Toptal is one of the most reputable platforms for high-earning freelancers to make money through a wide range of gigs. Freelancers from different parts of the globe make a lot of money completing gigs for clients on Toptal every day. You can join these independent contractors by learning how to make money on Toptal today.
Whether you are looking for a way to make money part-time or want to become a full-time freelancer on Toptal, this article is for you. You will learn what Toptal is, how it works, how much money you can make, and the pros and cons of the platform. This Toptal review also covers a step-by-step guide for getting started on Toptal, along with tips for making extra money on it.
What Is Toptal?
Headquartered in Silicon Valley, Toptal is a gig or talent economy for high-end service providers across various fields. The San Francisco-based company launched in 2010 as an exclusive network for multidisciplinary independent contractors. Some of the services offered include project management, software development, software design, and financial expertise.
Since most Toptal gigs are remote, talented freelancers from across the globe can join the platform and start receiving gigs from high-end clients. However, the exclusivity of the platform makes it difficult for just any remote talent to get their accounts approved. If you are interested in joining Toptal, you must pass the rigorous vetting process first, as only the top three percent of applicants are accepted.
How Does Toptal Work?
Toptal connects high-performing freelancers to clients in need of their services. Interested clients sign up and post their project details to match up with qualified freelancers who have been vetted thoroughly by the platform. Unlike many other freelance platforms that have bidding systems on every project description, Toptal matches these clients to the most qualified freelance talent for the job.
The client is introduced to different possible candidates and is expected to interview each candidate until they find the best fit for the job. In most cases, the most suitable freelancer gets the job after a trial period. This placement process is designed to ensure compatibility and it involves much more than an ordinary portfolio review.
Note that in the beginning, Toptal accepted only freelance software developers on the platform’s talent pool. However, since then the platform has expanded and now accepts finance experts and digital project managers.
How Much Can You Actually Make on Toptal?
Toptal freelancers earn an average wage of between $50,355 and $234,368 yearly, according to Glassdoor. This figure varies significantly according to factors like your professional field, number of gigs completed, type of project completed, location, and project requirements. Your salary negotiation skills will play a big role in how much you are able to earn on the platform.
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While Toptal is one of the most reliable freelancer platforms for high-end freelance developers, there is no way to predict how much you will make yearly. Even when you start, your weekly and yearly earnings will vary significantly depending on the above variables. There is also an opportunity to advance your career and increase your hourly rates as your account grows and you get more customer ratings.
The Pros and Cons of Working on Toptal
Toptal offers several benefits to part-time and full-time freelancers, but it is not without a few disadvantages. Below, we’ve listed some pros and cons for a clearer picture of what it’s like to work on Toptal.
Pros of Working on Toptal
- High-paying gigs. Toptal sets high standards for both the quality of work and the amount clients pay. Compared to other gig marketplaces like Upwork and Fiverr, professionals on Toptal have higher average rates and make significantly more money. This is primarily because most clients are startups and reputable companies with funding, not just individuals working on tight budgets.
- Relative flexibility. Working on Toptal isn’t a traditional job. Freelancers can set their daily and weekly availability, and clients should respect this availability. However, before freelancers sign a contract with a client, the schedule can be negotiated.
- Networking and experience. On Toptal, you can work with world-class companies from different parts of the globe without leaving the comfort of your home. Companies that would be difficult to reach or apply to through traditional means are on Toptal. This allows you to build your professional experience while networking.
- Remote work. Toptal freelancers don’t need to be in the United States to work with some of the most prestigious clients in this country. Top talents from different parts of the world are accepted if they meet the eligibility criteria. Likewise, US-based professionals can sell their services to clients from across the globe.
- Direct support from Toptal employees. Toptal employees do not leave you to fend for yourself or engage in bidding wars. Each time a client is interested in a service you provide, an employee of Toptal recommends you and other possible candidates. If you impress the client during the interview, you get the job.
Cons of Working on Toptal
- Long and rigorous screening process. After registration, you will need to complete a thorough screening process designed to test your professionalism and qualifications. The entire process can last for two to five weeks. By contrast, other gig marketplaces complete their screening process in just 24 to 72 hours.
- High acceptance requirements. Even after waiting for weeks and completing the entire application process, there is no guarantee that you will be selected. Toptal picks only the top three percent of candidates to join the platform.
- Exclusivity. Unlike many other gig marketplaces that make room for all types of freelancers, Toptal only accepts a narrow category of freelancers. You need to be a software developer, project manager, or financial expert to stand a chance of getting accepted to the Toptal network.
- Jobs go to the most experienced. Toptal might not be the best place for people that are just getting started in their field. The matching system ensures that only the most experienced freelancers get recommended to clients. Even if you have some experience outside Toptal, it will take a while to start seeing recognition if you are new to the platform.
- No job security. While Toptal does its best to promote an excellent professional environment for high-quality freelancers, it doesn’t provide job security. Your account can be terminated without notice and you won’t receive a severance package. Also, you will pay income tax, sales tax, and other taxes on your income without getting insurance and other benefits that corporate employees enjoy.
How to Become a Toptal Freelancer
To get started on Toptal, you need a laptop and a strong Internet connection. You also need to make sure that your services match the platform. Below is a step-by-step guide for getting started on Toptal.
1. Signing Up
Go to the official freelancer sign-up page and fill in your name, email address, and password. If you want, you can sign up with your LinkedIn profile directly. After filling in the details and choosing your specialty, you must complete a lengthy four-step screening.
2. Language and Personality Assessment
The language test examines your English speaking, reading, and listening skills. You do not need to be a native English speaker to pass this test, but you must have an advanced understanding of the English language.
As part of this assessment, you will also be interviewed by a Toptal employee, who will administer a personality test. Toptal isn’t just looking for people who have skills. They want dedicated, passionate, and reliable freelancers who do what it takes to complete the assignments in a way that satisfies the clients.
3. Skill Review
At this stage, you will be tested on the technical skills related to your field. For example, if you are an app developer, you should expect coding and web development tests. Apart from field-related skills, you will also be tested on your problem-solving and critical thinking.
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The skill review is the most crucial step in the entire application process since it presents you with an opportunity to prove your qualifications. If you fail, you can’t move forward to the next stage of the hiring process.
4. Live Screening
This essential stage of the application process involves live exercises. These live screening sessions typically take place via video conferencing. The interviewer from Toptal will want to learn about your relevant experience and creativity while gaining an insight into your problem-solving and communication skills during the interview process.
Note that you must complete all exercises live, so there isn’t any time to prepare ahead. This screening gauges your ability to be creative and flexible whenever unexpected problems arise.
5. Test Projects
If you are fortunate enough to get to this stage, you should pat yourself on the back because few people get this far. You will now be assigned practice projects based on your qualifications. These test projects take about one to three weeks to complete and can be challenging. They mimic real-world projects from actual clients.
How to Make More Money on Toptal
To make a good wage on Toptal, you need to apply yourself. Although you now belong to the freelancer elite, you still need to stand out to get clients and increase your earning potential. Below are some tips that can help you make extra money.
Follow Instructions Closely
Toptal is more concerned with client satisfaction than anything else, so make sure you only submit high-quality work. Clients pay top dollar to access the best freelancers in the industry and they expect their project requirements to be judiciously followed. Satisfied clients will keep coming back to give you more work.
Increase Your Availability
Unlike traditional employment options, freelancers on Toptal can choose how many hours of the week they wish to work. If you do not currently have a full-time job, consider making yourself available as many hours a day as possible. This way, you will always get notified when an ideal match is available.
Put Your Best Foot Forward During the Trial Period
All clients get a trial period on Toptal. During this period, a list of freelancers is assigned to the project that the client needs to get done. The client may host interviews or tests for all the freelancers recommended. If you are fortunate enough to be selected for this trial, make sure to go all in to impress the client. This will increase your chances of getting hired for the gig.
Request a Raise From Returning Clients
When clients are satisfied with your services during a one-time hourly project, there is a strong chance that they will seek you for additional projects. This is an excellent opportunity to renegotiate your rates. However, avoid increasing rates too rapidly or you may chase off the client. A two to five percent increase is reasonable.
Is Working on Toptal Worth It?
Yes, Toptal is worth it for a finance expert, project manager, or software developer looking for lucrative freelance gigs from companies across the globe. The platform prides itself on its exclusivity, so getting your account approved isn’t going to be easy. However, if you do manage to get on the platform, your earning potential will be huge and you will have a chance to work with prestigious companies.
Making Money on Toptal FAQ
Is Toptal a full-time job?
Yes, Toptal can be a full-time job for high-end freelancers. It is an ideal platform for freelancers who want to be independent contractors full-time. Depending on your experience level, you can earn a very good salary on this platform.
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Does Toptal charge a fee?
Yes, both clients and freelancers pay a service fee to Toptal. All employers pay the platform a flat fee of $500 per hire as an initial deposit. In addition, companies must pay writers according to their rates, which range from $60 to $250 per hour or $2,000 to $8,000 per week for full-time positions.
How many times can I apply to Toptal?
Freelance talent can apply for Toptal multiple times. However, how soon you are allowed to re-apply depends on the tests you failed and the reason for rejection. For example, those who fail the language and personality test must wait for three to four months before trying again.
Is Toptal better than Upwork?
Yes, Toptal is better than Upwork if you are a seasoned professional who wants to earn the most money with your skills. You can set a high hourly rate for ongoing or even one-time projects. On the other hand, Upwork is ideal for low-quality freelancers with little experience. Entry into Upwork is much easier than entry into Toptal, and no one says you can’t explore both options.
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