Best Freelance Websites for Beginners

Updated on May 31, 2020
Abhi Gaur profile image

A part-time freelance writer who is trying different ways to earn money online.

After freelance writing for more than four years, I have learned a thing or two about freelance websites. The most important lesson is that they are not the best option for established freelancers, mainly because the competition tries to win by bidding low, and you have to pay a part of your earnings to the website.

However, beginners don't have a lot of options.

They can start their own blog and establish themselves as an authority to attract clients. While they work on their blog, they can use freelance websites to generate income.

Once the blog is established and the client base is built, the freelancer can leave the freelance website and work on his own. There are several examples of people who have done it this way and succeeded.

Freelance websites do provide some advantages to a beginner. They will teach you about writing proposals and delivering value, which will help you in your freelancing career. So freelance websites can be viewed as a necessary step in the process of becoming a great freelancer.

Here are some of the best freelance websites for beginners.

1. Freelancer

Freelancer.com is the most popular freelancing website. The only website that can be compared with Freelancer is Upwork. I prefer Upwork over Freelancer as I tried Freelancer a few years ago, and I was not impressed. In fact, Freelancer was the first website that I joined to find work.

Pros

  • Huge Number of Projects: There are plenty of projects on this website.
  • No Screening: You don't have to go through a screening process, which is great if you are just starting out.
  • Low Fees: Freelancer doesn't charge very high fees as they only take maximum 10% cut on regular jobs. Special job postings come with a higher fee of 15%, but only certain freelancers are allowed to apply for them.

Cons

  • Money Hungry: It seems that the website wants freelancers to spend money on every step of the way. You have to pay membership fees if you want to bid on more than eight jobs. Exams are there, but you have to spend money to participate in them and improve your credibility.
  • Fee to Dispute: They even want you to pay a fee to take your dispute with a client further if you can't come to an agreement. If you don't pay the fee and the client pays the fee, you will lose automatically. If Freelancer decides that you were right, you will get your fee back. The losing party's fee is kept by the platform.
  • Favors Clients: Reviews indicate the platform usually takes the side of the client in a dispute.
  • High Competition: The competition on the platform is really high, and many people from third-world countries bid low to get the job. The fact is that people in such countries can indeed do well on a lot less, so they can afford to bid low.
  • Low Bids: Having just eight bids for free is like being forced to buy a membership, as eight bids might not be enough to earn a full-time income.

2. Upwork

Upwork used to be my favorite freelancing website, but they have made a lot of changes, and I don't agree with the recent changes that they have made. Still, Upwork is one of the best places to find work as a freelancer.

Pros

  • Variety of Jobs: Upwork has jobs in almost every category imaginable. The number of jobs on this platform is also really high. For example, when I entered the keyword 'writing', I got more than 20,000 jobs.
  • Feedback Replies: You can reply to the feedback of the client, so you can refute wrong feedback by choosing your words wisely.
  • Direct Transfer: Upwork will transfer your money directly to your bank account so that you can eliminate the middleman.
  • Top Rated Freelancer: If you meet certain requirements, you can become a Top Rated Freelancer and get exclusive benefits.

Cons

  • Client Issues: Upwork suffers from inexperienced clients as well as low bidding individuals. There are a limited number of clients that know what they want and are willing to pay top dollar, so you will have to look for them.
  • High Fees: The fees charged by Upwork are higher for people who work on small jobs. This is harsh for those who are making little money through the platform. You have to pay 20% of your earnings for your first $500 from a client. Therefore, if you have multiple small clients, you are out of luck.
  • No Free Connects: You need 'connects' to apply for jobs on Upwork. They have started charging freelancers $0.15 per connect, and you needone to six connects to apply for a job depending on the estimated duration and budget amount. I know that this change has helped clients find the best freelancers, but it is not great for freelancers. They could have reduced the number of free connects but they chose to do this instead. Now, things have become difficult for new freelancers, who only get a limited number of free connects.
  • Taking Freelancers for Granted: I am not that mad about the changes that they made because I earn more than enough to waste some money on connects. However, they should stop and think about how they are constantly trying to make as much money as they can at the cost of the freelancers. This change might also have something to do with the company going public.

3. Fiverr

Fiverr originally started as a website where people could buy just about anything for five dollars. People were selling birthday wishes, blog posts, poetry, SEO audit, and much more for just $5. Now, you can find gigs priced at $100 or more on this website. It has grown and a lot of features have been added.

I think that this freelance website has changed the most in recent years. It has become a great place to make a lot of money if you know what you are doing.

It takes some creative effort to stand out on Fiverr as many people are already offering common services like article writing.

Let me share my personal experience with you guys.

When I was on this website in the year 2016, I created a gig about writing an apology letter to a loved one. I had other gigs about writing, but this one was an attempt to stand out. It worked as I got one order. Everything went well, and I got a good review.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get any more orders, and I lost interest in this website, because my normal gigs didn't even get a single order. So, you need to have some way of standing out to make it work on this website.

Pros

  • Different Packages: Fiverr allows you to have three different packages of a service that you offer. This way the buyer can pick the package that suits his budget and his needs.
  • Huge Number of Buyers: There are plenty of buyers on Fiverr, so you should be able to find a lot of work once you gain traction.
  • Gig Extras: You can offer gig extras, which are the additional services that you want to provide.
  • Videos: You can add a video to attract the clients.

Cons

  • Seller Protection Issues: The platform has failed to protect the sellers on numerous occasions. The internet is full of complaints of sellers that have got negative reviews because they refused to meet the unfair demands of the buyer. The unfair exploitation of sellers seems to be much worse on Fiverr than on other freelancing platforms.
  • Not Beginner Friendly: It is one of the least beginner-friendly websites for freelancers because it is very hard to stand out from the crowd.

4. PeoplePerHour

This freelance website stands apart from others in more ways than one. You can not only apply for jobs but also post offers. Offers are services that you are willing to offer for a price like gigs on Fiverr. So this website is a mix of normal freelancing websites and Fiverr. Their application process is also more thorough as each application is reviewed manually.

Pros

  • Free Qualifying Period: You have a free qualifying period of three months, where you have to win two jobs and get positive feedback.
  • Minimum Bid: This platform ensures a minimum bid amount so that freelancers cannot win the job by bidding low.
  • Great Clients: Most clients know what they are doing and understand their responsibility.
  • Videos: You can use videos on your profile as well as in your proposals
  • Hire Me Widget: They have a Hire Me widget that will allow you to promote your profile on your own website.
  • Versatility: The ability to apply to jobs and craft offers provides the best of both worlds.

Cons

  • Strict Requirements: If you fail to meet the requirements, you will not be able to work on the platform for free. Your only option is to extend your qualification for one month or three months by paying $21.95 or $14.95 per month respectively.
  • Paid Bids: You might have to pay for more bids as you only get 15 free bids each month.
  • Different Fees: Like Upwork this platform also charges different fees based on your lifetime earnings from a buyer. Unfortunately, those people that have earned less than $350 from a client will have to pay 20% of their earnings.
  • Weak Support: Their customer support seems to be weak if the various reviews from freelancers are taken into account.

5. Guru

Guru is not as big as Upwork or Freelancer but that does not mean that you cannot make money here. When I did a search, there were only 217 writing jobs available while Upwork had more than 20,000. The advantage is that the competition is low for majority of the projects.

Pros

  • Low Fees: The fees charged by this platform are not as high as the major freelancing platforms.
  • Easy Acceptance: This platform will accept freelancers easily.
  • No Deactivation: They will not deactivate your profile or ask for a fee even if you login after years (based on my personal experience).

Cons

  • Complaints: Unfortunately, there are a lot of complaints against Guru. People complain about not getting paid all the time.
  • Low Bidding: Low bidding is very common.
  • Low Number of Jobs: The number of jobs is low, and you will always struggle to find jobs in certain categories.
  • Paid Skill Tests: You cannot take skills tests for free, which could have helped beginners a lot.

In short, Guru is worth checking out, but you shouldn't expect much from this website.

Best Freelance Websites for Freelance Writers

Writing remains a popular way to generate income. There are writers that charge more than $100 for an hour of their time, so you can definitely make a full-time income through freelance writing. Here are the best websites for freelance writers.

Constant Content: Constant Content has high standards for writers. They will want you to answer a quiz and then submit a sample to become a writer. If they don't contact you within the next few days, your application might have been rejected. You should consider this website if you are already good at writing. Since they only accept good writers, you will get paid well.

I like the fact that you can either work with clients or post articles to be sold in the marketplace. The marketplace is a good place to make some serious money, especially when you write quality articles and price them well. It gives you the freedom to choose what you want to write.

Textbroker: Textbroker doesn't have a lengthy or hard sign up process, but you need to an American to work on their website. It is a good place to get started because the competition is not high as Upwork or Freelancer.

They will judge you on the basis of the writing sample that you submit after sign up. If the writing sample is impressive, you will get access to better paying projects. Don't worry, you can improve your quality rating later on.

You can work on OpenOrders, which are based on your quality level. DirectOrders allow you to work with clients exclusively. You get to set your price in case of DirectOrders. You can also join Teams and fulfill TeamOrders where the price is set by the client.

iWriter: iWriter is a good place for beginner freelance writers because you can build your reputation and learn a lot from this website. You have to work your way up because you won't get paid a lot as a beginner. You will be paid $1.40 per 150 words initially, but you can earn as much as $40 for writing 500 words.

You have to make sure that most of the articles that you write are ultimately accepted by the client. Some clients will be unreasonable and even try to scam you; this is a big downside that you have to deal with.

Best Freelance Websites for Graphic Designers

Designhill: While it is true that Designhill is probably not the best place to sell your graphic designs, it is often ignored by people who are looking for graphic design work online.

You have to create a design portfolio that gets approved to work on their website. I think it is fair and allows them to filter people who aren't decent at graphic designing.

They have design contests, where you can participate and make money after winning them. However, design contests can be frustrating and time consuming if you aren't a top notch graphic designer.

You can list your services at a price that you prefer. Clients can contact you directly, and you can work with them once you agree on the price. Logo designers can create logos and sell them on the marketplace.

In short, DesignHill offers you plenty of options and allows you to work securely.

99designs: 99designs is a website that allows graphic designers to work on a huge range of projects including logos, websites, book covers, and t-shirts. I am quite surprised by some of the categories that they have like tattoos and magazine covers. They are a premium website, so you should earn a lot if you are able to excel.

You will be given a designer level when you start submitting designs. There are three designer levels, which are the Top Level, Mid Level, and Entry Level. The key to making the most money on this website is quickly reaching the Top Level as a designer. You need to put your best foot forward as the designer level can be reviewed only once in 6 months.

The fees charged by the platform depend on your designer level.

  • Top Level: 5% platform fee
  • Mid Level: 10% platform fee
  • Entry Level: 15% platform fee

You will also be charged an $100 introduction fee when you start working with a new client, which won't be charged immediately but evenly distributed across the first $500 spent by the client.

DesignCrowd: DesignCrowd focuses on design contests exclusively. I think it would be foolish to completely depend on this website, but you can participate in contests and try winning them. Even if you lose, you will improve your designing skills and get some feedback on your designs.

Some of the contests pay more than $500, but you will need to compete with some extremely talented designers to win. I think that this is a fun opportunity to see where you stand. Just remember that it is fine to lose as long as you keep learning and growing as a graphic designer.

Final Thoughts

Freelancing is flexible and rewarding, which is a rare combination in today's world. The dream of working on the internet is certainly not as easy as it sounds, but you have taken the right step by choosing freelancing rather than falling for a get rich quick scheme. I have tried to cover the best freelancing websites for beginners based on my thoughts and experience.

I wanted to include a section for freelance developers, but their best bet are websites like Upwork and Freelancer. In the beginning, you will find it hard to get accepted by websites that focus only on web development. Hence, websites like Toptal are out of the question.

If you found this article useful, then please do comment and share your opinion with me. I try to read and reply to all comments.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Kshitiz Gaur

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