18 Upwork Alternatives so You Can Get “Off the Tools”

My buddy owns a small business in the trades.  He’s very skilled in his trade but also good at running his company.  His greatest skill is landing new business.  He’s a very likable guy and instills trust in his abilities immediately.  He comes off as very capable (because he is) without being arrogant.

He’s in the process of building up his company.  He has more work than he and his crew can handle.

But, he has a problem.  He’s not getting enough qualified applicants, which means in order to get the work done, he’s “on the tools.”

What he wants to do is have enough capable guys on his crew so he can “get off the tools.” as he calls it.

Only then, can he focus on landing more work and run his business.

I agree with him that getting off the tools is key.  He’d do so gladly tomorrow if only he had enough qualified applicants looking for work.  Yes, it’s a good problem to have (too much work and not enough employees), but it’s a problem nevertheless.

When you run a trade business or most brick and mortar businesses, you can’t hire digital freelancers (for the most part).  Sure, they can hire people for their marketing, but not to actually run their business.

That’s why blogging is so great.  It’s almost impossible to be short on employees.  There are many crowdsourcing companies where you can hire many people all at once.

I’m doubly grateful about this after talking to my buddy and hearing about his HR woes.

However, there are many places to hire freelancers.

Which one should you use?

Upwork is one of the most popular for many areas of work (i.e. freelance niches).  However, it’s not the only game in town.

Just to be clear, I have nothing against Upwork. I’ve hired several folks on the Upwork platform with good results.  

The reason I’m publishing this article is to provide freelancers and businesses alternative options for both landing gigs and hiring people for gigs.

There is no denying that crowdsourcing has grown in popularity in the last few years; individuals and corporation are turning to the internet for help in scaling their business or, in many cases, to complete tasks that would otherwise go uncompleted. One of the most popular and widely used crowdsourcing sites today is Upwork, a global freelancing platform that and has experienced tremendous growth since being launched in 2015.

There’s a good chance that even those who do not operate in the crowdsourcing space have heard about Upwork. But are there any viable Upwork alternatives? Well, that is the question that this article aims to answer, allowing readers to come away with crowdsourcing solutions that, despite not being as well known, are comparable to Upwork.

What is crowdsourcing?

With crowdsourcing being a nascent industry, many platforms are operating as a “jack of all trades,” which could be good or bad depending upon how you look at it. Niche companies are often viewed as experts in their field, but they may see fewer opportunities than competitors in the general marketplace. From the perspective of a business owner, you would be better served by working with a platform that is well-versed in your specific field. Although the costs may be higher, the caliber of work is much higher. The same also holds true for freelancers; those who opt work with niche crowdsourcing platforms are better compensated, but they will be expected to deliver quality work that justifies the higher compensation.

Crowdsourcing niches

You can hire people for pretty much anything that can be delivered digitally on Upwork and other crowdsourcing platforms.  However, there are some areas that are very popular and probably garner the most business.  Those 3 niches are:

  1. Design
  2. Writing
  3. Coding

Below I set out alternative options for each niche.

Design

There’s no denying that having an attractive logo and website is a great way to drive traffic to any business, but manifesting a great idea often means enlisting the help of experts, which invariably a costly proposition. However, working with a freelancer can be more cost-effective, which is why more businesses are turning towards crowdsourcing platforms for help, especially in the design sector. As of 2018, some of the most popular design platforms include

  • 99 Designs is a platform that allows clients to launch contests to help them choose a freelancer that they would like to work with on a given project. This is ideal in that it allows clients to get a sample the work from of a large pool of designers before finally deciding on a specific freelancer for their project.
  • Juiicy is a design platform that encourages designers to help one another; the platform is predicated on referrals whereby designers recommend fellow freelancers who may be a good fit for a specific contract. In return, they receive a commission once the task is completed.
  • Designcue allows clients to take the guesswork out of fighting the right freelancer for their project.
    Clients can work with a concierge to help them through the recruitment process for hiring the right person to design their logo, app, website, and much more.
  • Crowdspring is an ideal platform for those needing quick turnarounds; the platform prides themselves on delivering a design to a client in seven days.

Needless to say, if you’re in search of design work, either as a freelancer or business owner, there is a myriad of Upwork alternatives to choose from. Of course, for the sake of brevity, this article contains only a few of the more popular options in the design space; however, there are many more that did not make this list.

Writing

Whether you’re in need of quality product descriptions, SEO content, or any other form of written content, hiring the right copywriter is essential. Here is a small sampling of highly regarded freelance writing platforms:

  • Text Broker is a freelance writing platform that allows clients to reach a greater audience by offering written content in fifteen different languages; best of all, the content will be written by native speakers, which means that idioms and regional colloquialisms can be used to drive sales and improve customer engagement.
  • Scripted is a platform that operates on a paid membership whereby clients will be required to pay a set price for the content received. It should be noted, however, that clients are given a free 1-month membership when signing up for the company’s services.
  • Writer Access is a relatively new platform that offers an array of written content; however, it should be noted that clients will be required to pay a membership fee. According to the company’s website, Writer Access specializes in blog posts and e-books, but also offers a variety of other writing services.
  • Problogger is a platform that caters to those in search of high-quality blog content. The company has an enormous pool of community writers that clients can choose from; also, they are free to request writing samples and resumes from prospective writers before moving forward with the hiring process.

Similar to the list detailing popular design platforms, the above is only a small sampling of popular freelance writing platforms. Whether you’re on the freelancing or client side of the equation, you’re encouraged to do your due diligence when deciding on which platform would best suit your needs.

Coding

When it comes to freelancing, few platforms have experienced more growth in recent years than the technology platform. Whether you’re in need of web development, software solutions, or anything else tech related, there are a number of companies to choose from including

  • Crew is a platform that is great for clients who need to hire a team of web developers/mobile designers for a specific project. It should be noted that they are a company that prides themselves on fast turnarounds and staying within a client’s budget.
  • Scalable Path is a great resource for those in need of an international company to help address their software and project management needs. This company also has one the most stringent vetting processes of any other platform; freelancers are required to undergo a detailed assessment of their skills before being paired with a client.
  • Gigster is great for clients who rather delegate the recruitment process and focus on their respective projects. The company will assemble teams on their client’s behalf to work on specific web development projects and other tech-related assignments.
  • Hired is similar to Gigster in that they do the heavy lifting for their clients. The company claims to have an enormous pool of freelancers, which is culled from the rigorous vetting of 70,000 plus candidates each month. Also, the company prides themselves on the ability to meet their client’s needs within 25 days or less.
  • Top Coder is one of the largest coding platforms today; the company claims to have more than 1 million freelancers in its network and specializes in data science, web development, and everything in-between.
  • Codeable is a platform with a specialty in WordPress, an open-source content management system. The company boasts a network of 300 developers, which, by their own admission, represents the best of the best. To further emphasize this point, only 2% of all applicants are able to pass their stringent vetting process.

General freelance platforms

For those in search of a budget-friendly Upwork alternative, general market outsourcing platforms may be the way to go. However, because of the reduced costs, many of these companies do not have the same type of vetting process commonly seen on more high-end platforms. Here is a list of a few budget-friendly alternatives:

  • Freelancer.com is an Australian-based company that uses a bidding system to help clients choose from an expansive pool of talented writers, designers, developers, and much more. Also, clients can select freelancers based on the feedback they’ve received on prior tasks.
  • Fiverr is another budget-friendly platform and shares many similarities with Freelancer.com; The clients that work with Fiverr are free to choose from a large pool of freelancers, many of which have a starting cost of $5 per project. Also, the company offers more than 100 services that extend across a number of different fields.
  • Localancers is a slightly less known platform, but it is one that is gaining a lot of attention lately, especially in the realm of IT development, design, and writing. One of the key differences between Localancers and other platforms is that clients have access to a revolutionary filtering system, which allows them to search for freelancers based on skillset, time, languages, and much more.
  • Onsite is a platform that truly sets itself apart from its competitors; the company is one of the few, if not the only, that offers online and onsite opportunities; also, unlike other platforms, they do not take a commission from their freelancer’s earnings.
Fat Stacks quote from Breaking Bad by Jesse Pinkman

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