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The Best Freelancer Websites for Finding Developers

Dan Steiner
Dan Steiner
at Online Virus Repair Inc., Avila Web Firm

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

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% 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 and 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.

Pros

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

Cons

  • More expensive than other options

2. Upwork

Upwork is a freelance service that works with clients throughout the whole hiring process, from posting to payment, aiming to 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 interview and select the best candidate to join your team and take on the project. Payments can be per project or hour, your choice. Payments will also go through Upwork’s payment system with Upwork keeping a fee.

Pros

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

Cons

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

3. Guru

Guru is similar to Upwork in 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.

Pros

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

Cons

  • Fees can be pricey for non-members

4. Freelance

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 can 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.

Pros

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

Cons

  • Pricey with 10% fee plus possible upgrades
  • With a huge pool comes a 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.

Pros

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

Cons

  • Appropriate for smaller projects or jobs

6. UpStack

As a network of engineering talent, UpStack helps small businesses expand their development team without having to hire anyone new. Each candidate listed on UpStack is vetted to make sure they are proficient in the areas they say they specialize in. This process results in just 1% of applicants being accepted into the UpStack roster of freelancers. Access to this curated group of freelancers comes at a high cost, with a deposit worth hundreds of dollars required to start.

Pros

  • Two-week trial for candidates.
  • Has developers that specialize in all categories.

Cons

  • Just under 700 candidates. Could be hard to find help during busy periods.
  • High deposit costs.

7. 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 the specific services you are looking for.

Pros

  • Good for narrowing in on freelancers in a specific location
  • Free to use.

Cons

  • No review system in place
  • Not easily searchable
  • No payment guarantees and must have own contract in place

8. PeoplePerHour

PeoplePerHour provides three ways for companies to get started on their quest for freelance work. The first option is to browse Hourlies, which are fixed offers that are ready to begin right away. The second option is to post a job and wait for 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.

Pros

  • Fixed price offers provide quick turnaround

Cons

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

9. GitHub Jobs

GitHub is a Microsoft owned subsidiary that hosts software development sessions and helps with version control using Git. More than 50 million developers use the service and GitHub Jobs regularly has postings for various types of development jobs. Though most of the listings are for full-time positions, freelance offerings have shown up from time to time. If you're looking to post a job, it costs $450 per listing.

Pros

  • Using this site is akin to going directly to the source, since millions of developers use GitHub.
  • Covers all kinds of development needs all over the world.

Cons

  • High job posting price.
  • Predominantly features full-time postings.

10. Gigster

Built to help companies find development talent, Gigster can help connect your company with qualified teams of developers. Billed as an on-demand service, Gigster allows companies to build tech projects without already having a development team on hand.

Pros

  • Connects your company with a full development team
  • Matches your business with product managers, who help handle the ins and outs of the team

Cons

  • No direct pricing information available
  • Needs more than a couple of days to get going

11. Dice

With more than three million tech professionals registered on its tech and IT job board, Dice is a strong tool for finding freelancers. Like some other job boards in this field, a single job listing costs approximately $400, though given the importance of development work, this may be worth it for your business.

Pros

  • Large database of users
  • Easy to use interface
  • Easy search tools can match candidates to your needs

Cons

  • Each listing costs hundreds of dollars

12. Authentic Jobs

This job board is aimed at helping big and small companies find designers, developers and creatives to help fill empty roles. Part-time, full-time and freelance positions make up the board and all kinds of industries are represented on it. Unlike other job boards, Authentic Jobs has a lower job listing price of $149 per month or $199 per month for a featured job listing.

Pros

  • Cheaper job listing prices
  • Can also help find designers and creatives
  • Comes with a money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Simplistic application process could leave more to be desired

Tips on hiring a developer

When searching for a developer, regardless of whether they'll be a full-time, part-time or freelance addition to your team, you should be mindful of several things. By failing to pay attention to details, you can end up hiring someone with a large salary that doesn't fit your company's needs.

Be upfront about your needs. Development is a large area of expertise. What a software developer must bring to the table will be different from a web developer. It's with that in mind that you have to make sure your job listings are as detailed as possible to ensure you hire the right person without wasting either party's time.

Emphasize the importance of deadlines. Development setbacks can be costly. If your company is relying on the expertise of a good freelance developer to get things done, then you're going to want to make sure they're punctual with their work. If possible, ask for references from past employers when seeking out freelancers.

Hire experts. When you look for a freelance developer, be sure to pay attention to their credentials. There are different certifications one can earn when becoming a developer, so be sure to ask to see them. You also want to know what previous job experience and training they have, etc.

Be sure to test abilities. It's one thing to call oneself a developer, but it's another to have the chops to get the job done. To make sure the person you're bringing on is a good fit, set up a small test to make sure they know what they're doing.

Additional reporting by Andrew Martins

Image Credit: RossHelen / Getty Images
Dan Steiner
Dan Steiner
business.com Member
See Dan Steiner's Profile
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.