How to Make Money On Upwork [GUIDE]

2 years ago   •   14 min read

By Zekeriya Mulbay

The Great Resignation is here. People are choosing freelancing freedom, over the 9-5 compulsion. The gig economy is booming. The freelancing lifestyle is all over social media.

If all this rage against 9-5 has convinced you of earning money and living as a freelancer, we'll help you make a well-informed decision.

When you begin your freelancing journey, you shall encounter so many freelancing platforms like Fiverr, Freelancer, Guru, Toptal, etc. Among these, Fiverr and Upwork are the two most sought out platforms. Newbie freelancers often get confused on the question of Fiverr vs Upwork.

Upwork however is the top choice for playing a long game in freelancing. There are several reasons why Upwork is so popular, and how it is the biggest freelancing hub worldwide.

So, read on to know- What is Upwork? How to start freelancing on Upwork? And, how you can make money as a freelancer on Upwork in 2022.

Chapter 1

What is Upwork?

Upwork is a marketplace for finding freelance work, which means it is a platform where freelancers can offer their services and clients can hire them to do work for them. Upwork acts as an intermediary between employers and employees, helping each other conduct business, communication, and payments effectively.

There are 100s of services that clients seek from freelancers. Among these social media marketing, programming and software development, web design, graphic design, copy/content writing top the list.

Upwork was formerly called Elance. Elance began in 1998, and later when it merged with oDesk in 2015, the platform was finally rebranded as Upwork.

The greatest advantage of working on Upwork is that all jobs are remote. You can adopt a workstation lifestyle after all those hard-hitting, pandemic-induced travel restrictions.

Upwork doesn’t discriminate with nations and nationalities. You can find job openings from all over the world, in the comfort of your place. This provides a huge opportunity to interact with people from new cultures, and learn about new cultures.

How many freelancers Upwork Have?

Upwork is one of the fastest-growing freelancing platforms in the world, which had over twelve million registered freelancers in 2017. During 2017, a whopping three million jobs were posted, generating revenues of over $1 billion USD.

These numbers are constantly growing, making Upwork the fastest-growing freelance marketplace in the world.

Upwork connects freelancers with businesses from over 180 countries. Thus, more and more independent professionals from different categories are contributing to Upwork’s growth.

Why should I consider Upwork?

Upwork is a great place to kickstart your freelancing career. With a good profile, it is likely that you will get so many goods, high paying, and long-term clients at this marketplace.

The greatest perk of working on Upwork is that you get to choose the projects that interest and excite you. There are numerous categories, and 100s of skills you can find work in. It is you who picks up the work of your liking.

Upwork also sorts out one of the greatest concerns of freelancers, i.e., having a constant stream of income. Since jobs are always available, and clients are potentially seeking long term relations. Thus, freelancers can pay attention to improving their skills and expertise, instead of sinking lots of hours to find potential clients.

Newbie freelancers are also often “ghosted” by clients. This means that freelancers are not paid money (ask an independent freelancer) for their work. Upwork eliminates this risk of “ghosting” with its trademark Escrow system. It charges the client in advance so that the due payment happens just after the work has been submitted.

Thus, Upwork is one of the most secure, reliable, and safe platforms for earning money in 2022.

What sorts of jobs on Upwork are Available for me?

Upwork is an ocean of jobs. Every hour, 100s of jobs are posted under 100s of skills. There is constant availability of different kinds of jobs on Upwork.

No matter what field, or skill you hold expertise in, there will always be a job available for you at the time of your login.

Jobs are available in the following categories:

  • Development & IT.
  • Design & Creative.
  • Sales & Marketing.
  • Writing & Translation
  • Admin & Customer Support.
  • Finance & Accounting.
  • Engineering & Architecture, etc

Under these categories, you can work under different roles, employing different skills. Jobs may be one-time, or long-term. It always depends upon what clients are seeking.

Is Upwork Good for Beginners?

If anything, Upwork is definitely a marketplace for beginners. Do you know why? Because, if you trace the history of Upwork, it is also relatively new. This is why Upwork becomes a great launching pad for a freelancing career.

In recent years, many professionals have Upwork as their starting point. College students often seek Upwork as their best side hustle. Apart from this, there are countless people who zeroed in on their freelancing career through Upwork.

What attracts most newbie freelancers to Upwork is qualified jobs, secure and timely payments, reliable clients, professional communication, diverse job opportunities, etc. Newbies who dread cold calling clients and who want to avoid unnecessary follow-ups adopt Upwork as their go-to platform.

A fair warning to newlings on Upwork includes that it may be difficult to stand out in your early days. But, with the right strategy and dedication, you may churn out a good Upwork earning.

We assure you that all you really need to succeed as a beginner on Upwork is- a Laptop, a WiFi connection, expertise in one skill, and a determined mindset. If you have these 4 things with you you will surely earn money as a freelancer on Upwork.

Upwork Payment Methods And Pricing

There are multiple ways to withdraw the money you earn on Upwork. These are as follows:

  • Send directly to your local bank in your local currency. (A $ 1 fee is charged and the exchange rate is calculated somewhat cheaply.)
  • Direct withdrawal to your local bank in dollars. (A charge of $30.)
  • Ability to withdraw to your Payoneer account in Dollars or in your country's currency. (It is charged as $1.)
  • If you have a company, you can get paid to the company account that you verified by choosing these payment methods.

Chapter 2

How much can I earn on Upwork?

Well, this depends on the expertise, talent, and commitment of a freelancer. There are people who drop the idea of Upwork right in the first month, and there are people who build themselves up to six figures in their debut year.

On average, however, a freelancer may earn around $30-40/hr, which may translate to an annual salary of around $42,000.

The following data shows average earnings by job roles.

Job Role

Rate per Hour 

Annual Salary










General Developer



Online Marketer






CRM Manager



Data Analyst



Table Source: Upwork resources page.

These are just the average earnings. You can earn much more than the average salary if you work on improving 5 factors.

  1. Experience: Your experience in the area of service will directly affect your earnings. If you're a good experience in the field, it’s obvious that your Upwork rates will increase.
  2. Skill Set: If you have the sound skillset required for Job, then you can play long, and tough in the field. Suppose you’re a digital marketer, so if you’ve great copywriting skills along with having knowledge of SEO and advertising, then you will surpass your counterparts who have just typical marketing skills.
  3. Education and Training: While freelancing is largely skill-based, that doesn’t mean your Education and Training are not taken into account. Suppose, if you’re trained from a top institute, or have attended reputed programs, and training during college, then you’ll be regarded highly in comparison with others. Thus, you’ll have a decent income as a freelancer.
  4. Reviews and Feedback: Positive reviews from your past clients add up to your credibility. So, if you have a good rating, and satisfactory feedback, it may end up increasing your overall price tag.
  5. Location: While there’s no discrimination as such on the basis of region, sometimes but not often, the location may be a factor in getting the bar raised.

Chapter 3

Pros and Cons of Using UpWork

Working at Upwork can be better than you think. Who doesn't love not working when they want or travelling whenever they want? Better still, you can create your work schedule and have the freedom to work as many hours as you want.

Positive Sides

Flexible Working Hours

Working at Upwork can be better than you think. Who doesn't love not working when they want or travelling whenever they want? Better still, you can create your work schedule and have the freedom to work as many hours as you want.

You can work as many hours as you want at Upwork, instead of the specific and long working hours offered by companies. And in addition to these, you can earn with the hourly pricing that you set. This is one of the features that make it unique for working at Upwork.

Easy Payment System

Upwork reveals a really effective working model with the layout it has established. If you're new to working as a Freelancer, you probably want the convenience of an automatic payment system for your earnings. Upwork offers a good opportunity for Freelancers at this point.

“When can I get paid?” Upwork deletes this question from your mind with it's the payment system. And after you complete your projects, it automatically transfers them to your account within a certain period of time. This allows you to work on your project in a fully focused and efficient manner. This, as a secure system brought by Upwork, ensures a high-quality business volume.

A Better Quality Option According to Companies

We can say that working at Upwork is a better option than working in a company. Because when you work in the company, you have to work at determined hours and according to the determined workload. In fact, sometimes your workload is more than you can complete in the determined hours. This causes your quality of life to decrease and you to have a stressful business life. However, factors such as flexible working hours, new opportunities and better earnings brought by working at Upwork make it privileged to be a Freelancer.

Fast Business Acquisition Process

Companies that advertise on Upwork aim to get their projects started as soon as possible. This way, when starting a business, you don't waste too much time and don't wait too long for an answer. This allows you to get your work done faster and if you're just starting out as a Freelancer, you get a quick start. This is one of the positive aspects of Upwork.

Negative Sides

Pricing for Bids

Nobody likes to pay for something that is not unpredictable things. This is one of the really annoying elements. It's tedious things for Freelancer to pay commissions which it additionally charges when applying for jobs on Upwork.

But you can actually think of it as a security precaution. Having a certain number of job applications is actually a way to prevent spam applying. This is one of the features that make Upwork a quality platform.

Too Much Competition

One of the downsides of Upwork is that there is a lot of competition. More than one Freelancer can apply for the posted jobs and it can turn into a bidding war. Not all Freelancers work for the same wage and working hours vary for each Freelancer.

This actually causes you to be in tight competition with your competitors. As a result of this competition, companies decide to work with the most suitable Freelancer. This can sometimes cause you to work for less than your normal hourly rate to get a job. This is one of the minuses of Upwork.

Commission Fees

If you got a job through Upwork, you have to pay the money to Upwork as a certain fee which you earn. This is annoying for most Freelancers. But on the good side, earning money means lower commission fees. These fees are based on work that can be billed. A commission fee of 5% to 20% is made. This makes their long-term customers and businesses more attractive to Freelancers. In this way, lower commissions are charged and the Freelancer pays a smaller.

Chapter 4

Steps to Make Money from Upwork

Earning money on Upwork is easy. It will take a few concentrated efforts from your side before you roll out happy paychecks via Upwork.

We’ve got you covered if you’re constantly wondering how to make money on Upwork.

Initially, it will be a great learning curve for you, as you’ll have to learn about setting a verified account, optimizing your profile, setting justifiable rates, and making a good cover letter for job applications.

Create an Account on Upwork

  1. Click the “Register” button in the upper right corner of the screen.
  2. Specify your email address, country, and the purpose for which you want to create your account and continue.
  3. Then choose either “Hire for a project” or “Work as a freelancer”.
  4. And click the “Create my account” button.

Identify your Skills

You know what you do best. Therefore, identify your top skills, within the context of your academic background, education, training, and/or experience.

Once you identify your skills, acquire Upwork skills certifications to indicate expertise in those skills.

In case if you’ve difficulty identifying skills on your own, go through this list of top 100 in-demand skills listed by Upwork.

Start your Upwork Profile

Your Upwork profile is the equivalent of your general Resume. You need to ensure the following things to set up a good Upwork profile.

  • A clear, friendly and professional-looking headshot.
  • A detailed description of your background and relevant or overall experience.
  • Competitive hourly rates (as per industry rates)
  • Your Employment History along with professional accomplishments
  • Educational, and Other Experiences like volunteer positions, online courses, extracurriculars, etc.
  • Highlight your Expertise
  • Feature your Best Work in the portfolio section
  • List out your relevant certifications

If you wish to see how a good profile looks, just see some profile examples on Upwork from your industry.

Set your Rates

It is difficult to set your rates when you step up into the freelancing field. It applies to Upwork as well. However, you can always set rates that justify your skills, expertise, and efforts.

In case you're not sure of your base prices, check out the profile of other freelancers to get the idea. You must always check the standard industry rates before deciding on a price. Also, keep in mind the Upwork fees.

As you proceed with your freelancing career, you will know how much you should charge.

Find the Right Jobs to apply for

Before you apply to any job on Upwork, you must be aware of the “connect” system. Connects are just symbolic coins you pay for applying to jobs. You may be required to spend 2-6 connects on each, depending on various factors.

These connections are limited in number, in both free and premium versions. Thus, use your Upwork connects wisely.

Before you apply to a job on Upwork, know these things-

  • Job Description- Read the job description carefully so that you may do a good analysis if the job is doable or not.
  • Skills and Expertise- These are keywords that will tell you what skills and expertise is required to get the job done.
  • Client’s Recent History- It is important to hold an idea of who and how the client is. The upwork rating system helps you have a good judgment of the reputation of the client.
  • Activity on this Job- This section is really important to check. Because it will tell you whether the client is interviewing or not, how many proposals are there (approx.), when was the client last active, and finally if he/she has still hired someone or not?

The above are basic features of Upwork job postings that are important to get started on job applications. However, we have some secret tips to find jobs that are most suitable for you.

By using the “filter” feature, just select/change the following options-

  • Number of Proposals- Less than 5.
  • Client’s History- At least 10 hires.
  • Client Info- Payment Verified.
  • Experience Level- Choose Entry, Intermediate, or Expert Level.

These filters can significantly increase your chances of getting hired on Upwork.

Chapter 5

How to Write a Winning Proposal?

When you start your Upwork proposal, make a clear restatement of the core problem or need. This will tell the client that you have the ability and intention to solve their needs/problems. And that you possess the necessary expertise for the client’s job.

This is the question perhaps every other freelancer asks. An Upwork proposal helps decide the client whether the freelancer is suitable or not. Therefore, your Job proposal must be designed so well that the client cannot ignore it.

While there is no set method of writing a job proposal, there are certain tried and tested methods you can use to make a winning proposal on Upwork.

  • Write a proposal that is Client-Centric
  • Focus on Results
  • Demonstrate How you can Achieve those Results
  • Include Relevant Samples only
  • Quote genuine Prices.

A client-centric proposal reassures that you understand the job requirements, and have identified their core problems. Your Upwork proposal should be about the client, and not you.

When you focus on giving results, you must give a brief but detailed description of the techniques, methods and processes you will employ to achieve significant results.

You should include relevant samples in the Upwork proposal. Samples serve as solid proof of your talent and expertise.

Your prices must also be competitive. If you bid too high, you may lose the client however much qualified you are. And if you bid too low, it may not justify your hard work. So bid wisely on Upwork.

Apart from these things, we offer you some add-ons to win your first job on Upwork-

  • Do not write a lengthy proposal. It should be around 90-120 words. Keep it brief, clean, and concise.
  • Each proposal should be unique and tailored for a particular job. Do not copy-paste templates.
  • Write catchy first few lines to grab the client’s attention, amongst dozens of freelancers.
  • Find the client's name from the feedback on their work history, and then address it by their first name. This is sure to catch the client's attention to your proposal.
  • A good introductory video on your profile may separate you from other freelancers. If possible, do not hesitate to include a video on your Upwork profile.

If you’re still unclear, read this article to get a comprehensive idea of how to create a winning Upwork proposal.

Chapter 6

Conclusion and FAQ

Upwork is a great place to start earning money. You can set your own hours and work from home, which gives you the freedom to be as productive as possible. The best part? You can actually make money on Upwork!

In recent years, Upwork has become one of the favourite platforms for freelancers. If you’re a beginner professional, a college student looking for a side hustle, or someone looking to supplement your existing income, rest assured, you can earn lots of money on Upwork.

With these tips and tricks, we hope and wish that you are able to find success in the freelance world.

Is Upwork a Good Choice for Beginners?

Yes, of course! If you think you are talented in a business and you want to work flexible hours and earn a good income, Upwork is a good choice for you. With Upwork, you can catch new opportunities and earn on better terms.

Can I Earn Good Earnings Working at Upwork?

In fact, this may vary depending on you and the job you are going to do. If you are a professional and niche Freelancer in a line of business, you can make good profits based on your hourly rate. At the same time, the size of the job you will take can affect your earnings.

Is Upwork Free to Register?

Yes, Upwork is completely free to join. Simply complete your Upwork profile and apply. Your profile is approved within 24 hours, if appropriate. And you can jumpstart your job search on Upwork.

How Can I Get Started With Upwork Without Experience?

  1. Start small at Upwork.
  2. Focus on positive feedback.
  3. Optimize your Upwork profile.
  4. Start submitting offers on Upwork.
  5. Target lots of Upwork Business Invitations.
  6. Prepare well for the Upwork interview.

Spread the word

Keep reading