Upwork Review: Is It The Right Option for Your Business?
The business landscape is going through a shift these days. As a business owner, sometimes you need to explore the freelance talent pool to get the job done. It not only helps you save money but also time, especially when it is an urgent task. Lucky for you, it does not require hopping into your car and going on a hunt. There are online options. And today we are reviewing one of them.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard of Upwork. Well, it is one of the largest online communities of freelancers. If you have been considering hiring someone with no long-term commitment, let us help you decide whether Upwork is the right option.
Let’s begin, shall we?
What is Upwork?
Upwork is an online marketplace where businesses or individuals can look for skilled professionals and hire them for tasks and projects on a remote basis. Started over two decades ago, the platform features a broad range of categories, including web development, programming, graphic design, writing, marketing, and more.
With millions of dedicated and qualified professionals, it is an excellent tool for finding talent for both short-term and long-term jobs. It has a clean, simple user interface and is often praised for its transparent pricing structure. To get a better idea, let’s take a look at some of its salient features – one at a time.
1. Job Posting
This feature is a core component of the Upwork platform. You start with creating a job post with all the necessary details or requirements such as the scope of work, skills and qualifications needed, estimated budget, and expected delivery time. The basic idea of it is to give any visiting freelancer enough context to figure out if they are a good fit for the job.
When creating a job post, you can select the relevant category and specify the desired skill set. In terms of the budget, you need to define whether it is a fixed-price job or you are looking to hire someone on an hourly basis. Once the post is published on the platform, it becomes visible to freelancers with relevant expertise and skills. Those interested can submit their proposals, which are cover letters briefly describing a freelancer's qualifications and relevant experience.
2. Hiring Talent
There are over 10 million freelancers registered on Upwork. It is a talent pool large enough to find skilled individuals as well as teams (for specific types of projects such as Software Development and Creative Design). Hiring the right talent is challenging though. But Upwork does a fine job of making it easier for you. Well, it allows you to filter out the unsuitable candidates. You can do it while posting a job or afterward.
For example, when creating a post, you can add mandatory questions for freelancers to answer when submitting their proposals. Otherwise, you can review interested freelancers based on their star ratings and feedback from previous clients (available on the freelancer profiles).
Besides, Upwork also assigns each freelancer a Job Success score based on factors such as job completion rate, client satisfaction, and rehires. Some freelancers with stellar client feedback also earn Top Rated and Top Rated Plus badges, just something to look out for when hiring a talent.
3. Applications and Talent Scout
If you don’t think the traditional Upwork hiring process is for you, there are two more options – Application Creation and Talent Scout. For the first one, you can create a job post and take applications from candidates. Upwork will let you know which candidates to contact. There is also the flexibility to set parameters such as global or local candidates, hourly or fixed-price, desired skills, etc.
The Talent Scout option is for those who are overwhelmed by the manual hiring process or simply don’t have the time or patience for it. These talent scouts do the heavy lifting for them. You can talk about your project needs, and from a group of skilled experts with more than a decade of experience and favorable feedback, they will choose suitable candidates. Upon conducting interviews with the selected candidates, the talent scouts will fetch you a shortlist of them with their hourly rates. And here is the best part – you don’t have to pay an extra dime for it.
4. Project Search
If you are too lazy to post a new job, you can take advantage of projects already created by freelancers. These projects are quite similar to the ones on Fiverr, but kinda pricey. You can think of them as products that you buy. They often have all the details such as the scope of work, pricing, expected delivery date, samples of work, and feedback from past clients.
You can access such projects from the Projects section. To pull up a quick list of the ones most relevant to you, simply search with a keyword. Once you have paid for a package, just connect with the freelancer to discuss further.
5. Project Management
There are tons of tools integrated within Upwork that seamlessly help with project management. For example, you can create to-do lists with details of the task and a due date (non-binding). Once your freelancer finishes a task, they can mark it as done.
Milestones are another way of managing complex projects but they only apply to fixed-price jobs. You can break the entire job into small tasks and create multiple milestones. For each milestone, funds are moved into escrow and released to the freelancer when it is reached. If, for some reason, the freelancer can not complete a particular task, the milestone system helps ensure that they get paid for the work finished and the client is refunded for the unfinished work.
The communication between a client and a freelancer on Upwork is quite streamlined. You can communicate in real-time, manage and organize discussions, and all your shared files and documents are synced automatically. Want to have a video call session with your freelancer? No problem, just click on the video icon.
Now coming to hourly jobs, Upwork has an integrated Time Clock application to automatically track work hours. When you activate this feature, it automatically activates the Work Diary – a billing tool that takes screenshots every 10 minutes. Freelancers can review these screenshots and leave comments to explain the associated work. For work not tracked by the tracker, such as phone calls, you also have the flexibility to add time manually.
6. Paying Talent
On Upwork, you can pay talent hourly or a fixed price. To be able to pay them in their local currency, your account needs to be linked to either PayPal or a credit card. If you pay via a Discover Card, you are bound to make payments in USD only.
7. Dispute Management
Things don’t always go the way you planned when working with a talent on a contract. This is where Upwork’s payment protection comes into play. When you file a dispute against a freelancer, they have a limited time to respond. If they simply accept or don’t respond, you get refunded with an amount from the escrow. But if they reject, you have to wait until the matter is reviewed and resolved by the Upwork dispute specialist team.
For hourly projects, you only get refunded for the amount of time the freelancer spent on the project.
Upwork is an excellent tool to find remote talent for your business. It is easy to use, has a large community of skilled freelancers, and offers stellar project and dispute management with 24/7 live support. So what is the catch? Well, nothing major. Upwork is extremely popular because of its excellent service, which can be a curse in disguise as it also makes it a highly competitive platform.
Besides, it is not uncommon for some freelancers to try to persuade you to hire them outside of Upwork, which can be irritating and confusing, especially as a new client. In terms of the cost, it only charges a minimal fee of 5% per project – not a big deal at all if you get access to one of the largest talent pools in the world.