In this new digital age where flexibility has taken over the workforce, freelancing has significantly been thriving.

In fact, most are switching from their full-time jobs to freelancing because it affords them to work on their terms, make money, and have more time for other things.

As a freelancer, you can’t survive without clients. That’s why there are several freelancing job sites out there.

But with the influx of millions of freelancers and the introduction of new freelancing sites almost every day, everything has become so clouded and crowded that it might be hard for you to figure out the best freelancing site that’d suit you best.

Not to worry, though; we got you covered. Here are the 5 best freelancing job sites in 2021 and what you need to know about them.  

1. Upwork

Upwork, originally Elance, was founded in 1998. Upwork is a freelance website that connects over 12 million freelancers and over 5 million clients. At the moment, it is arguably the biggest freelance website globally.

Although Upwork lists several opportunities, it is pretty hard for the new freelancers and beginners to get access to those because of the all-ready grounded freelancers with several years of experience there.

Also, it has gotten pretty hard to be accepted to freelance on the site in recent times. This is primarily due to a large number of freelancers already on the site.

Getting Started

Creating a profile on Upwork is free. So, you don’t need to worry about paying an application fee only to not get accepted.

To get started, you will need to sign up on the platform and populate your profile with your personal statement, work samples, educational background, rates, and case studies.

Before you can start bidding for projects on the platform, Upwork needs to approve your profile, and that has been not easy given the large influx of freelancers on to the forum.

Upwork caters to diverse industries such as content creation, consulting, customer service, administration, data science, engineering, translation, marketing, IT, and web development.

Profile Rejection

Suppose Upwork determines that your profile does not meet their basic requirements or that your skills/experience fits that of an already freelancer-saturated market. In that case, your profile will likely be rejected.

But even if rejected, you can update your profile and do Upwork tests related to your target market to increase your chances of being accepted; then, you resubmit your profile for assessment.

Once your profile is approved, you can start searching Upwork for projects related to your field/skills/experience and bidding for them.

Upwork’s Dynamic System

Collaborative Platform

Upwork offers a dynamic freelance system that allows you to kickstart your freelance journey without much stress, particularly if you’re good at what you do.

The platform itself is a collaborative space between you and the multiple clients there that can offer you much value for your services. The platform has various professional tests that can help groom you to be the right freelancer that clients are looking for.

Professional Tests

Also, the results for these professional tests can be displayed on your Upwork profile or elsewhere, like LinkedIn. You can also show these test results to your other potential clients outside Upwork. That’s some professional development stuff right there, you know!

Freelancer-Client Protection

There’s also the freelancer-client protection system that ensures value (project delivery – payment) is exchanged after the project is delivered. What happens is that after any project is approved between a freelancer and client, Upwork collects the exact payment fee from the client and keeps it until after the project is successfully completed. 

Once you submit the project and your client affirms a worthy delivery, the money is disbursed to you. On the other hand, if the project isn’t submitted within the project timeline or the client isn’t satisfied with the work done, they get their money back.

This freelancer-client protection system ensures that both the right of the freelancers and clients are protected. Also, it helps limit the risk of a freelancer not getting paid after a project is delivered or a freelancer getting paid without completing the given task.

Invoice Maker 

Upwork also has an in-built invoice maker that makes invoicing so much easier and much more documented. Also, on Upwork, you can easily track billable hours (something freelancers regularly struggle with).

Although Upwork does not charge an up-front fee, they take a certain percentage of your earnings once you successfully bill a client.

Takeaway

One of the best parts of Upwork is that if you’re competent, you just might get to work for many top-level clients like Microsoft, Airbnb, HP, Dropbox, etc. If you are looking to work on your own terms and make money as a freelancer, Upwork will certainly serve you well.

But you need to understand that you’d have to work for it. Bidding for projects can be daunting initially, but once you get the hang of it and show clients that you’re capable, efficient, and reliable, it’ll be much easier for you to win more projects.  

2. Fiverr

Founded in 2010, Fiverr is one of the biggest freelancer marketplaces.

On this platform, freelancers can sell their services for as little as $5; this is actually where the name was coined. It is said that at least 5 freelancing gigs are being sold per second on the platform.

And as at the last evaluation, Fiverr had handled over 5 million transactions, and the platform is still going strong. 

Some say Fiverr is mainly for beginner freelancers and clients that don't want to pay much for services. Well, this isn't entirely true, although it does seem so most of the time.

The fact is that Fiverr is arguably the best platform for beginners because its reputation for having clients that offer low-cost gigs allows budding freelancers to build their portfolio while at least making some money.

Fiverr's Penetrated Industries

Although Fiverr leans heavily toward the creative/design fields, several freelancers offer IT, project management, career counseling, legal, relationship coaching, marketing, and other services. And, of course, clients patronize them as well.

The key to getting gigs on Fiverr is filling your profile accurately and adding all details related to your area(s) of expertise. 

This way, your profile will gain lots of visibility so that you can be approached for relevant projects. As a seller on Fiverr, you can add up to seven different services to the gig section of your profile. Endeavor to do this and accurately add services related to your field to send custom offers to potential clients without being rejected at first glance.

Charges and Payments

Like most of the other freelancing platforms, Fiverr does not charge a signup fee, but of course, they raise revenue through other means on the platform. For every successful gig you initiate through the platform, Fiverr takes a 20% commission off it.

Also, for high-budget projects, Fiverr still gets a certain percentage. 

To protect your interest, as the freelancer and that of the clients, Fiverr holds the money the clients pay for a project for 14 days after completing the project.

After the 14 days have passed, you can then deposit your earnings into your preferred payment platform. This ensures that the clients can get a refund if a project delivered isn't to their satisfaction.

By also collecting the payment from the client beforehand, Fiverr also endeavors to limit cases of freelancers being scammed after delivering a service.

Unique Opportunities

Selling Completed Projects

Fiverr allows freelancers to showcase finished projects on the platform.

Potential clients who like these finished works can then buy them from freelancers. And if need be, the client can reach out to the freelancer who created the project to modify it to suit their needs.

This benefits the clients because they can buy completed projects for their immediate usage.

It also removes the need for a client to communicate with several freelancers before settling got one. Moreover, this equally enables freelancers to make money per time, just like regular sellers.

Free Courses

Even as a freelancer, you'll need to continue learning to provide optimum value to your clients and also stay relevant within your industry. Fiverr offers several free learning courses related to diverse industries.

Several freelancers have testified that the free courses have helped them develop their pitching skills and deliver exceptional projects to their clients.  

Takeaway

In all, Fiverr is an excellent platform to get started as a freelancer. You might not be able to earn a full-time living there, but I do know several freelancers that are making thousands of dollars a week using Fiverr.

And if you are great at marketing your profile and promoting your services, you might be able to go far as a freelancer on Fiverr.

At some point, as you advance your portfolio, you still might need to move to more advanced freelancing platforms. But for now, there's no rush. 

3. Freelancer

Founded in 2008, Freelancer is now one of the largest platforms for freelancers. The online marketplace connects over 45 million freelancers and clients from over 247 countries around the world.

Freelancer is an amazing starting point for newbie freelancers as well as experienced ones. Why? It has a large number of opportunities which is open to everyone. 

Just like Upwork, there are no upfront costs when creating an account.

Freelancer has such a large platform that caters to diverse fields, including accounting, administrative, advertising, architecture, graphics designing, web development, human resources, content writing, social media marketing, sales and marketing, software development, etc.

Getting Started

As said earlier, it’s completely free to sign up for a Freelancer account and create a profile.

After creating your profile, you’ll need to fill in your details and professional background/portfolio to show that you’re indeed capable of serving clients.

Once your profile is filled, you can start searching for projects that relate to your areas of expertise and bidding for them.

You can work on hourly projects or fixed-priced projects. Right on freelancer.com, you can communicate with your clients, track hours, send invoices, and of course, receive payments.

Fees Attached

Like Upwork, Freelancer.com gets a certain percentage (20%) of the payment you receive from services delivered through their platform. Some other kinds of fees might be deducted based on other services they offer on their website.

For instance, you’d need to pay a minimal fee for bids, contests, or high-scale projects.

Client-Freelancer Support

Freelancer.com offers notable customer service that ensures that both the freelancers and clients are getting the best out of the platform. They also offer a very helpful FAQ that was built to help the freelancers on the platform.

Also, you can reach out to their customer care representatives through live chat and email support for complaints or inquiries.

Opportunity to Make Money

On freelancer.com, you’d find both high and low-bid jobs, both well-paying and low-paying jobs. But if you’re just starting out without much experience and stars, low-bid jobs are your best bet.

Why? The high-bid ones almost always go to well-experienced freelancers with several years of reliability to show the clients that they can get the job done.

Takeaway

Asides from the projects you can bid for, there are also contests where you can submit your personal creations with the hope of winning and getting paid by the client (contest organizer).

You’d need to be careful, though; else, you could get scammed of all your hard work without payment.

Freelancer is quite notorious for having scammers as clients, but you need not worry. If you apply caution when dealing with clients and never carry out projects without the needful being put in place by the client, you’d never have to worry about getting scammed. 

4. Toptal

Do you think you are experienced and competent enough to make it into a freelancing platform that only accepts 3% of the top freelancing talents globally? Then Toptal is for you. 

Toptal is a highly selective first-class freelancing platform that's the go-to for most prominent companies and corporations like Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Walmart, Motorola, and the likes when seeking competent freelancers for their projects.

Content creators, designers, product managers, developers, finance experts, sales marketers, and more, Toptal houses them all. Toptal uses hiring experts to match these 3% top talent freelancers with companies that seek their professional expertise.

Entry Process

Without mincing words, Toptal is incredibly difficult to get into – but of course, if you fit their standards, you'd get accepted into the network.

As a freelancer applying to Toptal, you'll go through a very rigorous screening process that tests your knowledge, competency, capacity, and reliability. From knowledge of your area of expertise to your language usage, personality, and skills set, Toptal tests everything.

You'll be asked to participate in a live screening exercise and test projects related to your field.

Although all these seem daunting, they are the exact reason why Toptal can recruit just a tiny percentage of its applicants.

That is also why the small number of top talents they have can always offer the optimal assurance that they can always get the job done. Likewise, accepting just a tiny percentage of freelancers means that those accepted earn a full-time living right on the platform.

Job Availability

Toptal does not have as many clients as the first three freelancing sites mentioned, and neither does it have as many jobs; this is due to their elitism status and the premium they charge clients to access their platform. 

This is a good thing, though, because you have the assurance that all clients you work with there are genuine and, of course, capable of paying you appropriately for your service.

Also, due to being a limited-access freelance platform, there are mostly enough clients/gigs to go around. For the charges, Toptal gets a certain percentage of the clients' payment to the freelancers as commission. The said amount varies from project to project.

Takeaway

It must be said as it is – Toptal is challenging to get into. But surely, you can be one of their freelancers if you show your value during the application process.

And of course, once you are accepted into the platform, there's an uttermost assurance that you'd get high-paying projects from your clients. Isn't it worth it? 

5. Guru

Initially founded in 1998 as eMoonlighter.com, Guru was created to connect top-notch freelancers with clients. Today, Guru serves over 1.6 million freelancers and over 800,000 clients.

Globally, freelancers have made a combined sum of $250 million through the platform. It boasts an impressive 99% client satisfaction rate. 

Guru is considered one of the best sites for experienced freelancers. It is an online marketplace that connects freelancers with employers that need help with back-office business tasks.

The platform itself boasts of 99% client satisfaction rate. Of course, this is not surprising given the availability of experienced professionals rather than entry-level workers on the platform.

Getting Started

You must be at least 18 years old to create a freelancer account on Guru. After signing up for an account, you'd need to set up your profile to look professional before you start bidding for projects. 

You'll need to fill in details like your credentials, your rates, and the services you offer. It's advisable to add more information like your strengths, special skills, and testimonials.

They make your profile seem more personal and make you more approachable to clients. Of course, you need to catch their attention to get to work with them. Doing this will afford you that opportunity.

Bidding

Guru offers free and paid membership for freelancers. The number of bids you have determines how many projects you can apply for, and the number of bids you have depends on your type of membership.

Free membership limits you to only 10 bids per month. Of course, most people usually need to purchase more (as paid members) to bid for more jobs.

The paid membership also offers you other benefits like bid rollovers, the opportunity to message the clients before bidding, lower fees, and boosted search visibility.

Industry Focus

Guru caters to freelancers in the following areas: writing and translation, legal, administration, engineering and architecture, business and finance, design, sales and marketing, and programming. 

After you're done filling your profile, you can browse through project listings on the platform or use the platform's top match and good match filters to find specific clients that need your services. 

Once you find a project that matches your skills and area of expertise, you can submit a bid for it. Asides from directly working with the clients, you can also work on projects with other freelancers on the platform through Guru's virtual Work-Rooms feature.

Takeaways

The reviews about Guru range from positive to mixed reviews. The most common reviews about them point out their lack of prompt response to complaints or not even replying at all, especially to complaints about scamming clients.

But even though some might argue that Guru doesn't work for them, many people still earn their living through Guru.

The most important thing you need to do is apply caution when bidding for projects and dealing with clients to avoid getting scammed.

Conclusion

Freelancing platforms help connect freelancers with clients that need their services, whether for short or long-term projects.

Regardless of your skillset, years of experience, and skillset, there is always a freelance job listing site that'd suit your bill; you have to find it.

In recent times, more and more complaints have been coming up about scams on freelancing platforms, but it's not particularly surprising given the influx of freelancers in this era.

What you need to do to avoid your hard work going to waste is to stick to reputable freelancing platforms like the ones above and others you'd find recommended on other websites. But even that isn't enough.

It would help if you endeavored to stick to the platforms' rules about carrying out all communications with your clients right on the platform. Also, you'd need to check and double-check whether your client is genuine before proceeding with any given task.

As long as you follow all these, you have nothing to worry about.