How to Make a Website like Upwork or Freelancer

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Ben Sibley

“Follow the plan outlined here and you can create your own website from scratch without writing any code for less than $300.”

Freelancer and Upwork, (now known as Odesk) are popular websites that connect people who have work with people who are looking for work. And those looking will always need a place to interact and meet.

Both Freelancer and Upwork rank in the top 15 sites to use for self-employed users. There is a need for sites that allow interactions between buyers and sellers, and you can create the supply for that demand.

If you want to create a similar website, you may feel intimidated by the amount of work ahead of you. Sites like that can take months to develop from scratch. And without the right tools, you would need to pay someone else experienced in the field.

Don’t put your vision in someone else’s hands.

This essential guide will not only walk you through the creation of a website with WordPress; it will show you how to do it code free. With a few easy steps, you will be able to make your dream site a reality.

Here’s a preview

Freelancer and Odesk are often visited because they have a clean design and are user-friendly.

Your website has the same potential. The customization of fonts, colors, layouts and more is all up to you. Or if you want to keep it simple, stick with the basic design provided. You are the boss in charge here.

Here’s a preview of the site you’ll create following this tutorial:


I’ll share a link in a moment, but first let’s review the process required to make this website.

How much will it cost? You can create the entire site and get it online for less than $200 with the tools shared here.

What You’ll Need

There are just five steps to create your own website like Upwork or Freelancer:

  1. Pick a domain name
  2. Find hosting for your site
  3. Create a website with WordPress
  4. Install & configure a WordPress theme
  5. Launch your site

Let’s look at each step more closely so you can be prepared to create and launch your unique version of a Freelancer or Upwork site.

1. Choose the right domain name

Picking a domain name is the first step in creating a website.

Your domain name, or URL, is what visitors will type into their browser’s address bar to access your site. You’re more likely to have increased traffic with a straightforward, easy-to-remember name.

A good name is also essential because it goes hand in hand with your business’ marketing and branding.

Namecheap logo
Namecheap is a good registrar to consider for your domain.

Finding an available domain name is notoriously hard because squatters will buy up thousands of desirable names just to sell them to you at a markup. Consumers are most comfortable with .com addresses, so before you consider another domain extension, try adding additional terms to the domain name.

For example, you can always add “get” or “try” before your brand name to create a unique and still memorable variation.

2. Choose a host

To have your website available for people to visit, you need a server to host it. The server connects your site to each visitor’s browser.

A reliable hosting company is vital because if you are always having issues, you will lose users. Nexcess is an excellent choice due to its customer service and reliability.

Nexcess has high-speed hosting that’s configured specifically for WordPress sites. They’re affordable and fast enough that you can grow into their hosting plans without having to switch if your site really takes off.

Nexcess also auto-creates your WordPress site for you which will let you skip the next step.

3. Install WordPress

Installing WordPress is pretty simple. If you didn’t take advantage of Nexcess’ automatic site creation, this step-by-step guide walks you through it. It also has more detailed information on domains and servers, so definitely check it out.

Creating a website like Freelancer or Odesk is pretty straightforward as long as you have the right tools, and WordPress is the best option for many reasons.

Here’s why I recommend WordPress over all other site builders.


WordPress has been around for more than a decade and billions of dollars of development have been put into its creation.

The core functionality of WordPress is extremely stable and reliable, and it’s exceedingly rare to encounter bugs with WordPress itself.


You can create anything you can imagine with WordPress without even writing code. Someone out there has already made a theme or plugin for it, and that’s exactly why you can make a site like

There’s also a massive amount of content and support available online in case you have any trouble.


WordPress is an open source project with a mission to democratize publishing. It’s always been free and always will be free.

No coding

Upwork is an extremely complex website. You need to handle two different types of users in the marketplace that have separate profiles and experiences.

No other site builder comes even close to providing the functionality you need. With WordPress, you can do it all and without even writing a single line of code thanks to the pre-made solutions available.

4. Pick a WordPress theme

WordPress themes are used to transform the design of the site. For more complex sites, they’ll often include the functionality you need to.

There’s a variety of options to choose from, but FreelanceEngine is my top recommendation.

FreelanceEngine Projects
Projects list page in FreelanceEngine


FreelanceEngine has it all when it comes to customizable freelance marketplace sites. With a rating of 4.8 stars, they continue to satisfy users with content.

You can allow freelancers to sell any kind of service including:

  • Web design
  • Copywriting
  • Photography
  • Graphic design

Or anything else you can think of.

FreelanceEngine Profile
Freelancer profile page in FreelanceEngine

FreelanceEngine utilizes an escrow system as well as multiple payment platforms.

The escrow system within FreelanceEngine keeps workflow and transactions running smoothly and safely. It allows transparent bidding while securely storing any money involved. Protection for both the buyers and the sellers will show your site is trustworthy.

Having access to PayPal, 2Checkout, and Stripe make things convenient for you and your customers. These options can increase your customer base since many citizens in European countries do not use credit cards the way Americans do.

With the ability to charge fees for job postings, commission fees, and allowing space for ads, FreelanceEngine makes it easy for your website to profit.

FreelanceEngine is available for Desktop and mobile phones. Those options offer a wider audience and keep things manageable for customers.

FreelanceEngine Features

Some other benefits include:

  • Responsive web design for any device – Easy for you to edit and easy for others to use.
  • Analytical insight – Stay on top of what needs improving with your site.
  • Graphs of projects – Easy visuals for everyone involved.
  • Site revenues – You will never wonder where your website stands.
  • Complete marketplace – Project listing and project bidding are just as easy to create.

Try the live demo to experience the potential for your site.

FreelanceEngine offers different packages depending on your site’s needs. The basic package doesn’t seem that basic though. It includes:

  • Unlimited websites
  • Basic child themes
  • Full PSD Package
  • Tutorials and documentation
  • 12 months of free updates
  • 12 months of official support

Adding plugins changes the way your website functions. You’ll start with what’s listed above, but further extensions are always available (some at an additional cost). Whatever your vision is, there is a way to achieve it.

Regarding support, EngineThemes offers email support and they also have a thorough knowledge base including 26 tutorials for using FreelanceEngine.

Alternative themes

If FreelanceEngine seems to be lacking something for you, there are some good alternatives to consider. Designed around the freelance marketplace, themes like Service Finder and WorkScout assist in the style of site desired.

Service Finder

Service Finder is a WordPress theme used for provider and business listings. It’s a bit more like Angie’s list than Freelancer, but it’s an easy option without any paid plugins required. It includes service provider accounts with profile page styles, feedback on bookings, and invoice generation and on-site payments.

Service Finder


WorkScout acts as an all-in-one job board theme through WordPress. It offers a clean design that is fully customizable. Recruiters, employment agencies, and individuals can utilize the site. Further plugins are also available if you are looking to expand. It’s a little bit different than the Upwork-style marketplace, but the role it fills is quite similar.


Launch Your Version of Freelancer or Upwork

The final step is to launch and enjoy your site.

To review, the first step is to find an available domain to register. Then you can signup with a host to get your site online. I recommend you use Nexcess as they will allow you to register the domain for free and automatically create your WordPress site for you.

Once your WordPress site is online, you can install a theme to transform your website into a freelancer marketplace site. For this, I recommend FreelanceEngine.

Creating a customized website isn’t the headache it used to be. Straightforward and simple, soon you will be connecting customers with providers and creating your very own freelance marketplace just like Upwork or

Ben Sibley
Ben Sibley
This article was written by Ben Sibley. He is a WordPress theme designer & developer, and founder of Compete Themes.