How to Make a Living on Upwork


Upwork is one of the world’s largest freelance marketplaces, with millions of freelancers offering their services to clients from all over the globe. If you’re looking to make money as a freelancer, Upwork is a great place to start.

Many people make a full-time living freelancing on Upwork, and the earning potential is virtually unlimited. However, it’s important to note that it takes time and effort to build a successful freelance business on Upwork.

What is Upwork?

Elance and oDesk were merged to form Elance-oDesk in 2013. In 2015, the company was rebranded as Upwork. The company operates a marketplace that matches registered clients with global freelancers. Upwork charges a fee for every job completed on its platform. In recent years, the company has seen tremendous growth that has enabled it to go public. It is now valued at more than $1.98 billion. It has more than 475K annual clients and millions of freelancers.

Our advice is that as a new freelancer on Upwork, it’s important to be patient and realistic about your earnings. It may take some time to build a strong reputation and attract high-paying clients. Don’t be afraid to start with lower rates, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience. However, as you gain more skills and experience, raise your rates accordingly. It’s also important to not rely solely on Upwork for your income, especially when you’re just starting out. Try to find other sources of income, such as part-time work or freelance gigs outside of Upwork. This will help you stay afloat during the slow months.

Why Use Upwork?

While Upwork charges are exorbitant, the fact is that it is one of the most viable options that can help you make money as a freelancer. This is because of a number of reasons:

  • Access to a large pool of clients: Upwork has thousands of clients (employers) who spend a combined $2.52 billion annually. This means that you have access to a large pool of potential clients
  • More than 5000 skills: Upwork offers access to a wide range of skills, exceeding 5,000. These skills encompass areas such as creative writing, SEO services, translation, data entry, accounting, and programming, among others.
  • A well-known brand: Upwork is a prominent and well-established brand within the freelancing community.
  • Trusted by large brands: Many major corporations, including DropBox, Facebook, Zendesk, and Microsoft, rely on Upwork to connect with and hire freelancers.
  • Additional tools: Upwork provides you with various additional tools, such as payment protection, the Upwork time tracker, and secure communication tools.
  • Flexibility: Upwork gives you the flexibility to work on your own terms and hours. You can choose the jobs you want to work on, and you can set your own rates.

Tips on How to Become Successful on Upwork

Upwork has millions of freelancers. Therefore, it can be competitive, so it’s important to know how to stand out from the crowd. Here are a few tips on how to become successful on Upwork:

  • Create a strong profile and showcase your skills and experience. Your profile is your first chance to make a good impression on potential clients. Make sure it is well-written and informative, and that it highlights your skills and experience, as well as examples of your work. Be sure to include a clear and concise headline, a summary of your skills and experience, a good picture of yourself, introductory video, if possible, and a portfolio of your past work.
  • Write winning proposals. When you see a job that you’re interested in, take the time to write a personalized proposal. Be sure to address the client’s specific needs and explain why you’re the best person for the job. You should also include a clear quote for your services.
  • Deliver high-quality work on time and within budget. This is the most important thing you can do to build a successful business on Upwork. When you consistently deliver high-quality work on time and within budget, clients will be more likely to hire you again and leave you positive reviews.
  • Build relationships with clients. Communication is key to success on Upwork. Make sure to communicate regularly with your clients and keep them updated on your progress. Be responsive to their feedback and be willing to go the extra mile to satisfy them.
  • Get involved in the community. Upwork has a thriving community of freelancers. Get involved by participating in forums and commenting on other freelancers’ profiles. This is a great way to network with other freelancers and learn new things.

While the above tips are the main one, here are some additional tips that may help you become more successful on Upwork:

  • Specialize in a niche. It’s better to be an expert in one thing than mediocre at many things. By specializing in a niche, you’ll be more likely to stand out from the competition and attract clients who are looking for your specific expertise.
  • Set competitive rates. When setting your rates, be sure to factor in your experience, skills, and the value that you can provide to clients. Don’t be afraid to charge a premium for your services, especially if you have a lot of experience and a strong track record.
  • Be patient. It takes time to build a successful business on Upwork. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t start winning jobs right away. Just keep putting yourself out there and delivering high-quality work, and you’ll eventually start to see success.

Avoid Upwork Violations to Succeed as a Freelancer

To succeed as an Upwork freelancer, you must follow the company’s guidelines. Failure to do so can result in your account being suspended permanently. Here are some of the most common violations to avoid:

  • Asking for payments off Upwork: Requesting payments outside of Upwork to avoid high fees is a violation of the company’s terms of service. This can result in the loss of your account and any associated funds.
  • Failing to perform your contracts: Not fulfilling your contractual obligations can lead to customer complaints and account deletion. Be sure to clearly communicate with your clients about your scope of work and deadlines, and deliver high-quality work on time and within budget.
  • Sharing personal contacts with customers: Upwork prohibits you from sharing their personal contact information with customers. This is to protect both you and clients from scams and other risks.
  • Abusing feedback or harassing customers: Upwork takes feedback abuse and harassment very seriously. Engaging in these behaviors can result in account suspension or termination.

If the offense is serious enough or if you’ve repeatedly violated our TOS, we may permanently block your account. In this case, you will not be able to log into your account and are no longer allowed to use Upwork. You may not open a new account if your account is suspended.

How to Apply for Jobs on Upwork

After creating your profile following the tips above, you should now start applying for tasks that meet your qualifications. To apply for a job on Upwork, follow these steps:

  • Find jobs that match your skills and experience. You can browse the job postings or use the search bar to find jobs that match your skills and experience.
  • Submit a proposal. Once you’ve found a job that you’re interested in, you can submit a proposal. Be sure to tailor your proposal to each job you apply for and explain why you’re the best choice for the job. You should also include a clear quote for your services.
  • Follow up with your client. Once you’ve submitted a proposal, be sure to follow up with your client. You can do this by sending a message or leaving a comment on the job posting.

If you are fortunate to get a client, you should do the best you can to deliver high-quality work. If you are unsure about anything, you should ensure that you ask the client. Also, you should submit the work on time. If the client asks for revisions, you should do them as soon as possible. After completing the work, you should ask the client to leave you a positive rating and review. Upwork employers will always prefer freelancers with great ratings and reviews.

How Upwork Pays Freelancers

Upwork pays freelancers through a variety of methods, including direct deposit to bank accounts, third-party vendors such as PayPal, Payoneer, and the Upwork Payout Network. The availability of payment methods varies by country. The payment options available to you will be displayed when you add a payment method.

To choose a payment method, you must first set up your payment profile on Upwork. You can then choose to receive payments through one or more of the available methods. Upwork typically pays freelancers within 5-7 business days after the client releases payment. However, the exact time frame can vary depending on the payment method chosen. For direct deposit to your bank account, it typically takes 3-5 business days. For PayPal and Payoneer, it typically takes 1-2 business days.

Upwork offers payment protection for freelancers. This means that you will still be paid even if the client does not release payment. You can also dispute payments if you believe you have not been paid fairly.

Upwork Fees

It is free to join and create a profile on Upwork. As of May 2023, all freelancers on Upwork pay a 10% service fee on all earnings, including bonuses. This fee is charged on all contracts with a client, regardless of whether the project is hourly, fixed-price, or a Project Catalog project.

For example, if you are a freelance writer and you win a $1,000 contract to write a blog post for a new client, you will pay a $100 service fee and earn $900. There are also fees associated with fund withdrawal, depending on your payment method.

Is Upwork Legit and Trustworthy?

Yes, Upwork is a legitimate online job marketplace. From time to time, there may be scammers on the platform. But the platform itself (the company behind it) is legit and trustworthy. You will get paid after you and the client review the work. Fortunately, Upwork has a dispute process in case you did not get paid for your work.

Upwork is a legitimate and trustworthy freelance marketplace. It has been in business for over many years and has millions of freelancers from all over the world. Upwork also offers a number of features to protect freelancers, such as payment protection. This means that you will still be paid even if the client does not release payment. Upwork also offers a number of dispute resolution options if you and client cannot resolve a dispute on your own.

Upwork Alternative and Competitors

Other leading online freelancing platforms include:

Making Money on Upwork

Upwork has built a strong brand that connects freelancers from around the world to businesses and individuals. As a result, many people now make millions of dollars every year as freelancers. By following the steps outlined in this article, you too can succeed on Upwork.

Making money on Upwork is not easy, but it is possible. It takes time, effort, and dedication to build a successful freelance business. However, if you are willing to put in the work, you can achieve your financial goals on Upwork.

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Crispus (BSc and MBA) is a finance professional with more than a decade experience as a financial analyst, writer, researcher, and trader. Crispus has written in-depth articles on leading platforms like CCN, Marketwatch, Investing Cube and Seeking Alpha. He also runs a forex education firm. Follow him on Twitter: @crispusnyaga and read more about us.