All You Should Know about Building a Freelancer Marketplace like Fiverr and Upwork

Rating — 5·15 min·August 1, 2023
All You Should Know about Building a Freelancer Marketplace like Fiverr and Upwork
All You Should Know about Building a Freelancer Marketplace like Fiverr and Upwork
Millions of specialists worldwide switch from traditional employment to freelancing; thousands of huge enterprises and small startups are interested in cooperation with freelancers. Do you know how to make your profit from this fact? Let’s build an awesome freelance marketplace together!
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If you only have a freelance marketplace, you could join the list of the richest world’s entrepreneurs. Can’t believe that? Let’s see.

In 2019, more than 30% of Americans have tried working as freelancers. This is more than 57 million citizens! Now imagine that they all use your freelance marketplace. If you only charge a 1 dollar fee for using it, you’d become a millionaire.

The popularity of freelancer networks keeps rising

The competition is intense, and a number of freelance marketplace platforms is great. And many of them are worth millions and millions of dollars. Although the market seems to be brimming, both freelancers and companies that hire them are not quite satisfied with the services provided. This fact creates a gap for a more advanced software platform to be launched, and you can be the one who changes the entire industry with a superb freelancer marketplace. In this article, we’ll show you how.

So now, get yourself comfortable and prepare for:

  • A brief introduction to how freelance marketplaces work and why people love them so much;
  • How a freelancer marketplace looks from the business perspective, and why your idea is so potentially profitable;
  • Insightful hints on how to build a high-quality solution and appeal to users;
  • Must-have functionality for a freelancer platform and useful tips on how to implement unique features;
  • And so much more.

What is a freelance marketplace and how does it work?

A freelance marketplace is a two-sided platform where companies can find and hire individual specialists for specific jobs, and, in turn, freelance specialists can apply for the opened positions if their skills match requirements. Contractors cooperate with employers remotely. They are so popular due to a few reasons:

  • This is a bottomless source of talents: companies can find various specialists with deep experience from anywhere in the world;
  • This is an extremely convenient way to hire a candidate: after filtering, shortlisting and testing, an employer can start working with a perfect contractor;
  • This is a simple tool for time tracking: once an employer hired a specialist, he or she has precise information about how much time was spent on a certain task;
  • This is a platform with a built-in payment gateway: when the job is done, an employer sends payment to a contractor right within a platform.

Today, we are going to take a closer look at the most successful freelance marketplace platforms.

Upwork vs. Fiverr comparison


You may have heard of Elance or oDesk, haven’t you? Well, these were the Upwork’s forerunners. They joined their forces in 2013, and 2 years later, after 2015 rebranding, Upwork the freelance marketplace was born. At that time, the platform already contained 10 million freelancers’ profiles and more than a million businesses. Year by year, it keeps growing.


This freelance marketplace has started its way to success in 2010. Built with the same goal as Upwork, Fiverr, however, was much more criticized. Some of their advertising campaigns were considered to be too “dark”. Still, it wasn’t an obstacle for the marketplace: these days, it’s net value is estimated at $1 billion.

  Founded Total funding Number of visits per month User satisfaction
Upwork 1999 $168.8M 43 million 98%
Fiverr 2010 $111 M 35 million 98%

Source: Crunchbase

Why a website like Fiverr can be so popular

Along with market leaders mentioned in a previous chapter, other similar companies like Toptal or make millions of dollars of revenue annually, too. People enjoy freelancing; people prefer freelancing.

But why does traditional employment start to hide in the shadow while freelancing blooms and blossoms? Let’s reveal the key reasons for a website like Fiverr to become a viable and profitable programming solution.

Freelance marketplaces: advantages for companies and contractors

Freelance marketplace: advantages for companies

Giants like Google or Amazon, Motorola or Lufthansa Systems cooperate with freelance software engineers. Taking into account all the potential risks, hiring an independent developer is still a good and profitable idea because of:

  • On-demand talents: on online marketplace like Fiverr, you can find specialists to handle certain tasks and once the job is done, pay them and say goodbye with no further worries.
  • Wide range of salaries: The freelancing model allows you to reach out to brilliant specialists living in another country and cut expenses due to cheaper labor costs abroad.
  • Borderless market: trying a freelance marketplace for your business growth, you get an opportunity to work with different people from a variety of countries and implement the cutting-edge tendencies to outrun your competitors.

Freelance marketplace: advantages for contractors

By 2027, more than half of Americans will work as freelancers instead of working traditionally. Both millennials and generation Z prefer flexibility and “being your own boss” to a stable long-term position in a no-name corporation. And freelancing can give it to them.

“The growth of the freelance workforce is three times faster than the traditional workforce.” Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork

Why is freelancing popular?

  • Low entry barrier: it is easier to start a career on a freelance website like Fiverr because people can apply for a certain job even with no previous job experience;
  • Fast & easy way to find a new position: the field of job opportunities is much wider in comparison to traditional job sites.
  • Continual training and improvement: more than 54% of freelancers have contributed to their professional improvement in the last few months while only 40% of the office workers have done the same;
  • Extra source of income: even if you work on full-time basis in the office, you can find a part-time project for you on a freelance platform, increase your revenue and enhance your skills;
  • Time is the greatest treasure: freelancing allows managing your time exactly as you want and devoting to work as much time as you want.

Statistics about freelancers in the USA

Due to these and many other reasons, freelancing gets more and more popular. That’s why you need to build a website like Upwork, too.

Freelance marketplace for your business development

Deploying a new freelancer platform, you get a chance to:

  • Generate enormous revenue: the number of freelancers raises, and if you employ the right monetization strategy, you can add a huge sum to your bank account;
  • Change the freelancing industry: solve existing platform issues, cater to the users’ needs in a better way and take your chance to change the entire freelancing industry with your web app;
  • Join the cooperation of the future: freelancing is the future, so the sooner you’ll follow this trend, the sooner it will bring you benefits.
Want to find out more about the development process of a freelancer marketplace application?
We create for you a custom step-by-step guide

8 monetization strategies for your freelance marketplace

A few lines above, we’ve mentioned that a website like Fiverr can become your bottomless source of profit. It’s time to find out how exactly it will happen.

Here, we have listed the most popular ways to monetize a freelancer marketplace:

How to monetize a freelance marketplace

  1. Just charge a fee

Most of the popular freelance platforms like Fiverr or Upwork charge a buyer’s fee for each successful deal. In the case of Fiverr, that’s 10% of the price for purchases above 10$. Freelancers may be charged as well. This the most popular way to raise funds with a vigorous freelancer marketplace. But there are more options.

  1. Suggest Freemium

According to this model, you suggest the basic website functionality for free and grant access to additional features for a fee.

  1. Sell Gigs as Fiverr does

Fiverr offers its users to buy a defined volume of services (or gigs). Buyers can combine the services and pay for whole packages depending on their needs.

  1. Promote profiles

Freelancers may want to appear at the top of the search results, as well as the companies may want their vacancies to be the most noticeable. Let your marketplaces’ users pay for promoting and advertising their profiles to increase your revenue.

  1. Require an initial deposit

If you’ve ever tried Toptal, you know its model looks a bit different. Toptal requires a $500 deposit for recruiting contractors on the website. Once a company decides to stop using it, the marketplace fully refunds the deposit.

  1. Offer the subscription

Thinking about how to create a website like Upwork, you should become aware of their subscription plans first. Upwork makes money by offering 3 subscription types: Plus ($49.99 per month), Business ($499 per month) and Enterprise (the price is provided upon the request and depends on your corporation’s needs).

  1. Calculate custom prices

If you target large enterprise companies, it may be hard to calculate the exact one-fits-all fee for your clients. Thus, you may employ an individual approach and calculate a custom price for each of the clients.

  1. Try mixed model

With this model, you combine several monetization types, provide more convenience to freelancers and employers and increase your revenue.

2 ways to build a website like Upwork

Once you’ve got enough inspiration and strong intention to build a website like Upwork, it is time to find out how the process typically looks like.

There are 2 ways for you to start your business in this niche:

  1. Opt for an existing template

    Goal: temporarily solution

    Price: a website built and supported with Sharetribe Pro Package will cost you from $1,500 per year.

One way to validate your idea is to pay for a special constructor like Sharetribe. It provides more options for customization and is relatively cheap, however, such a platform won’t be strong enough to cater to the needs of a large number of users. Besides, with a template, you won’t be able to create a high-quality ranging algorithms and provide users with expected results.

This option is good for idea validation. Investing minimum time and money, you can make sure whether your plan is potentially profitable. But once you’ll decide to make money with a marketplace platform, you need to turn your head towards option #2.

  1. Choose custom development and win

    Goal: a stable, viable, scalable, powerful tool

    Price: depends fully on your requirements and starts from $60,000.

You already know that’s the best option for you, don’t you? If you plan to make money with your brand-new website like Fiverr and become an influencer in your niche, you must make sure that software you build is strong enough to cope with a huge number of users. This is what custom development provides you with. Also, unlike in cases with ready-made templates, custom development gives you:

  • Access to unlimited customization opportunities;
  • A chance to build unique functionality and raise above your competitors;
  • Improved ML-powered algorithm to verify users’ profiles and match contractor’s skills with the company’s requirements;
  • Scalable solution that can serve the needs of thousands and millions of users;
  • Integration and synchronization features;
  • A limitless field for improvement and growth.

Everything you need to know about building a freelance website like Fiverr

Coordinated work of different experts makes it possible to launch a splendid software app. And before you find your perfect partners and get acquainted with an engineering team of superheroes, take a look at what they must be proficient in:

  • App’s architecture

The back-end architecture is an essential part of the entire process. The architecture defines how your app will work, how its components will interact and, finally, what value it will bring to users.

  • Design and user interface development

Here, research is required. Users love websites similar to Upwork, however, you can use better design approaches and meet their needs in a better way. A great chance to do so is to design a lovely intuitive user interface.

  • API integration

You may have heard of Stripe or similar payment gateways. To use them and many other external tools for your freelancer marketplace, you need an engineer with API development and integration experience.

  • Database development

All data of future users have to be well-organized and securely stored in a safe place. At the same time, immediate response to any query is a must. Thus, software engineers, you plan to work with must prove that relational and non-relational databases (including SQL, PostgreSQL, Mongo DB etc) belong to their skill set.

Without a doubt, high quality is a first and foremost attribute your app needs to demonstrate. Manual and automation testing methods, as well as tools like Selenium or Capybara will be useful here.

  • Deployment

Once everything works and looks perfect, engineers will deploy the developed platform and make it accessible in the web environment.

  • Website administration and support

The process never stops. Continuous upgrades and platform improvement are the things that will drive you forward.

Your freelance website like Fiverr: what’s next?

Developing a strategy on how to build a freelance website like Fiverr, you shouldn’t overlook the importance of the app’s features. In this chapter, you will find out everything you need about basic functionality as well as how to cater to specific users’ needs and fill the satisfaction gaps to find your place under the sun.

Basic functionality for an online marketplace like Fiverr

You may already know that all. But just to follow the flow and clarify everything, take a look at this tree of features:

Authentication and authorization

Help users login seamlessly either via email or using third-party services and channels. API integration with Facebook or Google+ would be helpful. Take a note that verification is essential: ask for specific documents to save both parties of cooperation from fraud.

Company’s profile

Name, logo, industry, website, physical address, number of employees etc

Freelancer’s profile

Name and surname, photo, industry, links to social media profiles or GitHub repository, location

Job posting and editing features

Project or task description, complexity, responsibilities, requirements, urgency

Portfolio and CV

Allow adding links to previous projects as well as attaching CV or other important experience-related documents


Let former and existing employees or contractors tell what they think about the company

Professional improvement features

Quick tests, quizzes, courses, and training will be great to add

  Work time tracker

Help freelancers to stabilize work-life balance and inform employers about the precise time spent on each task

Intuitive dashboard

Highlight account details, project history, and info about current partners and contracts

Search bar and filters

To improve UX, help companies and contractors find each other seamlessly. Filters like Skills, Experience, Location etc would be of great help

Built-in messenger

Seamless communication is a key to great cooperation: let users exchange messages and media files within your platform

Calculator, automatic invoices generator and payment gateway

Simplify and automate payment process with high-level functionality and integration with payment gateways

This is a skeleton of your marketplace website. But it's not the end.

How to solve the real problem with your online marketplace like Fiverr (or the better one)

To score off the competitors, both powerful well-known freelance platforms and the fresh ones, you need to cater to the needs no one does yet. No doubts, cool design and bugless functionality are important. However, satisfying customers' wishes like no other solution would become your distinctive advantage.

Even though there are many up and running freelancer marketplaces, none of them is perfect. According to recent Payoneer’s report, contractors would like to improve many things like their revenue, ways to find new clients and cooperate with international companies, speed up and simplify payment process etc., as well as they would like to take their own efficiency to a higher level.

We have analyzed these factors and prepared for you this exclusive list of tips on how to solve real users’ problems with your fresh and crispy freelancer marketplace:

How to build a successful freelance marketplace

Help service providers and customers find each other painlessly with AI features

Hard-coded algorithms don’t work well for freelancer marketplaces. Clients’ requirements may vary as well as the specialist’s experience in the CV may differ from the real one. The point is to implement special Machine Learning algorithms, analyze users’ search queries, behavior and preferences to help them find each other. An algorithm should take into account contractors’ skills and expertise as well as time zone, previous reviews, hourly rate, portfolio, etc.

Shed some light on financial questions

It’s a hard question how much exactly someone’s effort costs. Freelancers who only start their careers on websites like Upwork fail to answer it correctly. Clients that try to estimate a project’s price may lack some information to do this. The specific intelligent estimator will help your future platform’s users to come up with adequate offers and expectations. An ML-based algorithm comparing a project’s complexity and prices for similar services will help to create a better vision of costs. At the same time, this algorithm will help each specialist to define prices per hour of work more correctly.

Improve communication

The key challenge of a remote team is seamless communication. You as an owner of the freelancer marketplace have to offer all possible tools to make it seamless. Earlier, we’ve mentioned that messaging is an essential feature. Here, we would like to emphasize that multi-channel communication will make users turn their heads towards your platform. Allow video calls within platforms, let users record voice messages and share important files here.  Screen sharing is also essential. Make any conversation and discussion as clear, fast and simple as you can.

Allow database and TMS integration

Project management may be a headache. Let your users synchronize data in their freelance platform’s accounts and corporative databases or task management systems. Enhanced with multi-channel communication, this will simplify people’s lives significantly and score your platform.

Add some gamification

Let users collect badges or points for giving feedback, passing professional tests or inviting their friends to a platform. Let them exchange these badges to money, discounts, free courses, etc. Remind them that each new project, as well as a hired contractor, can bring them perks they didn’t even expect.

Bet on talents

And last but not least, we have thought about contractors’ revenue increase. You as a platform owner cannot make clients pay more, as well as you cannot make contractors work more. However, there are certain things you can do:

  • Develop acceptance criteria

Due to a lack of regulations and brutal digital fraud, both parts of cooperation suffer. For example, in 2018, 58% of freelancers from Southeast Asia claimed that they were not being paid for their work at least once. To prevent this, on your freelance platform, the information provided by users needs to be checked. Develop special fields like company’s name, physical address, number of employees etc required for registration; verify this data. Check the profiles as well and react to suspicious behavior and reports immediately. The more protected the users will feel on your platform, the more actively they will join you.

  • Charge clients

Currency exchange negatively impacts freelancer’s revenue. After paying a fee to PayPal or a bank, a specialist may lose a perceivable amount of money. To upgrade the experience and attract even more talents to the platform, charge clients an extra fee so contractors' losses were minimal.

Online marketplace like Fiverr: what the future holds?

The future is freelancing. We hear about it all the time; we read articles devoted to this topic and we see the huge increments in freelancing statistics. Even though it may seem risky for some entrepreneurs, at first sight, it becomes an unlimited field of revenue for others.

  • Generation Z denies working 9 to 17 and the major percentage of a workforce drifts to freelancing;
  • More than 50% of mid to large enterprises demonstrate a higher demand for freelance workers;
  • The market needs a revolutionary platform to satisfy freelancers’ and companies in a better way.

Once you’ll deploy your own freelancer marketplace, the future will be yours.

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