Working 9 to 5 in a small box is a closed chapter since the internet emerged. Back in the day, people dreamed of having flexible hours and self-improvement career-wise. But, thanks to the internet – and COVID 19 in part – today, everyone gets to work from home, meet new clients, find new projects, and get connected to the business world.
The last we heard, the freelance and gig economy is still on the rise and will only continue to grow. Studies show that 67.7 million Americans identified themselves as freelancers.
Freelancing sites exist in the dozens. Yet, out of the bunch, Upwork seems to have earned its reputation and belovedness the fastest. In fact, around 12 million freelancers have initially joined the platform, which on its own, is an impressive figure to marvel at.
Counted as the most refined of freelancing platforms, here is a full guide on what Upwork is, how it works, and the way it ensures freelancers and employers a long-standing collaboration as well as top-notch service.
What is Upwork?
Simply put, Upwork is an online marketplace for freelancers. It covers the spectrum of industry niches – from content to graphic designs, web development, and any other professional service in between. Flexibility goes both ways on Upwork. There, companies are no longer bound to hire a single agent to fulfill their projects. And, agents or freelancers aren’t tied to one company or project only. Besides, they can arrange their working hours as they find them suitable – thus meeting deadlines on time, every time.
On a general note, Upwork simplifies finding jobs and allows the world to work and earn from the comfort of their homes. The service prices vary from position to position, skill to skill, and experience to experience. Currently, Upwork counts 12 million registered freelancers of the total freelancers discussed above. So, the competition is big in other words, but the best thing about it is that – once you rank high, you have already set the tone for your growing career. On Upwork, it is easy to rank up higher, if you show persistence and quality of service. And when you do, it’s a matter of time before the perfect project lands in your hands.
Upwork Membership Programs
To connect to potential clients, users must rely on Upwork Connects or the Upwork token. Although Upwork is known as a free freelance platform, and it is free to use, indeed, each user needs to purchase their initial Connects to start it.
Hence, there are two membership plans Upwork offers for those looking to make the most of their Connects.
First, there is the Basic Plan. This plan is free, but you’ll have to pay $0.15 for each Connect you need. Through the Basic program, the most Connects you can get is 140 a month. The amount is more than sufficient to cover any user’s demands for a month. Besides, users also get the hourly protection feature that guarantees them safe payment for the hours put in. The Basic Plan also includes Milestones, specifically designed stepping stones that ensure both parties – employer and freelancer – a safe, reliable, and thorough collaboration and payment.
Upwork’s second membership program is their Plus Plan. Note that you can always get the Plus Membership, even if you’ve initially opted for the Basic program. The Plus Plan has more leverage than the free membership. By choosing this option, you get 80 Connects a month. Also, your profile will never be hidden, even if you are offline, which secures you more clients and greater availability down the line. As a Plus member, you can set your profile URL and keep your earnings hidden, if that’s your preference.
The Plus Membership program costs $14.99 and can be downgraded when needed.
Jobs and Salaries on Upwork
There are many professional fields open on Upwork – starting from Administration and IT to Translation and technical support, to name a few. The jobs feature all sorts of tasks and projects – long-term, short-term, paid hourly or paid upon completion, etc. Speaking of salary, Upwork offers hourly statistics to showcase how each job pays. Below, we point out hourly rates based on several different positions, as a comparison:
- Administrative Duties – $11
- Quality Assurance – $14
- Customer Support – $15
- Content Writing – $16
- Web and Graphic Design – $19
- Translation – $22
- IT – $23
- Programming – $25
- Finance – $26
- Marketing – $26
- Multimedia Production – $26
- Sales – $27
- Project Management – $34
As you can denote, many jobs seem to be subfields to others, so you can choose the ones that suit you the best. Or, if you already determined the service you want to provide, let’s move on to setting up your account details.
Setting up Your Upwork Profile
First thing’s first, you need to create a viable Upwork account through a viable email.
And here are the steps to get you there:
Create the Account
To begin the process, click on the Sign Up button, and type your working email address. Then, you can start creating your freelance profile; only know that it will initially be visible to all users and employers. As part of the process, you will have to provide your personal information, such as your work history, skills, experience, payment methods, and the service you want to provide. Though it may take a while, completing your profile 100% will ensure you a faster verification and access to existing projects.
Benched freelancers will find this Upwork feature unfamiliar. Confirming your profile is the latest addition by the platform. Prior to the Badge, there was no step to confirming one’s profile. However, it is now mandatory to take this step before you apply for work.
To prove the account identification, users will be asked to use a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license or a passport. Further, there are a few questions the platform will need answered on your part, typically via a short video verification call, by a trusted Upwork operator. Most of the questions concern your profile and verifying your identity.
As soon as you confirm your profile, you will receive a badge that will stick to your profile, letting clients know that it is a valid freelancer they’re looking at. The purpose of the Upwork badge is to develop further trust between clients and freelancers.
Set up Your Pricing
Ok, let’s talk Upwork pricing. Initially, users have two options to charge their services – by the hour or with a fixed price. This will entirely depend on your freelance preferences, though note, both options have their advantages and disadvantages.
In terms of hourly pricing, freelancers must record the time – hours – they worked, done with the designated Upwork app. This way, clients will know the freelancer has fulfilled their duties in the foreseen time frame. Hourly rates guarantee freelancers they will get paid for their services, at no risk but at a higher cost and fee.
Fixed prices, on the other hand, refer to a total payment for the service, previously determined in consultation with the client. This option cannot fail you, as, well, fixed is fixed. However, the fixed rate often undergoes changes imposed by the platform.
To avoid unforeseen fees, freelancers are advised to begin their professional Upwork journey at an hourly price. Only when you become experienced enough should you decide on setting a fixed price, as it is usually intended for bigger projects.
Connecting with Clients
After you have covered the fundamental steps in creating your Upwork account, you can start your hunt for viable clients. To find a reputable client, it is paramount you apply for open positions regularly so you can have a broader spectrum of options to consider.
If you’re a newbie to the freelancing or Upwork market, note that you won’t have high rates, to begin with – these are to be earned in time. Therefore, know that your professional Upwork portfolio will start at a lower price and smaller projects before you can earn your reputation. When you do, getting the big-fish clients will be far easier.
Creating an Upwork Profile: The Qualifications
Freelancing on Upwork doesn’t impose too many requirements. However, there are a few basic rules every applicant must know beforehand. As a rule of thumb, the two initial criteria to joining Upwork are:
- Every person that’s older than 18 can use the platform.
- Freelancers use their own computer or laptop, both with a stable internet connection.
Another note to consider is that not all applied profiles on Upwork will be approved. Sometimes, even if you meet the given requirements, Upwork might still delete your profile if the area you have applied for is oversaturated and not in-demand. However, as this is not a permanent status, reapplying can help kickstart your profile when the need for your kind of service arises.
Getting Paid on Upwork
Upwork supports multiple banking methods, compatible both for US and non-US freelancers. However, each banking method comes with withdrawal fees that often vary.
- Direct to Local Bank – this banking method is compatible with non-US users.
All you have to do is deposit it to your local bank. To withdraw money, the bank will hold $0.99 of the total sum.
- Wire Transfer – This method is on the pricey side. Although you can transfer money to every bank with it, the service costs $30 per wire.
- Direct to US Bank – this banking method is most convenient for US users as the payments are made free to all US banks. Here, the US bank account deposit must be showcased in US dollars.
- PayPal – it’s the immediate transfer method and the most convenient for the majority of Upwork users. Still, with PayPal, the minimum deposit is $1, whereas the maximum deposit is $10,000 – per transaction.
- Payoneer – this banking method falls in the line of Upwork’s fast transfers.
It takes up to 2 working days for the money to transfer to your account.
For this, Upwork charges a $2 fee, but the fee can vary, depending on the location. This banking method is convenient for non-US freelancers, though it is not all-around available for all countries.
Experienced Upwork Freelancers’ Preferred Payment Methods
The most used banking method on Upwork has to be PayPal, mainly due to its instant transfer feature. But be aware that even though nifty, PayPal is still unavailable in many countries. So, to get the best payment options closer to each budding freelancer, we consulted the freelancing pros – and below are the top payment Upwork options they chose.
- Direct to Local Bank – A recommended method for transactions under $200.
- Payoneer – Ideal for transactions over $200. Payoneer has higher conversion rates than any local bank. Plus for 3 or 4-figure transactions, Upwork will let you transfer more money at a lower fee.
If working on Upwork, it is not advised to go outside the platform and choose third-party payment options, as you might lose your credibility as an Upwork freelancer, and might even get your profile blocked, due to discussing illicit and unverified payment options.
Upwork Features for Freelancers and Employees
Upwork comes with several features every freelancer ought to know beforehand.
All platform features aim to simplify the communication between the client and freelancers, and monitor the project – start to finish. Some of these tools include:
This feature refers to the way clients and freelancers manage the project in real-time.
It basically indicates how long a freelancer spends working on their project. Every freelancer also has a work diary to log all working hours of the day. To further verify their active work, freelancers might be asked to provide screenshots of the project’s evolution. To use the hour tracking option, users need to download the designated time-tracking software to process all information.
This way, Upwork prevents scams and builds trust among both sides.
Navigation & Talent Scout
This one goes to employers on Upwork. Namely, Upwork’s outlook is stylish and practical. In case you seek the best freelancer for a particular project, you can create a profile that will clearly state the project criteria you want. Additionally, you can set the project price, offer details about it and even create timings. Onward, Upwork will help you land the freelancer based on the specifications you’ve provided.
You can also consider Upwork’s recruiting option. Here, Upwork introduces the Talent Scout feature, a program through which Upwork locates and tests viable freelancers on your behalf. The feature is free to use and demands no additional fee.
Rating Upwork: Pros and Cons
To rate Upwork clearly and truly, we decided to pick the brains of several top-rated freelancers and compare their Upwork experiences. Most cons on Upwork concern unforeseen or misunderstood fees, which might be charged until you build your portfolio further.
Con: High Commission Fee
One of the cons of Upwork is the high initial fee – 20% on the first $500 earned. However, as you earn more you’ll get lower fees, somewhere around 10%. And, you can get an even lower fee if you earn $10,000 or over. Other freelance platforms like Freelancer, or Goo keep their initial fee at 10%, but Upwork sets a higher standard and it all has to do with delivering and handpicking its freelancers based on quality.
For newbies, note this tip – add your 20% commission fee to your overall project price, and pitch the client with a total sum, rather than a service cost only.
Pro: Protection Fee
One of the biggest reasons why top-rated freelancers suggest working on Upwork is due to its hourly rates, closely associated with the protection fee. The fee ensures that the platform will pay up all hours you check in on the app, even in a situation where the client gave up the project or refuse to pay the freelancer – for any invalid reason.
Con: Low-Paying Clients
Most complaints regarding Upwork are related to low-paying clients that dominate the scene. Although this is a fact, since Upwork counts over 12 million registered freelancers, not all clients are a failed or unworthy investment. Whilst Upwork newbies will initially work with low-paying clients to get their profile going, don’t be discouraged, the big fish are just around the corner and have no problem paying extra for quality work. However, to avoid scams and invalid projects or clients, ensure the clients you collaborate with or reach out to are verified to the platform, and reputable as employers.
Pro: Paying Subscription
Another note for the benching freelancers – you have to pay for the platform. Back in 2016, Upwork was free, but nowadays freelancers must pay $15 to get 70 credits. To bid for jobs on Upwork, you must use the credits. Depending on the job you want to apply for, the step will cost you 4-6 credits. Don’t see this as a disadvantage though, as paying a subscription means you’ll get faster access to better jobs and better clients.
Con: Saturated Market
Another disadvantage concerning Upwork is its high competition. Having a highly competitive market poses a big challenge to break through the market. Thus, you’ll have to be really persistent – and spotless in providing your service – to have a breakthrough.
Pro: Room for Growth
The good thing about Upwork is that all freelancers have the ongoing opportunity for professional growth. They have the opportunity to work with a wide range of clients and thus absorb more professional knowledge and more skills. To make sure that is the case, the platform also enables professional tests and evaluations, so each freelancer can have verified proof of professional excellence for the client to evaluate.
Currently, Upwork leads the pack among the finest and most reputable freelancing platforms. A true hotspot for both professional clients and freelancers, Upwork rounds up the best talent from all over the globe and allows each professional to have a say in their career evolution!
Despite the few hurdles along the way – verifying your profile, applying to the right clients, managing fees, and completing your portfolio – Upwork is an all-around provider that keeps the best of business services in one place!