What's a gig economy?
A gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organizations hire independent workers for short-term commitments. The term "gig" is a slang word for a job that lasts a specified period of time; it is typically used by musicians.
Gig jobs are work people take on to make extra money to do things like pay off debt or to make themselves less dependent on full-time employment. They can be anything from side-hustle jobs to freelance projects based on their professional skills.
The 8 Best Sites to Find Gig Jobs of 2020
It’s estimated that by 2023, 52% of the U.S. workforce will either be gig economy workers or have worked independently at some point in their career. What’s more, 48% of millennials use gig job platforms to find work or engage in business with clients.
- Upwork: Best Overall
- Freelancer: Runner-Up, Best Overall
- Guru: Best for Experienced Gig Workers
- TaskRabbit: Best for Moonlighting
- Toptal: Best for IT Professionals
- FlexJobs: Best for Remote Jobs
- Fiverr: Best for Creatives
- LinkedIn ProFinder: Best for Networking
The result of a merger between Elance, founded in 1999, and oDesk, founded in 2003, Upwork.com is one of the largest freelance marketplaces trusted by over five million businesses, including Microsoft, Airbnb, and Automattic. We chose it as the best overall because the variety of work listed serves both entry-level and experienced freelancers equally.
Upwork helps freelancers find one-off gigs and long-term contracts in a variety of industries, including design, development, accounting, marketing, writing, customer service, and more. Freelancers begin by creating a free profile where they can post a resume, build a portfolio, reference case-studies, set their rates and skills, and even post a personal video.
Upwork’s AI-powered search then filters through tens of thousands of opportunities to match the freelancer to potential projects. Freelancers can review a client’s ratings, history, and project details before submitting a bid. Clients and freelancers can also ask and answer questions and negotiate rates and details right through Upwork.
Every aspect of a contract is managed through Upwork’s website, including time-tracking, invoicing, file sharing, and messaging. Freelancers can also choose how to get paid, from direct deposit and PayPal to wire transfer and more.
Although creating a profile on Upwork is free, the platform takes a percentage of a freelancer’s earnings based on how much is earned:
- 20% for the first $500 billed to a client across all contracts with them
- 10% for total billings with a client between $500.01 and $10,000
- 5% for total billings with a client that exceed $10,000
Founded in 2008, Freelancer.com is the world's largest freelancing and crowdsourcing marketplace, connecting over 45 million employers and freelancers from 247 countries. We chose it as the runner-up because, although it has a larger reach and is a little easier to break into than Upwork, clients tend to underpay for projects.
Rather than focusing on specific industries, Freelancer organizes projects by category, including websites, IT and software, design, media and architecture, sales and marketing, business, accounting, human resources and legal, writing and content, and more. It even allows users to browse local jobs, including teaching/lecturing, drafting, general labor, drone photography, and more.
Like Upwork, Freelancer is free to join. Users start by creating a profile that showcases their skills and experience and then set their fees. Once they’re set up, freelancers can browse for jobs using a number of customizable filters, check out client ratings and histories, and place bids on projects. Finally, freelancers can communicate with clients right through the platform as well as track time, submit invoices, and get paid through Freelancer’s Milestone Payments.
One of the main differences between Freelancer and Upwork is that anyone can open a Freelancer account, but to create an account on Upwork, you need to be approved. Upwork’s vetting process narrows down the competition, making it easier to find quality work than Freelancer does. As a result, Freelancer is better for inexperienced freelancers looking to get simple, lower-paying jobs for building a portfolio or for short-term low-priced hourly work.
Although creating a profile on Freelancer is free, the platform takes a percentage of a freelancer’s earnings based on how much is earned:
- Fixed-price projects: 10% fee or $5, whichever is greater
- Hourly projects: Flat 10% fee
- Services: 20% fee
- Account idle for six months or more: $10 per month
- Refer an employer to the platform: No fee for all future work with that client
Originally named Emoonlighter, Guru.com was founded in 2000 to connect businesses to talented freelancers in IT, creative design, office administration, and business consulting. Today it boasts a pool of 800,000 clients worldwide, $250 million paid to freelancers, and a 99% client satisfaction rate. We chose it as the best for experienced gig workers because it targets professionals rather than entry-level freelancers and offers paid memberships to help users rank higher in the site’s search results.
Guru focuses on placing talented professionals with projects in eight different categories: programming and development, writing and translation, design and art, administration, sales and marketing, business and finance, engineering and architecture, and legal.
As with many gig websites, users can create a profile for free on Guru. From there, users can either browse freelance jobs online or get recommendations based on their skills with Guru’s Top Match and Good Match search features. Once a freelancer finds a job they’re interested in, they just submit a bid.
Guru’s platform also offers virtual WorkRooms where freelancers collaborate and add team members to a job. Users can also use a time tracker, share files, communicate with their team, create agreements and invoices, choose payment terms, and get paid, all from Guru’s platform.
Joining Guru and creating a profile is free for freelancers. However, the company offers paid memberships to help freelancers bid for more jobs, boost their search results, send messages to clients before placing a bid, and earn more money:
- 9% job fee
- 10 bids per month
- $11.95 per month
- 9% job fee
- 50 bids per month
- $1,000 search boost
- $21.95 per month
- 7% job fee
- 50 bids per month
- Annual bid rollover: 100 bids
- Premium bids: Costs 6 bids
- $2,000 search boost
- Sales messages: Costs 5 bids
- Add personal link to profile
- $49.95 per month
- 5% job fee
- 50 bids per month
- Annual bid rollover: 300 bids
- Premium bids: Costs 4 bids
- $8,000 search boost
- Sales messages: Costs 3 bids
- Add a personal link to profile
Launched in September 2008 as RunMyErrand, TaskRabbit.com connects people who need help with odd jobs and errands with local people who have the time and skills to do them. To date, the company’s users have logged 350,000 hours. We chose it as the best for moonlighting since it offers flexible, local, one-off, or ongoing jobs to suit anyone’s schedule.
Getting started with TaskRabbit is easy. Users, called "Taskers," create a profile and provide basic information including pay rates and the level of experience for their task categories. Tasks can be just about anything, from assembling furniture and planting flowers, to cleaning houses and delivering groceries.
Before they can bid on projects, users then have to apply to be a Tasker. In order to be approved, an applicant must be age 18 or older; have a checking account, credit card, and smartphone; and pass background and ID checks. Once a Tasker is approved, they can set up direct deposit and must attend a local orientation which costs $25.
Once a Tasker is onboarded, they will be notified of potential jobs nearby via the TaskRabbit smartphone app. They can then select the one they want to complete, confirm details with the client, complete the work, and submit their invoice.
Taskers can gain more jobs by earning good reviews and completing more jobs. Users will often save their favorite Taskers to book again and again, so getting regular work is a definite possibility with TaskRabbit.
Toptal.com was created in 2010 to connect businesses with freelance software developers, designers, finance experts, and product managers. We choose it as the best for IT professionals because the company’s aggressive screening process creates an exclusive opportunity for highly skilled freelancers.
The quality of Toptal’s talent pool is the result of the company’s application process. Applicants begin with a comprehensive English language and communication evaluation. Toptal also assesses personality traits to find passionate and engaged candidates. Applicants are then given in-depth skills assessments, live problem-solving and creativity exercises, and test projects. As a result, only 3% of Toptal’s applicants make it through the application process.
Due to its rigorous vetting process, Toptal’s freelancers are well-positioned to receive competitive rates for their services. Toptal doesn’t charge its freelancers any fees but instead marks up a freelancer’s rate for its clients. Clients are typically invoiced twice a month for ongoing projects with net 10 payment terms. Clients can pay Toptal for a freelancer’s services via a credit card, ACH, bank wire, or PayPal.
FlexJobs.com was created in 2007 by founder Sara Sutton, who was looking for a flexible job after starting her family. It typically has over 25,000 remote and flexible job postings in 50 career categories, including accounting and finance, business development, computer and IT, marketing, writing, web design, and more. We chose it as the best for remote jobs because the company’s trained researchers scour hundreds of online job resources every day and evaluate each posting to connect freelancers to the best opportunities.
FlexJobs’ extensive research and hand-screening process weeds out ads, broken links, repetitive postings, and scams from remote job postings. The company also works with thousands of companies who post flexible jobs directly to its site. The result is a curated list of professional, high-quality, and flexible job opportunities for freelancers looking for remote work.
In addition to its curated job listings, FlexJobs offers job search checklists, career advice articles, 170 expert skills tests, and tips to help freelancers’ resumes stand out. FlexJobs’ paid memberships come with career coaching, resume reviews, and pre-negotiated discounts from over 60 job-search-related products and services.
While FlexJobs offers free job-related information, users must have a paid membership to access the full job listings in the company’s database:
- $6.95 for one week
- $14.95 per month
- $29.95 for three months
- $49.95 for one year
- Unlimited job access
- Free skills testing
- Email alerts
- Expert job search tips, resources, and offers
- Portfolio with resumes and work samples
Fiverr.com was started in 2010 by Micha Kaufman and Shai Wininger as a way for people to offer digital services typically offered by freelance contractors for as little as $5. Today, the company has over 100 service categories and tens of thousands of users from over 190 countries. We chose it as the best for creatives since it offers the opportunity for freelancers in just about any digital creative field to offer their services to a global marketplace.
Although Fiverr broadly categorizes its services (like graphic design, digital marketing, and writing and translation) freelancers can offer services as specific as they want. Examples include Facebook page banners, podcast intros, book covers, menu design, comic book illustration, and more.
To get started, sellers just create a free profile with their listed expertise and then create the services they want to offer, known as "Gigs." Sellers can add up to three different packages or bundles to the Gig Page to give buyers more choices and upsell their Gig with extras before, during, and after the order. Finally, sellers can send custom offers to potential buyers to offer more flexibility.
Fiverr allows sellers to keep 100% of their funds and charges buyers a percentage of their purchase ($2 on purchases up to and including $40, and 5% on purchases above $40). When a seller gets paid, Fiverr puts a 14-day hold on the funds in the event a dissatisfied client wants a refund. After that period is over, the seller can withdraw their funds to a PayPal account, credit their Fiverr Revenue Card, or transfer money to a bank account.
Created in 2003, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional networking site, boasting over 690 million users in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. In 2016, the company launched LinkedIn.com/ProFinder, a marketplace designed to connect businesses with freelance professionals. We chose it as the best for networking because freelancers can connect to the largest network of professionals to secure more jobs and advance their careers.
LinkedIn Pro Finder features U.S.-based freelancers in over a dozen professional services, including software development, design, marketing, business consulting, legal, accounting, real estate, and more. Freelancers start by creating a profile that pulls information from their general LinkedIn profile for easy updating. Users are encouraged to get recommendations for their profile and to publish posts on LinkedIn to establish themselves as experts.
Once a freelancer’s application is approved, LinkedIn will email proposal requests from clients looking to hire their services. Freelancers can then send their proposal, discuss terms, and finalize the arrangements with the client. Best of all, clients get access to a freelancer’s entire LinkedIn profile to help them get more connections and expand their professional network.
Freelancers get 10 proposal responses on ProFinder for free. After 10 proposals, a LinkedIn Premium Business subscription is necessary for unlimited responses to project requests. The subscription costs $59.99 per month or $179.97 for a full year.