Toptal vs Fiverr: Which Is Better for Hiring Freelancers?

August 4, 2020

We recommend you hire freelancers on Toptal over Fiverr because Toptal vets their talent. However Fiverr has more freelance talent than Toptal.

You can read our individual reviews to help you make an informed decision:

Or if you continue reading, you will learn the pros and cons of hiring freelancers on Toptal and Fiverr.

Toptal vs Fiverr: Which Freelance Platform is Best to Hire From?

Toptal praise and pros

Toptal’s claim to screen 3% of the talent may or may not be entirely accurate (I’ll discuss Toptal’s vetting process in a moment).

What matters is Toptal saves you time spending hours filtering through freelancers for their performance. After all, if Toptal didn’t have hoops for freelancers to jump through, then their available talent would dilute. As a result, their market differentiation would be… the same as almost any other freelance marketplace.

Many entrepreneurs hiring on Toptal note their support staff is very hands-on. Toptal also has a fantastic UI and billing process. 

Toptal has a fast placement process. According to Toptal, “In a typical engagement, we’ll introduce you to candidates within 24 hours. And 90% of our clients hire the first candidate we introduce.”

Toptal sets high standards for freelancers. Freelancers must maintain high customer satisfaction ratings. Otherwise, Toptal will remove them from the platform.

A no-risk test project. The first time you work with your freelancer, you get a two-week test period with your new hire. If you’re not satisfied, Toptal will take the loss and won’t charge you for the freelancer’s work. (Please note: this is not a “free trial” in that if you accept the project, you will pay for the hours billed).

Toptal’s screening process 3% will weed out some quality workers. But it’s better to miss out on a potential A player than to waste precious time on a borderline freelancer who turns out to be a B or C player.

Fiverr praise and pros

Fiverr began with a promise to find simple professional services at $5. As entrepreneurs had bigger projects and freelancers wanted bigger paychecks, the gigs began to expand.

Then in 2017, Fiverr launched Fiverr Pro.

To become a Fiverr Pro, each freelance applicant has to apply and go through three rounds of vetting. 

During the first round, two Fiverr managers will make sure a freelancer has the level of professionalism and experience expected.

Next, the vetting varies on the category the person applies to become a Pro. 

It’s common for Pros to submit a portfolio, a list of past clients, years of experience, and other typical resume info.

Freelancers who get Fiverr's approval receive a “Pro” icon in their profile page:

Fiverr praise and pros

Winner: Toptal

What type of freelancers can you hire on Fiverr and Toptal?

Freelancers on Toptal

Toptal doesn’t have nearly the total number of freelancers for you compared to Upwork. But do you really need 12 million freelancers, or just a handful of freelancers to consider to get the job done? More than 100,000 people apply to join Toptal every year, but they accept only 3%. In simple numbers, that means they add roughly 3,000 freelancers every year. 

That means rather than spending your time and energy vetting freelancers, Toptal does the heavy lifting for you.

Toptal is a good place to start if you’re serious about growing your business and are ready to invest in top talent at a reasonable rate. 

As of this writing, Toptal has vetted developers, designers, and finance experts. If you want to hire a freelancer with a different skill set, you may want to consider a different freelance platform.

The difficulty of using Toptal to source freelancers is if you are looking for someone to help with a small, one-off project. Toptal asks for a $500 commitment for the first project, which is fully refundable if you’re freelancer is not a fit.

Freelancers on Fiverr

One of the biggest benefits of hiring on Fiverr is how fast you can hire someone to work at a reasonable price. Especially for a pre-defined project.

Let’s say you want to hire someone on Fiverr to improve your SEO:

Freelancers on Fiverr

You can filter workers by:

  1. Specific services, such as Page Optimization, Off-Page SEO, Technical SEO, and Competitor Analysis.
  2. Service options, such as industry expertise (e.g. tech, e-commerce, and health & wellness), and more specific services.
  3. Seller qualifications or details, such as Fiverr seller level, languages they speak, and where they live.
  4. Delivery time, from 24-hour turnaround to as long as you need.
  5. Budget, from $5 to pro gigs at $5,000 or more.
  6. Pro services, which shows those Fiverr screens as pro verified (more on this in a moment).
  7. Who is online right now, by clicking “Online Sellers.”

A common objection you may hear to hiring on Fiverr is the low quality work... 

But this next example shows that Fiverr workers deliver promising results.

In 2016, AdEspresso tested three marketplaces: Fiverr, 99Designs, and Upwork. Their goal was to hire a few designers to A/B test their Facebook ads

A common objection you may hear to hiring on Fiverr is the low quality work... 

Of the three freelance marketplaces, Fiverr had the highest click-through rate (CTR) of 0.91% and lowest cost-per-click (CPC) of $0.37. 

AdEspresso’s designer beat the Fiverr designer with a 1.5% CTR and $0.33 CPC, which may decrease as the ad quality score improves. 

But that’s not an apples-to-apples comparison. 

Fiverr costs only $5 for one graphic. For you to hire AdEspresso’s designer, it would take time to find, hire, train, and pay for ongoing costs. The value of hiring a quality freelancer is you don’t need to keep paying them until you’re ready for them to go full-time.

Freelancers on Fiverr Pro

In 2017, Fiverr launched Fiverr Pro. Since then, Fiverr has had a stronger focus on B2B services. Big brands from Paypal to Payoneer have used Fiverr Pro to get quality work done and off their plate.

As of this writing, Fiverr Pro offers the following B2B services:

  1. Graphics & Design - Logo Design, Brand Style Guides, Business Cards & Stationery, Illustration, Brochure Design, Poster Design, Flyer Design, Book Design, Album Cover Design, Packaging Design, Web & Mobile Design, Social Media Design, Portraits & Caricatures, Cartoons & Comics, Architecture & Interior Design, Building Information Modeling, Industrial & Product Design, T-Shirts & Merchandise, Presentation Design,  and Infographic Design
  2. Music & Audio - Voice Over, Mixing & Mastering, Producers & Composers, Singers & Vocalists, and Session Musicians
  3. Video, Photography, & Animation - Whiteboard & Animated Explainers, Video Editing, Short Video Ads, Animated GIFs, Logo Animation, Intros & Outros, Character Animation, 3D Product Animation, Lyric & Music Videos, Live Action Explainers, Visual Effects, Product Photography, and Local Photography
  4. Digital Marketing - Social Media Advertising, Social Media Marketing, SEO, Public Relations, Email Marketing, SEM, Marketing Strategy, Web Analytics, and Mobile Marketing & Advertising
  5. Writing & Translation - Articles & Blog Posts, Resume Writing, Proofreading & Editing, Translation, Sales Copy, Press Releases, Product Descriptions, Website Content, Scriptwriting, Book & eBook Writing, and Email Copy
  6. Programming & Tech - WordPress Development, Website Builders & CMS, Game Development, Web Programming, E-Commerce Development, Mobile Apps, Cybersecurity & Data Protection, Chatbots, and Data Analysis & Reports
  7. Business - Market Research, Business Plans, and Presentations

Winner: Toptal

What is the screening process on Toptal and Fiverr?

Toptal’s screening process

What’s Toptal’s vetting process to make sure you work with world-class talent?

Toptal uses a 5-step screening process to source the top 3% of freelancers:

  1. Language & Personality - In this phase, Toptal is looking for candidates who read, write, and speak English fluently. They also look for personality traits, drive, and passion to see the work through to completion. According to Toptal, an estimated 26.4% of applicants pass this test.
  2. In-depth Skill Review -  Here, Toptal screens freelancers for technical knowledge. It’s common to use a codility test or an automated test of one’s programming skills. According to Toptal, only 7.4% of total applicants make it through this round.
  3. Live Screening - After testing the freelancer’s skills, Toptal does a live screening test. Toptal supplies an expert in each domain to do a video chat with the applicant. During the screening, the candidate receives a test while an expert watches how and what they code. If they fail, they may be asked to re-apply in a month. According to Toptal, only 3.6% of applicants pass this round.
  4. Test Projects - Over 1-3 weeks, a freelancer must complete a test project related to a real-world scenario. Here, the candidate puts everything into action, testing everything from competence to their professional style. According to Toptal, only 3.2% of applicants pass this round.
  5. Continued Excellence - Once the test is complete, Toptal freelancers are expected to maintain high-quality work. If work quality slips or there’s poor communication, the freelancer is let go. According to Toptal, only 3% of applicants continue to their high standards.

Even with this level of screening, Toptal has a wide pool filled with a specific talent set. Instead of hiring any DevOps engineer, Toptal can help you find an “AWS DevOps engineer who understands Docker, Jenkins, RDS...” and any other needs you may have. 

The dollar per hour will often increase when you need a specific skill set. But you’ll also know the freelancer better fits your needs than finding a freelancer for yourself on Fiverr.

Fiverr’s screening process

For the regular Fiverr services, Fiverr does not screen any workers. However, they will remove freelancers from their platform if their feedback is too low.

Fiverr Pro’s Screening process

Fiverr launched Fiverr Pro in 2017. 

To become a Fiverr Pro, each freelance applicant has to apply and go through three rounds of vetting.

Fiverr starts with an application process. Here, they ask about your professional background, your higher education, previous work experience, past clientele, certifications, samples of work, and other achievements the freelancer deems relevant.

Here are the exact questions Fiverr Pros are asked for their application:

  1. Do you have a higher education degree, certificate, or equivalent?
  2. Do you have any professional certificates? (e.g. Google Analytics, Adobe Photoshop, etc.)
  3. What area are you a professional in?
  4. What primary service would you like to offer on Fiverr Pro?
  5. Briefly describe your work process and flow. What do you need from your customers to get started on their project?
  6. Please list your notable projects (they require at least two).
  7. How much do you typically charge for this sort of project?
  8. Is there anything else you would like to mention that will help us to get to know you better?

During the first interview round, two Fiverr managers will make sure a freelancer has the level of professionalism and experience expected. Next, the vetting varies on the category the person applies to become a Pro. 

In the interview process, the Fiverr Pro team thoroughly checks for the following:

  • Personal information and identity verification
  • Work history and experience
  • Education and certifications
  • Online presence and social appearance
  • Behavioral and customer-centric approach
  • Language proficiency

Winner: Toptal or Fiverr Pro

Register with Fiverr Pro

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How long is the hiring process before you work with a freelancer on Toptal and Fiverr?

Toptal’s hiring process

Hiring normally takes a long time, as anything worth doing should take time. But because Toptal screens their candidates, they can place you with a candidate in 48 hours:

Toptal’s hiring process

If there are no candidates available in Toptal’s network, it typically takes 1-3 weeks for Toptal to locate, screen, and work with every expert.

Fiverr’s hiring process

With Fiverr, you set the pace of the hiring process. Because Fiverr structures the scope of each freelancer’s offer, it’s easier to make a decision the day you hire.

That said, finding the right candidate may involve:

  1. Find potential candidates (1-2 hours).
  2. Screen candidates (1-3 days).
  3. Choose from the freelancers (1-3 days).

Again, there’s a degree where you set the speed in which you hire. But hiring too fast will cause more damage to your business and brand in the long run.

Winner: Toptal

Pricing and fees: How much does it cost to hire freelancers on Toptal and Fiverr?

Toptal’s pricing

Toptal does not charge a fee above their regular pricing. Instead, they add a profit margin above the freelancer’s rates. 

Most rates you’ll pay are what you’d expect to pay outside their platform. 

Toptal offers this pricing chart:

Toptal’s pricing

What you pay your freelancer depends on:

  • The tech stack needed for your project.
  • The necessary skill(s) to complete the task.
  • The project size.
  • What market you are in.
  • General market demand for the type of freelancer needed.

Fiverr’s pricing

As the name implies, most Fiverr gigs will cost you $5. 

Fiverr also released Fiverr Pro, a high-end freelance service. According to Fiverr, only 1% of applicants receive pro status. These hand-selected freelancers often offer services between $500 and $10,000.

When you buy a Fiverr Gig, Fiverr charges you $2 for all gigs that cost up to $40. All gigs above $40 have a 5% fee. Fiverr Pro uses the same fee structure, charging 5% as well.

Although you may view this fee as annoying, these costs are typical for most freelance platforms. This fee covers all processing fees, project disputes, and customer service.

Winner: Toptal

Does Toptal or Fiverr offer any kind of risk-free trial or guarantee?

Toptal’s Policy

Toptal requires a $500 deposit which applies to your first bill. If you get a freelancer you are not satisfied with, you are not required to make any payment. You can choose to either part ways with Toptal or restart the hiring process.

The first time you work with your freelancer, you get a two-week test period with your new hire. If you’re not satisfied, Toptal will take the loss and won’t charge you for the freelancer’s work. (Please note: this is not a “free trial” in that if you accept the project, you will pay for the hours billed).

Toptal does not mention any information on their website how they handle disputes. However, every Toptal client receives an account manager who can help resolve your issues.

Fiverr’s Policy

If you have an issue with an order, you can use Fiverr’s Resolution Center to assist you. Fiverr recommends using the Resolution Center to work things out with your buyer before contacting their customer support.

Winner: Either

Is Fiverr or Toptal better for hiring freelancers?

Fiverr and Toptal are both beneficial for different hiring needs.

When should you consider hiring on Toptal?

Toptal is an excellent freelance platform for hiring quality talent. Because of the time they invest in curating the best talent, you’ll spend less time to find the right freelancer.

If you’re looking to hire vetted developers, designers, or finance experts for a project with a budget of $2,000 or more, go with Toptal.

When should you consider hiring on Fiverr?

Fiverr is a fantastic place to hire virtual assistants to do simple tasks like data entry, finding lead names and email addresses, and simple task management.

Fiverr Pro is becoming a go-to hub for quality freelancers who have a wide range of skills to help you grow your business. Fiverr Pro has more categories than Toptal, they have fewer freelancers in each category.

If you want to work with developers, designers or financial experts, check out Toptal first

Otherwise, you should check out what Fiverr Pro freelancers offer.

Overall Winner: Toptal