Upwork Review: Is it worth it?

TransferWise
20.06.19
6 minute read

Upwork is one of the largest freelancer sites in the world, allowing employers to find freelancers to complete projects - and connecting freelance and remote workers all over the globe with companies which need their skills. Using a freelance marketplace like Upwork can be a good way to find work.

As a freelancer you can take on interesting projects from clients based all over the world. This gives you a global pool of potential customers - but can make sending invoices and getting paid hard work. You may find your regular bank or currency conversion service charges a high fee for currency exchange - either as an upfront cost, or wrapped up in a poor exchange rate. Either way, you lose out.

If you need to receive international payments from freelance clients, you could be better off with a TransferWise borderless account for freelancers. This smart new account lets clients pay you directly in their local currency, which you can hold or spend - or send back to your UK bank account in pounds. More on that, and how you can save money when finding freelance work on Upwork, in a moment.

What is Upwork?

Upwork is the biggest global freelancing website in the world. It works to connect freelancers with businesses who need their skills, either for a one off project, or for a longer term relationship requiring custom services.

As more and more people start to work on a freelance or contract basis, and remote working becomes more popular, freelancing sites such as Upwork have become a popular way for freelancers to find work. At Upwork you can find projects over 70 categories, from web development to writing, and legal services to logo designers.¹

Need to pay invoices abroad and receive international payments like a local? TransferWise could save you up to 14x versus other providers

Before you get started, a word.

Banks and money transfer providers often don’t convert your money with the mid-market exchange rate when you make or receive an international payment. Instead they add a mark-up and charge you a hidden fee that way.

TransferWise is different. Its smart technology skips hefty international transfer fees by connecting local bank accounts all around the world. Which means you can save up to 8x by using TransferWise rather than your bank when you send your money abroad.

Check out TransferWise’s borderless multi-currency account, for freelancers to invoice like a local around the world and receive multiple currencies for free. It’s up to 14x cheaper than PayPal, so why not give it a try.

TransferWise also has a lot of additional features for business users. You can connect with Xero to make your life easier, upload a batch of payments in one go or even automate your payments by integrating with our API. And there’s more to come in the future.

Now, back to what you came here to read.

How does it work?

To get started on Upwork you’ll first need to create a profile, highlighting your skills and experience, and the type of work you’re looking for. The platform will automatically start to match you with projects which may be of interest, and you can also browse the site for jobs which appeal to you.

When you find a project you are interested in, you create a job proposal which you send to the employer. They’ll look at your profile and the proposal, and will also be able to see the history of the work you have done previously through Upwork, including the number of jobs you’ve completed and the reviews employers have left for you.

If an employer selects you to complete a project, you’ll complete the job, using the platform’s shared workspace for sending and receiving documents, managing expenses and tracking time, and communicating with the employer. Once the work is finished, you’ll be able to create and send an invoice using the platform, to receive payment.²

How do you get paid?

Once you’ve finished your project, you need to work out how to get paid.

Upwork hold project payments in escrow. This means the employer will pay Upwork in advance when they commission a freelancer, and they’ll hold the money securely until you agree the job is complete. At that stage, Upwork will pass on the payment - minus their fees - using your chosen payment method.

You can get paid using the following payment methods:

  • Direct deposit or bank transfer
  • PayPal
  • An alternative payment method like Payoneer or Skrill²

A lot of payments through Upwork are paid in USD, which can be an issue if your bank account is located outside of the US, as there can be additional fees involved - so you receive less money for your hard work. The good news is that you can get paid using local US bank details, even if you don’t hold a bank account in America, when you open a TransferWise borderless multi-currency account.

Upwork fees

If you find an employer through Upwork, you’ll pay a fee to the platform for their service. Here’s what you need to know:

Lifetime billing for that client Upwork fee
Up to USD500 or the currency equivalent 20%
USD500.01 to USD10,000 10%
Over USD10,000 5%

Fees are set on a sliding scale, so the longer you work with a particular client, the lower the fee you’ll pay to Upwork. This is intended to encourage freelancers to form long term relationships with certain employers, and help employers find reliable support every time they need it.²

Advantages and disadvantages of using Upwork

Still not sure if Upwork is for you? Here are a few advantages to consider:

  • Any work that can be done using a computer, can be done through Upwork, making the range of projects huge
  • Work is flexible and done entirely according to your schedule - simply choose the projects which fit your availability, and write proposals for them
  • Over time you can build a reputation on the platform, and start to form long term relationships with specific employers

Of course, there are also downsides to working through Upwork - here are some you should know about:

  • Although there are many projects available to choose from, you’re in a global marketplace, and it can be hard for newer freelancers to get their first few jobs
  • Before you can even start with a project, you’ll need to invest time in creating a great profile, scoping and writing a compelling work proposal, and calculating attractive rates which will still be profitable for you

Upwork alternative: Are there other options out there?

Before you decide which platform to use as a freelancer, it pays to do some research into the best one for your needs. There are many different options, including more generalist sites featuring projects which could cover a wide range of skills, through to niche options where employers will look specifically for freelancers with a specific skill, like design or coding.

Here are some generalist freelance platforms to get your search started:

  • Fiverr - famous for the fact that project bids always start at $5 - this lends itself to small projects such as single blog posts and small design jobs
  • Outsourcely - as a freelancer you receive 100% of the price the employer is willing to pay for a job, so you don’t need to worry about platform fees when you calculate your income. Mainly for long term remote work projects
  • Freelancer.com - find projects listed across 1350 different categories, and bid for jobs right away
  • PeoplePerHour - this platform offers some project management tools for employers, which can make it a simple way for them to source freelancers and manage their project through to completion

Upwork is a good option for many freelancers, as the range of projects available is huge. You could hit lucky and find a great client who wants a long term relationship with a freelancer for ongoing jobs - although you’ll probably find you need to hustle a bit at first to build a reputation on the site, and make yourself attractive to the best employers out there. Once you’re set up, it’s time to think about how to get your income from overseas clients back into the UK. A great way to do this - and avoid high fees and poor exchange rates - is to get yourself a TransferWise borderless account for freelancers. Check out how TransferWise can help you pay less in exchange fees, so you can keep more of your hard earned income.

Sources:

1.https://www.upwork.com/about/ UpWork - About
2.https://www.upwork.com/i/how-it-works/freelancer/ UpWork - How it works
3.https://www.fiverr.com/ Fiverr
4.https://www.outsourcely.com/ OutSourcely
5.https://www.freelancer.com/ Freelancer
6.https://www.peopleperhour.com/hire-freelancers/uk+version PeoplePerHour

Sources checked on 10 June 2019.


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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