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The Best Freelancer Websites for Finding Developers

Dan Steiner
Dan Steiner

Finding good help can be hard these days, especially in the development and engineering world.

It seems that getting the right, qualified, full-time employees and keeping them can be almost impossible. That’s what makes hiring freelancers such a great alternative.

Freelancers can be hired to assist with a specific problem or upcoming project. The limited attachment to freelancers keeps the cost down while addressing your company’s need. Who knows, you might even find the perfect full-time developer in the process.

The Internet provides a litany of freelancing websites out there for you to trudge through and find out which works the best for your situation.

This freedom can be a double-edged sword.

It’s good for the sheer volume of candidates that are accessible to you, but bad because there is just simply too much to comb through. We’re going to make that process more palpable by detailing some of the best options out there. Here are our top 10 freelance websites to help you find a star engineer:

1. Toptal

Toptal connects startups and businesses with the top talent in software engineering from around the world. The company uniquely boasts that they can give you access to the top 3 percent of freelance developers all over the world. They do this by screening all applicants before they enter their freelancing talent pool.

Toptal Screenshot

Image via Toptal

Toptal’s screening process includes a language & personality test, timed algorithm testing, technical screenings with other Toptal engineers, a test project and an ongoing commitment for these freelance developers to maintain a perfect track record while working with clients.

As rigorous as this process is for potential freelance engineers, Toptal aims to make it the opposite experience for clients. First, clients will tell Toptal how many engineers they need and the type of technology they are working with.

Then, the Silicon Valley-based startup will provide a status report letting you know of any possible matches. If found, they can become part of your team right away, even starting on a 100 percent risk-free trial basis. If a match doesn’t exist, Toptal will keep working until it finds one.


  • Tough screening process ensures quality candidates and saves you screening cost
  • 100% risk free trial


  •  More expensive than other options

2. Upwork

Upwork is a recent moniker adopted by Elance-oDesk after their merger last year. This freelance service works with clients throughout the whole hiring process, from posting to payment, aiming provide users with a great experience on their marketplace.

Upwork Screenshot

Image via Upwork

Upwork’s process is simple enough. Start by describing the type of job you need done. It can be practically any job—big or small, individual or team, short term or long term. Potential candidates will apply to your posting allowing you to compare profiles, feedback and portfolios.

Then, you will interview and select the best candidate to join your team and take on the project. Payments can be per project or per hour, your choice. Payments will also go through Upwork’s payment system with Upwork keeping a fee.


  • High amounts of bids can reduce cost of labor
  • Secure and easy online payment system
  • Network of thousands of developers ready to work


  • High amounts of bids can result in pricing fixation leading to lack of quality
  • Long cycle from job posting to project completion

3. Guru

Guru is similar to Upwork in the sense that you start your freelancer search by describing and posting your job on their site. However, unlike Upwork, Guru adds another layer through the ability to search for a specific freelancer based on specialties, categories, location, feedback, rate and more. This allows top freelancers to stand out from the crowd instead of having to apply for jobs each time.

Guru Screenshot

Image via Guru

Guru also provides a collaboration and project workspace called Work Room. In Work Room, you can share project deadlines and milestones or simply communicate with your freelancer within the Guru system. Payments can be made through the Guru Safepay system or by invoice. With SafePay, an employer deposits money into Guru's Safepay account and Guru pays your freelancer only after you approve the work.


  • Refund system if not satisfied with work
  • Ability to search for freelancers
  • Secure payment system


  • Unless you're a member, Guru's fees can be pricey

4. Freelancer

Much like the websites mentioned above, Freelancer.com allows you to list your project and receive competitive bids from freelancers. They also have a reputation system to simplify the process of finding the right freelancer.

Freelancer.com Screenshot

Image via Freelancer.com

In addition, you have the ability to add upgrades for a fee to your project such as marking your project as featured within the posting system or having Freelancer’s recruiters help you screen your candidates.


  • Huge talent pool of freelancers
  • Great for project based work


  • Pricey with 10% fee plus possible upgrades
  • With huge pool comes lack of talent in some places

5. Fiverr

Fiverr takes the freelance marketplace and sizes it down into smaller project chunks. Freelancers make profiles introducing who they are and what services they offer with the website even offering an introduction video. Companies can search from their talent pool by typing in a keyword or going straight into defined categories such as "Web & Mobile Design."

Fiverr Screenshot

Image via Fiverr

True to their name, most Fiverr freelancers will have little services that they offer for $5, but jobs will also include a listing of "Gig Extras" that can be added for higher fees.


  • Review system to rate freelancers
  • Quick project turnaround
  • Very affordable option


  • Appropriate for smaller projects or jobs

6. Staff.com

While some other freelance websites focus or cater to short term projects, Staff.com aspires to be the best for longer term work (think longer than 90 days at 20 hours per week). Staff.com also sets itself apart by offering its service completely free, kind of. They are building a community in hopes that businesses latch on to its time management and tracking software called Time Doctor.

Staff.com Screenshot

Image via Staff.com

Time Doctor is $9.99 per month per employee with the possibility of volume discounts. Staff.com uses the typical model for hiring freelancers: post a job, screen the candidates, interview them, hire your selection for a trial and continue with long term freelancer.


  • No deductions on payments to freelancers
  • Currently free


  • Not for shorter term project work

7. Elance

We spoke a little earlier about the oDesk-Elance merger and even though they have offered their new service, Upwork, Elance still exists and is taking new customers. Elance does have a similar model though, and their is little difference. Businesses will post their project, get recommendations on candidates in Elance’s system, hire the preferred freelancer and make payments.

elance screenshot

Image via Elance

Once you approve work, Elance does tack on a 8.75 percent fee to the completed job. It does seem like Elance will be going away sooner rather than later, so it might make more sense to switch to Upwork if you are comfortable with this marketplace.


  • Can transfer account to Upwork when ready
  • Huge talent pool


  • Big talent pool can drive down quality for price

8. Craigslist

Craigslist is much more than a marketplace for apartment rentals or used furniture. It actually can be a solid source for freelancing services. You can browse their vast listings by specific cities and view postings for computer services being offered there.

craigslist screenshot

Image via Craigslist

Listings are sorted by date posted and you can search by keyword for specific services you are looking for.


  • Good for narrowing in on freelancers in a specific location


  • No review system in place
  • Not easily searchable
  • No payment guarantee and have to have own contract in place

9. PeoplePerHour

PeoplePerHour provides three ways for companies to get started on their quest for freelance work. The first option is to browse Hourlies™. Hourlies are fixed offers that are ready to begin right away. The second option is to post a job and wait for the proposals to roll in. Finally, the third option allows you to search the directory of freelancers and contact them directly.

peopleperhour screenshot

Image via peopleperhour

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


  • Fixed price offers provide quickest turnaround


  • Not focused on longer term projects
  • Requires down payment for any work to be started

10. GetACoder

GetACoder is a services marketplace connecting buyers (employers) to providers (freelance professionals). They focus on the fact that many of their freelancers are in a different geographic location (234 different country locations that is) bringing down labor costs significantly.

Get a Coder screenshot

Image via Get a Coder

Buyers post jobs for free and wait as freelancer's submit bids. Bids come with an attached portfolio to help buyers decide between freelancers. GetACoder also provides collaboration tools for buyers and providers to use throughout their project.


  • Access to many countries will bring down price of job


  • Focusing on breaking down geographic barriers can lead to language miscommunication
  • No tests for freelancers to pass



Dan Steiner
Dan Steiner,
business.com Writer
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Dan Steiner is a technology entrepreneur, writer, and cyber-security expert, with a deep background in the CA startup community. He is currently Chief Executive Officer at the security firm Online Virus Repair Inc., as well as an active mentor and volunteer at startup events throughout the region. His work has been featured in a number of publications, including the Huffington Post, Inc, Yahoo, Verizon, and Monster.