Looking to freelance? These websites can help you land a gig
Whatever your skillset may be, there's sure to be a job that you can find online. We take a closer look at the top freelance websites for different skill sets (with pros and cons) and tell you how you can build a profile that will get accepted and land you an online gig.Sanjay Shenoy
With the digital nomad culture on the rise, more and more people are becoming their own bosses. You don’t need to have a billion-dollar idea and trillion-dollar funding to do that; all you need is the right skillset. A freelancing opportunity will help you find and do the rest.
The freelancing industry is so robust that it is expected that freelancers will comprise about 50 percent of India’s workforce by 2020. If you have a skill, chances are, you are more likely to survive and thrive better on your own than working under someone.
But you don’t just need to possess the right skill set; you also need to have a good profile to back you up. In fact, landing a freelance IT gig has become tougher today than it was a mere three years ago.
Getting a freelancing gig
While freelancing can be done in any profession, the IT sector is one of the most popular yet tough to land a freelance job in. Projects for web design, content writing, SEO, graphic designing, coding, app development, book-keeping, etc., are getting harder to land day by day.
A lot of websites offer freelance opportunities for professions other than the IT sector, be it carpentry, dance, art, masonry etc., but these are mostly categorised in end-to-end freelance sites. They do not have specialised websites as such.
Irrespective of the kind of job, as I have mentioned earlier, the first and foremost challenge a freelancer faces is to getting accepted by these websites. I will focus on how you can build such a profile at the end of this article, but let us first take a closer look at the top freelance websites in various domains along with their pros and cons.
The top 5 freelance websites
Upwork is one of the top-rated websites in the world when it comes to freelancing and freelance jobs. It has about 50 lakh registered businesses and 1.2 crore registered freelancers for more than 30 domains. The jobs range from writing, designing, marketing, sales, customer support, ethical hacking, accounting, and much more.
Upwork charges about 20 percent of the total fee you would be charging for your services for the first five jobs, after which it charges about 5 percent of the fee. While a few argue that there are hidden charges, there are hardly any valid Indian stories to back this claim.
Upwork is mostly for top-rated professionals and getting a profile approved can be daunting. The key to getting approval is being genuine in your application.
I shall get more into detail about this at the end of the article.
- A vast number of jobs across various domains
- Trusted by millions
- Transparent payment methods
- High profile value
- High commission charges
- Profile approval is not instantaneous
Fiverr was founded in 2010 on the concept of buying and selling of freelance services globally, starting at just $5. The prices would go up depending on the complexity, skill, demand, and the duration of the job. It soon grew in popularity and is now actively used by millions of users to offer and use freelance services in more than 30 different domains.
Fiverr has a “gig” culture where you, as a client, post a gig for a certain requirement. A freelancer with a relevant skillset can bid for this and "get the Gig". It works extremely well for beginners of different and vocational skill sets to start searching for gigs in domains such as writing, dancing, editing, painting, and coding, among various other niches.
Though simple and easy to use, Fiverr has always been controversial due to its low pay rates and professionals globally complaining about the quality of the work being delivered. Be sure to bid well and deliver quality work while you’re at it.
- Simple to use and get started
- Has a wide range of niches and domains
- Ideal for beginners too
- Low rates
Freelancer, as the name suggests, is most straightforward and is used by a lot of IT freelancers, majorly in India, the UK, the US, and Pakistan. It has a presence in about 247 countries, and a total user base of 24 million.
One can find a wide range of freelance jobs on this site: coding, web development, graphics, accounting, data entry, writing, sales, and marketing.
From time to time, Freelancer hosts a range of bid competitions apart from the usual gig bidding. There are substantial cash prizes for winning these competitions.
While jobs on this site are genuine and up to the mark, Freelancer has a history of getting into legal trouble over how it handles personal data.
- A vast number of jobs and easy to find
- Easy profile registration
- Great for IT sector
- Competitions for cash prizes
- Bid wars
- Issues over sharing sensitive information on bidding zones
Guru.com is one of the oldest freelance platforms on this list. It was founded in 1999 as eMoonlighter.com and then rebranded as Guru. This platform allows users get paid not just by the hour or by the tasks, but also based on milestones and recurring payments.
While it is still among the top websites, the competition has certainly made headway in recent times. This, actually, is good news if you are a freelancer as it means that you have comparatively lesser competition when compared to giants such as Upwork or Fiverr.
However, there is one major drawback - how the website handles client accounts and user funds. There have been reports of account suspensions, and it's important that you proceed with proper caution.
- Less competition
- Can get paid by four different parameters (recurring, by tasks, by the hour, by the milestone)
- Account management
As the name suggests, People per Hour is an online marketplace for hiring talent on a per-hour basis. It also has a unique collaborative feature. Collaborative streaming of projects allows freelancers to pool in human resources and work as a virtual team to finish their goals. This not only helps freelancers do a better job, but also helps them grow their network.
People Per Hour, apart from helping create a peer network, helps you build good client relations that may help you secure future jobs.
Like Fiverr, this site does not deal in localised currency. While Fiverr deals in dollars, People Per Hour deals in pounds and pays out in the same currency. This might be a minor inconvenience for freelancers taking up international projects.
- Good pricing
- Great networking opportunity
- Portfolio management
- Team collaborations
- Payment is usually done in pounds (or euros)
UrbanPro is an online tutorial portal, which has registered and verified teachers in every domain possible. Here, one can learn anything from basic mathematics to playing the cello.
If you are talented and capable of teaching people of any age group, you could sign up and start teaching them online or offline too. All you need to do is create your profile, bid for the best, have a conversation with your would-be student, and start your classes.
- Good reputation of having high-quality trainers
- Premium plans to give freelancers more visibility and branding
- Customer care service
Broxer is the perfect way for beginners to start their freelancing careers. One can start offering services such as writing, graphic designing, coding etc., for as low as Rs 250 per hour.
Signing up and getting this experience can also help you build a better profile for high-end freelancer sites.
- Low commission rate
- Free registration for job seekers and employers
- Less popular than other websites
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Best 5 freelance websites for content writing
Content is king, and will always be. One of the biggest problems in India is that there is a huge demand, but a paucity of good writers. In this list, I’ve included a few international websites dedicated to the writers' community.
I’m going to start this with my favourite one. Listverse is a website with great content. But the website is content-scarce and ready to pay any writer $100 for any new list.
The condition is simple - keep it original. The best part about this is that there is no specific topic and you are also not given any specific guidelines. Choose any topic under the Sun and generate engaging yet fact-rich content, and you are good to go.
There are no upper limitations to the word count, but keep the list to at least a minimum of 10 per article. By personal experience, I would say that each article should easily cross a 1,500-word mark.
The one and only major roadblock for is the payment. You NEED to have a PayPal account as Listverse does not allow payments on any other network. So ready your listicle, sign up for PayPal, and you are good to go.
- The freedom to write about anything under the earth
- No deadlines
- Fixed pay of $100 per article
- You need to have a PayPal account to get paid
Next on this list of writer-centric freelancer websites is ContentWriters.com. This is an enterprise-level content writing services firm dedicated to providing high-quality content.
The best part of working with ContentWriters is the huge knowledge repository you will be exposed to, allowing you to climb up to the next level of your professional writer journey.
ContentWriters is a serious website and accepts only professionals; the pay reflects that as well. Also, you would be working with some top professionals, which would enhance your knowledge. Apart from signing up as a writer, you can also sign up as an editor too. This has its own perks and large pay cheques.
- Professional freelancing opportunities
- Work with big brands along with the company
- Good pay cheques
- Can work either as a writer or an editor
- Ideal only for professional writers and editors and not for beginners
Crowd Content is an online content writing services firm that, even with its team of in-house writers, heavily relies on outsourced content.
Though a small website, Crowd Content offers two more things.
Writer’s University: An online knowledge repository where you can further sharpen your skills or writing content/copy.
Pricing Table: This can be leveraged and stated as your standard pricing once you have a substantial experience working with their formats and if you want to branch out.
Crowd Content has an application limitation and uses this for filtration. But you can apply and await approval.
- Good knowledge repository
- Great pay
- A good way to start
- Limited opportunities
Established in 1997, Freelancewriting is a dedicated platform for freelance writers to bid and get the best available writing gigs in their area of preference.
All you need to do is sign up and create a profile to get started. The payout at FreelanceWriting is neither too high nor too low, but is competitive with most freelance websites.
But the best part are the writing competitions the website holds. These will bring out the best in you and keep up your writing spirit while winning you more projects and cash prizes.
You can also access the best of writing resources available on their website to amplify your ability to write better.
- Dedicated platform for writers to post and get jobs
- Good pay cheques
- Knowledge repository
- Writing competitions
- None to mention specifically
Kolabtree is a medical and scientific freelancer platform where you can hire and consult with top-level scientists and science professionals all over the world.
While this is not the place for regular content writers, it is a good platform for someone with a science degree in almost anything. There are projects that require medical writing by professionals and if you are someone with a Bachelor's or a Master's degree, or a PhD in the relevant projects, you are up for a bid.
Bids and projects range from chemistry, biology, and doctorates to over 2,400 different fields of science. It is possible to find PhDs and veteran scientists from every discipline here.
- Good for academic and scientific writers community
- Can collaborate with other scientists
- Good pay
- Only ideal for PhD or highly educated writers; not for regular writers
Publoft is a marketing services startup dedicated to providing startups and businesses with inbound marketing strategies.
The freelance programme at Publoft promises great prices for your content with biweekly payouts. Editors at Publoft will handle your work and help you with any necessary corrections and clarifications.
Your payout is likely to increase as your association with the website grows. The startup is at a nascent stage, and promises a great journey as it grows.
- Biweekly payouts
- Dedicated editors to aid in editing
- Pay appraisals with an increase in loyalty
- Nascent stage startup
Best 5 freelance websites for web developers and graphic designers
Designers, both web or graphic, not just add colour, but seem to breathe life into everything on the internet. Graphic designers and web developers are some of the most in-demand people today.
There exists no company that does not need a designer nor a startup that does not need a web developer. Listed below are the top sources of gigs for developers and designers.
Starting off our list for creativity is Behance, an online platform owned by Adobe for showcasing and discovering creativity. Famous for the talent it curates and projects, Behance is the perfect way for designers to not just showcase talent but also find great opportunities.
One can also find full-time and lucrative opportunities from around the world. However, given the discovery nature of the platform, the pricing of the projects is entirely client dependent. But, there is no bidding on this platform.
- High profile value
- Great talent discovery and collaborating opportunities
- Discover full-time opportunities with great brands
- Cannot bid for projects; you need to either apply or wait for a search to hit your profile
99Designs is an online creative marketplace that works as an intermediary for designers and clients who post requirements about logo designs, websites, book covers, and pretty much anything related to visual designing and editing.
With over 1.7 lakh designers from over 192 countries, it is highly trusted by the creative design community all over the world. The USP of 99Designs is its highly famous design competitions where competitors bid and compete for projects and clients.
Clients can either browse and pick profiles that they find interesting or just create a contest where contestants can enter and try to win the project. The pricing is non-uniform as this is a competitive platform and you have to be extremely talented and competitive to rank on top.
- Helps build a good profile
- Can get you interesting competitions and projects
- Non-uniform pay model
- Ideal for pros
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A pure IT and tech talent-centric platform, Toptal is a dedicated community website that caters to coders, web developers, app developers, and UX/UI designers of the world.
Apart from coding and tech development projects, it also acts as a platform for non-tech IT jobs such as project management, finance, accounting etc.,
Great for networking and pricing, Toptal contributes immensely towards the development of its registered talent by offering many tutorials and research blogs. However, getting in is tough. As the website suggests, it only accepts only the top three percent of the cream crowd. Screening is done rigorously through a series of filtrations of your application.
- Great profile value
- Good knowledge repositories
- Ideal for designers, developers, finance, and product profiles
- Highly selective filtration policies
Now this one’s an interesting website. Codeable is a web platform that is dedicated to Wordpress developers around the world. This simple platform ensures that clients need not search for individual developers and check their credentials. An algorithm does all the job of searching if you enter your requirements.
As a WordPress developer, all you need to do is create an impeccable profile, bid correctly and deliver satisfactory work. This ensures you end up ranking for every search related to your expertise and skill set.
Codeable pricing follows a no-bid strategy. You can set your own price; this essentially eliminates pricing competition and puts the focus on talent and intuition.
- Exclusive Wordpress developer community and service platform
- No more bid wars. Only one pricing for your services
- Need to improve your profile
- Pricing should be organic so you rank for relevant projects
Dribble, yet another platform owned by Adobe, is a community for creativity. Users can post questions, answer queries, ask for help, and do much more. Think of it as the GitHub for the creative community.
Clients can post their requirements to find the right talent for their requirement on Dribble Jobs. This is a brilliant opportunity that can be leveraged if you are a seasoned designer.
Similar to Behance, Dribble has no bid culture. The pricing is either task dependent or client dependent.
- Easy to use interface
- Great community of talented designers for collaboration
- Great opportunities
- Acts as a portfolio too
- Cannot bid for a job; you need a good profile to get noticed
Every WordPress developer and design professional knows this vast repository of creative themes, but did you know that Envato has a separate platform that serves as a marketplace for freelancers?
The Envato studio enables clients from around the world to search and hire not just talented WordPress developers and designers, but also online marketers and app developers.
Best freelancing sites for students to work and earn
When you are in college, you have the energy and time to climb a mountain but not the money. The best and the most rewarding way to make good money is through freelancing. There are a lot of websites that offer internships or part-time jobs, but most are not satisfactory.
You need to have a good certification to back up the bucks you earned. We list the two best available platforms for students to make some money and learn a thing or two in the process.
Gradbee is the best website for students to register and get hired by companies for freelance jobs.
This not just gives students cash for their services but also helps them increase their corporate network and gives them a glimpse of how corporates actually work.
With good pay and decent work domains, internships range from basic coordinators, sales interns to copywriting, social media executives, full stack, mean stack, and web development. Gradbee helps you build a portfolio that could be leveraged for further career enhancement.
- Easy signup
- Good portfolio development
- Diverse domains for internships
- Gives you real-time experience
- Provides you with proper internship certificates
- May not have pay equal to professional services
StuMagz is a new digital media platform that aims to connect students from different colleges. The new internship interface allows students from various domains to apply for and get internships, and earn while they learn.
Apart from academic opportunities, StuMagz also has a wide range of vocational and talent-based opportunities for students to connect, collaborate, grow their network, and also their portfolio.
- Good platform to learn and grow
- Good for academic relations and networking
- Portfolio development
- Needs to increase number of opportunities available on the platform
How to get approved on major freelancer sites?:
One of the major challenges with getting signed up on most creamy layered freelancer sites is that you may not get instant approval. Try the following tips to get approval. They may seem like generic but if done right, they will help you land a high-paying freelance gig online.
- Make sure you have a clean social media profile. Your recruiter might want to look at your social media profile and make sure it is not just another bot on the internet.
While signing up for websites such as Upwork, link as many as social media and work publishing accounts as possible. This includes not just Facebook and Twitter but also websites such as Behance and Dribble (if you are a designer)
- Avoid generic headline titles such as “Looking for an opportunity”.
- Add a compelling title headline that reveals your skill first and personality next. This headline can contain a keyword that will help you rank better when a client is searching too.
- Put in a professional-looking profile picture. Avoid selfies and passport-sized pictures of you wearing a World War II Blazer.
- Make sure you keep things short and sweet.
- Add all of what you can do and make sure it is to the point. No one wants to read about that one time you almost met Bill Gates.
- List out your top skills. Add all of the top ones that are relevant to your profession and are in demand in your domain. Do not add skills such as cooking or cat sitting - they will only add you to the list of rejected applications.
Use good English in your bio. This has to stand out from thousands of applications that pour in every day. This does not mean you to go full Shakespeare or Shashi Tharoor. No dictionary, but no subtitles either.
- Try adding media if possible. Many freelancer websites allow users to add media such as videos of introduction or images of certifications. This will help you increase the chances or your profile being taken seriously by clients.
These are some of the best platforms and websites on the internet that can help you work on your own. What skills do you have? And which website do you think will help you set up or achieve this goal?
Did we miss out on anything? Or do you want us to cover something else too? If you happen to have a skill which we did not cover, let us know in the comment section below.
(Disclaimer: All of the websites mentioned above have been researched and picked based on reviews, ratings, and verified experiences.)
Sanjay Shenoy is the co-founder of PixelTrack, a digital marketing training and consulting company. He is also trying to put the marketing back into digital marketing through his blog: Sanjay Shenoy. Content is his forte and has left his mark at prominent startups like Thrillophilia and Explara in the past. He is also a TEDx speaker, author, a corporate trainer with clients like Mercedes Benz India and Nikon Lenswear. In his free time, he likes to travel, juggle, learn music, play football and pet his dog, Max.