Is Upwork legit?

upwork app

Upwork is a freelancing platform that offers freelancers and clients looking to hire freelancers to get together, agree on a price for a project and have the freelancer provide the completed work and get paid by the client.

Those who have been out of the freelancing business for a few years may not know that Upwork is the result of a merger between Elance and oDesk. Those former companies were founded in 1999 and 2003, and their merger occurred in 2015.

Upwork has tens of millions of users in hundreds of countries and reported revenue figures reaching hundreds of millions. In addition, clients such as Microsoft and Airbnb have used it.

Is Upwork legit?

But you are here because you are wondering if Upwork is legit. Perhaps you have heard complaints about it that have caused you to hesitate to sign up for the service or use it if you have signed up.

The short answer is that Upwork as a company is legit. It is not a scam, and freelancers get paid for their work there.

Scammers on Upwork

Freelancers who do utilize Upwork’s services need to be wary of one crucial factor. Some of those who use it from the client side are, in fact, scammers. Most notably, this can result in work being done and not receiving payment.

However, this can even result in significantly more monetary losses than the money earned, say, writing $50 worth of work.

One scam results in a client sending a check to a freelancer and asking the person to use it to buy office supplies or other items, which is done after it appears to have been cleared by the bank. But it has not, and they are then on the hook for the money that has been spent, which can be thousands of dollars.

Regardless, you should be very wary if you take your conversations and interactions outside of the Upwork platform as, in those situations, Upwork essentially tells you that you are on your own. Of course, many people do this – i.e., start communicating through other methods – but be wary, especially if any money exchanges become part of those away-from-Upwork exchanges.

Simply put, there is no reason to provide money, cash a check for someone, or work for free.

upwork website

Recommendations for people buying work on Upwork

One way to help reduce the odds of dealing with scammers as freelancers are to ensure that they have a verified payment method before engaging in any work for them.

With all that said, clients must also be wary of freelancers who do things such as promise to do a project and then do not deliver in the time frame agreed upon or perhaps ever. Also, do not release payment before the work is submitted or before reviewing the work sent to you.

And check to see if any writing provided is plagiarized work.

Before getting to that point, you should carefully read reviews, especially recent ones, of freelancers who you are considering, their job success scores, their talent badges, and their portfolios.

Should you provide free samples?

Freelancers should be hesitant to provide sample articles while bidding for work. Sometimes, clients look for numerous free samples to be sent to them and will not hire anyone. Although not all clients who ask for this are scammers, enough are to cause freelancers to want to be careful in those situations.

You will also want to analyze a client’s statistics when this is proposed to see if, for example, they have already done a lot of interviews and not hired anyone.

Is it a race to the bottom?

Even if you are working there and getting paid the amounts that clients are promising you, another aspect of this experience you need to be wary of is engaging in a race to the bottom. What is meant by that statement is that in many cases, freelancers will look to get paid less and less to secure more work, partially or primarily because they see others doing the same.

Of course, this is not a scam-related feature, per se, but it is something to consider as you might not be able to earn enough money to make a living through Upwork or similar websites by engaging in this practice.

However, it does not need to be a race to the bottom. Depending on your skill set, negotiating skills, and other factors, you can earn a manageable or even comfortable living through Upwork.

One way that some do this is by simply declining work that pays too little. In other words, they refuse to do work that pays below a personally defined per-hour threshold. Another strategy is to accept being paid a little early but be determined to make that a temporary situation as you increase your per-hour threshold. The key to making more money is by building your brand and reputation as you build your experience.

Upwork’s fees

This is another feature of working through Upwork to consider that it is not a scam but something to keep in mind.

You will not get paid 100% of what you earn. Upwork needs to receive some cut of the pie. Of course, people could argue whether that slice is too large, but it does need to receive something to reimburse it for bringing freelancers and clients together. Also, consider that the time it takes you to enter this type of situation is often much less when done through Upwork.

With Upwork, freelancers are charged 20% of the first $500 they earn with a given client, 10% for everything above that amount up to $10,000, and 5% for all work done beyond that total.

$0-$500 in earnings 20% service fee
$500.01-$10,000 in earnings10% service fee
$10,000.01 or more in earnings5% service fee
upwork logo

Your profile could be deleted at any time

Something else to consider when working through Upwork is that the company could delete your profile anytime. But as long as you follow the rules and regulations that Upwork has put forth, it is very unlikely to occur. However, the possibility of your profile being closed for what you deem unfair reasons or what are unfair reasons is there.

For this and various other reasons, you likely do not want to make Upwork your sole source of revenue.

What other options do I have?

Another website that is similar to Upwork that some utilize is Fiverr.

However, you may want to go a different route entirely. An option to consider is being proactive away from these types of websites. Research companies, determine how you can help them with your skills, and pitch those ideas to those organizations. Some utilize LinkedIn while engaging in this strategy.

Is Upwork the right choice for me?

If you are reading this, you are likely struggling to find enough work in other ways and considering using Upwork to attempt to meet those needs. If this is in fact you, Upwork might be the right choice for you. To clarify, creating an account and diving into the pool might be the right choice for you. See if this type of setup fits you while concurrently keeping your eyes open as far as what you earn if it is worth it to earn that amount of money for the time that you would be devoted, and being wary of any scams.

Another benefit to keeping in mind is that people you work with here may also create connections for you elsewhere. In other words, clients may recommend other clients to writers, and writers may recommend other writers to clients.

Also, consider that some make a comfortable living through Upwork, but keep in mind that plenty of people do not and that even if you do, you likely do not want to make Upwork your focus.

Lastly, note that it could take some time to experience success at Upwork.


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  • Is Upwork good for beginners?
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  • How does Upwork work?
  • Is Upwork worth it?

About Isaac

I am a digital marketing consultant located in Ottawa, Ontario. My focus is on Technical SEO, Web Design, and Content optimization for small to medium-sized businesses.

Published on: 2022-11-15
Updated on: 2022-11-23