Is UpWork A Scam?

is upwork a scamIs UpWork a scam? Or is it a great place to find some extra work online?

The Thesis Behind UpWork

The thesis behind a company like UpWork goes something like this: Oh, how many freelancers there are! And say, there are plenty of people looking for freelancers too: Website owners who are in need of writers, designers, coders etc…

Wouldn’t it be a great idea if we could somehow connect these two groups of people? Website owners and busy businesses would get their work done fast and effectively while freelancers would be able to find plenty of work and work from the comfort of their homes.

That’s the idea behind UpWork. Sounds like a paradise, does it not? But it’s not.

Yes, there is plenty of value in UpWwork, and plenty of freelancers, as well as website owners, have had success working for or hiring people at UpWork. But there are many problems as well (which is why UpWork is not on my recommended list), and here we’ll discuss some of them.

The Bidding Process

Website owners post jobs. Freelancers then contact these website owners and suggest a price. UpWork then takes a small commission off the freelancers’ wages. What could go wrong?

The problem, you see, is that freelancers are competing against each other to get at the lowest price possible. There are often ten or twenty freelancers competing to be hired for one single job. People want to get the most out of their buck, and there’s no reason why someone should pay a US writer triple that which he would pay a writer from overseas.

Now, there are people that are willing to pay more for writers that have received good reviews, but in order to actually get good reviews in the first place, you must first work for extremely low rates and still offer high-quality work, so that you receive good reviews.

That’s not the best situation.

UpWork For Website Owners

Website owners don’t have such an easy time either. Since all work
and communication is done on the UpWork website, it’s often hard to find a freelancer that you can be sure will do a good job and will satisfy your needs, even if you are willing to pay a decent price.

So, Is UpWork A Scam? Can It Really Be True?

UpWork is not a scam. They actually have an A+ rating at the BBB. There were actually many complaints against them, often consisting of not getting paid, but all complaints were dealt with effectively (it’s good to know that if you end up not getting paid you can always file a complaint and you’ll get your money – what a relief).

Browsing the freelancers listed on UpWork, you will find many that have completed a number of jobs or worked for a number o0f hours and seem to be doing well there.

So it’s really up to you. If you want to put in a bid or two daily (there is a limit on how much you can bid each month) and hope that maybe you’ll be hired, good luck to you. Just don’t let yourself be taken advantage of by people who want you to do a lot for as little money as possible.

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  1. Veiko Herne

    UpWork is not legit service, because:
    1. They demand to use their “freelancer protection service”, which means, that customer makes a deposit before hiring someone to their site and somehow, UpWork holds money another 6 days after job is completed. That considered as managing escrows, which is subject to financial service license. And then they can’t keep money six days, as they are legally obligated in Europe to make any transfers within 48h.
    2. They monitor all discussions, even those subject of NDA. That’s a criminal activity and obviously I have reported it to FBI. But as monitoring conversations is so common in US nowadays, FBI haven’t yet arrested those criminals.

    1. Ben (Post author)

      Thank you, Veiko!

      Very insightful 🙂

  2. Bruno

    I also agree with you Up Work is not the best place to earn money online. I can assure you will have to work very hard for pennies before afford to pay any bill. I have personally tried up work and I don’t think it’s good for beginners with serious need for a job.
    Thank you for sharing such as information

    1. Ben (Post author)

      Hi Bruno!

      Yes, UpWork is definitely not for someone who needs a serious job. It’s for freelancers, but even for freelancers it is not recommended! The model of bidding on jobs makes it very hard to get a good paying rate, at least when starting out.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Jeff

    Hi Ben,
    Even before reading your article I had some serious reservations about Upwork’s true legitimacy as a plan to find work for freelance writers.

    I also had a little exposure to Upwork having posted my resume on the site. To me problem abound with the basic premise of competing for work among possibly tens of dozens of other individuals all looking to fulfill the one assignment.

    As you stated an employer may go for the least expensive bid to have work completed, but then again you might not have the most qualified freelancer fulfilling the actual contract.

    There are also issues on the other end as I noted with out-of-date jobs still posted on the job board.

    Truly what I also found as the amount of pay not being commiserate with the required work tasked to complete.

    There are much better opportunities for people out there who are freelance writers versus what Upwork has to offer.


    1. Ben (Post author)

      Hi Jeff!

      Yes, UpWork can be a nightmare for freelancers! As you say, the worst part is the bottom low prices! As Carol Tice from Make A Living Writing says, it’s the race to the bottom!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Matt's Mom

    Sounds like Upwork is a legitimate company, but I wouldn’t want to be a freelancer and basically put a lot of work into something, only to get paid peanuts. I also would not want to hire somebody and pay them, only to get lousy work. Sounds like it has a lot of flaws and I am too much of a micromanager. I have learned that if I want something done right, I have to do it myself.

    1. Ben (Post author)

      Yes Matt’s Mom, UpWork has its flaws both ways, for freelancers and for customers, as you have so clearly explained.

      Thanks for stopping by,


  5. Matthew Thomas

    It sounds like Upwork is a legitimate service, but unfortunately for freelancers, the bidding process can make potential earnings drop rather substantially. If you like to write, you’re probably better off publishing content on a website of your own and monetize it yourself – in the long-run, the earnings will end up being much more then the $100 or less you received one-time for completing a piece of work. With your own website, you can earn a recurring income for life. What are your thoughts in this regard?

    1. Ben (Post author)

      Hi Matthew,

      Yes, I agree with you. In the long run, it’s always better to have your own website that is fully monetized. This is because you will be earning money even when you sleep. You will be your own boss and you will not have any deadlines or have to answer to editors. You will not have to deal with customers or search on job boards for more freelance work. In fact, I wrote extensively about this here.

      However, in the short run, freelancers may have to write for other people, because it takes time for a website to be fully monetized.

  6. Heathguy33

    Hey I will be completely honest I have never heard of this before. I’m glad I came across this site. You have written a very long and in-depth review of this work up program. I don’t think it’s something I would be intrested in. Do you have any recommendations for newbies like myself?

    1. Ben (Post author)

      Hi there,

      You have a number of option: Look for jobs on freelance job boards such as Problogger, join a company like BlogMutt, or even better, start your own blog and earn money through advertising revenue. If you need more information on how to do that, click here.

      Let me know if you have any more questions 🙂

  7. Sangeeta

    There is a huge competition everywhere and person who offers good quality of work at less price will crack the deal. Must be a difficult job to get more success initially.
    I thought of a freelancer job before but never tried so do not know much about the format.
    I think if we give some time in this job along with productive work to get good review then it will become fruitful in future

    1. Ben (Post author)

      Yeah, but it’s not a fair environment for freelancers. The bidding process is designed to drive the freelancers’ wages down and benefit the hirer. That’s my opinion, anyway.


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