Fiverr vs Upwork: A Side-By-Side Comparison (2021)


In this Fiverr vs Upwork comparison guide, we’ll break down their unique features, service fess, payment protection, and more.

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Want to know which freelance marketplace is a better choice for you?

In this Fiverr vs. Upwork guide, I’ll break down their unique features, service fees, payment protection, and more.

This guide also features all-star freelancers on which freelance platform they prefer and their top tips on finding high-quality work.

Let’s begin!

Fiverr vs. Upwork: A showdown

Fiverr Upwork
Types of service pricing Fixed-priced Hourly and fixed-priced
Membership  Free Basic (Free) and Plus ($14.99/month)
Service fees 20% for each transaction Based on lifetime billings for each client:

  • For first $500: 20%
  • $500.01 to $10,000: 10%
  • Over $10,000: 5%
Unique features
  • In-house courses and badges
  • Advanced availability options
  • Customizable Gig extras
  • Work Diary
  • Project Catalog
  • Built-in referrals (beta feature)
Customer support
  • Community forums
  • Email support
  • Community forums (with Upwork moderators)
  • Email support
  • Phone support (for enterprise clients)
Payment protection
  • Chargeback and seller protections
  • Hourly and fixed-price payment protections
Freelancer programs
  • New Seller
  • Level 1
  • Level 2
  • Top Rated Seller
  • Fiverr Pro
  • Rising Talent
  • Expert-Vetted
  • Top Rated
  • Top Rated Plus
  • Talent Scout (new!)
Best for  Freelancers with on-demand services and who prefer fixed-rate payment and complete control over projects Freelancers who want long-term client relationships, hourly and fixed-rate payments, seamless client collaboration, and responsive customer support

Fiverr is a freelancer-centric marketplace. You set the rules for your project.

Fiverr landing page

A quick search of the marketplace shows an eclectic range of projects. From copywriting to tarot card readings, anyone can be a seller on Fiverr.

In the early days, if you wanted to earn more than $5 for your service, you needed to get customers to purchase multiple orders or add-ons. Now Fiverr allows you to price your service up to $10,000.

You can sell on Fiverr either by creating your Gigs or bidding on projects posted by buyers.

What about its rival?

Upwork calls itself “the world’s work marketplace for freelancing,” and it couldn’t be more accurate.

Upwork landing page

Unlike Fiverr, projects on Upwork are a lot more business-focused and technical (e.g., 3D rendering, electrical drawing, and intellectual property law).

There are two options to earn money on Upwork: Respond to jobs posted by clients or create your own using Upwork’s Project Catalog.

For payments, Upwork offers hourly and fixed-price contracts.

Membership and service fees

It’s completely free to join Fiverr and Upwork.

Both freelancer marketplaces take a 20% cut of each transaction (though it’s a bit more complicated on Upwork).

The service fees at Upwork are based on your lifetime billings for each client. The more projects you work with a client, the fewer fees you pay.

For example, for billings over $10,000, you need to pay a 5% service fee, not 20%.

Here’s a detailed look at Upwork’s pricing structure:

Upwork’s pricing structure

Upwork also offers a paid plan, which costs $14.99/month.

As an Upwork Plus member, you can access premium features such as a customizable profile URL, additional reports (e.g., budget, timesheet), and more Connects.

Upwork pricing plan

[Caption: Use Connects to apply for projects. The more Connects you have, the more proposals you can submit.]

Verdict: My vote goes to Fiverr for one-off projects, as it takes only a 20% cut. With Upwork, you need to buy Connects (assuming you’re applying for job ads regularly) on top of paying a 20% service fee. However, if you’re looking to work with clients on a long-term basis, Upwork might be a better fit in the long run.

Registration

Okay, real talk? It was confusing navigating Fiverr as a new user.

Despite signing up through the seller page, Fiverr directed me to a dashboard that caught me off guard.

Fiverr Registration

[Caption: While I get the logic here (users can be both buyers and sellers), it doesn’t exactly create the best user experience.]

Another minor flaw of Fiverr? The profile set-up.

Fiverr requires users to fill in the profile description manually. There’s currently no option to import existing profiles from social media.

Plus, the interface is buggy. Here’s how it looks when I update my skills.

Fiverr's profile set-up

[Caption: Note the repeated “Intermediate” under “Level”]

Now, how does Upwork fare at registration?

Upwork’s sign-up process is impressive. Note how sleek and straightforward it is:

Upwork’s sign-up process

After verifying my account, Upwork prompted me to complete my profile. I opted to grab my professional bio from LinkedIn instead of filling it in manually.

However, it was a little frustrating. You need to save your LinkedIn profile as a PDF and upload it on the platform. It’s impossible to import your profile directly from your LinkedIn page. (Oh well, it’s still better than Fiverr in this area!)

Here’s where Upwork stands out.

As you write your profile overview, Upwork will remind you to remove any contact information by highlighting them in yellow.

Fiverr's professional overview - contact information

You can’t save your profile unless you correct your errors.

Verdict: Upwork wins by a mile. I knew just where to click, and the extra layer of security gives me peace of mind.

Unique features

Fiverr features

Let’s start with Fiverr.

(i) Course badges

Fiverr positions itself as a freelancer-centric marketplace, and it shows.

Users can enroll in online courses (one-time fee required), ranging from Facebook marketing to iPhone photo editing.

Once you complete these video classes, you’ll earn badges. You can then display them on your profile to promote your expertise!

Fiverr feature - Course badges

Source: Fiverr

(ii) Advanced availability options

With Fiverr, you can block your schedule down to specific dates, add a message to buyers, and even enable them to contact you to maintain your response rate.

Fiverr feature - schedule down to specific dates

Upwork’s availability options leave a lot to be desired. Currently, you can only set the date you’re ready for work.

Upwork - Change availability

(iii) Gig extras

Both Upwork and Fiverr prefill what’s in your service package without requiring you to add them manually (e.g., if you create a content writing service, Fiverr will automatically include the number of SEO keywords and revisions).

Both also allow you to include add-ons or service extras.

But here’s where Fiverr shines. If you don’t see an add-on you’re looking for, click +Add Gig Extra and customize it accordingly.

Fiverr - +Add Gig Extra

On the other hand, Upwork’s tier options are more rigid. There’s no way to add any custom service extras.

Upwork’s tier options

Say, you’re a freelance copywriter who wants to add SEO strategy to an existing service. You can do this easily on Fiverr.

For Upwork, you need to create a separate listing.

Upwork features

Now, let’s look at Upwork’s unique features.

(i) Work Diary

For hourly-based projects, you can easily show clients the hours you worked by logging in time in the Upwork Work Diary.

Upwork will take a snapshot six times every hour and enter them (including your hourly activity) into your diary’s billing segments. This ensures that you’re paid for the time you invoice clients.

Upwork - Work Diary

Source: Upwork

The work diary is part of Upwork’s desktop app. You can also send files and communicate with clients via chat.

(ii) Project Catalog

Upwork- Project Catalog

Initially, freelancers on Upwork could only apply to projects set by clients. Now, you can package your services and pre-define the scope, timeline, cost, and deliverables in the Upwork Project Catalog.

Upwork will take up to five business days to review your project before publication.

(iii) Built-in referrals

Referrals are the lifeblood of a freelancer’s business, and Upwork recognizes that.

Upwork’s job referrals feature is currently in beta. It allows you to decline a job invite and refer it to a fellow freelancer.

Upwork - invitation to interview

Source: Upwork

Note that accepting a referral invitation will not cost any Connects.

Verdict: This is a tough one! If you want complete control over your projects, Fiverr wins. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a frictionless collaboration with clients, Upwork might be better in this case.

Finding and promoting work

How does Upwork stack up against Fiverr when it comes to job availability?

Let’s find out.

Chad Wyatt, founder of Remote Jobs Co and a freelance digital marketer, has been using Upwork for more than two years. As a Top Rated Plus user, he receives over 30 invites every week and has earned over $100K on projects.

Chad Wyatt's profile in Upwork

Source: Upwork

Here’s his top tip on getting noticed by clients on Upwork: Maximize your profile and utilize your badges.

“Optimize your profile for keywords, fill every little detail (e.g., add a video), and make sure everything looks professional. These will get you more job invites. Focus on achieving a top-rated plus badge, and Upwork will show your profile to more lucrative clients with higher-paying projects. To get this, you need to achieve a high job success score and have satisfied clients regularly.”Chad Wyatt, freelance digital marketer and founder of Remote Jobs Co

On the job listing front, Upwork offers a clear-cut process. Go to Project Catalog and fill in the necessary information (e.g., select package tiers). For seamless collaboration, include project steps—check them off to update clients on your progress.

Upwork's project steps

Source: Upwork

Fiverr has a similar process. You can post Gigs of your own (i.e., write an overview, list requirements, select tier packages) or bid on job ads posted by buyers. Here’s how your bids will look to a client.

Fiverr post Gigs

Regarding promotion, various users cautioned about the unpredictable algorithm. Here’s what Calvin West, a freelance musician and a top-rated seller, shared with AppSumo:

“Your income is at the mercy of the algorithms. On the days Fiverr promotes my Gigs, I’d be busy with projects working all day long for several days in a row. Then I’d have two weeks of absolutely nothing.”

If you want to attract more exposure to your Gigs, try Fiverr Promoted Gigs. What’s interesting is that there’s no upfront payment. Fiverr will charge you every month directly out of your earnings.

Verdict: Both!

Customer support

Upwork uses a community-centric forum to support its users. What sets Upwork apart from its rival is that there are moderators.

Looking at some of the threads, it’s clear that Upwork provides active support. Here’s an example of a question answered within two hours of posting.

Upwork - account reactivation

Source: Upwork

Sara Fudge, a freelance personal assistant and blogger of Cooking With Fudge, can vouch for Upwork’s resolution speed:

“I’ve been contacted at least three to four times by scammers on Upwork. Each time it happened, Upwork responded quickly by refunding my Connects and removing the user from the platform.

It’s harder to get ahold of Fiverr. There are no moderators on the forum, and you need to email for support. Word has it that it can take up to ten days to hear back.

Verdict: Upwork wins, as its customer support is more accessible and responsive.

Payment protection

Both marketplaces offer protection for freelancers.

For Upwork, there’s the hourly and fixed-price payment protection. For hourly jobs, Upwork will release the funds as long as you meet the hourly protection criteria.

Regarding fixed-price protection, you and the client will have to agree on work milestones and how much you’ll be paid for completing each. If the client fails to respond to your milestone submission within 14 days, Upwork will automatically release the deposit to you.

Generally, if a client fails to pay for your work, you can file a dispute, and a dispute specialist will be brought in to help resolve the issue.

Experiences have been mixed so far. Several users pointed out the frustrating requirements, while others praised its tracking protection. Here’s a user sharing how they received an early payout for a contract on hold.

Fiverr and Upwork payment protection

Source: Reddit

Similarly, Fiverr protects sellers from fraud chargebacks, but many reported negative experiences citing “inappropriate warnings” and “lazy responses” from support.

Michael Cherry, a Level 2 seller, agrees that there’s a giant flaw in Fiverr’s freelancer protection. He shares with AppSumo:

“I have had situations where I would sell a service, and the client didn’t like it, and I was forced to issue a refund. This negatively affected my completion rate, which is a standard I need to hold as a Level 2 seller.”

Verdict: Upwork’s freelancer protection is nowhere perfect, but it has an edge over Fiverr—judging by the online reviews.

Freelancer programs

Curious about the type of freelancer programs at these marketplaces? Let’s start with Fiverr’s seller levels.

  • New Seller: All new users are automatically ranked as New Seller. As a New Seller, you can create up to seven active Gigs, withdraw your earnings after 14 days, and more.
  • Level 1: Complete 10 orders and more to qualify as a Level 1 seller. You get to create up to 10 active Gigs with four extra services for each.
  • Level 2: Complete 50 orders and more to achieve Level 2. Benefits include 20 active Gigs (with five extra services each), priority support, and more.
  • Top Rated Seller: Earn $20,000, maintain a 4.7 rating over 60 days and more to achieve one of Fiverr’s highest seller levels. Attractive benefits include 30 active Gigs (with six extra services each) and earnings withdrawal after seven days

Curious to learn more? Check out Fiverr’s Levels here.

For the elite, there’s Fiverr Pro (only 1% of sellers make it to the top!). You can apply here to join.

Hannah Spraker recommends applying for Fiverr Pro, as the algorithm favors such profiles. She says, “I’m currently earning $10-$15K every month. Fiverr Pro helps users to stand out.”

Fiverr Pro seller

Source: Fiverr

As a Fiverr Pro seller, you get to enjoy other benefits, including a:

  • Dedicated customer success manager
  • Seven-day payment clearance (instead of 14 days)
  • Higher price limits up to $20,000 (Gigs) and $50,000 (custom offers)

Likewise, Fiverr takes a 20% cut for each transaction.

Upwork offers several types of pro freelancer programs.

There’s Rising Talent for new users. If you meet Upwork’s criteria (e.g., pass readiness test, complete projects on time), you get a Rising Talent badge on your profile. Rising Talent users enjoy multiple attractive benefits like a one-time bonus of 30 free Connects and reduced project fees.

Other freelancer programs worth mentioning are:

  • Expert-Vetted: Upwork’s top 1% of talent. Work closely with a dedicated Talent manager who will help match your strengths to the suitable projects, by invitation only.
  • Top Rated: Upwork’s top 10% of talent. Receive proposal invitations from Talent Specialists and enjoy faster payments on hourly contracts. Find out if you meet the criteria here. (There’s also Top Rated Plus for freelancers who consistently perform on high-budget or long-term projects.)
  • Talent Scout: Upwork’s latest freelancer program where they do the job search for you. This program is best for freelancers in development, design and creative, and sales and marketing. To apply, take the assessment tests and interview with a specialized recruiter.

Verdict: Upwork and Fiverr offer attractive pro programs, so both!

Fiverr vs. Upwork: AppSumo’s final verdict

Where Fiverr lacks, Upwork does better—and vice versa.

Fiverr is ideal for freelancers offering on-demand services. Join Fiverr if you also want:

  • Fixed-rate payment
  • Quick, one-off projects
  • Complete control for your projects (e.g., customize add-ons for a package, set availability down to specific dates)

In comparison, Upwork is a better choice for freelancers who want to work on large projects and build long-term relationships with clients.

Sign up as an Upwork freelancer if you also prefer:

  • Hourly and fixed-rate payment
  • Larger and long-term projects
  • Responsive customer support
  • Seamless collaboration with clients and freelancers (i.e., send referrals and communicate with clients on a single platform)

So, which of these criteria apply to you, Sumo-lings?

It’s an uphill battle finding high-quality work on Fiverr and Upwork.

But as these all-star freelancers have proven here, it is possible to succeed on these platforms. Just do your due diligence, deliver results, and optimize your profile for visibility.

And once you’re ready to strike out on your own and move from these freelance marketplaces, check out the AppSumo store! Our software tools (with lifetime deals) will help you scale your freelance business at a fraction of the cost.



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