pays to a contractor (if you use ScreenshotMonitor for tracking – you can avoid paying this fee) There are also disbursement fees varied by withdrawal methods. Upwork provides a good number of skill tests which can be taken for free. Contractors can show these test results on their profiles to illustrate expertise.

Freelancer.com has a range of membership plans priced from $0 to $199.95 per month. It also takes a cut from the users’ earnings which varies from subscription to subscription. The company charges $5 or more for a skill test.

Availability of Better Paying Jobs

Upwork and Freelancer.com both offer jobs with diverse range of budgets categorized as hourly and fixed price contracts. My experience shows that Upwork gets more hourly job postings than Freelancer.com. I found quite a few discussions around the web that often there are scam projects posted on Freelancer. I’ve also learnt that, on Upwork, it’s easier to find better paying jobs when compared to Freelancer.com because the earlier one has better tools and policies to make it happen.

Monetary Transactions

Upwork and Freelancer support a variety of methods to pay and receive funds through the site. You can link your financial accounts including credit cards, PayPal, Skrill, Payoneer card and bank account(s) to your freelancer/client profile and make transactions. The marketplaces also provide co-branded Payoneer debit cards. Transaction costs may vary with situations. Please visit this Upwork page to see its transaction costs and find those for Freelancer.com here.

Both of the sites are serious about payments protection. You can utilize upfront payments, escrow and hourly billing system to enjoy a safer billing mechanism. The sites bring two types of jobs- fixed price and hourly projects.


Upwork and Freelancer provide tracker apps to keep work logs with screenshots and task notes. Both apps are available for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. However, you can also use third-party time trackers like Screenshot Monitor to log your work progress. Dedicated tools like these can do much better job at time tracking and screenshot monitoring than native Upwork and Freelancer application. They are also cheaper for you as they are free of just a few dollars per month per person comparing to   10% fee that you usually pay to Upwork or Freelancer.

Both of the marketplaces have mobile apps to connect clients and freelancers. The Upwork messenger app which is currently available for Android and iOS lets users set status, send messages, handle job offers, get notifications etc.

You can use Freelancer’s official mobile apps on your Android and iOS devices to post/bid projects, find workers/clients, chat with freelancers/buyers and manage your projects. It offers more features than Upwork’s mobile app.


Upwork support provides assistance with live chat, phone line, ticket request system and FAQ items. On the other hand, Freelancer offers FAQs, live chat, and ticket/email supports. Here is no phone helpline.


Upwork and Freelancer- both of the online work sites claim to be the ‘world’s largest’ freelancing/outsourcing marketplace. In terms of the total number of registered users, Freelancer scores 15+ million and Upwork has 9 million contractors along with 4 million clients. Since Upwork and Elance have announced a merger, they got a greater opportunity to lead the freelancing market.

Freelancer.com provides a variety of features but its user interface needs some more improvements in order to look them organized. Freelancer charges fees for nearly all of its core features while Upwork has a less-aggressive subscription infrastructure. If you work regularly on Freelancer, you may save your transaction costs by upgrading membership plans. Read the Fees and Charges section carefully to learn more about this. Again, Freelancer’s mobile app offers more features than Upwork’s one. Freelancer has fewer support portals than Upwork.

According to my personal experience and the study conducted to prepare this article, I would choose Upwork as the winner. Upwork stays ahead of Freelancer.com basically for its simplicity, trustworthy features and user friendly pricing policy.

In this post, I have tried to present a comparison between Upwork and Freelancer. I hope you will find it useful to choose an online marketplace or recruit a remote worker. Also you can see this post to get some tips on how to hire a remote employee. Thank you.