Freelancing is popular for all the right reasons. For starters, the flexibility in working hours and environments is too good to ignore. Your work location could quite literally be your home or a cafe where you relax sipping tea, peering from a window as you work on a project. Sounds great, doesn’t it? However, to really get the ball rolling, you’ll need to become familiar with the best freelancing websites in India.
The Indian freelancing market has seen unprecedented growth in recent times.
India currently boasts of an estimated 15 million freelancers, second only to the United States. A study by McKinsey shows that around 20% - 30% of professionals in developed markets are engaged in freelancing or gig economy in India. This industry is estimated to grow to a $20-30 billion industry by 2025. It’s no surprise that freelancing websites in India are on the rise, cashing in on this trend.
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The secret to freelancing success
A combination of experience and skills are enough to give wings to a potential freelancer, who seeks greater independence and growth beyond set boundaries. Young Indians seek to explore and expand their scope of work uninhibited.
The youth of today are freedom-seeking and not comfortable with the boss-culture. Hence many Indian professionals are embracing freelancing as a long-term or permanent option.
So what is the mantra for success?
To start, a freelancer should aim at building credibility, expertise and offer good value for money. Acknowledge that there is stiff competition and that you will need to stand out and shine above the rest to win projects.
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17 of the best freelancing websites in India
Whether you’d like to make extra money on the side of your full-time job, keep busy in addition to family duties or as a way to build your resume, freelancing is a great option. This list of Indian freelancing websites is the place to start.
1. Envato Studio
One leading marketplace for freelancers and creative online community, Envato Studio advertises a wide range of skills. Some of the examples listed include:
- Flyer designs and templates
- Technical vector drawings and illustrations
- Photo retouching services
- Icon set design, brochure design
- 3D floor plan modeling
Each has a rate already quoted beneath them, informing the client of the approximate expected fee.
Apart from these are advertised:
- Logo design and branding
- Online marketing
- Video and animation
- WordPress related services
- Mobile app UI designing
- IOS/ Android icon designing
- Usability centered UI designing
Interesting features include rating and client reviews below each listing. The client will compare prices quoted, portfolios and community recommendations, select a talent to work with. For specific queries they may even contact the freelancer individually.
It is recommended that you advertise your service with a rate and use the inbuilt management tool for communication. You’ll be expected to work on the iterations within the decided turnaround time and hand over the deliverables to the client upon completion.
If you are a voice talent or would like to explore the world of voiceovers, see what your voice can fetch!
If you are a graphic designer, don’t forget to look up GraphicRiver where you can sell royalty-free, layered Photoshop files, vectors, icon-packs, Adobe add-ons and design templates.
Below your profile photo is a number, a display of the number of sales you’ve made. Increasing that number is a fun way to keeping yourself motivated and of course, that translates into great earnings. Join and be part of a bustling community of designers and illustrators!
Users are enamored by this website. Besides work made easy, it also boasts of a supremely user-friendly dashboard.
In addition to web and mobile development assignments, look to this website for jobs in SEO (search engine optimisation), graphic design, marketing, accounting, writing and more. To start, just complete your profile, add your skills and browse the assignments on offer. Fixnhour's Payment Protection assures you are paid for completed work in a timely manner.
This is a Melbourne-based Australian company with a presence in Oakland, California as well. If you design creatives and are an expert in building and customizing brands:
- Join the cool club of talent spread across the globe
- Participate in contests thrown by clients with your innovative work
- Get graded, move up the ladder and be among the choicest of professionals
The platform also has its own way of grading freelancers to help clients in their hiring process.
On 99designs, you can showcase your work and skills including:
- Logos and branding
- Book covers
- Flagship campaigns
- Web page design
- Product design and packaging
- Graphics and illustrations
- Video production
Interact and participate to win projects. Are you good at communicating ideas through your designs? Do you have a body of work on display? If yes, market your skills and get hired.
Sometimes clients hire an individual designer directly. If unsure, they have the option to start a contest to hire a designer best suited for their projects. In the grading process, the higher your rating, the greater pay you command.
Toptal claims to represent the top 3% of freelance talent in business, design and technology — a claim they support by requiring all freelancers to pass a screening process before listing them.
You'll be asked to prove your skills by providing a portfolio or taking an online test, participating in a live problem-solving session, and completing a project. Once you've been accepted, Toptal opens a world of assignments to you. The most in-demand skills include:
- iOS Developers
- Front-End Developers
- UX Designers
- UI Designers
- Financial Modeling Consultants
- Interim CFOs
- Digital Project Managers
- AWS Experts
As stated on their website, Toptal freelancers get hired by companies like React.js, React Native, Flutter, and Ruby on Rails.
This is another popular Indian gig-based marketplace for a variety of skills and positions. Freelancing projects of various kinds can be found under one roof.
There are jobs for every kind of expertise listed here, from coding (JAVA, ASP.Net, C++, SQL, MySQL, PHP, Android, iPhone, Magento Programmers, WordPress, Joomla, HTML, Dreamweaver, VisualBasic Programmers) to:
- Writing (technical, academic legal, proposal, article, content)
- Design (Photoshop, Illustrator, CorelDraw, 3D, animation)
- Business analysis
- Technical support
- Audio editing
- Social media marketing
- Direct marketing
- Accounts payable,
- Financial reporting
This website is also a go-to market for many Indian freelancers. Every freelancer gets to send 20 free proposals per month. Additional proposals can be purchased for a fee after exhausting the free proposals.
This is to ensure that the talent sends out quality proposals and thereby save on purchasing beyond 20. A small service fee (approximately 5%) is levied on the freelancer for the project claimed.
To get started, you'll create an account, complete with your skills and portfolio. Once you've won an assignment, Guru asks the client to deposit a minimum amount into a SafePay account. Once you finish the project, Guru puts funds into your Cash Account, where they can be transferred out via PayPal, Payoneer,or wire transfer.
It's interesting to note that Guru lists India, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai among its top locations.
Once you sign up with them and create a profile, the staff at SolidGigs scans existing projects across all platforms and emails the few that are closest to your specification to your inbox.
Upon clicking a job alert, you are taken directly to the advertisement put up by the client for pitching.
The set up and on-boarding are simple processes and take a few minutes to complete. There is a small fee charged but the strike rate is known to be better here because their team (comprising humans and not AI or bots) actually compare and match specifications to send you a curated list of potential clients every day.
Now this could be a value addition besides having a presence in other freelance marketplaces. Think of the time saved on sifting through all the advertisements!
As a bonus, you also receive tips on how to improve your pitches and a few masterclasses relevant to freelancing. Many users are happy with the conversion rate on SolidGigs. Ease of use and a platform-free advancement are its pluses.
Rated as one of the best Indian freelancing websites, Truelancer is your Mecca. This website is renowned for bringing in freelancer jobs posted by top employers. Most freelancers find jobs within weeks of applying.
- Software development
- Sales and marketing
- Writing and translation
- Finance and accounting
- Mobile applications admin
- Data entry and more
The range is wide! Truelancer’s offices are based in New Delhi and Delaware, USA.
One of the oldest freelancing websites in India, Freelancer has built a strong reputation over time. The candidates can be certain that the projects offered here are genuine.
Roles include basic data entry, research, writing, mobile apps, web designing, building blogs, digital marketing, etc. It is a trustworthy site, though it might not be very user-friendly in terms of design. But a little figuring out is all that is required to navigate smoothly for a project of your choice.
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Upwork is undoubtedly one of the most popular freelance platforms in the world.
While getting accepted on Upwork can be tricky, once you’re in, you can make a very good living here. Learn how it works here.
Freelance job boards are a great way to get freelance work. While you may need to put in some work promoting your services (not to mention the patience factor), once you build a good reputation, you could have a steady stream of projects coming your way.
Another successful website in India, Fiverr stands out in the fact that besides programming, technical writing and translation projects, you’ll also find freelancing options in:
- Video and video editing
- Animation, including 3-D animation
- Music composing and mixing
- Healing, etc.
Candidates offer services along with a rate for clients to select and then negotiate. For those candidates who’ve completed projects, there is also a rating system that gives future employers a fair idea of the quality to expect. Good reviews always act as fantastic badges to display to attract more work.
Looking for an internship? Internshala is for you. It can connect you with internships in web design, social media marketing, creative writing, the sciences, management and more. Just think — you could land a job while you’re still in college!
This website makes it easy to search for internships by city such as New Delhi or Bangalore or an international location. Internshala goes one step ahead and equips you by offering specialized courses to hone your skills further.
If you’re an engineer and the 9 to 6 job is not holding your interest anymore, there’s no cause for worry. EngineerBabu — the name says it all — assists you in achieving your target as a freelancer alongside building your personal brand.
Areas of work include IT, AI and machine learning, blockchain, QA, analytics, etc.
Here’s a website that caters to a wide range of freelancers. From the most bizarre to the very routine, there are plenty of roles to explore.
Professionals sought include:
- Software engineers
- Wedding planners
- Yoga trainers
- Music composers
- Teachers and trainers
- Tattoo/piercing artists
- Home salon stylists
Highly satisfied members credit their growth in earnings to RockerStop.
15. Chegg India
This website is run by the educational company that is best known for its digital and physical textbook rentals and online tutoring. As part of their services, Chegg India hires subject matter experts from India who answer the students’ questions online through their 24*7 study portal.
Chegg hires experts in these and other areas:
- Operations Management
- Mechanical Engineering
- Computer Science Engineering
- Civil Engineering
If you are an expert in a particular area, find out how you can earn sitting at home.
16. Freelance India
One of the oldest freelancing websites in India, Freelance India has been connecting employers with freelancers for 20 years. You can register for free but if you want a personalized domain name and web page, you'll need to pay for a Premium Plus membership.
17. The Flexiport
This eight-year-old company is a bit of a hybrid, matching available workers with companies looking to hire for short- or medium-term positions. The company is constantly seeking applicants for mid- and senior-level positions in:
- Human Resources
The Flexiport falls somewhere in between the freelancing sites above and an employee hiring platform.
A few things to bear in mind
There will be thousands of postings and initially it might appear to be a nightmare to scroll down endlessly. With time, you will be able to assess:
- Which of them is genuine
- What platforms suit you best
- How you can divide time between looking for work and actually working on projects
Think of it as part of your learning curve.
Unlike a job that rewards you with a salary every month, freelancing may offer nothing at first.
You have to build and promote your presence on several freelance websites in India and work on marketing yourself. Invest time on how to draw attention to your work. It’s ok to experiment. Your potential client who needs your services will be glad to set eyes upon your website or blog post. GoDaddy offers everything you need to set up your own personal website, from a great domain name, web hosting plans for you and your clients, a logo maker for a professional look all the way to an easy to use website builder to save time and hassle.
If you are dependent on money flowing in every month for your survival, consider keeping your full-time job until you have gained a few clients.
Otherwise, you will want to have a sizeable bank balance to tide you over during startup. Give it time and allow for growth.
Once projects start rolling in
Hectic is a platform with a multitude of tools to aid you in getting work done. While it won’t get you jobs, it will help you deliver on them. Bundled in are tools for:
- Project management
- Proposal building
- Invoice creation
- Time tracking
- Collaboration tools to share files and swap ideas on a single platform
- Meeting scheduler
They call it ‘The Bossless Life’ and ‘Freelance Smarter.’ This would be a good tool to employ if you begin to work on multiple projects simultaneously.
Related: 7 free project management tools
Why is India a hotbed for freelancing?
Let’s begin with the main pain points of the working professional and understand how freelancing is the answer to them all.
Work from home is gaining immense popularity, and the pandemic has given many a worker a taste of the freedom associated.
Freelancers have the choice of zero commute permanently available to them.
Compare the peace and tranquility associated with working from home to the honking of vehicles stuck in traffic for hours together, every day, all year. This is an all-too-familiar scenario in heavily populated cities in India. Freelancing, as a preferred choice, comes as no surprise!
Difficulty in earning sufficient income
Enabling technology has erased geographical distances and empowered the individual. Today, a professional can work from a remote town or city for a client based anywhere abroad.
You no longer have to procure a visa (sometimes a lengthy process) and relocate to work for a client based in another country.
Freelancing websites in India provide a window into a world of side jobs ripe for the taking.
Freelance networking has connected people from different geographies and is now an empowered community. Many skilled Indians have executed complex projects from their homes for clients based across continents.
Stressful work culture
Freelancers are usually those who thrive in isolated environments and/or are inspired by a frequent change in work environment.
As personalities, freelancers may even feel stifled around people.
Isolation could put them in a zone of high focus and make room for clarity.
For a freelancer the freedom matters and could even be high on priority, as it brings out the best in them. It does not matter whether you’re working in your study or from a café in the mountains, as long as your work gets done.
Once freed from an assigned desk in an office, it might be assumed that most freelancers opt for interesting work locations or a different one every day. Contrary to this notion, it is found that about 83% of freelancers work out of home and about 13% work from cafes and co-working spaces. The reason is quite simple.
Home is where most of us feel least stressed or distracted. With familiar surroundings and all facilities available within our homes, comfort is immediately established. It’s easy and quick to dive into work mode, rather than feel fidgety when something is not up to your liking or preference.
Lack of control over one’s time
Whether to take up a new project or give yourself a break, freelancers are solely in charge of their timetable.
If fatigue has set in or if you have family obligations that require immediate attention, you can consider leaving your calendar free for a period of time instead of attempting to work and not giving it your best.
In India, the unit of family applies to the elderly as well. It is not uncommon to see people take up caregiving for an elderly parent or relative besides running a home.
With freelancing, a better work-life balance is possible.
Taking time off to settle matters and return with renewed enthusiasm and energy helps to contribute your optimum best and enjoy the project at hand. The freelancer has fewer chances of experiencing a burn-out.
Lower pay for females in the workplace
According to an article by Economic Times magazine in the year 2020, one in every five freelancers is a woman. This is based on a survey by the global digital payment services firm Payoneer.
It was also found that a freelancer with strong experience attracts higher pay than a regular day job without compromising on personal independence. The freedom extends to all areas of work, including how you market your skills and how high you’d like to get paid.
There is also a greater sense of wage equality between genders for freelancers in comparison to traditional jobs.
In fact in some areas like digital marketing, user experience (UX), web design etc, women are paid higher than their male counterparts as women are associated with greater empathy and understanding from an end user’s perspective. Many also possess an innate sense of color and design that are perfect for these job roles.
However there is also some data that suggests women freelancers make about 47-50% less in some areas. The good news is that the gap and the frequency of this occurrence is not in the majority.
Other factors add to the rise in freelancing
If the pandemic introduced severe restrictions, it also gave innovation and ideas a push.
India has seen an unprecedented number of startups in the past couple of years, many of them acquiring unicorn status. If the Indian economy saw a slump, it recalibrated quickly with novel ideas taking shape and the formation of new companies.
India’s own version of the popular series Shark Tank is proof to the fact that entrepreneurship is on a firm footing here.
Boom in outsourcing
At the same time that more professionals are actively seeking freelance work, there is interest in outsourcing across industries.
Mid-size to large companies benefit from hiring freelancers by avoiding the risk of paying for employees who may not meet expectations.
In freelancing, payment is made only upon completion with quality standards met.
If not, the terms and conditions of payment are renegotiated or foregone, as the case may be.
The global IT industry is hiring developers, UI/UX designers, animators, data and business analysts, QA/QC staff and AI talents from the freelance pool spread across the world. Thanks to the conferencing and collaboration tools made popular during the pandemic, they form virtual teams and execute small to large projects seamlessly.
Freelance websites in India cater to other professions as well, such as doctors on call as well as writers, lawyers, nutritionists, online yoga coaches, educators and more.
To hire freelancers makes more sense than to keep an employee on pay rolls. Except for a minimum number, many entrepreneurs in India are hiring freelancers to complete projects at hand. There is a shift towards hiring for a particular service and duration. This trend is only growing as we speak.
Is it safe to freelance in India?
Yes and no. There are dedicated freelance websites in India that have garnered good reviews from users.
You may find a bad client even in the best of websites, despite all the scanning done to vouch for authenticity.
Connect with freelancers through online platforms. Taking part in these networks exposes you to the latest experiences of fellow freelancers.
For example, a freelancer in India had called out a client on LinkedIn for non-payment. The name of the client and modus operandi was made public after several attempts were made to contact the client.
Usually however, freelance clients are responsive and open to discuss and put down work and payment terms. Seamless communication and ease of work also helps the client look at the hired freelancer from a long-term perspective. The freelancer also benefits from clear communication and a happy client.
With the rise in freelancing population, quality of work is of utmost importance.
As a freelancer, ensure you deliver quality and stay updated with your skills.
Being your own boss in the freelancing industry has a different meaning altogether. While it points to enjoying maximum freedom, it also hints at putting yourself in your client’s shoes to get a perspective from the other side.
Look at your work objectively as if you were the client and notice what enhancements or improvements can be implemented that could delight your client.
A few tips on guarding against scams
The websites listed here have good reputations, but there’s always a chance that a scammer will slip through their security. To avoid doing virtual work you never get paid for, follow these tips:
- Before you apply to a posting, check the employer's profile. If they don’t have at least one satisfactory review from a freelancer, pass them by.
- Be suspicious of vague project descriptions or quoted fees that are much higher than the average rate. This is a common trick.
- Some freelancing websites in India display a "Payment Verified" message on postings by reliable employers.
Avoiding scam projects saves time that you could otherwise be spending on profitable work.
Pep talk time!
If you are tempted to quit your job to take your first step towards freelancing in India, consider the following before you make that final decision.
Create a strong portfolio
Take your time to build a strong portfolio. Create a website for your freelance business, update your profile in LinkedIn and other social media giants.
More your experience, greater the range, better are your chances.
Marketing your skills is of equal, if not more importance as a freelancer. If you have a fantastic profile but make little effort to bring employers to it, you may not see much success.
Choose two or three of the top freelancing websites listed above and create accounts on them. Invest time in advertising your skill sets. If you use multiple social channels you can create a link in bio that contains all of them, Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, your own website, any portfolio you may have hosted on a different platform, one link for all of your links. This way when people find you on one platform they can see your entire online presence.
Set your pricing
Compare prices quoted by similar services as yours. Be competitive. Quoting a high price for the same or lower experience will not help you win work.
Feel free to draw a contract with your client with all expectations on both sides, conditions, payment terms clearly stated. Operating with clarity attracts more clients and helps you build a solid client-base.
Seek referrals and reviews from clients. This is one part many professionals are afraid to request. However, clients are aware and if they are happy with your work and dedication, will be willing to endorse your good work.
Grow your skills
Know your skills and develop more on the go, so you can carve out an area of specialty.
You can choose to specialize vertically (e.g. web design for retail) or horizontally (e.g. web design for business in any industry).
The deeper you move into an area of expertise, the greater is your value. By acquiring multiple skills, job opportunities increase.
Initially the freedom of freelancing can be unsettling and your self-worth may take a beating.
Be mentally prepared, recognize the pattern and quickly move past it, instead of dwelling in the space.
Drumming your fingers on your desk, downing gallons of tea and coffee, worrying whether you made the right choice, wondering if your colleagues who advised you against this choice were right are all part of the game. Recognize extraneous thoughts and put them behind you.
Land your first project
With time you get stronger. Your reward arrives when you win your first project. Eventually you overcome your lesser self.
Freelancing is building yourself from the core, you will be handling multiple projects, each distinct from the other.
Let none of this deter you because there is much to gain along the way. It is an exciting and passion-driven path, one of constant learning. Treat it as a game to develop excellence in.
You are the master of your time. It’s easy to drift into daydreaming or go grocery shopping or run other errands during work time. However staying committed gets you far ahead. You should daydream and enjoy your freedom, but find a mechanism to pull yourself back to work quickly.
It takes time to develop a routine that combines work and fun.
The beauty about freelancing lies in the fact that you take up a project that grips or holds your interest. It’s entirely your choice whether or not to take up a project.
Initially you might pick up assignments that may seem like drudgery, but every project counts as experience and is valuable.
With time, you can pick the ones you are best suited for and can contribute the most to. Ultimately you will land the projects that excite you, give you the opportunity to deep dive into topics, and pay you adequately for your efforts.
Turn off negativity
Do not allow peer pressure to stop you. Your journey is bound to be different from that of your former colleagues. Feel happy for their success and work on yours. Keep them separate. The parameters for success in the two scenarios are widely different.
Stay aware and avoid giving in to repeating cycles of worry and comparisons.
There will always be naysayers. There will be people who doubt your abilities or wonder what was the need for you to give up a flourishing career for freelancing. Every time there is a doubt, think of the reasons for your choice.
The future of work?
Freelancing is futuristic as an idea, and leads to:
- Greater autonomy
- Fewer restrictions
- An emphasis on payment for work delivered
What freelancing doesn’t require is understanding or analysis of people and personalities and dealing with them. Perceptions can go wrong and this may hamper work.
In the freelancing world, the need for understanding is limited to what part of one’s personality is reflected in the work.
For example – web design or social media marketing and branding might rely on how an idea is interpreted and therefore the underlying personality. However, it is not carried beyond the project. The scope and need for analysis ends with project completion.
A client sees the value a freelancer brings to the table upfront and pays for it.
Perhaps it is not wrong to infer that freelancing is as professional as it gets! There is no hierarchy, the structure is flat. The exchange is equal.
In many traditional projects, the final deliverable is usually a far cry from expectation. Freelancing simplifies matters and eradicates any confusion or loss in communication. Shorter turnaround time, fewer meetings and processes are other attractions drawing clients to freelancers.
Time to roll up your sleeves and give freelancing a go? You decide!
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UPDATE: This post on freelancing websites in India was first published on 18 November 2019 and updated on 13 July 2021 and 5 April 2022.