What is Upwork?
Upwork is a freelance bid-based platform where clients can find employees available for online work with fast turnaround. It is the result of the formal union between two distinct companies, eLance and oDesk, which had different specific functions but still centered around the idea of online-only hiring, delivery and payment systems for freelancers.
Upwork features a global network of freelancers with different ranges of skills and a number of categories in which they can find or post positions for work. All remote work can be handled on Upwork.
The jobs, or Tasks, are given by employers seeking a freelancer onto the marketplace. Those Tasks are then bid by freelancers to see who will take the work on and what their rates are for it. The client can then hire one of the bidders to start the work until the conclusion of the task.
Upwork has consistently been a massively popular platform both for Freelancers and for Clients who want to hire them. This popularity has given it a wide userbase from all over the world. Anyone can join to make Tasks or complete them, it is a totally free and open marketplace for jobs.
Upwork Pros and Cons
Upwork has been around long enough to innovate on its models and upgrade itself to stay in the lead as far as freelance marketplaces go. It has certain advantages over other platforms but also fails to deliver on certain aspects that others have picked up on.
Upwork is definitely the most used freelance marketplace, with the highest number of accounts for both clients and freelancers. According to recent statistics it has over 12 million active freelancers and over 5 million clients. This means that any task on offer will likely be seen and bid on by at least a few potential workers.
Upwork has no single area of expertise aside from offering remote work only. Therefore, any kind of work which can be done over a computer can be delivered on Upwork. Some of the most popular categories for work are short-form content writing but opportunities for coding and website design can also be found there.
Pricing and Payment
Upwork guarantees safe payment that goes both ways. Funds are held in escrow until the work is delivered and of agreeable quality from both parties. The freelancers place their own bids on available tasks, some of which may have strict payment limits but they can offer lower prices than what is offered in the hopes of being picked for the job over others who will work for the same, or higher, price. Because of this method, the easiest way many freelancers find work is to undersell themselves, leading to lower overall prices.
Popularity is a double-edged topic. Because there are so many people, and far more freelancers than clients, there is always intense competition to get picked for any given task. Sometimes the first to claim it will get the job, other times over a dozen freelancers can get rejected at once, leading them elsewhere. This also results in many freelancers taking on huge lists of work thinking only a small fraction will be accepted which can lead to workload bloat.
Poor Quality Control
Anyone can make an account on Upwork as long as they have a valid payment address and can fill out a form. There’s no actual validation or vetting that goes on. As such, a professional in a field looking to make part-time money online will be treated the same as someone with zero experience with an extremely basic understanding of the same work procedure. Because of this there are few professionals left on the site itself as they have chosen more quality-driven marketplaces where their credentials can be displayed.
Minimal Customer Support
Much of Upwork’s customer support is automated and as such is very basic. Complex issues between clients and freelancers can often erupt due to scams which lead clients on a long path to reclaiming money from escrow, or in the reverse, can cause the freelancers who do deliver their work to get cheated out of funds from sketchy clients that take the work and refuse to pay. It’s also very easy to lie on profiles or just copy and paste others without meeting any listed qualifications.
Buying and Selling
Upwork has changed its methods on how freelancers and clients can engage on Upwork through the job listings. Before, freelancers could only commit to a number of job proposals at a time, dictated by the metrics of their profile. Now, they rely on “connects” which have a cost associated, meaning that freelancers have to pay forward to request work on tasks offered by clients to help deter scam requests.
The minimum hourly fee and fee in general for work is $3 USD. Service fees only apply to clients that use specific payment transaction platforms. Freelancers, however, have a service fee taken from their earnings automatically that is based on the amount of money earned from a client over a lifetime relationship. This is meant for people who engage in regular part-time remote work or are partially employed by a client and earn money regularly from the same person. Upwork allows the opportunities to flourish without detracting from the rest of its service, but it is not a temp agency.
For hourly rates, Upwork has a Time Tracker app that logs how many hours a person spends on a given project. It takes screenshots at random intervals that can then be uploaded to the client and managed before sending, to ensure that the time was being spent on work so that the payment is fair. This is optional by the freelancer and only available for desktop computer systems.
Upwork may still be the most popular remote work freelance market platform online, but its popularity has given it a share of issues to work through. Much of the vetting will be on the client side to determine if they are hiring a true professional, but most true professionals don’t use Upwork to host their services as it is too risky and lacks substantial support.
Small projects with tight deadlines or potential remote work employment are both possibilities that Upwork specializes in.