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Our Freelance Websites for Developers picks for 2023

By: RAECHEL CONOVER | Fact Checked By: JAMIE OSTROE | Updated: January 27, 2023

As a business in the 21st century, your software, website, and applications are imperative to the success of your business. Startups and small businesses need a flexible workforce of software developers to test new ideas, launch prototypes, and complete special projects. Even if you hire a team of full-time developers, you will likely still need freelancers at some point. Our guide on the best freelance websites for hiring developers will put you on the path to finding well-vetted and talented developers that meet your budget and needs.


Our Top Picks

  1. Upwork – Best for a Large Pool of Talent
  2. Toptal – Best for Well-Vetted Developers
  3. Lemon.io – Best for Startups
  4. Fiverr – Best for Business Collaboration
  5. Guru – Best for Affordable Freelance Software Developers

Freelance Website Reviews

We identified 42 websites to hire software developers and narrowed it down to five vendors based on key features, pricing transparency, reputation, and customer service. The companies we reviewed are well-known in the industry and offer a range of ways to connect with potential talent to make the right choice for your next project. Read our methodology for more information about how we selected our top picks.

upwork logo

Upwork – Best for a Large Pool of Talent

Upwork is one of the largest freelance platforms around. As an Upwork client, you can search for freelance software developers in several ways, including:

  • Talent Marketplace – you create a job posting and choose from the talent that applies for it.
  • Project Catalog – you use Upwork’s pre-defined projects to find and hire a developer.
  • Talent Scout – a program where you are set up with a recruiter who provides you with a shortlist of freelance developers that can meet your needs. You interview and hire from the provided shortlist.

Upwork also offers an Enterprise plan, a paid program that gives you specialized customer support, the top level of talent to choose from, team collaboration tools, and fully managed solutions. Pricing for this plan is based on your needs and requires speaking with an Upwork representative to get a quote.

Pros
  • Large pool of talent
  • Multiple ways to search and hire talent
  • Hire more than just developers
Cons
  • No phone support
  • No email support

Upwork features

  • Quality of freelance software developers – freelance software developers on Upwork must provide samples of their work and have their identity verified. Past client reviews will be visible to you before making a hire.
  • Ways to find freelance developers – Upwork allows you to post jobs you need a freelancer to complete. You can do this in two ways – posting a project in the Talent Marketplace or using pre-built projects in the Project Catalog. You can also use a recruiter to find the right freelance web developer through the Talent Scout program.
  • Other talent categories – while hiring freelance software developers might be the main reason you use Upwork, the site also offers many other talents for hire. Popular categories include design, content writing, data entry, and more.
  • Hiring locations – choose to hire remote developers in the U.S. only or worldwide.
  • Communication and interviews – communicate with potential hires and conduct video interviews through Upwork’s in-app messaging system.

What markets does Upwork serve?

With a vast pool of candidates and offerings beyond just hiring freelance software developers, Upwork is a good fit for those companies hiring for a range of projects.

Read our full Upwork Review.

toptal logo

Toptal – Best for Well-Vetted Developers

Designed with quality in mind, Toptal offers some of the best-vetted talent on the market, making it one of the best places to hire freelance developers online.

Toptal provides industry experts to help you make the right hiring decision on the first try. Utilizing the top three percent of talent, a freelance web developer match is provided and, according to the company, is the right fit 98 percent of the time.

Pros
  • Talent match typically available in 24 hours
  • Offers trial periods on projects and hires
  • Extensive testing and screening vets talent
Cons
  • Initial deposit required
  • No upfront pricing

Toptal features

  • Quality of freelance software developers – Toptal puts candidates through rigorous testing and screening and only keeps the top three percent of applicants for their talent pool.
  • Ways to find freelance developers – meet with a representative who matches you with three freelance software developers within 24 hours. You then enter a two-week trial period where you can experience working with each freelancer to make the best decision for your company and project.
  • Other talent categories – Toptal works with many industries hiring designers, finance experts, project managers, and product managers in addition to developers.
  • Hiring locations – experts are for hire in over 100 countries.
  • Communication and interviews – instead of an interview, you get a two-week trial work period with potential talent.

What markets does Toptal serve?

Toptal prides itself on connecting talent with Fortune 500 companies and fast-growing startups. The elite talent pool enables these companies to connect with the right talent the first time around to complete high-skilled, complex projects quickly and on target.

Read our full Toptal Review.

lemon.io logo

Lemon.io – Best Freelance Developers for Startups

Lemon.io is a service that enables companies to hire just freelance software developers, specifically for startups. It involves a five-step vetting process, custom matching, and a replacement guarantee to ensure the success of your project. Fees are straightforward and include a refundable project deposit and hourly rate.

Pros
  • 24-hour custom match
  • Works specifically with startups
  • Well-vetted developers
Cons
  • Limited customer service options
  • Deposit required per project

Lemon.io features

  • Quality of freelance software developers – Lemon.io thoroughly vets freelance software developers by putting them through a five-step process, including resume evaluation, background and identity check, English oral and written testing, coding testing, and a live interview. The company only selects the top talent that wants to work specifically with the high energy and hustle of startups.
  • Ways to find freelance developers – through the custom match process, the company fills out a quick form answering key questions. An expert from Lemon.io will match your project with the perfect remote developer. A replacement guarantee backs the custom match in case the match doesn’t work out.
  • Other talent categories – Lemon.io fills the specific niche of hiring developers for startups. No other hiring options are offered.
  • Hiring locations – freelance software developers offered through Lemon.io are based primarily out of Eastern Europe.
  • Communication and interviews – there is a completely open door policy, and companies may communicate with their matched developer anytime.

What markets does Lemon.io serve?

Lemon.io enables startups to hire remote developers to fill their particular project needs.

Read our full Lemon.io Review.

fiverr logo

Fiverr – Best for Business Collaboration

Fiverr offers two types of accounts to businesses: Fiverr Marketplace and Fiverr Business. Both are free to join, and you, as the business, only pay fees for the projects you have completed.

The difference between the two types of accounts is that Fiverr Marketplace companies have access to an extensive range of talent that fit different budgets, project scopes, and requirements.

Fiverr Business is set up so that up to 50 people in your company can share the account. It offers more collaboration tools and advanced billing and payment options. It has a higher selection of talent with the opportunity to save and share favorite freelance software developers for repeat projects across your team.

Pros
  • Offers collaboration and useful business tools
  • Communication education is provided
  • Multiple ways to filter and find sellers
Cons
  • No phone or chat support
  • Two marketplaces can get confusing

Fiverr features

  • Quality of freelance software developers – Fiverr freelancers are called sellers and must provide samples of their work, and reviews made of them are available for you to check out. Sellers can earn badges and progress through rankings to get offered more premium gigs.
  • Ways to find freelance developers – businesses can find freelance developers to work with by filters such as specific service needs, budget, and timeline.
  • Other talent categories – Fiverr offers various services besides developers, including graphic design, writing, translation, digital marketing, data, video, animation, music, audio, and general business.
  • Hiring locations – hiring through Fiverr is done based on your time zone and offers sellers worldwide.
  • Communication and interviews – businesses and sellers can communicate directly through Fiverr to discuss projects, scope, budget, and timelines. Fiverr also offers education on proper communication techniques to help streamline the process between businesses and sellers.

What markets does Fiverr serve?

With the distinct Fiverr Business plan, Fiverr best suits teams using the platform. Through Fiverr Business, multiple team members can use the same account and same payment method and even share favorite freelancers.

guru logo

Guru – Best for Affordable Freelance Software Developers

Guru stands out as the most affordable option on our list. At 2.9 percent billed per invoice, it undercuts the other platforms we reviewed. And the price does not reflect quality. You can still hire freelance developers with confidence. They go through a vetting process, and reviews and past work is transparent on each profile. You can see this as you browse by job, location, or post a job posting.

Pros
  • Very affordable
  • Worldwide hiring with ease
  • Designated workrooms for project work
Cons
  • Limited vetting process
  • Not many reviews available

Guru features

  • Quality of freelance software developers – Guru verifies each freelance developer and is transparent about all feedback scores and project history.
  • Ways to find freelance developers – filter by work needed, location, or post your own job posting.
  • Other talent categories – Guru has different job categories available, including writing, translation, design, administrative, sales, marketing, engineering, architecture, business, finance, education, training, and legal.
  • Hiring locations – hire worldwide through Guru.
  • Communication and interviews – communicate with potential hires before hiring them, and upon agreement, work together in a designated workroom.

What markets does Guru serve?

Guru is best for companies on a tight budget. They boast that they have the lowest fees in the industry, giving you a maximum value at a minimum price point, and per our research, that is correct.

Compare the best freelance websites for developers side-by-side

Software Name Why we picked It Starting price for cheapest plan Highlights
Upwork Best for a Large Pool of Talent Flat rate of 5% processing fee per transaction (3% for eligible clients) Upwork offers many ways to interact and find freelance software developers
Toptal Best for Well Vetted Developers $500 initial deposit, a monthly subscription fee, and a per-project transaction fee that is wrapped into the developers’ rate Screens and tests talent; retains top three percent for hiring
Lemon.io Best for Startups $45 to $85 per hour (160 hours minimum) Developers are highly vetted and want to work specifically with startups
Fiverr Best for Business Collaboration Free to join, projects are assessed a 5.5% fee or $2 for any project under $50 Business plan offers higher level of talent, collaboration, and business tools
Guru Best for Affordable Freelance Software Developers 2.9% fee per invoice Affordable hiring worldwide with multiple payment agreements and payment methods available

What are freelance websites?

The best freelance websites provide a place where businesses can find freelancers already vetted and knowledgeable in their respective fields. Many times, these freelancers will have prior experience doing the type of projects your company needs to have done. And often, because freelancers are not an employee of the company, they are cheaper than having a full-time employee.

If you’re looking to hire freelance software developers, look for freelance websites that offer a large pool of already vetted freelance developers that have samples of their work available. You should also turn to freelance software developer sites that allow you to communicate and interview the candidates yourself and offer the freedom of posting your own project needs and scope.

What do freelance developers do?

Freelance software developers play several essential roles in businesses. They can be hired to complete projects such as building apps, websites, and software, including writing the code for each. They can also be brought on to fix bugs in a company’s application, analyze and test current programs for quality assurance, and keep the software and applications up to date.

Benefits of hiring a freelance software developer

Companies choose to hire freelance software developers for many reasons. Often small businesses and startups don’t have an IT department and look to hire developers for startups instead of hiring a full-time employee or team.

Other times, the workload is too much for the in-house IT team, and they will hire a developer to quickly complete a few projects to get caught up. Another scenario is when a specific project requires specific skills, and a company will seek to hire a developer for a project with a particular skill set.

When a company can hire remote developers, it saves the company money in overhead costs as no office space is needed. These freelancers are also independent contractors, so the company does not pay benefits or payroll taxes as they would have to do for a full-time employee.

How much does it cost to hire a freelance developer?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, full-time software developers made an annual median wage of $120,730 in 2021, and that rate is expected to increase rapidly at 25 percent in the next ten years.

Regarding freelance websites for developers, companies can expect to pay the freelance developer salary in two ways: hourly or per project. Some websites also require an initial deposit, like Toptal and Lemon.io – both are refundable or can be rolled into payment for the project.

  • Per project: Upwork, Fiverr, and Guru charge a fee per project. Upwork charges three to five percent of the project cost, while Fivver charges a percentage fee starting at 5.5 percent. Do note, though, that Fivver’s 5.5 percent is charged per transaction, so if you make multiple payments, a 5.5 percent fee is tacked on each time. Guru is the cheapest service at 2.9 percent charged per invoice paid.
  • Hourly: Lemon.io and Toptal both charge an initial deposit. Lemon.io doesn’t state the exact amount because it depends on the project, while Toptal charges an initial $500 deposit. Both are refundable, or you can roll it into payment for the project. At Lemon.io, depending on the developer’s rates, they charge an hourly rate of $45 to $85. Through the custom match process, they estimate the timeline of your project, and it must meet a minimum of 160 hours. Toptal charges between $90 to $170 per hour, along with a monthly subscription fee that was also not disclosed to us.

How to hire a freelance software developer

Freelance software developer sites take the guesswork out of hiring a freelance developer. The best place to hire developers are sites that thoroughly vet their talent pool so that you know you’re getting a seasoned professional who can accomplish your project’s scope within your timeline and budget.

To hire a freelance software developer, follow these steps:

  1. Determine your project and hiring needs.
  2. Turn to one of the best freelance websites on this list.
  3. Search for talent yourself on freelance sites like Upwork and Fiverr.
  4. Let a site like Toptal or Lemon.io connect you with a custom-matched freelance software developer.
  5. Prepare practical tests and interview questions that will aid in finding the right talent for your project.

How we chose the best freelance websites for hiring web developers

We curated a list of 42 freelance websites for developers and identified 18 popular sites with significant online search volume to narrow our focus.

From there, we chose five vendors that stood out for features offered, brand reputation, pricing transparency, and customer service. We collect information from vendors and verify it through:

  • Customer reviews
  • Vendor and parent company websites
  • Interviews with company representatives

We scored companies on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent) across the following criteria, each worth 25% of our total score:

  • Variety of features: We looked for websites that offer a large pool of well-vetted talent, multiple ways to search for and view freelance software developers, multiple hiring locations, and multiple ways for a client to communicate with potential hires. A company scores higher when it offers all these features because it means a better hiring process and project outcome when a company seeks to hire freelance developers online.
  • Pricing transparency: We not only compare actual pricing for each freelance website but also assess how readily available this information is. Companies that are straightforward and list their price and how they assess their fees score higher in this section than companies that require you to request a price quote.
  • Customer support: We looked for companies that offer multiple avenues for customer support, from live chats to email to a readily available customer service line. We also included a resource library under this feature, as it is a quick and easy way for customers to find answers and support independently. Services that covered all these bases scored higher in this section.
  • Brand reputation: We poured through customer reviews and ratings from trustworthy third-party review sites and compiled a percentage rating based on these reviews to get a sense of each website’s reputation with its customers.