Freelancers. Contractors. Sole proprietors. Solo-entrepreneurs. Participants in the gig economy. There are several names for what you do, but they all reflect one idea: you work for yourself, find your own clients, and are responsible for your success alone.
While others may find this idea to be terrifying, you navigate your career with confidence, always looking for new ways to grow your income—and you’re not alone.
According to a 2018 report by Gallup, 36% of workers in the US have some sort of gig arrangement. The range goes from gig work as a sole source of income (like a solo-entrepreneur) to employees picking up freelance jobs as a side hustle.
With more people entering the freelance workforce, competition for jobs is on the rise. If you are looking to grow your professional success—or even just maintain your current income level—then you need to market yourself and attract future clients. In 2020, that means turning to the web.
The Gig Economy Index by PYMNTS found that 60% of gig workers use digital marketplaces to find new opportunities. These opportunities range from basic job sites like Indeed to more advanced, niche forums.
Bookmark this guide if you want to expand your freelance footprint. You can learn how to evaluate a freelance job marketplace and return to these 15 top pages to look for jobs. This is a resource you’ll want to reference and share throughout your entrepreneurial career.
How to Evaluate Freelance Job Boards
There are dozens of online freelance job boards available—and the number is ever-growing, so you shouldn’t worry about joining them all.
Several of the websites won’t be relevant to your career path or business, while others will be too niche or small to check regularly.
While this guide highlights 15 of our top sites for finding freelance work, you can find your own favorites (and share them with us) by using a set of criteria to evaluate them. Here are a few considerations when you first land on a freelance job board.
- Is the website free or paid? Some paid websites promise higher-quality work and more opportunities for job seekers. Before you sign up for monthly payments, set a goal for yourself. If you don’t actually get clients from that site within 90 days or 6 months, cancel your subscription. Otherwise, you’re wasting your money—there are plenty of free sites available.
- Is the website industry-specific? Look for niche job sites that only post listings that are relevant to your career. These sites can make searching easier and cut down the overall pool of applicants. However, you may not want to go too niche in your search—that will limit the opportunities available to you.
- Do the job types match what you’re looking for? The word “freelance” is so broad that many companies don’t know how to label it. You may find long-term contract gigs that ask you to work full-time for 8 months or even relocate for a while. If this commitment level isn’t what you’re looking for, then you need to find a website that has listings relevant to your specific needs.
- Do the levels of compensation match your expectations? Along with looking at job types, consider their payment levels. If the majority of a site’s job listings offer subpar payment to what you usually charge, then you shouldn’t waste your time there.
- Are new jobs posted regularly? It might not be worth your time to check smaller sites that only post a few jobs each week. Additionally, many companies cross-post jobs on multiple sites, so you may see the same listing on a mainstream job site like Indeed or Monster.
The more freelance job sites you visit, the better you’ll get at evaluating their worth. You may return to some websites daily for work while ignoring others completely. Remember: the best job board is the one that has the most relevant leads and brings in the most clients to your business.
15 Top Freelance Gig Sites to Grow Your Client Base
Upwork is a great place to start when looking for freelance work. It is one of the most popular and largest sites for freelance gigs. If you are new to the gig economy and want to see what options are out there, turn to Upwork.
Because this is one of the largest job boards, the competition to get noticed is high. Upwork uses a bid system where applicants bid on jobs based on their skills and pay rates. The increased competition means that you may have a harder time landing gigs if your rates aren’t competitive or if you have less experience than others. However, if you have a niche skill set, this website could work in your favor.
One of the more important considerations about using Upwork: they charge freelancers a service fee for using the platform (which manages the entire workflow process from application to payment). They currently use the following sliding scale based on your lifetime billings on the platform:
- $0–$500: 20%
- $500.01–$10,000: 10%
- $10,000.01 or more: 5%
This sliding scale means that until you earn $500, Upwork will charge you a 20% fee on your contract. The fee scale then remains at 10% until you earn more than $10,000, at which point it drops down to 5%.
The sliding scale incentivizes freelancers to build their business on Upwork, but many freelancers may not feel comfortable forfeiting 5%+ of their earnings.
Fiverr is another household name for most freelancers. Users can advertise their services, saying they will perform a task for a certain price. Instead of applicants responding to jobs, it’s the job creators who seek and contact relevant talent.
Fiverr got its name because the prices used to be so low ($5). However, as the site has grown in popularity, you can find more experienced freelancers with thousands of reviews who charge more.
As a new freelancer on Fiverr, you will likely need to set your rates lower than you might want to land a few jobs. As you get more gigs and ratings, you can adjust your pricing to align with your clout on the site.
Similarly to Upwork, Fiverr also charges freelancers for using the platform in the form of a service fee. Their standard service fee is 20% of the order total. Again, as a freelancer looking to build your name and bankroll, you need to weigh the pros and cons of using a larger platform that takes a sizable share of your earnings.
One of the main benefits of the gig economy is that workers aren’t limited to 1 employer—and employers don’t have to hire one full-time employee. In fact, this is the basis of Crowdsource, a site where workers choose from a selection of tasks to complete on their own schedule.
Employers use Crowdsource when they need to scale their work. For example, a retail website might need product descriptions for 500 items going into the holiday season. Instead of hiring a couple employers working on hundreds of descriptions, dozens of freelancers can take a handful of items and get the work done quickly. There are lots of tasks to pick up on this site, especially if you work quickly and produce reliable results.
If you are looking for a large number of jobs and users on a freelance website, then Guru is another major platform to consider. This site boasts more than 800,000 registered employers and one million paid invoices.
You can also see how competitive your field is. Guru claims to have more than 500,000 programming and development freelancers on the site but only 11,000 legal freelancers—so differentiating yourself is essential to getting noticed and hired.
Signing up for Guru is free. However, the site charges freelancers a fee of up to 9% on every paid invoice. They also offer paid membership plans that reduce these fees and make your portfolio more prevalent for employers to find.
Through Freelancer, employers can post jobs that freelancers bid to take. What sets this website apart from its competitors: you can clearly see the bids that other freelancers submit. You can also see how many people applied to do the work before you submit your bid, which shows you how competitive a position is.
Freelancer allows employers to post gig work on either an hourly or per-project fee basis. This specificity means you can look for jobs based on your preferred project salary. However, other freelancers might outbid you by offering the same service at a cheaper rate.
FlexJobs isn’t an open job board (meaning users need to register), and it isn’t free. The most affordable option for using this site is the $50/year program, which comes out to less than a dollar per week. FlexJobs claims that its job listings are higher quality and that applicants are able to distinguish themselves because they pay to get noticed.
People who use FlexJobs fill out a profile with their resume and portfolio. They can link to any awards they’ve won and share images and videos from projects they’ve worked on previously.
FlexJobs also has dozens of quizzes that applicants can take to showcase on their profiles. When you score well on these quizzes, it validates your skills or expertise for a specific task—giving employers more incentive to choose you.
SolidGigs is another paid service that costs $19/month. However, this brand sets itself apart by emailing top jobs to you.
SolidGigs is an aggregator, pulling from nearly 100 websites and sending out jobs from the best ones. You can select the job criteria you want so that the gigs you see are relevant to you. SolidGigs may be a good option if you don’t have time to browse several job boards each day.
SolidGigs also has an extensive course library that boasts over 127 courses, videos, lessons, and tools that you can use to grow your knowledge base. This feature adds to the value of the paid job board service.
8. Hubstaff Talent
Hubstaff Talent is a global job search tool that has reached 199 countries and features almost 100,000 freelance profiles and 3,000 agencies. This freelancing website is extremely organized—different jobs are sorted into specific categories, making browsing for work easier.
Employers who want to hire team members on Hubstaff Talent will browse individual and agency profiles to consider who to hire. These companies can form a team of workers to get a project done.
This collaborative feature enables companies to build their own team by pulling in several freelancers via 1 listing instead of trying to source freelancers across multiple listings and job boards.
Applicants who want to apply for jobs on FreeUp will choose a level of experience (which correlates to expected pay rates). Choose between entry-level, mid-level, and expert-level jobs in your area and submit your resume and writing samples. If you’re a good fit for the FreeUp site, staff members will set up a 15–20 minute interview to learn more about your skills.
Once you’ve been properly vetted and approved, you can access FreeUp’s freelance marketplace. By vetting freelancers beforehand, companies can feel confident in the applicants who respond to their job lists. However, this may feel more like working with a recruiter than checking a job board for some applicants.
With over 87,000 registered clients, ServiceScape is a prominent option for freelancers who are looking to get noticed. Employers can either look for specific freelancers to join their teams or submit projects that they want freelancers to complete. Employers can also message freelancers and schedule conference calls to review their work or get updates on how the project is going.
11. Authentic Jobs
The listings on Authentic Jobs fall into 3 categories: full-time jobs, freelance jobs, and remote jobs. By separating these 3 options, members of the gig economy can find the top positions they want while employers don’t feel isolated if they want to advertise for both full-time and freelance work.
Authentic Jobs makes money by charging employers. Companies pay to post their listings and potential contractors can apply for free. This process ensures that Authentic Jobs has a wide range of talent applying for various positions, increasing the chances that employers find the perfect team members to hire.
Do you prefer to do the bulk of your work online? If so, Remote is an ideal site for you. Instead of sorting through local freelance jobs where you may be required to work in an office for the duration of a contract, look for remote work where anywhere can be your office.
Remote is more of a staffing website than a freelance-centric job board; however, there are plenty of freelance and contract listings that you can respond to. Remote also has a strong infrastructure for payment, invoicing, and taxes, which helps both employees and employers stay on top of the financial side of gig work.
SkiptheDrive is another website that specializes in helping people find remote work. Users can browse by category, from account management to web development, and look for freelance jobs that can be done from home.
This website is unique because of its remote focus—many job-listing sites include in-office work or partial remote positions. SkiptheDrive is ideal if you don’t want to filter through office jobs while searching for fully remote options.
14. Working Nomads
Working Nomads was created for freelancers who are traveling the world and looking to make money wherever they are. Companies that advertise on this website are less picky about when and where contractors work because the best talent could be on the other side of the world. This site is certainly a smaller job board, but it offers a niche for a specific type of worker.
If you are used to using traditional job sites like Indeed to look for freelance work, then SimplyHired will look familiar. Employers can list jobs and freelancers can apply for them. This website is a good option for those looking for significant contract work, meaning you want the stability of a full-time or part-time job without the limitation of only working for one employer. If you aren’t sure about entering the gig economy full-time, then you can apply for full-time jobs through these listings as well.
How to Stand Out on Freelance Job Boards
Not only is it important to find relevant job boards that share listings you actually want to apply to, you also need to respond to these jobs effectively. Here’s a few tips to keep in mind:
- Set aside time each week. Working as a freelancer is a process. Always try to have leads and applications in your funnel. Set aside time each week (or even a few minutes each day) to apply for jobs and submit your portfolio for consideration.
- Keep your materials close at hand. Applying for jobs is much faster if you have all of the materials ready. Keep an updated resume, basic cover letter, portfolio, and work samples nearby so you can submit them to various job listings. This preparation allows you to increase the number of gigs you apply for.
- Reach out to existing clients for recommendations. Some job boards may allow you to list testimonials or references. Reach out to your clients and satisfied customers first before you list them to ensure you have their permission. Also, try to choose a few top sites for recommendations—that way, your clients aren’t writing a review of your work every week.
- Track which websites give you the most success. Don’t waste your time on websites that never drive any leads. If you keep applying to jobs but never get them, switch to another website with different listings and a new target audience.
Freelance workers don’t have the luxury of resting on their laurels. If you want a regular stream of income, you need to keep applying to jobs and growing your client base. Regardless of your industry, sales and self-promotion are two key skills for contract workers. Keep this in mind as you look for relevant freelance job boards to grow your career.