If you’ve been looking for ways to make money independent of a traditional 9 to 5 job, you may have come across the concept of freelancing. Freelancing isn’t a new way of making money, but it’s growing in interest, and Upwork proves that.
In previous times, doctors, lawyers, and accountants were known for establishing a freelance-style business structure. Now, the same business structure is also accomodating careers of all types: graphic designers, web designers, web developers, and the list goes on. Freelancing is one of my favorite ways to make money online.
You can sell a service you’re good at to people who need it, and get paid well doing that. Obviously, there’s more to freelancing than simply selling your services in order to be successful. In fact, the most successful freelancers run it as a business, and Upwork can help with that.
I’m personally a big fan of Upwork because it was one of the ways I began making a full-time income from home while homeschooling my son, and even after having a baby! It is flexible, a positive challenge, and it’s grown me alot!
In this review, I will tell you:
- What Upwork is
- How Upwork works for buyers and sellers
- How much money you can make
- How other people are getting success on Upwork
- Common complaints and feedback from buyers and sellers
- I’ll summarize all other reviews I’ve found across the internet
- and help you decide whether Upwork is a good fit for you
Sound good? If so, let’s get started…
- 1 What is Upwork? An Overview
- 2 How Does Upwork Work?
- 3 How Much Money Can You Make on Upwork?
- 4 When and How Does Upwork Pay?
- 5 The Good & the Bad
- 6 Who is Upwork For?
- 7 Upwork Tools & Training
- 8 Upwork Support
- 9 What Are Common Complaints About Upwork?
- 10 What Are Common Positive Feedback About Upwork?
- 11 What’s The BBB Saying About Upwork?
- 12 Upwork Price
- 13 My Final Opinion of Upwork
- 14 VERDICT: Recommend
- 15 Want To Make Real Money as a Freelancer?
- 16 Upwork
- 17 Pros
- 18 Cons
What is Upwork? An Overview
Upwork is one of the many Silicon Valley success stories. Upwork started with two friends, one US-based and one in Athens, Greece, who wanted to reframe the concept of remote work. With the rise in internet use, there’s no longer the requirement to hire people locally for some positions, and remote work offers alot of flexibility that many people crave.
The two friends sought out to build a platform that would enable remote workers and companies that need them to connect and collaborate. Upwork offers an intermediary platform that mitigates some of the risk associated with remote work with their time-tracking software that enables screen-recording and by serving as a thrid party facilitator of payment.
Now, over a decade after the business was founded, Upwork has become the largest global freelance platform. Millions of listings are posted on Upwork annually and freelancers provide companies more than 5,000 different skills across 70 categories of work.
Companies go to Upwork to acquire talented professionals in categories like:
- and many other professions
How Does Upwork Work?
Upwork is a digital marketplace where companies can post their requests for proposals, and freelancers can respond to acquire work. Unlike freelance marketplaces like Fiverr, on Upwork, the buyer initiates the transaction by posting a job description.
For the Buyer
1. Create an Account
As a buyer, you’d sign up and create an Upwork account. It’s fairly simple.
Then, you’d create a buyer profile. On your profile, freelancers will be able to rate their experiences working with you, and you’ll be able to rate them on their profiles. Your ratings will help other freelancers to understand what you were like to work with.
2. Post a Job
After your account is created, you can post a job. There are job templates you can use to specify the type of support you’re looking for. You want to make sure you’re clear about the type of help you need, so people with the right skills, values, and beliefs can respond and maintain cohesion in your company.
3. Respond to Proposals
For most jobs I’ve posted on Upwork, I’ll have proposals within less than one day! You can specify a country or location you want to hire from, and that could lower the chances of such a quick response, but the Upwork marketplace is very large. It’s likely you will find the remote skills you’re looking for.
To respond to the proposals, you have to go to your postings and compare the proposals you’ve recieved. Upwork will disclose:
- A performance score based on their previously completed work
- Any skills test they’ve done on Upwork and how they rank in comparison to other skilled freelancers
- What country their located in
- How much they’ve earned on Upwork (if the freelancer chooses to share this)
- and, their Hourly Rate
Once people have responded, your posting may look something like this…
Upwork will categorize “best matches” and flag the profiles they believe match your criteria the best. You can accept the recommendations, and sort the proposals using the “thumb up” or “thumb down”. You can respond to the freelancers with questions. You can do preliminary testing, but you want to be careful. There are very skilled freelancers on the platform and you want to respect their time. They don’t want to be scammed or asked for lots of work prior to being accepted for the job just like you don’t want them to waste your time responding to your proposal, and not following thru.
Every company is different and inerviews differently. I’ve had companies hire me without ever meeting. They’ve looked at my portfolio and proposal and hire me on the spot. I’ve also had others who ask for several interviews and seem phishy. You want to remember when you’re hiring freelancers, you’re not hiring employees. These people own their own businesses and are being hired for specified tasks. You want enough information to trust they can perform the work, and it’s worthwhile to hire them. Their portfolio and presentation should sufficiently build trust, authority, and credibility by highlighting their relevant background and experience that correlates with your project.
After you’ve confidently chosen a freelancer, you want to agree on the payment terms and the scope of the project. Some important things to discuss are:
- How often you pay – Payment in Upwork is either done on fixed rate terms or hourly terms
- How much you pay – Will you be paying for the project in fixed rate terms or will they be time-tracking and reporting their time to you?
- What are milestone
- How many revisions?
- What are the deadlines?
All of these things should be included in the terms of the contract. Once you’ve discussed these things, you can hire the freelancer by creating an offer.
6. Create an Offer
After deciding on who to hire, you want to create an offer that will be sent to the freelancer thru Upwork. The offer would say how much you’ll pay (hourly or fixed rate), whether you allow manual time tracking or not, what’s the deadline, and the scope of the project. Once you create your offer, the freelancer will be able to accept or deny the offer. If they’ve accepted the offer, you’d want to begin work.
7. Cover Legal and Give Full Project Details
If you’re passing intellectual property in the project (which is common), then you’ll want to have nondisclosure agreements signed or other documents that protect your company and the freelancer. There are cases reported where people have confused who has IP rights, whether or not the finished project can be used in commercial settings, and projects that were supposed to be private being disclosed for portfolio reasons or otherwise. You want to make sure legal issues are covered, then disclose the full project details afterwards. For remote legal assistance, nondisclosure agreements, noncompete agreements, and so on, you should check out Rocket Lawyer.
For the Seller
As a seller, the process on Upwork is quite different.
1. Create a Seller Account
You create your account similar to how you would as a buyer.
2. Create a Profile that can be used to sell your services to Prospects
After your account is created, you want to think about the potential buyer of your services. What would build their trust to make them confident in hiring you? What relevant skills would you need to prove that you have? What past experience can you display to demonstrate your skill level relevant to your services?
Then, you want to create a profile. Upwork enables you to display quite a bit of information on your profile because it serves as a sales page for you and your prospects. Potential clients should be able to go to your profile, scan it, and see how you’d add value to their company based on your written listing, your portfolio, and your passed tests.
When creating your profile, you may want to scan the profiles of others who are successful in your niche to see their profiles. Once you’ve seen the profiles of successful freelancers, you want to remember elements that added credibility, authority, and trust, and emulate their portfolios, but make it your own.
Upwork has 303 skill level tests on various areas. I’ve personally taken quite a few tests. They help potential customers to feel more confident that you possess the skills. Potential customers can see how your performance compares with others on the marketplace because Upwork gives a score and shows “Top 10%” and other similar percentage rankings.
3. Begin Submitting Proposals
After your profile is set up, you want to begin submitting proposals to relevant job listings.
As a freelancer, you can choose which categories you’ll look for work within, and you can use the search bar to find work that uses the skills you have. Sometimes, those who put up the listings may not categorize the work accurately. For example, my area of expertise (marketing) is commonly misunderstood. Those who are hiring may list a job as a virtual assistant without realizing the amount of knowledge required to perform well on advertising, social media management, marketing strategy, content marketing, or SEO.
Once I find a listing that’s relevant to my skills and skill level, I read it, and submit a proposal. A proposalon Upwork is unlike a proposal in the offline world. Upwork proposals are:
- Concise (often times less than 1000 words)
- They spark curiosity
- They make recipients feel confident you can perform the work
- They demonstrate your willingness and consideration of their constraints (deadline, legal guidelines, standard, etc.)
- and, they mention how you can be accessed throughout the project
4. Respond to Interview Requests and Offers
When a prospect responds to your proposal, you’ll recieve messages in your Upwork inbox. Prior to them initiating contact, you won’t be able to make contact with potential clients unless they disclose contact information in the listing, When you recieve a follow up email, it’s a good sign. In the scope of a sales cycle, the lead is warmer if they’ve initiated contact in comparison to a person that simply placed a job posting.
You want to coordinate with the person, but stay focused on presenting why you’re the person to hire for the project, and don’t get sidetracked too much. There are scammers on Upwork who post listings and waste your time trying to get free services, trying to get you to perform unethical tasks, or who try to do other shady deals. Be careful.
When you’re at the point of sale, you want to negotiate terms that will enable you to:
- Buy/maintain the tools and software you’ll need for the project
- Be paid for the time you spend coordinating, brainstorming, and performing work
- and get Profit that you can use towards continuing to offer your service to others
Once you have a price in mind, negotiate for the price and make sure your opinion is represented in the offer.
5. Set Legal Parameters
Once you’ve accepted an offer, it’s time to get to work. The client may give you legal forms to fill out, and you may have legal forms for the client. Some common legal forms you may fill out or want the client to fill out includes:
- Nondisclosure agreements
- Noncompete agreements
- Confidentiality agreements or other agreements that make it clear how the outcome of the project will be used and how you’d like to be compensated as a component
If you’re uncertain about any of the legal forms, you want to seek consultation. I recommend checking out Rocket Lawyer for legal consultation.
6. Perform Your Best Work
With the legal parameters out of the way, it’s time to get to work. You want to deliver your best work everytime, so you can build a good reputation as a very helpful, courteous, and skilled professional.
How Much Money Can You Make on Upwork?
Your pay on Upwork can vary quite a bit. Some skills are a higher value in the market than others, and there’s quite a variance in the quality of projects and clients.
Upwork is like the Walmart of remote work. There’s lots of opportunities and personality types to filter thru.
Being that Upwork enables anyone to post a job, and various skill levels and types to sell on the platform, there’s a wide range of possibility for how much you can be paid. Some people will want to pay next to nothing and search Upwork for ways to get cheap labor, and the other minority wants expertise and is willing to pay to acquire it.
When you’re filtering, you have to be very clear about what you’re looking for, and you have to be efficient in your sales process to qualify clients and proceed with the sale; rather than having prolonged sales funnels that make your sales cycle take longer than it should.
Overall, you make money by responding to requests for proposals, getting offers accepted, and delivering high quality work. There are quite a few varying stories of people making money on Upwork. Some people claim they make:
You want to be mindful that unless you have long-term clients, freelancework requires you to continually search for new clients, submit proposals, perform work, and repeat the process. Some months may be good and other months may not be. Not until you build systems and treat freelancing like a business will you stabilize the ebbs and flows.
When and How Does Upwork Pay?
Upwork pays weekly. If you use the Upwork desktop app then you get additional payment protection from Upwork that you don’t get when you log manual time or when you have fixed rate contracts. When you’ve logged your time on your Work diary, the payment period closes on Monday, and you can be paid on the Wednesday one week after the payment period has closed.
The Good & the Bad
- PRO #1: There are good and legitimate opportunities posted on Upwork
- PRO #2: You can acquire good leads for your services
- PRO #3: It’s a good way to build a reputation and get experience
- CON #1: You have to spend time filtering thru lots of job listings: some legit, some low-ball offers, and some scams
- CON #2: There’s lots of competition, and people willing to work for less than minimum wage
- CON#3: Some people hire you and don’t pay, so you want to use the payment protection of Upwork and screen clients carefully
- CON#4: It’s an inconsistent flow of leads that you may not be able to control. Unlike building your own lead generation system, depending solely on Upwork can leave you with great months and periods where you don’t find suitable projects.
Who is Upwork For?
Upwork is perfect for:
- Entrepreneurs who offer services and are looking for an additional traffic channel
- Someone whose starting out in a profession and wants more experience under their belt
- Someone who wants to try freelance life
Upwork Tools & Training
If you’d like additional training on how to be successful as a freelancer, I’d recommend checking out Udemy. They have lots of classes that can help you build skills people buy on Upwork, they also have instructors who have been successful on Upwork and share their experiences, and they have general classes on freelancing that can help you understand and operate the business model. Check out freelance classes on Udemy HERE!
Upwork provides quite a bit of support to sellers and buyers. They have phone support, chat, email, and live events. They help mitigate conflicts between buyers and sellers, they have account managers to help you find suitable freelancers and who help freelancers to find suitable work, and if you have questions, you can contact Upwork.
What Are Common Complaints About Upwork?
Like all global companies who serve millions of people, there will be lots of different scenarios. With Upwork, there are complaints about specific freelancers or buyers, there are people who dislike remote work or hiring remote workers, and there are people who feel the technology or support at Upwork should improve. After reading several responses to complaints from Upwork, it’s clear that they’re trying to offer the best experience and improve what they currently offer as much as they can.
What Are Common Positive Feedback About Upwork?
When reading reviews and watching videos about the experiences people are having with Upwork, I heard many positive experiences. Many people enjoyed the remote working opportunities they’d acquired from Upwork, they made money online, they had flexible working environments, and they got paid when they expected to.
What’s The BBB Saying About Upwork?
While the BBB shows an A+ rating for Upwork, it also shows a 1 1/2 star average customer review. The customer complaints there were mostly subjective experiences with freelancers.
Upwork is a free platform to get started.
As a buyer, you’re not required to pay to post listings, but if you want Upwork to choose who to hire for you, they have a pro and an Enterprise plan. Pro plans are $500 per search and Upwork will help with hiring and Enterprise isn’t publicly disclosed.
Sellers incur the fees on Upwork. A 2.75% processing fee is incurred by the freelancer for each payment transaction. Added to the processing fee, there is a tiered fees structure for each contract you acquire thru upwork, and there are membership plans you can subscribe for.
If you’re relying on Upwork as a sole source of leads, you’ll probably need to upgrade to the Plus plan to consistently put in the amount of proposals you’d need to. The Plus plan also gives you more market intelligence: the # of proposals already submitted, competitor bids, and so on.
My Final Opinion of Upwork
Overall, Upwork is a very good platform for freelancers. You can find good opportunities there if you’re patient and persistent. I’ve found great work there and made many new client relationships, but I’ve also had many clients I’ve had to filter out.
Want To Make Real Money as a Freelancer?
If you want to make real money as a freelancer, you should definitely run it like a business. Rather than simply being a skilled technician, you have to be a skilled inventor of a money making maching (a business). My free 10-Step Guide can help you build the business systems you’ll need to be really successful as a freelancer. CHECK OUT MY FREE 10-STEP GUIDE NOW and begin making more money online as a freelancer!
Ease of Use9.0/10
Opportunity for Good Pay7.5/10
- There are good and legitimate opportunities posted on Upwork
- You can acquire good leads for your services
- It's a good way to build a reputation and get experience
- You have to spend time filtering thru lots of job listings: some legit, some low-ball offers, and some scams
- There's lots of competition, and people willing to work for less than minimum wage
- Some people hire you and don't pay, so you want to use the payment protection of Upwork and screen clients carefully
- It's an inconsistent flow of leads that you may not be able to control. Unlike building your own lead generation system, depending solely on Upwork can leave you with great months and periods where you don't find suitable projects.