Toptal vs Upwork


Upwork vs Toptal: Which Freelance Platform is better suited for your project?

Freelancing has become a popular choice for both freelancers and companies looking to hire remote workers, amidst today’s rapidly transforming workplace. Two prominent platforms in this freelancing space are Upwork and Toptal, each of which encompass their unique offerings, and cater to various budgetary considerations and project requirements.

We will compare these two freelance platforms based on distinctive factors, to help you make informed decisions about which freelance platform is better suited to meet your project needs.

1. Quality of Freelancers: Curated talent vs. Unvetted

Upwork is known for its large pool of freelancers across various domains. While the platform offers a wide range of talent, the quality of freelancers can vary significantly. Freelancers have varying levels of expertise, ranging from entry-level to highly experienced professionals. While this provides a wide range of options, it may require clients to spend more time vetting freelancers to find the right fit.  It is therefore important for employers to thoroughly vet potential hires from Upwork, before finalizing any contracts.

In contrast, Toptal is known for its rigorous screening process, ensuring that only the top 3% of freelancers are accepted. This results in a higher level of expertise and quality of work, stemming from the smaller but highly skilled talent pool which clients could choose from. Companies can therefore expect to find highly skilled professionals in their respective fields on the Toptal platform.

2. Pricing and Payment

Upwork offers a flexible pricing model, allowing freelancers to set their own rates. This can make it easier for employers to find freelancers that fit within their budget.  However, it is important to note that the quality of work may vary based on the freelancer’s rates.  Clients can choose from various pricing models, such as hourly rates or fixed-price contracts. However, due to the large number of freelancers on the platform, pricing can be highly competitive, making it challenging for freelancers to command higher rates.  

In contrast, Toptal follows a premium pricing model, which reflects the high-quality talent available on the platform. While this may result in higher costs for employers, it ensures access to top-tier freelancers who can deliver exceptional results.

3. Customer Support & Communication 

Upwork offers customer support through various channels, including email, chat, and phone. However, the support provided can sometimes be limited, and response times may vary. Users may need to rely on self-help resources or community forums for certain queries. Upwork provides a robust communication system, allowing clients and freelancers to interact seamlessly. The platform offers features like messaging, video calls, and file sharing, making it easy to collaborate on projects. However, the sheer number of freelancers on Upwork can sometimes lead to communication challenges and delays.

Toptal provides personalized support to both clients and freelancers. The platform assigns a dedicated account manager who assists with any issues or concerns that may arise during the project. This level of support can be particularly valuable for clients who require additional guidance or have specific requirements.

4. Project scope and complexity

Upwork is an online platform that connects freelancers with clients looking for a wide range of services. As a result, the project scope on Upwork can vary significantly, ranging from small one-time tasks to large, ongoing projects. This diversity is beneficial for clients who have a diverse range of needs and budgets, as they can find freelancers who can work on projects of different scales. 

On the other hand, Toptal focuses on providing top-tier talent to clients, which means that their project scope tends to be more focused on high-quality, complex projects. This specialization can be advantageous for clients who require highly skilled professionals for their projects. Ultimately, the choice between Upwork and Toptal depends on the specific project scope and requirements of the client.

5. Upwork reviews

Currently, Upwork is holding a review score of 3.4 out of 5 on Trustpilot, and a score of 4.8 out of 5 on G2

Upwork rating

Upwork rating


Both Upwork and Toptal offer unique features and advantages for freelancers and employers. Upwork provides a vast pool of freelancers with flexible pricing, making it suitable for clients with various budgets and requirements. Toptal, on the other hand, focuses on providing access to top-tier freelancers with a more rigorous screening process and personalized support, all of which comes with a premium pricing model. 

The choice between the two platforms of Upwork and Toptal ultimately depends on individual needs, priorities and the level of expertise they require.  Thoroughly evaluating the aforementioned aspects pertaining to each of these platforms will enable you to select which platform between these two are better suited to your needs, helping you achieve an effective freelance relationship.

The chart below summarises a comparison drawn on Upwork and Toptal:

Project scopeShort and long-term projectsLonger-term, complex projects
Customer support and communicationLimited support with variable response timesPersonalized support to both clients and freelancers
Pricing modelFlexible pricing modelPremium pricing model
Freelancer vettingNo official vettingRigorous vetting process, hiring only top 3% of talent
Project managerLimited availabilityDedicated account manager
Diversity of serviceWider area of serviceSoftware development talent emphasized

Do keep in mind all information provided in the above chart has been based on general trends, while these could vary based on individual circumstances and particular projects.  Moreover, each of these companies may have any changes to their service, shedding light on the necessity of referring their official websites to get more updated information.

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