Upwork reviews from startup founders

26 reviews by founders
Nov. 7, 2017

We use Upwork quite a bit for small freelancer tasks. It’s great for any task that’s short-term, like transcribing.

Claire McTaggart

Founder & CEO - SquarePeg

Aug. 18, 2017

We used Upwork to hire contractors, developers, and operations people. It’s really good for freelance work, but you need to be really stringent in your hiring process because you have to be able to verify that they have the skills that they claim to have. If you want to hire a freelancer quickly, it’s the best. It’s amazing what you can do with freelancers. Upwork helps manage them by taking screenshots of their screen every ten minutes to make sure that they are doing what they say they are.

David Sokolow

Co-founder & CEO - WeFind

July 29, 2017

We use Upwork for remote freelancers. They changed some rules so that the recruitment process is a little different. It is great for any type of odd job, like video editing, etc.

Anne Kavanagh

Founder & CEO - Zera

Upwork - Best Find Designers Tools for Startups

Upwork, formerly known as oDesk, is a dual sided marketplace to find freelancers. It’s a great platform to fill talent gaps in your startup. Upwork is a global marketplace so that you can connect with freelancers all over the world at very competitive rates. The pool of talent and price can help you scale quickly, without hiring another full-time employee. 

You can find freelancers for any kind of work. You can find writers, programmers, designers, marketers, animators, developers, editors, transcribers, and more. 

You, as the client, don’t pay any fees for finding freelancers on Upwork. Upwork takes its fee from the freelancer’s rate. 

Upwork has twelve million registered freelancers on their platform, so it can be daunting finding the right person for your project. Some complaints about Upwork are about the quality of the freelancers on their platform. While there are certainly scammers on Upwork, they make it easy to filter through freelancers when you post a job.

To properly screen freelancers, you can include custom screening questions in your job post, and ask for video interviews.

When you post a job, freelancers propose bids for your project. You can invite freelancers to propose on your bid if you’ve found a few that seem promising. Upwork makes it easy to organize your applicants by sorting them by best match, newest/oldest applicants, feedback rating, Upwork hours completed, and rate. You can “X” out freelancers you don’t like or add the ones that you want to learn more about to a short list. 

Jobs you post can be set at a fixed price or paid hourly. Upwork offers payment protection for both. It’s important to do all of your messaging and paying via Upwork, or else you put yourself at risk of having your account banned. 

The Upwork client dashboard makes it easy to manage all of your freelancers, see weekly summaries and reports, and manage your budget.

How startups use Upwork?

Startups use Upwork to expand their bandwidth. Instead of finding full-time hires, it’s great to go on Upwork and find freelancers for any holes you might be missing in your staff. When there’s a lot to get done, entrepreneurs will find it helpful to outsource some research roles, find a virtual assistant, or really, anything.

Because of the competitive rates on Upwork, startups don’t have to constrain themselves to the prices/fees of their city. It’s a great budget-friendly option for startups in expensive cities like San Francisco.

How much does Upwork cost?

Upwork is free to you and makes its money by deducting a 20% fee from the freelancer’s rate for the first $500 billed. 

If you’d like Upwork to do most of the vetting and screening for you when you post jobs, there is a Pro option available. Upwork Pro is $500 per job search + 10% of invoice.

Standout Features

Global Marketplace

Upwork is the biggest freelance marketplace available. It has over twelve million registered freelancers in over 170 countries, and five million registered clients. You have a giant pool of freelancers and professionals to choose from for your projects. 

Competitive Rates

Because it’s a global talent pool, you can find low prices for freelancers here. The platform also makes it easy to communicate with freelancers to negotiate different rates for projects. 

Payment Protection

Upwork offers payment protection on all your hourly and fixed price jobs. For hourly projects, after you and your freelancer agree to contract terms, you negotiate an hourly rate to make sure the hours do not exceed your budget. You can use the Team Apps to see how much time is spent on your project. You’ll be able to see screenshots of your freelancer’s screen to make sure you’re being billed fairly.

For fixed price projects, you and your freelancer agree to terms and milestones. Milestones are dates when deliverables are supposed to be submitted. When they submit a milestone you can review the work before approving it and then paying them. 

If you’re unhappy with the work or communication with a freelancer, you can cancel the contract, but then the issue must be resolved with an Upwork dispute specialist.

No 1099

When hiring through Upwork, you won’t be responsible for filing 1099-MISC forms for your freelancer. Because you’re using Upwork, they take on the responsibility for form 1099 reporting.

Upwork Complaints

Common complaints about Upwork are about the pool of freelancers available on the platform. There’s concern in the community that the low rates some freelancers charge contribute to a culture of inexperienced freelancers and poor-quality work.

Many have found themselves choosing a freelancer on Upwork with good reviews, but end up delivering less than ideal work. From our experience using Upwork to hire a freelance writer, the one we choose and vetted had many great reviews, but the work returned required a lot of editing.

Upwork does have an extensive complaint system, though, and their customer support will do their best to resolve any disputes between you and your freelancer. If you find yourself with work you don’t like, you can resolve it with your freelancer. They will do their best to make sure you're happy as the risks of a negative review on Upwork are costly. 

Useful Integrations

Upwork has some useful integrations with tools like JIRA and GitHub. Most of the integrations Upwork offers are meant for easier communication & collaboration between you and your freelancer. You can also use their API to create an integration/plugin with your web-based or mobile apps.


3.5/5 stars. Great place to find freelancers.

Vendor info

Visit the website: https://www.upwork.com

Upwork Alternatives

Authentic Jobs

The leading job board for web designers, hackers, and creative professionals


What are you working on?

The Muse

Everything you need to find your dream career—& be awesome at it.

Z to A Creative

Connecting brands with customers. It's what we do.