Upwork vs Fiverr vs Work for Impact. Doing well by doing good: what freelance platform serves your purpose?
Social impact professionals working freelance or leading a small business are at the forefront of a new normal. The wave of the current pandemic has impacted the way we understand work.
Business as usual has shifted from commuting to your 9-to-5 gig to working remotely in the comfort of our homes.
Spurred by the new situation, many have dissected their current employment situation for purpose, pleasure, and longevity. They are flirting with a working model that boosts freedom and flexibility while allowing them to combine their talent and calling into sustainable success.
Enter job platforms.
Whether you’re new to the freelance market or facing pandemic-infused challenges, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. You need to market yourself to find projects that nourish both your soul and your bottom line.
Luckily, there are marketplaces perfectly suited for remote talent seeking work and clients wishing to outsource jobs. The most common freelance platforms are the market leaders Upwork and Fiverr and, since 2020, Work For Impact.
- Which freelance platform suits you best as an independent social impact professional?
- How do they differ in opportunity?
- How do they treat their users?
- What’s the mission behind the scenes, and are they staying true to their cause?
- How do they fit into your business plan?
Let’s dive deep into the realm of virtual employment so that you, as a purpose-driven professional, can start doing what you want and do best: put your planet-saving talent to work.
Upwork vs. Fiverr vs. Work for Impact – a brief overview of the three freelance platforms.
Upwork as we know it goes back to its predecessor in 1998. That year, an MIT graduate Beerud Sheth and Wall Street veteran Srini Anumolu founded the first work marketplace for outsourcing IT work. Little did they know that their start-up would herald a new era of business, connecting clients and freelancers online, worldwide.
Today, Upwork is one of the largest freelance platforms in the world, with eighteen million registered freelancers and five million registered clients. 90 categories with three million jobs worth over USD 1Bn annually generate revenue of US $M374 every year.
Fiverr was built in 2010 by Micha Kaufman and Shai Wininger as a platform for people to buy and sell a variety of digital services typically offered by freelance contractors. Their mission is to change how the world works together. 2020 saw a total of 3.42 million buyers using the platform.
Fiverr started out offering digital services in eight different categories for as little as US$5. Today, the platform covers more than 500 service categories generating an annual revenue of US $M189,51.
Founded by Geoffrey Hucker in 2020, Work for Impact is a purpose-driven freelance platform. In other words, it strives to connect socially responsible organizations worldwide with impactful freelancers looking for work with a purpose.
By pairing the right people with the right project, WFI’S mission is to nurture positive change throughout the world. In addition, they donate 6% of their revenue to charities and their own Pathways program.
5 essential criteria for finding the right platform
So much for the outline of the three freelance platforms. But how do you go about finding the right platform to nurture your business, purpose, and bottom line?
We’ve identified five essential criteria to help identify the freelance platform that works best for you and capture the market you want to serve.
- Set-Up and Project Management
- Payment & Security
- Pros & Cons
Freelance platform in the spotlight – Upwork
Set-Up and Project Management
Your success story on Upwork starts with creating a free, client-focused profile. It contains your work history, skills, profile title, picture, and more. There are multiple options to make your profile compelling (think: introductory video!) and stand out to clients. After completing your registration, you can apply to available jobs. Alternatively, you can create and post your own projects, e.g., creating a website, a logo design, or writing a blog post.
Upwork has a free basic plan. It comes with 10 monthly “Connects,” Upwork’s virtual currency, enabling you to submit proposals or post your own projects. The amount of Connects needed differs from project to project – usually from 1 to 5 Connects.
By winning a project, you earn more Connects. You can also buy additional Connects or upgrade your plan to Freelancer Plus. This monthly subscription costs US$14.99 and includes 80 Connects monthly along with other benefits.
Big names such as Airbnb, Microsoft, GoDaddy, and Nasdaq rely on finding and hiring talent through the Upwork marketplace.
Payment & Security
It’s up to you whether you choose an hourly job or a fixed-price contract. Either way, Upwork has a secured payment system in place, making sure you receive your earnings.
Payment options include direct deposit, PayPal, Payoneer, wire transfer, and more.
This freelance platform has a 3-tiered service fee system. It charges the following fees for completing a job as a freelancer (based on lifetime earnings with your client):
- 20% for the first US$500 you bill a client
- 10% for total billings between US$500.01 and US$10,000
- 5% for total billings over US$10,000
Freelance Platform Pros & Cons
Upwork is the biggest player among the freelance platforms and marketplaces. Not only is it the oldest, but it’s also the most trusted platform of all.
Millions of people and organizations use the platform to take on jobs or hire talent. Once your profile is up and running, you’re looking at an avalanche of opportunities just a mouse click away.
However, the number of competing users on the platform can make it tough to stand out, make yourself heard, and fight your way through the noise as a freelancer. Working your way through job opportunities, finding suitable matches, and making a proposal is also very time-consuming. Similarly, the clients have a hard time going through the plethora of bids they receive for a single job.
As one among many, resilience will have to become a staple among your qualities. The number of proposals getting zero client response and time-consuming pitches ending with the client picking the cheapest competitor can be frustrating.
Also, the 3-tiered service fee system advocates a false sense of loyalty even if you’re less than happy with the client.
Freelance platform in the spotlight – Fiverr
Set-Up and Project Management
Like its sister platforms, Fiverr offers free registration and has its own corporate identity language:
As a freelancer, you are a Seller. Clients looking to hire talent are Buyers, whereas a service offered on Fiverr is a Gig.
If you want to reach out to potential buyers on Fiverr, you need to create a profile. Quite like Upwork, it’s all about customizing your profile to add a personal touch and stand out from the crowd.
Your profile is also where you list the Gigs you offer, complete with their individual rate. For every service you offer (like ghostwriting blog articles), you create a 3-tier services package, clarifying precisely what a potential buyer can expect in terms of service, results, and timeline.
Fiverr’s approach is all about selling your Gigs rather than you applying for specific Gigs. Being buyer-oriented, Fiverr aims at creating an e-commerce experience for buyers to filter and browse relevant Gigs according to their needs and choose their favorite vendor. Therefore, testimonials and a portfolio go a long way.
Instead of waiting for buyers to find you, browse the “request” feature to scout for job posts and send and actively reach out to potential clients with a custom proposal.
Fiverr also offers training both for newbie and established freelancers looking to broaden or deepen their skills. Look for their on-demand courses and guides to a plethora of business-related subjects.
Primal Play, Elsie Magazine, TEDx speakers, Haerfest are among the most prominent brands hunting for talent on Fiverr.
Payment and Security
Fiverr offers only fixed rate Gigs.
Payment methods include Credit/Debit Card, PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Wire Transfer, IDEAL, GiroPay, Sofort, Boleto, and OXXO.
In addition, Fiverr has introduced a seller payment protection program.
As long as you can prove that you provided the requested service in full, Fiverr will protect you as a service provider from fraud chargebacks. If a buyer executes a chargeback, Fiverr will add the funds back to your account, which is will be accessible within 45 days. However, the order is subject to review by Fiverr’s Trust and Safety Team.
Just like Upwork, Fiverr deducts a fee for every Gig sold. But unlike Upwork, Fiverr has an overall cost of 20% making their fee model very straightforward, albeit less attractive for more extensive or long-term Gigs and business relationships.
Pros & Cons
The service fee deducted from every Gig is straightforward, but 20% is a steep fee.
Working through the guides and courses is an excellent way to build solid business fundamentals and pave your way to freelance success.
Fiverr is best suited if you’re starting out and building your portfolio. On the other hand, it’s also a good starting point if you’re looking for a quick cash infusion while bootstrapping your marketing efforts.
Freelance platform in the spotlight – Work for Impact
Set-Up and Project Management
Work for Impact is the freelance platform that offers the most transparent and straightforward way to market yourself.
- Sign up and create your profile for free, receive 30 Impacts a month (good for up to 30 projects or job applications) with the option to buy more as needed.
- Add any information, such as your background, education, work history, and portfolio items to help organizations understand your skills and expertise.
- Complete a verification test to prove your skills and foster trust in your abilities.
That done, you’re ready to go to search for jobs matching your skills and experience. If there’s a cause you’re particularly passionate about, you can search for jobs that support your cause and send out proposals to individual projects and jobs.
Just like Upwork, Work for Impact uses its own currency called Impacts. Impacts are needed to send proposals for jobs, and one proposal costs 1 Impact. The free package includes 30 Impacts per month, plenty of opportunity even if you’re bootstrapping your marketing. Additional Impacts can be bought in bundles of ten, twenty, or thirty, making the whole process transparent and fair.
When signing up with Work for Impact, you’ll realize that this is more than just a marketplace. It’s about connecting mission-driven people and organizations.
Work for Impact clients rank among the big names of nonprofits, NGOs, and for-purpose organizations, such as Amnesty International, Sea Shepherd, Plastic Oceans, and many more, alongside green startups and local causes and smaller projects, offering an easy “in” for new talent.
One of the many ways WFI proves their worth:
They screen all clients for authenticity and ethical business practices before allowing them to post jobs on the site. As a result, the bidding process and project management are lean and straightforward for freelancers.
Payment & Security
There are hourly and fixed rate projects, and the available payment/payout methods are Payoneer or Stripe.
For assignments running on an hourly contract, freelancers are encouraged to use the Time Tracking app for an additional layer of security.
The Payment Protection Program.
While clients can approve or dispute the time logs submitted, once a client refuses to pay despite valid time logs, Work for Impact will step in and cover the work costs.
The payment protection program does not cover manual time entries and fixed-price contracts. However, any fixed-price contracts exceeding US$500 are split into at least two payment milestones for the freelancer’s protection.
The WFI service fee system is as fair as it is transparent, and the fees are the lowest on the market:
Work for Impact has a transparent 2-tiered service fee system in place. 10% are deducted from freelancer earnings less than US$10.000 per client and 5% for freelancer earnings more than US$10.000 per client.
They donate 6% of their revenue to 9 partner charities working on sustainability, social, and animal welfare issues.
But there’s more: World of Impact has also launched a partner program called Pathways which supports young people in low-income countries with job readiness and IT skills training.
Freelance Platform Pros & Cons
If you’ve started as a freelancer with a mission to help make the world a better place with your work, then Work for Impact is your go-to platform. And you’ll find yourself in excellent company.
Work for Impact is the only place where both freelancers and clients ally for the same reason: to promote their cause and do good with it. This leaves you with abundant opportunities in line with your values and mission at your fingertips.
Vetting clients and freelancers alike before approving them ensures that Work for Impact’s mission is permanently in practice. And you can take their word for that. More than 600 like-minded clients follow suit by hiring talent dedicated to social impact to contribute to causes they care about, numbers climbing rapidly.
With each job completed through the platform, you directly support, champion, and advocate positive change in the world, with 6% of Work for Impact’s revenue donated to supporting charities.
All in all, Work for Impact is not for quick-and-dirty outsourcing. This is where big picture projects happen.
Conclusion: Which freelance platform is the best?
Every freelance platform stands out in its own way and comes with a learning curve. While your personal preferences, background, and desired clients will dictate which platform works best for you, here are some highlights to help you choose a starting point.
- All three freelance platforms offer simplified set-ups to attract new talent. If you’re new to the freelancing world and want to start making a living on your own terms or if you’re established but need to make bank ASAP, it’s possible to set out, set up, and start selling in just a couple of hours.
- If you’re not sure where to hitch your wagon, sign up free and scout the platforms from the inside. Additionally, read their mission statements and get an idea of their approach to fair play, including the ways they help you protect and grow your business.
- It all comes down to which platform best fits your current processes, needs, and strengths. Start with an honest look at where you are on your business journey.
- Do you need to secure a constant flow of orders and income?
- Are you expanding to new ventures, new locations?
- Do you want to promote positive change with every project you complete?
If you are a purpose-driven freelancer, your dedication has a place where you can join forces with allies on a mission. If this mission fosters positive change in the world, then World of Impact is for you.
Connecting like-minded freelancers and clients, they walk the walk and help you build a reputation and cash flow. At the same time, they are actively promoting best practices and lending support all-around: protecting their users, championing the next generation, donating to ESG projects.
Whether you sign up for one or all platforms, holding fast to your purpose and staying true to your values is key.
Did you find this article helpful? Are you interested in knowing more about Social Impact jobs, check out this blog on What We Wish Everyone Knew About Social Impact Jobs.
Which platform is your favorite?
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