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Reviews and expert opinion Upwork

Alexandros Melidoniotis Alexandros Melidoniotis Freelance Jobs Expert

Upwork is an excellent choice if you want to keep your hiring options open. Whether you’re looking to hire people quickly or establish long-term relationships with freelancers, Upwork’s the place to find them. Browse millions of profiles on Upwork now, or read on for my detailed review of the platform.

Overview

🏁Starting priceFree to use. Freelancer hourly rates vary.
💲Fees5% fee per transaction
🏆Top freelance categoriesWriting, graphic design, software development, IT support, and data science
🔎Freelancer screening processNo
⚖️Dispute resolutionYes
💬Live chat supportYes
Shared Reseller Dedicated Cloud WordPress

A Vast and Versatile Freelance Marketplace

Upwork client homepage
Upwork’s one of the biggest online freelance marketplaces.

Finding freelancers online isn’t that difficult nowadays. The challenging part is hiring professionals you can trust, who deliver excellent work as quickly and painlessly as possible. Upwork might be a household name, but how does it hold up in 2022? Can you trust it to connect you with skilled and capable freelancers?

To help clear up the picture, I tested its features, ease of use, support, and more. Upwork’s talent pool is gigantic, and the website’s easy to use. Combine that with its low fees and Payment Protection plan, and you have a recipe for success.

Whether you’re a small business owner looking to hire someone for a quick one-off job or a larger company searching for new talent, Upwork has the tools to help you succeed. Everything from chats to video calls, file sharing, and payment processing can be completed in-house, saving you and your hires valuable time.

But before you invest any time and money, read this in-depth Upwork review to find out if it’s the best choice for you.

4.8

Features

Upwork’s Impressive Set of Features Will Get the Job Done

Upwork is a robust and feature-heavy freelance marketplace that offers much more than just a hiring platform. Sure, it’ll help you find skilled freelancers. But if you’re willing to take advantage of all its advanced features, it can do so much more than that, too.

From reporting to payroll, Upwork covers every aspect of the hiring process.

A Gigantic Pool of Talent

As one of the oldest and most well-known online freelance platforms, it’s no surprise that Upwork currently houses millions of professional profiles. Whether you’re looking for an experienced full-stack developer, a versatile writer, or anything in between, Upwork won’t disappoint.

The many available categories are further divided into specialties, making it easy to find the perfect candidate for the task at hand.

Different Ways To Hire

Freelance marketplaces often approach hiring in one of two ways. Some have you post jobs, while others offer long lists of freelancer profiles and relevant gigs. Upwork, on the other hand, does both.

You can begin your journey by posting a job or using the “Discover” feature to find talent based on your project’s requirements. There’s even a project catalog feature that functions a lot like Fiverr’s gigs (in other words, freelancers do the posting).

Since the hiring process can vary significantly from job to job, I appreciate this flexibility.

Upwork's project catalog
If you’re familiar with Fiverr’s gigs, you’ll want to check out Upwork’s “Project Catalog”.

Upwork Plus users can also take advantage of the platform’s talent sourcing feature to find ideal candidates much more quickly.

Super-Detailed Freelancer Profiles

Although the weight ultimately falls on you to find and hire suitable candidates, Upwork’s intricate profile structure hugely simplifies the interview process.

Each profile works like a résumé, listing crucial information about the freelancer such as employment history, education, work history on the platform, job success score, the amount of money they’ve earned through Upwork, and the total hours they’ve worked.

Upwork freelancer profile
Each profile functions as a résumé, so you can quickly tell whether a candidate would be a good fit.

Freelancers can also list certificates and relevant skills, and some even showcase work completed outside the platform with images uploaded under the portfolio section. If you take the time to go through each candidate’s profile, you’ll have all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Plenty of Work-Related Tools

With a slew of helpful management tools such as chat, file exchange, work diary, advanced reports, and a payroll feature, Upwork helps both you and your freelancers stay focused and organized.

The bad news is that freelancers need to download and install a separate desktop application to use the work diary. The good news is that most – if not all – freelancers on the platform use Upwork’s app to track their time.

The app also comes with chat functionality, which means that freelancers can easily reach you without having to navigate to the website while working.

Upwork can also help you stay on top of your projects by generating all kinds of reports, listing information about freelancer activity, hours billed, fixed-priced payments, and more. I tend to keep a close watch on these reports – just in case something goes wrong.

Secure Payments

Unlike less-known freelance marketplaces, Upwork takes payments very seriously. The Payment Protection plan adds an extra layer of security, ensuring you always get what you pay for.

How does it work? If something doesn’t seem right (for example, a freelancer’s logging more hours than agreed), you can easily file a dispute and get your money back.

Similarly, Upwork won’t release your funds on fixed-priced projects until you approve the submitted work. If you’re not satisfied with the result, you can ask for changes or even request an escrow refund.

Upwork Features at a Glance

Signup fee
Transaction fee 3%
Money-back guarantee*  *kind of – you can request a refund, but it’s not guaranteed (the freelancer must approve it)
24/7 support*  *kind of – if you’re on the free plan, you have to make your way past the chatbot first
Conflict resolution
4.8

Ease of use

Upwork Is Easy To Use – Once You Get the Hang of It

Posting jobs on Upwork is pretty straightforward – although I’d say there’s a slight learning curve if you want to make full use of the advanced management tools.

Getting started on Upwork takes a bit more time than, say, Fiverr. Still, it’s definitely worth the effort in the long run, especially if your goal is to form meaningful and long-standing business relationships with your hires.

Clean Interface and Advanced Search Filters

As a hirer, everything you need is never more than two clicks away. Through Upwork’s main menu, you can quickly view your job posts, active contracts, hire information, detailed financial reports, and messages.

Upwork’s search engine is well laid-out and easy to navigate . Besides categories and specialties, I love how you can use multiple filters (such as location, hourly rate, earned amount, job success, hours billed, or English level) to narrow your search.

Upwork Review  The huge talent pool combined with all these filters means you can be picky with your invites and potential hires.

Even if you just use the search bar, you won’t have any trouble finding capable freelancers. The algorithm pushes people with immediate availability and high success scores to the top.

Quick Job Postings

Upwork is best known for its traditional yet effective job postings. As long as you have a clear idea of what you’re looking for, Upwork will guide you through the hiring process.

Everything is streamlined and easy to follow: you pick a headline, select some relevant skills, set your scope and budget, add a short description, and that’s it – you’re good to go. It took me less than 5 minutes to post my first job, and within half an hour, people were already applying and asking questions.

To make things even easier, Upwork will show profiles that meet your criteria once you’ve posted something. You can save time by sending invites to some of these recommended candidates while waiting for more applicants.

Easy Monitoring for Hourly Contracts

Online monitoring is a touchy subject, and as a freelancer myself, I don’t love it. Still, I realize that when I’m paying someone by the hour to create a logo for my website, I expect them to only log time when they’re working on my project – and not when they’re watching cat videos on YouTube.

Upwork’s app takes random screenshots every ten minutes or so. It also tracks clicks and keystrokes, calculating an activity score for every ten-minute interval.

These entries are automatically created as long as the freelancer keeps the app running in the background, and you can easily access their work diary through the contracts menu. If something doesn’t add up, you can bring it up with them or file for a dispute if they’re not cooperating.

4.0

Support

Great Support Once You Escape the Chatbot

Upwork’s support revolves around a headstrong robot. And to be frank, I’m not a fan of services that streamline the support experience by limiting contact channels and throwing “clever” AI chatbots into the equation.

Before connecting you with a representative, Upwork’s bot will scan and analyze your question, picking out keywords and pointing you toward relevant sources drawn from their (enormous) knowledge base.

If that’s not enough to answer your query, Upwork MIGHT let you chat with an actual human right away or create a new ticket for you – but unfortunately, these options aren’t always there.

Things are considerably smoother if you’re on the Plus plan, which unlocks 24/7 live chat and phone support. I put Upwork’s support to the test by asking a general question about refunds:

Is it easy to get my money back if I’m not satisfied with a freelancer’s work? How long do I have to file a dispute?

Upwork’s chatbot answered my question almost instantly.

Upwork's chatbot
I hate bots as much as you do, but this one’s actually quite clever.

I went on to ask about hourly contract refunds and Upwork’s Payment protection, and the bot rose to the occasion time and time again. It turns out you have 30 days to file a dispute for fixed-price projects and one week to review hours logged through work diaries.

I also wanted to learn more about Upwork’s talent specialists, who allegedly help Plus users find the right professionals a lot quicker. That was when I finally beat Upwork’s bot – it gave up and referred me to a human representative.

Upwork live chat
Jan outlined the work of Upwork’s talent specialists in great detail.

No more than 30 seconds later, Jan got back to me, explaining everything I needed to know about the program. They also outlined some other benefits of the Plus plan and even offered me a free 30-day trial to test these features myself!

If you like freebies as much as I do, don’t be afraid to show interest by asking questions about the Plus plan. Rumor has it that representatives are allowed to hand out free trials to customers who have completed their profiles and set up a payment method.

Upwork’s representatives are eager to help, but chatbots are NOT fun – especially when they’re always in the way of real human interaction. I didn’t encounter any serious problems myself, but if I had, I would’ve appreciated it if I could skip the bot and talk to a human right away.

4.7

Pricing

Upwork is completely free to use, only charging a flat – and very reasonable – 3% fee for payments. PeoplePerHour, for example, charges a flat 10%, while Fiverr and 99designs both charge 5%. Accepted payment methods include credit/debit cards, PayPal, and US bank accounts.

Keep in mind that all payments on Upwork are made in USD, which means that conversion rates are determined by your/your freelancer’s bank.

Now, if you want to take full advantage of Upwork’s advanced tools and support, you might consider switching to the Plus plan, which starts at $$0/month. This plan is only billed monthly (no annual discounts), and there are no refunds either.

While it’s definitely possible to get things done as a free user, Upwork’s Plus plan is loaded with many helpful perks and features. Imagine how much time you could save with a dedicated account manager and a trained talent specialist on your side.

You’ll also unlock access to Upwork’s 24/7 chat support and 24/5 phone support, which means you won’t have to deal with the annoying chatbot.

The extra management and reporting tools are great to have as well. You’ll be able to allocate hires to different teams and add unique payment methods while also tracking progress and spending through aggregated company reports.

Plus clients can invite more freelancers to view their posts, and they can upgrade one of their jobs to “Featured” status once a month. You’re much more likely to attract talent with your shiny blue Plus client badge, which will be displayed on all your postings.

Upwork also offers customizable Enterprise plans for larger companies looking to align the platform with their needs. Unless you’re planning to hire whole teams through Upwork, this isn’t something you should worry about.

Comparison

How does Upwork match up to the competition?

FiverrCompare4.9Compare
ToptalCompare4.8Compare
UpworkCompare4.8Compare
CGTraderCompare0.0Compare

Upwork REVIEW: BOTTOM LINE

There are plenty of freelance platforms out there, but none are quite as versatile as Upwork. Jobs are easy to post, and you can switch to viewing thousands of gigs with the click of a button.

There are millions of registered freelancers waiting to provide their services, and you can tell everything you need to know about them by browsing their super-detailed profiles.

Upwork charges a lot less per transaction than the competition, and the advanced Payment Protection plan puts even my ever-worrying mind at ease. I know my money is safe as long as I keep an eye on my reports and closely monitor my freelancers’ work diaries.

Support is okay, provided you can escape the chatbot and reach an actual human. And everything becomes even easier once you upgrade to Plus and unlock your shiny blue badge.

FAQ

Is Upwork Safe to Use?Yes, Upwork is safe to use. Every day, millions of hirers and freelancers from around the globe use it to get work done. Upwork’s Payment Protection plan on both hourly contracts and fixed-price projects adds another layer of security to the platform.Is Upwork Free for Clients?Yes, Upwork comes with a free-forever plan. You’ll still be charged a flat 3% fee for every payment you make, but this is pretty good compared to other freelance sites – check out our list of the best freelance websites for comparison. You can also access advanced management tools and other perks by signing up for Upwork’s Plus Client plan.How Do Clients Hire on Upwork?Clients on Upwork can hire talent in many different ways. They can post a job and interview candidates, browse the project catalog (of gigs published by freelancers), or use the “Discover” feature to find freelancers and contact them directly.Do Clients Get Reviews on Upwork?Yes. Like freelancers, clients get reviews on Upwork. Each freelancer you work with can give you one to five stars and leave a brief comment to describe your collaboration. The system will show you how to leave a review on Upwork when you end your first contract.

Alexandros Melidoniotis Alexandros Melidoniotis
Alex is a linguistics nerd who’s got nothing against the Oxford comma. He spends most of his time writing, looking up words, and playing video games. He also enjoys testing software, often sharing his thoughts and ideas here on Website Planet.
1.9

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Upwork is an unreliable partner.

Upwork is a policy-dependent company. If the authorities of your country will conduct a policy contrary to the policy of the United States - be prepared for the possible blocking of your account. In 2022, Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine, Upwork blocked the accounts of freelancers from Russia and Belarus. No matter what personal position freelancers take, whether they agree with the military operation or not. Upwork offers freelancers to leave Russia to keep the opportunity to work, which directly means participation in political games. Their mission is "to create economic opportunities so people have better lives has taken us so much further". How hypocritical it sounds. Freelancers from countries with policies independent of the United States should look for another place.

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Alex, Russia
April 24, 2022
1
Upwork is a scam ?

A freelancer disputed a $30 work which I don't agree because I could not even uses his work but I was able to uses another hired freelancer's work for the same amount. Then upwork ask me to pay $875 arbitration fee over a $30 dispute. How does that sounds rational ?! Upwork is a scam ?

avatar
Adam Baker, Indonesia
February 11, 2022
1
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

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Andreas, USA
May 25, 2021
2
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.

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Reuben, Kenya
April 21, 2021
1
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!

avatar
Marin, Hong Kong
April 21, 2021
1
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.

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Matthew McMahon, USA
January 22, 2021
1
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!!

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Fashionista, USA
December 09, 2020
1
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!

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Ramon Burks, USA
December 08, 2020
1
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