toptal vs upwork

Want to outsource your development? How does Toptal fare against Upwork?

If you've ever been in the position to hire developers, you've probably been faced with the decision of which outsourcing company to choose, particularly when looking at the most popular sites - Toptal vs Upwork?

These two major sites both offer development resources for hiring - but what is the difference between them? Which ones makes most sense for you?


We are writing this article because we've hired WordPress developers from both. CollectiveRay has experience working with both.

With the first company, we went through the onboarding process and quickly got working with a freelancer who exceeded our expectations.

But before we used them, we tried hiring on popular marketplaces and this is what happened:

  1. We hired somebody who copied the code and gave us very shoddy work.
  2. We hired another programmer who after some time became very unresponsive and never actually gave us the work.
  3. We tried multiple times with multiple people from different countries at different budgets. It took us a long time, and a lot of frustration, to find good programmers. Besides plenty of missed deadline.

So let's first compare Toptal to Upwork.

What is Toptal and should you consider them? 

Toptal logoToptal's basic premise is very clear - even from the very name they've chosen for themselves. The name of the company is short for "top talent" - and is essentially what this developer hiring company is all about.

It was founded in 2010 by Taso Du Val and Breanden Beneschott - and their aggressive growth has been attributed to the way they operate. In fact, they have been named as the fastest growing software company in 2015

But what is so special about this company?

Essentially, they only hire the very best talent - they accept only the top 3% of developers who apply to become freelancers with them.

They have very tough tests, to make sure they weed out anybody who is not of the highest-quality. This pre-vetting of the candidates that apply to be listed with the company means one thing.

When you hire with Top Talent - you're hiring the very best.

As a company doing the hiring, this means, you're going to save all of the time and hassle that comes with finding and hiring developers.

You don't have to worry about whether the freelancer you hired will meet your expectations - these experts are guaranteed to be the best in the business.

All of the main development niches are covered, including Javascript developers, WordPress devs, PHP programmers, web designers. In essence, if you're after any kind of technical freelancers for hire, they've got your back.

To get approved as a freelancer with them, you'll need to pass through 4 phases of testing

  1. Vocal interview to test language
  2. Skills review to assess knowledge
  3. Live tests to prove skillset
  4. Practice projects to assess the quality of work

 As you can see, this rigorous testing process guarantees that only top talent is listed with this company - so when you hire from them, quality is guaranteed. 

Check out Top Talented freelancers

What is Upwork?

Upwork logoUpwork, on the other hand, is a developer marketplace - essentially, as a hiring company, you submit your project description and potential candidates essentially bid to win your project.

This company essentially came about by merging two popular freelancing platforms, elance and oDesk, in December of 2013, essentially creating the largest freelancing platform, connecting thousands of freelancers to clients.

Users from all over the world will be competing to win your project, so you can expect tens of proposals to come in for your project at various prices.

You typically decide what you want to pay beforehand, whether you want to pay by project, or on a per-hour basis and developers who apply for your job will submit proposals accordingly.

Rather than being limited to developers, this is a marketplace for all sorts of skills.

Clients hiring here can perform interview as part of the hiring process.

With so many freelancers available for hire, making a good choice is actually quite tough - especially when you get so many applicants for most jobs.

This marketplace tries to guide you by awarding "achievements" to freelancers on their network. You'll get such achievements as "Rising Talent", freelancers who are relatively new but have a good success rate. Individuals who have been on the platform for a while and have a good rating can also achieve such statuses as "Top Rated".

However, you'll typically get all sorts of applicants applying for most jobs, so the toughest job for a hiring company is sorting out the wheat from the chaff. If you'd like to know more about Upwork, this is a great review here.

Visit Up Work now

What is the difference between Toptal and Upwork?

When you're considering who to use, from Upwork vs Toptal, there are a few very clear differences.

  1. Quality - with the first company the quality is guaranteed. With the latter, although you'll find good developers, you'll need to actually discover this yourself through trial and error.
  2. Price - you'll probably find that hiring on Top Talent might be somewhat more expensive on a price/per hour basis. However, this difference is typically recuperated due to the shorter development timeframes and quality of the work delivered, if you choose to hire freelancers from here

Should you hire From Toptal or Upwork?

If you're trying to decide between Toptal vs Upwork, your choice is this.

If you want top-notch developers hired in a short time-frame, chose Top Talent!

If you have the time to go through a hiring process to find a good programmer yourself, chose the latter.

As a freelancer, understand that if you're not the best in the business, you're not going to get accepted with this top company. It would be best to work hard and prove yourself slowly over time on Upwork than Toptal. This will earn you the reputation to get good work from marketplaces- you'll also build your skill set to eventually be accepted as a freelancer on the Top tal platform.


See Top Talented freelancers


Have you hired from Upwork or Toptal? What was your experience? How do you compare the two? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author
David Attard
Author: David AttardWebsite:
David has been working in or around the online / digital industry for the last 18 years. He has vast experience in the software and web design industries using WordPress, Joomla and niches surrounding them. As a digital consultant, his focus is on helping businesses get a competitive advantage using a combination of their website and digital platforms available today.

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