upwork vs. toptal

Upwork vs. Toptal

Are you looking to get into the exciting world of freelancing or just want to further your career as a freelancer? Have you wondered about Upwork vs. Toptal?

I do want to preface this post with a note on where we here at School For Freelancers stand on platforms like Upwork and Toptal; we preach and teach that these platforms can be a great way to kickstart and sustain a lasting freelance career, BUT they are not for everyone.

Getting yourself out there and finding your own clients without these platforms can take a lot of work and is very time consuming, but once you build up momentum with a strong portfolio and a network of clients, word of mouth begins to take off and you could eventually find yourself turning down work.

Again, these platforms are great and can really help freelancers make a lot of money if done right, but they may not be best for you depending on where you are at in your career or what services you are offering. Now back to your regularly scheduled post…

Freelancing is seeing huge growth in popularity. It’s hard to ignore the ability to set your own schedule and work at your own pace, but many freelancers have difficulty finding work because they aren’t using the right platforms.

This can seriously limit your potential to earn a great living (yes, it can be done!).

However, this doesn’t have to be the case. We’ve compiled the biggest differences between Upwork and Toptal to help you find the right fit. Continue reading to find out which works best for you.


Upwork is a popular site for freelance jobs. It’s great for finding opportunities in almost any niche. If you have little to no experience, don’t count yourself out because Upwork has plenty of opportunities for entry-level freelancers too!

After creating a unique and memorable profile (avoid boring and predictable), you can start applying. As a new freelancer, you start with 40 free connects, which are used when submitting proposals. You’ll need to buy more once you run out.


Payment for Upwork freelance pays on a per hour, per project, or fixed-price basis depending on the job. While you can submit your proposal for work, keep in mind that some jobs have a set price range as far as what they are willing to pay.

Don’t undervalue your services or fall for some of the few scammer ads, but stay competitive as much as possible to find work. Getting your first gig is the hardest part.

Application Process

Anyone can sign up for an account on Upwork and submit proposals.

All jobs have the following desired qualifications: experience level, time commitment, project length, and pay range.

You then submit a proposal with samples of your work and desired pay range. Upwork keeps 20% of your earnings, so be sure to factor that in when setting your wage expectations.

Withdrawing Funds

You can withdraw your earnings via a number of options from Direct Deposit to Paypal. Keep in mind that some options come with an added fee.

You can also set the frequency of payments based on time (Ex: weekly) or earnings milestones (Ex: $100).


When considering Upwork vs. Toptal, Toptal freelance is quite different in that only 3% of people who apply are accepted. This is because they want the top talent on their site.

Payment and Additional Fees

Like Upwork, Toptal pays on a per hour, per project, or fixed-fee basis, plus they have a per-day payment option as well for freelancers. Learn more about how Upwork pays it’s freelancers here.

Application Process

The sign-up process consists of at least 3 difficult skill assessments and 3 interviews. This is why only 3% of people are accepted as freelancers.

So, only top applicants with experience and who are confident in their skills should apply for Toptal.

Withdrawing Funds

Toptal generates invoices twice per month and earnings are withdrawn via credit cards, which can then be transferred to your bank with an ABA router. You can also have earnings wired to your bank or sent to PayPal.

Upwork vs. Toptal: The Best Option for Freelancers

If you are a freelancer newbie or don’t want to waste time on Toptal’s application process, we recommend Upwork. The competition is fierce, but there are great opportunities for entry-level work.

If you are a freelance pro, Toptal is a great option for you. Since it is more costly, you can expect employers who are ready to hire quality workers at a fair rate.

Start Your Freelancing Career

Now that we’ve discussed the differences between Upwork vs. Toptal, you are ready to pursue or further your freelance career. It’s an exciting career and offers you a great amount of flexibility in your schedule.

Consider your experience level and the amount of time you are willing to dedicate to finding freelance jobs. Then, make your decision.

For more great resources, classes, and general information for freelancers, visit our blog.

We greatly appreciate you taking the time to read our blog! If you found this useful please be sure to share it with your network! If you have any questions about our program be sure to contact us. Thanks again and happy freelancing!

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