Is Upwork legit? An unbiased review for freelancers & businesses

by Time Doctor
Is Upwork Legit

Many new freelancers and businesses might be wondering, “Is Upwork legit?”

And we get it. 

If you’re someone who dislikes the idea of working under someone, freelancing is a great way to become your own boss!

Additionally, several large and small businesses, and even startups, prefer freelancers for certain remote jobs that don’t require professionals to be physically present at the office.

Now there are various freelancing platforms like Upwork and Freelancer that are popular today.

But how safe and authentic are these platforms?

In this Upwork review, we’ll review this freelancing platform and give you an honest, comprehensive opinion about Upwork. We’ll also share a few tips to help you stay safe while using the platform.

This Upwork review covers:

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Let’s go.

What is Upwork?


If you’ve heard the word freelancer, the chances are that you’ve also heard of Upwork

Upwork is one of the largest international marketplaces, which connects individual professionals and enterprises to work together.

This freelance website was formed after the merger of two other large freelancing platforms — Elance and oDesk in 2013. Branded initially as Elance-oDesk, it was later rebranded as Upwork.

Who can register on the platform?

Upwork is open to all types of freelancers, including those with administrative, writing, technical, or any other skill sets. And if you have ninja keyboard skills, you’ll be a highly sought-after candidate for data entry jobs!

Some other professionals who typically find freelance work with Upwork jobs include:

  • Graphic designers
  • Freelance writers
  • Cover letter writers
  • Tattoo design freelancers
  • Social media managers
  • Virtual assistant, and more.

Want to learn more about freelancing?

Read more about the Gig Economy and how to capitalize it as a company or a freelancer.

How does Upwork work?

Since Upwork is a portal for professionals and businesses, let’s look at the working process from both perspectives.

A. For freelancers

If it’s your first time as an Upwork freelancer, you can start bidding for Upwork jobs after registering yourself on the platform. 

You can do that in just three steps:

  1. Set up your Upwork account: Choose your membership from two options — the Basic free plan and the Plus plan. The Upwork fee for the Plus plan is USD 14.99 per month.
  2. Create your Upwork profile: Display your skills, experience, and portfolio, and mention your desired hourly rate.
  3. Choose your mode of payment: Select your preferred payment option, such as a direct deposit to the bank account, PayPal, wire transfer, etc.

You can choose from hourly jobs or fixed-price projects, and if you work on an hourly contract, you’ll have to submit weekly invoices to get paid. 

For fixed-price ones, you’ll receive payments through the Upwork escrow facility after you reach the pre-decided milestones.

B. For businesses

Now let’s see how businesses can use the Upwork marketplace.

Companies can register themselves on the freelancing website and post the freelance job on the marketplace. Professionals then bid to get the job, and you can choose freelancers who you think have the best skill set to complete your work.

However, you need to deposit funds in your Upwork account before you begin hiring. 

Here’s some more information about Upwork charges and whether the platform is worth it.

What features does Upwork offer?

Upwork goes beyond being just a mediator and provides various other useful features for skilled freelancers and employers.

Some of these include:

  • Wide variety of jobs, including freelance writing, customer support, event planning, etc.
  • Configurable search settings for a specific country.
  • In-built collaboration features such as messaging and work diaries.
  • Verified freelancer work history.
  • Dedicated account management support team.
  • Upwork Payment Protection ensures payment for all completed projects.
  • Talent shortlisting, and many more.

The freelancer platform is undoubtedly a comprehensive marketplace for professionals and enterprises, but it does come with its set of challenges. 

What issues can you face on Upwork? 

Like any large-scale platform, Upwork does have certain problem areas. 

Let’s look at some of the critical problems that any freelancer or client may need to tackle.

A. What are some problems freelancers might face with Upwork?

Freelancers may have to deal with issues, such as:

1. Fake testimonials

Despite Upwork’s strict rules and regulations, an employer may find workarounds to create fake testimonials

A client may forge a freelancer’s testimonial about them to create an impression of being a trustworthy and authentic employer.

2. Ghosting

Ghosting is one of the most common and frustrating issues that any experienced or new freelancer may face on Upwork.

Imagine working day and night on a writing job, submitting it within the stipulated time, only to find that the client has disappeared without a trace!

Unfortunately, there isn’t much that Upwork’s support can do about this. In fact, various reviews on Trustpilot mention poor Upwork support. 

3. Payments withheld till the work is approved

Let’s say you’ve decided to take up a particular task. 

You finish and hand it over to the client, and then you expect that they’ll pay your money immediately. 

However, that’s not how the Upwork platform works. 

You’ll have to wait for a lot of time to receive the payment. And it generally doesn’t happen till the client approves of your work. 

In case the client doesn’t find it satisfactory, they can withhold your payment or just pay a portion of it. Or worse, they may even give you a poor job success score, which will prevent you from getting a good freelance job in the future.

B. What are some problems employers might face with Upwork?

Employers may face problems such as:

1. Fake profiles

Companies may face the issue of fake freelancer profiles on this freelance marketplace. 

Sometimes, newbies desperate for work may create fake Upwork client accounts and make a job posting from that account. Then they accept the job from their freelancer account and write positive reviews from the fake account. 

This could be problematic for a potential client since it falsely represents the freelancer.

2. Ghosting

Ghosting is a common issue for employers as well.

You may hire a highly qualified professional, share the job details with them, and then wait patiently till the deadline.

On submission day, you realize that they’ve just disappeared, and there isn’t any way to reach them. 

They may even delete or inactivate their Upwork profile to prevent any further contact, even from the Upwork customer support team. 

3. Complaints on the BBB website

Upwork is registered on the BBB (Better Business Bureau)website, which serves as a grievance platform.

Various professionals have complained that:

  • They weren’t paid for their work.
  • The freelance job they took up was a scam.
  • The remote jobs were low-paying, and many more.

And if you rely on this website for all reviews, you may feel that Upwork isn’t for you.

In the next section, we’ll share a few tips to remain safe while using a freelance marketplace like Upwork or any other Upwork competitors like Fiverr.

3 ways to ensure safety in Upwork as a freelancer

Upwork can undoubtedly offer you a full-time career without actually having a full-time job. 

However, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind to ensure that you don’t fall prey to any scammer and get only genuine jobs.

Here’s what you can do:

1. Research the client

Before you decide to accept any work, research your potential client. 

Read their Upwork profile thoroughly, and consider all their details.

You can even go through their LinkedIn page to learn more about their background.

Try to find out their policies regarding the project, deadlines, payment methods, expectations, revision policy (for a freelance writer), and anything else relevant for establishing the client’s authenticity. 

You may even request a Skype call to know them better. If the client is genuine, they’ll have no problem providing this information.

2. Don’t offer any free writing samples

Some employers may ask you to provide a free writing sample to determine your skill set. 

A new freelancer is particularly prone to fall for this malpractice. 

More often than not, these ‘employers’ are scammers who just want to run off with your (free) work! Don’t let your first job experience be a scam!

It’s a good idea to stay away from such a potential client and decline the job offer. 

3. Report scams

Always report an Upwork scam if you come across them. 

This will help other freelancers stay away from the bad client and even enable the freelancing platform to take corrective action against such an employer. 

3 ways to ensure safety in Upwork as a business

If you’re looking to hire freelancers for a particular project or position, Upwork will give you many options. 

Though the freelance platform comes with various challenges, there are ways to overcome them and hire the best professionals.

Here’s how your business can ensure authenticity and keep yourself safe from scammers:

1. Check for plagiarized material

The advancement in internet technology means that there isn’t any shortage of information available online. 

Text, images, logos, graphic design, etc., can be easily copied and plagiarized from other websites by unethical professionals. 

Using this material on your website or social media platforms will definitely land you in trouble.

As a client, you must remain aware of such practices and use the various tools available online to ensure that the professional’s work is original. 

For example, you can verify the images’ authenticity using reverse image search from sites such as Google images or Yandex

There is another free image search tool available on that can help you to find similar images over the web.

Additionally, Copyscape can help you cross-check the text information to ensure that the freelancers haven’t plagiarized.

Another alternative is to use a performance management tool such as Time Doctor

Time Doctor can take screenshots of the freelancer’s computer screen at specified time intervals. These screenshots can be used as proof in case the Upwork freelancer indulges in any unethical practices.

Time Doctor screencasts

Find out more about how Time Doctor’s monitoring features work.

2. Secure your confidential data 

If you need to hire a freelancer for a job like website building, virtual assistant services, bookkeeping, etc., you’ll need to share your company’s confidential information with them. 

That’s why it’s extremely critical that you have a robust online security system in place.

If this information is misused, it can lead to severe problems such as:

  • Breach of security.
  • Loss of confidential data.
  • Duplication of essential data, and much more.

The Upwork freelance platform can help protect your company from fraud by providing a secure online space to share the documents such as files, images, etc. 

Additionally, you can use tools such as LastPass, which enables freelancers to access your data without actually needing the passwords. 

As soon as the job is completed, you can revoke the access and prevent any scammer from misusing your data.

3. Verify the identity of the freelancer

Remember, identity scam is another issue that you may encounter while hiring an Upwork freelancer. 

Some freelancers may use a fake identity or provide false information about themselves to glorify their Upwork profile. 

However, if you don’t verify the authenticity of the person you’re hiring, you may end up giving valuable information to the wrong person. 

The Upwork team uses various methods to verify the identity of the freelancers. This includes: 

  • ID and video verification.
  • Authenticating email addresses.
  • Providing results of skill tests taken online, etc.

Final thoughts: Is Upwork legit?

Yes, Upwork is most certainly legit. 

However, like any other large freelance platform, there are bound to be scammers and fake profiles; but that doesn’t make Upwork a scam.

Additionally, the Upwork platform provides various features and services that protect freelancers and employers from fraud and scams.

So if you want to be a successful freelancer or are looking for one, you can surely consider Upwork. 

Just keep these above guidelines in mind, and you should be able to find the perfect match for yourself!

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