What Is UpWork?

Exclusive Bonus: Access our exclusive 5 Tactics to making more money on Upwork your step-by-step guide to making more money this month on Upwork

Here at FH we mention UpWork quite regularly – mainly because it helped us to forge our Hustler empire, from the comfort of a cafe in Colombia! We think it rocks, but realize that some of you may not have heard of it so far.

We thought it was about time we put together an awesome resource that explained simply, without putting you to sleep, just what UpWork is and how to find your way around the site. So dive in, and let us know what you think.

What Is UpWork?

UpWork is an enormous online freelance platform, which acts like a recruitment match maker. It connects people across the Globe to enable the crushing of projects from all over the world.

  • Owners of businesses of all kinds and sizes come looking to employ talented freelancers.
  • Freelancers come looking for clients to serve and ways to bring in the bucks.

Overall, it is mutually beneficial for both parties looking to connect to complete projects.

UpWork Build You Dream
UpWork Build You Dream

Is UpWork Different From ODesk?

UpWork is the result of a merger between two existing and established freelance platforms, ODesk and Elance. So they are essentially the same thing.

The main difference to note is that there is a message centre on UpWork which enables freelancers that are immediately available to communicate with clients, without even having a profile on the site.

Do You Have To Pay To Use It?

There is no charge for freelancers to join UpWork, although you can upgrade and pay for premium membership options.

Once you start work (with any membership level), they do deduct a service fee from every project. This takes shape in the form of an automatically added percentage on top of each amount paid by the client.

Essentially the freelancer is responsible for the fee, which is 10% of the total amount. Most adjust their rates accordingly to ensure that they receive the amount that they want to earn, effectively pushing the total up – and passing the fee to the client.

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What Are The Benefits of Using UpWork?

UpWork can be a great place to start out as a freelancer. It allows you to get a feel for the industry that you want to work in, the kind of clients you want to serve, and the specific roles you want to take on. It is an ideal way to find out where your strengths and passions lie.

UpWork also has the benefit of instilling confidence in clients, so that they feel safe hiring contractors. This means that businesses which may have felt unsure about doing so in the past are being more active on the freelance scene. This allows you to make a connection and prove that you are professional and trustworthy.

Projects can sometimes become longer term contracts too, and the more connections you make, the bigger your network will grow. This may result in finding freelance work through word of mouth outside of UpWork – all thanks to the handy platform.

Another benefit is that you to always have full control over who you work for, the industry you serve and also what specific projects you take on. You can look at a client’s profile in depth before you submit a proposal too.

UpWork can help you to track your time if you decide to work hourly – with automated billing. And for projects, you can break down the work into pre-agreed milestones and payment schedules. You can then prompt and remind clients through the system once milestones are completed.

Are There Any Downsides?

The main downside to using UpWork would have to be the sheer number of freelancers signed up on the platform – it is saturated with more than 10 million registered users. While this is spread across a number of skills, it still means lots of competition when it comes to applying for roles.

Plus the fact that the platform is global means that there are many contractors based in areas with a lower cost of living. This enables them to accept very low fees for work, in comparison to employing somebody locally in the States for example.

It is therefore easy to be sucked into a price war, haggling and lowering rates just to secure a role. Don’t be one of these people! We can show you how to avoid this trap on our free Make Money on UpWork Mini Course, which you can access here.

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What Do The Most Successful Freelancers Do?

So while some freelancers find themselves struggling to be seen over all of the competition, some effortlessly join the cream at the top and consistently land the highest paying roles. We can confirm that this is true – because we are those people!

And it doesn’t take a magic wand….

The best way to ensure success on Upwork is to follow these steps:

  • Make sure that your profile is complete, professional, well-written and free from errors
  • Use a friendly photograph of yourself
  • Highlight your skills and strengths, and get specific!
  • When applying to roles, write your proposal specifically for the job in hand – no copy and pasting

We could go into far more detail here, and if you are interested in knowing more about how the most successful freelancers land high paying roles on UpWork check out our free Upwork.com Starter Kit

Exclusive Bonus: Access our exclusive 5 Tactics to making more money on Upwork your step-by-step guide to making more money this month on Upwork

How Do You Get Started?

To get started on UpWork, all you really need is a computer and an internet connection.

You can sign up for Upwork quickly and easily – but take some time getting your profile looking slick. Then you are free to start looking for work.

How Do You Find Clients?

Once your profile is complete you can head over to the job search page, where you decide on the categories that you will browse from. Within each category there are a number of specialisations listed and you can decide from there which areas you would like to work in.
Once you narrow down the options a list of jobs is displayed, and then you can browse through to see if any are of interest to you. You will see a job title displayed, as well as when it was posted, the budget, a small summary about the client and the opening of the job description.Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 12.00.25 PM

This should be enough to tell you if you want to find out more. The full job description provides more detail about the client and the role. It also gives you the option to apply for the job – and shows how many applicants have already submitted a proposal.

Upwiork job description

If you decide to submit a proposal you will need to fill in the relevant sections – including your fee, the estimated duration, cover letter and any relevant attachments.

Upwork Submitting Proposal
Upwork Submitting Proposal

We tend to steer clear of using UpWork to negotiate fees, and follow a very specific process when submitting proposals. You can find out why and how we do it by signing up to our Make Money on UpWork Mini Course, click here to find out more.

Are There Any Alternatives To UpWork?

There are many platforms available that freelancers can use to find contract and project work. While some are similar, there are options with lower service fees, many are more specific in terms of industry or require subscriptions. We have compiled a list of some of the best below.


Angel List a job site focused on connecting freelancers with jobs in startup businesses, also offering opportunities for individuals to invest in new business.

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Authentic Jobs

Authentic Jobs was established in 2005 and is trusted by many leading companies including Apple.

They describe themselves as:

The perfect blend of talent & opportunity.
Authentic Jobs is where companies and creative professionals meet to make a better web. In other words, you.

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Coworks is a slightly different platform that encourages clients to build their team of remote workers from the one site. It provides collaboration tools which make it easy to work together. Their service fee is 3.95%.

You can watch a short video on how it works here.

While the experience is very different for the clients, overall it is not much different for an individual freelancer, as you will often find that you need to collaborate with various teams in your project work anyway.

Hubstaff Staffing

This platform does not charge service fees, and is pretty comprehensive in what it offers to clients, allowing them to manage their remote team intricately, while tracking time and budgets. The freelancers are personally chosen by Hubstaff’s remote team and matched with roles, making it a smart choice for clients.

Hubstaff gives you unparalleled insight into what your team is doing with screenshots and activity levels. Now you can also see which applications your team members are using and what URLs they are browsing to while tracking time.


Jobbatical provides an awesome platform for freelancers to work in a different country for a set periods.Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 12.58.34 PM


Toptal is an exclusive network of the top 3% of freelance talent in software development and design.


UpWork is a fantastic and useful resource that connects many freelancers to new projects every day. With a little insider knowledge it can be leveraged to build a successful business, and we can show you how we did it, on our free Upwork.com Starter Kit here

Exclusive Bonus: Access our exclusive 5 Tactics to making more money on Upwork your step-by-step guide to making more money this month on Upwork

The mini course works just as well on any freelancing platform. The suggestions and advice are useful to help you up your freelance game no matter what industry you are in, or service you provide.
We would love to hear from you if you have experience using any of the platforms we have listed here, or perhaps you know of another great one that we haven’t mentioned. Maybe you are considering signing up and are not sure where to start.

Don’t hesitate to leave us a message in the comments below.

I help talented Freelancers use Upwork to leverage explode their online careers, add a serious boost to their sales and develop their ideal dream lifestyle. All of the strategies and techniques that I teach to others are ones that I have used myself and things that I have learned from building my very own multiple six figure content marketing agency. Gingerbread Marketing.

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