UpWork Review: How to Find Freelance Work on this Popular Freelance Platform

The merger of eLance and oDesk has produced a great platform for finding freelance jobs and other kinds of contract work.

Upwork: The Fast-Growing Love Child of eLance and oDesk

While UpWork.com might be relatively new on the freelance scene, it has roots that go back all the way to the birth of the commercial Internet. Back around 2000, what is now UpWork was born under the name of eLance.com.

At that time, a whole bunch of freelance marketplaces were launched during the first dot com boom. Most of them had no business plan beyond a vague idea of selling advertising, so they quickly perished in the dot com bust. eLance was one of the few (along with GoFreelance) that had a sustainable business model and was able to survive and prosper in subsequent years.

Then a new competitor arrived on the scene. oDesk became an aggressive rival, backed up by great technology that both clients and freelancers loved. For a while the two services competed head on. Finally, the two merged to form one mega-freelance platform. And that, of course, is UpWork.com.


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Why they felt the need to come up with a whole new name for the combined business is a mystery. Both eLance and oDesk were heavily branded and very popular. But it seems the management wanted to stress that this is the place where people get up and get on with work…so UpWork.com was born.

How UpWork Works

Like all freelance marketplaces, UpWork simply aims to connect freelancers seeking work with clients who need work done. With well over 1.5 million freelancers on their books, they certainly have a huge skills base to offer. That attracts thousands of clients who hire freelancers to do all kinds of work, including:

  • Freelance writing jobs
  • Freelance editing jobs
  • Freelance design jobs
  • Freelance coding jobs
  • Freelance admin jobs
  • Freelance transcription jobs

…and a whole lot more. Just about any job that can be done without requiring the freelancer and the client to be in the same room can be done through the platform. Tons of fresh projects are posted every day, and there are always new opportunities for freelancers. Whatever kind of work you specialize in, you can be sure that somebody is hiring in your niche right now.

The merger of eLance and oDesk has produced a great platform for finding freelance jobs and other kinds of contract work.

Pros and Cons of Using UpWork for Freelancers

What UpWork has in its favor is sheer size. When you sign up with UpWork, you will never be short of jobs to apply for. You also know that it is an established and reputable company, so you are unlikely to have problems.

The technology is good, and the platform is easy to use. Even a novice freelancer will have no problem navigating the site and finding jobs to apply for. You can also check out clients before applying for a job, so that you know exactly what you are getting into.

On the minus side, the size of the operation can cause you problems. You are competing against over 1.5 million for the available projects. Of course, they don’t all apply for every job. But popular jobs do get a lot of bids, and it is hard to stand out.

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Perhaps the biggest problem is the open nature of the bidding, which allows everyone to see what other freelancers are bidding for a project. This has the effect of driving prices downwards, and you often have to bid a very low price to have a chance of winning.

Another issue is that established freelancers – and those who pay the highest membership fees – have a real advantage in winning work. This makes it hard for a new freelancer to break in. When you have no history on UpWork, and no money to pay high membership fees, how are you supposed to get a break?

Perhaps the biggest con, however, is the commission that UpWork takes on every job. While there is nothing wrong with the concept of the middle man taking a commission (we understand they need money to keep the lights on), the size of the chunk is a problem. UpWork takes 20 per cent of the project value as their fee in most cases. That’s a huge chunk out of your earnings that could cost you thousands of dollars a year!

How to Find Freelance Jobs on UpWork

So while there are some problems to worry about, there is no doubt that UpWork wins in terms of sheer volume of jobs. All you need is a strategy to get your share of them. So how do you crack this problem?

The best way to start is by creating an awesome profile. This is a basic step, yet most freelancers fail to take advantage of it. That seems like a crazy mistake to make. When clients see your bid, the first thing they will do is check out your profile. First impressions count, so make the most of this opportunity. Ensure that you have filled out every part of your profile, and uploaded relevant samples to your portfolio.

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When you bid on projects, make each bid personal. That is, take a careful look at the project and respond with a detailed summary of how you would approach the project. This will set you miles ahead of the many freelancers who don’t even read the brief – they just blindly submit bids for as many jobs as possible.

When you win your first project, make the most of it! Deliver fantastic quality work and be sure to hit the deadline. Then you should get positive feedback from the client, and that will set you on the road to greater success. The first job will help you get the second…and so on. The key then is simply to keep delivering quality work. If you do that, you can hardly fail.

Beyond UpWork

UpWork is certainly a useful place to go when you need to find freelance jobs. But there are many other freelance marketplaces that can help you find jobs. The most successful freelancers find work from a variety of sources. Keep your options open, and find the freelance marketplace that works best for you.


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