Income Streams

Is Upwork Legit?

Upwork has grown pretty popular in the era of technology as more and more graduates have chosen online freelancing as a profession. It’s both a straightforward and convenient way to earn money online, and you don’t even have to be an expert in any field to apply! You just need primary skills that you’d like to offer others and market yourself on the platform to meet clients. But many have tried and failed to make a name for themselves in the competitive industry, so is Upwork legit? And how can Canadians use to earn money?

Looking to earn passive income? If so, you have to read this guide!

What is Upwork And Is Upwork Legit?

Upwork is one of the most-used and widely-known marketplaces for freelancers. It’s basically the middleman between you and your clients一not only can you connect with them there, but you can also do all of your billings, biddings, and transactions. Upwork has long grown since its establishment in 1999 as it has garnered over 800,000 active users as of March 2020. But Is Upwork legit? Well, one of the first ways Upwork proves its legit is by its long standing history.

How Can You Make Money on Upwork?


Freelancers, formally called independent contractors, are people who are self-employed and under their own company. You don’t have to have an actual institution, but you are, in a sense, the company itself. You aren’t employed by anyone else, and you offer and sell services to prospective buyers and clients. 

You can, however, get hired by other companies on a project or short-term basis. Because it’s part-time and you can actually choose when and where you work, you wouldn’t be able to get the same benefits and compensations as actual full-time employees. You have complete control over your work, its quality, and your commitment to the company. Essentially, you can start, stop, and leave whenever you want. 

Upwork for freelancers

As mentioned above, Upwork serves as a venue for freelancers to look for clients, and in turn, clients to find freelancers. The platform works by allowing clients to post for job openings or projects that freelancers on the site can access. You can click on whichever one is suitable to your skillset and price range, then start bidding. 

You will have to provide information on how long you can finish the project, how much you want to be paid, and other specifications that the client wants. Once you’re done, all you have to do is wait for the client to decide who they want to work with and not worry if you’re not chosen. There are many other prospective clients, and you can always bid on other projects you’re comfortable with. 

If you are someone who is great at finding clients, you can use Upwork to find you the talent needed to complete the contract, once you have secured the contract.

Tips for Setting up Your Account on Upwork

Yes, Upwork is legit in the sense that they provide a guaranteed escrow service and payment protection. These are your own hard-earned funds that you can withdraw. However, finding clients and getting paid is not easy. Make sure you are aware of the following.

When you decide to start your Upwork journey, you can go onto their official website,, and click the “sign-up” button. It will lead you to another page wherein you can manually sign up with your name and existing email address. You can also choose to sign up with your Apple ID if you prefer that over your work email.

Afterwards, you will be asked to create a password and specify your position as a freelancer. They’ll send you an email to verify your email address; then, you’re done! You can start setting up your profile, but Upwork will have to approve your account depending on the information that you present. Just be thorough so that you can have a smooth signing up experience. 

Include sufficient information on your profile

When you sign-up, you’d have to build your profile to really market yourself efficiently. You’ll have to add your skillset in a specific niche, your education, professional experience, and hourly rates. It’s also advised that you create a portfolio of some sample works for clients to use as a reference when picking which freelancer to work with. Just make sure that you also tell them what your availability and language preferences are so that you can work with them without any bother.

Use The Right Keywords

When you input your skills and services, make use of keywords and trends to increase your impressions. This means that you’ll pop up more on the page whenever clients search for freelancers who can do a particular project for them. There are so many competitors on the platform, so you can maximize your skillset and keywords to boost your exposure. 

How To Earn More as a Freelancer on Upwork

Once you have your profile set up, it is time to look for contracts and partnerships. You can search for any jobs related to your skill set to see what opportunities are out there. For instance, I ran a search on “Vancouver” to see what local part-time jobs are available. This is what I found.

upwork backend vancouver
An example of using Upwork as a freelancer.

As you can see there are active job postings on Upwork. This was just for a regional keyword too. If you search for a skill like “graphic design” or “content writing” you will find hundreds of jobs posted every day. Once you have found a job that has piqued your interest, it is time to apply.

Upwork Job Score

Job Scores are given to those who have been on Upwork for a considerable amount of time already. Upwork’s bases are still kept secret. No one is certain about what they are, but Job Scores are generally given to those who are doing better than others. The more you have, the better. 

You can analyze your experience and performance whenever your Job Score changes every two weeks, and you can adjust to what you think works better for you. It should be a secondary goal to make it higher so that your impression would be better to the clients. 

Upwork Connects

Whenever you submit job proposals on your board, you have to pay in connects, Upwork’s virtual currency. When you first sign up, you can get 40 free connects and another 40 when you take their readiness test. You can use these up when you first start applying for projects, and you can always purchase some when you run out. 

You can buy them for 0.15 USD each, and they also come in bundles of 10, 20, 40, 60, and 80. You can also earn connects when you land interviews (10) and get some as prizes when you earn Upwork badges.

Upwork Rising Talent

Upwork gives the “Rising Talent” badge to those beginners who have shown great potential on the platform. When you first start out, you can watch out for Upwork’s criteria on how to receive it and make sure to follow each one. 

Getting this badge will definitely make it easier for you to land projects since the clients will see it on your profile. They’d know that Upwork itself has chosen you as one of the best freelancers on the site, which would, no doubt, raise your chances of being picked. 

Upwork Top Talent

Getting the Upwork Top Talent badge will help you stick out in interviews and allow you to find significantly more clients. This is a badge given to the top 10% of freelancers on Upwork. It will make you seem more experienced, more reliable and more professional when applying for jobs.

To earn this badge, you need a job success score of at least 90% maintained over a 16 week period. Additional benefits of the Top talent badge include being able to hide reviews, having an Upwork recruiter find you jobs, and paying a lower fee on earnings.

What Are Some Cons of Upwork to Look out for?

While Upwork is legit and a potential income source, there are also some downsides of it.

You can get your account deactivated any time

If you violate any of Upwork’s terms and conditions, they have the power to delete your Upwork account without much notice. You would lose all of your connects, clients, badges, and job scores when that happens, so just make sure that you’re careful and read their rules correctly. 

Upwork gets a share of your total earnings

Upwork charges you 20% of your total earnings on the first $500 you receive from a client. Meaning, you have to pay a whole $100 every time you gain a client who pays you $500. But, if you stay with them for longer, Upwork will eventually charge less. After you’ve earned the initial $500, your fee will drop to 10%, and it becomes 5% once you’ve made $10,000.

The platform encourages freelancers to stick with long-term clients as much as possible: that’s why they gradually decrease your fees like that. Just keep them in mind whenever you’re giving your rates since you wouldn’t want to be underpaid. 

It may be a slow process

It may be hard to land your first projects as a beginner since your feedback and metrics aren’t as good as those who have been in Upwork for a long time. You just have to be patient with giving your bids and proposals, and you will eventually connect with a client and land an interview.

There are many factors that can make your journey faster, though, and one of the best ways to do that is to ensure your profile is attractive. You can show your clients that you’re just as experienced, if not more, than your competitors by giving them a clear picture of who you are and what you can provide. 

There may be a lot of low-paying clients

Because freelancers on the platform come from different parts of the world, the costs of living will vary. For example, those in developing countries would generally charge less than those in developed ones, making the pricing pretty hard to evaluate. 

There may be a competition on who can charge less for more work just to land a project, and that’s incredibly unhealthy. Do not charge less than what you think you’re worth just because of other people’s rates. Just make sure that they’re still reasonable, and clients will still consider you if they believe your rates match your skills.

It’s not common to be a successful freelancer

A lot of people assume that freelancing is as simple as it sounds, but the profession is actually much harder than it seems. There are so much competition and discrepancies in skill levels, and that usually makes it hard for you to make a name for yourself in the industry. 

Do not give up, though, as there will be particular niches that you can specialize in. Just do not be discouraged by those who have failed. You can be an exemption by trying hard and improving yourself day by day. 

Is Upwork Legit and safe from scams?

Once you’ve landed a project, you can communicate with your clients through text, while others would actually prefer calling on other platforms like Zoom and Google Meet. You would have to work with them through the whole process一updating them on your progress until it’s finished. However, while some clients on Upwork are legit, others may not be.

Because there aren’t many security measures on Upwork, it is possible to get scammed on the platform. Here are some ways you can avoid that:

Evaluate the project and client

Serious clients would have specific job descriptions and reasonable prices. When a project looks too good to be true, or if the client is a bit too pushy and straightforward at the very beginning, it’s best to avoid them altogether. There are many other opportunities for you, and you have to know how to distinguish between fake and genuine offers. 

Getting paid in intervals

There’s nothing worse than doing so much work for a client only to be left alone at the end of the month. To avoid these situations, you can request to get paid weekly, or better yet, per project. If the client is genuine, they will happily accept and understand your request. 

Always add a watermark when you first send the complete draft

Doing this will prevent the scenarios wherein the client would just use your work without paying for it. Adding a watermark before you get their payment is one way to ensure your safety as a freelancer. You can always remove it after you’ve already received your payment. 

As long as you follow these safety measures, Upwork is a legit way to make money.

Upwork payment methods

The payment methods are pretty dependent on where you live since some banks are only available in certain countries. It’s generally more convenient for those living in the United States of America (USA) since Upwork has partnered with local banks that can accept transactions that cost $0.99 at most. 

For international users, Upwork can accommodate eWallets like PayPal and Payoneer that are really simple and straightforward to use. All you need to do is download the app on your mobile device, set up and verify an account, and give your clients your payment details. If you live in Kenya, you can also use M-Pesa for your Upwork transactions.

How to know if Upwork is for you?

Upwork is definitely not for everybody as the platform is so competitive. If you’re confident in your skills and patience, though, it can be easier for you to land projects and connect with long-term clients in the long run. More than that, you also have to have the time and energy to communicate with strangers一put yourself out there! 

Make yourself stand out amongst all the other freelancers. Find out what you’re best at and what your unique trait is, then share them with your clients. To do that, you’d have to strive to improve yourself constantly, and that takes a lot of reflection and courage. It’ll take so much effort on your part, but if you just apply what you’ve read above and try to maximize all of the skills you can offer, it can, no doubt, work out in the end.

It’s definitely worth the try, but don’t just stick to one platform. There are so many freelancing sites available online, and you can explore each one to see which is the best for you. Just stay perseverent, motivated, and consistent throughout your freelancing journey. The only way to know if Upwork is Legit is to try it out!




Leave a Comment