Top 10 Places to Find and Hire Freelance Developers in 2020

hire freelance developer

As your tech startup or business is growing and constantly releasing new features, then sooner or later you’ll feel the need for expanding your team of software developers. If you’re based in the US or Western Europe and wish to hire a developer, be aware that you may experience the shortage of tech talent locally.

Research by the Korn Ferry Institute predicts that by 2030, the technology, media, and telecommunications industry will be one of the three major industries facing the biggest talent shortage in the US. Besides, it may be too expensive for you to hire a developer in-house for short-time projects.

One of the solutions to the shortage of tech talent in your area is to find and hire freelance developers.

In this article, we will list the platforms and portals that are, in our opinion, the best places where you can hire developers online. Additionally, we’ll provide you with some useful tips on hiring freelance software developers.

Let’s go!?

Alternatives to traditional recruitment

The traditional way to find and hire developers is to work with a dedicated recruiter. However, it’s possible to hire directly by using some alternative sources, for example:

1. Asking for referrals

One way to find and hire a developer is to ask for a referral. You can tap into your network of professional contacts and ask them to refer a software developer who is looking for a job at the moment. Your chances are quite high because professionals in the IT industry tend to change jobs once in 3 or 4 years in search of the new exciting projects and challenges.

2. Networking at tech events

Another alternative to traditional recruitment is to sign up for and attend tech events focused on specific technologies – depending on what you’re looking for. WordPress developers, for example, hang out at WordCamp. Python developers can be found at PyCon whereas Java specialists network at JCon. Actually, there are tons of such dedicated events – feel free to find the nearest one.

3. Browsing online hiring platforms

These platforms are a perfect place to find developers at reasonable prices because there you can find freelancers from all over the world. Now we are going to give an overview of the top 10 hiring platforms.

Top 10 platforms to hire freelance developers

Here are the freelance portals that we consider the best. They are the destinations for many startups where they find developers available for hire. We will give an overview of each of them and highlight their strengths and weaknesses.

Upwork

upwork hire freelance developer

This is probably the most “mainstream” website where you can find and hire freelance developers.

Here’s how it works for employers:

  1. You post a job/project description outlining the skills required from the candidates.
  2. Upwork matches the description against the profiles of freelancers who have similar skills.
  3. You get a shortlist of the most suitable candidates.
  4. Having interviewed and selected the candidate, you start working. There are two ways that the freelancers can bill you: flat fee or hourly rate. Flat fees are typically used for short-time tasks whereas hourly rates are often chosen by freelancers engaged in long time projects. Hours are billed through the native app of Upwork.

You can also browse the freelancers’ profiles and invite them to apply to your job.

🔶 Pros of Upwork

  • Ease of use
  • Quick access to a wide talent pool with reasonable prices
  • Built-in time tracker
  • Mobile app
  • Safe payments
  • Quick customer support

🔷 Cons of Upwork

High fees. Upwork withholds 20% of your payment, so in many cases, the employers need to include this 20% in the payment. However, for long time contracts, the commission is flexibly reduced when a certain payment amount is reached across all contracts between the freelancer and their client.

TopTal

toptal hire freelance developer

The second most widespread site that can help you hire a developer is TopTal. Initially, TopTal was intended for freelance software developers only, but in 2015, the platform expanded to include designers. Now you can also hire project/product managers and finance experts on TopTal.

The most remarkable feature of the platform is the rigorous screening of all candidates, at the end of which only 3% remain. Here’s how the screening takes place:

  1. A comprehensive language, personality, and communication interview.
  2. A technical interview where the skills, intellect, and problem-solving abilities are checked.
  3. Each candidate undergoes live tests to evaluate their specific skills within the primary expertise sphere.
  4. Each candidate is assigned a test project, which is a real-world case, and must complete it within 3 weeks maximum.
  5. 3% of candidates pass the screening. On top of that, they are required to maintain a perfect track record when working with clients. Thus, if you wish to hire freelance developers without spending time on testing their hard skills, TopTal might be the solution for you.  

🔶 Pros of TopTal

  • Strict vetting of candidates so only the best freelance developer for hire is available
  • Ease of use
  • Quick recruitment
  • The free trial period for freelancers
  • Protection of intellectual property

🔷 Cons of TopTal

It is not suitable for small projects.

YouTeam

YouTeam is a tech talent marketplace that connects businesses and startups to software developers and designers from offshore countries. Like on Upwork and TopTal, clients can browse profiles of software developers and personally interview them. And like on TopTal, the developers undergo a strict vetting process.

However, the difference is that on YouTeam you would find developers who are actually not freelancers. They are a part of dedicated teams working on a full-time basis at local software agencies. But the clients collaborate directly with the developers, without a PM acting as an intermediary (though the PM model is also possible).

As a result, you work with the developers remotely, just like with freelancers, but your collaboration is as reliable as it would be with an in-house team.

🔶 Pros of YouTeam

  • Strict vetting of candidates
  • Ease of use
  • Quick recruitment
  • The team of developers is dedicated only to your project
  • The platform is free of charge – you pay only for the work delivered by the developers

🔷 Cons of YouTeam

It may not be suitable for short-time projects.

MoonLightWork

MoonLightWork is a community of software developers and product designers that also acts as a marketplace where you can hire freelance developers.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You post the job description.
  2. Moonlight notifies the community and finds perfect matches.
  3. You work together with the applicants on a paid trial project.
  4. In case of a successfully completed trial, you can hire the developers as ongoing contractors or full-time employees.
  5. You can either pay the developers on an hourly basis via Moonlight or hire them directly.

🔶 Pros of MoonLightWork

  • Ease of use
  • Safe payments
  • The free trial period for freelancers
  • Mostly automated and thus fast
  • Narrow specialization of developers

🔷 Cons of MoonLightWork

  • The community is quite small
  • The vetting process is not strict enough – the platform allows the candidates with relatively small experience to feature their profiles;
  • The talent is based mostly in the US, so the prices may be quite high

Gun.io

Gun.io is a developer-only freelance marketplace with a strict vetting process, which works as follows:

  1. The candidate is tested for the ability to work remotely.
  2. The developer passes an automated coding exam, a live coding exercise, and a technical interview with a member of the engineering team.
  3. The freelancer is interviewed by the CEO of Gun.io.
  4. Gun.io representatives perform reference checks with the candidate’s previous clients.

🔶 Pros of Gun.io

  • Fast hiring – within 48 hours
  • Access to the highest quality talent due to strict screening
  • The developers are dedicated only to your project
  • User-friendly software

🔷 Cons of Gun.io

  • No client feedback available
  • Lengthy sign-up process
  • Distant customer service

CodementorX

Codementor is an online marketplace that helps its clients find a professional developer (mentor) for live programming help. Its sub-project, CodementorX, is a place where you can hire freelance developer picked from the pool of mentors. The hiring process is similar to that at other platforms, specifically:

  1. You specify your requirements.
  2. The CodementorX consultant reaches out to you and helps you find a perfect fit.
  3. Based on your requirements, you get a shortlist of 1-2 developers.
  4. You review the profiles of the shortlisted candidates and interview them.
  5. Start a trial project with the developer that you have chosen.

🔶 Pros of CodementorX

  • The high quality of work provided
  • Relatively fast recruitment (within 72 hours)
  • AI-powered vetting and matching process
  • Risk-free trial period

🔷 Cons of CodementorX

  • Not suitable for long term projects
  • Technical difficulties

Pilot

pilot hire freelance developerPilot is a hiring platform that connects clients from all over the world with the vetted developers and designers, handling the hiring logistics.

The vetting process is as follows:

  1. Analysis of the written communication skills.
  2. Simulation of collaboration projects challenges to see how the freelancer resolves them.
  3. Skill-based evaluation.
  4. Coding assignments, which are then reviewed by senior members of the platform.
  5. Application review.
  6. An interview to test the language and communication skills.
  7. 1% of candidates pass the screening.

🔶 Pros of Pilot

  • Strict vetting process
  • Continuous assessment of platform members
  • Availability for long-term full-time collaboration opportunities

🔷 Cons of Pilot

There are not so many reviews available on the Internet.

Fiverr.com

Fiverr.com is a marketplace of on-demand digital freelance services, from music and audio to programming and tech. It is perfect for those looking to hire a developer for short-term projects. Here’s how it works:

  1. You search for the required services, e.g. WordPress website design.
  2. Use the smart filters to narrow down your search. You can specify the service type, e.g. full website creation and plugins, price range, and delivery time.
  3. Fiverr will show you a list of available portfolios that you can browse. You can choose between different pricing packages, e.g. a startup business website, PRO business website, or e-commerce business website.
  4. Select the services and click “Order Now”.

🔶 Pros of Fiverr.com

  • Easy, intuitive search
  • Ability to browse portfolios without registration
  • A wide range of countries and rates
  • Suitable for all types of businesses

🔷 Cons of Fiverr.com

  • Only short-time projects (gigs) are available
  • No vetting processes

Coding Ninjas

code ninjas hire freelance developerCoding Ninjas is a network of vetted developers that you can hire as freelancers. The developers are located mostly in Eastern Europe and Israel and thus offer quite reasonable hourly rates as for the US, specifically, between $25 and $45. You need to buy hours before you start hiring and working with the developers on your project.

Coding Ninjas specialize primarily in web development and work with technologies such as PHP, WordPress, Magento, Drupal, HTML5/CSS3, JavaScript, and node.js. The platform screens the developers by three key parameters: overall adequacy, English level, and qualifications.

🔶 Pros of Coding Ninjas

  • Reasonable pricing
  • Strict vetting of developers
  • Helpful customer support

🔷 Cons of Coding Ninjas

Too narrow specialization – web development only. If you need, for example, an iOS developer, the platform won’t help.

Scalable Path

scalablepath hire freelance developerScalable Path is a technical staffing agency with thousands of freelance software developers and designers from over 138 countries. Scalable Path offers each client personal support throughout the entire hiring process, handpicking the candidates according to the project requirements. Prior to that, all clients undergo the rigorous screening of both tech and soft skills. Another advantage of Scalable Path is that the agency allows you to hire freelance developers quickly, normally, the whole process takes up to 3 weeks. 

🔶 Pros of Scalable Path

  • Quick hiring – up to 3 weeks
  • No recruiting fees
  • Strict vetting of candidates
  • Low overhead costs

🔷 Cons of Scalable Path

There are not so many reviews available on the Internet.

Tips on hiring a freelance developer

No matter which platform you choose, we recommend that you follow these tips when looking for freelance developers:

1. Define your project requirements

Find out which programming languages are required for your project, what are your budget and timeline, and which skill sets are most preferable.

2. Check the experience of candidates

For example, Upwork offers three levels of skills: beginner, intermediate, and expert, with the corresponding pricing. If you need something quick, then you can check out the beginners’ profiles.
It often happens that the freelancers who are new to Upwork take up quick projects to gain experience within the platform, but it does not mean that they do not have experience outside the platform. Review their portfolio, ask for a code sample, check some past references, feedback, and ratings.

3. Establish a reliable relationship and build trust

By creating open, shared, and honest communication you have a higher chance to build trust with your developers. When the client and freelancer share the same vision of the project and its goals, they can reach the most productive cooperation, which can then evolve into a long-term partnership.

The bottom line

Shortage of tech talent in the US urges the owners of both startups and established businesses to tap into the alternative ways of hiring. These include referrals, networking at tech events, and freelance software development market.

There is a wide range of platforms where you can find and hire freelance developers, such as:

  • Upwork
  • TopTal
  • YouTeam
  • MoonLightWork
  • Gun.io
  • CodementorX
  • Pilot
  • Fiverr.com
  • Coding Ninjas
  • Scalable Path

Each of these platforms has its own pros and cons, so you should carefully study them and choose the one that fits your needs to the greatest extent. For example, if you’re looking for quick, short-term gigs, then you can consider Fiverr or Upwork.

If you wish to hire a developer with a narrow technology stack, e.g. web development, then you can choose Coding Ninjas.

But if you need a dedicated team of remote developers in an offshore country, then you can consider YouTeam.

Browse 500+ Dev Teams Available for Hire

No matter which platform you’d prefer, remember to check the following when hiring freelance developers:

We wish you good luck in finding the best candidate for your project.

Ready to hire developers but need some help? We at YouTeam make it easy and safe to find and hire a developer or even a perfectly matching team of developers for any type of project. 

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Written by
Mary Atamaniuk

Mary Atamaniuk is a digital content strategist at YouTeam — a curated b2b tech talent marketplace that matches businesses with dedicated development teams from pre-vetted software outsourcing agencies.

Mary's areas of interest include digital marketing, tech entrepreneurship, and influencer blogging.

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