To hire the right developer for your team, you should know the different types of freelance websites, the top names and which one to use for your use-case.
Digitization and the advent of the freelance economy have changed the way businesses work. A 2018 Morgan Stanley report points out that the ability to work on the cloud and the advent of freelancing platforms have opened up new channels for companies to find better talent such as online freelance marketplaces.
Online marketplaces represent a reliable, efficient and easy way to find professional freelance developers. They can cater to your varying requirements and budgets too. Additionally, you are guaranteed of the freelancers’ intent to work on your many projects.
Types of Freelance Developer Websites
Freelance developer websites can be segmented into three general categories in terms of hiring practices, talent quality, and pricing. Understanding this nuance will help you choose the right platform that can cater to your business needs perfectly. The three categories are:
On these platforms, you can post a job requirement along with your budget and freelancers place a bid on it to win the project. Though these websites give you volume and affordability (as freelancers bid at different levels of pricing), the quality is neither assured nor easily identifiable.
Additionally, the model also doesn’t align with the needs of quality talent, as it requires a huge time investment to find projects. Hence, top developers are scarce in this highly competitive space, and only place bids on premium projects posted.
Such platforms do not have vetting processes in place, and rely heavily on customer reviews & ratings. These are poor indicators of skill and are vulnerable to malpractice.
Sites such as Upwork and Guru are based on this model.
Similar to bidding websites, but aimed at smaller projects, order-based freelance websites are online marketplaces that allow freelance professionals (both creative and technical) to earn money selling their services as ‘products’.
The focus is on showcasing very specific skill-sets, and advertising one-off job orders rather than bigger projects. Consequently, the entry barrier for freelance developers to register and land jobs on these platforms is lower.
A fitting example of this type of website would be Fiverr.
Vetted Talent Websites
Top freelancers prefer vetted talent platforms. This allows them to save time otherwise spent on searching for relevant projects. Further, they get to be part of a network of the very cream of tech talent who have cleared stringent screening processes.
It follows that the main focus of vetted talent websites is to build a community of experienced and top-quality freelance developers who are always aligned to project success. From the clients’ perspective, this model allows them to work with highly curated talent, saving time & energy of having to perform extensive screening themselves.
Once you post a requirement, such platforms work with you to chalk out the best strategy to connect you with the best-suited freelancer who matches your specific needs.
Freelance developer websites such as Flexiple, Toptal, and Arc.dev fall under this head.
Top 7 Websites for Hiring Freelance Developers
Here are the top 7 freelance developer websites for hiring:
Flexiple is a premium, tech-only (developers & designers) online platform that sources the best freelance talent who have previously worked at top tech companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, Adobe, among others.
Each candidate is manually vetted to ensure their proficiency in multiple criteria. This includes technical skill-sets, past projects, ability to meet deadlines & work in a team, and overall reliability, before they are invited into the network. Whether you are a start-up or an MNC, this detailed screening process ensures that you get to work only with the very top freelance developers.
Further, Flexiple provides a smooth hiring experience by offering personalised recommendations and flexible time-based payment models. Processes are kept aligned to your project success by ensuring responsive support throughout the length of the engagement.
Flexiple provides developers at affordable rates of $30 to $80 per hour. There are no recruiting fees that apply and developers can get started on your project within a week.
- Rigorous vetting process
- Highly experienced developers
- Personalized recommendations
- Risk-free trial period
- Fast onboarding
- Great customer service & support
- Being a relatively new network, freelancers might not always be available in fringe technologies. But with a highly responsive team, you are provided with the best possible solution and kept informed at all times.
Toptal is an established player in the premium freelance developers’ market. It has expanded its presence from engineering to also include design, financial consulting, project management and product management.
Toptal’s USP is its rigorous screening process and large community. Its multi-stage vetting process consists of code reviews, portfolio review, real-time testing, and an English language skill test.
Start-ups can find Toptal pricey due to its high hourly rates ($80-$200) driven by high commission rates.
- Highly experienced developers
- Stringent vetting process
- Personalised recommendations
- Trial period offered
- Established company
- Being a large company, there are high overheads, which are reflected in significant commissions and high prices
- Its support has been criticised often
- Not viable for small projects
Arc.dev initially started as CodementorX, a mentoring platform for developers. Typically, developers could seek help from the network for problem-solving, skill improvement, etc. Today, it continues to carry the tag of a “leading on-demand mentorship platform for developers” but has also developed a solution for hiring freelance developers.
Akin to other premium websites, Arc.dev has a vetting process in place that utilizes assessment tools to ensure quality. Arc focuses on enabling companies to hire full-time remote-working developers for the long-term. Arc also takes care of compliance, payroll, and benefits.
Hourly rates for freelancers start from $60 and can go to $200+, which makes the platform unsuitable for start-ups or for small projects.
- Strong vetting process
- Software developers available in niche skill-sets
- Highly expensive
- It has grown as a mentorship platform with the tech talent platform being fairly nascent
4. Hubstaff Talent
Hubstaff Talent is relatively new and offers a completely free service for companies looking to hire independent freelancers as well as agencies. With more emphasis on the use of software to match freelancers with projects, there is no manual vetting process to ascertain their quality.
It is a transparent marketplace that allows clients to browse through freelancer profiles and to get in touch with them directly. It functions more like a database of freelancers who sign up on the platform. It has no additional features to help you in hiring the best talent for your needs.
It’s free for both business owners (clients) and freelancers.
- Filters to narrow search in finding freelancers
- Suitable for small work
- A relatively small pool of freelancers
- Unreliable job sources
- No vetting process
- Huge investment required in terms of time to find quality talent
A result of the Elance and Odesk merger, Upwork is one of the largest and most popular freelance marketplaces with a bidding system. It is not a developer-only platform and caters to more than 50 categories of jobs ranging from data entry to graphic design. It doesn’t have a vetting process, hence, the onus is on you to evaluate talent.
Upwork focuses on volume and affordability, with freelancers bidding to get clients at low-cost rates.
- A large pool of freelancers
- Find talent based on budget
- Hire talent for project segments rather than an entire project
- Tiered-system fees (pay-as-you-go)
- No serious vetting process
- Huge investment required in terms of time to find quality talent
- Poor success rate of projects
Guru was set up back in 1998 as eMoonlighter, for highly qualified workers seeking short-term, one-off contracts. Over the years, it has slowly diversified from being a developer-only platform and grown into other streams like accounting, admin, designing and others.
Similar to Upwork, Guru has now become a pure freelance marketplace. It has a large pool of workers from across the globe and is focused on volume and affordability.
Also, there is no strict vetting or screening process in place. This means you’d have to put in significant work in interviewing and qualifying applicants, as ratings are not a reliable benchmark of ensuring quality.
Guru gives you more flexibility than Upwork in terms of quality and pricing, allowing you to pick from highly qualified to low-cost developers.
- Flexibility to choose talent based on cost or quality
- Pay only for processing payments (no project-related charges)
- No vetting process
- Time and effort needed to find quality developers
Fiverr is the platform that popularized the order-based concept of engaging freelancers. Services are usually offered for one-off, small, specific tasks, and caters to more than 250 categories – from voice-overs and logo design to website & app development.
Freelancers are termed ‘Sellers’ and offer their services for everything in the price range of $5 to $995. They can choose to sell their services at three different price points based on the complexity of the task.
To help clients in choosing the right freelancer, Fiverr provides a ‘Seller Level’, which is a status earned by the freelancer based on ratings, performance, quality of past work, etc.
- A wide pool of freelancers
- Cheap and cost-effective services
- Easy-to-use tools for filtering applicants
- Responsive customer support and resolution center
- No vetting of applicants
- Ideal only for very small tasks, not extensive projects/ engagements
How to Choose the Right Platform for your Business?
Each website mentioned above has its own use-case. The key is to understand these nuances and choose the one which aligns with your requirements. The particulars include how big or small your project is, what technology it calls for, what your budget is, etc.
Below are three broad categories that projects can be classified into, which will guide you through your decision-making process.
Short and cost-constrained project
When you have a small project, that almost qualifies as a task rather than a project, bidding websites and order-based websites such as Upwork, Guru, and Fiverr are the ones to consider.
The volume of freelancers on these platforms will allow you to find freelancers in your budget range and also would be willing to take up smaller projects. In any case, make sure to spend sufficient time in evaluating the freelancers prior to starting the projects.
Longer and affordable projects
If you have a long-term project but want to keep costs low, then pure-marketplace freelance websites like Upwork and Guru are the right fit. You get volume in applications as well as a wide pool of freelancers ranging from less experienced to highly experienced developers.
Quality will still be an issue, and you would need to put in the hard work of vetting developers based on various factors. Relying only on their ratings will not give you the complete picture. Digging deeper into their portfolios and past work experience is required to select the freelancers who can deliver reasonable quality at the price you have in mind.
You could also consider affordable freelance developer websites such as Flexiple that can provide vetted developers from $30-80/ hour. Such platforms do the hard work for you in evaluating developers and do a good job of recommending the best ones for your needs. Additionally, their 1-week trial period allows you to start the engagement without any risk.
Quality is everything
Eventually, quality is what sets apart the high-performers from the rest. Big or small, no matter the size of the task, if your long-term focus is consistent value-based growth and excellence, then look no further than premium talent platforms.
For instance, on Flexiple, you will only find the top 1% freelance developers who go through an exhaustive hiring process, while Toptal gives you elite freelancers on a wider range of verticals. Complex products require the best talent, and these networks are ideal to build them.