Work and Travel

Digital Nomad's Review of Upwork [2023]: Should you use it?

Updated on:  
November 7, 2022
Reading Time:  
6
 minutes
Raeesha Ikram
Raeesha Ikram
Contributor
Are you considering the life of a digital nomad? If you’re new to freelancing, you’ve probably heard of Upwork and are wondering whether it’s the freelancing website for you! Discover everything you need to know from a fellow freelancer in this Upwork review.

Freelancing can help fund your digital nomad travel dreams. Freelance full-time as your primary income, or land part-time gigs to boost your travel budget! 

It takes a lot of discipline, but freelancing has allowed more and more people to travel and experience the world as they work

When it comes to finding online job opportunities, there are plenty of platforms to choose from. But how reliable and legitimate are they? Discover what makes Upwork stand out from the rest.

Upwork horizontal logo
Image Courtesy of Upwork

What is Upwork?

Upwork Global Inc is a marketplace that connects freelancers with businesses and possible employers. Formerly known as Elance-oDesk, Upwork was founded in 2013 and currently has a freelancer base of over 12 million. 

As a global freelancing platform, Upwork helps you collaborate with prospective clients and build your career. 

How to become a freelancer on Upwork?

The first step is to create an account. You can sign up for the Basic Plan, which gives you 60 free connects per month. It’s the best option for a beginner. 

Do you need more? The Freelancer Plus plan charges $14.99 monthly and offers more connects and other perks. Once you sign up, create an attractive profile by filling out all the required information. 

What are Upwork connects?

I mentioned “connects,” but what are they exactly? Connects are Upwork’s token currency and are used to perform specific actions on the platform. You use the connects when applying for jobs and purchasing extra value-added services. 

If you run out of Upwork connects, you can purchase extra ones. 

Types of jobs available on Upwork

Upwork jobs are grouped under the following categories: 

  • Accounting and Consulting 
  • Admin Support 
  • Customer Service
  • Data Science and Analysis 
  • Design and Creative
  • Engineering and Architecture 
  • IT & Networking 
  • Legal
  • Sales & Marketing 
  • Translation 
  • Web, Mobile, & Software Development
  • Writing 

There are also numerous subcategories under each main Upwork category listed above. All these subcategories help you specify your skills and find relevant jobs easily. 

There are over 2500 skill subcategories in total!

Woman working on Macbook
Image Courtesy of Content Pixie on Unsplash

How does Upwork work? 

With your Upwork freelancing account, you can start looking for jobs under the “Find Work” tab. Once you click on that tab, you’ll find a tailor-made list of suggestions based on your area of expertise.

Each job posting will have a description provided by the client that should include the following:

  • the level of experience required, 
  • the project duration,
  • the budget, 
  • and other details about the work. 

You can browse through the suggested gigs and apply using your Upwork connects. The number of connects required for each job opening is different. If a job demands more connects, it’s most probably long-term work.

If the client likes your application, they will reach out to you. You can discuss the project, and if all goes well, you’ll be hired! 

The client usually sets up a contract, or you can do it for them. For long-term projects, the client can add milestones for each task and pay you in increments. Or you may receive the total amount at the end of the project. 

How much does Upwork take?

Initially, Upwork takes 20% of your earnings as a service fee. But the good news is that once you’ve earned $500 from a client, the rate drops to 10%. If the project earnings go beyond $10,000, the service fee is only 5%.

If you maintain long-term partnerships, you can lower the service fees.

What’s great about Upwork?

There’s so much to love about Upwork! Here are some valuable points that make Upwork such a game-changer. 

Convenient and easy to use 

It’s easy to build a good profile, apply for jobs, and manage clients on Upwork. You won’t encounter issues using the platform if you adhere to the basic rules. 

There’s a web version, desktop app, and mobile app to help you better manage contracts. The user-friendly interface makes navigation easy, and I find Upwork more reliable than other sites like Freelancer

Mobile app ad for Upwork
Image Courtesy of Upwork

Reliable customer support

My experience with customer support has always been good. They answer my queries promptly and offer possible solutions to issues I face. 

I prefer chatting with a live support agent to using other methods. You can also report scam-related activities to them. 

Plenty of job postings 

While it’s true that the supply of freelancers is higher than the demand, plenty of jobs are posted on the platform every day. For example, in the writing category alone, you get a lot of options. You can find anything from script writing to resume writing to website content. 

If you have the talent and a compelling portfolio to show off your skills, you have a better chance of being hired. Also, most clients are looking to hire immediately.

Incentives

Upwork also has a few features that help you improve the credibility and visibility of your profile as your career grows. 

Upwork clients can leave feedback on your work, and outside clients can leave testimonials. Based on reviews and past earnings, you can earn a Top Rated Badge, which makes you stand out from the rest. 

Getting paid

Tackling different payment methods, sending out invoices upon completion, and managing payments can be overwhelming. This is especially true if you’re working while you’re on the road. 

Upwork makes getting paid easy as pie! Once clients have paid you via Upwork, there are many ways to access your funds:

  • direct bank transfer, 
  • PayPal, 
  • and Payoneer 

Upwork also offers payment protection to ensure you’re paid for your work.

man in the dark completing a freelance con
Image Courtesy of Jefferson Santos on Unsplash

What’s not so great about Upwork?

Being a freelancer is not without its challenges! And even a seamless platform like Upwork has its downsides. But it’s all worth it in the end!

Hard to get hired the first time

It took me nearly a month to land my first gig on Upwork, and I kept applying to as many jobs as possible every day. Upwork has grown so much over the years, and the marketplace is more competitive today than ever. 

Clients like to employ someone with a track record. So, it can be tough to find work if you’re just starting out. But keep at it, and your efforts will pay off! 

Scammers

While Upwork has many measures in place to prevent scams from happening, there are still plenty of people looking to scam you and get work done for free. New freelancers desperately looking for a job can be their easy target. 

Always check if the client has any past reviews, has a verified payment method, and has a reasonable budget set for the project. 

Most scammers lure freelancers by setting an unreasonably high budget on the job description. So watch out for anything fishy like this.

Service fees

Upwork takes a sizable portion of your earnings as service fees. 20% makes a big difference when you’re just starting and earning lower rates.

But I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I’ve had if it weren’t for Upwork. Plus, the payment protection and dispute management services are very worth it and valuable protection. When I started as a newbie, this protection was critical! However, some freelancers do say 20% is an unfair amount.

Tips on how to get jobs on Upwork

Keep applying to new jobs every day, although it may initially seem useless. 

Complete your profile, fine-tune your bio, and write compelling job proposals. Having a portfolio of your previous/sample work helps a lot too. 

Avoid engaging with clients who provide links or contact details, asking to communicate outside of Upwork. They’re most probably a scam. Communicating outside Upwork to negotiate a new contract is against the platform’s policy.

Offer quality work, so you get great feedback, leading to more jobs and attracting clients through referrals. 

freelancer in an online meeting with mug at a desk
Photo by Compare Fibre on Unsplash

Is Upwork worth it?

Yes. If you’re looking for a side hustle to utilize your skills and make decent money, Upwork is a great platform. It also has an affiliate program where you can earn commissions by promoting its services. 

You can also consider other platforms like Fiverr, WeWorkRemotely, and Freelancer. But Upwork is the leader in its industry for a good reason.

Our Rating: 4.6/5

Pros:

  • Convenient, user-friendly platform
  • Reliable customer support
  • Plenty of work opportunities
  • Incentives for growth
  • Ease of getting paid

Cons:

  • Difficult for new users to get hired 
  • Scammers 
  • High service fees

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Upwork is one of the largest and most competitive freelancing platforms. As someone who started her freelancing journey with Upwork, this review is based on my experiences and what I’ve learned from my circle of fellow freelancers.

Published on:  
November 7, 2022

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