Easily employ remote workers or get freelance jobs on Upwork
Upwork was formed in 2015 when two of the largest freelancer marketplaces — Odesk and Elance — merged. The most recent figures suggest the site has 375,000 actively employed freelancers. Upwork allows businesses to connect with freelancers, while it also automates billing for the remote workers.
There are hundreds of skilled freelancers available on Upwork. Any work that can be done online, you can get done on Upwork.
We’ve listed a small selection of the freelancers available on the site. You’ll be able to advertise roles for:
Writers and content creators
Editors and proofreaders
Mobile app developers
Data analysts and scientists
Procurement and sourcing
Sales and marketers
Customer service representatives
IT and networking admins
CGI, VFX and special effects artists
Photographers and videographers
Voice-over and actors
It’s free to post a job on the site and it allows you to quickly hire someone. You’ll receive proposals quickly — on average, Upwork says it takes only 23 hours to hire a candidate for the role.
You’ll begin receiving submissions within minutes of going live with your project. You can view each freelancer’s portfolio and check out their verified skills, as well as view their job success score and reviews from previous clients.
Interviewing potential hires is done through Upwork’s simple and easy-to-use website or free desktop app. In the app there are file-sharing, instant message and video call features.
You can choose to break up larger projects into smaller payment milestones. Otherwise, Upwork lets you choose whether to pay per hour — where a freelancer uses Upwork’s time tracker to measure their productivity — or per project, and you authorize each payment.
If you hate paperwork and invoicing, don’t worry — Upwork handles all that too.
Job postings on Upwork can be short-term and one-off gigs or longer-term and regular contracts.
Hiring a freelancer on Upwork
Hiring a freelancer through Upwork is straightforward. First, you’ll have to sign up, but it’s free and only takes a few minutes. There are membership options that unlock useful benefits once you register.
Get all the details about your assignment ready, follow the steps below and then all you need to do is hit the green Post a job button.
Select job type. Is it a short or part-time role — lasting less than three months or requiring fewer than 30 hours per week? Or is it a longer-term role — over three months and more than 30 hours weekly?
Enter a job title. Make it descriptive and to the point.
Add a job description. You have up to 5,000 characters to describe the role, what the final goal or deliverable is, what you’re looking for in a freelancer and any other requirements. You may mention the budget if you like.
Add extra details. Upwork asks if this is a one-off project, an ongoing one or a complex undertaking requiring more than one freelancer or even an agency. Here you can add optional — but recommended — screening questions, to see if freelancers have properly read and understood your listing. This is a great feature to prequalify your proposals. You can also require a cover letter from potential hires, to find out more about their skills and previous work.
Select specific skills desired. The next page asks you to specify the most important and related skills you believe are necessary to complete the job. You can optionally select the software to be used, as well as any complimentary attributes you find desirable.
Select location. If you want to work with local freelancers, you can specify that on the next page, or open it to freelancers and agencies worldwide. You might get better response times from workers in your timezone, but you could save money and pay lower project costs by opening it up to other markets. It’s possible to select your preferred regions or countries also.
Set job visibility and other specifics. Next, you’ll be asked to set the visibility of your job. The options are anyone — including Upwork members and public search engines, only Upwork users, or an invite-only basis. This step also asks how many freelancers you need and the qualifications you’re seeking. Options include freelancers with success scores of 90% and higher, threshold amounts earned on the site, or English language proficiency.
Set a budget. The budget page lets you pick between per-hour billing or fixed-price contracts. Hourly pricing works for ongoing projects and provides you with screenshots and a productivity work diary. You can set the expertise required, such as entry- or expert-level — which also determines how much you’ll spend. You also enter the duration of the project here and time requirements.
Review job and post. The final page before posting lets you review your post as well as promoting your job through a “Boosted” listing. You can add coworkers if you need help with the interviewing process or plan on having one of your own employees manage the account.
Wait for proposals to come in.
Some businesses that use Upwork
There are some rather large, multinational businesses employing through Upwork, including:
Automattic — the company behind WordPress, Tumblr and WooCommerce
General Electric — American multinational with connections in everything from aviation to healthcare
Finder — we use Upwork to power some of our Finder crew!
Upwork business membership comparison
Price on application
Verified freelancer work history and ratings
Unlimited proposals from freelancers
Built-in collaboration tools and simple payments
Dedicated advisors to help find and hire freelancers
Project tracking and collaboration tools
Advanced search filtering options
Consolidated invoicing and pay after 30 days
Dedicated account advisor
Detailed reports, with company insights and trends
Customizable contracting and on-boarding process
Worker classification compliance services
Project-based or managed solutions
Finding work on Upwork
There are thousands of jobs on Upwork. They vary from simple, one-off tasks to long-term contracts. You could make a living jumping from one small gig to the next, or you could aim to land a long-term position. Upwork could be a side hustle or your main source of income.
If you’re seeking remote or online work, you’ll need a free Upwork account. You should invest some serious time on filling out your profile to make it really pop.
Steps for signing up on Upwork
Write your job title. Craft a brief, single sentence summary of your professional skills and experience. If you’ve won awards, lead with that. “Award-winning web designer,” for example.
Write your overview. It will allow you to go into more detail, where you can describe your strengths and skills, stand-out projects and accomplishments, your education and other info. There’s little to do in formatting, as it’s text-based. Make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors here.
Introduce yourself. It’s possible to add an introduction video to your profile. This could be a project — if you’re a video editor or voice-over artist — or an explainer video of who you are.
Add testimonials. You’ll want to fill out this section, with comments from past employers and clients.
Add relevant skills or documents to your profile. If you have any certifications, add those to prove to clients you have both the necessary knowledge and skills to get their work done.
Add a profile pic. Upwork also says that your profile photo is important. It should be a professional headshot where possible — this image should give the impression that you’re competent and reliable.
You’re going up against a large number of other freelancers, so you need to stand out. You want to make sure that when a potential client views your profile, they’re impressed enough to message you.
It helps to be specific. For example, if you specialize in a specific niche — like WooCommerce websites — then say so!
Make your profile concise and ensure it underscores your value. If you’ve worked with well-known clients, list them where possible.
Upwork fees for freelancers
Though it’s free to set up an account and begin pitching for work, Upwork still has to make money — by charging you fees.
Sliding service fee per client
$0-$500 earned: 20%
$500.01-$10,000 earned: 10%
$10,000.01 and higher: 5%
Local bank transfer fee
US$0.99 per transaction, plus incoming fees from the bank
If you select PayPal instead of using a local bank transfer, you’ll pay US$2.50 to get your money instantly
Fees last checked April 2020
Example of fees and earnings on Upwork
If you earned $2,000 in a month with one client, you’d pay a 20% service fee for the first $500, then 10% for the remainder. So, your total service fee would be $250, making your total income $1,725 before the bank transfer charge. The longer you work with a single client, the lower the fees you pay — after you earn $10,000, the service fee lowers to 5%.
Pros and cons of Upwork for employers
Why would you use Upwork as an employer?
Potentially thousands of skilled freelancers to choose from
Simplified interviewing and hiring
Research freelancers using past-client reviews and success scores
Top Rated program makes finding the best freelancers straightforward
Ability to organize projects and chat within Upwork
Upwork handles payment and invoicing automatically
Payment protection through escrow means funds are released only when pre-agreed milestones are completed
Upwork’s hourly time tracker means you can see what the freelancer was doing in approximate 10-minute time slots, as well as how productive they were
Upwork provides dispute assistance
24/7 customer support
Employ freelancers on a part-time or an as-needed basis to get work done
Offers a large variety of freelance services
Ability to upgrade membership to match business size, with extra features
Efficiently build a team of distributed workers to save on office costs
Average time to employ a freelancer is only 23 hours
Working outside of Upwork is discouraged and against its terms. You’ll have to pay 12% of the estimated annual income of your freelancer’s Upwork earnings to move outside the platform for billing and invoicing
Freelancers could get a more lucrative offer or find permanent work elsewhere — same risk as having employees
Pros and cons of Upwork for freelancers
Looking for online work? Here are the pros and cons of getting gigs on Upwork.
Straightforward website interface
Plenty of jobs to apply for — Upwork clients spent a total of US$1.5 billion in 2017
12 job categories with hundreds of subcategories. If you can work on a computer, there are probably jobs available on Upwork
Can charge industry rates
More success brings more work
Get hired in under 24 hours
Big-name businesses use Upwork to look for freelancers
Option to start an agency
Get paid on time
Break down big projects into smaller payment milestones
Upwork invoices automatically for you
Multiple ways to get paid
Clients have to pre-fund milestones
All projects covered by Upwork Payment Protection, securing your pay
Easy to pick up extra clients
Fees reduce the more you work with a single client
Anyone with an Internet connection, an in-demand skill and a computer can join
Online chat, file sharing and video calls provided by Upwork
Intuitive proposal interface lets you customize your hourly rate and negotiate a deal
Included time tracker
Flexibility to work where and when you like
Provides a certificate of earnings, which might come in useful for proving income for mortgage and credit applications
Supplement your income or work full-time on the site
Can be hard to get the ball rolling if you have little experience as a freelancer
Absolutely. You can work full-time for a single client through Upwork, many people do it. You can also combine several smaller gigs together.
That depends on the particular industry you work in and the services you’re offering, There are still under-served niches, providing you with the opportunity to fill a need. Also, if you’re an expert at what you do, you’ll have less trouble finding work.
Considering you don’t have to invoice, chase down clients to pay you or spend money on marketing, the Upwork fees are pretty reasonable. The main currency for the site is US dollars, which can result in your salary varying with the currency exchange rate if you live outside the US.
Alternatives to Upwork
If you’re interested in investigating all your options for freelance marketplaces, you can read our guide or learn about rivals like Fiverr and Freelancer.com
Ben Gribbin is an experienced automotive writer and life-long car enthusiast with a passion for restoring classic vehicles. He brings many years of experience working with and writing about cars to Finder.
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