Toptal Review

Posted on April 18, 2017
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Toptal is an American company that was founded in 2010. In 2015, it was ranked as the number one fastest growing talent marketplace in North America. In 2016, Toptal acquired Skillbridge, an online platform for elite business freelancers. Toptal was specifically designed to provide freelance software engineers to clients. It is much more of a specialist marketplace than other platforms, claiming to only accept the top 3% of marketplace talent, and focusing on ‘challenging tier-one projects’.

Toptal employs a vigorous screening process, making sure that only the top freelance talent are using the platform. Toptal works with some prestigious clients, such as:


  •  JP Morgan
  •  Gucci
  •  Airbnb
  •  Zendesk


The platform has provided elite talent for clients in locations such as Silicon Valley, New York City, London, Germany, Switzerland and many others.

How to get started on Toptal.com as a freelancer

As mentioned above Toptal is a specialized platform and therefore the application process is much more detailed. Freelancers who wish to apply will be asked to choose their designated area of expertise. They can choose from the following categories:

  •  Developer
  •  Designer
  •  Finance Expert


After entering their basic information, applicants are then treated to an interview like process. They will need to fill out a detailed application form, asking for an account of their experience and skills in their designated field. The form also asks applicants about their thoughts on company culture, the type of projects they enjoy, and their past achievements. This is all for the purpose of screening applicants to find the top talent.

After entering this information, the screening process will begin. Only 3% of freelancers will pass this process as there are numerous tests involved that test the applicant’s proficiency and personality. Applicants are also required to possess fluent English as the clients are all western-technical teams. In this respect, the platform is much more similar to a recruiting agency.

The freelancer doesn’t bid on desired projects, as with other freelance marketplace platforms. Instead, the domain experts will connect them with appropriate clients.


How to get started on Toptal.com as a client

The signup process for clients is simpler. Select the type of freelancer you’re looking for (from one of the 3 categories above), then enter your company’s name and basic info. You’ll then be matched with freelancers that meet your business needs. Due to the application process being very rigorous for freelancers, Toptal states that it may take up to 3 weeks to find the right candidate for you, if one is not immediately available. Clients are given the option to try out the freelancer on a trial basis for 2 weeks, and switch to another freelancer if it doesn’t work out within that time. Toptal promises that domain experts will be the ones screening freelancers, in order to ensure the best fit.

Toptal allows clients to simultaneously try out up to 5 freelancers for one position, and the platform will only bill the client if they feel satisfied with their choice. If the client desires to transition the freelancer into full time employment, Toptal will work with the two parties to help them reach a fair arrangement.


Fees and additional services

Freelancers

Registration and use of this platform is free for successful applicants.

Clients

Clients are required to pay an initial deposit of $500 for using the platform. If the client doesn’t hire a freelancer the money will be refunded in full. Rates differ per client, but Toptal states their general rates as the following:

Developers/Designer:

  •  Hourly: $60-$95+/hour
  •  Part-time: $1000-$1600+/week
  •  Full-time: $2000-$3200+/week


Finance Experts:

  •  Hourly: $100-$200+/hour
  •  Part-time: $1600-$3200+/week
  •  Full-time: $3200-$6400+/week


Payment methods

Payment methods for clients and freelancers are:

  •  Credit card
  •  Bank Accounts (with ABA routing)
  •  Bank Transfers
  •  Paypal


Pros and Cons for freelancers using Toptal

Pros:

  •  Great effort is made to connect you with the right client
  •  High Pay
  •  Very professional platform with expert staff
  •  Strong developer community
  •  No monthly fees or membership plans
  •  Great support from Toptal staff


Cons:

  •  Only 3% of freelancers are accepted
  •  A lot of freelancers won’t have the right areas of expertise
  •  Interview process is too long for some


Toptal is not a platform that will be accessible to every freelancer, due to its highly specialized nature. But for serious professionals, with the right skills and expertise, it could be very lucrative.


Pros and Cons for clients using Toptal

Pros:

  •  Very professional platform with expert staff
  •  No need to spend hours vetting freelancers
  •  No monthly fees or membership plans


Cons:

  •  More expensive than other platforms
  •  Hiring a freelancer may take longer
  •  Too specialized for some clients


Toptal is a platform designed to give clients the very best freelancers. It has worked with some very reputable clients, and offers a great customer experience for clients. Due to the cost involved, it may not be suitable for companies with smaller budgets.


Do you have any experience with this platform? Let us know in the comment section or rate it above.
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