Toptal vs Upwork vs Fiverr: Where to hire developers?

Which freelance marketplace is better at finding a reliable developer that’s perfectly matched to your project? We compare the features of Toptal, Upwork and Fiverr to see how they stack up against each other overall.

Recently Toptal, Upwork and Fiverr have become popular platforms for finding remote developers. We’ve decided to try them out and compare them here. If you are looking for top level developers, these sites can provide great results. But you should be aware of their drawbacks as well.

A Quick Introduction to Toptal, Upwork and Fiverr

Before we compare Toptal vs Upwork or Fiverr, let’s make sure you understand what each of them offer. 

Toptal

Toptal stands for “top talent” – and it is a marketplace where companies can hire the top freelance software engineers, designers, product managers, project managers  and finance experts. It was founded in 2010 by Taso Du Val and Breanden Beneschott, with the goal of making it easy for companies to find top talent.  

Upwork

Upwork has its roots in two separate companies, Elance and oDesk. The two merged in 2015 with the goal of creating a single company that would offer the best freelance talent. It is a platform where companies and start-ups go to find freelancers for their projects, both long term and short term. Upwork has over twelve million registered freelancers and 5 million registered clients as of 2017 – that year, over three million jobs with a combined value of more than $1 billion USD were posted on the site.

Fiverr

Fiverr is an online marketplace for freelancers where businesses can hire people for small tasks, starting at $5 per job listed on the site by its sellers. It was founded in 2010 by Micha Kaufman and Shai Wininger when the website was launched. And by 2012, the site was hosting over 1.3 million services.

How  Toptal, Upwork, and Fiverr Differ

Type of Marketplace

Typically, online freelance marketplaces can be divided into two broad types: niche and general. 

A niche marketplace focuses on a specific kind of service, like Toptal – which focuses exclusively on software development. 

General marketplaces cover a wider range of services including writing, graphic design, and marketing. Upwork and Fiverr are your general marketplaces.

Quality of developers

The first thing you need to consider when looking for a freelancer is the quality of their work.

While they have different criteria for choosing freelancers, they all require that freelancers already have some experience before joining the platform. 

Toptal is a premium freelancing platform for experienced developers. The quality of Toptal developers is higher than that of competitors due to the company’s selective hiring process. Freelancers are expected to pass through Toptal’s 5-step vetting process which also includes an online coding challenge that requires applicants to complete a task given by Toptal. 

Upwork is a platform for all levels of developers – from entry level freelancers to highly experienced professionals who work with companies at C-level positions. Perhaps the biggest difference between Toptal and Upwork is that Upwork does not vet their freelancers before they are accepted on the platform. 

Fiverr has a very large base of independent contractors available for hire, but you’ll find that the quality tends to be lower than on other platforms because the barrier of entry is so low. However, Fiverr Pro sellers are vetted based on their personal information, professional experience, qualifications etc.

Matching clients with freelancers

Another difference is the availability of a matching system – i.e. matching freelancers with clients and vice versa. This helps to ensure that you find the best freelancer for your project.

Toptal has a very sophisticated matching system where they match developers that have passed their vetting process with clients whose needs their skills are a good fit for.

Upwork does not have a matching system – they use a bidding system, where freelance developers have to bid for your job and you choose the one you want to work with.

Fiverr does not have a matching system – you have to choose a freelancer manually from the listing of freelancers and then contact them directly.

Pricing Model

Without beating about the bush, cost can be a factor when hiring freelancers. Depending on the nature of your project, you may not have very much leeway with regards to budget – but the cost of hiring the right person for your project will always play an important role.

Toptal

Toptal is a premium freelancing platform. They require an initial $500 deposit before you can use their services. This is fully refundable if you work together for at least five hours and are not satisfied with the quality of(which is fully refundable if you’re not satisfied with the candidate). 

After that, the cost depends on the developer’s experience and hourly rate – which can be anywhere between $60-$150+ for a part-time developer to $2000-$4800+ per week for the services of a full-time remote developer.

You won’t be charged extra service or processing fees. 

Upwork 

To post a project seeking a developer and start getting proposals is free. Upwork charges a 3% processing fee from the client on any payment made through Upwork. 

Remember, Upwork uses a bidding system, so the fees charged by a developer will differ based on the size of your project.

Fiverr

On Fiverr things are a bit different from Toptal and Upwork. They have a fixed pricing model, so once you enter the price of your project – Fiverr takes 20% from that amount as service charges. 

Free Trials

Toptal offers a 2 weeks free trial for users.

Upwork offers a free trial but only to clients on Upwork Plus

Fiverr does not offer any free trial.

Comparing Toptal, Upwork, and Fiverr: Which one is the best for hiring developers?

Hiring remote developers from these platforms is a viable solution for many of today’s businesses. When choosing between Toptal, Upwork, and Fiverr, remember that no one platform is necessarily right for every business—instead, choose a platform that best aligns with your business needs and standards.

Of course, you typically get what you pay for, so if you are on a tight budget, Fiverr may be the best option for you. However, keep in mind that over time your project can end up costing more than you expected. 

On the other hand, if your business has a very generous budget and needs to hire skilled developers for a specialized project – Toptal is an excellent option for you. 

If your business needs a balance between quality and affordability, Upwork may be the best solution for you.

So depending on your business needs and requirements, it is important to choose the right platform that best fits those needs.

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