The Best Upwork Alternatives for Freelancers in 2020

Robert Williams

It’s 2020. If you’re over Upwork or just want to explore some alternatives, I have a great place to start. Out off the hundreds of independently reviewed Upwork alternatives for freelancers, Flexjobs had the highest volume of high-value projects and client jobs.

It works very differently from Upwork so let’s dive into why I think it’s such a great alternative.

🏆 The Best Upwork Alternative for Most Freelancers:

Our pick for best Upwork alternative

Flexjobs

Okay. So it’s no secret that Upwork has some iffy projects. Problematic clients, low budgets, and unrealistic demands – are, unfortunately, part of Upwork’s brand at this point.

That means you end up wasting a lot of time filtering through Upwork, instead of sending Upwork proposals.

That’s part of why I think you’ll love Flexjobs if you’re looking for an Upwork alternative.

Out of every freelancing site, Flexjobs has the most high-quality jobs and projects for freelancers I’ve ever seen.

This is because Flexjobs is actually a job curation service. Not a platform. So you’re pay a monthly subscription, NOT a percentage.

That’s means you pay the same whether you land $1 worth of work or $100,000 worth of work.

And their curation is the best I’ve ever seen. They source thousands of jobs and completely filter out anything that’s not high-quality.

That’s why I recommend Flexjobs if you’re tired of some of the scammy, low paying, or tedious projects you find on Upwork.

My favorite features on Flexjobs:

The best Upwork alternative, Flexjobs features advanced search

Awesome search and alert filtering

Because Flexjobs is built for contract work, it allows for job filtering on things you actually care about as a freelancer, like: location, keywords, remote work level, contract type, and even work schedule.

They also do a great job of highlighting and awarding companies for specific and unique accolades like: Fortune 500, 50 best companies for Latinas, and American Heart Association fit-friendly companies, just to name a few. This highlights the quality of the curation on the site.

Best Upwork alternative for freelancers Flexjobs

No middle man or percentage fees

Because Flexjobs is a job curation service and not a platform, they connect you directly with companies. There’s no middleman software or platform you have to use.

Often, you click directly onto a companies website and apply there.

This is great because as an independent freelancer or agency, you want to own the relationship with your clients.

Overall volume and commitment to lifestyle

With Flexjobs you are guaranteed to only find high-quality, serious freelance job listings from clients who are looking for quality freelancers and willing to pay decent money.

There are a ton of different types of jobs on the platform so no matter what kind of work you do, Flexjobs is a great resource.

Again, each job posted to FlexJobs is expertly curated by their team of researchers, who go through every job to make sure that only trustworthy and serious ones are posted.

Try Flexjobs

Note: this is not a referral link. We endorse Flexjobs completely independently.

And why trust me, anyway?

As a publisher of a product design referral newsletter, I’ve personally curated 11,000+ of the web’s best freelance jobs since 2013.

I monitor nearly every freelance site and job board in existence (by hand).

So I’ve gotten to know pretty much every Upwork alternative out there really well. And early on in the process, I discovered that finding great clients comes down to the quality of job sources you have.

So I’ve been reviewing and rating freelance sites for years based on the following criteria:

  1. Volume. It doesn’t matter how awesome a site is if it doesn’t have enough great gigs. Period. You want to join a site that is regularly frequented by clients who are looking to find freelancers. That’s Upwork’s greatest feature.
  2. Quality. You want a site that offers high-quality work from genuine clients who are willing to pay what the work is worth.
  3. Lifestyle. You choose to freelance or work with clients because you love the life it creates. Whether it’s through remote work, respectful boundaries, or the project ethics, a freelance site you use should support that life.
  4. Pricing and ease of use. There’s nothing worse than wasting a bunch of time on a complicated site or having some random company eat into your profits.

Those 4 criteria are how I decided on Flexjobs as the best Upwork alternative for most people.

After all, you want a lot of high-quality opportunities. And in the end, the best job board for freelancers is ALL the job boards. I know because that’s exactly what I do with my referral newletter.

Speaking of which, if you’re a graphic or UI design freelancer or agency, my newsletter is an even better alternative.

Now, there are some other job boards and freelance platforms that could make sense for specific niches. Let’s dive into those next.

Best Upwork Alternatives for Specific Niches:

Best Upwork Alternative for freelance product designers: Folyo Referral Newsletter

Best for Design Freelancers and Agencies

Folyo’s Referral Newsletter

If you do graphic design, UI/UX design, or product design, Folyo’s Referral Newsletter is an even better Upwork alternative than Flexjobs.

Since we focus on projects just within these design niches, we can monitor even more opportunities.

For example, we find RFPs and other contract opportunities on sites like Google, LinkedIn, Slack and more. Since we know exactly what a great design project looks like these are exclusive 5-and-6 figure deals.

Since 2013, we’ve helped design freelancers and agencies make millions of dollars in client work. And unlike Upwork, clients who post on our newsletter are private, so they’re only approached by our members.

Registrations are currently closed, but you can sign up here to get notified when there’s a spot available.

Best Upwork Alternative for Freelancers with No Portfolio

Best for New Designers Without a Portfolio

99Designs

If you are a freelance designer without a portfolio, 99Designs is another great Upwork alternative because it will help you build up your portfolio while you pitch clients.

Since 99designs hosts design contests, you apply by submitting spec-work. While not the best long-term strategy, new freelancers can see success by approaching 99designs as a portfolio building tool. It’s an easy way to get real client briefs, that you can use to build up your portfolio.

Any projects you land should be viewed as a cherry on top.

Should You Consider Getting Off Upwork?

Compared to a lot of people, I’m actually pro-Upwork. Yes, there are negatives of using it. But I think Upwork teaches you about setting boundaries and identifying red-flags when freelancing.

Still, there are dangers to staying on Upwork for too long. If you rely solely on Upwork for years, you will never really own the relationship with your clients. You’ll also need to pay very high fees to Upwork for whatever you earn.

That’s why I recommend using a hybrid approach. If you’re currently seeing success on Upwork, by all means, keep it up.

But mix in some different sources (like the ones above) to bullet-proof your business further. Otherwise, all it takes is one change to Upwork’s policies and you’ll be in a world of hurt.

What to do next

To build a truly resilient client pipeline, I believe you need many sources.

While platforms like Upwork can help, they shouldn’t be the only way you find work. In fact, I think the best way to find clients is to build your own pipeline.

That’s exactly what we teach in my new course, Endless Clients. It’s a step-by-step walk-through on how to find 10+ $10,000 client projects in your niche, whenever you want.

Registration is currently closed, and we only open a few times a year, so sign up below to get notified of a spot when we open up.

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