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Upwork Review 2021: Is Freelancing at Upwork Worth It? (Pros & Cons)

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Upwork Review

Upwork logo

Upwork is the largest American freelancing platform that connects businesses to professional freelancers so they can reach their project goals. It gives you as a freelancer an opportunity to run your freelancing business while screening your own clients and projects.

Experience

Service Fees

Earning Potential

Payout Process

Pros

  • Enables you to work from anywhere in the world
  • Upwork ensures you get paid for the work you’ve done
  • Career growth opportunity – the more projects you complete the more opportunities you’ll get
  • You get to set your own rates

Cons

  • You need to pay from $0.15 for Connects to apply for jobs
  • Your funds are on hold for 5 days even after your work is approved

Best Job Search Websites

FlexJobs

FlexJobs logo

FlexJobs has a rich database of jobs available for every field

It’s particularly easy to sort and find jobs that are most suited for you

FlexJobs guarantees that all its jobs are 100% scam-free

ZipRecruiter

ZipRecruiter logo

Real salary data from the 7.5 million jobs posted every day

There are no sign-up or other fees associated

Get access to millions of job postings, including remote opportunities

Fiverr

Fiverr logo

You’re selling a service at the price you set and not your time

Fiverr allows you to remain anonymous

You can increase your Fiverr earnings by offering your clients upsells

What is Upwork & How Does it Work?


Upwork is the largest American freelancing platform that connects businesses to professional freelancers so they can reach their project goals.

There are over 18 million registered freelancers and 5 million registered clients on Upwork. 3 million jobs worth over $1 billion makes Upwork the largest freelancing platform not only in the United States, but in the world.

Upwork gives you as a freelancer an opportunity to run your freelancing business, while screening your own clients and projects. 

Plus, it gives you a great opportunity to be flexible with your work schedule as well as with your location.

Upwork Requirements for Freelancers

  • Be 18 years or older
  • Have an access to a computer/laptop you can work on 
  • Have a reliable internet connection

There are not so many requirements to start freelancing on Upwork. However, your profile may still not get approved even if you meet all the requirements. Upwork typically rejects new applications when there are too many freelancers with the same skill set as yours.

How Much Can You Earn with Upwork?


The amount you can earn with Upwork completely depends on you and your level of experience. You’re the one setting the prices for your services and the more experienced you are the more you can charge the client.

Here’s the estimated hourly rates for different niches:

FieldAverage Hourly Rate
Administrative$11
Quality Assurance$14
Customer Support$15
Content Writing$16
Web & Graphic Design$19
Translation$22
IT$23
Programming$25
Finance$26
Marketing$26
Multimedia Production$26
Sales$27
Project Management$34
Source: Payoneer

Note that these numbers are just estimates and may not reflect your reality. If you’re a beginner, you might even want to charge less than the average and increase it gradually.

You’ll also be able to find experienced freelancers charging much more than the estimated hourly rates above.

Is Upwork Safe & Legit?


Yes, Upwork is a completely legitimate freelancing platform that ensures safe and guaranteed payments for you.

Upwork has a rating of 4.5 out of 5-star rating on Trustpilot and an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau.

Upwork Fees


Connects

“Connect” is an Upwork currency that you need to pay in order to apply to jobs. Typically submitting your proposal to jobs will cost you anywhere from 1 to 6 Connects.

While Upwork gifts you 10 Connects each month, it may not be enough for you to get your first few projects.

But you can purchase additional Connects any time and 10 Connects will cost you $1.5, 20 Connects – $3 and so on.

Upwork Commission

For every job you get through Upwork, the platform charges you a commission fee of 20%. 

However, this fee minimizes if you work with the client for the long term. You’ll be charged a commission fee of 10% after the first $500 you’ve earned through one client. And you’ll only need to pay a 5% commission fee when you earn more than $10,000 with the same client.

Transaction Fee

You’re charged a transaction fee when you withdraw your Upwork earnings. Here’s how transaction fees work:

  1. Direct Deposit to U.S. Bank – free
  2. PayPal – $1/transaction
  3. Payoneer – $1/transaction
  4. Wire Transfer to any Bank – $30/wire

Upwork Membership Plans


Basic Membership

Upwork Basic plan is a free membership that includes:

  • 10 Connects per month
  • Buy as many Connects as you need for $0.15 each
  • Unused Connects rollover up to 200
  • Hourly protection ensuring you’re paid for each hour worked
  • Milestones secure your fixed-price payments
  • Limited reports and functionality

Plus Membership

You can upgrade to an Upwork Plus membership and leverage additional Upwork features for a monthly fee of $14.99.

Here’s the additional features included in Upwork Plus membership:

  • 80 Connects per month
  • Your profile will never be set to hidden due to inactivity
  • Keep your earnings confidential
  • View competitor bids for any job
  • Customize your profile URL
  • Extended reports and functionality, including grouping and sorting

How to Start Freelancing at Upwork?


Step 1 – Set Up Your Professional Profile

First of all, you need to sign up to Upwork and create your freelancing profile. 

After you create an account, you’ll be prompted to set up your professional profile, which is the key to success. So make sure you fill out all the required information, provide a descriptive bio where you showcase your experience and how you can benefit potential clients.

Also, don’t forget to upload your portfolio (if you have any) as many clients make decisions based on your recent work samples.

Step 2 – Connect with Legitimate Clients

Once your profile is set up and approved, it’s time to start thinking about getting jobs. There are 2 ways of claiming relevant jobs to your skills and experience – applying to jobs and listing your projects

Apply to relevant jobs

Simply log into your Upwork account and you’ll see a job feed, which features the jobs that are relevant to your skills and experience. However, you can search for more specific jobs using the search bar.

As you gain proven experience and a work track record on Upwork, you’ll start receiving invites from clients to apply to their jobs as well. Clients usually invite freelancers to apply to their jobs who they think might be the best candidate for their projects. 

That’s why it’s important to fill up and optimize every part of your freelancer profile, including your bio and portfolio.

While looking for the jobs, you’ll find that there are 2 types of contracts:

Fixed-price contract – you negotiate with the potential client to do the job for the fixed price. 

Upwork charges the client before you even start working on the project and keeps your money in escrow before you submit your work. And once you finish your job, the client will review it and if everything’s fine, he’ll approve your work or request revision. 

Rarely, there are cases when clients get unresponsive for over a week after you submit your work. This is where Upwork comes into play and releases funds from the escrow to your account automatically.

Hourly contracts – some clients may prefer paying you based on how many hours you spend while working on their projects. 

And to ensure that the hourly contract is fair for you and your client alike, Upwork offers a time tracker app for desktop devices. You just need to activate the app when you start working on a particular project and it will automatically track your time, activity and take screenshots of your screen. 

Clients with hourly contracts will be charged the amount you’ve worked at the end of each week, without them having to approve your work.

Create your projects

Upwork has recently released a new feature – the project marketplace. This feature allows you to list projects you’re offering to clients so they can purchase them directly, without a back and forth interview process.

For example, if you’re a graphic designer, you could list several projects on the marketplace. 1 – logo design, 2 – social media images, etc. Clients who need a logo for their business will take a look at your offer and if your portfolio, bio and pricing match their expectations, they will purchase the service directly. 

Step 3 – Deliver Excellent Projects

Once you’ve claimed the project, all you need to do is follow client requirements and deliver the job within the deadline. Make sure you continuously deliver excellent quality as it’s the foundation to positive client reviews and ultimately your successful Upwork career.

Step 4 – Get Paid

Whether you’re working with a fixed-price or an hourly contract, your money will stay in ‘Pending Mode’ for 5 days after your work is approved. After 5 days, your funds will be available for you to withdraw to your PayPal, Payoneer or bank account at any time.

Step 5 – Ask for Reviews

Reviews are the key to your freelancing success.

When potential clients look at your profile, they definitely pay attention to the reviews your previous clients have left. So always make sure you deliver the quality job and ask your clients to leave you public feedback when they close the project.

Upwork Pros & Cons


Pros

  • Enables you to work from anywhere 
  • The hiring process is typically quick
  • Upwork ensures you get paid for the work you’ve done
  • Career growth opportunity – the more projects you complete the more opportunities you’ll get 

Cons

  • You need to pay for Connects to apply for jobs
  • Your funds are on hold for 5 days even after your work is approved

Upwork Alternatives


Upwork vs. Fiverr

Fiverr Summary

  • You’re selling a service at the price you set and not your time
  • Remain anonymous – Fiverr allows you to remain anonymous and don’t reveal any personal or contact information of yours
  • Upsell opportunities. You can increase your Fiverr earnings by offering your clients upsells. E.g. you can offer less delivery time for additional payment
  • Seller protection. Fiverr ensures your and your funds’ security on the platform and helps you resolve the case with fraudulent clients

Fiverr is the largest freelancing marketplace and differs from Upwork by the way it works. Freelancers on Fiverr list their services on the marketplace so that clients can purchase them directly, without a back and forth interview process. However, Upwork has recently added a marketplace feature on their platform, so you can list your services on Upwork as well.

Upwork vs. Freelancer.com

Freelancer.com is another alternative to Upwork where you can find freelance jobs to apply for. However, Freelancer.com is known to be cluttered while Upwork is more professional and has a higher overall hiring rate.

Upwork vs. PeoplePerHour

Just like Upwork, PeoplePerHour is one of the largest freelancing platforms. But as the name suggests, jobs on this platform are based on hourly contracts, meaning you’re selling your time, rather than your services. Unlike PeoplePerHour, Upwork allows you to choose whether you want to sell your time or you prefer to work with a fixed-price contract and sell your service.

Is Freelancing on Upwork Worth It?


Paying for applying to jobs might sound like the biggest disadvantage of giving Upwork a try. But I’d suggest you only apply to jobs that match your skills the most. This way you’ll not only be able to claim that job, but also use your Connects only to jobs that really have the potential to turn into an active contract.

Overall, Upwork is a great freelancing platform that needs your commitment. Many freelancers report that it’s challenging to get the first few projects on Upwork, however, as you collect some 5-star reviews, you should notice a significant growth in your freelancing career.

Upwork

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