Upwork hires freelancers

How to Make Money on Upwork [2022 Updated Guide]

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If you want to learn how to make money on Upwork, this review is just for you. It is especially useful for freelance beginners in Upwork freelance jobs, and making a start in online employment in general.

No experience = no problem. You can use Upwork jobs to build your freelance portfolio from the ground up, and progress towards a higher paycheck. It is possible to make money on Upwork in 2020.

It’s great that job platforms like Upwork exist because these days many people are left with no options at a time of crisis. With Upwork jobs, you can find freelance work easily and start earning money instantly.

With 12.6 million unemployed Americans in 2020 and limited work possibilities, it is safe to say Upwork freelance jobs will become more and more popular. According to the latest statistics, the employment situation in the U.S. is far from looking optimistic.

Even if you have managed to keep your old job, having a plan B is always recommended. So, this is a great time to look at other options. The job market is changing fast so it’s smart to be informed about the latest trends. Remote working, working from home and online working may be new to you, but they have been around for some time now.

I will give you step-by-step instructions on how to set up an Upwork account, how to present yourself in a better light, how to look for Upwork jobs, and finally, make money on Upwork.

I will give you my best tips and advice on all Upwork related. You can learn from my mistakes.

So, if you’re not on hiatus and you want to start earning money online as soon as possible, read and follow this complete Upwork guide.


What is Upwork

Upwork is an online job platform. It is the largest hiring platform in the world. It was started in 2015 by two friends in the US.

Upwork is a place designed for employers (in Upwork’s lingo: clients) and job seekers (freelancers). Both clients and freelancers can post jobs.

“Freelancer is a person who works as a writer, designer, performer, or the like, selling work or services by the hour, day, job, etc., rather than working on a regular salary basis for one employer.”


“To Freelance: doing particular pieces of work for different organizations, rather than working all the time for a single organization. Synonym — self-employed”


Upwork advertises freelance job vacancies in numerous categories (around 70).

On Upwork, clients can post an ad for a job and hire someone. Freelancers can create a profile and offer their services.

Also, Upwork is a place where anyone can search through posted jobs and find work.

According to Wikipedia, Upwork has five million registered clients. Three million jobs worth over $1Bn USD are posted annually.

What Upwork means

Upwork means freedom to choose what type of job you are willing to accept and for what pay. Upwork means freedom for employers because they can choose the right kind of candidate for the advertised job.

Upwork offers job possibilities to anyone looking.

Ultimately, Upwork offers plenty of options for remote workers. On Upwork, you can find a one-time gig, part-time work, or start a work from home career.

How to set up an Upwork account

To get access to Upwork jobs and make money, you first have to set up an Upwork account.

Go to upwork.com, and click on SIGN UP.

Upwork home page
Screenshot Upwork

You can get a free account if you continue with a Google account, an Apple account, or by submitting your work email address.

The next step is completing your Upwork profile. Upwork leads you through the process. You just move from one category to another and fill in the required fields or choose an answer. You can choose how many hours you are available for work, the location, and the desired pay. You will have to wait usually a day for Upwork to approve your account.

Upwork profile
Screenshot Upwork profile

Upwork profile tips

Having a great Upwork profile is the deciding factor for some companies when they are deciding if they want to work with you. This is your online resume so you should present yourself in the best light. If a company likes your profile, the skills you listed, and your work performance, you may get an invite to do a job. Getting invited is much better than having to search online for hours and applying for jobs without any certainty that you will in the end get chosen to work.

A great Upwork profile photo is a must. Your profile photo shows your head with a nice background.  You need a clear, high-resolution photo. The photo doesn’t have to be taken by a professional, but before you take it yourself, learn some of the basics of good photography — lighting, background, posing, etc.

This is the first thing an employer sees and sometimes the last if your photo is not inviting. You should be smiling, not laughing, and look friendly and optimistic.

Upwork Profile Title. You can create multiple customized profiles offering a different kind of work and targeting different clients. Your title should be in sync with the jobs you are trying to land.

Use keywords. You can put searchable keywords in the Upwork Profile title and throughout your entire profile. When a client searches for a specific job, that keyword can be in your profile title and also somewhere in your profile description. If you use keywords at the beginning of your Upwork profile title, you can be more easily found by clients. Keywords, just like your profile title, should be in sync with the jobs you’re targeting.

Upload great intro video. You can stand out if you make a welcoming video presenting yourself as a great coworker. You can present yourself in a short video. For a few minutes talking about your skills, services, work experience, and anything you think would be helpful to a future employer. Smile often and look friendly to encourage people to contact you.

List Education in detail. Any degree and any certificate you have is an advantage. A lot of Upwork freelance jobs don’t require a university degree, but it is certainly beneficial to have one. Be honest or your account could be closed.

Include soft skills. Everybody includes more or less the same in their Upwork profile — education, work history, etc. Your soft skills can give you an advantage over the competition. Positively describe yourself; list your upsides like being hard-working, punctual, responsive to emails, etc.

Get 5-star reviews. Work history shows completed and in-progress jobs. Completed jobs include a short review written by a client and a rating. Client reviews describe what kind of work and service other clients may get from you.

Starting with your first Upwork job you should focus on getting 5-star reviews. This will help you in getting new jobs immensely. Some employers will only read your client reviews. Bad reviews will hurt you.

Focus on Upwork Portfolio. You should work on building up your Upwork portfolio to present your work accomplishments best. In this part of your profile, you shouldn’t list all jobs you’ve done. Focus on the highlights of your career. If you are an Upwork freelance beginner, you should work on this section first to fill it in as soon as possible.

Fill in Employment history. Don’t list all your employments. List only the ones connected with your skillset and the kind of jobs you’re applying for. In descriptions, use keywords often.

Fill in Other Experiences. This is the last section of your Upwork profile, but still important. You should list any additional certificates you have here.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

How to find a job on Upwork

Go to Upwork.com. Log into your account. On the top, you’ll see a tab Find Work. Search through the database for your desired job title. To get different search results try different keywords. You can type in a broad term like a writer and get 20 jobs that will receive a lot of attention from other freelancers. You can type in a journalist or SEO writer and get another 20. Trying out different keywords will get you access to more job ads.

To narrow down your search, apply filters. You can check/uncheck boxes in the following categories: job type, experience level, budget, client history, etc.

Checking or unchecking numerous filters can help you find the right job in a matter of seconds. If you don’t see anything interesting, save your search and come back in an hour to refresh the search. You will see completely new jobs on your screen.

If you apply for the newest jobs, you increase your chances. So, sort the jobs from the newest from the sort menu.

If you check the boxes for less than 5 and less than 10 proposals, you increase your chances of getting noticed. If you check the boxes for more than 10 proposals, you will go unnoticed in a sea of applicants. You will only waste your money on bids.

When you find the job you like, click on Submit a proposal.

Your next step is writing a terrific job-winning Cover Letter. It is an art form and therefore a great topic for one of my future blog posts. In short, you should keep it short. There is no need for an introduction (it’s in your profile). Explain how you can help and give examples. Highlight your advantages and present previous successes. Here is where you can name previous clients and reviews. You can’t just say you think you’re good for the job. You have to send proof of your efficacy.

What types of jobs are on Upwork

Freelancers are in-demand.

Upwork jobs are organized in categories and searchable through an alphabetically-organized database.

Jobs can be short-termed and longer projects.

There are thousands of jobs available and more coming in with each new hour.

How to get a job on Upwork with no experience

Start bidding at an entry-level. You can set your own hourly rate, at around $5. It is important to set your pay low at the beginning. As you gain more experience, you can gradually increase your rate.

Stand out with a great Upwork profile. Take your time and think hard about the best way to present yourself. You have to sell yourself. Once you’re done, you are not done. Update and tweak your profile often.

Upwork freelancers
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

How to get paid on Upwork

You can get paid via PayPal, direct deposit, or wire transfer.

You can work on an hourly basis and for a fixed fee.

If you work on an hourly basis, you will receive a certain amount of money every week.

If you work on a fixed fee, you will get paid after reaching milestones and upon job completion.

If you work on an hourly basis, you should use the Work Diary in the Upwork desktop app. Once you log in, this function helps keep track of logged hours and records your progress on a project. This way you can make sure you’re getting paid and protect yourself from scams. Upwork will help you in case of disputes.

This app also helps on larger projects when there are many collaborators. It helps with communication and enables sharing files.

If you work on a fixed price, a client has to set aside the money for your pay. Additionally, the client has to set milestones (checkpoints) for your work. You receive some of the money once you complete a certain part of a project.

You will get paid the rest of the money once you have completed the work.

In case the company decided to drop the project or refuses to pay, you can start a dispute. This is where enabled Work Diary and Hourly Protection come in handy.

Is Upwork free to use


Upwork freelancers can open a free Basic account but have to pay for every bid on a job and a service fee after the job is done.

Upwork also offers a Plus membership plan which is $14.99 per month. Some of the perks offered may be worth it, depending on how actively you want to work on Upwork.

Upwork Service fee

When freelancers bill their clients, Upwork takes a fee depending on how much you billed them.

screenshot of Upwork service fees
Screenshot Upwork service fees

For example, if you bill a client $500, Upwork takes a 20% service fee. This means that yours are $400.

See what happens if you bill a client $600, for example. Upwork takes a 20% service fee for the first $500. This means $400 for you and $100 for Upwork. The rest of the bill ($100) is charged with a $10 Upwork service fee. This means $90 for you and $10 for Upwork.

When you pass $10,000, Upwork lower their service fee to 5%.

All in all, if you charge a client $600, you could earn $490.

Unfortunately, Upwork bids (in their lingo: connects) are not free. You have to pay $0.15 each time you submit a proposal. There are no guarantees that you will land a job. Sometimes, you will submit many bids (wasted money) before you get the job. This isn’t a lot of money but it quickly adds up and makes you limit your search.

If you work on an hourly fee, Upwork will take 20%. For example, if you set your hourly rate at $3.60, after -20%, you will get $2.80 per hour. You should take this into consideration when pricing your work.

Upwork freelancers
Photo by jose aljovin on Unsplash

Is it hard to get work on Upwork

A lot of factors go into improving your chances of landing an Upwork job. You can work on your profile, portfolio, and job performance ratings.

The most important factor in getting hired is applying fast. Be among the first to submit your proposal. This will significantly increase your chances of being noticed, shortlisted, then invited to an interview, and possibly hired.

Make sure you download the Upwork app. The app will send you notifications of new job postings and help you apply fast.

Can you make good money on Upwork


Companies that hire freelances usually fall into two categories: the ones that are looking to hire workers for really cheap, and businesses that are willing to pay top dollar for your expertise or talent.

So, you have good chances of finding a start-up willing to pay you loads of money if you can bring your unique skillset to the table.

Is Upwork good for beginners

Yes. A ton of jobs get posted on the Upwork job board, so you should be able to find something that fits your skills.

Beware, there is a lot of competition at the bottom level of the job market. A lot of clients are looking for the cheapest solution. And, if you’re a beginner, you should be OK with that.

You have to be fast, persistent, and resilient. With maximum effort, you can slowly advance to a higher paycheck.

How competitive is Upwork for freelancers

Firstly, there are a lot of unemployed people looking for any kind of work. Upwork is just another stop in everybody’s job search these days. So, it’s going to be crowded anywhere you go.

Secondly, the freelancing world has always been competitive and there are a lot of skilled freelancers. Standing out is hard.

Lastly, have in mind that people from all over the world are applying for the same job as you. Nowadays, clients can choose cheaper bids coming from Eastern Europe and Asia.

Think about your advantages and point them out on your profile, and cover letter when submitting a proposal. Work on getting great reviews, so you will receive job invitations from clients directly.

How to hire someone on Upwork

Employers like Upwork because it is easy, convenient, and they can find freelancers quickly. When employers post a job opening, a lot of freelancers usually apply and they can choose the best fit for their needs.

You don’t have to be a big company to hire someone. Even freelancers sometimes want to find other freelancers to do a job they’re not skilled in.

To make the selection process easier, Upwork set a shortlisted category. This helps employers narrow down the list and more easily choose the best candidate for the job.

Do more to succeed as Upwork freelancer.
Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

What are common newbie mistakes on Upwork

Don’t apply to just any job, hoping it will work out. Read the job description carefully. It’s all there. If you don’t get the job, you’ve wasted your Upwork connects. If it turns out that you’re not qualified for the job, your account could get deleted. If you do a bad job, the client will give you bad reviews.

Be selective about the clients. You need great reviews at the start. You will not get this from difficult employers. You can read reviews of the client written by other freelancers who worked with them on previous projects. Even in the real world, it’s always a good idea to check out your potential employer before you apply for a job. LinkedIn, Glassdoor, or a simple Google search should reveal some useful information about any company.

Before you submit a proposal, check the activity on the job, especially when it was last viewed by the client.  If it was days or weeks ago, you should skip it.

Not negotiating. A client may approach you first with a low offer. You don’t have to accept the first offer on the table. There is always room for negotiation.

Upwork Advantages

  • Upwork Marketplace is great for connecting with clients and freelancers.
  • Upwork offers an opportunity to freelancers with and without experience to build up their portfolio and develop new skills.
  • Upwork makes it is easy to find a job because clients come to you. All job listings are in one place. There are many postings in numerous categories.
  • You are in control. You choose how much you want to work, when, and for how much money. You can choose your employer or employee.  Nothing is set in stone, so you can control every part of the process.
  • Freelancers can choose what jobs they want to apply to, the actual clients, and set their desired wages.
  • On Upwork, you can negotiate the price of your work.
  • Upwork is a great place to find temporary work. You can decide to do just one project per month to earn extra cash.
  • Anyone can post a job ad on Upwork. Hiring is not reserved only for companies.
  • On Upwork, you can find unique job postings by start-ups and small niche companies that are willing to pay big for a short-term engagement. They are, however, looking for experts in their field.
  • Upwork is great for employers because they get bids from many freelancers and can have the best pick.
  • Upwork has a rating system that rates both employers and employees. This way, you can make a more informed decision before you start working with or for somebody.
  • Upwork documents everything related to a job — communication, payments, reviews, etc. This discourages scams.
  • Upwork offers a dispute process. If you haven’t been paid, or think that you have been somehow wronged, Upwork’s dispute process comes in handy.

Upwork Disadvantages

  • Upwork isn’t free. You can open a free account, but that’s as far as it goes. Upwork has fees for freelancers ranging from 10 to 20%. Additionally, you have to pay when you bid for a job. All these extra payments discourage people from Upwork.

This reminds me of a funny story about how my good friend got his first job. There were ten applicants, and when they learned how low the salary is, nine of them walked out. The only one left was my friend, so he got the job. I am reminded of his story often because this low-paying job helped him gain experience in his field and eventually lead to a better-paying job.

Personally, I understand that such a huge job platform needs maintenance, and many other technical requirements that I am not in the least familiar with, and don’t want to be.

  • There are a lot of job seekers who offer their services for little money which in the end results in lowering the salary altogether.
  • A lot of freelancers use Upwork, so competition is fierce. It is hard to get picked for the job.
  • Getting your first job on Upwork can be tough. It can take some time before you get picked.
  • Upwork freelance jobs are just like any other freelance jobs. You are responsible for your own health insurance. There are no sick days nor holidays if you want to earn money.

Common Upwork complaint

Freelancers are uncomfortable with paying steep Upwork fees. If and how much should Upwork charge their service is the subject of many online debates.

businessofbusiness reported a massive purge of freelancers from Upwork in February 2020. 1.8 million (68%) user accounts were deleted just to keep Upwork’s ratings up. 833,000 freelancers were kept to please the more lucrative clients. Not a cool move.


With a high unemployment rate, Upwork provides a great solution to anybody willing to work. If you have extra time on your hands due to the Covid-19 lockdown, you should check out Upwork work opportunities to earn an additional income.

Whether you are a beginner freelancer or a seasoned Upwork freelancer, with so many new jobs being posted hourly, there is no doubt you’ll find some work.

If you follow some of my tips, you will get there sooner. You will increase your chances of building a highly profitable Upwork career.

If you focus on Upwork, you can become successfully self-employed, working online, from a remote tropical location with a drink in your hand and a breeze caressing your face.

Related posts: Introducing Online Customer Support Jobs [2020 Guide], 17 Easy Online Jobs – Short Beginner’s Guide to Successful Working from Home

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