5 Freelance Portals For Businesses To Outsource Design Work

As COVID-19 accelerates the growth trend of Singaporean residents working as freelancers, more people are turning to freelance opportunities to boost their incomes. This trend can be an opportunity for businesses to look for freelance designers to help you improve the (aesthetic) appeal of your product offerings and improve the brand image of your company. 

When Should You Hire A Freelance Designer?

For businesses that need a highly competent designer (not an intern) to handle design work that is not a core part of the business, hiring a freelance designer can be more prudent. Since it is non-core to your business, and especially at a time when the business climate is uncertain, it also makes most sense. 

Freelance designers offer companies a degree of flexibility when it comes to managing cashflow while leveraging on their experience and skills. 

Some Pain Points Businesses Have When Hiring Freelance Designers

Most problems occur when businesses are not clear in the job description about the level of experience for the freelance designer that is required or having the misconception that freelance designers are supposed to be cheaper (lower rates) or easier to manage than full time staff. 

Successful freelance designers have proven themselves time and time again and may thus charge a higher rate for their services. Overall, because you only pay for the work that you require, it may turn out to be cheaper. There may also be occasions where it becomes more expensive, but still makes sense as it allows you to better manage variable cost.

On the other hand, cheaper freelance designers may not have the portfolio or track record and thus may opt to charge lower rates. It is important to base the hiring decision on the fit of the freelancer to the scope and complexity of the project to ensure that the freelancer is sufficiently competent and will not quit halfway through the project.

Managing one or a few experienced freelancers can also be a good hiring decision even if some of your projects require less technical expertise. This way you can work with the same reliable person regardless of the level of difficulty of your project.

Read Also: Guide On How To Kickstart Your Career As A Freelancer In Singapore

Hiring Process For Freelance Designers On Freelance Portals

There are a few key steps for businesses to note when hiring designers on freelance portals:

#1 Put Up Job Posting And Project Brief

Make sure that the job description is clear; the requirements of the role and the project deliverables should be stated before the designer is hired to prevent misunderstandings. 

#2 Approach Designers Directly Or Wait For Applications

You can either approach designers directly on the portal or wait for applicants to send you a proposal or brief. Be sure to take a look at their portfolio before hiring, as this will give you a good gauge of the work they are capable of producing. 

#3 Interview Candidates Or Do A Portfolio Review

Once you have a pool of talent applying for the job, you can then start to schedule interviews or conduct portfolio reviews in order to find the best qualified candidate for the role. At this juncture, it never hurts to do an online interview to get a better sense of the designer. 

#4 Pay A Deposit To Initiate Contract Work With The Designer (Or Negotiate)

If you like the designer but you would like to have a more competitive rate, freelance portals have chat functions that allow you to contact the designers on the portal to negotiate. After agreeing on the ideal rate, you may have to pay an initial deposit to start the project with the designer. 

5 Main Freelance Portals And Their Unique Features

#1 Fiverr


Fiverr is a freelance portal where businesses can search and chat directly with freelance designers who post their services on the platform. You can speak to them and negotiate the terms of the arrangement or pick a pre-determined package to begin with.

– Price: $ to $$

– Options To Choose From: Many

– Local Freelancers: Many

– Customisation Of Designs: Low

– Quality Of Design Work: Low to Medium

– User Friendliness: High

– User Generated Reviews: Yes

What makes Fiverr unique is the simplicity of its user interface. With a few clicks, you can already see the designer’s style, past works, price and reviews, with tabs to customise how fast you can see a draft. The drawback of the platform is that the designers may not be as experienced as other platforms where freelancers are screened more rigorously. As a result, you may get a piece of design work done quickly and cheaply, but not at the standard you might be expecting, or you may have to conform to the designer’s style. 

#2 Upwork


Compared to Fiverr, Upwork has a slightly more sophisticated dashboard for businesses to look for freelancers, and designers have to submit a design proposal to bid for job postings on the platform. There is a variety of contract work options here, from one-off logo design services to designers on retainers.  

– Price: $ to $$$

– Options To Choose From: Many

– Local Freelancers: Fewer

– Customisation Of Designs: High, depending on the job description

– Quality Of Design Work: Medium to High

– User Friendliness: Medium

– User Generated Reviews: Yes

What makes Upwork a good mid-level freelance portal for businesses to look for freelance designers is the combination of short term to long term contract options, where Upwork takes a cut (5% to 20%) of the payment. In this manner, Upwork has a stake to ensure that both parties get what is promised. The quality of designers is higher, and the jobs tend to be a bit more complex, which makes this platform slightly more expensive to use.

#3 Toptal


As the name suggests, Toptal is where some of the best designers in the world (the top 3% according to the website) reside. Freelance designers on Toptal are top class and the screening process is stringent. You can take a look at their screening process here.

On the website, you can see that Toptal touts the efficiency of its matching system, matching your project with the right freelancer quickly and effectively. However, once you hire talent with Toptal, an initial deposit of US$500.00 is required. If you opt out of completing the hiring process, the platform refunds the deposit amount in full. The freelancers on this platform are the most expensive on this list, due to their world-class experience that allows them to command higher rates.


– Price: $$$

– Options To Choose From: Fewer

– Local Freelancers: Few

– Customisation Of Designs: High

– Quality Of Design Work: Very High

– User Friendliness: High

– User Generated Reviews: Yes

Read Also: Pros And Cons Of Full-Time Employees VS Freelancers For Your Company

#4 DesignHill (design contests)

DesignHill stands out from other freelance portals with the ability to conduct design contests (letting designers submit their draft designs in order to pick the best one). This is great if you are a business that needs to choose between a variety of options quickly e.g. a retail fashion online store looking for new designs for tote bags. 


This process is relatively simple; you just need to fill out your design brief and indicate the project specifications. DesignHill will then publish the contest and let designers submit their designs. You can then pick your favourite design(er) and work with him or her. 


The contests cost a few hundred dollars as upfront payment, so this might be more costly than hiring a freelancer straight from another portal, but you get the benefit of choice. Furthermore, when you select what kind of design work you want, you can further customise the kind of colour, style and package you want. 

– Price: $$

– Options To Choose From: Many

– Local Freelancers: Few

– Customisation Of Designs: Medium

– Quality Of Design Work: Low to High

– User Friendliness: High

– User Generated Reviews: No

#5 Freelancer

Do you really need to hire a full-time designer?

Freelancer has a simple and transparent interface, allowing you to see the types of jobs on the platform and fit your project scope with budget. This means you can look at other businesses posting similar jobs and take reference to them when creating job postings. It is relatively cheap to hire on Freelancer but the quality of freelancers here is lower. This is the ideal platform for businesses working on tighter budgets and want to outsource small parts of the design work to external vendors.

– Price: $

– Options To Choose From: Few

– Local Freelancers: Few

– Customisation Of Designs: High

– Quality Of Design Work: Low to Medium

– User Friendliness: High

– User Generated Reviews: No

Read Also: No Budget For A Designer? Here Are 4 Free Graphic Design Tools Anyone Can Use For Their Business

Hiring a freelance designer can be more cost-effective than hiring a full-time designer. When considering freelance portals, it is important to know that cost is not the only factor for consideration, and that hiring for quality and fit are important too.

What is also crucial is whether design work forms part of your core business. If so, it may actually be more valuable to build expertise in-house even if it is more costly or time-consuming to do it initially. For businesses where design work is non-core, it can be sensible to outsource.

Subscribe To The DollarsAndSense Business Pass

Enjoy what you are reading and want more? Join The DollarsAndSense Business Pass and unlock access to valuable tools, exclusive networking opportunities, and tap into the wisdom of industry experts to fuel your business expansion!

You May Also Like