Is Upwork a Scam? The Truth Nobody Tells You!

Last Updated on May 4, 2022

Is Upwork a scam? “We are the biggest freelancer marketplace in the world!”, says every freelance hiring platform ever. Okay, we hear you Upwork. We’ll give you a chance to explain yourself here in my Upwork review.

With such bold claims, this freelance hiring platform caught my attention and I have decided to take a look into it. Would you believe this website lets you work freelance even if you have no experience? What freelance hiring platform would even let you do that?

Now that I have your attention, let’s check out this insanity together!


Upwork Review

Product Name: Upwork
Founder: Stephane Kasriel & Thomas Layton
Logo: upwork logo
Product Description: Freelance Hiring Platform
Best For: Employers and freelancers
Recommended: NO

Quick Navigation

>>What is Upwork?
>>The Inner Workings of Upwork
>>Could You Land a Job as an Amateur?
>>Upwork’s Red Flags Exposed!
>>What Makes Upwork Worth It
>>Is Upwork a Scam?


What is Upwork?


upwork homepage


Upwork is an international freelance hiring platform made for clients looking for the perfect freelancer to complete the job for them in their talented marketplace of individuals.

On the other hand, freelancers can also sign up for the platform and start applying for one time jobs.

If you are curious how Upwork came about in the first place, it first started when Elance and oDesk decided to merge forming Elance-oDesk not so long ago back in December 2013. After 18 months of time, Elance-oDesk rebranded to Upwork.

CEO Stephane Kasriel and Chairman Thomas Layton settled down with this company which is currently based in Mountain View, California.

Is Upwork a scam? We’ll get to that in a minute, but first let us know how Upwork really works on the inside.


The Inner Workings of Upwork


Clients, Listen Up!

upwork hire the best freelancer


This freelance hiring platform works for both clients and freelancers. As a client looking for the most suitable freelancer for the job, your search first starts by signing up. Now,  Upwork offers you three options of profiles to choose from.


  • Upwork – This is the basic account, but don’t worry! You won’t be too restricted with this one since you can browse through profiles of freelancers searching for jobs.


  • Upwork Pro – With this account, it’s almost as if freelancers have been screened by a talent agency and the freelancers passed on to you are personally hand-picked. Basically, you won’t have to go through freelancers that don’t have any potential for the job.


  • Upwork Enterprise – Sounds fancy, but with this account, Upwork employees do all the job for you. They are the ones to scroll through profiles, screen them and employ for you. They do everything you would do as a client.

    This saves you time and energy rather than going through hundreds of applicants yourself.


Moreover, these accounts do not even have a cost. No matter what account you sign up for, you can avail it for free. I don’t know why this is the concept when you could really just sign up for one account type and have the benefits all at once. But hey, if it’s free, then why not?

Once you have chosen an account type of your choice, you are required to deposit funds to your profile. Upwork secures your money with Escrow, so you don’t have the worry that your money is going anywhere.

The purpose of this is to build trust between both sides so that the freelancer will be left with nothing when a certain client decides to run away without paying the freelancer.


upwork how it works


After depositing funds, you can start posting a job. Upwork claims to connect you with only the best talents around the world. Yes, you can hire freelancers coming from the other side of the planet.

Once posted, you can get qualified proposals, compare bids, reviews, and the prior work of freelancers. Proceed to the interview and hire.

Upwork lets you collaborate easily with your freelancers through chat or video call. When you receive the output, you can simply pay them right away!

That’s the way to go as a client.


Hi There, Freelancer!


upwork find rewarding projects


If you are on the other side of the coin and searching for a one time job, it starts with creating a profile that will capture the attention of clients. How do you make a worthy profile?

Upwork offers a variety of jobs ranging from different fields such as:


  • Admin Support
  • Data Science & Analytics
  • Design & Creative
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Writing
  • Customer Service
  • Web, Mobile & Software Dev.
  • IT & Networking
  • Accounting & Consulting
  • Engineering & Architecture
  • Legal
  • Translation


upwork job choices


You can choose what service you would provide to clients. Once done with that, Upwork lets you indicate your level of experience. Choose whether you are at entry level, intermediate, or expert. Of course, the higher your level of experience, the higher your chances of being hired.

Completing the profile, you would have to provide a profile photo, educational background, employment history, how much you want to get paid per hour, how many hours of the day you are willing to work, your address, and your level of proficiency in the languages you speak.

Don’t be afraid to put everything on your profile that would further your reputation in the eyes of clients. Just make sure that all of it is true! Nobody wants a liar!

Clients require you to submit proposals in which this includes your portfolio, cover letter, and your resume. So make sure you do that, as well. You can also take skill tests to prove your abilities.


upwork portfolio


If you feel that your profile is written to perfection, you can start searching and bidding for job postings of your liking. You will be informed once you have been accepted for the job!

When are you done with the job, your client will pay you!


upwork payment protection


Getting Paid


Speaking of payments, you can get paid however you want whether it be PayPal, wire transfer, local funds transfer, direct deposit, Payoneer, or Skrill.

Take note, you are only allowed to withdraw amounts once you have hit the cash out threshold of $20. To withdraw this, you would have to pay $2.50.

Also, Upwork gives you options on how you want to get paid by your clients.

  • Hourly billing: Just like the name implies, you will get paid by the hour. The money will come flowing into your account for each hour that passes by. This is made possible by downloading an advanced time-tracking software on your desktop or laptop. This is another way to build trust between two sides.
  • Fixed-price billing: Unlike the preceding payment system, this is the usual way of payment in which you are only paid once you have finished the task itself.
  • Pre-funded milestone payment: In this payment option, your client pays you a percentage of the total payment as you progress on the project until it is done. This is a payment option you could choose if you are the type with trust issues.


Could You Land a Job as An Amateur?


Yes, you can! But of course, most of the favor will go to those who have years of experience than those who are just starting in such a niche. I appreciate the fact of letting amateurs sign up to the platform, it gives everyone a chance.

You might think this would be a disadvantage to the clients, however, that’s not the case at all.

In fact, there are clients looking for freelancers who particularly have no experience. Potential applicants can filter ‘no experience required’ when searching for jobs. However, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine from there on.

If you have no experience, it is not advisable to set your rates high. Obviously, no one would want to hire you. One of the reasons why clients particularly search for those with no experience is most probably because they are low on budget. So that’s one thing to take note of.

Just because you have no experience does not mean you are worth little. You just have to make sure you indicate in your profile all your skills. Make your portfolio neat and ensure that it will capture the attention of clients, as long as everything you are saying is true!

Is Upwork a scam? You may want to find the answers to that question once you have gone through the next section.


Upwork’s Red Flags Exposed!


Incompetent Freelancers


In a marketplace of freelancers from every part of the world, there are bound to be applicants who just don’t have the potential. Take for example the complaint below, this client complains of an unresponsive and unreliable freelancer.

It also worth noting that Upwork agents who are supposed to help you with such freelancers are unresponsive as well.


upwork complaint


One freelancer did not even work on the task, as stated by this customer.


upwork trustpilot complaints


Of course, with proper screening and taking the time to carefully choose the perfect freelancer pays off in the end.

Plus, just because Upwork allows those with no experience to sign up does not mean all of these are incompetent. There are still pretty flowers in a field of grass.


Termination of Accounts


Some customers are complaining and confused why their accounts have been terminated after making some deposits and payments. On top of this, they are not even given an explanation to the events.


upwork bbb complaint


upwork trustpilot complaint


Not Paying Freelancers


Of course, it’s not pretty on the other side, too. This particular freelancer complained that his account got suspended, and even though he had worked for a project, Upwork refuses to pay him. What I found really suspicious is why they don’t disclose the reason of such acts and it all just seems random.

It seems to me as if they just want to keep the money for themselves. I’m not sure, you be the judge.


upwork bbb complaints


Not a Sustainable Source of Income


Let’s face it, freelance jobs are just not going to cut it. You can work freelance all you want however, the amount you are bound to earn with freelance jobs does not equate with what you can earn with a full time job. Not that I have hate on Upwork or whatever, this is just the reality in general.


What Makes Upwork Worth It


BBB Ratings


Upwork is rated by the BBB with an A. That I have to applaud.


upwork bbb


Fancy Tools


Upwork comes with a mobile app. The purpose of this is to take Upwork wherever you go so that you can be notified about what’s happening between both parties. Another tool Upwork provides is the advanced time-tracking software you install on your desktop or laptop. This makes the hourly billing possible, and builds trust between both sides.


International Marketplace of Talents


The whole world is your greenery, and in this greenery, all you have to is pick the best flowers there is. What else there is to say?


upwork international marketplace


Payment is Secured


As a freelancer, you don’t have to worry about a case of a runaway client. Upwork requires clients to deposit their money for payment first. Also, this money is secured with Escrow, so there really is nothing to worry about.


My Final Thoughts! Is Upwork a Scam?


I think that Upwork is not a scam. It is a legit company providing jobs for freelancers and clients.

However, just because it is not a scam does not mean I would recommend it to you.

First, I would like to say that it is not Upwork’s fault for having complaints regarding freelancers who does not accomplish the task given. Even if they did not allow those with no experience to sign up on their platform, there are also talented individuals who may not put up with their part of the bargain.

This is not Upwork’s fault since they only act as a mediator between both parties. But of course, this is the internet. You have no control over who you interact with. Actually, this is one of the most common cases when it comes to job hiring platforms. That’s why I would not recommend it.

However, Upwork should at least be working on not releasing funds to freelancers who do not comply with the bargain.

As for the freelancers, if you have done the work and Upwork decides to not pay you by suspending your account, I think it is best not to get involved with this website in the first place if all of the sudden your account gets terminated without even being given an explanation. To me, this is all just too suspicious. However, I have no proof so I’ll just leave it at that.

Also, if you think about it, freelancing is just not the way to go.  It could earn you little by little, but it is really not  a sustainable source of income.

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