Upwork vs toptal
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Upwork vs Toptal: Which Is Best For Freelancers? (2023 Guide)

Upwork vs Toptal, the battle of the best freelancing marketplace continues through multiple debates and reviews from both freelancers and businesses alike. 

But which one is right for you? 

I know you are trying to decide which platform has the best clients, which takes the fees, and which platforms are the ones where you are least likely to be scammed off because I wondered that too!

I was once (still am) a freelance writer and wanted to find the best platform to help me earn and save money. I was gazing out of the window of my soul-sucking corporate job at the bank wondering if I could earn money in a different way. 

One that did not make me want to bang my head against the wall every morning. 

That is when freelancing platforms made their way into my life. Among the two platforms that stood out to me were Toptal and Upwork. So in this article, I am going to be the big sister you need and help you break down the differences between Upwork vs Toptal.

Despite the fact that each of these platforms has the same purpose, they differ in a lot of ways. Let’s get to it!

PriceStarts from approximately $10 an hour$500 deposit is required
Suitable ForHiring freelancers at a lower cost and qualityHiring freelancers of the best quality 
Onboarding ProcessNo stringent vetting process5-week onboarding process that leads to only the best 3% of freelancers being hired
TalentVarious niches are available on the platformFreelancers are mainly experts in product management, development, finance, and project management.
RefundRefund would be given to you should the freelancer agrees to A 14-day risk-free trial period is available
Assignment DurationShort-term, quick assignmentsLong-term assignments
AdvantagesAccess to a vast pool of internationally competent freelancers.Simple job posting and proposal receivingOnly the best freelancers are permitted on the website thanks to a strict screening process.Freelancers frequently exhibit professionalism and possess strong English and other highly- valuable skills. 
DisadvantagesHighly saturated; you will need to vet through many job posts to find the perfect freelancer. Upwork costs might reduce your revenue.Expensive deposit feesStringent onboarding process

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you.

Upwork vs toptal

How Does Upwork Work?

1. Upwork Features

Upwork has been a well-known freelancing platform for years now. 

When it comes to upwork vs toptal, upwork has its fair share of advantages.

 Upwork does not limit its candidate pool to just IT and finance professionals like Toptal, but on this site, you can locate any kind of professional.

Getting started with Upwork is free. 

The platform allows you to work as a client, a freelancer, or both.

 Before engaging with any party on the platform, both clients and freelancers must apply, register an account on the platform, and be accepted.

When freelancers execute jobs on the Upwork platform, they are awarded Talent Badges and a Job Success Score that gives a rapid overview of their performance and client satisfaction.

Talent badges consist of

You can use Upwork in three different ways:

  • As a freelancer
  • As a client
  • As an agency

As a freelancer, the opportunities available on Upwork can help you grow your career. Firstly, you need to make a profile outlining your qualifications and experience.

Then, start looking and applying for appropriate positions, and more. After being hired, you finish the task and receive payment via Upwork.

As a client, you can identify and hire independent contractors for your projects under the Talent Marketplace section.

You may identify eligible people, post a position, and invite them to apply. You work with the ideal independent contractor for the job on Upwork until it’s completed.

If you are unsure who to employ, the team of Upwork Talent Scout is there to assist you. 

In Upwork Enterprise, you can discover and manage several freelancers using Upwork as an organization or agency.

Upwork vs toptal

You may advertise positions, discover competent people, and invite them to apply, just as with individual clients.

After hiring a freelancer, you may monitor all of your freelancers from one location by adding them to your business profile.

2. Upwork Pros And Cons 

You will be spoilt for choices of freelancers because Upwork has a broader skill pool than other alternatives.Since the hiring manager is primarily responsible for the vetting procedure, the bigger talent pool also contains some unreliable applicants.
Upwork only charges a 3% user fee, and posting jobs is free.Due to the high revenue fee that freelancers must pay, some of the best prospects may completely disregard Upwork.
The user interface for locating, hiring, and managing freelancers on Upwork is simple to use. Within minutes after posting a job, you’ll receive applications.
Upwork vs toptal

How Does Toptal Work?

1. Toptal Features

Between Upwork vs Toptal, Toptal is renowned for its extraordinarily loyal talent base. Their website firmly states that it is home to the top 3% of developer skills.

When it comes to this platform, do not go around asking who is toptal but rather what is Toptal?

Toptal is a prestigious network of independent contractors employed across numerous industries. 

They link clients with the best independent project managers, financial experts, and software developers around the globe.

As a client, you can establish a connection with a freelancer within 48 hours, and there are no restrictions on how much you can pay them.

 Toptal takes pride in only hiring the top 3% of talent and has a stringent screening process for all of its freelancers.

This guarantees that companies only collaborate with the best.

It is renowned for both its high caliber and exceptional customer support. A dedicated team at the organization helps companies with everything from project management to locating the ideal freelancer.

There is a 5-step hiring process that begins with a language and personality exam and ends with a variety of test projects.

This narrows the talent pool to the top managers and developers available.

Upwork vs toptal

As a freelancer utilizing Toptal, you can:

  • Decide the prices and availability.
  • Explore and apply for client projects
  • Take on project suggestions made by Toptal recruiters
  • Create a unique Toptal profile.

It is important to realize that as a freelancer, you cannot start working on Toptal until the skills review procedure has been successfully completed. This could take as long as five weeks.

As a Toptal client, you can:

  • Create job and project descriptions.
  • Find a match by working with Toptal recruiters.
  • Go through the profiles of the freelancer

Users of Toptal first speak with a Toptal industry specialist to discuss their objectives and expectations. Based on that conversation, a freelance talent will be assigned to the client within a few days.

As a client, once the assignment is completed to your satisfaction, you may choose to continue working with the freelancer you were given and pay them.

Although Toptal has freelancers from a wide range of services, educational backgrounds, and skill sets, some of the most popular ones are:

  • Project managers
  • Graphic designers
  • Web developers
  • UX/UI experts
  • Financial specialists.

Escrow payments are used in Toptal and the payment structure in Toptal is as follows:

  • Price per hour
  • Price per day
  • Price per project
  • Fixed price

2. Toptal Pros And Cons 

You will be matched to a client in 48 hours should you pass through the screening processStringent screening process
You have two weeks to evaluate a freelancer before deciding whether to hire them permanently.The cost of great quality is high. To hire these exceptional freelancers, have a budget of approximately $1000 per day.
You will not go wrong with the freelancers appointed to you because they are the best freelancers on the market.A $500 down payment is required before hiring any freelancers. 
The website is simple to use and offers materials that are beneficial to companies wishing to hire freelancers.
Upwork vs toptal

Upwork Vs Toptal – A Comparison

The level of expertise of the freelancers on these two platforms is the key distinction, however, between Upwork vs Toptal both are fantastic platforms for freelancers and clients alike.

When quality is concerned Toptal is unquestionably the winner because of its thorough verification procedure for freelancers. 

As a result, companies can use a group of qualified experts for their initiatives.

In contrast, Upwork has a more welcoming attitude towards independent contractors. For businesses that have a particular project in mind and are prepared to make the extra effort to discover the ideal freelancer, this platform might be helpful.

1. Work Provided

Toptal is a fantastic place to explore if you require something particularly specific or sophisticated because it has more qualified freelancers than Upwork.

For example, if you have a blog on cryptocurrency and require crypto writers, you have a higher chance of finding expert writers in that niche on Toptal. 

On the other hand, Upwork might be a better choice because it is typically less expensive if you request more general work, say a personal finance writer. 

2. Price Comparison

The price points between toptal vs upwork are one of the most obvious distinctions. 

Let’s start by looking at Toptal.

No matter how much your project may ultimately cost, Toptal requires you to make a $500 down payment or deposit. 

Do not turn down the idea of hiring from Toptal because of the deposit. 

You will get the deposit returned to you if you do not choose to engage with any freelancers recommended to you. 

Toptal gives customers the option to negotiate contracts with their freelancers, be it an hourly rate, a fixed rate, a daily rate, or a rate specific to a project. 

Upwork is generally a more affordable choice, with some independent contractors putting up rates as little as $10 per hour. 

Similar to Toptal, freelancers and clients on Upwork can agree on the payment terms to be hourly, daily, or at a pre-determined rate. 

3. Assignment Scope

Both platforms provide the broadest range of assignment scope. 

Between Upwork vs Toptal, if you require the task completed fast or if the scope of the assignment is small, Upwork is preferable. Toptal is known for larger projects thanks to the kind of expertise provided on the platform.

If you need more specific expertise, Toptal is the choice to go for. 

4. Platform Usage

When you register for a Toptal account, you will have access to a slick, professional-looking dashboard where you can oversee all of your active projects. 

Toptal matches you with the best freelancers using a complex algorithm and a team of experts.

A simple, viewer-friendly dashboard is also available when you use Upwork.  Although the site is normally relatively simple to navigate, managing the project requests can first be intimidating due to the vast number of freelancers.

5. Customer Support 

Both Upwork vs Toptal provide customer service, like the majority of platforms for the freelancing industry. 

That is about where the similarities end, though, as Toptal unquestionably wins in terms of customer support.

Once you are onboarded, Toptal takes a practical approach, assisting you in finding the ideal freelancer for your assignment and guaranteeing a good fit. Customer service is accessible via email and live chat should you have any queries or issues along the journey.

Whereas with Upwork, in addition, to live chat and email assistance, there is a website that features an informative forum with practical tips and responses to many frequently asked concerns. 

Although Upwork appears to have improved in this area after receiving numerous complaints that its customer service is poor and frequently inattentive, it is still fair to state that Toptal is the superior choice in terms of customer care.

FAQs On Upwork vs Toptal:

Which Is Better Upwork Or Toptal?

If you don’t mind paying a lot of money for a freelancer, go with Toptal. If you are seeking a less expensive option to Toptal, are willing to put in the time and effort required to hire a freelancer, and are especially keen on hiring freelancers of the best quality, then Upwork is the place for you.

In the points above, I’ve discussed the advantages and disadvantages of these online marketplaces – it is up to you to choose which works best for you.

Affordable Option

Upwork is the best choice if you require the most affordable choice and are looking to save money upfront. With Upwork, you trade some expertise for reduced costs, but this does not suggest that the freelancers there are incompetent.

They have the potential to do amazing work. Just bear in mind that it takes time to locate the right person. Consider carefully screening freelancers on Upwork before actually hiring full-time freelancers.

Between Upwork vs Toptal, the hiring procedure for freelancers is greatly simplified by Toptal. This results in considerable time and money savings over the long run.

Quality Of Freelancers

The best freelance expertise money can buy can be discovered on Toptal. Their vetting process and stellar track record place them at the forefront in terms of talent. 

Is It Worth Working For Toptal?

Toptal may not be the most affordable option out there, but it is worth it. For businesses looking to engage skilled, hand-selected freelancers in a matter of days or weeks, Toptal is a fantastic platform.

Toptal For Businesses

On Toptal, engaging a freelancer is an easy and quick process. As a client, you do not have to vet through thousands of resumes to hire a freelancer, Toptal will handle everything for you.

All you will need to do is

1. Explain to Toptal in detail the kind of freelancing talent you are seeking after you sign up for a business account

2. Toptal will identify a freelancer who can help you, and you can then interview that person before deciding whether to proceed.

3. There is a trial period that lasts about two weeks. Do not worry, your card will not be charged if you are unhappy with a freelancer.

4. You may either continue looking elsewhere or ask Toptal to locate you another independent contractor.

5. If you are pleased with the work your freelancer has produced, you can ask them to onboard your team!

Toptal For Freelancers

As a freelancer, bear in mind that it could take up to 5 weeks for the screening process to be completed. Since the site only hires the top 3% of freelancers, know that not everyone who signs up for the site will get hired. 

You will not get to post your projects and bid for clients right away. There is a stringent onboarding process to get through first. 

Here is a glimpse of the screening process:

1. English Communication And Language Skills Test

Although the experts are spread out around the globe, they all need to speak English fluently.

2. Skills Test

Your capacity for problem-solving and technical knowledge will be evaluated by the Toptal team. To advance to the next stage, you must achieve great outcomes with this evaluation step.

3. Live Screening

Your capacity for problem-solving, communication skills, creativity, and experiences will be evaluated in this step. 

4. Test Projects

This will be the fourth and fifth steps of the screening process. It will take approximately will take you 1-3 weeks to finish and will allow you to show your expertise and skill.

Is There Something Better Than Upwork?

Upwork vs toptal

1. Fiverr

Fiverr is a website where independent contractors may find potential clients to grow their careers. It is currently one of the biggest digital services markets in the world, with over 3.42 million active buyers. 

The name comes from the fact that each gig used to cost $5. Fiverr eliminated the $5 pricing cap in 2014. Gigs have greatly improved in both quality and quantity as the market has expanded, and you can now get just about any digital service there.

Upwork vs toptal

2. People Per Hour

PeoplePerHour is a high-quality and trustworthy freelance website. Clients can advertise projects, and freelancers can submit proposals in response, giving them the opportunity to select the best freelancer for the work.

About 15 different job categories are available. 

There is a sizable network of companies and potential customers, so  it can result in a significant amount of work. As a freelancer, you have the freedom to set your own charges, nonetheless, fixed prices apply to clients.

Due to the requirement that customers put money into an escrow account, it is slightly more secure than autonomous freelancing.

Upwork vs toptal

3. Guru

Guru is a freelance website that connects users with freelance work. Since you can actually make money by accepting the freelancing projects the site offers, it is a legitimate website.

There are nearly 3 million freelancers on Guru, working in hundreds of different fields, from the more common gig jobs like marketing and graphic design to more specialized ones like court reporting. 

It is one of the oldest freelance employment platforms and features agencies as well as an enterprise solution for operating numerous freelancers simultaneously.

Upwork vs toptal

4. Hubstaff Talent

In particular for remote employment, Hubstaff Talent is a highly specialized service that assists businesses in connecting job searchers with employers and filling unfilled positions in their workforce.

In addition to job advertising, automated emails, and alerts, it also features a talent database that is searchable by employers.

This website provides a free solution for both job searchers and companies. This not only lessens the risk for both parties, but it also enables potential consumers to use the service without committing to anything or spending money.

Upwork vs toptal

5. Freelancer.com

Freelancer.com is one of the biggest marketplaces for freelancers where companies, clients, and employees may connect. It’s an online marketplace where smart and skilled independent contractors may advertise their areas of expertise to customers.

Freelancer.com has acquired numerous additional freelancer businesses over the years, including GetAFreelancer.com, EUFreelance.com, Freelancer.de, and many more.

Essentially, this platform makes it easier for clients and freelancers to work together and get paid. Numerous assignments that may be completed remotely are posted by clients, and freelancers submit bids for them.

The clients will choose the freelancer to complete the work from the bids. The freelancer is paid once the assignment is finished and approved.

Is Freelancing At Toptal Worth It?

Toptal is not affordable, but it is worth it. For businesses looking to engage skilled, hand-selected freelancers in a matter of weeks, Toptal is a solid platform.

Since its inception in 2010, Toptal has established itself as one of the top online freelance marketplaces. Toptal, which stands for top talent, works by matching skilled freelancers with employers who require their services. 

Toptal is a global corporation with freelancers accessible for employment anywhere in the world because of the decentralized nature of its network.

However, how is Toptal? Is it truly worth it?

The price of Toptal will surely be one of the first things prospective customers notice. 

Many people question whether it’s truly worth the price because Toptal freelancers charge substantially more for their services than freelancers on the majority of rival websites.

As Toptal thoroughly checks out all of its contractors before authorizing them to promote their skills on its website, there is a price differential.

An extensive competence evaluation, a thorough screening, an interview, and a skills test are all parts of this onboarding process, which can span several weeks.

You can undoubtedly find skilled freelancers at possibly lower prices, but since you will have to screen and assess the skill set of the freelancers yourself, you might end up losing precious time and funds. 

You are definitely going to be happy with the work you pay for because of the way Toptal connects you with the greatest talent from across the world. 

Who Is The Biggest Competitor To Upwork?

Top 5 Upwork Competitors in 2023

Upwork vs toptal

1. Fiverr

Fiverr is among the pioneers where the freelance marketplace is concerned. 

It can be worthwhile to look at Fiverr if you need to complete a quick, straightforward task that you know is simple to delegate. Nevertheless, it does have a number of drawbacks.

Fiverr will not always produce a high-quality result for you or your company compared to rivals. There aren’t many options for buyers because the vendor largely controls the situation.

Although Fiverr is an Upwork rival, its business strategy is entirely different, and it often works well for assignments that you wouldn’t often use Upwork for.

Upwork vs toptal

2. SolidGigs

SolidGigs is a subscription-based freelance marketplace that is a fresh alternative to Upwork. At $21 a month, you are given a personal gig-hunter who searches through tons of job postings and only the most suitable freelancers will be passed to you.

By doing this, you can save time, view the top 1% of available freelance positions, and spend more time working on projects you want.

This platform does not take a cut of the money you earn from clients. It’s a lead generation online marketplace that you can integrate into your existing freelance business, instead.

Upwork vs toptal

3. Freelancer

This platform is quick and simple for freelancers and small companies to sign up and get started on Freelancer.

To get started, you submit a project, complete the project information, provide the required project skills and pricing alternatives, and include project files for potential applicants to review.

As an alternative, companies can get in touch with a freelancer directly they think would be a good fit for the position.

After you post your job, independent contractors will submit bids. You can look over their résumés, professional backgrounds, credentials, and other information. Businesses have the choice to rate and assess their freelancer when the project is finished.

Upwork vs toptal

4. PeoplePerHour

PeoplePerHour and Upwork are comparable in that both provide reliable progress where you can post a job and get applications from freelancers.

However, it also provides well-liked requests for a set fee. These requests, often known as hourlies, are priced according to the freelancer’s discretion.

The creation of an account on the platform and hiring a freelancer are free.

However, you will be responsible for any payment processing fees associated with using other means of payment like credit card or Paypal.

Upwork vs toptal

5. Hubstaff Talent

Hubstaff Talent expertly and efficiently connect independent contractors and clients.

The hourly fee, qualifications, experience, availabilities, resume, and languages are spoken by a freelancer are all displayed on this free website. Additionally, freelancers have the choice to include a brief bio to introduce themselves in greater detail.

Company owners may easily identify freelancers and agencies by browsing the listings on Hubstaff Talent, getting in touch with the freelancers they’ve selected directly, deciding on the conditions of their engagement, and beginning work.

Is Upwork Better Than Fiverr?

For customers looking for creative expertise, Fiverr offers a wide range of possibilities. Upwork, on the other hand, has a more diverse category of talents and projects and offers free membership. Freelancers should be aware that anytime they submit a bid for a project, they must pay a basic fee.

Regardless of where you’re from, using work sites like Upwork and Fiverr is a terrific method to uncover high-quality freelancers and freelancing jobs.

These online communities connect individuals with a diverse range of skill sets with paying customers. No longer is geography a barrier to accessing high-caliber employment and specialists.

The ideal job market for you will rely on a number of things, such as your project requirements, financial constraints, and preferred types of work.

These are some factors that distinguish these two marketplaces.

1. Job Availability

After creating a profile on Upwork, you may browse all of the positions that are offered there, filter them according to your requirements and skill set, and then apply for them whenever it is most convenient for you.

When looking for jobs, Upwork uses Connects, which is either free when you sign up or are inexpensively available to purchase. You can apply to as many jobs as you want as long as you have Connects.

In contrast to Upwork, Fiverr allows clients to seek you rather than you having to seek out them. There is a special section for client requests where you can examine the available jobs, although there are not many of them.

2. Relationship On The Platform

While Upwork is recommended for longer-term assignments, Fiverr is an ideal opportunity for short-term employment.

Clients can determine the hourly pricing for freelancers using Upwork, track the number of hours the freelancers put into the project, and easily pay them. This in turn encourages a long-term partnership between the two parties.

Hourly payment is not available on Fiverr’s platform, which can be an inconvenience. 

However, Fiverr has a subscription service, which can assist in establishing long-term connections, but they fall short of Upwork’s flexibility and support for joint long-term employment.

3. Pricing

Both freelancers and clients have more price discretion when it comes to Upwork. Your client has two payment options – they may pay you for the entire project at once, or they can divide it into smaller chunks.

Additionally, clients have the option of hiring you on an hourly basis.

Fiverr on the other hand gives you the option to provide customized orders or better manage your pricing by offering several bundles.

Fiverr does not, however, offer hourly payment, which makes it challenging for clients and freelancers to measure hours effectively and determine project prices in accordance.

What Are The Benefits Of Using Toptal?

Toptal provides global connections, flexible time off, sabbaticals, and 5 other employee benefits and perks. Here is a glimpse of the benefits when you work at toptal.

  • International Connections

Being global implies having the chance to interact with people from around the world. Each year, they plan and support a huge number of events, coworking days, courses, and socializing opportunities.

  • Healthcare Advantages

All full-time U.S. employees are provided with health, teeth, and eyesight insurance.

  • Time Off Facility

Take the time to refuel if you want to perform at your best. For members of their core staff, they have flexible hours off policy.

  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

They have a mental health-focused employee help service available.

  • Life And Disability Insurance

The company provides life and disability insurance, both long-term and short-term

  • Sabbaticals

Employees of Toptal can enjoy fully paid sabbatical leaves after 5 years of employment with them.

  • Wellness Facility

The company pays for the annual subscription to the Calm app

What Are The Benefits Of Using Upwork?

There are many advantages to working with an UpWork agency. First, agencies can save money on labor costs.

Next, agencies may be able to hire more meticulously, which may result in higher-quality work. Third, businesses that may not be able to complete certain activities or projects on their own can acquire assistance.

Fourth, agencies have access to customer and employee input and feedback systems, which can serve to raise the standard of output. The demand for their services can finally be understood by agencies, who can then change their pricing.

I hope this detailed comparison of Upwork vs Toptal cleared all doubts you had in deciding between these two platforms!

Browsing through Upwork vs Toptal reviews can be overwhelming as there are so many mixed ones out there. Your deciding factors like the budget, the type of projects on hand, and the duration you have will ultimately help you decide on which platform is best for you. 

Upwork is designed for small businesses or startups that need work completed quickly and affordably, and there is a tonne of positive client testimonials to support this business strategy.

Toptal however is made for bigger and mid-sized businesses that want to pay for the best freelancing talent available.

It has a pool of employees with a high level of ability and provides support and direction from beginning to end to make sure you are pleased with the caliber of the work.

The fact that Upwork vs Toptal are so distinct and were created for individuals and clients with very different aims means that you just simply can not compare them. Regardless of their differences, focus on your goals as a business or freelancer and choose accordingly!

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