The Top Freelance Websites for Designers Seeking New Opportunities
Are you a freelance designer looking for work and fast? Check out these top nine freelance websites for designers where you can start applying for opportunities right away.
There's one question that's on every new freelance designer's mind: "Where do I find clients?" If you're nodding your head in agreement, I have good and bad news for you. The good news is that there are limitless opportunities waiting for you and myriad ways to find them. The bad news is that there's no one-size-fits-all answer to your question. The best way to find clients depends on your personality, interests, location, and niche, to name a few factors.
In this post, we'll review the top freelancing websites that designers can turn to when in need of new work. The appeal of these websites is that the work of finding clients looking for design work is done for you; all you have to do, in most cases, is sign up and bid on or apply for projects. The downside of these freelance websites is that most of them are very crowded, and it can take a lot of time and energy to win a project.
Top 9 freelance websites for designers
While there are a plethora of freelance websites for designers out there, this post aims to highlight only the top websites with the best opportunities. Keep scrolling to view our top picks, in no particular order.
Upwork, the product of a merger between Elance and oDesk, is the world's largest freelance marketplace. Businesses of all sizes, from single-person startups to Fortune 100 companies, turn to Upwork to dip into their pool of over 18 million registered freelancers.
Plenty of opportunities: There is no shortage of freelance design opportunities to be found on Upwork. With a fairly robust search functionality, it's easy to filter out projects that don't align with your interests, skills, and rate. If you don't win a bid, you can rest assured that many more opportunities will crop up in its place within minutes.
Secure payments: Upwork offers a unique payment protection program that provides peace of mind to both clients and freelancers. Freelancers are paid weekly for hourly projects. For fixed price contracts, Upwork uses escrow to ensure that clients receive the work they paid for, and freelancers get paid for their delivered work.
Choose between hourly and fixed price contracts: Although freelancers are required to share an hourly rate on their profile, they have the option to quote a fixed price for projects, which can be split into milestones.
Fees: Upwork is notorious for their fees. On the freelancer side, expect to pay Upwork 20% of your income up to the first $500 earned per project. The fee is reduced to 10% after earning $500, and then to 5% for lifetime billings with a client that exceed $10,000. In addition to these fees, freelancers also have to purchase Connects, which are required in order to submit proposals.
Competitive: With a platform of this size, it goes without saying that winning work is competitive. Recently, the process of signing up for the platform has gotten more competitive as well. If you're brand new to the platform, you'll likely have to bid on many projects before you get hired.
Behance is mostly known as a portfolio platform. But did you know it's also one of the top freelance websites for designers looking for work?
Easy application process: If you're actively using Behance to share your work, applying for gigs posted on the platform is as easy as clicking a button.
Established clients: Posting a position on Behance is pricey, which means mostly larger and well-established clients are using the platform to hire freelancers.
Competitive: The easy application process is also a con in the sense that your qualifications for a position will be judged solely on your portfolio. And with over 12 million freelancers registered on Behance, you can bet the competition is pretty steep.
Similar to Behance, Dribbble is a popular platform for designers to showcase their work and get noticed by big brands. Dribbble has a large community aspect to it as well, and with its simple user interface, is a great platform for sharing conceptual work and getting feedback on works in progress.
Quality opportunities: Dribbble's active job board features opportunities from top brands all over the world. Most of these opportunities are full-time or part-time, and many are remote-friendly.
Freelance project paywall: Accessing Dribbble's freelance job board requires a Pro Business account. For freelancers who are very active on Dribbble, paying for access may be worthwhile, but if you're new, know that the competition is pretty steep.
4. Working Not Working
If you're a seasoned freelancer looking to connect with top companies, consider creating an account with Working Not Working. Created by creatives for creatives, Working Not Working has grown into one of the best freelance websites for designers.
No fees for freelancers: Freelancers hired through Working Not Working get to enjoy commission-free pay for their work. All the platform fees fall on the client.
Quality leads: Many top-tier brands, including Apple, Google, and The New York Times, are known to hire freelancers on Working Not Working. In general, the platform seems to attract high quality clients and opportunities.
Competitive: Creating a standout portfolio on Working Not Working and grabbing the attention of companies like Apple is no easy feat. But with no platform fees, freelancers don't have much to lose in setting up an account and applying for exciting gigs.
5. LinkedIn ProFinder
LinkedIn ProFinder is LinkedIn's new marketplace for connecting businesses with top local freelancers. The service is still in beta mode and is currently only available in the U.S.
Tap into LinkedIn's huge database: LinkedIn is the go-to platform for networking with peers in your industry. ProFinder is simply an extension of LinkedIn, which can be a great advantage for people who are already actively using LinkedIn for networking and job seeking.
Local connections: Unlike the other freelance websites on this list, LinkedIn prioritizes connecting businesses to local freelancers. This could be a pro or a con, depending on where you live and what kind of clients you prefer to work with.
Expensive for freelancers: While anyone can post a project on ProFinder free of charge, freelancers can only submit up to 10 proposals before they're required to upgrade to a LinkedIn Premium Business subscription. At $59.99 per month, this is a steep price to pay.
Please note that as of this writing, ProFinder is currently not accepting new applications for freelance service providers.However, LinkedIn itself is still a great platform for lead generation.
TopTal is an exclusive freelance marketplace that claims to offer the top 3% of freelance talent. This claim is a strong selling point for clients who want to hire quickly and are willing to invest in quality design. Unlike most other freelance websites for designers, TopTal is highly involved in the hiring process and in managing working relationships between the client and freelancer.
Exclusivity: TopTal is very selective about the freelancers they accept onto their platform. If you are accepted, you won't need to compete with as many freelancers as you would on a platform like Upwork or PeoplePerHour.
Connect with leading startups and brands: Big-name clients like Airbnb, Shopify, and Udemy use TopTal to find freelancers. If you prefer to work with established brands over small businesses, then TopTal could be a great fit for you, provided you can get through their rigorous assessment process.
TopTal finds clients for you: On TopTal there's no need to submit dozens of proposals at a time, hoping someone will bite. Instead, TopTal does all the work of pairing up clients and freelancers.
Not ideal for new freelancers: If you're just starting out and don't have much experience, your chances of getting accepted onto the platform are pretty slim.
Hourly pay: The only way to get paid on TopTal is hourly. This is a disadvantage for the many freelancers who prefer to charge a fixed amount for a project.
PeoplePerHour is a global freelance marketplace that was founded in the U.K. back in 2007. Since then, millions of opportunities have been posted on the platform, attracting many freelancers worldwide.
Lots of opportunities: Similarly to Upwork, PeoplePerHour has no shortage of design gigs to apply for at any given time.
Build a reputation: Top-rated freelancers have a higher chance of getting hired for more projects. Although it can take time to build up a reputation on the platform, doing so will help you stand out in the vast sea of competition.
High fees: PeoplePerHour's platform fees are steep for freelancers. Freelancers pay 20% in platform fees for projects priced at up to 250 pounds. The fee is reduced to 7.5% for projects between 250-5,000 pounds and then 3.5% for projects over 5,000 pounds. In addition, there's a small fee per invoice and for submitting more than 15 proposals per month.
Crowded: Since PeoplePerHour doesn't have much of a vetting process for freelancers, the platform has become very crowded over the years. Expect to compete with many low-balling freelancers with every proposal you submit.
AngelList is one of the best job websites for designers interested in working in the startup world. Startups worldwide rely on AngelList to source new talent and investors.
No 3rd party recruiters: One of AngelList's top selling points is that freelancers and job seekers are able to connect directly with founders and hiring managers.
Upfront salary: Most job descriptions include a salary range, as well as stock options when applicable.
Connect with top startups: Does the thought of working with innovative tech startups like Slack, Peloton, and Postmates appeal to you? AngelList is likely your best bet in making those connections (aside from having actual insider connections).
No fees: It's free to create an account and apply for jobs.
Mostly for investors and full-time jobs: A quick scan of the job board shows that the majority of the openings are full-time. There are, however, many remote opportunities, and there's always the option to negotiate.
9. We Work Remotely
We Work Remotely is a large database of remote job opportunities. The global job board is frequently updated and receives over 2.5 million monthly visitors.
No application fees: Freelancers don't pay any fees in order to apply for jobs on We Work Remotely. In fact, they don't even need to create an account.
Trusted by top brands: Major companies like Google and Amazon are using We Work Remotely to find qualified applicants.
Not the most user-friendly: Freelancers have the option to filter job postings by category (i.e. Design), and that's pretty much it. A lot of scrolling is required to find interesting opportunities that are a good fit.
Alternatives to freelancing websites
If none of the freelance websites in this post appeal to you, don't worry. You have many other options for finding clients. Below are a handful of the best alternatives to freelancing websites:
Networking: Are you a social butterfly who loves meeting new people? Attending in-person networking events is a great way for you to connect with business owners in your niche. Meeting other freelancers can also result in a lucrative referral network.
Content marketing: Wouldn't it be great if clients came to you, rather than you spending all your time applying for gigs on freelance websites for designers? This is the beauty of content marketing. Sharing valuable, free content on your blog, podcast, YouTube, and/or social media channels helps you attract clients who resonate with your brand and value you as an expert. The downside is that creating content and growing an audience takes time (as in months to years). It's a long game, but a very powerful one.
Cold outreach: Pitching cold prospects is a solid option for finding new clients when you really need work, fast. This outreach method can feel very uncomfortable and icky. However, there are ways to do it from a place of authenticity and service (as taught in our course, The 6-Figure Freelancer).
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