Is Upwork worth it? (My Earnings and Experience)

Digital nomad, work anywhere in the world, side hustle, side job… All these describing words have been around for a long time. The concept of freelancing is also not new. Although it is not a …


Digital nomad, work anywhere in the world, side hustle, side job… All these describing words have been around for a long time. The concept of freelancing is also not new. Although it is not a noble idea, the popularity of earning extra income by doing a side hustle or working digitally on an online platform recently exploded recently. The way of working has shifted dramatically due to COVID and inflation. According to the report, around 40% of Americans have a side hustle in 2022. And, this phenomenon won’t disappear easily.

One of the most popular online platforms for side hustlers is Upwork. If you are researching before jumping into a gig economy using Upwork, I hope this article can help you to make an informed decision. In this post, I will share my learnings and personal experiences with Upwork.

About Upwork

Upwork is a popular platform that connects freelance professionals with clients looking for their services. It can be a great way for freelancers to find work and for clients to find skilled professionals for specific projects. However, whether or not Upwork is worth it depends on the individual’s experience and goals.

From a freelancer’s perspective, Upwork can be a valuable tool for finding new clients and building a portfolio. The platform has a wide range of job listings and clients from all over the world. Upwork also offers a variety of tools to help freelancers manage their business, such as invoicing and time tracking. Additionally, Upwork’s rating and review system help to build trust and credibility between freelancers and clients.

If you are a client perspective, Upwork can be a valuable tool for finding skilled professionals for specific projects. The platform has a wide range of freelancers with different skill sets, and clients can easily compare proposals and reviews to find the right person for their project. Upwork also offers a variety of tools to help clients manage their projects, such as messaging and milestone tracking.

How I joined Upwork + a little history of Upwork

I joined Upwork when it used a different company name, Elance-oDesk. I witnessed the firm being merged and renamed to Upwork in 2015. Back then, I worked as a full-time translator. After working hours, I wanted to earn more money and started my side job journey on Upwork. I began transaction jobs from different clients for short-term.

Since then, I did my side hustle on Upwork irregularly. There were times when I didn’t even log into the website for a year due to my full-time job and personal schedules. Fast forward to 2022, I often use the service to earn extra income and I have worked with a client for more than two years now.

How you can make money

If you have a full-time job, a college degree, or a hidden skill, you can earn money online. For me, the most difficult part was starting. There are several things to do before you can start earning. You need to complete your profile and write a nice cover letter. Also, if you can add your previous work history and some samples of past works, it can be a big plus.

It took a while until I prepared my Upwork profile. The next step is job hunting. Upwork has grown a lot and thanks to the more accepted arrangement of remote working, every day you will see new jobs from potential clients.

If you are new to the platform and if you don’t have much industry experience, it can be difficult to snatch a high-paying job. It would be really lucky if you could and that’s really good for you!

But, if you can’t, don’t worry. I’ll say that’s the normal case. Everyone has a humble beginning. You need to invest time to build your work history and to do so, don’t be afraid of starting with small or low-paying jobs. First, it is important to build records.


In Upwork, there are two types of projects – fixed-price projects and hourly projects. The fixed-rate projects refer to a task that pays out a fixed amount regardless of the hours you spend to finish the job. Hourly tasks mean you get charged based on the time you spend on the job.

Careful with unverified clients

While finding a client, be careful with unverified clients. I once experienced a scam. After finishing and submitting my work, the client just ran away. Before submitting your work, make sure that the client has funded your milestone. If not, Upwork will warn you that your job has not been funded. Do not submit your work unless your client has not funded your job. A dodgy client can give you all kinds of excuses and promises but there is no reason why a client can’t fund your job if they have prepared the budget for your work.

Verified client

A verified client has the small “Payment verified” label at the bottom of their job posting. This is a good sign. An unverified client will have a “Payment unverified” label and you will want to watch the client. Also, even if you apply for the unverified client’s job, it is unlikely to get a response.

Upwork commissions are not cheap first

When you apply for a job, mind that Upwork deducts 20% off of your payment from a new client. The following are the breakdowns by earnings.

  • $0-$500 in earnings from a client: 20% service fee applied to earnings
  • $500.01-$10,000 in earnings from a client: 10% service fee
  • $10,000.01 or more in earnings from a client: 5% service fee

These commission rules encourage you to work with a client for a long period of time to benefit from a discounted commission rate.

My earnings

As I mentioned earlier, my journey with Upwork dates back to 2015, so it’s been around 8 years. For a long period of time, I didn’t use the website although recently I regularly work with a client. So far, I earned more than 10K on Upwork.

I have been working with a client for a long time, which allowed me to be in the 5% band for commission.

If you are dedicated to working on Upwork, I am sure that you will be able to earn more than I did and fall into the 5% band faster!

Top earning jobs

There are numerous Upwork freelancers working in diverse domains. The research from eBiz Facts reveals the top 10 freelance jobs on Upwork. The ranks below show the number of freelancers earning at least a $60 hourly rate minimum of 100 billed hours for the past 6 hours from the time the research was conducted.

5Full Stack Software Developer199
6Web Developer199
10Graphic Designers76
Top 10 earning categories

If you have a digital skill set that falls into one of the categories, you can also make a great achievement. It will be not easy, but it will be definitely worth trying it!


From my personal experience, Upwork is absolutely worth it. On top of my salary as a full-time employee, the earnings from Upwork helped me to support my family. It is not going to be easy to build a good relationship with Upwork clients and accumulate work history. But, once you achieve these, it will be snowballing because prospective clients will want to work with those who have a great track record. Upwork is a great place to build your career and earn extra income.