Sourcing quality art – vs. Fiverr vs. Upwork

A children’s book without illustrations is like a bird without wings – it won’t fly. Children love all sorts of illustrations and so many styles can work, but quality art that lights up their imagination (and engages the parents…) is an important part of what’ll make a children’s book work. I know that’s the case for me and other parents I know, and it’s pretty clear from spending a few minutes in the kid’s section of a book store that we won’t get very far without quality illustrations. I don’t draw, and I don’t have someone close to me who can provide all the illustrations I want. Not to mention I want to have¬†different¬†styles in my books, because I just find that to be more engaging. So in come the freelancers…

There are numerous websites available today where you can find great freelancers, and they are crowded with excellent illustrators. This post covers the top options at a high level, with separate posts going in depth on some of the mechanics of the sites I use the most.

FREELANCER opened shop in 2009 and today is one of the largest sources of online freelancers in the world today, boasting over 29 million designers, developers, illustrators, writes, and more. It’s very easy to set up and get started, lets you post projects nearly instantly, and has a simple user interface which is a bit buggy at times but mostly very functional.

For more details on setting things up, discovering artists, how payments work, and more, check how this in-depth review of


Fiverr is one of the newer kids on the block, having started its operations in 2010 where the original idea was to let freelancers post gigs they would do for $5. Yep, 5 bucks! Don’t get too excited – you probably won’t get the illustrations you want for a mere $5, but you can certainly find some impressive deals on the website.

It has a more modern user experience than, a more fully functional app, and generally feels a bit more refined and well established. That said it does seem a bit less flexible than Projects need to be approved before they are posted and you can gather bids, and it’s more geared towards paying for existing gigs rather than building your own custom project from scratch.

With that said, there are some incredible gigs posted on Fiverr and it’s worth checking out.


Two of the earliest online freelancer communities (Elance which started in 1999 and oDesk which started in 2003) were merged in 2013 to create Elance-oDesk, which clearly must have competed for “least appealing brand name of 2013”. In 2015 the company rebranded to Upwork and is now one of the juggernauts of the online freelancer industry.

My experience with Upwork, unfortunately, is very limited as it abruptly ended when Upwork rejected my project proposal and banned my account (for reasons that are still unknown to me). You can read all about that experience here.



Website Scale Client fees 21 million freelancers 3% transaction fee
Fiverr Unknown $1 for jobs under $20
5% fee for jobs >$20
Upwork 14 million freelancers 2.75% transaction fee
(or $25/mo flat rate)
Guru 3 million freelancers 2.5% invoice fee

* Source:



The freelancer websites mentioned above all have their pros and cons, and you are probably going to be able to find good talent on any one of these platforms. Personally I’ve used the most and also find the value in Fiverr, but your situation may be different. Start by spending some time looking through listings on each website in order to decide where you want to go. It’s very easy to get started on these and for the most part won’t cost you anything, so dive in and experiment until you find what you like.

There are plenty of other websites out there where users can find freelancers, including Guru, PeoplePerHour, and Giggrabbers. Have you found one you think is particularly helpful when it comes to sourcing art for your books? If so, please point it out in the comments section and I will take a look and do a review.