Is Upwork legit?


Upwork is a freelancing platform that connects freelancers and clients to work on a project. The client and freelancer agree on a price for a project and have the freelancer provide the completed work and get paid by the client.

Those who have been out of the freelancing business for a few years may not know that Upwork is the result of a merger between Elance and oDesk. Those former companies were founded in 1999 and 2003, and their merger occurred in 2015.

Upwork has tens of millions of users in hundreds of countries and reported revenue figures reaching hundreds of millions. In addition, clients such as Microsoft and Airbnb have used it. If you’re looking to transition into remote freelance jobs, Upwork is a step in the right direction.

Is Upwork legit?

But you are here because you are wondering if Upwork is legit. Perhaps you have heard complaints about it that have caused you to hesitate to sign up for the service or use it if you have signed up. The short answer is that Upwork as a company is legit.

It is not a scam, and freelancers get paid for their work there. Upwork has been around for many years and has provided a source of income for millions of freelancers around the globe. Also, to help clients seek services from content writing, social media management, customer support, SEO services, software development, finding virtual assistants, and many more.

Scammers on Upwork

Freelancers who do utilize Upwork’s services need to be wary of one crucial factor. Some of those who use it from the client side is, in fact, bad clients or some may call scammers. Most notably, this can result in work being done and not receiving payment. This is called ghosting.

upwork website

One scam results in a client sending a check to a freelancer and asking the person to use it to buy office supplies or other items, which is done after it appears to have been cleared by the bank. But it has not, and they are then on the hook for the money that has been spent, which can be thousands of dollars.

Regardless, you should be very wary if you take your conversations and interactions outside of the Upwork platform as, in those situations, Upwork essentially tells you that you are on your own. Of course, many people do this – i.e., start communicating through other methods – but be wary, especially if any money exchanges become part of those away-from-Upwork exchanges.

Simply put, there is no reason to provide money, cash a check for someone, or work for free.

Recommendations for Upwork Clients

One way to help reduce the odds of dealing with scammers as freelancers are to ensure that they have a verified payment method before engaging in any work for them.

With all that said, clients must also be wary of freelancers who do things such as a promise to do a project and then do not deliver in the time frame agreed upon or perhaps ever. Also, as clients, do not release payment before the work is submitted or before reviewing the work sent to you.

Clients should check to see if any writing provided is plagiarized work. Before getting to that point, you should carefully read reviews, especially recent ones, of freelancers who you are considering, their job success scores, their talent badges, and their portfolios.

Should You Provide Free Trial Tasks?

Freelancers should be hesitant to provide sample articles while bidding for work. Sometimes, there are clients who would require sample tests on a task. Some clients do this for screening purposes of component clients. However, there are cases that clients use this sample test as the actual work and not getting the freelancer paid. It happens!


Although not all clients who ask for this are scammers, new freelancers should be careful in those situations. You will also want to analyze a client’s statistics when this is proposed to see if, for example, they have already done a lot of interviews and not hired anyone.

Is It a Race to the Bottom?

Even if you are working there and getting paid the amounts that clients are promising you, another aspect of this experience you need to be wary of is engaging in a race to the bottom. What is meant by that statement is that in many cases, freelancers will look to get paid less and less to secure more work, partially or primarily because they see others doing the same.

Of course, this is not a scam-related feature, per se, but it is something to consider as you might not be able to earn enough money to make a living through Upwork or similar websites by engaging in this practice. However, it does not need to be a race to the bottom. Depending on your skill set, negotiating skills, and other factors, you can earn a manageable or even comfortable living through Upwork.

One way that some do this is by simply declining work that pays too little. In other words, they refuse to do work that pays below a personally defined per-hour threshold. Another strategy is to accept being paid a little early but be determined to make that a temporary situation as you increase your per-hour threshold. The key to making more money is by building your brand and reputation as you build your experience.

Upwork’s Fees

As freelancers looking for gigs via Upwork, you should keep in mind the Upwork fees, especially when making a bid on a project. You will not get paid 100% of what you earn. Upwork needs to receive some cut of the pie.


Of course, people could argue whether that slice is too large, but the site needs to receive reimbursements for bringing freelancers and clients together and to keep the site working.

With Upwork, freelancers are charged 20% of the first $500 they earn with a given client, 10% for everything above that amount up to $10,000, and 5% for all work done beyond that total.

Upwork Charges

$0-$500 in earnings 20% service fee
$500.01-$10,000 in earnings10% service fee
$10,000.01 or more in earnings5% service fee

Upwork Payouts

How do you withdraw your earnings from your Upwork account? What you should know is it depends on the project, the type of payment by the client, and when the payout was done. Typically, funds are available for withdrawal within 5 to 10 days.

upwork logo

You can connect your PayPal account to withdraw your earnings at Upwork. For US-based freelancers, you can directly transfer the funds to your bank account. Upwork has a solid rock payment protection system to protect both the Upwork freelancer and the client.

Your Profile Could Be Deleted at Any Time

Something else to consider when working through Upwork is that the company could delete your profile anytime. But as long as you follow the rules and regulations that Upwork has put forth, it is very unlikely to occur. However, the possibility of your Upwork profile being closed for what you deem unfair reasons is an unsettling feeling. For this and various other reasons, you likely do not want to make your Upwork account your sole source of revenue.

What Other Options Do I Have?

Another website that is similar to Upwork that some utilize is Fiverr. If you’re a freelance writer, you can try content-mill websites like Contena. However, you may want to go a different route entirely. An option to consider is being proactive away from these types of websites.

Research for companies, determine how you can help them with your skills, and pitch those ideas to those organizations. Some utilize LinkedIn while engaging in this strategy. Through LinkedIn, you can find job opportunities for full-time jobs as opposed to most offers at Upwork or Fiverr which are fixed-price projects for short-term contracts.

Is Upwork the Right Choice for Me?

If you are reading this, you are likely struggling to find enough work and are considering using Upwork to attempt to meet those needs. If this is in fact you, Upwork might be the right choice for you. To clarify, creating a freelancer profile and diving into the pool might be the right choice for you.


See if this type of setup fits you while concurrently keeping your eyes open as far as what you earn if it is worth it to earn that amount of money for the time that you would be devoted, and being wary of any scams. There are plenty of successful freelancers who use, especially those with top-rated profiles.

Another benefit to keeping in mind is that people you work with here may also create connections for you elsewhere. In other words, clients may recommend other clients to writers, and writers may recommend other writers to clients.

Also, consider that some make a comfortable living through Upwork, but keep in mind that plenty of people do not and that even if you do, you likely do not want to make Upwork your focus. Lastly, note that it could take some time to experience success at Upwork.


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  • Is Upwork good for beginners?
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  • How does Upwork work?
  • Is Upwork worth it?
Posted in SEO

Published on: 2022-12-12
Updated on: 2024-04-09

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Isaac Adams-Hands

Isaac Adams-Hands is the SEO Director at SEO North, a company that provides Search Engine Optimization services. As an SEO Professional, Isaac has considerable expertise in On-page SEO, Off-page SEO, and Technical SEO, which gives him a leg up against the competition.