Upwork is an online freelancing marketplace where people looking for contractors, services or products post jobs that other freelancers bid on in order to earn work from companies.
It's been around since 2008 but has recently become one of the most popular websites among job seekers worldwide. The site claims over 3 million users across more than 190 countries (and counting). It also said its revenue increased by 40 percent year-over-year in 2019, reaching $1 billion. In this article we'll explain what upwork is, whether it really does help you make money, if there are ways to make extra cash, and if so, why those methods aren't very effective. We will also talk about our experience using UpWork as well as some tips for finding new gigs.
To be clear, Upwork isn't just another website like Fiverr. Instead, it functions much like LinkedIn — a place where potential employers go to find talent. But unlike LinkedIn, Upwork allows anyone who wants to advertise a service or product to do so without being limited by the number of connections they have. And while many may consider Upwork to be similar to Facebook Groups because both allow groups of people to come together and share interests, Upwork doesn't require any sort of verification process before allowing someone to join as a user. Anyone can sign up and start posting projects. As such, Upwork is often referred to as "Facebook for businesses."
However, unlike Facebook, which is free to use, Upwork requires users pay either monthly ($19/month) or annually ($179/year), depending on what kind of account they choose to create. There are three different types of accounts you can create when signing up for Upwork: Basic, Pro, and Enterprise. A basic account costs $9 per month, pro accounts cost between $12-$18 per month, and enterprise accounts range from $25 -$250 per month. You can read all the details here regarding Upwork's pricing structures.
With that out of the way, let's dive into what exactly Upwork offers — including whether it truly helps people make money.
Many argue that Upwork is not only ineffective at helping people make money, but could even end up making it harder for them to make money. After all, according to the company itself, Upwork makes less than 10 cents on every dollar earned through freelancing. That means a person earning $10 would give back roughly 90% of their earnings to Upwork, leaving little to no profit. While that might sound bad, keep in mind that the average hourly rate for freelancers on Upwork hovers around $20, meaning these workers' total income per hour comes out to roughly $40. This leaves plenty of room for the worker to pocket whatever remains after paying Upwork.
"The whole point of Upwork was to provide a platform where individuals can easily find freelance opportunities," says Adam Kovalcik, CEO of Freelancer Academy. "Unfortunately, due to the high fees associated with Upwork, I believe the platform has done quite the opposite."
Kovalcik adds that he uses Upwork regularly himself, but his overall opinion of the platform is negative. He believes that the system is designed primarily to benefit the owners of large corporations rather than smaller business owners. However, Kovalcik acknowledges that the higher price points offered via Upwork are enticing for certain industries, especially ones that need employees quickly. For example, if your company needs someone right away to run social media pages, market campaigns, manage customer relations, etc., then Upwork might be the answer for you.
But if you're interested in building a long term career path, Kovalcik suggests trying to secure full time employment first. If you want to maximize your chances of landing a permanent position, he recommends going straight to hiring managers directly.
That being said, it's important to note that Upwork wasn't always set up like it is today. Back in 2012, former PayPal founder Peter Thiel invested heavily in the startup, leading to the creation of what became known as "the gig economy." During this period, Upwork allowed individual entrepreneurs to hire multiple independent contractors instead of traditional employees. However, as demand for freelancers grew, the founders decided to change the model to better suit larger organizations.
Nowadays, Upwork operates under the same old model it had prior to 2016 — whereby small teams of professionals compete against each other to win contracts. According to Kovalcik, competition is fierce on Upwork. Because of this, he cautions people against getting too competitive, lest they lose sight of the fact that everyone else on the platform is doing the same thing they are.
While competition definitely plays an integral part in creating successful careers on Upwork, don't think that simply competing won't result in success. Competition alone will never lead to true financial gain unless you learn how to leverage Upwork effectively. To put it plainly, the key lies in knowing how to strategically attract prospective customers. Once you've learned how to accomplish that, you should see positive results.
In addition, many argue that competition within a field typically leads to greater quality control, innovation, lower prices, and overall improved performance. Competition is great in theory, but you shouldn't expect to reap benefits if you decide to pursue competition alone.
So now that we know Upwork is unlikely to turn you into a millionaire, is it still worthwhile? Is it worth spending hundreds of dollars on a subscription? Will it help you land a contract? Let us know!
If you ask most people, the short answer would probably be yes. One reason is that Upwork's membership fee pales in comparison to others like Indeed and Glassdoor. Another big perk is Upwork's referral program, which rewards members with 5x the amount of credits whenever someone signs up via their personal referrals. Lastly, Upwork provides a wide variety of tools to aid in marketing oneself and managing client relationships. These include things like analytics tracking software, project management systems, feedback surveys, and communication platforms.
Still, some say that Upwork has fallen victim to fraud. On top of the already discussed fees, scams involving fake profiles abound on the platform. Many claim that hackers target unsuspecting users by sending phishing emails posing as legitimate recruiters. Others say scammers impersonate potential clients pretending to offer huge contracts and lure them into giving sensitive information like bank cards and passwords to complete strangers. Finally, some allege that scammers pose as reputable businessmen offering enormous amounts of money to perform simple tasks like writing articles or filling out forms.
As such, many experts suggest avoiding Upwork entirely. They recommend staying aware of red flags, such as suspicious requests for payments upfront, strange messages sent outside of Upwork, or unexpected charges appearing on credit card statements. If something seems fishy, contact Upwork immediately.
One alternative to avoid these issues is to search for jobs on sites like Elance, PeoplePerHour, Vworker, Toptal, Scriptlance, Guru, and 99designs. All of these alternatives charge significantly lower fees and tend to function similarly to Upwork, though they lack the extensive suite of resources provided by Upwork. Some even offer additional perks like insurance coverage for medical emergencies or background checks.
Yes, absolutely. Just look at Gigster, a competitor to Upwork, whose mission statement is to help "companies save thousands and freelancers earn tens of thousands." Through its platform, employers can post unlimited open positions, and freelancers can apply for them. When applying, however, Gigster limits applicants to one client per week. Gigster takes 15% off the top of each completed task. So if you receive a $100 assignment, you'd earn $85. The remaining 85%, minus Gigster's cut, goes to the employer. Overall, Gigster pays freelancers anywhere from 50%-75%. Like Upwork, Gigster offers various tools for marketing yourself and keeping track of assignments. What sets Gigster apart is that it aims to cater specifically towards designers, developers, marketers, writers, photographers, videographers, and data scientists.
Overall, Gigster appears to be pretty profitable compared to Upwork. However, one downside is that Gigster tends to focus mostly on corporate clients. As such, freelancers must rely solely on word of mouth referrals and networking events to generate business. Freelancers who wish to stay self employed are advised to stick to Upwork.
Another possibility is to take advantage of Upwork's Referral Program. By referring friends or family members to the platform, you can accumulate credits faster. Then, once you reach 500 credits, you can convert those credits to real money. The problem with this option is that Upwork caps referrals at five per month. So if you refer more than five people during that span, you essentially waste your own hard earned credits.
Upwork is one of the most popular platforms for freelancing jobs, but it's not an easy place to start if you're just looking for some extra cash.
If you want to know whether or not you'll be able to make enough money through Upwork to sustain yourself, we've compiled all the information that you need so you can decide if this job-hunting site will work for you.
Keep in mind, there are many other sites where you can find freelance gigs — like Fiverr and People Per Hour — but these three have been around longer than others and boast more users. According to its own stats, Upwork has over 20 million registered freelancers from every country in the world who post about 100,000 new projects daily. With such high traffic, competition can sometimes feel stiffer, which means earning potential may vary based on your skill set.
So let's dive into what exactly Upwork offers, how much money you can expect to make, and whether you really can make any kind of real income here.
The amount of money you can make per project depends mostly on two factors: The type of gig you apply for and how well you perform during interviews. Most people who sign up for Upwork usually look for short term contracts in order to test out working online first before committing full time. This also gives them a chance to see if they enjoy doing certain types of work before taking on a permanent position.
When applying for positions on Upwork, you should keep the following things in mind when trying to figure out how much money you might end up making per week/month/year:
What kind of contract is being offered? Are you going to only be paid once after completing the task(s)? Or would you receive hourly wages? How often will you be contacted by prospective employers/clients throughout the duration of the project?
Do you have experience in the relevant field? If you don't yet have any professional credits under your belt, you won't make nearly as much as someone who does. But even without industry expertise, you can still land pretty lucrative contracts because you can show that you're capable at whatever skillset you claim to possess.
Are you willing to relocate for the right opportunity? Some companies prefer to hire local talent wherever possible. So, if you live close to a company's headquarters, they could potentially offer higher payouts.
While Upwork doesn't disclose exact earnings figures, according to its "Payment Frequency" report released last month (which details data collected between January 1st and February 28th), the average monthly payout was $1,922.71. That number includes both part-time workers and those employed full-time. For part-timers, it's estimated that they earned roughly half of that total due to lower hours worked each month.
This statistic reflects what most people tend to agree upon regarding Upwork's current pay scale. In general, you shouldn't expect to make too much unless you go for very specialized careers. However, if you put together a great resume and present yourself professionally, you definitely stand a good chance of securing decent compensation packages. We recommend researching individual salaries within similar fields so you have an idea of how much you'd realistically be worth.
It's hard to say precisely since different industries have varying needs. As mentioned earlier, however, the average reported salary is somewhere around $1,922.71 per month. While that seems low compared to what you'd typically earn elsewhere, remember that Upwork serves millions of professionals across the globe and competition is fierce. Getting hired on Upwork isn't always easy either, especially for beginners.
Because of this, getting a foot in the door requires patience, persistence, professionalism, and confidence. You must also be prepared to negotiate and accept rejection gracefully. There are plenty of examples of successful people using Upwork, including actors, writers, designers, photographers, illustrators, event planners, marketers, web developers, graphic artists, editors, video producers, musicians, teachers, consultants, coaches, etc.
In addition to having specific talents, you should try to develop a few core competencies that come in handy regardless of occupation. It helps to know how to communicate effectively, handle stress, manage deadlines, follow instructions, prioritize tasks, multitask efficiently, solve problems, take initiative, stay organized, and handle criticism. These abilities can help anyone succeed no matter what career path they choose later down the line.
There are countless ways to improve your communication skills, and our list of essential apps to practice public speaking is a great way to begin honing yours specifically. Once you learn to master these basics, you're already halfway to becoming a better person overall! And then, there are tons of resources available to teach you how to become a strong leader, delegate responsibilities, motivate team members, inspire followers, create goals, resolve conflicts, and lead meetings.
You can never truly prepare yourself until you start practicing, though. Try reading books, listening to podcasts, watching videos, attending workshops, writing ebooks, creating YouTube content, publishing blog posts, giving presentations, and so forth.
As far as developing solid habits goes, consider forming small teams with friends and colleagues to hold weekly mastermind calls, attend life events, write personal journals, meditate, exercise, study, travel, network, volunteer, socialize, eat healthy foods, drink water, sleep, play games, laugh, and spend quality time with loved ones. By dedicating regular blocks of time toward optimizing your mental health and happiness levels, you'll become a stronger version of yourself and reap major benefits along the way.
One thing to note is that while the standard rate of pay for entry level applicants varies greatly depending on the nature of the gig, it rarely pays to underestimate your value. When negotiating your wage, you should aim to ask for equal compensation upfront rather than waiting for milestones to reach. Otherwise, you risk losing control of negotiations altogether.
With thousands of opportunities posted every day, there are bound to be some scams lurking within those listings. To avoid falling victim to a scammer or hacker, read reviews carefully and check feedback thoroughly. Don't share private financial info with strangers. Be wary of emails asking you to click links inside messages sent via email, SMS text message, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Skype, PayPal, Google Hangouts, Slack, or Signal. Never give access to your bank account, credit card, debit cards, passport, driver's license, library card, medical insurance card, voter registration card, social security card, military ID, club membership card, gym membership card, prepaid visa card, gift card, cryptocurrency wallet address, digital assets, domain name ownership certificate, or anything else valuable whatsoever.
Once you've landed a gig on UpWork, make sure to stick to the terms outlined in the agreement and provide consistent proof of completed assignments. Avoid paying outside fees and tipping for services rendered. Do not purchase fake documents, such as diplomas, degrees, certificates, licenses, photos, pictures, resumes, identification cards, utility bills, passports, or visas.
Also, be mindful of scammers impersonating representatives from legitimate businesses. They may try to trick you into downloading malicious software onto your computer. Watch out for phone numbers that appear to be international calling codes. Scam call centers usually originate overseas. Also beware of spam texts saying that you won something free or offering deals that sound too good to be true. Remember that phishing attacks happen frequently, so always double check everything before clicking on links in suspicious communications or sending sensitive files.
Unfortunately, there aren't any guarantees that you'll ever be able to turn your side hustle into a long term source of steady income. Still, if you're persistent, dedicated, honest, and trustworthy, you certainly have a shot at succeeding. Just be aware of common pitfalls and steer clear of red flags.
According to statistics published in 2017, the top five highest earner categories on Upwork were business development & marketing ($5,500 - $7,900 per year), consulting ($4,700 - $6,200), technical support ($3,600 - $4,800), translation ($2,100 - $2,950), and creative design ($2,300 - $3,000). On the flipside, the lowest earners on Upwork tended to fall into administrative assistant ($15.62 - $21.95 per hour), customer service representative ($17.06 -$23.40), sales associate ($19.50-$27.90), and food delivery ($20.60 - $30.00).
Whether you plan to work part-time or full-time, there are several key elements you should focus on to maximize your profitability:
Be patient. Work takes time to ramp up. Keep track of your progress and adjust accordingly.
Take advantage of perks. Many employers offer bonuses, discounts, and incentives for repeat customers. Ask about these perks ahead of time to ensure that you qualify for them!
Don't forget taxes. Depending on your location, state, province, region, county, municipality, city, district, postal code, and area code, tax laws differ significantly.
Upwork is one of the largest freelance job platforms, connecting freelancers and businesses looking for talented workers through its website or mobile app.
The company has grown rapidly since its initial launch in 2009, making $1 billion by 2020 according to CNBC. The site's growth was driven largely by demand from companies like Amazon that were seeking outsourced talent. In 2016, Upwork announced they would begin offering services similar to Freelancer.com (another popular online marketplace), allowing users to post jobs on multiple sites. This further opened up opportunities for people who may not have access to other resources due to location restrictions or lack of skills. Today, more than 75 percent of all paid work is done via Upwork, so there are many ways for someone to land gigs doing what they love.
However, as an independent worker, your ability to earn money varies greatly based on factors such as experience level, skill set, geographic region, etc., which makes figuring out exactly how much you'll be able to charge difficult at first. If you're new to the world of freelancing, here’s everything you need to know about earning money on Upwork before you start bidding projects.
According to Upwork, "the average hourly rate" for contractors on the platform hovers around $25 per hour. While this figure seems low compared to some industries' minimum wage requirements, keep in mind that most contracts offered on the platform provide flexibility for both parties, especially if you don't want to take on every single project posted.
For example, let's say you have extensive medical billing knowledge but live outside of the U.S. You might decide to focus exclusively on providing administrative support or medical coding assistance instead. Or maybe you only want to offer consulting services when you've obtained additional training or certification. It's important to remember that these rates aren't guaranteed unless you accept them unconditionally.
Additionally, pay ranges vary depending on whether you're using your personal profile or joining a premium membership service known as Pro Unlimited ($19/month). For instance, while contractors on standard accounts receive 70 cents per completed task, those on Pro Unlimited will receive 80 cents per completed task.
Finally, each client receives three bids from each contractor during the contract negotiation stage — two submitted directly through the site and another uploaded after the fact. So even though the final price charged to the client is determined by contract negotiations, the actual amount you'll be receiving is always subject to change.
While we may never reach the point where Upwork offers 100 million active monthly users, the company continues to grow steadily year over year, leading us to wonder, should you join now or wait until 2022? According to research conducted by TechCrunch, Upwork currently boasts 19 million members worldwide across several different countries. That means almost 20% of its entire user base lives in North America alone!
In 2021, Upwork reported revenue exceeding $2 billion for the first time ever, reaching approximately 575,000 individual buyers. With that said, the company still faces stiff competition from other well-established marketplaces like Fiverr, People Per Hour, Elance, Guru, Toptal, Vindale Research Group, iDuties, and others. However, the sheer number of global organizations relying on Upwork gives the platform plenty of room to grow without facing immediate threat.
Should you choose to sign up today, you'll gain instant access to Upwork's robust suite of tools including CV & Resume Builder, Job Search Engine, Portfolio Creator, and Project Management Tool. Plus, you'll also enjoy benefits like unlimited storage space for resumes and portfolios, priority customer support, and exclusive discounts.
If you'd rather hold out until 2022, you won't miss out on any major perks. Instead, you'll just need to deal with slower speeds and higher fees associated with uploading documents and images. And yes, you'll still benefit from having easy access to your resume and portfolio 24 hours a day.
When deciding whether or not Upwork is right for you, it's crucial to consider not only whether you can make decent income but also whether you can sustain yourself financially. Unlike traditional employment, you typically don't have health insurance, retirement plans, 401(k) contributions, sick days, vacation leave, bonuses, overtime pay, etc. As an independent worker, you must cover these costs yourself.
There are many things you can do to increase your odds of finding consistent work. First, think creatively about what kind of work you could potentially perform given your existing assets, background, interests, education, and expertise. Second, hone your professional brand by creating a strong presence through social media channels, relevant blog posts, articles, and videos. Third, network with colleagues and peers within your industry to find potential employers. Finally, stay updated on current trends in your field and continually improve your digital literacy to help differentiate yourself from competitors.
While the aforementioned tips certainly come into play, it's best to avoid jumping straight into a gig because you feel pressured by deadlines or expectations. Remember that building relationships takes time and patience. Don't worry too much about getting rejected either; rejections happen often regardless of your skillset and experience. But once you've landed a few paying gigs, try negotiating certain terms like pay and deadline extensions.
You can also ask prospective customers if you can become part of their team long term. Otherwise, look for smaller gigs that give you enough runway to develop your own unique business model. Once you've built momentum, you'll likely attract larger clients interested in hiring you fulltime.
As mentioned earlier, hourly wages range from roughly $20-$50 depending on the type of account you signed up under. To see specific numbers related to your earnings, head over to My Earnings to view information broken down by country, category, and month.
On top of that, Upwork pays 40% commission for sales generated through your profiles versus 10% for referrals. A referral bonus is awarded whenever someone signs up for a paid Upwork contract through your referral link. You can earn commissions by referring anyone else who becomes a buyer on the platform.
Lastly, Upwork provides financial incentives for achieving goals. These include cash prizes, gift cards, free products, and discounted subscriptions. There's no limit to the number of times you can enter giveaways either. Just go to Your Dashboard > Giveaways to check for ongoing promotions and competitions.
To learn more about Upwork and becoming a successful freelancer overall, read our guide detailing how to prepare for freelancing success.
UPDATE: March 4, 2017, 2:44 p.m. EDT Adding details regarding UpWork's referral program.
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