So, you’re ready to start offering your experience to the masses as a freelancer.

You’ve realized that your skillset is valuable, and you know there are people out there who want and need what you have to offer.

The only problem is that you’re not exactly sure where to start. Freelancing can be a tight market to break into. Sometimes it seems like it’s about who you know, as opposed to what you know, that makes or breaks your leap into working for yourself.

Finding great freelancing jobs can seem daunting. 

The good news is that there are a ton of people out there who are thinking like you. They’re ready to take control of their schedules, workload, and pay rate. Ready to become masters of their own destiny, if you will. And like you, they’re looking for clients who are seeking the skill sets they have to offer.

So, now what? The internet is booming with sites that offer freelancing gigs, but which ones should you use? More importantly, which one is the best? You don’t want to entangle yourself with scams, or with jobs that are going to lead you to dead ends.

We were you not too long ago, and, from our experience, we know you need to start your freelance work off on the right foot. So, we’ve broken down the top three freelance job posting sites.

We’re going to give you the ins and outs of using these platforms and which sites you should focus your efforts on.

Finding Freelancer Jobs

From our perspective, there are three outsourcing sites you should include in your freelance work search.  These sites are Fiverr, Upwork, and Symposium. If you’ve followed our site in recent months, you’ve heard us talk about Symposium before. However, you must understand all three of these websites, so you can make your best, educated decision on how you’d like to move forward.

Clearly, we’re going to give you our opinion on the topic (don’t we always?). Despite that, we recognize that you’re taking the reigns on your professional life, so we want to give you the freedom to take the wheel here, too.

Fiverr vs. Upwork vs. Symposium

Fiverr

Fiverr, like the other platforms, is a two-sided website. On one side of their offerings, Fiverr allows individuals to post available job opportunities. These positions may come from employers, entrepreneurs, or hobbyists who are looking for some side help with their passion.

The Marketplace (or the virtual “job board” on Fiverr) is full of opportunities in many fields. Some of the positions need an individual with an immense amount of experience and expertise. Other opportunities need some administrative support. The bottom line is that whatever void an employer needs to be filled (within reason) is permissible to post.

On the other side of Fiverr’s offerings are individuals who are seeking work opportunities.  These are the people who are looking for a side hustle or people who may want to make a career transition. In either case, jobs are available to accommodate limited or limitless availability.

Fiverr offers specific areas of expertise, enabling individuals to both post opportunities and seek positions in a chosen field of expertise. From website design to music and audio work, users are capable of navigating to precisely what they’re looking for.

Fiverr also allows users to view postings in any field so that you can investigate the options available in any genre. Who knows, you may find something you’re capable of doing that you never even thought of. Payment processing is through Fiverr, so invoicing and collections are reliant on the staff that runs the site.

To join Fiverr, you must provide your sign-in information via email, Facebook, or your Google account.  It’s easy and straightforward, and once completed, you’re able to dive into the site.

Upwork

Upwork operates a bit differently than Fiverr. While all of the basics are the same (i.e., people can seek or offer job opportunities, invoicing, and payment goes through the site), one of the main differences with UpWork is the payment bidding process.

With Fiverr, you’re going to know immediately what the pay rate for a job is. Not a ton of room for negotiations in this arena. However, with Upwork, the individuals who would like to receive consideration for the opportunity bid upon the job. This means the pay rate is dependent on individuals and what they “bid” the project to be worth to them in time and effort. The final ultimate decision is that of the hiring party, as to who they offer the opportunity and how much they will pay.

Also, unlike Fiverr, Upwork asks job seekers to create profiles that outline their areas of professional interest and skill set. At the onset of the profile creation, there are questions to help users niche down to what Upwork refers to as their “ideal jobs.” It works well for those who have specific areas of interest, and know them upfront.  From there, the site makes position recommendations that align with the information the individual gives in their profile.

Symposium

Symposium is a bit different then the other two platforms we’ve discussed. Symposium focus is its platform’s use as a video chatting service. There are three options of use with Symposium. These choices include a 1:1 video chat, a group or general webcast option, or a private, pre-recorded message. All three options allow the creator to monetize their service and set their prices according to their personal perception of their work’s value.

Individuals use Symposium in a variety of ways.

  • Social media influencers and bloggers can use it as a means to earn payment for behind the scenes tours of their lifestyles and work environments.
  • Fitness professionals can capitalize on the app as a means to offer online classes or individual training sessions.
  • Educational instructors can provide class series or one-time training on the platform.

In whatever method, individuals elect to use the platform, and it guarantees an interpersonal experience through the use of video services.

The Breakdown

Now we’re going to get down to the nitty-gritty. We’ve given you the general overview of each of the sites, so now it’s time for us to provide you with the insider’s perspective.

Fiverr

Here’s the deal with Fiverr. If you’re offering a job, task, or opportunity, you’re pretty well safeguarded. If the individual who you elect to complete your work doesn’t create the output you’ve requested, you’re out nothing but your time. Fiverr offers excellent protection for their employers, and payment issues are generally resolved in favor of the person submitting the opportunity.

However, if you’re on the job seekers’ side of things, the situation can get very sticky very quickly. Now, we don’t have the personal experience to vouch for this next part, but a lot of evidence points toward it being authentic. There is a metric TON of reviews online from freelancers scorned by the platform.

It seems that while the employers are well protected, freelancers don’t receive the same level of diligent protection when it comes to collecting overdue payment.

You see, the bottom line is that an employer can receive work from you, file a complaint that the final product wasn’t what they wanted, and then ghost you completely. No payment, no response, nothing! So you may put hours of work into a project and end up unpaid without an explanation.

We’re not going to sugar coat that one. It’s awful mainly because it doesn’t appear that there are many safeguards in place to determine if the work deliverable meets the request of the employer.

While many people have had success with using Fiverr, you must understand this downside from the start. Most people who complain about the platform admit that they saw red flags from the beginning of the relationship with the client.

So, when you go into a project, assure you’re aware if all the right bases are being covered from the start. This includes continuity of communication, clear project expectations, and appropriate conversation between employer and freelancer. These parameters are essential to ensure that you’re engaging in a mutually respectful business relationship.

Fees

Fiverr charges both the buyer and the freelancer a fee.  Fiverr's cost is $2 for gigs up to $40, and 5% for everything above. The freelancer keeps just 80% of their sales because a 20% commission goes to Fiverr.

Upwork

We gave you the deal with Fiverr, and the whole scenario that we laid out there applies here, too. However, our main concerns with Upwork differ in one drastic way. That way is the bidding process.

Because Upwork operates in a bid format, it enables freelancers to undercut the pricing of another freelancer to get the job. This may not seem like such a big deal at first glance Who is going to bid pennies on a job that requires an immense amount of experience and is consuming?

However, keep in mind that Upwork is open to freelancers internationally. This means that not everyone who bids on a position is living in a similar socioeconomic environment as you. Therefore, each freelancer’s perceived value of the time and energy invested in a project may be dramatically different.

Keep this in mind when you see a project being underbid from what you believe the time and requested output is worth. It may not be a wise investment of your time to compete with other freelancers for this project. Assure you’re calculating an accurate value for your time and effort.

Fees

Upwork makes money by charging both the customer a  processing fee and by charging the freelancer a commission.

For example, as a freelancer, if you quote $500 for a project, 20% will go to Upwork. Additionaly the customer would be charged a 2.75 percent processing fee.

Symposium

No, you’re not the only person pondering why Symposium is on our list of freelance worksite options. You may be wondering, “I’m looking for freelance work, not an opportunity to connect with an audience. Why is Symposium even a suggestion?”

We have that answer for you.

You see, the reality is that when you start your journey to becoming a freelancer, you’re more than likely looking for the opportunity to take control of your career. You want to be your own boss, and offer your skills in exchange for the value you perceive yourself to have. You’re no longer looking for the chance to be someone’s, right-hand man. You want to be your own boss.

Symposium, from the outset, guides you on the path to do just this.  Instead of posting jobs for you to apply to, you have to find ways to offer your knowledge and skills to an audience. This means that every minute of your time translates to a dollar value.

So, if you are a graphic designer, you can seek out clients who have an interest in your services. When you’re ready to conduct a consult call, you prompt them through the Symposium SymTalk function. There, they are immediately required to pay the fee for a consultation call, putting aside the awkwardness of invoicing and requesting payment over and over again for your service.

If you’re a tutor, you can offer tutoring sessions to multiple individuals through the SymCast function. These live-streamed sessions will allow you to educate and engage with your students, with the assurance that you will receive payment for your service. Not only are you assured that you’ll receive compensation, but you’re also engaging with an audience who wants to be there because they invested in your services.

Symposium’s SymGram is an excellent way for social media influencers to reach their audience through an individual, personal message. Whether it’s a “Happy Birthday” message to their biggest fan or a word of encouragement to someone enduring a troubling experience, the SymGram is a paid message directly from one person to another.

Symposium is a guaranteed way to ensure you are an active and paid participant in your career. You don’t have to worry about collecting your revenue or being underbid. All you have to do is focus on creating your content, so you can share it with others and earn your payment.

Fees

Unlike Fiverr and Upwork, Symposium does not charge the customer a processing fee. Rather, Symposium charges the freelancer a 20% commission. We prefer symposiums billing model for a few reasons.

  1. Customers are not hit whit an unexpected fee at check out that might cause them to abandon their order (Nearly 56 percent of shopping cart abandonment is due to unforeseen expenses and costs.)
  2.  Since Symposium does not tack on an extra processing fee, freelancers can either charge more for their services without increasing the customer's cost over Fivver and Upwork. Alternatively, a freelancer using Symposium could undercut offerings on Fivver and Upwork by two to five percent without taking a reduction in pay.

The Bottom Line

Picking up a side hustle in which you offer your professional skill set in exchange for payment is a notable endeavor. Likewise, if you’re jumping in headfirst to the world of virtual work, we admire your drive and tenacity.

Our advice to anyone who is seeking these paid gigs is to be the captain of your own ship, and the determiner of your workplace destiny. Don’t let anyone undercut your value, even yourself. Have confidence in your abilities and move forward with the mindset that your time and work is valuable. Taking this attitude toward your skills is essential so that you not only offer your work to the most worthy client but also so that you focus and produce excellent output.

When you start freelancing, remember to prioritize your relationships with your clients. Assure your exchanges are mutually beneficial. Remember to heed red flags and avoid situations that compromise your professional integrity. Now, go forth and create great things!

About the Author

Michael Dinich

Michael launched Your Money Geek to make personal finance fun. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.

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