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In this article we will take a look at the top 10 best freelancing platforms for 2021. You can skip our detailed analysis of the freelance industry’s outlook for 2021 and some of the major growth catalysts for these stocks and go directly to Top 5 Best Freelancing Platforms for 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses worldwide to go remote. As vaccine rollouts allow for the safe return to offices, many are questioning the wisdom of operating costly office spaces and staff when most business, as it turns out, can be managed remotely in a digital world. Some exceptions, of course, do stand out, but by and large, remote working has been a successful experiment that has blurred the lines between employees and freelance workers. If the benefits of freelance were not visible before, they certainly are now, or so it seems.
In 2019, the Freelancing Union of America released a comprehensive study detailing the scale of the gig economy in the country. According to the findings of the study, freelancing contributed more than $1 trillion to the US economy every year. This number represented 5% of the total GDP at the time, putting the freelance economy above other major industries like construction as a driver of the economy. Since the pandemic, freelance work has touched new highs, boosting investor confidence in online marketplaces selling skilled work.
The trend towards freelance, putting aside the pandemic, was predicted by global management and consultancy firm McKinsey and Co five years ago. In 2015, the firm released the most detailed study on independent work that examined all the ways that people were earning online. The results were surprising, to say the least. According to McKinsney, more than 162 million people in Europe and the US, or roughly 20% of the workforce, had engaged in some kind of freelance work, a number the company said was sure to rise dramatically in the coming years.
Earlier this year, leading online talent firm Upwork Inc. (NASDAQ: UPWK) released a report that claimed 36% of the US workforce was now freelance. The study also highlighted another interesting statistic: the number of professionals who provided skilled services to employers had increased to more than 50% of the total in the study. By every stretch of the imagination, the report pointed out, the gig economy was booming, buoyed by the pandemic, but continuing forward on trends that had preceded it.
With this context in mind, the time seems right to look into the top ten freelancing companies on the web and their prospects for the future.
Top 10 Best Freelancing Platforms and Websites
10. Upwork Inc. (NASDAQ: UPWK)
Upwork Inc. ( NASDAQ: UPWK) is a California-based digital platform that connects prospective employers with individuals looking for work. Upwork was founded in 2015 after two giant names of the online employment industry, oDesk and Elance, merged together to form one company. The platform offers employers the verified work history and reviews for prospective employees. It has built-in collaboration tools and easy payment methods incorporated into the website. It also offers premium customer support and custom job and talent sourcing assistance.
The company has a market cap of $5.8 billion and an annual revenue close to $400 million. The company has more than a million user accounts. At Upwork, the marketplace is split into more than 70 categories and individuals looking for work come from 180 different countries. The company reported a 24% increase in revenue in 2020 and projects that to rise to 26% the next year. Stifel, a leading brokerage and investment banking firm, earlier this year boosted the price targets of Upwork based on a strong 2020 showing by the freelancing website.
Stifel praised the quarterly earnings report from Upwork for late 2020, saying positive momentum was being supported by pandemic-related tailwinds favoring remote work adoption. MKM Partners, an institutional equity research and trading company, also lifted the price targets of Upwork stocks from $52 to $69 earlier this year.
9. Fiverr International Ltd. (NYSE: FVRR)
Fiverr International Ltd. (NYSE: FVRR) is an Israeli online marketplace that offers freelancers the chance to offer their services to customers all over the world. The website was launched in 2010 by Micha Kaufman and Shai Wininger with the idea that it would offer writers, designers, programmers and video editors the chance to serve employers anywhere. The website enables clients to review the profiles and select contractors and also has a smart filter that helps companies find the exact skill set they require for a job. The company ranks 9th in our list of the best freelancing websites in 2021.
The company has a market cap of more than $8 billion and an annual revenue that was close to $187 million in 2020. The revenue for the firm rose 77% percent compared to 2019. The company expects the revenue to continue increasing at a more modest rate of around 50% for the next year. The website has so far facilitated more than 50 million transactions between 5.5 million buyers and 830,000 freelancers. In early 2020, the company announced that it had more than 3.4 million active buyers and hundreds of thousands of gig economy workers.
MKM partners, the equity firm, has revised their Sell rating of Fiverr to Neutral on a balanced risk-reward profile. An analyst at the company, Mohit Kulkarni, said the model assumptions of Fiverr were still above street estimates.
8. Freelancer Ltd. (OTC: FLNCF)
Freelancer Ltd. (OTC: FLNCF) is an Australian website that allows potential employers to post jobs that freelancers can bid and compete for on the market. The firm operates in 44 regional marketplaces in 34 languages and 21 currencies. The company offers the chance for employers to post free job postings and secure payment methods It also offers time tracking of payments and projects. It has a job sample viewing and a free support service as well. The firm also employers the chance to monitor those they hire during billable hours as well. Freelancer ranks 8th in our list of the best freelance websites and top online work platforms in 2021.
The company has a market cap of over $210 million and posted an annual revenue of close to $46 million in 2020, up more than 8% compared to 2019. The firm expects more growth in the next year at a comparable rate. The website has more than 180,000 different categories for jobs in a handful of industries and thousands of freelancers available to undertake them. It has tens of thousands of active job listings and more than 31 millions users, making it one of the largest online marketplaces around, competing with giants like Upwork and Fiverr.
Freelancer has a history of purchasing entities that supports a long-term vision of leading the freelance industry, including the buyout of American payments firm Escrow in 2015. Late last month, the company announced that it had qualified to trade at the OTCQX Best Market, a decentralized market where shares are traded by dealers.
Aquent is a Boston-based digital recruitment agency that offers temporary staffing services in marketing and website-based solutions. It was founded in 1986 by John Chuang and Steven Kapner as a typesetting firm called Laser Designs but the name was changed afterwards to reflect the changing nature of the company. The company offers clients the ability to manage digital assets, collect designs. The firm believes in the power of a flexible workforce in order to help companies be more agile and adapt to changing business priorities and market conditions. Aquent ranks 7th in our list of the best freelancing websites in the world.
In early 2019, the firm won Clearly Rated Best of Staffing Client and Talent Diamond Award. In late 2020, the company also offered to pick up the healthcare premiums of employees in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last month, John Chuang, one of the founders of Aquent, told local media that a generation’s worth of change had been witnessed in the job market because of the pandemic.
Toptal is a San Francisco-based network of top freelance software designers, finance experts, product managers, and project managers from around the world. The firm was founded in 2010 by Taso Du Val and Breanden Beneschott as a virtual network of top talent in different fields. The firm is famous for hiring only the best three percent of workers. This stems from its practice of hiring the top 3% from the thousands of applications it received when it first formed. Extensive tests on language and skills were devised for the purpose.
The company started with only $1.4 million in funding from tech entrepreneur Andreessen Horowitz and some other angel investors. Since then, the company has turned a profit and not required additional funding. According to TechCrunch, the firm was on track for an $80 million annual return in 2015, firmly backing claims made by founder Du Val that Toptal was the largest company in the world that operates without an office. In 2019, another news website, The Information, claimed that the return had grown to $200 million.
However, it also reported that the founders of the firm had clashed, resulting in the exit of Beneschott from the firm. A2Z Market Research, an intelligence and advisory firm, has backed Toptal to be one of the key players in the Artificial Intelligence in Art industry. In a report, A2Z highlighted the growth potential of Artificial Intelligence in the Design and Art industries this decade, identifying Toptal as one of the key players that could benefit from this growth. A2Z also highlighted a positive growth quarter for the freelance industry in general.
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Disclosure: None. Top 10 Best Freelancing Platforms for 2021 is originally published on Insider Monkey.