Is upwork a scam? My comprehensive review

UpWork is not a scam. It is a legitimate cloud-based worldwide freelancing platform. It was formerly known as Elance-oDesk. It was re branded in 2015. UpWork Global Inc. is a renowned American company headquartered in Mountain view, California.


Elance and oDesk both date as far back as 1999, and so it is fair to recognize UpWork as one of the oldest freelance platforms in the world and thus not a scam.


It is a legitimate marketplace both for freelancers to get jobs and for employers to hire freelancers.


Arguably, UpWork is the online workplace with the widest reach and greatest pool of freelancers and prospective hirers. The platform boasts over 17 million registered users from around the world, and managing this number of people is no easy feat.


Companies and freelancers alike strive for the best services with competitive prices on UpWork. The idea is that both sides offer rates that are appealing to their audience in order to pull in the finest deals.


To help users find what they want more easily, the UpWork platform is equipped with a robust search engine and different filters to assist them in narrowing down or expanding their search range as desired.


There are so many freelance websites today, but UpWork stands out due to the transparency and reliability of the platform. While using it, it will be evident to you just how much effort they have funneled into making the work sourcing and talent selection process totally hassle-free.


Their detailed client and employer work history displays, escrow payment system, feedback system, as well as desktop and mobile apps.


The hiring process begins when employers post detailed job descriptions alongside their estimated budgets and contractor requirements. On seeing these descriptions, freelancers can identify jobs with requirements that they satisfy and submit their bids appropriately.


For employers, one very unique benefit of UpWork is that they may subscribe to the UpWork Pro plan, which works like a talent agency as UpWork assesses and selects suitable experts for the task at hand, thus saving the employer the stress and time it would take to sort through a myriad of bids and proposals.


Upwork is not new to the freelancing market scene, and the growth of the platform has been exponential over the years. This is due to the wideness of the range of gigs available, the quality of the freelancers up for hire and the user-friendliness of the site.


UpWork also ensures that users are protected from fraudsters and scammers. Policies have been put in place to ensure vigilance against potential fake employers and employees, as well as protect the integrity of the platform and all its legitimate users.


Hence, both freelancers and clients can rest assured that they will get exactly what they deserve.




For employers and businesses, UpWork offers the following subscription plans:


  • UpWork Plan (free): Employers get a 75% fee on their transaction amount, built-in collaboration features and easy payment, instant matching with the most suitable freelancers, UpWork Payment Protection Plan, as well as verified work history and feedback of freelancers. Basically, employers gain access to all regular freelancers on UpWork, and can decide how to carry out interviews to test their suitability for the project.


  • UpWork Pro Plan: Employers get a $500 fee for each search and a 12.75% fee on the project amount, all the features of UpWork Plan, ability to pre-fund their accounts, assistance with their job posting and talent hunt, as well as premium freelancers handpicked by UpWork. Basically, employers can access pre-vetted freelancers and top-quality professionals that will require little or no interviewing.


  • UpWork Enterprise Plan: Here the prices vary based on the requirements of the employer. It is a more tailored plan. UpWork must be contacted for a demo. The Enterprise Plan comprises everything the first two plans have to offer as well as enhanced invoicing and billing, custom portal and contract management, custom reporting, dedicated account management, and worker classification compliance services. Basically, employers gain access to teams of the best freelancers on UpWork, as well as the best end-to-end tools and technology to manage them.


After creating and funding a buyer account, prospective employers may begin to post jobs for freelancers to bid on. Upon getting a skilled freelancer that bids a comfortable price, they may hire and the project can commence.




Following the creation of a freelancing account on UpWork, the freelancer will begin to see job postings, on the homepage, relevant to the category chosen during the creation of the profile.


Before the account is approved, the application will be vetted by UpWork. Freelancers need to create profiles centered on the services that they intend to offer. The following freelance service categories are currently supported by UpWork:


  • Web, mobile & software development
  • IT and networking
  • Engineering & architecture
  • Design & creative writing
  • Customer service
  • Sales & marketing
  • Accounting & consulting
  • Data science & analytics
  • Translation
  • Legal
  • Admin support


New freelancers on the platform get 30 Connects every month with which they can bid for jobs. Freelancers don’t have to subscribe to any special account before they can start selling their skills.


As a freelancer on UpWork, all you need to do is write good proposals to buyers for any jobs you are interested in. After using up your monthly allocation of Connects, you may decide to wait till they are replenished or buy more from UpWork.




There are  a ton of upsides to UpWork for both clients and freelancers. Some of these include:


The search for freelancers is expedited.


When there is a job to be done, time is of the essence. Employers on UpWork are guaranteed minimal time wastage in terms of vetting long lists of potential employees.


The UpWork platform is designed with algorithms that help employers in narrowing down their searches so that the best talent for the job is found in the shortest possible time and the project can commence immediately.


The filtering options makes the search way more convenient for freelancers as well, because it can be narrowed down to only jobs that match with the pre-set parameters.


The reviewing and hiring processes are thorough.


Every prospective employer in a freelance marketplace seeks the best freelancers for their jobs, and UpWork offers a platform of meticulousness and detail in the search for freelancers and reviewing of their profiles.


The site possesses features to enable businesses and private employers to uncover the best talents. Employers also get to screen their candidates by setting up interviews through which they can verify the skill sets of the freelancer in question and determine whether it matches with their requirements.


It is an efficient platform.


Clients can communicate with their freelancers via the UpWork built-in messaging service. Files can be sent and received and feedback can be gotten in real time.


Text and video communication is also supported in order to make the exchange between the employer and the worker even more seamless.


The platform also has supporting mobile applications for both iOS and Android devices. This way, employers can keep in touch with their freelancers, review the work in progress and even make payments on the go.


Work can be verified.


Freelancers on UpWork can send billings to their clients for each hour worked on hourly contracts. In such cases, employers can ensure that their bills are accurate by reviewing the Work Diary of the freelancer.


Here, they get access to review and track their billable time and look at screenshots of the freelancers computer screen for verification. Employers can thus be certain that they are only paying for the work they are getting and for the right hours worked by the freelancers.


Payments are easy and secure.


On the UpWork platform, employers get to pay their hires immediately after reviewing the job. They can pre-fund and set accounts to automatically dispense payments for services rendered.


However, if they prefer making their payments by other methods, UpWork also allows credit card payments and electronic payment gateway transactions.


Thus, employers may choose the most convenient payment means for them or what they are more comfortable with so as to ensure greater financial security.


Ratings and reviews are helpful to both parties.


It helps for freelancers to look at the ratings and reviews of their potential clients before they place their bids, so as to know what kind of employer they would be working for.


And the same applies to employers. Seeing other freelancers’ reviews of a client or other clients’ reviews of a freelancer, as the case may be, can be a great help in the decision-making process.




Every great platform still has its own peculiarities and weaknesses. Some of the downsides to UpWork include:


The services charges are high.


The UpWork platform must definitely profit from the exchange for the role they play in bringing freelancers and clients together, but after working hard as a freelancer, it can be tough to watch a chunk of your pay go.


UpWork’s cut is, however, on a decreasing sliding scale so as to encourage clients and freelancers to remain on the platform and maintain longer working relationships.


There are low-paying clients.


The nature of the platform encourages a lot of clients to come in with the mind-set of obtaining the cheapest possible labour. This is a challenge in most other freelance workplaces as well.


The low pay can be frustrating to freelancers, but no one is forced to accept any offers on UpWork. There are so many ways to make decent amounts. Creating an uncompromising personal standard is the way to go.




Different people, both prospective employers and freelancers, will definitely find some freelance platforms more suited to their needs than others, depending on their industry, business size or skill set, as the case may be.


While there is no service that has it all or that would be perfect for every single business or entrepreneur, UpWork is a great place for the exchange of value. Their great reviews, steady growth over the years say it all. If the features of this platform seem to suit your needs, then you should try it out and rest assured that this is not a scam.

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