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Reviews and expert opinion Upwork

Lucas Turner Lucas Turner Freelance Jobs Expert

It may be well established and brimming with potential candidates, but Upwork is no longer what it used to be. With fake freelancer profiles and an unreliable rating system, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to hire the high-quality freelancers you’re after. The good news is that there’s a great alternative out there. On Fiverr, you can hire a freelancer for as little as $5 with no extra fees.

Overview

Upwork at a Glance

Sign up fee No sign-up fee, 3% processing fee added to payments
Online messaging platform Yes
Live chat support Yes
Variety of freelancers Upwork boasts that 8,000+ skills are represented by freelancers on the platform

Upwork Is No Longer What It Used to Be

Upwork is one of the biggest freelance websites online today, but bigger doesn’t always mean better. In fact, in recent years, the quality of work has gone done and there are a lot of flaws in the way the platform works. If you need a freelancer, I recommend you head over to Fiverr where you can hire a freelancer for as little as $5.

While its size does offer some advantages like advanced search filters, a handy mobile app, a desktop time tracker, and an effective messaging system for communicating with potential candidates, you need to be cautious.

You can view freelancers’ past work history and feedback to get an idea of their professionalism, but I’ve also come across quite a few freelancer profiles that were fake. You hire someone for a job, thinking they’re from London or Los Angeles as stated on their profile, only to later discover they’re from a different part of the world and hardly qualified for the job at hand. This can be incredibly frustrating, not to mention a waste of time and money.

Upwork’s pricing is straightforward in that there are no sign-up fees and you can set your own budget to narrow down candidates, but it can get pretty pricey. You’ll be paying a 3% ‘processing fee’ on top of every freelancer invoice so bear that in mind before you start hiring. Other platforms like Fiverr don’t charge you any extra fees to hire a freelancer, you simply pay the price on the job post, making Fiverr a much better option if you’re new to hiring.

Features

3.0
Upwork Review - Range of Freelancers
Upwork lets you build a profile for your ideal freelancer in a few easy steps.

A Great Set of Features, If Only You Could Use Them

Let me get straight to the point. Upwork has a lot of features that could be really useful as an employer, but navigating and finding them is a whole other ball game. Being able to find your way through Upwork should be part of its screening process. Those who get lost in the dashboard need not apply.

There’s the chat function which makes discussing projects with candidates super easy, there’s the time tracking feature where you can see how long a freelancer has spent on different elements of a project and there’s a potentially handy work diary which shows you the specific hours freelancers have worked with screenshots of the work they have done. This requires freelancers to download time-tracking software, so employers can see what the freelancer is working on in real-time. It’s somewhat controversial, but it does help to build trust between both party’s, so you don’t have to worry about being scammed. It all sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

When you’re working with multiple job postings, freelancers, and across several projects, Upwork makes navigating and scanning between them oh-so difficult. Want to click on this freelancer and see what they’ve been up to? No chance, not clickable. Intuitive is not a word I would use to describe Upwork. It’s clunky and while it might work for hiring one or two freelancers, it’s not built to manage teams.

The hiring scheme on Upwork deviates slightly from other sites and you can hire or interview a freelancer to discuss a project’s details. Bear in mind that Upwork will conceal your email details submitted through private messages, due to its direct contact non-disclosure policy. But a Skype account address will go unrecognized.

As a freelancer, there’s quite a lot you need to do to set up a noticeable profile, like upload portfolio items, take skill tests that prove your abilities, verify your identity and add personal information. While this can take you a while, Upwork makes the entire process very easy, by sending you email reminders and notifying you of missing profile elements.See full list of features

Ease of use

3.0

A Basic Platform with Some Unique Features

Upwork’s visuals are glossy, colorful, and stylish. If you want to hire a freelancer for a specific project, it’s easy to build a profile of who and what you want, set a budget, and then lay out the timings. Upwork will then help you locate the right freelancer based on your criteria.

Or, if you want someone else to do the recruiting for you, Upwork offers a useful feature called Talent Scout where Upwork’s own recruiters will locate, screen and test candidates for you. And better yet, there are no extra fees for this service, you simply pay the hourly rate of the freelancers they send you.

Upwork Review - Talent Scout
The Talent Scout feature means you don’t even need to lift a finger in the recruitment process – Upwork will do the work for you

The navigation is perfectly intuitive and the neat private messaging box is also an advantage that Upwork has over other freelance sites. The initial registration process requires nothing but your email, password and a desired username, which you can always change as an employer – however, beware of making this mistake when registering a freelancer’s profile. You must use the name that is written in your passport to register.See if Upwork is Right for You

Support

3.0

Upwork’s Redeeming Feature: Its Customer Support

Upwork Review - Support options
Upwork has a wealth of information to help you whether you’re a freelancer or a client

Customer support is where Upwork truly delivers – you can get help 24/7 using any one of the many contact means available. There is also an extended and well-written FAQ section where you can find answers to just about anything from how to find a freelancer and make a hire, to how to use the desktop time tracker and deal with disputes. Upwork offers:

  • 24/7 live-chat
  • Support ticket system
  • Comprehensive FAQs
  • Phone support line
  • Community team and forum
  • Webinars, podcasts, whitepapers, ebooks and more for both clients and freelancers

Pricing

2.0

A (Fairly) Simple Pricing System

Upwork has a set rule – as a freelancer you’re charged a sliding fee from 20- 5% based on your lifetime billings with each non-Enterprise client, so the more you bill your client, the less you are charged as a fee (additional fees are also charged when freelancers withdraw funds from Upwork which amounts to $2.50 and freelancers are allowed to withdraw amounts no lower than $20 + the withdrawal fee).

If you’re a client hiring a freelancer, it’s simpler. All you have to pay is a 3% processing fee on every invoice you receive. Sounds simple and it is, but 3% on top of every invoice could get pricey with long-term projects so make sure you’ve factored this into your budget.

As a client, you have another option. You can opt for the free, basic plan, where you find your freelancers, pay them and the processing fee and you’re good to go, or you have the option of paying for the Plus plan. For $49.99 per month, you’ll receive a dedicated account manager, get premium customer support, and be given team reporting. You still have to pay the 3% processing fee so it all depends on how involved you want to be in the recruitment process.

The payment system is easy – you deposit money from PayPal or your credit card into your Upwork account and begin the hiring process. Upwork only provides dispute arbitration and resolution for hourly-billed projects that had been tracked through the Upwork Team application on the freelancer’s side. Upwork does not resolve disputes over fixed-price projects.

For clients using the Enterprise Upwork Plan, prices vary according to needs.

  • Payment System – Credit card or PayPal
  • Payment Protection – Upwork Team time and performance tracking software is responsible for securing your project and money.
  • Payment Disputes – Only available for hourly-billed projects tracked through the UpworkTeam application

Comparison

How does Upwork match up to the competition?

FiverrCompare 4.7 Compare
GuruCompare 4.4 Compare
UpworkCompare 3.0 Compare
SkillDostiCompare 2.5 Compare

User reviews

Based on 147 reviews in 15 languages
2.1
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Andreas
2
Andreas
USA
May 25, 2021
I'm tired!

It is difficult to use this service. I have already spent a lot of money on freelancers, but I have not found an adequate performer. What to do now I do not quite understand, because a lot of money has been spent, as well as effort. Let's think. I hope the service will improve

Reuben
1
Reuben
Kenya
April 21, 2021
Extremely Unfair to freelancers

After 5 years of working with the platform, and successfully completing each project. Upwork suspended me because of one client who refused to pay for a project that was completed, claiming he didn't like the work. But a week prior, he had expressed how great the project was. All evidence was there in the chats. I had glowing reviews on my profile. Then the client ends up using the project and getting away with $600 of what he owed me. And still, Upwork saw me as the bad player in this situation. Then I receive a notification in my email from my Upwork account months later, this particular client left me a review, saying how great my work is. SMH - I can't respond to it because I'm unable to access my account anymore. Just proves whether you're among their best freelancer, they can terminate your account for no good reason. Definitely don't look at Upwork as a long-term solution. Use it to make quick money and get out. Don't quit your day job for this, or use it as the main source of freelance work, because just like a Twitter account, you might wake up one day, and find someone reported you for malice reasons or because they're of unstable nature, and you'll be suspended, without the chance of getting your profile back.

Marin
1
Marin
Hong Kong
April 21, 2021
A company that does not care about its freelancers

I joined Upwork in March 2020 without initially having any intention to do any freelancing. A few days later, a client invited me to bid for their project. It was a very small project at that time, but it slowly became a much bigger project. I had some small contracts with other clients too, but rather small. I was in the top 3% of freelancers and used to get a few requests and invites for jobs every week. Beginning of April, Upwork sent an email to both me and my main client to say that they were "reviewing" our contract. Now, mind you, that contract has been in place for a year and we never had any issues with it. They have asked us for a ton of papers and both me and the client provided them with everything. It was a painful process and then a few days later Upwork suddenly sent us an email (me and the client) saying that our accounts have been suspended. This came as a big surprise, especially since they even wanted to disclose the reason behind it was. Both I and the client were honest, payment was being done timely and I always had a 100% job success rate. Moreover, any other active contracts that I had were also canceled, meaning there is no way to collect the money now from those clients nor from my biggest client either. I have messages Upwork a few times and tried to understand why my account has been suspended, which again, they just ignored. It is a very frustrating experience when you pay over $3000 in commission to Upwork for a year and then you receive an automated email and then nobody can even explain to you what is happening. I know that I was very honest and transparent in the whole process and have not done anything wrong yet Upwork has closed my "Top-Rated" freelancer account and nobody bothered to contact me or discuss this issue with me directly. This clearly shows that Upwork only cares about the money and not about their freelancers since no communication or effort was done in my case, all this after they charged me $3000 commission for the last year. Well done, Upwork!

Matthew McMahon
1
Matthew McMahon
USA
January 22, 2021
I quit

I've hired over 30 freelancers on Upwork over 2 years, spending 120k+ with various groups of folks. I finally quit recently when I've just had the worst time with the most unreliable people I've ever met! Everybody wants to "try to help" you for money, but what they do is create unnecessary complexity, make excuses, and lead your project to technical debt doom! I need a higher caliber of worker to get my project to the next level. The people I've met on here are some of the most frustrating experiences I've ever had. I couldn't even think about hiring another one of them to waste my time.

Fashionista
1
Fashionista
USA
December 09, 2020
Not fair to freelancers at all. Client scammed me and Upwork gave full amount of escrow to client.

I am so upset with Upwork. I have been working on this platform for years and made more than $100k. The first time I got a client who hired me, I completed the project, submitted my work to the client and he just blocked me. Upwork team did nothing. It was a stupid chat between the client, me, and the support team. The support team cannot judge and take any decision. So they asked me to pay $300 to file a new AAA dispute!!! So I had to pay $300 to file a dispute and fight for $250 !!!which I wanted to get from my client as my pay!!! Are you serious guys?? Do I need to pay money to get paid for my time, my work, and my efforts? So eventually I got nothing!!! My client got the product from me, blocked me, and got his money back. What a scam platform!!! Horrible service!!! Do not work with them!! Go to People Per Hour!!

Ramon Burks
1
Ramon Burks
USA
December 08, 2020
Terrible job

This is the first time I've encountered incompetent employees of this scale. A test task was compiled, where everything was indicated in detail, the freelancer provided a terrible final work, which required extra time for execution. the horror!

Read more reviews

Upwork REVIEW: BOTTOM LINE

Upwork does have a lot going for it – its volume and variety of freelancers are impressive but sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. Upwork has been flooded with cheap freelancers trying to make a quick buck and who aren’t as high quality as you may be looking for. Because freelancers outnumber clients on Upwork, you could be faced with many, many freelancers competing for your projects with no real way of knowing who the ‘professionals’ are. Hiring the wrong freelancer could slow you down, derail your project and cost you a lot of money in the long run.

My editor also asked if I would put together a review of both Freelance and Upwork to see which one was the best. I asked them if I could simply say ignore them both and use Fiverr instead, but alas, they insisted I test them out – you can see how I got on, and why I’d recommend Fiverr instead, here.

Lucas Turner Lucas Turner
Lucas is a full-stack web developer. He serves as an essential part in the creation of various startups from the proof of concept to acquiring market leader positions.

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