What is Upwork and How Does It Work? (+ Tips for Success)

Since its founding in 2015, Upwork has grown to become one of the largest and most popular freelance marketplaces, with millions of registered users and thousands of job listings in a wide variety of fields.

In this article, we'll take a closer look at Upwork, how it works, and the types of jobs they have. We will also provide insights and tips for freelancers looking to make the most of their Upwork experience.

What is Upwork?

Upwork logo

Upwork is a website that provides a platform for freelancers and clients to connect and work on a wide range of projects. It allows freelancers to offer their services and skills to potential clients, and allows clients to find and hire freelancers for short-term or long-term projects.

Upwork is a popular platform for freelancers in many different fields. The platform is known for its large and diverse pool of professional talent, as well as its user-friendly interface and comprehensive range of services.

How does it work?

Upwork works by providing a platform where freelancers and clients can connect and work on projects together. Here is a step-by-step description of the process:

  1. Clients can post job listings on the site, describing the skills and experience they are looking for in a freelancer
  2. Freelancers can then browse these job listings and apply for the ones that match their skills and experience
  3. Once a freelancer has applied for a job, the client can review the freelancer's profile, which typically includes a portfolio of their work, ratings and reviews from previous clients, and their hourly rate or fixed price for the project
  4. The client can then choose to interview the freelancer and discuss the project further, or they can simply hire the freelancer directly
  5. Once a freelancer has been hired, they and the client can use Upwork's various tools and features to manage the project, communicate with each other, and track the freelancer's progress and work. These tools include a messaging system, a time tracking and invoicing system, and a work diary that allows freelancers to provide regular updates to the client on their progress
  6. At the end of the project, the client can review the freelancer's work and leave a rating and review, which can help other clients make informed decisions when hiring freelancers on Upwork
  7. Freelancers can also leave ratings and reviews for the clients they have worked with, which can help other freelancers make decisions about which clients to work with on the platform

Types of online jobs on Upwork

There are many different types of online jobs available on Upwork, as the platform is used by freelancers and clients in a wide range of fields and industries. Some of the most common types of online jobs on Upwork include:

  • Writing and editing: Many freelancers on Upwork offer writing and editing services, including content writing, copywriting, proofreading, and editing.
  • Design: Upwork is a popular platform for designers, including graphic designers, web designers, and product designers.
  • Web development: Upwork is also used by many web developers, who offer services such as website design and development, e-commerce development, and mobile app development.
  • Virtual assistance: Many freelancers on Upwork offer virtual assistance services, including managing emails, scheduling appointments, and managing social media accounts.
  • Data entry and transcription: Freelancers with strong typing and data entry skills can find work on Upwork as data entry clerk or transcriptionist, entering data into spreadsheets and databases.
  • Customer service: Freelancers with experience in customer service can find work on Upwork providing support to customers through email, chat, or phone.
  • Sales and marketing: Upwork is used by many freelancers who offer sales and marketing services, such as market research, lead generation, and email marketing.
  • Translation: Upwork is a popular platform for translators, who offer services such as translation of written documents from one language to another.

These are just some examples of the many types of online jobs available on Upwork. There are many other fields and industries represented on the platform, and the range of jobs available is constantly changing as new freelancers join and new projects are posted.

How much can you make on Upwork?

Some freelancers on Upwork may earn a few hundred dollars per month, while others may earn thousands of dollars per month. Experienced freelancers with a strong portfolio and a lot of great reviews can earn upwards of 100K a year, depending on their workload.

The amount of money a freelancer can earn will depend on various factors such as their skill level, experience, and the type of work they are doing. The best way to determine how much money you can make on Upwork is to create a profile, start bidding on projects, and see what opportunities are available. As you gain experience and build a reputation on the platform, you may be able to earn more money.

How to start working on Upwork

If you are interested in working on Upwork as a freelancer, there are a few steps you can follow to get started:

  1. Visit the Upwork website and create an account. You will need to provide some personal information and create a username and password.
  2. Complete your profile. Once you have created an account, you will need to create a profile that showcases your skills, experience, and availability. Be sure to include a clear and professional-looking photo, a detailed description of your skills and experience, and any relevant samples of your work.
  3. Take the Upwork readiness test. This is a short quiz that will assess your knowledge of Upwork and help you understand how the platform works.
  4. Submit proposals for projects. Once your profile is complete, you can start browsing the available projects on Upwork and submitting proposals to potential clients. Be sure to carefully read the project description and requirements, and tailor your proposal to the specific project and client.
  5. Communicate and collaborate with clients. If a client accepts your proposal, you will be able to communicate and collaborate with them on the project through the Upwork platform. This may involve exchanging messages, sharing files, and tracking your progress and hours worked.

These are the basic steps to get started as a freelancer on Upwork. Keep in mind that it may take some time and effort to find clients and secure projects, so be patient and persistent in your efforts.

Tips for landing your first jobs on Upwork

If you are new to Upwork and looking to get your first job on the platform, here are some tips to help you succeed:

Create a compelling profile

Your profile is the first thing that potential clients will see when they visit your Upwork profile, so make sure it is well-written and showcases your skills and experience. Include a professional profile picture and a portfolio of your previous work to give clients an idea of the type of work you can do.

Choose the right job categories and skills

Upwork allows you to select job categories and skills that match your abilities. Make sure to choose the categories and skills that accurately reflect your expertise, as this will help potential clients find your profile when they are searching for freelancers.

Apply for jobs that match your skills and experience

Upwork has a large pool of available jobs, so make sure to apply for jobs that match your skills and experience. This will increase your chances of being hired and will also help you to build a positive reputation on the platform.

Be professional and responsive

Once you have applied for a job, make sure to communicate with the client in a professional and timely manner. Respond to messages and requests quickly and provide the client with the information and support they need to make a hiring decision.

Offer competitive rates

Upwork allows freelancers and clients to negotiate and agree on the terms of each project, including the rate that the freelancer will be paid. While it's important to offer rates that are competitive with other freelancers on the platform, make sure not to undervalue your skills and experience.

By following these tips, you can improve your chances of getting your first job on Upwork and start building a successful freelancing career on the platform.

Upwork vs. Fiverr: How do they compare?

Upwork and Fiverr are both popular online platforms that connect freelancers with clients looking for their services. While there are some similarities between the two platforms, there are also some key differences. Here are some ways in which Upwork and Fiverr compare:

  • Freelancer pool: Upwork has a larger pool of freelancers compared to Fiverr, with over 16 million freelancers on the platform. Fiverr has a smaller pool of freelancers, with over 5 million registered users.
  • Types of jobs: Upwork offers a wider range of job opportunities compared to Fiverr. Upwork covers a wide range of industries and skill sets, including writing, design, web development, and more. Fiverr primarily focuses on digital services, such as graphic design, writing, and video editing.
  • Fees and pricing: Upwork and Fiverr have different fee structures for freelancers and clients. Upwork charges freelancers a fee of 2.75% to 5% for each transaction, depending on their account level. Fiverr charges freelancers a fee of 20% for each transaction.
  • User experience: Upwork and Fiverr have different user experiences for freelancers and clients. Upwork provides a more comprehensive set of tools and features for freelancers, such as time tracking and payment protection. Fiverr has a more simplified user experience, with a focus on fast and easy transactions.


With its vast network of users and wide range of job listings, Upwork is a powerful tool for finding and securing work in the digital age.

While using Upwork does require some effort and skill, the potential rewards make it well worth the investment. By following best practices and being proactive, you can find success on the platform and build lasting relationships with clients.