Fiverr vs Upwork – Who Wins the Clash of the Freelance Titans?

The internet is flooded with those absurdly long lists of platforms where you can find freelance work online or find freelancers for hire. But those “50 best freelance platforms” types of lists don’t really tell you much, right?

It’s like they’ve just gone and listed every single freelance platform out there – I don’t see it much more helpful than a simple Google search you could’ve done yourself.

That’s why I’ve decided to compare the two of the most popular and most diverse freelance platforms instead. Fiverr vs Upwork – who wins the clash of the freelance titans? Let’s start with a brief overview.

Fiverr vs Upwork – Platform Overview


Fiverr was founded in 2010, as an online marketplace and a platform that enables freelancers to offer their $5+ services to customers all over the world. It was established by Shai Wininger and Micha Kaufman with headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel.

fiverr logo

In September 2018, Fiverr had 35.95M monthly visits. In addition, it is estimated to facilitate around 1 million transactions, each month.


Upwork was born in 2015, after an Elance-oDesk merger. The two platforms merged in 2013 and were eventually rebranded as a new platform. Today, Upwork is a global platform that connects businesses and freelancers and enables them to collaborate remotely. Its headquarters are located in California, USA.

logo upwork

In September 2018, Upwork had 34.76M monthly visitors. According to some estimates, there are around 12 million freelancers and approximately 5 million clients on Upwork. There are more than 3 million jobs posted to Upwork per year, worth a total of $1 billion.

So, if we compare the two platforms in terms of popularity (judging on the basis of the number of monthly visitors), we’ll have to call it a tie. Fiverr vs Upwork – 1:1.

(Yes, I realize that Fiverr had over a million visitors more than Upwork in September, but these numbers fluctuate from month to month, so this difference is not too significant.)

Upwork vs Fiverr – How They Work

Even though these two platforms are often compared side-by-side, the way they function is essentially different. Sure, both enable you to connect with clients or freelancers looking for or offering a particular skillset. But here’s how the basic operation of the two platforms differs:

  • On Upwork, a freelancer offers services closely related to one set of skills. Fiverr, however, enables them to offer gigs that can cover a wide range of services.
  • On Upwork, a freelancer bids on jobs by sending their application and cover letter as a response to the client’s job posting. On Fiverr, clients buy gigs already pre-defined by freelancers.

In order to get a better grasp of the cross-platform similarities and differences, I’m going to compare the two platforms from both the client and the freelancer perspective.

Fiverr vs Upwork – The Freelancer Perspective

Becoming a Freelancer

Here, I’m not going to judge the two platforms based on their user interface or how easy it is to fill out the registration form, set up a profile, or apply for a job.

If you’re looking to become a freelancer on Fiverr, there’s no stopping you – all you need to do is sign up and start offering your gigs.


Upwork, on the other hand, has recently started moderating and filtering new freelancers. There have been numerous cases of new freelancers being denied access to the platform because there are already too many members with a particular skill set. This is especially true of content writers and data entry specialists, for example.

So, if you ask me which platform is more hospitable towards new freelancers, the answer has to be – Fiverr.

Of course, when it comes to both platforms, you need to follow their guidelines and agree to their terms of use in order to be able to offer your services on each of the platforms in the first place.

It’s also easier to remain a freelancer on Fiverr, as Upwork has recently started enforcing a more strict policy, suspending freelancers that do not fulfill certain criteria over a certain period of time.

Earning Potential

Even though Fiverr is notorious as a cheap labor marketplace, where “you can get anything done for $5”, that’s actually not true (at least in most cases). The pricing for some services may start at $5 but can go up to several thousand when you add various gig extras.

Still, the earning potential on Fiverr may be somewhat limited when you first start working on the platform, as the number of gigs and gig extras is limited until you become a higher-level seller.

Upwork, on the other end, does not impose any limitations when it comes to the price of your services. Actually, the only limitations are the minimum hourly wage of $3/hour and the minimal set project value of $5.

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Generally, Fiverr’s main drawback is its reputation (maintained by its very name, among other things). Most clients come to Fiverr looking for cheap labor. Full stop. So, in terms of earning potential, my 10 points go to Upwork.

Job-Finding Ease

As already mentioned in the How They Work section, the basic difference in the way Upwork and Fiverr operate is in the fact that with the former you apply to job postings, while with the latter you wait for the clients to find your gig and contact you.

What does it mean for you in terms of job-finding ease? Fiverr vs Upwork – where are you more likely to land your first job? The competition is rough on both platforms and the first job is always most difficult to land, but I’d still give an advantage to Upwork.

It’s foremost due to the ability to proactively look for a job, instead of passively waiting for customers to contact you. There is, in fact, a section of Fiverr that allows you to bid on client requests, but it’s not nearly as rich with postings as Upwork’s job feed.

So, another +1 for Upwork. At least when it comes to landing your first job.

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Once you’ve got your Fiverr gigs going and earned a considerable reputation, you’re likely to get flooded with offers without even having to waste time applying to dozens of job posts. In this respect, getting new jobs might be easier on Fiverr. But your gigs need to rank extremely well for this to be the case.

Fiverr vs Upwork – The Client Perspective

Making Sure You’re Making a Quality Hire

If you’re looking to hire a remote freelance professional, both Upwork and Fiverr can provide you with plenty of choices for your needs. But how to make sure you’ll be hiring someone who can actually get the job done?

Even though both platforms make an effort to vet their freelancers, I’d say that Upwork goes a step further. As already mentioned, they’ve recently started enforcing a more rigorous policy in terms of who can become a freelancer on Upwork, unlike Fiverr, where literally anyone can just register and start selling.

Upwork vs Fiverr – who does a better job at vetting their freelancers?

On Fiverr, there are several seller levels (Seller, Level One Seller, Level Two Seller, Top-Rated Seller) that help you determine whether a freelancer will be a good fit for your needs, experience-wise. Quality-wise, you can rely on buyer ratings.

Upwork, on the other hand, has its very detailed (but to some extent still vague) Job Success Score (JSS). In addition, the top-rated freelancers are distinguished by a special badge on their profile. Most importantly, Upwork provides you with an easier and more effective way of vetting freelancers on your own, by reviewing each freelancer’s cover letter (they’re obliged to send along with each job application).

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Even though you can find quality freelancers on both platforms, it seems it’s easier to make a more informed hire on Upwork.

If you need more help with hiring the perfect candidate for your job, you can learn how to use a job application form to hire the top candidate.

Making a Quick and More Affordable Hire

For many one-time projects or small tasks, you need to hire a freelancer on a bit of a short notice. In that case, you need to make sure you pick a platform that will enable you to make a quick hire.

Fiverr enables hiring in just a few clicks – in some cases, you don’t even need to communicate with the freelancer before making a hire. Provided that their gig description is clear and detailed enough, their gig extras are carefully added, and their profile is reputable, you can make a hire in a matter of seconds.

Upwork, on the other hand, forces you to go through the interview process, which often requires a significant amount of back-and-forth communication so it can make it a bit more complicated making a quick hire.

Plus, as already mentioned, Fiverr has the reputation of a more affordable freelancer marketplace.

Final Verdict: Upwork vs Fiverr?

Fiverr vs Upwork

Before I make a final verdict, it’s important to emphasize that the “one size fits all” approach doesn’t work with freelance platforms either. So, choosing the right platform out of the two largely depends on your specific needs.

Our verdict? Fiverr vs Upwork? According to our scoreboard, Upwork wins – 4:3.

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