The bottom line
Toptal is the best freelancer marketplace for hiring financial experts, technical developers, and project/product managers, but it doesn’t have freelancers in other fields, like writing, voice acting, or video. We like that you get a 14-day trial period with each freelancer you pick, making it a great way to test Toptal.
Anyone who values quality and can afford experts.
- Thorough vetting process
- Maintains high-quality standards
- Professional and friendly freelancers
- Minimal risk thanks to the 14-day trial
- Hire on-site and remote talent
- Requires a $500 deposit
- Expensive compared to low-quality platforms
- Doesn’t cover more creative niches
|Freelance Industries||Developers, designers, finance experts, project/product managers|
|Free Trial||14-day for each new freelancer|
|Required Budget||$500 for the deposit|
The name Toptal comes from top talent and suggests that it’s the global network to hire top talent in business, design, and technology. With Toptal, you can work with the top 3% of freelancers, hand-picked for their expertise and talent. The rigorous screening process ensures that only the best of the best are accepted into the network. Toptal is a great option for businesses that need top-tier talent but don’t want the hassle and expense of traditional recruiting methods. With an extensive network of pre-vetted talent, Toptal makes it easy to find and hire the best of the best.
Toptal Review of the Types of Services You Can Hire For
At the time of our writing, Toptal offers five freelance types of services:
- Developers – Software Developers, Data Scientists, DevOps, and QA
- Designers – Web, Mobile, UI/UX, Branding, and Visual Designers
- Project managers – Digital Project Managers, IT Project Managers, Scrum Masters, and Agile Coaches
- Product managers – Digital Product Managers, Product Owners, and Business Analysts
- Financial experts – Financial Modelers, Fundraising Advisors, M&A and FP&A Experts
Each freelancing type contains dozens of subcategories. For example, designers further specialized in AI design, brand, creative, mobile app, visual, wireframing, and many more.
However, Toptal doesn’t offer other popular freelancing services, such as content writing and management, voiceovers, and video production. For these, we recommend using Bunny Studio.
How Much Does Toptal Cost?
All freelancers on Toptal determine their own rates, which vary mostly by location and experience level. The average hourly rate for Toptal developers is $90–$170+; for designers $80–$150+; for finance experts $90–$230+; for project managers $90–$150+; and for product managers $90–$150+.
No-Risk Trial Period
Each engagement starts with a trial period of up to two weeks. This means that you have time to help ensure the engagement will be successful. If you’re completely satisfied with the results, you will be billed for the time and continue the engagement for as long as you’d like. If you’re not completely satisfied, you won’t be billed.
From there, you can either part ways with Toptal, or you can get another expert who may be a better fit and with whom you can begin a second, no-risk trial.
Toptal requires an initial deposit of $500 as a credit to your first invoice. It is a guarantee by which Toptal and freelancers protect themselves from scammers, who would take advantage of the 14 trial period.
However, if you decide not to proceed with your freelancer, you will receive 100% of your deposit.
How To Get Started On Toptal
Hiring a freelancer on Toptal differs from services like Fiverr and Upwork. Instead of creating job offers, you answer a questionnaire based on which Toptal algorithm and human workers match you with the best freelancers for your project.
1. Answer the questionnaire
You can access the questionnaire by clicking “Hire” anywhere on the Toptal website. It opens a step-by-step wizard that gathers all information about your project and your company.
You start by choosing from the five talent options Toptal offers developers, designers, project managers, product managers, and finance experts.
The questions also get more specific, asking about the number of employees in your company, the type of project (a new one, existing, ongoing assistance), and for how long you’re going to need the freelancers.
This way, you’re not matched with freelancers who refuse to work for that duration. For example, some freelancers only accept ongoing work while others swear by one-time projects.
You can also tell Toptal about the level of time commitment (full-time, part-time, hourly), when you want to start (immediately, 1-2 weeks, more than 2 weeks), whether or not you’re open to working with a remote designer, and the freelancer position (entry, individual contributor, management, leadership).
Next, you can enter the required skills for your freelancer. For this example, we chose “Web Designers”, so Toptal already recommend some useful skills. But you can enter more manually or switch the freelancer type to get different ones.
Finally, you can specify the budget you have reserved for this project. All payments are based on the hourly rate, so to find your hourly budget, divide your total budget by the estimated hours necessary to complete the project.
If the criteria you entered match any freelancer, the Toptal algorithm will take a few minutes to connect you with them. If it doesn’t, you will be redirected to the homepage and you can start again.
2. Complete a call with an expert
If you’ve been successfully connected with some freelancers, the next step is to enter your contact information so a Toptal representative can get in touch with you.
You can schedule a call whenever you want or postpone it to learn more about Toptal before.
Either way, you will have to complete a call with a talent expert before you can proceed.
3. Connect with talent
After you finalize your account details and review the terms, you can review hand-selected talent and connect with them. From there you can proceed with the free 14-day period. After its completion, you may move forward with the freelancer or ask for a new one.
Best Toptal Alternatives
Toptal vs Upwork
The main difference between Toptal and Upwork is the quality of the freelancers, but they are both great platforms for many businesses and individuals. Toptal is the clear winner regarding work quality. Their freelancers are handpicked for each project and must pass a rigorous selection process. As a result, businesses can rely on a pool of highly skilled professionals to get the job done right.
Upwork, on the other hand, takes a more open approach to freelancers. While this can be advantageous for companies with a specific project in mind and willing to put in the extra effort to find the right freelancer, it can also be risky.
Toptal vs Crossover
We tried hiring freelancers using Crossover, but there was no way of hiring any of the freelancers. It’s impossible to create an account or get in touch with any of the freelancers. However, as a freelancer, you can get in touch fairly easily, yet getting accepted is a lot more difficult. On top of that, Crossover seems to be for full-time jobs instead of freelancing.
Therefore, we recommend Toptal for hiring high-quality freelancers, while Crossover could be better for full-time workers.
Toptal vs Turing
The main difference between Toptal and Turing is the range of services offered. Toptal offers designers, developers, managers, and financial experts, while Turing focuses only on developers. Therefore, Turing is better for hiring developers as it is more specialized and promises to hire freelancers based on a Silicon Valley bar.
However, we have not seen much evidence that Turing actually delivers the promised results. Therefore, we also recommend Toptal for developers (for now).
Toptal vs Gigster
The main difference between Toptal and Gigster is that Toptal is more focused on connecting businesses with individual developers, while Gigster is more focused on connecting businesses with teams of developers. As a result, Gigster requires at least a $55k budget per project, while Toptal requires only a $500 deposit.
Toptal vs Codeable
In contrast to Toptal, Codeable focuses on the development, particularly WordPress. At $80-$120 per hour, it is slightly more expensive for developers than Toptal. The cost is also influenced by the project’s complexity, urgency, and size.
For instance, the price range for creating a unique plugin is between $960 and $3,460. Of course, more difficult projects may extend far beyond that.
We suggest Toptal for all other services and Codeable for web development, particularly WordPress.
Toptal vs Andela
We found that Andela is more akin to Fiverr than Toptal in terms of quality and pricing. The average hourly rate is $25, while the quality ranges from disappointing to mediocre. Some clients report great success, but they seem few and far between.
Toptal vs Fiverr
Fiverr is looking to be a low-quality alternative to Toptal. The site offers a variety of services for just $5, including logo design, web development, and even SEO help. However, the quality of these services is often poor, and many users have complained about the lack of customer service. If you’re looking for a low-cost option for your business, Fiverr may be worth considering, but be aware that you may not be getting the best quality for your money.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How does Toptal make money?
Toptal makes money by adding their service fee on top of the freelancer’s hourly rate. This way, freelancers get 100% of their earnings, while the client pays an additional fee. However, their service fee is already included in the price, so you don’t pay any additional fees. It is unknown what percentage of the hourly rate is Toptal’s fee, but our speculation is that it changes based on the freelancer’s expertise and field of work.
How much is Toptal worth?
According to The Hustle, Topal is valued at over $1B and is 100% owned by Du Val, one of the founders.
Is Toptal legit?
Toptal is a completely safe and legit freelancer marketplace. In fact, it’s one of the most popular ones right after Upwork and Fiverr, yet it offers much higher quality freelancers. Thus, Toptal is particularly popular among companies.
Where is Toptal located?
Although Toptal was founded in the United States, it has no physical headquarters.
- Christopher J. Dwyer. Key Providers For 2022: Toptal. Future Work Exchange. Published October 7, 2022.
- Peter High. Toptal Offers A New Arsenal For The War For Talent. Forbes. Published October 2, 2017.