If you want to get into the freelancing game — whether it’s writing, photography or web design — you might be wondering where on earth to start. 

It’s not enough to have a skill and write your own business page on Facebook: you’re going to have to tout your wares and join a freelancer website — especially if you’re planning on giving up your day job and taking freelancing up full time. 

Similarly, if you’re a new business wanting to hire freelancers, but you don’t know where to look for, a great place to start are freelance websites.

We’ve gathered seven of the best websites for hiring freelancers and finding freelance work. Take a look below to see what opportunities are available for you. You could end up going from side-hustle to full-time freelancer, or finding the perfect freelancer to do that work on your website!

UpWork

Image credit: Upwork

Upwork is one of the biggest freelancing websites out there — trusted by over five million businesses across the world, including big names like Airbnb, Microsoft and Dropbox.   

The platform supports a range of freelancing workers, whether it’s programmers, writers, designers, virtual assistants, PR managers or accountants. So whatever your needs as an employer or employee, you’re covered.

It’s a very simple platform to use: if you’re looking to hire, you start by posting a job — including project details and the skills you require. Upwork then analyses your needs and highlights matching freelancers, sending you a shortlist of suitable candidates. (You can also search on your own if you’re keen on doing your own heavy lifting.)

If you’re a freelancer looking for work, you just have to set up your own profile showcasing things like your skillset, experience and accomplishments. Upwork will then suggest ideal jobs for you, but you can search around and submit your own job proposals to any projects that take your fancy.

The only downside for users? Upwork charges freelancers a service fee depending on the total amount they’ve billed with a client (either  5%, 10%, 20%). To be honest, that’s not a bad figure, considering they’ve done most of the hard work for you.

Fiverr

Image credit: Fiverr

Fiverr works in the opposite way to Upwork: instead of clients listing projects that they need freelancers for (and then freelancers submitting a proposal), freelancers set up their “gig” (their skill or service) and clients come looking for them. 

It’s a neat idea which makes earning easy for freelancers: you just list your skill, and then get notified when you get an order. Freelancers can list any type of skill on there; there are over 100 categories to choose from, from writer to voice-over artist to translation to nutritional advice. To increase your chances of getting hired by clients, you can also include work samples, ratings, and feedback from previous clients. You can choose your price too: from anywhere between $5 – $10,000 (the name “Fiverr” comes from the starting prices for work). 

Fiverr is a pretty open freelancing community, where expertise levels ranging from very technical professionals to amateurs at very low prices. 

There are no sign-up fees or subscriptions required for freelancers or clients; however, Fiverr does take a 20% service fee from freelancers.

PeoplePerHour

Image credit: PeoplePerHour

PeoplePerHour is much more exclusive than Fiverr: professional freelancers have to apply to join the PeoplePerHour freelancing community. The platform’s team moderates applications, making sure that newbies are a good fit. Once you’re in, you’ve got access to some amazing projects from an international community of clients.

If you want to hire a skilled freelancer for a project, PeoplePerHour can help you out. You just fill in a form for your project and the platform will scout out potential freelancers with the right skills and ability, and contact them. The freelancer will then get back to you with a quote, you pick the best fit, and tada! You’ve just hired the perfect person for the job. 

Communication is easy enough, with PeoplePerHour’s “project streams,” which basically include any messages, attachments and feedback between you to make collaborating even easier. 

A quick warning: PeoplePerHour can be quite competitive, with freelancers being given scores by the platform’s ranking algorithm. This can be pretty brutal when you first join and have yet to build up a compelling portfolio and consistently high review scores. 

Freelancer

Image credit Freelancer

Freelancer does what it says on the tin: matches up freelancers with jobs clients need fulfilling. Jobs can range from mobile app development, graphic design, to writing and product manufacture. 

Those hiring just post a job on the site (detailing what they need) and freelancers can bid straight away. This means your pitches have to be strong, so make sure you shout about why you’re the best person for the job!

Once you’ve got the project (which can be fixed price or on an hourly rate), you can get to work immediately. One of the awesome features that Freelancer offers is a live chat — meaning you can talk in real-time and stay updated regularly as your project progresses. Very handy. 

Guru

Image credit: Guru

Guru is another huge freelance platform with over three million members worldwide. 

It’s easy enough to join as an employer or a freelancer; once you’re on, you can either post jobs or submit pitches for the jobs. Posting a job is completely free; however, if you want to boost your listing’s visibility for $29.95. 

Similarly, signing up as a freelancer is free, but you will get charged a percentage of your job fee by the platform. You can pay extra to purchase a membership which gives you some extra perks (such as more bids, lower job fees taken by Guru, or free skill tests). 

Searching for the perfect Guru or job among the many is simple with multiple search refinement options, and once you’ve got a job sorted, you can manage the process through a comprehensive dashboard.

99designs

Image credit: 99designs

Whether you’re looking for a freelance designer or you are one and you’re looking for work, then 99designs is a great place to start your search for a partner. 

If you’re a client or agency wanting to work directly with a freelancer, they’ll hook you up with their community of graphic designers, who can create logos, branding, websites and more. There aren’t really many limitations; you can pick simple tasks or complex, big projects, it’s up to you!

Your other option is to start a contest. Yes, you heard correctly — 99designs hosts logo design contests, in which their whole designing community can get involved in pitching for your project.

Employers fill in an interactive creative brief describing their challenge and budget, and the 99designs community gets to work… You can receive dozens of different logo designs back which you get to choose between. Once you award the winner, they’ll get paid the fee and the design is yours! If you’re worried about the paralysing indecision that all of these options will give you, don’t be — 99designs gives you seven days to agonise before making up your mind!

Toptal

Image credit: Toptal

Toptal have got a unique USP: they claim to invite only the top 3% of freelancing talent to join their exclusive network. They’re not picky about your area of expertise — you could be a software developer, project manager or finance expert — but you have to be the best of the best to get in. 

The thousands of freelancers that apply each month are tested by Toptal’s multi-layered “rigorous screening process”. Those that pass get to work with some of the top companies around the world, winning amazing opportunities to work on exciting projects with huge brands.

If you’re a business aiming to hire a freelancer, it’s reassuring to know that Toptal will only work with the highest-quality candidates, who will be extremely talented, competent and knowledgeable. 

These are seven of the best freelance platforms out there in 2021, but there are many more options available too. 

Find a website and community that suits you and your talents (or needs as an employer) and build your portfolio. Don’t get disheartened at the start — with the majority of these sites, it may take a little time to ramp up business, but the offers and 5-star reviews will soon come rolling in!