Is Upwork Free? How to Earn Extra on Upwork?

How to earn on Upwork

Is Upwork Free?

Yes, joining Upwork, filling out your profile, searching for work, and creating your projects are all FREE. 

So how does Upwork do its business? Their service fee is calculated based on your earnings with each client. And this service fee is computed on a sliding scale, rewarding long-term relationships.

You can upgrade to Freelancer Plus to market your services more effectively, submit more proposals, and stand out from the crowd of skilled freelancers.

What is Upwork?

Upwork is a freelance marketplace that connects employers with a global pool of remote workers. Per a recent count, more than 30% of Fortune 500 companies use Upwork to connect with talented, independent professionals.

If you are a new freelancer or embarking on a shift to a new industry, you can gain valuable experience by getting projects. But there’s a high chance you’ll be pitching to potential clients a lot before you land that gig.

Freelancers flood Upwork and many are willing to work for a lower wage. These cheaper rates can impact your earning potential. But an impressive application combined with a good portfolio of past work will do wonders.

While it is now harder to get clients than years ago, Upwork is still a top platform for finding work and earning more money. It will take a bit of calibrating your profile and application to secure a project finally.

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How to Make Money on Upwork?

Create a One-Punch Profile

For prospective employers, your profile serves the same purpose as a general résumé. You will not land a decent job unless you have an excellent resume.

To start, fill out the job type you want, the specific areas covering your skills, and expertise level. 

Because this is all self-reported information, please be truthful. Getting hired for projects that you cannot complete will get your account on hold or, worse, closed. 

Next, include a professional-looking headshot and a detailed description of your experience. You can also link your portfolio for work samples and previous projects.

You can also enter your education, the number of hours you can work per week, your location, and your preferred rate. 

If you are not sure what to charge, look at the rates of other freelancers with similar experience on Upwork. You can get the average price rate and start from that. 

If your profile is verifiable and accurate, Upwork will typically approve it within 24 hours. Then you can start applying for jobs.

Make Use of Extras on Your Profile

Your Upwork profile is essential in your job applications. It will be the first thing clients see when looking for candidates for jobs or projects. 

Upwork has added new features to freelancers’ profiles that can be extremely useful.

You can now create a “specialized profile.” This section allows you to focus on specific skills rather than general ones. 

If a client searches for bookkeepers, you will appear in that search results. Thus, it allows you to include a customized portfolio and specific details about that skill so that the client can quickly evaluate your profile. 

Fill in every detail and highlight your competency and skill level.

Upwork also added a “popular projects” tab. This tab allows you to describe a custom project you can offer and set a price for it. This section is more helpful to potential clients because they can already see the services you provide on your profile.

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Make a Wise Decision When Selecting a Membership Plan

Upwork has two membership plans for freelancers: “Basic” and “Plus.”


Although this plan is FREE, you will have to pay to connect with potential clients. On the basic plan, freelancers get ten free Connects (Upwork’s internal token) monthly. Freelancers use this internal token to submit proposals to clients.

After using all free Connects, you’ll need to pay $0.15 for each Connect. You can roll over unused Connects up to 200.

But if someone contacts you, you do not need to use any Connects. The more enticing your profile, the more likely potential employers will contact you. 

Simply displaying your best work or emphasizing specific experiences can help you stand out. Volunteer experience is also beneficial if you are new to your field.

The basic plan also includes payment protection for hourly and project-based payments.


This plan costs $14.99 per month and includes everything in the basic plan plus the following:

  • 80 Connects monthly
  • Your profile remains visible despite inactivity.
  • Option to keep earnings private and confidential.
  • You can change the URL of your profile to a customized one.
  • View bids of competitors.

Connect with Reputable Employers

Submit proposals for jobs in your wheelhouse using your Connects. You also need to include in your bid a cover letter, your desired fee, and answers to questions of the client. You may also submit examples of any work that you believe is relevant.

Get a sense of the potential employer’s reputation before applying for a job. Start your search with the Better Business BureauGlassdoor, and a Google search for the company’s news coverage.

Like Uber or Lyft, both parties rate one another after completing the contract. 

Upwork uses a five-star scale for Employers, and their ratings appear on their profile. 

For freelancers, the Job Success Score is a percentage that appears on your profile and represents the number of gigs completed to the client’s satisfaction based on client ratings. These ratings help you decide whom you want to work with and allow clients to decide whether to hire you.

Maintain all communication and payments on the website, even if everything appears in order. 

Clients are held accountable for shady charges or work requests and make claims about your work without documentation, discouraging scams.

Set your Price and Start Working

Always remember that Upwork deducts a percentage of your earnings. You can base your fee structure on the total amount you want to bill a client over time. In short, you have to factor in your desired rate the service fee Upwork will be charging once you get paid. 

But this service fee gets lower as you earn more. 

The following is the current fee structure on Upwork:

  • 20% off the first $500 that you make from a client.
  • 10% once your billings to a client have exceeded $500 up to $10,000.
  • 5% when your total billing with a client is over $10,000.

For example, when your billing is $600, Upwork will charge you 20% for the first $500. It will charge 10% on the remaining $100. On the other hand, if your project for a client reaches $12,000, Upwork will charge you 5% as a service fee.

You can set your rate either hourly or on a fixed price basis. The fees on Upwork are the same for both. 

On Upwork, your hourly rate is the price before the service fee deduction. So, if you charge $20 per hour for your first gig, you can expect to earn $16 per hour after the 20% fee. After you’ve billed $500 to that client, the price drops to 10%, and you’ll earn $18 per hour.

The same concept applies when negotiating a rate for a fixed-price job: if you’re paid $400 for a job, you’ll be paid $320 after the 20% cut. Once you’ve billed $500 to that client, the fee is 10%.

Also Read: Effective Ways to Earn Extra Money at Home

Free Trials Aren’t a Good Idea

Before offering you a contract, some people will message you and ask you to complete a quick trial, after which they will hire you if your work is better than the rest.

DO NOT WORK FOR FREE unless you’re getting paid for the trial. Consider this: if a hiring manager has 100 applicants and contacts 70 of them to participate in free trials, they could complete the job without hiring anyone. Do not do anything for free, no matter how trustworthy the person appears.

Check The Contract Again

Between the time you apply and the time you receive the offer, you can still change the contract. As with any agreement, read the offer carefully and double-check that your agreed rate is the same.

Communication is Critical

You will hold conversations with the client before being hired for a contract. You should conduct yourself professionally through Upwork messages or a video interview. You have to keep a professional tone while being friendly.

You have to respond to messages as soon as possible. Employers on Upwork are usually looking to hire as quickly as possible. So posted jobs will most likely go to other candidates if you don’t respond within a day. 

You should also discuss the requirements with the employer and what they expect from you. It is especially true if there is anything in the contract you are unsure about. It’s better to ask than to get it wrong, so don’t be afraid to do so.

What You Reap Is What You Sow

You may believe that you can relax and do things at your leisure because you work from home. Take that thought out of your head. 

If you and your client agree on a project completion date, you must complete it a day ahead of schedule and send it to them. 

A successful project will always result in additional work from that employer or a 5-star review to help you land your next job.

Work hard at everything you do because you never know what opportunities will arise due to it.

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The VA Reviewer

The VA reviewer is an avid traveler, a licensed accountant, practicing corporate and tax lawyer, and an online entrepreneur. He has leveraged his online job experience and professional qualifications to provide solutions to problems hounding businesses.

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