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Looking for an Upwork Alternative?

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Are you not satisfied with freelancer marketplaces and looking for an Upwork alternative to find extra help? Here’s where to look.

Business owners or non-profit directors often encounter technical or design challenges outside their organization’s expertise. Whether building a new website, designing marketing materials, or even building customer-facing applications, we’ve often resorted to freelancer marketplaces like Upwork for additional help.

However, Upwork, Fiverr, and the rest of these low-cost marketplaces are often more trouble than they are worth. The bid prices by freelancers often seem too good to be true, and that’s because they are.

In this competitive marketplace, freelancers are compelled to bid lower and lower, sacrificing fair compensation to secure work, and talented freelancers go elsewhere to find work.

Clients, lured by the promise of rock-bottom prices, are left to grapple with the adage 'you get what you pay for,' facing challenges like unresponsive freelancers, subpar work, and missed deadlines. Often, something cheap turns out to be super expensive after factoring in the time you spend managing the project, finding the talent, and chasing them up to complete the work by your deadline.

This article post delves into the quest for an Upwork alternative and how you can find talent to help you solve your technical or design challenges.

The problem with Upwork

I’ve worked on both sides of the Upwork marketplace as a freelancer and a client. For this post, I’ll focus on my problems from the client side. I’d also like to point out that I’ve found great freelancers on Upwork. However, on the whole, my experience has been poor for the following reasons:

Unhelpful rating systems

Having been on the client side, I see how aggressively freelancers ask for positive reviews. I’ve been strongarmed into giving a positive review despite having trepidations about their work. It often comes from still needing them to complete further work or not wanting to wreck someone’s livelihood.

One freelancer essentially held his work hostage until we gave him five stars.

Generic or shoddy work

This is most obvious in design work, particularly logos. They might have a great portfolio of designs they’ve done in the past, but there’s no guarantee that it was them. Or, they use templates that make your designs look exactly like something else.

How to get a logo that’s not generic

Outsourcing the work

I’ve had freelancers who outsource the work to someone else who will do it even cheaper. It soon becomes clear that you’re not dealing with the person doing the job because all your requests are going through a game of telephone.

Lack of communication

Upwork freelancers are super communicative during the bidding process but often go dark as soon as the project starts. It can be very frustrating not knowing the status of your project and having to chase them for updates constantly.


The most egregious is flat-out lying freelancers. The freelancer I mentioned who held the work hostage for a positive review also managed to get COVID whenever we asked him why the work took longer than he promised.

Ok, then, what’s an Upwork Alternative?

Depending on the work you need, there are several places to get quality design and technical work done.


Agencies like Peak Digital Studio are great alternatives to Upwork. We generally have websites with our prior work, customer testimonials, and case studies, so you can contact references before starting a project.

Agencies like Peak even have transparent pricing or affordable subscription services for website packages or ongoing design work.

Book a call with us to start your website or design project

With agencies, you can be more sure of their skills the deliverables, and that they aren’t going to go incommunicado. After all, they have a brand to protect.

Go Direct to the Freelancer

Finding a freelancer directly is most straightforward when you can better judge their work, such as a designer. For example, if you’re looking for a logo, you can visit a site like Dribbble and look through portfolios to find someone who meets your standards.

Post a job description outside of freelancer marketplaces.

Instead of trying to source freelancers from Upwork, post the job description on traditional channels, like LinkedIn, your local job board, or an industry-specific job board. Set the budget you’re happy with, and interview the people over Zoom and get their references. It might seem like more work than just posting to Upwork and finding the cheapest option available, but generally, in the long run, you’ll save time, money, and heartache.


Unhelpful rating systems, generic work, outsourced projects, poor communication, and dishonest practices underscore the need for a more reliable and transparent approach to hiring freelancers.

Agencies like Peak Digital Studio offer an alternative. They provide transparency, accountability, and a commitment to quality that's often missing in the gig economy. They protect their brand's integrity and prioritize customer satisfaction, offering assurance that's hard to find in a marketplace like Upwork.

For those who prefer a more hands-on approach, going directly to individual freelancers or using traditional job posting channels can be a more effective strategy. This approach allows for better vetting, transparent communication, and realistic expectations of the work and the process involved.

Ultimately, whether you choose an agency, directly approach freelancers, or use traditional job posting methods, the key is prioritizing quality, communication, and a fair working relationship. By doing so, you avoid the pitfalls of low-cost marketplaces and contribute to a healthier, more sustainable freelance ecosystem.

Remember, investing a little more time and resources upfront in finding the proper help can save you considerable time, money, and frustration in the long run. Embrace these alternatives and set a new standard in the freelance hiring process.

Matthew Johnson

Published on

February 2, 2024