Toptal vs Upwork vs STAFFVIRTUAL: Where to Find Your Next Freelancer

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Toptal vs Upwork vs STAFFVIRTUAL: Where to Find Your Next Freelancer

Toptal vs Upwork vs STAFFVIRTUAL: Where to Find Your Next Freelancer

When the pandemic hit, many people expected a slowdown in the labor markets. Still, surprisingly, more than a third of American professionals have been freelancing during COVID-19, contributing $1.2 trillion to the economy. 

Freelancing offers professionals a self-employed, more independent route for providing their services. Employers are rife with choice as the gig economy continues to grow. 

But which outsourcing option should they choose? Keep reading to find out! 


An Overview of Toptal 

According to Taso Du Val, the CEO of the popular freelance platform, “Toptal is an on-demand service for high-caliber talent.”


Toptal company website.


Founded in 2010, Toptal facilitates hiring for employers by connecting them to professionals across various niches, from freelance developers to financial consultants and more. Toptal employs a comprehensive vetting process that limits its uptake of professionals on the platform with a high focus on creating value for its clients. 

Unlike other freelance marketplaces like Fiverr and Upwork, where one has to actively search for freelance talent, the hiring process is made easier as employers correspond with a Toptal consultant who provides a list of prospective candidates themselves. 


Toptal’s Pricing and Fees 

Toptal charges an initial deposit fee of $500 while signing up for the site, after which they add a profit margin of their own above the rates charged by freelancers on the site. 


Toptal's services on their website.


The prices charged vary depending on the nature of work done and may be an hourly rate or daily rate. Some freelancers also charge per project rates or fixed fees. 


The final amount paid to freelancers is dependent on various factors, including: 

  • The tech requirements 
  • The level of skill required
  • The duration and size of the project
  • The industry and demand for the niche 


Its payment methods include credit card, PayPal, ABA routing, and bank wire transfers. 


Toptal’s Candidate Screening and Selection 

Toptal’s strict screening process is what makes it stand out compared to most other freelancing platforms. 


Toptal’s strict screening process.


Their vetting process consists of a minimum of 3 interviews and 3 skill tests. 

This saves a lot of time for companies who don’t have to worry about finding and hiring top talent on their own. Toptal guarantees the best from javascript developers to software engineers, product managers to finance experts, and more!


Toptal freelancers are required to pass through the following testing stages: 

  • Vocal interviews to test command of the language 
  • Skills tests to assess technical know-how 
  • Skill reviews 
  • Practice projects to guarantee quality work


So, if you’re hiring through Toptal, rest assured you’re getting access to a top-notch talent pool. 


Toptal’s Customer Support 

Many users of Toptal have spoken highly of its dedicated customer support. 

Higher membership levels also receive a dedicated account manager. Toptal also offers clients the option of trial periods with designers before hiring them, assuring them they have the best developers on board before going through with them. 


Pros and Cons of Toptal 

Toptal’s greatest strengths lie in its quality talent pool.

  • The extensive screening process assures companies they’re getting the best of the best talent. Be it part-time or full-time work; there is no compromise made in terms of quality. 
  • Toptal’s no-risk free trial offers a two-week trial period. If the company is not happy with the work done, Toptal bears the loss for it. 


However, Toptal also has the following cons: 

  • Its severe vetting reduces the talent pool in terms of number. This limits options for companies in this way. 
  • After the trial period expires, the $500 deposit is a must. This is a rather hefty sum compared to other platforms.


A man holding a stack of papers in front of his face.


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An Overview of Upwork 

Upwork (formerly known as Elance), one of the world’s biggest freelance platforms, freelancers, gives employers a portal to connect with freelancers of varied skill sets. 


Upwork company website.


Their individual profiles showcase their expertise, displaying their job success score, past work experience, portfolio, and hourly rates.

Upwork’s strong suit is the volume of freelancers it has on its platform. Upwork also has strict policies in place to prevent scams and cheating, protecting employers’ interests. 


Upwork’s Pricing and Fees 

Upwork charges a 2.75% processing fee per payment. This is in addition to the freelancer’s project cost. 

Freelancers are also charged an additional rate, ranging from 5 to 20%, which they may build into their project quote. This means employers end up paying more.

Upwork also has the following premium services:

  • Upwork Pro offers hiring managers and account managers to help find the best freelancers for a business’s needs. Freelancers undergo skills tests and interviews to ensure their quality. This costs $149/month with a service fee of 10% across all project payments.
  • Upwork Enterprise is designed for larger businesses and provides features that help clients manage larger projects more efficiently, such as customizing onboarding, payroll options, and more. 


Upwork’s Candidate Screening and Selection 

Upwork operates on an open marketplace model. Any freelancer is free to sign up, create a profile, and pitch their expertise to employers.

Hence, the onus of candidate selection comes down to the employers themselves. There is no fixed vetting or screening system in terms of skill for the free plan. However, they do have optional skills testing.


Upwork’s Customer Support 

Upwork offers a very comprehensive customer support system.

This includes providing a help center with FAQs and an extensive knowledge database, live chat, email, and telephone calls. 

Upwork members are also said to receive 24/7 support with dedicated email support for its premium users, opting for a ticket-based system. 


Pros and Cons of Upwork 

Upwork’s open platform offers the following benefits for its users: 

  • It is a massive marketplace with a wide variety of freelancers. Niche specialties are extensive, and employers have an abundance of choices in terms of volume as well.
  • Upwork has an industry-leading payment infrastructure. Like Toptal, it also follows an escrow system. Its AI tracks all invoices, and the platform offers multiple payment options, including debit and credit cards, bank accounts (for US clients), and PayPal.


The disadvantages to know about Upwork include the following:  

  • There is an extensive trial-and-error process. As the platform is oversaturated, this leads to more time spent by employers themselves in the vetting process.
  • Upwork’s valuable features are locked behind paywalls. The no-risk trial period and dedicated customer support are only available for Upwork Pro and Enterprise users.


An Overview of STAFFVIRTUAL 

STAFFVIRTUAL is an outsourcing company that helps businesses find their ideal business solutions by working with teams based in low-cost service centers in the Philippines. STAFFVIRTUAL offers solutions related to back-office, customer management, IT, and PEO (payroll) solutions.


StaffVirtual's services.


Unlike traditional freelancing platforms, employers don’t have to go through thousands of freelancer profiles online to find their best. STAFFVIRTUAL does this for them, giving them a dedicated support team for their project. 


Learn How to Get Started


STAFFVIRTUAL Pricing and Fees 

STAFFVIRTUAL’s pricing model is built off our customized outsourcing service. 

The pricing and fees are dependent on each client’s unique needs, with entry-level quotes starting at $1,000/month. 

To know more, book a free consultation and obtain a personalized quote.


STAFFVIRTUAL Candidate Screening and Selection 

Like Toptal, STAFFVIRTUAL provides customized hiring solutions and does the vetting process on behalf of its clients.


StaffVirtual's 4-step process.


STAFFVIRTUAL then builds a specialist team following their client’s exact needs. By thoroughly screening all applicants and presenting a vetted and fully trained crew, they minimize the employer’s stress during the hiring process. 

STAFFVIRTUAL also offers continued support by helping manage the team throughout the duration of the project. 


STAFFVIRTUAL Customer Support 

Once a client signs on with STAFFVIRTUAL, they are given a dedicated team of managed freelancers to work with. 


You can also reach out directly for support via their Contact page or Book a Call


Pros and Cons of STAFFVIRTUAL

With STAFFVIRTUAL, businesses gain the following benefits: 

  • Outsourcing to a dedicated agency carries a higher quality assurance than working with freelancers on open market platforms. This is due to the more specialist nature of services received and the agency’s foundational expertise. 
  • Operational and recruiting costs are reduced. There is no platform fee (as is the case with Upwork) and no hefty deposit (required with Toptal). Businesses are charged a direct price for the overall service provided. This also helps them redirect focus to value-add activities as STAFFVIRTUAL’s outsourced team manages back-office operations


STAFFVIRTUAL’s cons include the below: 

  • Due to contracting out work to another region (the Philippines), employers are bound to face time zone differences. This is especially the case if they are based in North American or European areas. This can make team communication and coordination more challenging. 
  • As with all outsourcing operations, businesses face the risk of exposing their confidential data to a third party. However, companies can reduce this risk by conducting research on the agency’s quality standards and process efficiency. STAFFVIRTUAL upholds the ISO 9001 quality standards. 


Toptal vs. Upwork vs. STAFFVIRTUAL

Businesses and employers today are not limited by choice. 

With the gig economy on the rise, new freelancing platforms coming onto the radar, and a vast and growing talent pool, businesses have more options than they know what to do with. 

However, it’s essential for them to weigh each one upon the basis of different factors. 

The below table summarizes the differences between Toptal, Upwork, and STAFFVIRTUAL, giving you a comprehensive view of each so you can make a more guided choice when it comes to it. 


Toptal vs. Upwork vs. STAFFVIRTUAL


Pricing and Fees

Candidate Screening Process

Customer Support


Initial deposit fee charge of $500; hourly/daily rate, fixed/project fee options from freelancers.

Intense screening and verification of top talent through extensive testing and interviews.

Dedicated customer support with higher membership levels offering the services of an account manager.


Free membership; 3% of the project fee. Higher rates for freelancers.

Limited vetting and screening are done for freelancers who are free to create their own profiles on the site. Optional skill-testing is available.

Available on all mediums with premium customer support options given to Pro and Enterprise users.


Customized pricing starting at packages of $1,000/month.

Robust screening and verification of high-quality freelancers managed within the agency.

Dedicated VIP-like support for clients. Contact Us and call booking options available for prospects. 


Wrap Up 

At the end of the day, it all comes down to you.

What are your business goals? What are your core, value-add activities that you would like to focus on? What is your budget? Are you looking for low-cost, low-skill work or higher-quality work from an expert team?

If you want to sift through the talent pool and know what the talent pool looks like, freelancer platforms are a great marketplace to browse through and build an understanding. However, it can eat up a lot of your time with regard to vetting and screening applicants. 

If you’re looking for sustainable, long-term solutions that can help scale your business in line with your vision, outsourcing is the way to go. 

With STAFFVIRTUAL, you are guaranteed quality work with a dependable, skilled team of pre-vetted freelancers that are suited for your needs from day one. 

STAFFVIRTUAL’s consultations are free. You can get a better understanding of how STAFFVIRTUAL will revolutionize your customer support, back-office, IT solutions, and your payroll processes

Begin your journey with STAFFVIRTUAL today


Schedule a free consultation

Ike Stranathan

Ike Stranathan

Ike Stranathan founded STAFFVIRTUAL in 2009 after moving to the Philippines from California. Ike lives just a block from his offices in Makati, Philippines, and is passionate about helping companies achieve dynamic growth by outsourcing.

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