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Best Freelancer Websites for Finding Developers

Updated Aug 18, 2023

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Finding qualified, full-time development and engineering employees who are right for your business is tough. The process is made even harder by an ongoing skill shortage that’s also driving up the cost of hiring. But you might not need a full-timer, especially if you just want help with a specific problem or upcoming project. 

Companies often choose freelancers over full-time employees because you pay them to do one thing and have no further obligation to offer them work after that. A freelance developer or engineer could be all your business really needs, and you can start the search process right here.

Did You Know?Did you know

If your goal is to create a website for your business, there’s an alternative to hiring a freelance engineer. Instead, you could use one of the best website builders and design services, which make it easy to develop a site on your own.

The best websites for finding developers

The internet provides a litany of freelancing websites for you to trawl through to see if there’s someone out there who can fulfill your needs. The prospect can be exciting and daunting. These directories are useful for the sheer volume of candidates that are accessible to you, but frustrating because there are simply too many to comb through. 

We’re going to make the process easier by detailing some of the best options out there. Here are the best freelance websites to help you find a star developer for your team.

1. Toptal

Toptal connects startups and businesses with the top 3 percent of software engineers around the world. 

Toptal homepage

Image source: Toptal

Toptal requires all applicants to pass the following assessments:

  • A language and personality test
  • A timed algorithm test
  • Technical screenings with other Toptal engineers
  • A test project

If they’re accepted, they must commit to maintaining a perfect track record in their work with clients.

Compared with how challenging it is for freelancers to be listed on the site, getting started on your end is quite simple. First, you’ll tell Toptal how many engineers you need and the type of technology your freelancers will be working with. Then, the Silicon Valley-based company provides a list of possible matches. If they don’t find someone for you right away, they keep looking.

It’s up to you which freelancers become part of your team. And if you feel you made the wrong choice, all fees are waived and the vendor starts the search again.

Pros

  • A tough screening process ensures quality candidates and saves you screening costs.
  • The vendor offers a 100 percent risk-free trial.

Cons

  • This site can be more expensive than other options, as fees rise depending on market demand for particular skills, freelancer experience and so on.

Freelancer categories: Developers | Designers | Finance Experts | Project Managers | Product Managers

2. Upwork

Log into Upwork and create a listing describing the type of job you need done. You’ll have an audience of hundreds of thousands of programmers and developers to promote the work to.

Upwork homepage

Image source: Upwork

You can advertise practically any job — big or small, individual or team, short term or long term. Freelancers then pitch you for the opportunity, which allows you to compare profiles, prices, feedback and portfolios before picking the best person for the gig.

You can pay by the hour or by project via Upwork’s payment system. The vendor keeps part of the fee.

Pros

  • The high volume of bids reduces labor costs.
  • The site offers a secure and easy online payment system.
  • A network of thousands of ready-to-work developers is available.

Cons

  • The platform does not offer verification guaranteeing how skilled a freelancer actually is.
  • A high number of bids can result in pricing fixation and lead to a lack of quality.
  • There is often a long cycle from job posting to project completion.

Freelancer categories: Accounting & Consulting | Admin Support | Customer Service | Data Science & Analysis | Design & Creative | Engineering & Architecture | IT & Networking | Legal | Sales & Marketing | Translation | Web, Mobile & Software Development | Writing

3. Guru

Guru is similar to Upwork but offers a better search experience, as this site allows you to filter freelancers by their specialties, categories, location, feedback, rate and more. This makes it easier for top freelancers to stand out from the crowd.

Guru homepage

Image source: Guru

When a project is underway, you and your freelancer manage it through the platform’s Work Room. This is where you can share project deadlines and milestones as well as simply communicate with the contractor. Payments can be made through the Guru SafePay system or by invoice. With SafePay, you deposit money into Guru’s SafePay account and the vendor pays the freelancer only after you approve the work.

Guru charges clients (in this case, your business) 2.9 percent of the invoice value. They charge freelancers up to $50 a month and up to 9 percent of the job fee. While developers might find those costs a little too steep for their liking, Guru’s fees can help ensure commitment and quality work. 

Pros

  • The platform offers a refund system if you are not satisfied with the work.
  • You have the ability to search for freelancers easily via the site.
  • Guru offers a secure payment system with funds only transferred upon your approval of the work.

Cons

  • The freelancer pool is limited because of high fees.

Freelancer categories: Programming & Development | Writing & Translation | Design & Art | Administrative & Secretarial | Sales & Marketing | Engineering & Architecture | Business & Finance | Education & Training | Legal

FYIDid you know

If you want to connect business software with your website, you need to know which questions to ask a web developer before hiring them. Your questions should center around their experience, how much of the work they do themselves, and whether they want to be paid by milestone or upon completion.

4. Freelancer

Freelancer.com lets you list your project and receive competitive bids from freelancers. The site also has a reputation system to simplify the process of finding the right worker. Each freelancer’s reputation is determined by client scores for jobs completed and performance (such as whether projects were delivered on budget and on time) and by the freelancer’s frequency of repeat client hirings.

Freelancer.com homepage

Image source: Freelancer.com

In addition, you can pay for upgrades to your listing, such as marking your project as featured within the posting system or having Freelancer’s recruiters help you screen candidates.

Pros

  • Freelancer has a huge talent pool of freelancers, many of whom are based in lower-wage economies and may charge less.
  • The site is great for project-based work.

Cons

  • A hefty 20 percent freelancer fee may result in higher client prices as freelancers pass the cost on to you.
  • The platform is home to 65 million freelance members with little to no verification of their actual skills.

Freelancer categories: Websites, IT & Software | Writing & Content | Design, Media & Architecture | Data Entry & Admin | Engineering & Science | Sales & Marketing | Business, Accounting, Human Resources & Legal | Product Sourcing & Manufacturing | Mobile Phones & Computing | Translation & Languages | Trades & Services | Freight, Shipping & Transportation | Telecommunications | Education | Health & Medicine | General

5. Fiverr

You probably won’t get what you want for a fiver on Fiverr, but this platform does offer businesses access to tens of thousands of programmers and developers.

Freelancers’ profiles introduce who they are and what services they offer. Many feature job thumbnails and introduction videos. They generally advertise three versions of each product — a basic, standard and premium version — with the basic price listed on freelancer catalogs to draw in visitors.

Fiverr homepage

Image source: Fiverr

Clients pay a 5.5 percent fee on top of the purchase amount, plus an additional $2 if the purchase amount is under $50.

Pros

  • The platform’s review system for freelancers includes comments from previous clients.
  • A quick turnaround is available from many freelancers.

Cons

  • The site is best for smaller projects or jobs.
  • In many cases, the premium service offered is the one you want, but it costs multiple times the basic option.

Freelancer categories: Graphics & Design | Digital Marketing | Writing & Translation | Video & Animation | Music & Audio | Programming & Tech | Data | Business | Lifestyle | Photography

Did You Know?Did you know

Many developers have preferred cloud service providers. You might already be signed up to Microsoft Azure, while your freelancer might want to work with Amazon Web Services (AWS) instead. In this scenario, have them justify their preference by asking them to provide an Azure versus AWS cloud comparison showing why you should switch.

6. UpStack

As a network of engineering talent, UpStack helps small businesses expand their development team without having to permanently hire anyone new.

Upstack homepage

Image source: UpStack

UpStack developers undergo vigorous vetting, so you’ll only be working with the top 1 percent of applicants. To get started, you’ll have a 15-minute call with the UpStack team, which will then send you a shortlist of candidates to interview. When you’ve chosen who you want to work with, the job is managed via the UpStack platform. If you’re not happy with your choice, let Upstack know within two weeks and they’ll waive their fees.

Pros

  • A two-week trial period is available.
  • The site has developers that specialize in particular categories as well as full-stack developers, which is ideal for project management.

Cons

  • With only 650 developers in the network, you may have trouble finding the talent you need during busy periods.
  • Expect to pay $65-75 per hour for your developers and a deposit of $399 after selecting a developer.

Freelancer categories: Frontend Developers | Full Stack Developer | Java Developers | Node.js Developers | Python Developers | React.JS Developers

7. PeoplePerHour

You can find programmers and developers in three ways on PeoplePerHour. The first way is to browse “Hourlies,” which are fixed offers from freelancers who are ready to begin right away (similar to Fiverr). The second option is to post a job and wait for proposals to roll in. The third option allows you to search the directory of freelancers and contact them directly.

PeoplePerHour homepage

Image source: PeoplePerHour

Within PeoplePerHour’s system, you can manage your project, communicate with your contractor, and pay them for a job well done.

Pros

  • Fixed-price Hourlies provide quick turnaround, sometimes in as little as 24 hours, depending on the work involved.
  • The healthy competition for work among freelancers means you can get a good deal for your job.

Cons

  • The site is not designed for longer-term projects.
  • You need to make a down payment for work to start.
  • This platform is UK-focused, so freelancers operate in a different time zone than U.S. businesses.

Freelancer categories: Technology & Programming | Writing & Translation | Design | Digital Marketing | Video, Photo & Image | Business | Music & Audio | Marketing, Branding & Sales | Social Media

8. Gigster

More of a specialist platform than the others, Gigster connects businesses with developers to work on blockchain, NFTs, artificial intelligence and machine learning, Internet of Things, cloud, and enterprise software build projects.

Gigster homepage

Image source: Gigster

The vendor has 800 developers, 200 project managers and 100 designers signed up to the service. Gigster claims, like UpStack, that its freelancer pool represents the top 1 percent of global talent on the market.

Pros

  • It connects your company with a full development team.
  • The platform matches your business with product managers who help handle the ins and outs of the job.

Cons

  • No direct pricing information is available.
  • Setup requires more than a couple of days to get going.

Freelancer categories: Blockchain/NFT | Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning | Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality | Cloud and Backend | Internet of Things (IoT) | Web and Mobile | eCommerce | Enterprise Software | Application | QA Automation | UI/UX | Security

TipBottom line

When negotiating with a freelancer, try to agree on a fair price, but make sure what you offer reflects both their market worth and the value their work will add to your business.

9. Dice

With more than three million tech professionals registered on its tech and IT job board, Dice is a strong tool for finding freelancers.

Dice homepage

Image source: Dice

Like some other job boards in this field, a single job listing costs approximately $400. Keep in mind, however, the importance of the development work. This expense may be worth it for your business.

Pros

  • There is a large database of users.
  • The platform offers an easy-to-use interface.
  • Straightforward search tools help match candidates to your needs.

Cons

  • Each listing costs hundreds of dollars.

Freelancer categories: Cryptocurrency | Blockchain | Docker | JavaScript | SQL | Artificial Intelligence | Big Data | Chef | MATLAB | Django | MongoDB | TensorFlow | Agile | Machine Learning | Kanban | C# | GraphQL | Data Mining | Neural Networks | Scala

10. Authentic Jobs

This job board is aimed at helping big and small companies find designers, developers and creatives to help fill empty roles. 

Authentic Jobs search bar

Image source: Authentic Jobs

Part-time, full-time and freelance positions make up the listings, and all kinds of industries are represented. Unlike other job boards, Authentic Jobs has a lower job listing price of $149 per month, or $199 per month for a featured listing.

Pros

  • The site offers cheaper job listing prices.
  • This platform can also help you find designers and creatives.
  • The job board comes with a money-back guarantee.

Cons

  • The simplistic application process could leave more to be desired.

Freelancer categories: Artificial Intelligence | Backend Engineering | Frontend Engineering | Copywriting | Customer Support | Design | Marketing | Sales | Operations | Product Management

Tips on hiring a freelance developer

When looking to hire freelancers, especially for engineering and development work, there is more to consider than how much you’re willing to compensate them and how much the developer is willing to accept. There are benefits and risks to working with freelancers. If you fail to pay attention to detail during the hiring process, you could end up signing a contract with someone who isn’t the right fit for your business. 

To set yourself up for a successful freelance relationship, follow these tips:

  • Be upfront about your needs.You have many different types of developers to choose from. A software developer will have a very different skill set than a web developer, so make sure your job listings are as detailed as possible. This will ensure you only attract inquiries from the right type of freelancer so you don’t waste your time or theirs.
  • Emphasize the importance of deadlines.Development overruns are costly. Try to get references from past employers to see if the developer you wish to take on is punctual with delivery.
  • Understand your own limitations. If you don’t have a development background, you may find it worthwhile to hire a freelancer first to plan out the project, including identifying which types of developers you’ll need and when. You may wish to hang on to this project manager to oversee the work when it’s underway so there’s someone reporting to you with a firm understanding of engineering.
  • Hire experts.Check a freelancer’s credentials before you offer them a contract. Ask to see their certificates, their previous job experience, and any training they’ve done to keep up with changing technology. [Read related article: Why In-House and Freelance Web Developers Are Both Ideal for Small Businesses]
  • Test abilities.To make sure the person you’re bringing on is a good fit, set up a small skills test. They should be able to demonstrate what they can do before you award them the job.

Dan Steiner contributed to this article.

Mark Fairlie
Mark Fairlie
Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Ownership
Mark Fairlie has written extensively on business finance, business development, M&A, accounting, tax, cybersecurity, sales and marketing, SEO, investments, and more for clients across the world for the past five years. Prior to that, Mark owned one of the largest independent managed B2B email and telephone outsourcing companies in the UK prior to selling up in 2015.
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