Nowadays there are tons of marketplaces to choose your freelance designer. Crowdsourcing, micro-lancing and other buzzwords can make you, a small business owner, completely dazed and confused.

But how do you go about separating the good from the bad, and, especially for this industry, the ugly?

I’ve conducted extensive research on major freelancer websites, tested each of them on your behalf, and laid out the pros and cons here, to lend a helping hand to your decision. With comprehensive insights into prices, bidding complications, and the overall quality of the work being done by the freelancers on these sites, this is all the help you’ll ever need to make your decision. Let’s begin, shall we?

99Designs –

Touting themselves as “the world’s leading design contest marketplace”, 99designs is a fresh take on the traditional design marketplace website. Designers compete in contests set up by the clients, to create designs for a variety of purposes. The winning design gets chosen and the designer wins their payment as prize money. The runners up are allowed to keep their designs to add to their portfolios. Founded in 2008, the company currently sits on eight consecutive years of double-digit growth. With more than 1 million registered designers, facilitating over 10 thousand design contests per month, it’s a platform with a lot to offer. CEO and president Patrick Llewellyn said, of the company: “Now when customers come to our site, we see them looking for not only their brand mark, but about what are the other areas to expand their brand.”

Can be great when you’re not sure what you want (visually) and would like some inspiration, by seeing tons of options before deciding. You can receive up to 30, 60 or 90 submissions, depending on the package you choose, ranging from $299 to $1299 for a logo design, for example. Their briefing process is easy-to-use, and guides you through a style assessment, in order to help designers understand your needs.

As a crowdsourcing platform, where many contributors work towards one design goal, only the winning designer gets paid, in the end. The others worked for free. This might lead to a big chunk of the submissions being of a lower quality.

Fiverr –

Fiverr is an online marketplace, where freelancers around the world monetise their skills for a range of projects, beginning at $5 per job. The website was launched in 2010, and currently lists more than 3 million services, ranging from $5 and $500. Since their inception, they’ve been able to raise over $50 million dollars in funding. Fiverr co-founder Micha Kaufman, who started the business with his friend, Shair Wininger, says of the site: “The grand vision of Fiverr is really to create a marketplace where people can start small but take this hobby and create a business out of it. Very similar to the revolution that eBay brought to products.”

Ultra cheap. You can improve your “gig”, as they call the jobs, with additional options, paying extra $5, $10, etc. Can be great for small, mundane jobs, that would take hours of work away from you as an entrepreneur, or that you would procrastinate over forever, such as creating a new social media design, an updated Facebook cover, or a new Instagram promotional banner.

When it comes to quality, you get what you pay for. So don’t expect something unique for the low, low price of your five bucks. Services typically don’t allow revisions, or they only offer one round. Also, the basic gig typically doesn’t include source files (which can be obtained paying an extra fee), so you’re locked out if you want to update your designs in the future.

Upwork –

Upwork (formerly eLance-oDesk) is a freelancing platform for businesses to connect with professionals on a variety of different projects, and collaborate remotely. It is the world’s biggest freelancer marketplace, accounting for 3 million jobs posted annually, and generating a total of $1 billion. The winner of multiple awards, Upwork boasts 12 million freelancers as of June, 2016.

In the words of Upwork CEO, Stephane Kasriel: “It’s really awesome work–better work than you could find locally.”

A huge community of freelancers, so you’ll likely get a good quantity of bids and applicants to shortlist for your project.

When applying, freelancers send lots of automated responses, and some barely read your job post. Make sure you include additional interview questions to your applicants, so you can filter through. Also, it isn’t a design-only community, so, when posting a project is up to you, write a great briefing and get the most out of your freelancer.

Crew –

Crew is the entrepreneurs’ last hail mary before having to look for a “typical” agency. They are a vetted network of top-notch designers and developers, all of whom are matched with vetted and scoped projects, aiming, ultimately, to provide the best freelancing talent available. Crew has 700 active designers and developers, from employees at Dropbox, Google, and Uber, to small agencies from NYC and Montreal. In 2016, they scoped $22M in projects budgets, and their claim to be “4x more affordable than a typical agency” is no small feat. Additionally, they offer project protection, in the form of an escrow, and independent reviews, in case things go wrong. Crew works with startups and entrepreneurs, as well as established businesses, such as Basecamp and Eventbrite.

Top-notch professionals, who are carefully-vetted. Increased odds of a smooth-running project. Get the value of an agency, while paying less, and without the bureaucracies and meetings.

Costly for the bootstrapping entrepreneur, as the average project size is $10.000.

Hopefully, each marketplace is now a bit clearer to choose from and work within. With that said, now you know how and where to proactively begin your search for a new designer. Whether you’re wading through bids from the hundreds of available Upwork freelancers, or pitting top talent against each other for the purpose of your design on 99designs, there’s something for everyone out there. And, now, you know just where to look!