Toptal enables companies to hire only the best freelancers from its global network of vetted talent. This Toptal review takes a closer look at what they have to offer, to help you decide whether or not it's is the right freelance marketplace to use for your business.
Toptal Review Summary (Key Points)
Hiring full-time employees aren’t always the best solution, especially when you only need to hire someone to work on a short-term project. Freelancers are best suited for these types of projects where you need an expert but don’t want/need to hire them full-time.
Although there are hundreds of freelance marketplaces out there, most of the freelancers on these platforms aren’t experts. To find a reliable freelancer you can work with on multiple and complex projects, you will need to hire a few freelancers before you find one that fits your needs perfectly. Even then, you can lose them if they decide to raise their rates, go out of business, or simply disappear.
This is where Toptal comes in. Their platform helps you hire the top 3% freelancers in the world from over 100 countries, and most are located in America and Europe.
When working with Toptal, you can easily find an expert freelancer for your project in the first try as all of the freelancers are vetted and interviewed before they are allowed on the platform. And you are in safe hands because Toptal works with companies like Airbnb, Hewlett Packard, Zendesk, Motorola, Bridgestone, Shopify, and many others.
What is Toptal.com?
Toptal is a freelance marketplace similar to the likes of Upwork. What differentiates Toptal from other marketplaces is that it gives you access to the best of the best freelancers from around the world. Unlike other freelance networks/marketplaces, Toptal vets and interviews freelancers and only accepts experts who can prove themselves.
Toptal can be your partner that helps you finish all your projects. Whether you need someone to design the user interface for your new iPhone app or the backend of your complex web server application, Toptal can help you find an expert who can get the job done. Their network includes project managers, product managers, finance experts, designers, and developers.
How Toptal Works
Unlike other freelance marketplaces, Toptal’s team personally helps you find the best freelancer for your business needs. Toptal only allows the best of the best freelancers in the world to join their platform after a rigorous interview process that can take weeks. The quality of freelance talent available on this platform is their biggest differentiator.
When you sign up, you have to fill out a simple survey, which takes less than two minutes. It helps Toptal understand your project needs better. Once you sign up, you will be assigned an expert who will get in touch with you to better understand your project requirements. This step helps the Toptal team understand how big and complex your project will be.
The Toptal team will then find a freelancer who fits your requirements. You'll get introduced to candidates within 24h of signing up, and 90% of companies hire the first candidate Toptal introduces to them.
The Screening Process
What differentiates Toptal from other freelance marketplaces is its rigorous screening process which only accepts 3% of all applicants. The reason behind their vigorous screening and interviewing is to weed out low-quality freelancers who don’t have enough experience.
Toptal's screening process has 5 steps and only experienced and expert freelancers who are serious about their work end up successfully finishing it.
The first step of the process is all about testing communication skills and personality. The applicant must be able to communicate in English extremely well. They also test to see if the applicant is actually passionate about and fully engaged in the work they do.
Only 26.4% of the applicants make it past this step.
The second step is an in-depth skills review that weeds out any low-quality freelancers who aren’t exceptional at the work they do. This step tests the applicant’s problem-solving ability and intellect. The applicant is required to complete various assignments to prove their skills.
Only 7.4% of the applicants make it past this step.
The third step is live screening where the applicant will be screened by an expert. This step is more like a one-on-one interview with an expert in the applicant’s primary domain of expertise.
Only 3.6% of the applicants make it past this step.
This fourth step assigns the applicant with a test project that mimics real-world scenarios and tests their ability to solve real-world problems. Only 3.2% of the applicants make it past this step.
The final step is an ongoing test of continued excellence. Toptal doesn’t take low-quality work and poor communication lightly. This step ensures that only the best of the best freelancers remain on the network.
Only 3.0% of the applicants make it past this step and are allowed to become a freelancer in the Toptal network.
How to signup (as a client/employer)
Signing up for Toptal as a client/employer is very easy. It only involves answering a few questions to give the Toptal team an idea of your project requirements.
When you visit the sign-up page for Toptal, you will see a survey form:
The first question you need to answer is who you are looking to hire. For this example, let’s work with Designers. Once you have selected the type of talent you wish to hire, click the Get Started button.
Now, you have to select what type of project you need help with:
In most cases, you will be working on a new project, so let’s pick ‘New Project’ as the type of project. Click the big blue Next button on the bottom right of the form to continue.
Now, you have to pick whether or not you have clear specifications for the project. This basically tells Toptal how far you have come in the ideation process:
Most of your projects can benefit from input from an expert designer or developer. Unless you already have clear specifications ready for your projects, select the “I have a rough idea of what I want to build” option and click the Next button.
Now, you have to decide how long you will need the designer:
For most projects, it will be only a few weeks, so let’s pick “1 to 4 weeks”. If you aren't sure yet or want to leave it open for discussion, choose “I'll decide later”.
Now, you have to choose how many designers you need:
For most projects, you will need more than just a designer or a developer. You will need someone on your team to handle other parts of the project. So, let’s pick “A cross-functional team”.
If you aren't sure yet or want to leave it open for discussion, choose “I'll decide later”. Click Next to continue.
Now, you have to choose the level of time commitment your project requires:
For serious business projects, this will be full-time or at least part-time, so let’s pick Part-Time. If you aren't sure yet or want to leave it open for discussion, choose “I'll decide later”. Click Next to continue.
Now, select the skills your ideal candidate for this project will have:
For a web design project, you will need Web Design, Responsive Web Design, and User Interface design. Select the appropriate skills and click the Next button.
Now, select the number of employees who work at your company:
Let’s pick Less than 10 for this example. Click Next to continue.
Now, select when you need to designer to start working with you:
For most projects, it will be at least 1 week. If you aren't sure yet or want to leave it open for discussion, choose “I'll decide later”. Click the Next button to continue.
Now, you have to decide whether or not you are open to working with Remote talent:
For most types of projects, even complex ones, this will not matter but if you aren't sure, choose “I'm not sure”. Click the Next button to continue.
Now, select your budget for this role:
I recommend picking “$51 – $75/hr” as most freelancers on the platform charge at least $60/hour. Click Next to continue.
Now, fill in your contact details to finish signing up:
Now, fill in your contact details, so that the Toptal team can call you to kickstart the process:
That’s all. You have completed the signup process. Now, you will receive a kickstart call from Toptal where an expert will answer all your questions and request more details for your project so they can set you up with the most suitable freelancer for your project.
To hire your first freelancer on Toptal, you need to make a one-time, refundable deposit of $500. If you decide not to hire at any stage of the process, you will receive a refund. Otherwise, the $500 will be later added as a credit to your account and will be used to pay freelancers that you work with. This deposit tells Toptal that you are serious about hiring a freelancer.
Unlike platforms like Upwork, you won’t find any cheap freelancers on this platform. The best of the best freelancers come with an expensive price tag. Most freelancers on this network charge at least $60 per hour or even more depending on the skills and experience level.
How Much Does Toptal Cost?
Toptal offers flexible pricing depending on client requirements and their geographical location. The below toptal.com cost figures can be used as a guideline:
- Hourly: $60-$95+/hour
- Part-time: $1,000-$1,600+/week
- Full-time: $2,000-$3,200+/week
- Hourly: $60-$150+ per hour
- Part-time: $1,200-$2,600+ per week
- Full-time: $2,400-$5,200+ per week
Finance expert cost:
- Hourly: $60-$200+ per hour
- Part-time: $2,000-$3,200+ per week
- Full-time: $4,000-$6,400+ per week
Project manager cost:
- Hourly: $60-$150+ per hour
- Part-time: $1,300-$2,600+ per week
- Full-time: $2,600-$5,200+ per week
Product manager cost:
- Hourly: $60-$180+ per hour
- Part-time: $1,500-$2,800+ per week
- Full-time: $3,000-$5,600+ per week
Remember. If you are not happy with performance within the first two weeks, Toptal will refund you both the deposit and any charges for the freelancer's work.
Toptal Coupon Code
Get a $150 Amazon gift card for free when you sign up as an employer/client and start using Toptal.
To be eligable you must use this sign up link and you must continue past the no-risk free trial period.
After you have made your first successful hire on Toptal, email us and request your $150 Amazon gift card.
Toptal Pros and Cons
The biggest benefit of hiring freelance talent from Toptal is that their rigorous screening process weeds out anyone who is not an expert. When you hire someone from Toptal, you can be assured that they know how to solve your problem or help you with your project.
But that is also one of the biggest cons of working with Toptal. Because they only offer access to the top 3% freelancers, the rates can be pretty expensive if you are just starting out or low on budget.
If you are on a low budget or only need help with a small project, then it makes a lot more sense to go with a freelance marketplace such as Upwork.
But going with a freelance marketplace such as Upwork that allows anyone to join as a freelancer will face you the exact problem Toptal helps you solve. Hiring the perfect freelancer will take some trial and error.
And this, in many cases, might mean losing money (and time) to find the best freelancer for your project.
Another big benefit of working with Toptal is that you are not on your own. Unlike other platforms and marketplaces that simply give you a list of freelancers, Toptal’s team of experts works with you to find the perfect freelance talent for your project based on your requirements.
Is Toptal legit?
Toptal is a reputable global freelance talent marketplace that works with well-known brands such as Airbnb, HP, Zendesk, and Motorola. It was founded in 2010 by Taso Du Val (CEO) and Breanden Beneschott and its headquarters is in Silicon Valley.
How much does Toptal cost?
The cost of hiring a freelancer on Toptal depends on the type of role, but expect to pay between $60-$200+ per hour for a freelancer. There is also a one-time, refundable deposit of $500. If you decide not to hire at any stage of the process, you will receive a refund. Otherwise, the $500 will be later added as a credit to your account.
Who is the Toptal good for?
Toptal is perfect for businesses looking for a key partner that can guarantee top freelance expert talent, without having to hire someone fulltime or inhouse for complex design, development, and financial services projects.
Toptal vs Upwork
There are many Toptal competitors out there and Upwork is the main one. The main Toptal vs Upwork differences are the screening process and the quality of freelancers. If you want to hire the best freelancers whose expertise is vetted within a short time-frame, then chose Toptal. If you have the time to go through the vetting and hiring process to find good freelancers yourself, then chose Upwork.
What payment methods do Toptal accept?
Toptal accepts payments from all major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, Amex), bank wire transfer, and PayPal.
What is Toptal's trial period and money-back guarantee?
Toptal gives clients 14 days to “try out a freelancer”, completely free of cost. Only when you are 100% satisfied with the freelancer, only then the engagement with Toptal begins. If you aren't 100% satisfied with the freelancers you have been introduced to, you are allowed to repeat the trial process with up to 5 more freelancers.
Who owns the intellectual property of work created by freelancers?
The client does. Toptal’s only role is to connect freelance experts with clients. All contracts state that all work created by a Toptal freelancer is the property of the client, not Toptal – not the freelancer.
What is the Toptal tracker?
Toptal tracker (TopTracker) is a free time tracking software. It can be used to effortlessly track progress and reports. Clients/employees can use it to easily track progress from any device, including desktop apps for Windows and Mac.
Toptal Tracker features include:
- Timed screenshots.
- Activity level tracking — of keyboard input and mouse movements.
- Project creation and distribution of employees on a per project basis.
- Privacy control for employees to review or reject screenshots.
- Detailed productivity reports with exporting (csv and pdf) functionality.
- Manual and automatic time entries.
Toptal Review: Summary
Toptal is a fantastic freelance talent marketplace if you want to hire the best freelance talent on the Internet. Their rigorous interview screening process only allows 3% of the applicants through and weeds out all the low-quality applicants.
This more than doubles the chances of finding the perfect expert freelance talent for your projects from the get-go. Unlike other freelance marketplaces such as Upwork, you don’t need to depend on trial and error using their platform.
Although Toptal makes finding great freelancers a walk in the park, the freelancers on the platform cost a lot more than your run of the mill cheap freelancers. If you are just starting out or are on a low on budget, then I don't recommend using Toptal.