Woman at a desk sitting in a chair writing on a piece of paper while also browsing freelance job boards on her laptop.

Being a newbie freelancer is exciting, intimidating, and overwhelming all at once. Not only do you have to hone the skills that are part of your service offering, but you also have to learn the business side of working for yourself, which includes finding clients. Here are the best freelance websites for beginners and explanations of what makes them the top choices for you below. 

What are the best freelance websites for beginners?

1. Toptal

You might be concerned about security when you’re just getting started as a freelancer. How do you know if a platform is legit? How do you know that clients you’ve only met online will actually pay? 

If these questions are at the top of your mind, Toptal is a great choice. It has an in-depth screening process that ensures only the best freelancers make it through to work with its top-tier clients, many of which are Fortune 500 companies. 

Toptal focuses on several skill areas: developers, designers, project managers, product managers, and finance experts. To begin using the platform, you must apply and pass language and skills screenings and complete a test project. 

2. Fiverr

If you’re looking to get your freelance career up and running quickly, Fiverr is hard to beat. You can easily upload work samples and build your portfolio, and its simple interface for chatting with clients helps you learn the lay of the land when it comes to setting terms and accepting payments. 

Because Fiverr is so popular, there’s a lot of competition. One hack for getting your first few jobs faster is creating and specializing in a niche. So, instead of focusing on all kinds of graphic design, work only on logos or social media graphics. Clients will be more likely to choose you over other designers when they can see examples of your work that are specifically relevant to their needs. 

3. Freelancer.com

Many gig websites cater toward freelancers who work online in jobs like copywriting or software development, but not all freelance work takes place on a computer. If you’re looking to broaden your horizons a bit, check out Freelancer.com, which offers a nice mix of digital and non-digital jobs. 

You’ll find plenty of the traditional freelance listings for work like graphic design and website development, but you’ll also find physical jobs like packing and shipping products. They offer local listings where you can find people in your area looking for help with projects like painting houses and landscaping. 

There’s even a ‘Jobs for Anyone’ category for work people with almost any skill set can do, like shooting stock videos on a smartphone. This is a great option for making a few quick bucks, even if you’re not looking to make freelancing your full-time gig. 

4. Upwork

Upwork is a platform powerhouse that caters to freelancers of every skill level, from novice beginners to experts with decades of experience. 

Because Upwork’s freelancer profiles are more extensive than other platforms, it takes a bit longer than some of the other freelance marketplaces to get up and running. For example, you’ll need to verify your identity with an acceptable form of ID. It’s also a good idea to complete at least a few of the platform’s skills assessments to show prospective clients that you have a base level of experience.

Creating a profile, browsing jobs, and submitting your first few applications are free. After that, you’ll need to purchase Connects, which is Upwork’s version of a token system freelancers use when applying for jobs. This helps mitigate having an avalanche of applications for every position. 

While Upwork may require its freelancers to jump through a few more hoops than other platforms, we think it’s superior in terms of finding high-quality and high-paying jobs. 

5. TaskRabbit

If you live in a major metro area and want to earn real money fast, there’s a very good chance you can do it as early as today using TaskRabbit TaskRabbit is a freelance platform geared toward one-time around-the-house work like snow removal, lawn mowing, and furniture assembly. 

One of the best things about TaskRabbit is the one-off nature of the work. You can do a single job a few times a year when you need extra cash or build up a base of recurring clients and earn a solid full-time living. 

The biggest downside is that it’s not available in all cities.

6. 99Designs

Are Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator your tools of choice? Then 99Designs is the platform for you. It’s a freelance website dedicated solely to design projects: websites, apps, t-shirts, you name it. If it requires an artist or a developer’s touch, you’ll find requests for it on the site. 

99Designs facilitates standard one-to-one contract work between clients and freelancers. Still, it also has a really cool Contest feature where designers compete against one another for a hefty pot of prize money. This allows clients to access a large sampling of design styles for a single price while helping emerging designers get their work out there. 

The platform is more expensive than others, charging new designers a $100 introductory fee (which comes out of the paycheck from your first completed project). However, the longer you work on the platform, the lower fees you’ll pay. The system’s algorithm also improves at matching you with the best-fitting jobs for your style over time. 

7. Crowdspring 

Launching a product or company from the ground up can be a ton of fun. Turns out, it can also be very lucrative when you contribute to the effort on a platform like Crowdspring. Crowdspring taps into the collective wisdom of its hundreds of thousands of freelancers to help get new businesses off the ground with projects like branding, logo design, and signage. 

If you have a way with words, you’ll be a shoo-in for the platform’s naming and tagline projects, which call for freelancers to come up with catchy product names and memorable slogans. You can even help people create the art for their next tattoo.

Here’s how it works: clients submit a creative brief outlining their needs. Designers submit dozens of concepts, which the client ranks. The client’s fee is distributed in a series of awards and tips to the freelancers with the highest-ranked designs.

It’s a fun departure from the standard freelance job application process and can help you get more eyes on your work. Plus, clients who love your portfolio can hire you independently for one-on-one jobs. 

Don’t get discouraged if the first platform you use doesn’t pan out. It often takes multiple tries to find the one that’s the right fit for your skills and work style. Many freelancers list their offerings on multiple platforms, especially when they’re just starting out. 

Give it time. With a little dedication and hustle, you can create a freelance business that’s as simple as a little extra spending money or as elaborate as full-fledged self-employment. Good luck, and have fun!

For a comprehensive guide on how to jump head-first into the gig economy, check out our post on how to start freelancing with no experience

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Pete Newsome is the founder of zengig, which he created after more than two decades in staffing and recruiting. He’s also President of 4 Corner Resources, the Forbes America's Best Staffing and Recruiting Firm he founded in 2005, and is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance. In addition to his passion for staffing, Pete is now committed to zengig becoming the most comprehensive source of expert advice, tools, and resources for career growth and happiness. When he’s not in the office or spending time with his family of six, you can find Pete sharing his career knowledge and expertise through public speaking, writing, and as the host of the Finding Career Zen & Hire Calling podcasts. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn