Marketplaces to Hire Freelancers buyers guide by Inspector Jones

We reviewed a world of options for getting freelance work done – design, development, sales, marketing, writing, translation, and more. Find out the best ways to crowdsource or find freelancers.

The Best Freelance Marketplace

Our independent review for hiring freelancers marketplaces selected as the best option, because of its enormous membership (millions of freelancers), and track record (over $1 billion in payments to date). For many types of freelance work, you’ll find suitable.

The Best Freelance Marketplace - Runner-up


Our independent review for hiring freelancers marketplaces selected oDesk as the runner up. I like oDesk’s enormous membership (millions of freelancers), and track record. oDesk claim they are largest freelance marketplace, based on annual freelancer earnings.

However, note that there are some specific industries and types of work where there are better options than or oDesk. Read on to find out more.

Hiring Freelancers Shortlist

Freelance Marketplace Features to Look For

What to look for in a Freelancer marketplace
Each of the marketplaces for freelancers operates differently. Especially for business, make sure you choose a marketplace that will give the best results. I recommend you look for:
  • For fixed-price work: a payment system that minimises risk. Look for escrow, or options to release payment at certain milestones or completion. Many of the reputable freelance marketplaces require 100% payment upfront, which they will release payment (or partial payment) to the freelancer at agreed milestones.
  • For hourly work: good visibility of hours worked. Many of the reputable freelance marketplaces track freelancer computer activity, so you can see screenshots, keyboard- and mouse-movement
  • Tools for collaboration - sharing documents, teamwork, discussion, etc.
  • A large number of freelancers registered
  • A strong track record, with significant amount of business already conducted through the platform
  • Compliance with appropriate tax and labour laws
  • Record of communications between manager and freelancer
  • Vetting process for new freelancers - to ensure minimum-quality standards for work
What to look for when you hire a freelancer
When using a freelance marketplace, you may find it very different to hiring on-site staff. Interviews, management, working hours, communication and workplace norms are very different. Depending on the freelance marketplace, I recommend you:
  • Review the freelancer's track record - look for reviews from other individuals/businesses who have hired them, and the amount of experience they have
  • Review the vetting process - some freelance marketplaces have minimum quality standards for freelancers to join, others are open and allow anybody to join
  • Look for high results in evaluations and tests - for example, English-language, computer skills or technical skills
  • Review their portfolio of work, and ensure it is up to your standards
  • It may be appropriate to hire a freelancer for a short time as a test of their skills and fit. For this you will usually pay at their regular hourly rate.
  • Conduct an interview, typically over skype.

All Freelance Marketplaces

We’ve reviewed the following freelancer marketplaces. While only some of them made the Inspector Jones shortlist, these are still great options.