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Home-based jobs are rising in popularity, and although there are more of them available, you still want to take the time to think carefully about which kinds of jobs would be best for you and how you’ll find them.

There are several platforms out there designed specifically for helping freelancers and remote workers find jobs. The trick is finding the right platform that will help you find jobs efficiently while also maximizing the pay you get for your time and effort.

Some of the more popular platforms for finding freelance work online are Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr. This review will look into the ins and outs of Upwork to help you decide if it’s the best platform for you.

What Is Upwork?

Upwork is a platform that connects businesses to independent professionals and freelancers for any work they may need done. Launched in 2015, it was the result of a merger between the two biggest freelance job marketplaces, Elance and oDesk. 

Because of the existing strength of these two companies, Upwork developed into one of the most innovative platforms for freelance workers and companies today. 

Freelance Platforms on the Rise 

More people have ventured away from stable job positions to freelance work, with the promise of more time freedom and a wider range of opportunities. This includes even consultants and professionals like attorneys. 

According to the Intuit 2020 report, freelancers and independent contractors, defined in the report as contingent workers, enjoy greater power over their time and therefore have greater work-life balance. As of the time the report was published, about 25 to 30% of the U.S. workforce is considered contingent. 

How It Works

At the time of this writing, Upwork is free for freelancers to get started, but in order to bid for more jobs, they will have to purchase more “Connects” (more on that below). As a freelancer, you’ll also be subject to commission fees.

Upwork for Freelancers 

If you are looking for a freelance gig, the first thing you need to do is sign up for a free account. Then, learn about the payment structure so you can calculate exactly how much you will earn. 

For freelancers, Upwork charges a service fee starting at 20%, applicable for the first $500 you bill with a client. Above $500 and below $10,000, the fee slides down to 10%. Over $10,000, you pay a minimal 5% fee. This is designed to encourage long-term work for the same client. 

Finding a Freelance Gig on Upwork 

Here are the steps on how you can find a freelance job on Upwork:  

1. Build your profile.

Once you complete your profile, Upwork will recommend jobs for you based on the information you entered in your profile. 

2. Search for jobs.

If you’re not interested in the gigs Upwork suggests for you, you can use the search function to specify the kinds of jobs you want. You can be as general or as specific as you want in your search.

Upwork currently offers jobs in the following categories: 

  • Web, Mobile, and Software Development
  • IT and Networking
  • Data Science and Analytics
  • Engineering and Architecture
  • Design and Creative
  • Writing
  • Translation
  • Legal
  • Admin Support
  • Customer Service
  • Accounting and Consulting
  • Sales and Marketing 

3. Calculate your rate per hour or per job 

Because Upwork will charge a fee, be sure to factor in that cost when you quote your per hour or per job rate. Also consider the talent and value you offer to prospective clients.

4. Start bidding. 

On Upwork, applying for a job is done by bidding for a project. When you find a job that you’re interested in, you use what Upwork called “Connects,” sort of like points, to bid for the project. When you first start, Upwork gives you 60 Connects, and each proposal you submit takes 2 Connects. 

The projects will specify how many Connects you need to use to apply for the position. Once you run out of Connects, you won’t be able to apply for any more jobs. 

If you wish to have more Connects, they cost $0.15 each, and you may buy them in sets of 10, 20, 40, 60, and 80. 

Once a prospective client accepts your bid, you can start on the project. Upwork requires all communication to be done within the platform, including submission of output and payment of fees. This is intended to protect both the business and the freelancer. 

Upwork for Clients

If you are a client wanting to hire freelancer, Upwork charges you a processing fee of 2.75% for every payment transaction. This is calculated on top of the payment you give to the freelancers you hire. 

For example, if you pay a freelancer $1,000 for a project, Upwork will charge you $27.50 on top of that amount as a processing fee. 

Alternatively, if you spend more than $910 on freelancers per month and are based in the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, and specific European countries, you may apply to Upwork to be approved for a monthly flat fee of $25 instead of paying the 2.75% processing fee. 

Is Upwork Legitimate?

Definitely! Upwork currently has an A+ BBB (Better Business Bureau) rating. Hiring managers generally trust Upwork, and freelancers can even earn a full-time income.

Is Upwork Safe and Trustworthy?

Although Upwork is safe and trustworthy, some companies and freelancers do sign up with the intention of scamming people. To avoid being scammed by a client or a freelancer on Upwork, you need to have certain guidelines in place. 

For example, if you are a business hiring freelancers, you need to steer clear of freelancers requiring a full upfront payment because you may not be able to collect work from them. 

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For freelancers, some experienced Upwork users advise against a fixed rate for a project, especially for those that may require numerous edits on your end. This is because a client may keep returning the work for edits and keep from paying you until he’s satisfied. While this is a reasonable expectation, you need to be wise in discerning if it’s the real deal, or if they’re just stalling.

Does Upwork Pay Well?

As a freelance platform, Upwork takes a percentage of everything that freelancers earn. Upwork uses a tier system, as follows:

  • 20% of your earnings go to Upwork for the first $500 you earn from a specific client;
  • Between $500 and $10,000 for the same client, Upwork takes 10% of your earnings;
  • After $10,000, Upwork takes 5% of your lifetime billings. 

Advantages of Using Upwork

Many freelancers report the following pros of using Upwork:

  1. Wide database of projects: You get a large database of existing jobs to choose from around the world. 
  2. A good variety of projects: You have the freedom to choose the kinds of projects you would like to take on.
  3. Protection: Upwork helps protect clients and freelancers by requiring that all communication takes place within the platform.
  4. On-site messaging: The on-site messaging feature helps you keep track of all the conversations you have regarding a project. 
  5. Availability settings: Upwork lets you indicate your own availability. 
  6. Payment guarantee: Upwork offers a payment guarantee, where they take the fee in advance and pay it out as soon as the client approves the deliverables. 
  7. Testimonials: The Testimonials help freelancers earn the trust of prospective clients. 
  8. Payment options: Upwork offers a wide choice of payment options, including direct deposits for the USA. 
  9. Paperwork: Upwork does the admin work, like invoicing clients and collecting payments. 
  10. Time-tracking: Upwork also features a time-tracking option for hourly jobs.

Disadvantages of Using Upwork

  1. High transaction fee: The fee of 20% off of any earnings below $500 seems like a big chunk, especially compared with other platforms. 
  2. Need for social proof: If you are a beginner, it may be more difficult to find jobs, as testimonials play a big role in whether prospective clients will hire you or not. 
  3. Bidding price wars: The bidding process may have you charging less than you initially bargained for. 
  4. Limited Connects per month: If you run out of Connects without getting hired, the need to buy more Connects may mean that you need to pay money before you can earn money.
  5. Waiting time between completion and payment: An hourly job gets paid every Sunday, while fixed price jobs take five days after the client approves the deliverables. 

Is Upwork Worth It? 

Overall, Upwork offers many advantages to both freelancers and businesses. However, it’s up to each party to decide whether or not they think they’re getting fair compensation or quality service.

If you’re a freelancer who’s still working on building their network, Upwork can be a great starting point for building your platform and making connections.

Do you have any experience working with Upwork? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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