TopTal is one of the most popular freelance sites on the internet, known for its high-paying clients and thorough freelancer scrutiny. But, is it worth investing your time? Read through my Toptal review to find out.
Imagine working your dream job from home while sipping your favorite beverage and wearing sweats. Sounds quite exciting, but that’s the reality nowadays for more than 1.1 billion freelance workers worldwide.
While popular freelance sites claim to accommodate everyone, everyone knows that’s not the case. As the market is getting saturated, beginners in the freelancing world are apprehensive about stepping into the field, worried whether they’ll stand out of the crowd and make a place for themselves or not.
If you’re in the same situation, I’ve got the ideal solution for you. Read my Toptal review for further details.
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Are you looking to start a freelance career but are worried about leaving your 9-5 job? I’d say you’re right to be worried in this regard.
You see, out of all the aspiring professionals that set out for a freelance career, only 51% of them choose to stay on as freelancers permanently. Similarly, only 25% of freelancers say that they can find work within 24 hours.
This means it’s quite challenging to generate a steady workflow as a freelancer, and that’s the reason most freelancers go back to their full-day office jobs after a few months of hustling.
However, if you have faith in your talent and hard work, you can establish yourself as a freelancer on Toptal.
But, what makes Toptal different from other freelance sites?
That’s where my Toptal review comes in. I’ve rounded up all the details about the platform so you can decide whether it’s worth your time or not. So let’s dive in.
What is Toptal?
Toptal is an online platform with a unique approach to talent crowdsourcing. Unlike other sites that let everyone jump on the bandwagon, on Toptal, employing freelancers is all about thorough vetting and scrutiny.
This means it’s not easy to become a member and start working. However, this policy makes sure they have the best freelance talent available on the internet, which attracts high-paying clients.
Founded back in 2010 by Taso Du Val and Breanden Beneschott, the platform has its offices in major cities of the US but is available for freelancers worldwide.
One of the partners left the company in early 2018, but the site has made considerable profits since its advent. Similarly, its productivity has attracted many reputable investors, namely Andreesen Horowitz.
Initially, Toptal only advertised freelance developers for hire, but today, it operates a remote workforce of workers from the designing and management sectors.
How Toptal Works?
Mainly, Toptal works by connecting highly vetted professionals with significant clients from across the globe. While you might expect freelancers from all areas of expertise to be welcome on Toptal, that’s not the case.
Toptal employs freelancers from mainly five professional arenas,
- Finance experts
- Project Managers
- Product Managers
Along with that, Toptal has a long list of sub-categories from each of these genres, but that’s about it. So if you’re an HR manager, or writer looking for freelance jobs, Toptal is not the place for you.
The USP of Toptal that makes it stand out amongst its contemporaries is that it hires only 3% of the talent available online. This means that out of thousands of applications that the website receives every month, only a few talented individuals get to join the Toptal family.
The site uses a thorough screening process, which I’ll describe in detail later, to understand the freelancers’ skills, abilities, and personality. After that, the platform uses this information to match the freelancer with clients who need his services.
But, Toptal does not go to all that trouble for free. Instead, the platform charges a hefty initial premium from employers so only the top companies can actually afford to hire from Toptal.
Similarly, freelancers cannot pick their Toptal hourly rates as they would on other sites. They can provide their expected Toptal freelance rate during sign-up, but the remuneration is always based on the project’s nature and length.
How to Sign Up for Toptal?
Now that you know what to expect from Toptal as a freelancer, you’ve probably decided whether you want to join the platform or not. If you do, here’s the detailed sign-up process to help you get started.
While the entire process is quite lengthy and may take quite some time to complete, the engaging and intuitive website makes it easy for beginners to navigate their way around.
First of all, you’ll have to fill out an application form providing necessary details about yourself, including your name, location, and expertise.
After you submit the initial form, you’ll receive an email confirmation. When you click on the link in the email, you’ll be redirected to the site, where you’ll see your personal dashboard.
On this page, the site will request you for further details to begin your screening process. During the screening process, you’ll be tested regarding your personality and skills.
Additionally, the platform conducts a live screening along with a practice project test and, finally, a test to evaluate your consistency.
Unless you pass all five phases, you will not be granted access to Toptal. The complete screening process can take about five weeks to complete.
If you’re signing up as an employer, the process is much easier; only, you have to part with a lot of money. TopTal charges $500 from employers initially to connect them with relevant talent.
In case the employer isn’t satisfied, there’s a trial window during which he can receive his money back from the website.
Pros of Toptal
The strict scrutiny system on Toptal indicates its dedication towards its clients and shows its aim for enhancing the potential of aspiring freelance workers.
If you have the drive and passion to strive for excellence on the platform, I’ve provided further details in my Toptal developer review.
Besides that, here’s a brief list of benefits at a glance for those who’re still contemplating their decision.
Steady Income Stream
Instead of joining a whole crowd of individuals like you bidding over gigs, after passing the Toptal vetting process, you’ll enter a group of highly talented individuals.
This means you won’t need to endorse yourself or bid on every gig you come across. The platform will do that for you and get you the best clients according to your talents.
Although you cannot specify an hourly rate on Toptal, you won’t have to haggle for the price with clients either. The site will identify a market competitive figure depending on your expectations and the nature of the project.
As I mentioned, Toptal’s business model attracts the top organizations looking for freelance talent towards its platform. That means you’ll be dealing with reputable companies that’ll help you build a comprehensive work portfolio.
No Need to Pitch Clients
While you’ll need to contact the relevant clients referred to you on other freelance sites, that’s not the case with Toptal.
Here, the platform suggests you as a match to potential clients and conduct all the pre-sale discussions. All you have to do is start working.
A fantastic aspect of Toptal that you won’t find on other freelance websites is its worldwide events. As a member, you can access these events, learn new skills, get the exposure you need, and enhance your professional network.
Once you are established on the platform, you can even visit the events as a speaker or mentor to motivate aspiring freelancers.
Cons of Toptal
To give you an honest representation of the platform in my Toptal review, I’ve listed down the major disadvantages as well, so you can make an informed decision.
Grueling Screening Process
I know that good things take time, but five weeks might be quite a long wait for someone who has left their day job to start freelancing.
Limited Professional Fields
Unfortunately, even if you’re ready for the long ride ahead, Toptal doesn’t employ freelancers from every profession. The platform only caters to five specific fields, so if you have other services to offer, you’ll have to find another freelance platform.
No Specific Hourly Rates
As a freelancer, you cannot specify your own Toptal developer hourly rate on the platform. However, the platform does ask you for your expected rate and claims to offer market competitive remuneration for your work.
Now comes the most crucial part of my Toptal review. Here, I’ve provided a detailed overview of the features and central aspects of Toptal mentioned above.
So, if you’re seriously considering becoming a member, you can get a clear idea of what you’re signing up for.
One thing is evident from Toptal’s rigorous freelancer screening and high initial fee for employers; they’re targeted the big bulls running our economy.
Their clients’ list includes highly established companies from Fortune 500 brands that need the top workers to enhance their products and services. Similarly, Toptal gives preference to innovative start-ups as well.
You’ll be working for big names including Airbnb, Cavalier, Bridgestone, Shopify, Duolingo, and Lightspeed. For a freelancer, this means
- A long list of potential opportunities
- Room for growth
- Excellent portfolio diversification
- Holistic working and learning experience
- Productive professional exposure and networking
- High remuneration
Toptal Screening Process
This is perhaps the most awaited aspect of my Toptal review.
If you’re a freelancer who wants to join Toptal, you’ll need to know what you’re signing up for. This is an overview of their 5-week rigorous testing program so that you can decide whether you’re up for it or not.
Remember, there are five rounds in total, and if you fail even one, you’ll have to say goodbye to your Toptal dreams. However, if you do pass each test with distinction, there’s a fortune of high-paying clients and a consistent home-based workflow waiting for you.
Language and Personality Test
In this phase, the site will test your proficiency in the English language, along with your communication skills.
Besides that, the test will include questions that evaluate your personality. The more passionate and dedicated you are about your work, the more chances you will pass their personality test.
After the first phase comes a thorough skill review, this test will be conducted by a Toptal screener who is an expert in the area you’ve applied for.
The screener will ask you to do some live exercises to get an idea about your problem-solving abilities, experience, and creativity.
In this phase, Toptal screeners assign you test tasks just like those you’ll be conducting for real on the platform. You’ll be given a project to complete in a time limit of about 1-3 weeks.
During this period, the platform will see whether you can perform as well as your resume shows. Similarly, this test is a good chance for you to display your competence and talent to land a place for yourself on the platform.
The site states that only 3.2% of all their applicants pass this test. If you do, you’ll start getting paid projects on the platform immediately.
Attributing to their large-scale services and clients, Toptal values consistent quality over everything else. That’s why you cannot afford to screw up even a single project if you’re working on Toptal.
The site tests your continued excellence and client ratings, so every paid task you get after you pass the test is another test on TopTal. If you fail to live up to their standards, you won’t receive any further projects on the platform.
Toptal Freelance Rates
According to Toptal reviews from freelancers, the platform pays good money for a job well done. Since the platform spends lots of its resources screening freelancers, it advertises each of its prized members with a high price tag.
As a freelance developer, you can quickly get paid around $60 per hour. Moreover, if you’re hired for a week or month-long project, you can even earn about $10,000 upon completion.
As I mentioned before, the pricing totally depends on the nature of the job and its time to complete it.
I know what you’re thinking. Are Toptal clients actually willing to part with that kind of money?
The platform advertises its freelancers as the best ones on the internet, but it also offers a refund if the client is not satisfied. This safeguard’s the client’s investment and is why many major clients are willing to invest in the platform.
Toptal Customer Support
If you feel the need to reach out to the platform at any phase of your journey, you can refer to their website’s contact page.
You can email them by specifying your query directly through the contact page. Similarly, the contact page includes a phone number and mailing address as well, so you can reach out through any mode you prefer.
You can also refer to their comprehensive FAQ page to see if there’s a solution to your problem.
If you’re starting as a freelancer, Toptal offers the ultimate resources for you to grow as a professional. You can find everything from updates on the freelance world to your field’s breakthroughs on their blog.
What I found interesting is that the blog is divided into multiple categories, such as development, management, and engineering. You can choose the topic you want to read about and sharpen your saw in your free time.
After assessing every aspect of the site in my Toptal review, I’ve rated it in the following areas.
- Features – 4
- Price – 4
- Ease of Use – 5
- Customer Service – 3
Alternatives to Toptal
After going through my Toptal review, if you think the platform is not for you, that doesn’t mean you cannot enter the freelancing world at all.
Here are some prominent Toptal competitors you should check out.
The Toptal vs. Upwork debate could go on for ages, but let’s face it, both platforms are excellent in their respective fields. While TopTal believes in providing the highest quality talent for clients, Upwork aims to make freelance work accessible for workers worldwide.
Besides that, Upwork employs a broader selection of freelancing fields, including writing and other creative areas you won’t find on TopTal.
The employers post their jobs directly on the site, and freelancers can bid for the jobs that spark their interest. The freelancer can regulate everything from the hiring process to the project details and payments through Upwork.
These gigs include their work portfolio and pricing details. This means a freelancer; you can set your own rates and only share a percentage of your payment with Fiverr.
However, due to the number of freelancers in every field on Fiverr, it can be challenging to land your first client. But after that, all you have to do is maintain your rating and get consistent work.
Is Toptal Worth it?
Concluding my Toptal review, it is time to answer the ultimate question, is Toptal worth it? Well, if you’re a freelancer looking for high-paying jobs and are willing to invest your time into the hiring process, Toptal is for you.
It is a reputable platform with a renowned clientele, so you can surely make around $50-$100 per hour if you get selected on the forum.
Although the customer service is not as efficient as Fiverr or Freelancer.com, Toptal’s one-on-one screening test gives you a better chance of showing off your potential.
Besides that, if you’re intimidated by the five-week screening process, think about it this way. You’ll ultimately save time when it comes to bidding and pitching potential clients. I would suggest signing up for multiple freelance sites to enhance your portfolio if you’re considering freelancing permanently. Good luck!
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