Upwork for Freelancers in 2024: the Good and the Bad

Author: Veruska Anconitano, freelancing since 2001Author information
About the author
Veruska Anconitano
Veruska is an experienced Multilingual SEO and Localization Manager and Consultant who has been freelancing for over two decades, making her well-versed in the field. Along with being a renowned journalist, she is also recognized for her contributions and has received numerous accolades. In addition to being an enthusiast of outdoor activities and food travel, Veruska co-owns several websites that cater to a global audience.
Website Linkedin

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small commission at no cost for you, if you purchase through these links.

The growth and evolution of the gig economy in the latest years have inevitably led to Upwork’s significant impact on the freelancing landscape. Upwork, one of the largest freelance services and projects marketplaces, connects businesses with independent contractors worldwide. Its user-friendly platform, comprehensive payment solutions, and vast network of qualified professionals make it an attractive choice for entrepreneurs seeking to outsource their work and freelancers searching for gigs. However, there are also potential downsides to consider. In this article, I’ll delve into everything you need to know about Upwork, from leveraging its advantages to avoiding potential drawbacks so that you can maximize your opportunities as a freelancer in 2024. Drawing on my own experience, I am here to offer honest advice on how to optimize your performance on Upwork. In addition to sharing strategies for success, I will highlight potential challenges you may encounter while using the platform and provide guidance on setting rates that are appropriate for your business. By leveraging my experience and insights, I aim to equip you with the knowledge and tools necessary to succeed on Upwork as a freelancer.

What is Upwork, and what’s its role in the freelancing space?

Upwork is a leading global freelancing platform that provides a reliable and user-friendly environment for businesses and freelancers to connect and collaborate. It offers an extensive range of services that enable freelancers to find suitable job opportunities while giving businesses the flexibility and cost savings that come with hiring freelancers. As one of the most popular marketplaces in the freelancing space since 2015, Upwork has established itself as a go-to resource for clients and freelancers seeking work opportunities.

Upwork’s platform allows freelancers to showcase their skills and expertise through their profiles, portfolio, and client feedback. This system helps to ensure that businesses can find the right freelancer for their project. The platform also provides various tools and features to help freelancers manage their workload, communicate with clients, and receive payments.

For businesses, Upwork offers a hassle-free process for outsourcing projects, saving time and money. The platform provides access to a vast pool of freelancers with diverse backgrounds and experience, allowing businesses to find the perfect match for their projects. Upwork’s payment system is also convenient and secure, ensuring businesses can pay freelancers promptly and without issues.

Upwork has become a useful tool for freelancers and businesses, offering a reliable and efficient means for finding work opportunities and collaborating on projects. With its easy-to-use platform, comprehensive payment solutions, and diverse pool of qualified professionals, Upwork has cemented its position as one of the leading freelancing platforms in the world.

upwork for freelancers

What are Upwork’s pros for freelancers?

Working globally, Upwork comes with a few interesting benefits for freelancers. With its low fees, Upwork allows freelancers to retain a higher percentage of their earnings, which can be reinvested into their businesses. Upwork also allows freelancers to work with clients from different parts of the world, and with the right skills, this opens up new avenues for diversifying their portfolio and gaining valuable experience working in various industries and with different types of clients.

Upwork’s user-friendly platform makes it easy for freelancers to find job opportunities that match their skills and interests. The platform is designed to help freelancers navigate the job market efficiently and communicate with clients seamlessly. With these benefits, Upwork has become a go-to resource for freelancers looking to expand their careers and take on new challenges.

To summarize some of the advantages that Upwork offers to freelancers:

  • Access to a large pool of clients: Upwork connects freelancers with businesses worldwide, providing access to a vast pool of potential clients. This makes it easier for freelancers to find new work opportunities and expand their client base;
  • Flexibility: Upwork allows freelancers to work on projects that suit their skills, experience, and schedule. This allows you to balance your workload and personal life better;
  • Diverse work opportunities: With thousands of job postings added to Upwork every day, and freelancers have access to a wide range of work opportunities across various industries and skill levels;
  • Efficient payment system: Upwork’s payment system is convenient and reliable, allowing freelancers to receive payments promptly and securely (as long as they follow the rules);
  • Easy-to-use platform: Upwork’s platform is user-friendly, making it easy for freelancers to create profiles, search for job opportunities, and communicate with clients;
  • Opportunity for growth: Upwork allows freelancers to build their portfolios, expand their skill sets, and gain exposure to new clients and industries. Also, many big brands use Upwork to find contractors and freelancers, and you may end up working with some of the biggest names on this planet.

Freelancing on upwork

What are Upwork’s cons for freelancers?

Being a recognized and used platform, Upwork has some cons for freelancers that cannot be ignored and can make or break your experience with the website and its offer.

In fact, as the freelance market continues to expand, the competition among freelancers on Upwork is expected to increase. Irrespective of whether you’re a writer, designer, or web developer, it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish yourself and win jobs against a growing pool of individuals. Furthermore, Upwork’s inability to filter clients can make it challenging for freelancers to identify which clients are the right match for their services, leading to wasted time on projects that may not produce the desired outcome.

On top of this, there’s the question of the fees: a lot of companies land on Upwork to find skilled professionals that agree to be paid peanuts. And a lot of freelancers start charging peanuts to get jobs. There is no control over the quality control so that you may be the most qualified person for that specific job, but someone with less experience and lower fees can be hired because they’re cheaper than you.

Note: I explain this later, but do not be tempted to reduce your fees to have a chance to find a match. Your fees are representative of who you are and your skills, and trust me, there are a lot of great companies scouting great candidates on Upwork and also willing to pay higher and fair fees to receive a professional service.

To summarize the potential drawbacks that freelancers may experience when using Upwork:

  • Increased competition: As the number of freelancers on Upwork grows, so does the competition for jobs, making it more challenging to stand out and win projects.
  • Difficulty in filtering clients: Upwork’s platform does not filter clients, making it challenging for freelancers to identify which clients match their skills and expertise. This can lead to wasted time on projects that may not yield the desired outcome.
  • Lower rates due to high competition: With a growing number of freelancers on Upwork, clients may offer lower job rates, making it more difficult for freelancers to earn a fair income.
  • Upwork fees: Upwork charges fees for freelancers, which can reduce their earnings. Moreover, the fees may increase for high-paying projects, making it more challenging for freelancers to earn a fair income.
  • Lack of quality control: Upwork’s platform lacks quality control, making it difficult for freelancers to ensure payment for their hard work. This can result in disputes with clients and wasted time and effort.

How to get the most out of Upwork?

Based on the above, it’s clear that to capitalize on Upwork fully, it is necessary to take a strategic approach and adhere to best practices. Here are some tips to help freelancers optimize their use of Upwork and achieve success on the platform.

  • Create a complete profile: A profile with a professional profile photo, portfolio, and client feedback can help freelancers stand out and increase their chances of getting hired.
  • Bid strategically: you should bid on projects that align with your skills and experience, ensuring you match the job requirements. You should also take the time to personalize your bids and demonstrate how your skills can benefit the client. This will allow you to connect with brands interested in your profile, regardless of your rate (hence, you can have a higher rate!)
  • Set competitive rates: you should set their rates taking into account your skills and experience. Do not just lower your rates, or you will end up with meaningless projects and a desire to leave the platform as soon as possible. Instead, understand what you want to get from the platform and what’s your goal: many Upworkers landed high-paying projects because their rate, despite higher than others, was a perfect match with their skills and expertise! Setting the right rates can help freelancers win projects and build their reputation on the platform.
  • Deliver quality work: The quality of work delivered is essential to building a solid reputation on Upwork. You should always ensure high-quality work meets the client’s expectations and requirements.
  • Leave feedback: feedbacks are essential to stand out on Upwork. Ensure you always leave your clients feedback and ask them to do the same.

How to create an outstanding profile on Upwork?

Creating an outstanding profile on Upwork is essential for freelancers to stand out from the competition and attract clients. Here are some tips for creating a profile that showcases your skills, experience, and professionalism:

  1. Use a professional profile picture: a professional profile picture helps clients to see the face behind the profile and builds trust. Choose a image lazy photo that shows you in a professional setting and dress appropriately.
  2. Write a clear and concise headline: Your headline should summarize your skills and experience in a few words. It should be attention-grabbing and communicate what makes you unique.
  3. Write an engaging overview: Your overview should briefly summarize your skills, experience, and accomplishments. It should be written to showcase your personality and communicate your value proposition to clients.
  4. Highlight your skills and expertise: Use your skills section to showcase your areas of expertise and proficiency. Be specific and list the tools, software, and technologies you are skilled in.
  5. Add relevant work experience: Highlight your relevant experience and provide examples of projects you have completed that demonstrate your skills and expertise.
  6. Showcase your portfolio: If applicable, showcase your portfolio of work samples to demonstrate your skills and experience.
  7. Collect and display positive feedback: Collect positive feedback from clients and display it on your profile. Positive feedback builds trust and demonstrates your ability to deliver high-quality work.

How to get paid on Upwork?

One of the most significant concerns for freelancers using Upwork is ensuring they are paid fairly and avoiding payment disputes with clients. While Upwork provides a secure and reliable payment system, you must always take proactive steps to ensure you are paid on time and avoid payment issues.

To ensure that they are paid fairly for their work on Upwork and avoid payment disputes with clients, you can take the following steps:

  • Agree on payment terms upfront: Before starting a project, freelancers should discuss payment terms with the client and agree on the amount, payment schedule, and payment method. This ensures that both parties are on the same page regarding payment expectations.
  • Use Upwork’s payment system: Freelancers should use Upwork’s payment system to ensure they are paid and on time. Upwork’s payment system protects freelancers and clients and helps avoid payment disputes.
  • Set payment milestones: Freelancers should set payment milestones for their projects, where payment is released after certain milestones are achieved. This helps ensure that freelancers are paid for the work they have completed.
  • Be proactive in addressing payment issues: If there is an issue with payment, freelancers should proactively address the issue with the client and seek resolution through Upwork’s dispute resolution process if necessary.
Job as a freelancer upwork

How can freelancers determine which projects to bid on?

There are a few things to consider to determine which projects to bid on and set their rates on Upwork.

  • Project requirements: carefully review requirements before submitting a bid to ensure you have the skills and experience to complete the project successfully;
  • Competition: you should consider the level of competition for each project before submitting a bid. Highly competitive projects may require a lower rate to win the job, while less competitive projects may offer more room to negotiate higher rates. Discard the jobs with low rates;
  • Client feedback: always review client feedback and ratings to determine the client’s reputation and experience working with freelancers. This can help you determine whether the client is a good fit for your services and whether you are likely to have a positive experience working with the client.
  • Time commitment: consider each project’s time commitment before submitting a bid. Projects that require a significant time commitment may require a higher rate to compensate for the extra time and effort required.
  • Payment schedule: do not forget to consider the payment schedule for each project and ensure that it aligns with your financial needs and expectations.

How to set up rates on Upwork?

Setting rates on Upwork can be a challenging task for freelancers. While it can be tempting to set low rates in order to win projects, it’s important to remember that this can lead to undervaluing your skills and expertise, ultimately hindering your growth and earning potential on the platform. Instead, freelancers should set fair and competitive rates based on their experience and the market demand for their skills.

It’s important to do some research on industry standards and the rates charged by other freelancers with similar skills and experience. Furthermore, it’s crucial to remember that amazing projects on Upwork are paid well, and it’s possible to win these projects by presenting a strong proposal and demonstrating your unique value proposition. By setting competitive rates and focusing on high-quality projects, you can build a strong reputation and earn a fair wage for your work on Upwork.

What types of payment are offered on Upwork for freelancers?

Upwork offers two types of payment options for freelancers: Hourly Payment and Fixed-Price Payment.

Hourly Payment is a payment model where clients pay freelancers an hourly rate for their work. The freelancers track their time using the Upwork Time Tracker app, and clients are billed automatically based on the tracked hours. Hourly Payment provides freelancers with a steady stream of income and offers clients the flexibility to adjust the project scope as needed.

Fixed-Price is a payment model where clients pay freelancers a fixed price for a specific project. Freelancers agree to complete the project for the agreed-upon amount, regardless of the time it takes to complete. Fixed-Price allows freelancers to earn a set amount for their work and provides clients with a clear understanding of the project cost upfront.

Upwork also offers Hourly Payment Protection and Fixed-Price Protection to ensure that freelancers are paid fairly for their work. Hourly Payment Protection guarantees that freelancers are paid for the hours they work on an hourly project. If a client disputes the hours worked, Upwork will review the work diary and ensure that the freelancer is paid for the hours worked.

Fixed-Price Protection guarantees that freelancers are paid for the work they complete on a fixed-price project. If a client disputes the quality of the work, Upwork will review the project and ensure that the freelancer is paid for the work completed according to the project scope and requirements.

How much do freelancers pay to use Upwork?

Upwork can be joined for free, and every new profile is subject to a review, which can also lead to rejection. Once you’re in, you can opt for the Freelancer Basic to create your profile and receive 10 free Connects per month. Connects are units used to submit proposals to potential clients on the platform.

Freelancers can upgrade to Freelancer Plus for $14.99 USD per month to receive additional benefits, such as increased visibility, competitor bid insights, 80 Connects per month, a customized profile URL, and the ability to keep earnings private.

Both paid and free accounts can purchase additional Connects at $0.15 (USD) each in bundles or a customized quantity directly from their profile. Moreover, freelancers receive 40 free Connects upon registering for the first time on Upwork.

Regardless of the subscription plan chosen, you are required to pay the freelancer service fee on all billings, including hours, milestones, projects, and bonuses. The fee is included in the amounts clients see on proposals, contracts, and profiles. A significant change has been introduced in 2023, where the freelancer service fee is now a flat rate of 10% for all new contracts, regardless of the contract value. Upwork will no longer charge a sliding-scale tiered freelancer service fee of 20/10/5%. Contracts that currently have a 20% freelancer service fee will move to 10% on the next invoice, while contracts that already qualify for a 5% freelancer service fee will continue at 5% through the end of 2023.

How not to get scammed on Upwork?

Upwork takes several steps to protect freelancers from scams, including a comprehensive verification process for clients and payment protection options for freelancers. However, there are still some measures that freelancers can take to protect themselves from potential scams on the platform.
Firstly, it is important for freelancers to conduct their own research on potential clients before accepting a job. This includes reviewing their profile, job history, and feedback from previous freelancers they have worked with. Additionally, it’s important to communicate clearly with clients and establish clear terms and expectations before starting a project. This can include setting specific milestones and deadlines, clarifying payment terms, and ensuring payments are made through Upwork’s payment system.
Another important step to avoid scams on Upwork is to trust your instincts. If a job offer or client seems too good to be true, it may be a red flag for a potential scam. Always be wary of clients who ask for personal information or payment outside Upwork’s platform, as scammers commonly use this tactic.

Upwork platform freelancers

Fiverr vs Upwork for Freelancers: a comparison

When thinking about freelancing platforms and Upwork for freelancers, one thing that comes to mind is how this platform differs from Fiverr. In fact, Fiverr and Upwork are two of the most popular freelancing platforms available today, and they each offer unique advantages and drawbacks for freelancers. Fiverr is particularly well-known for its user-friendly platform and fixed-price projects, ideal for freelancers with specialized skills who prefer to work on short-term projects. The platform is designed to cater to freelancers with graphic design, writing, and video editing skills. Freelancers can create a profile, set their rates, and showcase their skills to potential clients. Fiverr’s fixed-price projects allow freelancers to set a price for their services upfront, making it easy for clients to understand the costs involved and providing freelancers with a clear understanding of what they will be paid for each project. Read our Fiverr Review for a more comprehensive overview and analysis.

On the other hand, Upwork offers a broader range of job opportunities and flexible payment options, making it an excellent choice for freelancers seeking long-term work and higher-paying projects. Upwork’s platform is designed to connect clients with freelancers worldwide, offering a global marketplace for freelancers to showcase their skills and find work opportunities. Freelancers can create profiles, search for projects, and set rates based on their experience and expertise. Upwork’s payment options include hourly and fixed-price projects, allowing freelancers to choose the payment model that best suits their needs.

While Fiverr and Upwork have advantages and drawbacks, you can choose the platform that best fits your needs and work style in 2024 by understanding these differences. Ultimately, the best platform for freelancers will depend on their individual preferences and priorities. Take the time to research each platform, understand the types of projects and clients they cater to, and choose the platform that aligns with your goals and values.

Can freelancers make a living with Upwork?

Honestly, it was easier in the past because the competition was lower. But it is still possible for freelancers to make a living with Upwork with the right skills and the right mindset. In fact, like any freelancing platform, Upwork requires hard work, dedication, and a strategic approach. You can earn a living on Upwork by taking advantage of the platform’s vast network of clients and job opportunities, setting the rates you feel comfortable with, and consistently delivering high-quality work. It’s also important for freelancers to build a strong reputation on the platform by accumulating positive reviews and ratings from clients and effectively marketing their skills and expertise. While it can be challenging to get started on Upwork and establish a consistent stream of work, with persistence and a strong work ethic, it is possible to make a living on the platform and achieve success in their freelance careers.

Upwork for freelancers: is it worth it?

Upwork has undeniably reshaped the freelancing world in countless ways since its arrival in 2015. It has opened doors for thousands of freelancers to enter a global marketplace, and for those who know how to navigate the platform, it can prove beneficial by providing access to projects from more reputable clients than other freelance sites. On the flip side, Upwork’s high competition and lack of quality control come with significant challenges. But with the right strategy, these challenges can be overcome for successful freelancers worldwide. With this in mind, Upwork should still be considered an attractive option for any working freelancer in 2024; if its pros outweigh its cons, try the platform to tap into new opportunities and expand your business further.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.

If you love this...

Latest articles

Do you want to receive a notification when we publish a new article?