Best way to find freelance work without sites like Fiverr or Upwork?

Hey everyone. 👋

I recently have been looking for some freelance work but have failed to find clients.

I am focusing on helping people with my web development/design skills.

The problem 😕

However, I don’t want to use a freelance site like Fiverr or Upwork. There’s to much competition and I do not want to do this full-time.

Any suggestions or tips would be very much appreciated. 🤗

  1. 4

    try less competitive sites like https://99wizard.com I heard they got 1 million dollar in funding to market their website

    1. 1

      I’ve seen some of them - I will definitely try :D

  2. 4

    I am on the other side, struggling to find freelance designers/develoeprs ... I will DM you a project idea, let me know if that soudns interesting.


    1. 1

      @SaijoGeorge Hi Saijo, I can help you with this. Thank you.

  3. 4

    It’s true that it does take some effort to establish yourself on Fiverr but it can also be a great source for upsells or new work with clients you meet on the platform.

    I am currently paying several freelancers quite well to help with a few projects. I initially found them all on Fiverr. And from what they tell me, this is typical of the better Fiverr sellers—they selectively accept Fiverr work, build a portfolio, and after establishing some credibility, they offer more comprehensive services to excising Fiverr clients.

    In many cases (like mine) the buyer may even suggest this idea.

    As a buyer this works well because if you are not using a third party platform like Fiverr to find workera, the odds of getting completely ripped off are much higher. So Fiverr is great for finding people, seeing what they are capable of, and establishing trust.

    Sure a Fiverr seller can offer their same work outside of Fiverr from the get go (maybe even passing along Fiverr’s cut to the buyer as a discount), but this only works once you’ve done a few projects with someone and trust them.

    If you do not know your clients, pitching them cold on your services will likely be difficult and require a really good sales system.

    1. 3

      All valid points. I’ve been thinking about Fiverr for quite some time and I see why it would pay off in the long run.

      Thanks again for your help.

  4. 3

    I found linkedin to be very effective for getting leads, if you are consistent in content creation and network with people, you will get work.

    1. 1

      Can you elaborate on what networking looks like on linkedin?

      1. 2

        There are 2 ways.

        The easiest one is to start creating content on Linkedin.
        When you do that, people start to know you and they will initiate conversation.

        You can do the same for others as well.

        But, its hard to produce content continuously. So, I prefer to do some warm outreach.

        Let's say I want to talk to someone.

        -I follow him/her on Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram for a couple of weeks.

        • engage in their posts actively, make sure they notice me.
        • Then send him/her a personalized text saying I love their work..etc,etc....can we get on a call. (No salesy stuff)
        • Mostly they agree.

        This is a basic framework of my networking. I also get referral work from my network.

        1. 1

          What do you say on calls?
          Can you send typical dialog?

        2. 1

          This is really excellent, thanks for sharing. It sounds like this is a very authentic way to network online. I'll take that advice and try to use it myself for leadgen!

          FWIW, if you find this method works you may be able to create some nice content for IndieHackers and freelancers and any sort of digital workers about online networking. Even though your method sounds simple, it's difficult to come up with this on your own and even more difficult to actually implement.

          1. 1

            Thanks Connor. I'll surely do that.

    2. 1

      Thanks. I’ll be sure to try that.

  5. 3

    I use Upwork regularly, but I've been able to do so as I established a good profile.

    If you're just getting started, word-of-mouth, IH, Reddit, LinkedIn may be your best bet? And also take a look at higher-end freelancing websites like Toptal (also for developers) and Clearvoice (copywriting). If you have some good credentials, it may be possible to get into a platform like this and compete with fewer people.

    1. 2

      Yeah I think that would work best. Once I have more publicity, I might go onto bigger sites. Thanks :D

  6. 3

    Im not a developer but offering graphic design services and WordPress websites, I’ve found most of my freelance work from groups on facebook, family friends and in my network.

    On the other side, we’re working with a freelance developer who we found here and on IH after posting a job ad :)

    1. 1

      Thanks for sharing. I too am looking for tasks from friends and IH :D

      1. 2

        Maybe it's good time for @csallen to add Remote IH Job Board

  7. 2

    Great post @BraydenTW More 'freelance' sites are focusing on the individuality of the expert (as opposed to creating a generic skilled marketplace) so look into sites that allow you to present and promote you and your skills. The good ones will have tools to help you promote yourself as well as placing you in front of people who want to work with yuo

    1. 1

      Thanks @Ronana!

      I’ll keep that in mind :D

  8. 2

    First of all, I don't know your situation, but I'd say that Upwork is not all that bad. Yes, there's a lot of competition, but using certain tips & tricks (not applying to project when there's too many applicants, using the right parameters to find projects, etc) you can find good projects !

    Personally, that's how I started, and now I'm top-rated and I receive around 2 or 3 pretty interesting projects every week.

    Aside from that, here are some other ways I found clients :

    • Forums/ Slack groups related to your niche (eg : I'm a growth marketer and I found a gig on GrowthList's Slack)
    • Ask your friends and friends's of friends (obviously)
    • Posting content on LinkedIn & my blog
    1. 1

      Great tips. I guess I could totally give up work a try :D


  9. 2

    First, you can download the cold lead scraper app from the play store. The app's name is DigLead. Here is a link to it:
    After generating leads from the app, connects with your prospects to get freelance work.

    1. 1

      Would be nice, but I have an iphone 7 😅

      1. 1

        Hehehe try to steal one android phone :D

  10. 2

    Holly molly @BraydenTW. With all this advice, you are set for life. People want you to succeed. I can't add anything else. So true in every way.

    1. 1

      Haha thanks - I do my best 😅

      1. 1

        you welcome dear :)

  11. 2

    Most comments here already state great advice. If you are unsure of which market segment to concentrate on, I highly recommend watching the Sales Safari video that shows how to create productized services for an audience who needs it. This can be adopted to help you choose a segment to concentrate in.

    1. 1

      Cool! I'll check it out :D

    1. 1

      Cool. I will later today :)

  12. 2

    Hey Brayden,
    I think we will need your development skills when we launch our freelancer platform. We know that there is a competition and hardness to understand what you are going to do on a side project. I'll let you know when we are ready to launch. :)

    1. 1

      Thanks. Feel free to ping me.

      Btw, do you want my development or design skills?

  13. 2

    Yeah best stay away from places like that.

    So this is purely my own experience, but this should give you a few takeaways.

    For context, I’m not in web dev. I’ve been a freelance content writer and copywriter for close to 4 years now. Only in the last 6 months have I changed my niche to SaaS products, but before hand I was primarily writing copy for the financial, real estate and adult industry.

    I originally only targeted digital agencies. I’d reach out via email and ask for work. You’d be surprised as to how many would give you work as a copywriter because they’d prefer to allocate their in house copywriters/content writers to their primary projects, and give the dregs to you. (Worth it)

    Because most web devs are not copywriters and content writers, in the past I’ve teamed up with a few devs, I did the writing part, and they built front-end. So thus lead me to not actually reaching out to clients, but rather reaching out to other freelance devs.

    Because I also helped with a few agencies on a couple of projects, I’d also get a few call backs, and I’ve fortunately built a very nice long term relationship with an agency, and from there I gotten referrals.

    Here is a good example for you to potential find new clients.

    1. Open Google Maps (yes maps)
    2. Look at the local businesses around your area.
    3. Click on the business, and see if they have a website or not. They will most likely have a message or call button.
    4. Pitch and repeat.

    Heck, trade work with other freelancers.

    It also take a lot of networking, so become friends with other freelancers, they don’t even have to be devs. I guarantee that if you befriend an freelance SEO specialist, they might even a lead on a potential client they can refer you to.

    So let’s be mates😜

    1. 1

      Great feedback Nic!

      Click on the business, and see if they have a website or not. They will most likely have a message or call button.

      I love this idea! I will definitely have to give it a try.

      I've also heard that doing things for free for family members and showcasing the work as a case study can help me grow to.


      1. 1

        Yup! Spec work (pretend/free work) does go a long way. It’s great way to show off your skills.

        But yeah, Fiver and UpWork leave a very bad taste in my mouth🤮 I know there are people who have had success in it, but every time I see someone say “just use UpWork”, I feel like slapping them 🙄

        From experience, a lot of digital marketing agencies have devs, and it’s usually a small team of like 1 or 2 people, so definitely look at some local agencies and offer a helping hand.

        1. 1

          but every time I see someone say “just use UpWork”, I feel like slapping them 🙄

          I feel the same way :P

          Yep, I've been thinking of helping in that way. I've mostly been looking on IH and reddit.

          Thanks again!

  14. 2

    I've user Upwork before with some pretty good success. I was able to charge $85/hr and received all 5 stars. After my first couple of engagements, it was easy to find people that were more willing to consider me. I stopped doing it because I was just too busy with my day job and side projects.

    There is a trick to make it work though.

    Niche down.

    You don't want to be "Expert Python Developer. Can handle any problem!". There are 10,000 people like that on Upwork.

    Niche down further.

    "NLP expert in the real estate and housing space" is more like what you need to do to find clients who are willing to pay.

    Another trick is to setup an RSS feed with Upwork on some keywords and get notified as soon as someone lists something in your niche. Message them within the first 10 minutes of posting and you have a way higher chance of getting the work.

    Good luck!


    I realized I didn't answer your actual question on finding work outside of these platforms.

    If you search HackerNews (using hn.algolia.com) for "how to get freelance clients", "How to get consulting clients", etc, you will find a ton of helpful information.

    Some paths:

    • Become an online expert in your niche through blogs, publications, videos ,etc
    • Join slack groups in your niche and be active in the community
    • Post your info in the monthly "Who wants to be hired?" page on HN.
    1. 1

      You don't want to be "Expert Python Developer. Can handle any problem!". There are 10,000 people like that on Upwork.

      Thanks - that's great advice :-D

      Another trick is to setup an RSS feed with Upwork on some keywords and get notified as soon as someone lists something in your niche. Message them within the first 10 minutes of posting and you have a way higher chance of getting the work.

      Also a great tip. Do you think this would work with Fiverr too?

      Thanks for your help Kenneth. I believe this will prove to be very useful.

      1. 1

        No problem Brayden! I'm not sure if the RSS feed will work with Fiverr as I've not used that platform before.

        Best of luck!

  15. 2
    • Reddit
    • Hacker News
    • Indie Hackers
    • Linkedin
    • Inbound leads
    1. 1

      Hmm... never thought about Hacker News before. Thanks!

  16. 2

    Fiverr have highest number of users which means more projects and clients. If you're average freelancer or just starting then Fiverr is best place.
    Upwork is mainly for higher budget project and people who like to earn on the basis of pay per hour.

    1. 1

      Got it. Thanks for the tip!

  17. 2

    From my experience in freelancing, I will tell you how it went. I found my first client through Upwork only. I used to apply for jobs at numerous sites in the beginning. It's tought at some sites for sure because of huge competition of freelancers but to get started, it is best that you take out some time daily and apply to jobs which seem fit. I am sure you would've a good portfolio to showcase. Use that whenever you apply to any of the jobs.

    Also, One way is Word of Mouth. Try asking people around you if they need work. I believe it is one of the biggest yet underrated source to get work.

    1. 2

      Yep, I've been working on that. The more projects I finish, the more I can put on my portfolio to showcase, and the more people know who I am :D

      1. 1

        All the best in your freelance journey!

  18. 1

    I recently have been looking for some best coder but have failed to find. But now i am find the best site for coding classes. I am focusing on helping people with my web development/design skills. here is the link of site https://www.geekedu.org/

    1. 1

      Nice - thanks for sharing! I’ve never heard of peopleperhour, will have to try it out!

  19. 1

    From my experience, despite plenty of marketplaces to look for talent, it's gotten harder to find expertise and quality help for short term jobs. There's still too much overhead and inconsistency to rely on third party marketplaces.

    In my opinion, the best place to hire contractors are through using the network you already have. Recently, my solution to hiring is through AskFora, where you describe what you need, and AskFora then helps find qualified people from your network. With AskFora, a client can find a contractor, get their job done, and pay them, all in the same day. I highly recommend it. If you have a chance to check it out, I'd be curious to get your thoughts on how it works for you.

  20. 1

    I have an adult-content, paid-membership website. Everything is legal and legitimate. It was designed in wordpress, using zombaio as payment processor and magic members plug-in to restrict access to paid content (and manage memberships). Zombaio disappeared from the face of the earth (so I need to be set up with a new payment processor). Also, functionality of wordpress and magic members is not functioning properly (can't upload files or add new posts, can't manually set members' access to override failed payment processing). All of this needs to be fixed and working properly.

    1. 1

      Hey - sorry, but I don't know if I can help out with this. Wordpress isn't my thing. Though I'm sure there are many other Indiehackers that could offer their help!

      1. 1

        Thanks, I appreciate your reply. Is there somewhere else on this board I should post this to help its effectiveness? I happened to post here, because I was searching for alternatives to UpWork and Fiverr (with both, their ToS prohibits adult content). Any other suggestions for finding some contract help on this?

  21. 1

    Try to find work on low competition website like https:// peopleperhour.com, https://guru.com, https://inshotproapp.com. You will defenitly find work because on these site you will find professionals.

  22. 1

    When I still freelanced, I got my first clients by cold-emailing small-ish web and digital agencies offering help. You'd be surprised how many of them are struggling with finding a good development partner.

    1. 1

      Good idea! Thanks :D

  23. 1

    Check out https://leadzy.co

    It's geared towards freelancers just starting out to get their first few clients. I used it to find my first few clients for my development agency.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the cool resource! I’ll be sure to try it out!

  24. 1

    On the first business day of each month an account called whoishiring posts a "Freelancer? Seeking Freelancers?" thread on HN and it has been a good source of work for me in the past.


    1. 1

      Great idea Philip! Can't wait for next November :D

  25. 1

    Hi @BraydenTW,

    I have put my thought about this in the Linkedin Post. https://www.linkedin.com/posts/ankurkhandelwal1_ankur-khandelwal-posted-on-linkedin-activity-6719086326538375168-PNV_

    Check other article as I have described in details

  26. 1

    Hey @BraydenTW, this is something I struggled with for a long time as well. I've been consulting for 6 years now, having spanned the full spectrum from working for a Big 4 firm to joining an up and coming agency and now consulting directly with software businesses.

    I just posted an article about succeeding at freelancing/consulting in 2020. From what I'm seeing here, it might be helpful for you!

    Link to the post

    I'm working on another post specifically around getting clients as well so if you want to get that one right away, feel free to sign up for the newsletter on my site

    Best of luck, let me know if I can help at all

    1. 1

      Thanks! I’ll check it out!

  27. 1

    I've written a ton about this in the past. Some of these articles are a bit out of date, but many of the principles still apply. Feel free to hit me with any questions!

    This one used to be #1 on Google whenever you searched for "freelance programmer":


    1. 1

      Very cool! I’ll read it now :D

  28. 1

    If you know how to sell, you can come join orapa.co/for-reps and book sales calls for companies and earn up to 200 per meeting you set.

    If you DON'T KNOW how to sell, I can help you.

    1. 1

      Hi, I am interested.

    2. 1

      Interesting. Might not do it now, but will try in the future.

  29. 1

    I've been working on launching a site just for this. It's a way to do better work with people you know. The idea is help contractors and freelancers promote themselves to their first and second connections and then to help clients find people they know when they need help. It's completely free to promote yourself and get hired, we make money by charging clients who hire through the platform a small fee. I'd love to know if this kind of approach would be helpful for you. The site is https://askfora.com

    1. 1

      Thanks, I'll check it out and let you know what I think later today :D

  30. 1

    I would say go for low-hanging fruit - setup a website, get some case studies up there and directly pitch people you know/friends of friends. Use Linkedin and your personal network. If you have contacts it shouldn't take that long to get a client.

    1. 1

      Yeah, I've been working on updating my website. Soon it well have better features like the ones you mentioned.

  31. 1

    I love this question, because I was get a lot of client with a this method. Try find 10 potential prospect and send them message about your services, you can find their contact on instagram, facebook , google map, or directory website.

    It’s not hard to find 10 contact/day, it takes at least 30 min a day. It’s about 300 prospect a month, let’s say you get 1% conversion, that mean 3 new client a month. Offer them maintenance plan, and you get addtional recurring revenue. Also you will learn sales skill.

    1. 1

      Great goal! I'll be sure to keep that in mind.

  32. 1

    What's your tech domain?

    1. 1

      Front-end Development and Design.

      ...and by the way, how is Knoww.me doing? I'd still be happy to sell you some of my portfolio templates for you to use on the website

      1. 1

        Knoww.me is going well, Thank you. For Knoww.me we decide to go with all free and basic themes for now. If I need I will contact you.

        If you are looking for ReactJS Just send me a twitter message(or email) I will tell you where to get some mini projects easily. I don't want to publish his details here without his permission.

        1. 1

          Okay no problem. I will let you know.

  33. 1

    Niche down.

    Become an expert in a particular niche within your marketplace. This way, you will quickly become the go-to person, and you can grow from there.

    When I started looking for freelance developmental editing work, I specialized in military history editing (I have a master's degree in military history, which helped). At first, it was a struggle, but once I had completed a couple of books word started to spread. I found that being good and, perhaps more importantly, reliable was essential. Publishers didn't want to mess about finding new editors for each book; they just wanted to know the job would be done well.

    1. 1

      Got it. I think that would be very helpful for me to do. Thanks!

  34. 1

    This comment was deleted a year ago.

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