Upwork, formally known as oDesk, was started in 2003 by Odysseas Tsatalos and Stratis Karamanlakis. Stratis and Odysseas created a digital platform that would allow them to work together remotely (Stratis lived in Greece at the time).

Through the last decade over 4.5 million freelancers have joined Upwork, formerly known as oDesk, and over 1.5 million jobs have been posted. Upwork is the largest online freelance platform and is consistently ranked #1 by annual freelancer earnings. In most recent news, Upwork and Elance reached a deal in December of 2013 to merge the two companies which will consist of 8 million freelancers and 2 million businesses.

The Good

Upwork offers freelancers and businesses stress free payroll tools. With Upwork Payroll:

  • Reduce the risk of worker misclassification by working through Upwork’s staffing agency
  • Pay only for hours worked and gain full visibility into how freelancer’s time is spent
  • Provide your freelancers with access to health and retirement benefits

Upwork payroll takes a lot of the guessing out of freelance payment and taxing. With Upwork staffing agency as the employer of record, you:

  • Reduce or eliminate the risk of fines, penalties and interest accrual due to misclassification of contract workers
  • Reduce the risk of legal disputes and negative publicity from worker misclassification

Upwork also offers a guarantee to employers that they will only pay for work that was actually worked. Upwork provides a work diary that tracks hours worked and even gives employers visibility to work-in-progress. Conversely, Upwork promises freelancers that an hour worked is an hour paid. Upwork work diary also provides insurance to freelancers of guaranteed payment for hours worked.

In addition to the extensive list of Upwork benefits, freelancers now have access to affordable health insurance and other employment benefits. Plans start at $105/month and can include benefits like 401(k), dental coverage, and W-2 tax filing.

Based on our comparison of freelance platforms, TBC would recommend using Upwork for the following reasons:

  • Low usage fee
  • Tons of jobs posted (3 million)
  • Tons of freelancers (9 million)
  • Money-back guarantee

The Bad

While Upwork offers payments guarantees for both employers and freelancers, it does not have mechanisms in place to hedge lowball job offers. In addition, the foreign competition pushes job values way below market value. For example there are freelancers -mostly in foreign countries- who will offer web coding work for $1 to $2 an hour.

The Bottom Line

Upwork is the world’s largest online workplace with a thriving community of clients and freelancers. 80% of Upwork clients say that online work makes them more competitive and helps grow revenues, and a majority say they’ll spend twice as much hiring online in the coming year. Upwork boasted over 900,000 clients, 4.5M freelancers, and over 35M hours worked in 2012. If you are looking for a freelance platform to post or find jobs, we strongly recommend signing up with Upwork.

Fees

They charge 10% of the total price.

Jobs Posted

More than 3 million jobs posted annually.

Registered Freelancers

9 million registered freelancers.

Guarantee / Protection

Upwork has a money-back guarantee beta program. This program is offered on select hourly jobs. They also have a limited payment protection program. Again, this is available on hourly projects.

Payroll Options

All payments go through a secure system. You can pay freelancers via credit card, PayPal, and bank account.

Involvement

Upwork has a Dispute Resolution Policy that they seem to stick to.

You can contact Upwork via email at [email protected] There is no obvious customer service phone number

Are there any inaccuracies in this review? We take our accuracy very seriously and would love your feedback. Give feedback here.

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96 Upwork (formerly oDesk) Reviews

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  1. User Score

    0

    November 17th, 2016

    never seen or had a single good paying job from that site ever since it devoured elance which is miles ahead of odesk. the rates are ridiculous and not even worth for a hobby.

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    1

  2. User Score

    0

    November 7th, 2016 Miami, FL

    This company is completely irresponsible, I will not recommend anyone use the services they provide, especially for professional freelancers that are on this website, because the company is very unprofessional.

    The customer service doesn’t know how to respond to clients and they are very rude. I opened my account and we are a very serious company. We paid and 3 days after I received an email saying that my account was suspended. I called to know the reasons for doing that and nobody knew. I am still waiting for a real reason and they don’t even know. I am very dissatisfied and I won’t come back to this website anymore. Please don’t get into this website they don’t know how to treat clients and they don’t respect.

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    6

  3. User Score

    1

    October 24th, 2016

    If you have an issue with a freelancer they replay that is your problem if 14 days are gone and they leave you with the issue. There is no security they also took all the payment even before I aprove the job and after they wrote that i can’t leave a negative feedback to unresponsive freelancer. Elance was much better

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    4

  4. User Score

    0

    October 23rd, 2016

    Fund released by upwork even though the freelancer has admitted over the messages/submission that the first (and only) design submission has to be completely re-created. The submitted design was taken from stock photo site so I have politely explained that we prefer original creation or more modification.

    After waiting for a month, he sent another message (Via Upwork) admitting that he doesn’t have time to do so and Upwork has still released the milestone fund.

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    4

  5. User Score

    0

    October 22nd, 2016

    Upwork cancelled my account for not reason. I had two contracts going and very happy with their work.

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    3

  6. User Score

    0

    October 20th, 2016

    Worked on Elance and oDesk for years, no problems. Every since they merged to become Upwork, it has become a despicable site.

    There are constantly problems with the site going down, the Team App not working, etc. Customer Service doesn’t help, but simply regurgitates generic responses that have nothing to do with your concern.

    The quality of jobs available has significantly dropped. The fees have significantly increased. How can they seriously justify charging freelancers 20% of project earnings??? And now they’re also charging the clients who are hiring. It’s disgusting.

    Stay away from this site! I’m doing everything I can now to distance myself from them and work with clients privately.

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    3

  7. User Score

    0

    October 9th, 2016

    Been with them for years, putting aside the problems with scammers who bid for the jobs and its not them doing it or bidding for the job, getting the job and then trying to up charge. Their customer service are a bunch of retarded monkeys and there really is no other words to use to describe them.

    Posted a job for specific language speakers only, because work must be in that language only, Job removed and i am issued with a warning for discrimination,

    You can not possibly be that stupid to flag it and call it discrimination. After 100 emails, an apology.
    Got feedback around 95%, get emails telling me to improve my feedback, retarded monkeys, mine is nearly 100%, yours is almost 0% and you telling me to improve?
    Then get emails about hateful speech, ask them what and where was hateful? response we have evidence but will not disclose it?
    Then, on the 5th email and apology for a mistake., 24 hours later, the same crap again.

    Ask to escalate to senior management, to no available.

    Seriously who runs this company, i am certain chimps have more brain than that.

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    7

  8. User Score

    0

    September 18th, 2016

    I am a customer that been hiring freelancers in Upwork for long time. I was totally satisfied with everything until one of the freelancers threated me to damage my website if I don’t change my review that for her understanding was really bad. I gave her 3 stars but she wanted 5. I contacted support and the only thing that they will do something is if I show a prove of the damage she made. The whole idea to contact support is to avoid this to happen but they won’t do anything until the damage is done.

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    2

  9. User Score

    0

    September 15th, 2016 San Diego, CA

    I am giving Upwork a rating of the worst of the worst in terms of sites to work with. I am a client who was using Upwork for the first time today to post a job for a Java Developer for a website project. I have hired professionals of this type before and know clearly what the job entails. I posted a very pleasant and professional description of the job and it clearly was well-received since I got so many replies in the first few hours of the post being active. I did state in the post that during the development phase of the project the person had to be US based due to the time zone issues and needing to be available to work with other US based staff in these time zones. Note that I did not state they had to be from the US or be US citizens, as that might be taken to provide US citizens preferential treatment. There are many foreign individuals living and working in the US and we would be more than happy to work with any that are qualified. If there had been any inappropriate language in the post I would not have received the responses that I did. I was in the midst of organizing SKYPE meetings and calls with about 10 of the responders to move the project forward when I received an email from Upwork making false accusations about my behavior. Below is the exact email that I received from them:

    We’re writing because a job you posted contains discriminatory or hateful remarks, threats, profanity, or vulgarity. This is against our Job Post policy and has led to the temporary suspension of your account.
    Upwork is a community of professionals acting professionally. Respectful language is vital in maintaining workplace integrity and a business-like environment for all.
    Please reply to this email stating that you agree to comply with Upwork’s client policies! By doing so, we can clear your account and you can continue to work on Upwork. If you do not respond, your account will remain suspended until we hear from you.
    Please note that a second violation of this nature will result in permanent suspension.

    I responded that I did nothing of the kind, therefore I will not respond that I will comply with their policy in the future to get my account unsuspended. They auto-declined to all the responders of my job posting so that I am stopped in mid-stream and cannot even respond to time slots that had been offered to me for continued conversation. I in no way discriminated against anyone. It is Upwork who has wronged me by making these false accusations that I behaved hatefully when I did no such thing. I will post my experience on every site I can and share my experience with everyone of just how egregious the behavior of Upwork is. Message to Upwork – don’t bother un-suspending my account as I don’t ever intend to use your site again. I will go back to my other sites that I have used successfully in the past and without issue, as I have no need to tolerate this kind of treatment form you.

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    4

  10. User Score

    0

    September 12th, 2016

    I was a member of elance. And I was happy. Got some very loyal repeat customers and I was making a decent living per month. Ever since the decision to merge with odesk and become Upwork became active, it all became shambles. Every new job I get is problematic. Not to mention the 20% fee they charge the freelancers, the 6 days that they keep they money before they pay you (the infamous security period) and the problems with the clients. For example you get to see your work published and making money for someone else while they sit on the 14 day review period and pay you nothing. I am removing myself from this sack of s**t as soon as I get paid my last work.

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    9

  11. User Score

    0

    September 6th, 2016 El Dorado, AR

    This site has the worst clients ever, and what is worse…Upwork protects them, not the freelancers. I have had jobs that were done with their time tracker and had the client suddenly dispute the job. Upwork sided with the client despite the “guarantee” that you as a freelancer are supposed to be paid. Do not use this site. You wont make a living, you will be treated as slave labor, and the guarantees are complete total BS.

    And just so you know, I had all 5 star ratings and a 100% JSS score and top 10 to 20% tests results AND was a member of their Enterprise Bench… meaning I went as far up as a freelancer as you can go.

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    4

  12. User Score

    0

    September 3rd, 2016

    Worst Freelance Website
    They just want freelancer conceive clients to spend money, so site will get the money and freelancer, but when it comes to support and security of your money and job you expected to have, they do nothing, even their support system doesn;t reply your requests.

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    5

  13. User Score

    1

    September 1st, 2016

    The take 20% of all transactions, bunch of scammers!

    and if the client doesn’t approve the work right aways it takes me several days to get the money out, and they even charge me to send the money to Paypal, yes! after the 20% cut!

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    5

  14. User Score

    0

    August 26th, 2016

    I recently received an invitation to interview on a job, and the details were provided in an attached document. I should have known better. The file was infected with trojans and malware and my Paypal account was compromised as a result. My bad for opening the file.

    I think it’s unforgivable though that Upwork has no filters to prevent infected files and viruses from being made available. I did get an email from them saying my computer may have been infected – but that was 12 hours after the security breach. I was already aware and taking steps to fix it.

    I have closed my account with Upwork – this is not the type of company I wish to deal with. Shameful.

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    7 1

  15. User Score

    0

    August 23rd, 2016 Gig Harbor, WA

    Some of the worst clients in the world go here. A ton don’t offer anything over $1/hr. Don’t go to this site.

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    7

  16. User Score

    0

    August 17th, 2016 Los Angeles, CA

    Unfortunately, I was scammed on this site and I hope this review will help someone else not fall prey to this site.
    I needed a website so I went onto Upwork and hired a freelancer. It was a ‘per hour’ job. the rate was cheap – $12 per hour – so I thought I might try a few hours and keep my fingers crossed it would be positive.
    Before I sent the person I hired any information – i.e. the name of my company, the type of company, my bio, my designs for the site, etc., she began work.
    $175 later she submitted a bill and her work. It was one day. It was a fake site she had designed with images she had taken from online of everything from a woman in bondage (I kid you not) to handbags and clothing (I sell jewelry)
    She had a fake name of a company as well as fake everything on this one page.
    I immediately wrote asking why she had started work with no information from me. And I contacted Upwork.
    Long story short – Upwork said the woman had submitted a ‘work diary’ that showed she had logged the hours – it did not matter that the site she made had nothing to do with me or my business or products – so, they were giving her the money.

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE be careful and do not use this site. the people are not honest. They will not stand behind you. And, anyone that thinks it is okay to charge for something and not deliver is not honest. I do not recommend this company and I wish I had read the other reviews before I was scammed.

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    4 2

  17. User Score

    0

    August 16th, 2016

    Elance = 10
    Upwork = 0

    I used to love Elance. they should have kept it open.
    I also find upwork interface way too confusing when compared to Elance.

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    8

  18. User Score

    0

    August 13th, 2016

    I believe this platform is good for someone who live in the third-world countries. I offered a very reasonable price to my potential client (even half lower than the minimum wage in North America), when we almost agreed, they told me that they just got a really good offer by other freelancer. I don’t even believe who would accept the price lower than what I offered. People can see tons of very low budget jobs on Upwork, some of them are dramatically rediculous. Worst of all, for the first $500, freelancers have to pay 20% commission. It’s totally not worth it.

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    7

  19. User Score

    0

    August 11th, 2016

    Terminated my account due to a client error. I was not allowed any appeal or investigation; just an erroneous judgement made against me, which affected my livelihood! When pleading with support I faced nothing but copy and pasted responses; absolutely unacceptable!

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    6

  20. User Score

    0

    August 10th, 2016 South Burlington, VT

    I’ve been going back and forth with Upwork for the last few days, trying to activate my account because it had been suspended. Someone ENTIRELY DIFFERENT WHO I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF BEFORE signed up for an account on the same computer as me. I had no idea that using a public computer would put my account on lockdown.

    They’ve been asking me for personal information & to scan personal documents to prove that I am myself. I absolutely DO NOT WANT to provide any more personal information than I already have, especially since I already linked my bank account to the account for withdrawals. When I asked to have my account SHUT DOWN they refused until I provide the personal information that they were asking for. I shouldn’t have to provide any information to close my account. I do not trust this company whatsoever and it’s not worth all the effort considering that most of the projects that are posted underpay their freelancers by an insane amount. I wanted to sign up and apply to ONE JOB and this is what I get. Don’t bother with this company.

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    6 1