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Virtual Assistants

Fiverr VS Upwork |Why We Don’t Recommend Either for Outsourcing

The goal of Outsource School is to answer every single one of your outsourcing questions. One of the most common questions we’ve found is “where do you find good VAs?”

Our answer (which of course comes with our own bias) is FreeeUp. FreeeUp was created by Outsource School founders Nathan Hirsch and Connor Gillivan and was recently taken over by new owners. I’ll explain why we recommend them later on.

But, a common sub question we’ve found over and over involves the two biggest players in the space (based on overall traffic), Upwork VS Fiverr. 

Everyone wants to know which is better. 

In this article, we’ll compare and contrast Fiverr VS Upwork and let you know how they differ from one another. 

Again, we don’t think that either is better than FreeeUp….but you asked, so we’re answering!

Fiverr

If you have a very specific task that needs completed ASAP and you don’t have the time to train someone, Fiverr is worth considering. 

Examples of things I’ve used them for in the past include:

  • YouTube Thumbnails
  • Proofreading Content
  • Creating 3D Book Covers
When you use Fiverr, you aren’t investing in the future of your business. If you hired a VA and trained them to complete these tasks, they’d get to know you and your brand and would produce better and (likely) more affordable work for you longterm.
Fiverr Gigs

Fiverr is not somewhere you’d find a long term solution for virtual tasks. It focuses on “gig” based work and one-off -jobs. It is like hiring someone to mow your lawn once this weekend vs. hiring a full time landscaper. 

It has also deviated from its original, signature “$5 dollar” model. Most gigs cost much more than that now and it’s not the same bargain bin that it once was.

 

Cons of Fiverr

  • Not a Long Term Solution
  • Minimal Vetting Process
  • Less Incentive to Create A+ Work
  • Prices Aren't $5

Pros of Fiverr

  • Review System Helps Accountability
  • Some "Diamonds in the Rough"
  • A La Carte Style Ordering
  • Large List of Specialized Tasks

Upwork

Upwork Logo Transparent

I first used Upwork way back when it was oDesk. My experience was very mixed. My budget was small but they did connect me with a couple of Filipino and Indian VAs who did good work.

The problem was they also connected me with a few VAs that were very, very bad. 

One of my VAs was “double dipping,” and working for me and about 3 other clients simultaneously. This was really bad given the nature of the task. She was doing Amazon online arbitrage product research and was sharing the leads she found for me with her other clients. 

One of her other clients then shared the leads with a product sourcing group. I was buying things that I thought no one else was seeing, but in reality, dozens of people saw them as well. This caused the prices to tank since so many other people were also seeing them.

This cost me a lot of time and money. 

Another bad experience was one of my VAs was actually 3 different people (two daughters and their mother) using the one account. I vetted and hired one person who had the experience I needed, yet 2/3rds of the work was coming from people I never even interviewed. 

To Upwork’s (then oDesk’s) credit, they did refund me in both instances and the VA was temporarily removed from the platform. 

Cons of Upwork

  • Poor Vetting Process
  • Many Low Quality Workers

Pros of Upwork

  • Huge Network of Applicants
  • Good User Interface
  • Fair Refund Policy

Why We Recommend FreeeUp

FreeeUp is a much better place to find VAs and freelancers you can work with and establish lasting relationships. This isn’t something you’d do with Fiverr and it’s a more trustworthy platform than Upwork. 

FreeeUp was built to provide a solution to the shortcomings that business owners were experiencing with sites like Fiverr.com, Upwork.com or Freelancer.com.

Here are the three big benefits of FreeeUp vs. other marketplaces like Fiverr and Upwork.

 

#1 Better Vetting Process and Standards

FreeeUp prides itself on taking only the best people possible. In fact, most people who apply to work on FreeeUp don’t pass the initial vetting process. Many of the freelancers who have worked countless jobs for the big sites like Upwork didn’t make the cut with FreeeUp.

Nathan Hirsch Quote

"At FreeeUp, only 1% of applicants were approved. We passed on many 'good' candidates and focused only on 'great' ones."

Nathan Hirsch

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FreeeUp.Com Co-Founder

FreeeUp’s vetting process goes well beyond just verifying an applicants specific skill sets. They vet for things many other services don’t like the VAs quality of internet (which can greatly impact performance and reduce missed days).

You won’t be hit with no-shows and flaky VAs. They are culled out from the applicant lists quickly.

FreeeUp VS Fiverr VS Upwork

FreeeUp also has very strict standards of performance for their freelancers and VAs and they ensure that anyone who falls below the standards is spoken with or removed from the platform.

#2 Better Customer Service

FreeeUp is leaner than their competitors. Although they are much larger today than when they started, they still don’t have the same massive overhead and are able to focus more on provide world class customer support, lightning fast.

You get real people, not bots and you don’t pay extra for “white glove service,” that many other sites charge.

You also won’t be stuck with paying for work that didn’t meet your standards. If something goes wrong (which is uncommon) FreeeUp quickly finds you a replacement and reimburses you for past time if you weren’t satisfied.

#3 Low Fees and Competitive Pricing

FreeeUp isn’t a marketplace that gauges its customers with high fees for things that they believe should come standard. You get people at the going market prices for their work and rarely, if ever, pay more than you would on other platforms.

There are no startup or monthly fees to use the FreeeUp Marketplace. You can pay hourly or fixed rates with no minimums. Estimated pricing ranges for US and international freelancers.

You can learn more about their pricing structure here

 

Final Word

First, we still recommend FreeeUp over Fiverr or Upwork.

If you insist on using Fiverr or Upwork, we recommend you use Fiverr for very small, one off gigs and Upwork for larger, more skilled tasks that might be ongoing. Just be cautious, hire slow, and fire fast. 

Neither is terrible, but they both have their flaws.

Happy outsourcing!

Categories
Virtual Assistants

The Software FreeeUp Used to Manage the 45 VAs in Their 8 Figure Business

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Outsource School founders Nathan Hirsch and Connor Gillivan grew their company, FreeeUp, from an initial $5,000 investment into an 8 figure per year business in less than 5 years by leveraging a team of virtual assistants.

By the time that Nathan and Connor sold FreeeUp in 2019, they had 35 full time VAs and 10 part time VAs. 

Here are the software products that Nathan and Connor used to make everything work.

1. Google Drive for File Sharing and Collaborating

Google Drive is one of the most underrated softwares on the planet. 

At FreeeUp, Nathan and Connor used Drive in a number of ways…

  • Storing Files
  • Collaborating
  • Creating SOPs

I don’t know why people insist on installing bulky software products like Word, PowerPoint, or Excel when they could use Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets. 

Google’s options all work in the cloud which means easy sharing and collaborating, which is perfect for using with teams of VAs. 

 

Google Drive for Managing Teams

2. LastPass for Sharing Credentials

When working with a large team of VAs, you’re going to need to share a lot of account access. 

Things like…

  • Email Accounts
  • Billing Information
  • Website Access
  • Frequently Used Tools

LastPass makes it easy to store and share access to your accounts with your team.

Although Nathan and Connor trust all of their VAs with their information (they told me that they would only hire VAs they’d trust with their social security numbers) some business owners feel uncomfortable giving their VAs their credentials. 

 

If this sounds like you, LastPass allows you to share account access without revealing your passwords. 

3. Trello/Jira for Project Management

Jira and Trello are similar, but different. 

Jira is the project management tool that FreeeUp used to manage their off-shore developers and their quality assurance specialist while Trello was used primarily for managing their designers. 

Jira is more specialized for development type workflows and it was the one that the entire development team wanted to use.

ConnorGillivan-NoBackground

We had 3 separate boards. The first for Bugs. As bugs were reported by customers, they were put into the Jira Bug board and assigned to one of the developers. The second was for Features where we’d assign new software features to the developers and they would keep things updated as they worked on it. Third was a board for New Ideas where we’d store new feature ideas that were either suggested by customers or that we had thought of ourselves. It was great having Jira because at any time, I could easily go to the Jira boards and see what was going on, who was assigned to it, and where it was in the process of being completed.

Connor Gillivan

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FreeeUp Co-Founder

Trello is a bit more user friendly and “ready out of the box,” than Jira.

Trello was FreeeUps go-to app for managing their graphic design team and for other one-off projects that required bringing together multiple VAs from the company. 

With their graphic designers, they set up a custom Trello board with 4 different columns. 

  • New Projects
  • Assigned
  • Review
  • Completed
Trello Workflow

This simple four step workflow helped them turn complex projects into easy to manage processes.

This same flow works for any number of different processes such as marketing, content creation and more you might have in your own business.

Trello has both free and paid plans and you’ll be shocked at how far you can get with Trello for free!

4. Zoom and Skype for Meetings and Interviews

Zoom and Skype are the two softwares that Nathan and Connor used to conduct their live chat interviews with applicants and to conduct meetings with their team.

Although Zoom has premium features, your VAs can attend interviews or meetings for free. You can also record your meetings for sharing with attendees who couldn’t make it or just to have for future reference.

 

The guys said they preferred Skype though and used it much more often while using Zoom primarily for higher level meetings with team leaders.

5. Loom for SOPs and Video Demos

VAs thrive on great instructions and the best instructions typically come in the from of video recordings.

Loom is a Google Chrome extension that allows you to quickly and easily create explainer videos for your team. This is an amazing tool if you want to explain a process or critique someone’s work with clear visuals.

I can’t stress enough how incredibly helpful it is to incorporate explainer videos into your business.

 

Easily Record and Share with Loom

6. WhatsApp and Viber for Direct Communication

Whats App Logo

WhatsApp and Viber are free messaging services that make it easy to communicate with VAs if you have an emergency that can’t be resolved in an email or Skype. 

Sometimes things happen and it’s good to know that you can get ahold of your team members if you need them.

Nathan and Connor also used WhatsApp when they needed to talk to a VA but they weren’t by their computers. 

Both tools accomplish the same thing but they told me that Filipino virtual assistants typically preferred Viber over WhatsApp. 

7. Calendly for Scheduling

Calendly helped Nathan and Connor schedule times for meetings with their VAs and other business partners. 

There are a lot of scheduling/booking options but Calendly is smooth and affordable. It also integrates with other commonly used tools you might already be using like Outlook and iCloud. 

You can set availability, add reminders and ensure that your scheduling takes into consideration time zone differences.

8. Xero and Payoneer for Financials

Xero is what FreeeUp used to manage their financial records and they used Payoneer early on to pay their own VAs. 

If you hire VAs through a marketplace like FreeeUp, you don’t have to worry about using a service like Payoneer. That is all handled for you.V

Final Thoughts

Benjamin Franklin said, “The best investment is in the tools of one’s own trade.”

Nathan and Connor believe this and spared no expense to ensure they invested in the tools that helped them improve communication, manage workflow and organize massive amounts of information. 

So, do you need all the same tools they used? No, but you do need tools. 

So, pick the ones that work best for your business and remind yourself that good tools are investments, not frivolous expenses. 

Which tools do you use? Let us know in the comments!

Free Case Study

Want to learn how Nathan and Connor scaled FreeeUp to 8 figures and a team of 45+ VAs from an initial $5,000 investment using the tools mentioned in this article? Download our free case study today!