11% of the US population freelances. Are you apart of that group?

Upwork is the go-to freelancing platform right now, and most freelancers give it a try at some point.

You can find jobs or hire people for any task imaginable.

I’ve used it both as a freelancer and for hiring freelancers for own my businesses.

I’m going to conduct an Upwork review, so you can get a better idea of whether or not this website is worth your time.

Follow along 🙂

Is Upwork legit?

Can you trust Upwork with your time and money? I went on a quest to research their background to determine this, beginning with the Better Business Bureau.

The BBB is a non-profit organization that accredits businesses and tracks their history, so individuals like you can make informed decisions

Upwork BBB

As you can see from Upwork’s BBB page, they only scored a one star out of five rating for customer service out of 26 reviews. That’s pretty bad.

However, they did land the highest possible BBB rating at an “A+.”

Being accredited and having a high score shows that Upwork is a licensed, trusted, and transparent business. In the eyes of the government and business law, they do everything right.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into those negative review to see what past users experienced.

Upwork review from BBB

Carol claims that her friend recommended she use Workup for finding freelancing gigs, but experienced low paying work and many scams. Clients outright took her work without paying her, and Upwork did little to help her, or vet the job listings to avoid this in the first place.

Second BBB Upwork review

This user, Marie, began working with a developer that went south very fast. The client began calling her derogatory terms, asking for passwords, and threatened her with disputes to terminate the project.

There are heaps of reviews like this about Upwork, and it’s not a surprise. With such a huge marketplace, it’s hard to weed out all of the scammers. However, there’s something else to consider I’d like to talk about…

Low paying clients are always hard to work with.

You’re not going to make a good living or six figures on Upwork. It’s made for beginners or bottom of the barrel freelancers. You’ll never catch me or any other entrepreneurs who have high rates, good portfolios, and real businesses there.

Additionally, people who use Upwork to hire, and I’m generalizing here, tend to have low budgets and expect the world from you. You’ll notice this pattern in Upwork reviews — freelancers getting worked like horses for little pay.

These clients are also a royal pain in the ass to work with. That’s why nowadays I always focus on vetting the hell out of people I work with. No negative or stubborn clients that don’t appreciate what I’m delivering. You should follow suit.

Upwork isn’t a scam itself. They have universally bad reviews all over the internet, but it can be used with some success. The key is to vet freelancers you’re hiring or job listings if you are on the other side of the coin.

Is Upwork good?

Let’s look at this from two perspectives. Firstly, from the eyes of a freelancer.

Signing up and getting accepted is the first step of Upwork, and very difficult in some cases. There’s Reddit threads like this all of the time from freelancers who struggle to get into the platform to begin with.

Reddit post about Upwork

You have to take the time to make an impressive profile, only to get rejection after rejection. Some people can be the most qualified individuals in the world, but Upwork purposely limits certain categories like writers or web designers if there’s too many already on the website.

Upwork also announced in the recent past that they were going to tighten up their approval process to increase the quality of freelancers.

However, let’s say that you do get accepted. You will have to bid against other low paying freelancers for jobs, and it’s hard to get work when you have no reviews or a portfolio.

Secondly, the pay is usually very low. You’re not going to make a living on Upwork, so throw that dream out the window.

Upwork also has the following fees:

  • 20% for the first $500
  • 10% for lifetime billings between $500.01 and $10,000.
  • 5% for lifetime billings over $10,000.

This means that you’re actually making even less than you are already. Unless you’re brand new to the world of freelancing, you should probably avoid these types of platforms.

Now, let’s consider Upwork from the perspective of someone hiring freelancers. Unlike applying as someone who wishes to do gigs, you will get 100% accepted every time as an employer.

You can create a listing very quickly by filling out a title, description, and other details.

Creating an Upwork listing

You will get plenty of people applying to do the job, giving you many options to choose from, as well. I recommend having a thorough criteria for choosing candidates, including years of experience, amount of portfolio pieces, and previous reviews.

Since many freelancers on Upwork are desperate for work, you can pay them very low rates and save money compared to hiring externally. If you choose the right person, hiring on Upwork can be a great experience.

Overall, I’d say that you’re better off using Upwork as a business owner to outsource tasks, not as freelancer yourself. However, this brings me to my next point.

Is Upwork good for beginners?

The only case where I would recommend Upwork is if you’re just beginning your freelancing career.

It’s an effective way to learn how to pitch clients, get projects work, and it will earn you some side income, too.

Other than that, you should quickly move off of the platform. Create your own website, learn inbound/outbound marketing, and build a real business.

Too many people get stuck on places like Upwork, and they never end up amassing a real company or client base. Don’t be one of them.

Are Upwork tests timed?

As a freelancer, you should complete Upwork tests to prove your expertise in relevant fields. These can be accessed from “Find Work” and “Tests.”

Upwork tests

Click one you wish to complete, and yes, there will be a timer in the top right which tells you how much you have left until it is over.

Time remaining in an Upwork test

Are Upwork tests worth it?

Upwork tests show potential clients that you are experienced and have credentials. Tests are also a great asset for those that have little no portfolio pieces, so you have something to show at least. Overall, they are worth to slowly add to your profile when you have the free time.

How much can you make on Upwork?

The money you can make on Upwork is dependent on a variety of factors, including:

  1. Your individual service and industry
  2. What your current rates are
  3. How many hours per week you have available to work
  4. Your pitching skills

For example, if you offer a $250 service and can complete it twice per week, that would equal to an extra $2,000 per month!

Remember that they also take a percentage of each project, which will slowly eat at your profits.

What you put into it is what you will get out of it. So, if you approach it like a full time job, you can expect to make some decent income. But, it won’t be better than running your own freelance business off of the platform.

Upwork Profile examples

Here are some examples of good profiles that you can learn from to make yours better.

Example of Upwork profile

This MongoDB developer has a great description, touching on his decades of experience, niche skills, and education. Make sure to create a rich biography like this to sway clients.

Also note that he has a professional photo, not a selfie or low quality image. His job success rate is 100%, which definitely will help win over future jobs, too.

As you spend more time on the platform, your profile will become more impressive. Your total income earned, completed jobs, and hours worked will stack up, showing employers that you’re serious and hard working.

Next up is a web designer and front-end developer profile named Mihaly. Specifically I want to show you his portfolio.

Upwork portfolio

He boasts two pages of websites he’s worked on, along with a link to his own portfolio site. Make sure that you fill out your portfolio to show off the great work you’ve done. If you’ve built a personal site, include that, as well.

Continuing, he has completed several tests to showcase his expertise, along with very specific skills he chose on his profile settings.

Upwork skills

It’s wise to niche down and offer a very specific service because it makes gig hunting easier. You can set up your profile to make you look like an expert at one thing, and gradually become well known for it like Mihaly.

Upwork proposal template

Getting clients on Upwork can be tough. Once you’ve optimized your profile, it’s all about sending impressive proposals that will turn heads.

Here are some of the main strategies you need to understand when pitching clients…

#1 – Focus on the benefit of your working with you

Yeah, it’s great that you graduated from a reputable school and have years of experience. But, what the hell does that tell the client?

Not much.

That’s why you need to talk about how your services will net them something. Maybe it’s revenue, more organic traffic, or email signups. Make your service more tangible in a proposal.

#2 – Keep it short and sweet

Employers getting tons of applicants, especially for high paying and interesting gigs.

That’s why you should save them time and create a proposal that’s straight to the point.

Read your pitch thoroughly and remove any fluff or useless information.

It will provide more value and stand out from the crowd of generic messages they receive.

#3 – End it with a call to action

Calls to action are proven to be psychologically effective at convincing people to take action. That’s why you should include one in your pitch.

It can be something like:

  • “Tell me what you think.”
  • “Looking forward to your thoughts.”
  • “Let me know your opinion.”

You could also ask a question, which works the same way. The general idea is to entice some kind of response with this strategy, versus the bland and boring proposals they get that are easy to ignore.

So, is Upwork worth it?

Here’s the deal. As a freelancer, Upwork isn’t that good unless you’re just starting out. It’s good to build some initial income and experience, but any entrepreneur worth their while will tell you get build your own business afterwards.

Launch your own website, create social media accounts, and learn how to pitch real world companies. You get to keep 100% of the profits, and build assets that will compound with time.

Upwork could ban you at any given time, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Only use it for as long as you need to.

On the flip side, if you’re looking to hire freelancers, Upwork is golden. You can get workers for dirt cheap, and you’ll get a huge amount of proposals per project.

Ensure that you always vet people you work with, no matter if you’re a freelancer or business owner.

What was your experience with Upwork like?

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