Upwork vs Freelancer – Guide For Freelancers [2021]

Knowing which platform is right for you to invest your time in depends on many factors that if evaluated right to start with, means you are putting yourself in front of the right people in the right circumstances for you.

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Freelancer and Upwork are two of the most used and popular platforms among freelancers. 

Although they work in a similar way, both platforms have significant differences that make freelancers more inclined to use one or the other. 

Knowing the differences and advantages of each one will allow you to get more out of each website and dedicate your time to invest your effort in any of them, to grow your professional reputation, and become a recognized freelancer. 

To make that decision you must know the key points of each platform, if it adapts to your freelance goals, what type of commission they charge, how much you can grow professionally, and other characteristics that you will know here.

1. Fees (Sign Up Fees + Commission)


This is the part that matters most to many freelancers, as it is also one of the main reasons why some freelancers, being experienced, decide to seek clients on their own and abandon these platforms. 

Freelancer’s structure is straightforward, but Upwork’s requires a bit more explanation. 


As for Freelancer, the rate for fixed-price projects is 10% or $5, whichever is higher, and 10% for hourly projects. With this structure, they have been maintained for a long time.


Instead, the structure of Upwork is more complex. This depends on the amount of money invoiced with a particular client as follows: 20% for the first $500 invoiced with a particular client, 10% once the $500 has been exceeded, and up to $10,000 and finally, 5% from $10,000. 

It is a good incentive overall, but this structure penalizes many of the professions that require sporadic, one-time jobs — a logo or website design, for example. 

Source: homeworkingclub.com

The only way that Upwork ends up taking a lower chunk of commissions than Freelancer is for you to work solely and exclusively with long-term clients. 

If your trade takes more with one-time clients or they are jobs that are usually done for tasks and not for projects, Freelancer could be the best for you. 

On the other hand, if what you plan is to get involved in long-term projects with the same client, Upwork would suit you more.

2. Payment Method Convenience 


Another problem that freelancers frequently encounter is the need to get their money out with an easy, versatile and simple method. 

Each platform offers several ways to withdraw your money, which is excellent in case you do not have one of the payment modes.

  • Bank Transfer: the so-called “Express Withdrawal” is the fastest way to charge by bank transfer (it takes two to three business days, and the minimum amount is $30), and without charge, but it is only available in some countries.

  • Another possible bank transfer is called “Wire Transfer”, the transaction fee will depend on the bank’s country. The minimum amount in the latter is $500 and it takes three to five business days to complete.

  • PayPal: USD $1 per deposit.

  • Skrill: $1 per deposit.

  • Freelancer Debit Card: Use of the debit card is free of charge and a deposit can be received anywhere MasterCard is accepted.

  • Payoneer Card: it has the same specifications as the Freelancer debit card. In order to use it, the card must be linked to the Freelancer account.
  • Payoneer Debit Card: it allows you to withdraw money from anywhere in the world. It has a cost of $2 per deposit.

  • Skrill: it has a commission of $1 per deposit.

  • Direct Deposit: Free for US banks.

  • Bank Transfer: the value will depend on the bank’s country, but it will cost approximately $30.

  • PayPal: USD $1 per deposit.

3. Entry Difficulty


Each platform has a different way by which you can enter. In both you can register freely, but you must follow different processes.


On this website anyone can enter, create their profile and start searching or posting jobs, and you can also pay a premium membership to have better results when looking for work on the page. 

While it may seem difficult to learn how to get your first job on Freelancer, it is something that will become much easier when you have the right attitude. 

Although it is a great platform for freelancers who want to start in this new mode of work, this can result in two negative situations. 

The first is that because there is no filter to limit the entry of freelancers, there is a lot of competition within the platform. 

Also, the fact that anyone can post jobs means that there can be a lot of scams and malicious vacancies.


On Upwork you can also create your profile for free, but in order to apply for job vacancies you must receive the approval of the platform and that is the complicated part, because the parameters that Upwork uses to accept or reject a profile are not public. 

However, filling out your profile completely, showing that you have academic and work experience, and attaching examples of your work, is something that will undoubtedly benefit you.

Both to look for work in Freelancer as in Upwork, you must be patient and constant. 

Keep in mind that looking for job opportunities on the platform will also be part of your work as a freelancer and if you want to grow as a professional, you should dedicate part of your time to searching for new vacancies. 

If you do not take part of your day for this, it will be difficult for you to find work on these pages.

4. Entry-level Suitability


In both Freelancer and Upwork, you will find excellent opportunities to start boosting your career as a freelance. 


Depending on the niche in which you operate, it is likely that on Freelancer you can find more possibilities of one-time jobs, small tasks that will help you gain experience on the platform. 

However, the competition when applying for a vacancy can be very fierce, especially if you are new to the platform and do not have much experience working or a broad portfolio. 

You will likely be forced to buy the premium mode so that your proposals are taken into account. 

So if you are just starting out, in Freelancer you are more likely to get small beginner-friendly projects or tasks that will help you understand what it is like to work with a client, what it is like to meet deadlines, and what it is like to work as a freelance.


On the other hand, at Upwork, all freelancers’ proposals are kept at the same level, and your cover letter or proposal that you send to the client is what can make you stand out. 

At Upwork, you will also find opportunities with lower than average payouts where clients offer you simple tasks in exchange for high scores. 

Accepting these tasks will make your reputation on the platform grow and thus improve your chances of being accepted in other more ambitious projects. 

Nevertheless, you should take into account that generally in Upwork clients tend to look for freelancers with experience to do complex projects.

5. Quality Of Work


On both platforms the volume of job offers is substantial. 

The downside is that the competition you will have is too but as always, in the freelance world obstacles can be seen as challenges that if you overcome, will substantially improve your reputation, and finding a job will become easier and easier. 

The good news is that both platforms have thousands of published jobs and many recent opportunities, which are the best options to apply to.


Freelancer has a search engine that allows you to filter by category, keyword, or recent projects. 

This makes it possible that in a short time you have a notion of the job offers that may be convenient for you and thus take advantage of them. 

The complications to be hired may be related to the fact that in the free plan only 20 categories of work expertise can be added to your profile. 

Premium plans make it possible to add more (80 categories in total) therefore whoever pays for the plan will have an advantage. 

In addition to the classic form of contracting, Freelancer offers the possibility of doing it by competition, where the client offers a certain amount of money for whoever performs the task in the best possible way. 

Of course, this is a contest and the results of success are not guaranteed. But it is simply another option that this platform offers, available for those who want to take advantage of it.


Upwork is one of the most used platforms worldwide. Therefore, job openings are plentiful and so is competition. 

It may take a while to become competitive on the platform, and maybe you will have to settle for low-paying jobs just to start gaining experience and good qualifications.

To get jobs on these job platforms you must learn how to apply for freelance jobs, because although it may seem simple, the attention to detail will make you stand out. 

There are very silly mistakes that can hinder your job search and that you could certainly avoid if you learn how to apply to the offers that interest you. 

On platforms like Freelancer and Upwork where there is so much competition, you always need to find a way to stand out.

6. Long Term Career Opportunity


Depending on the niche in which you operate, you will have more possibilities of doing work with clients who want to maintain a long-term relationship. 

For example, if you work in the bookkeeping area, it is very likely that a client will want your services on a regular basis. 

On the other hand, if you are a graphic designer, it is likely that they will look for you for specific topics such as the creation of a logo. 


On Freelancer, users have the opportunity to use their profile in two ways, as contractors and as freelancers. 

For that reason, it will be common for you to see freelancers looking for project partners or freelancers for small or specific tasks that they need to carry out. 

Although you can also get long-term offers from companies or agencies, it is also very likely that you will run into the other option. 

In any case, working alongside other freelancers is nothing negative and once you accept a task that seems like a one-time job, you can develop a long working relationship if you give it a satisfactory result. 

Remember that employers will always prefer to work with a freelancer they know since they already know their work style and responsibility. 


As it was already mentioned, if what you want is to get a long-term job, it is better for you to do it using Upwork since as you do work and collect your earnings, the commissions will be reduced. 

Also, Upwork is usually widely used by companies or agencies, so it is likely that you will find these types of opportunities very often.

Do not underestimate any opportunity that you have, no matter how small it may seem, because if you do a good job, that small opportunity can lead you to better projects or to your work being recommended to other potential clients.

7. Skills Tests


On Freelancer you will have to pay USD $5 to take a skills test. These tests are essential so that potential clients can corroborate that you have the skills that you say you have. 

Having your virtues certified will give you a better chance of being hired. 


One advantage of Upwork is that the tests to demonstrate your skills are free. 

With these tests you will show clients that you are a trained professional in this area and that you know how to handle the programs or software they require.

It is also an excellent way to verify that you really know how to speak the languages that you specified in your profile.

On both platforms, it is essential that you take these tests if you want to improve your chances of finding a job.  

Apart from taking that, another good way to stand out from the competition is by taking courses that contribute more to your academic and professional training. 

On websites like Udemy, Skillshare and Coursera you will find courses that will make you grow as a freelancer. If you do not know where to start, you can check out these 11 courses that will help you land more freelancing jobs.

8. Special Features Of Each Platform


Each platform has special features that are very important when making a decision about which platform to use, such as the alternatives they give you to find job opportunities, apart from the traditional vacancy / apply. 

As mentioned above, in Freelancer you will find that you can participate in contests. In Upwork, you can create Project Catalogs.

Freelancer: Contests

This modality is aimed mainly at all those who work in graphic arts, since among the contests you will find from logo designs to illustrations. 

Here you will have to send what the client requires according to the specifications and wait to be selected. 

Although many other freelancers participate, participating does not mean winning. It is an excellent way to make yourself known and win excellent monetary prizes and apart from that winning it will give you a lot of reputation on and off the platform. 

These contests are also often posted by well-known clients and popular companies that would look great on your resume. 

It is an opportunity that you probably would not have if you applied directly to a vacancy in these companies, especially if you are just starting out.

Upwork: Project Catalogs

This is an Upwork modality where you can create a service package ready for customers to buy. 

You can offer any service that can be delivered online and that matches the available categories. 

This is an easier way to establish jobs with potential clients since the rules and parameters will be set by you and you will receive the payment once the client confirms that they have been satisfied with the result.

Source: upwork.com

You should also keep in mind that the success you have on each platform will depend on your preparation, skills and experience. 

If you guarantee a good performance as a freelancer, you can be sure that you can get the best out of whatever platform you use. And if you consider that you still do not have much experience, find out which are the best skills to learn for freelancing and propose to acquire them. 

That will improve your chances of getting a job and you will also be able to opt for the best paying vacancies.

9. Protection


Freelancer guarantees that they value your trust and that they ensure that your payments are protected. 

They recommend that you configure each payment by milestones so that you receive payments as you carry out the work and in case you have a problem, you can contact support that is available all day at any time. 

However, it is recommended that you keep an eye out for possible scams and avoid offers that seem too good to be true or that ask you for an investment.


Fixed price contracts have the budget that you have decided with your client and a delivery date. 

When you accept an offer for a fixed price contract, the client pays the agreed money in advance. To unlock that money it is important that the work is delivered correctly. 

Due to its payment protection and admission process, Upwork guarantees you a completely safe experience and in the extreme case of any eventuality, you can contact support and be sure that you will have a solution.

Avoid planning payments outside of the platform as this is against Upwork’s rules and will cause your account to be suspended. 

If the payments are made outside the platform, it is more likely that you will be scammed and in that case Upwork will not be able to help you.

Which One Is Better?


Upwork is a great option if you intend to have a long-term contract with your client due to Upwork’s fee structure, you will be rewarded with lower fees the longer you maintain a relationship with the same client. 

Besides, thanks to the selection process of this platform, the amount of competition that you will find here is reduced and you will run into fewer scams or suspicious clients. 

On the other hand, Freelancer is a very good option if you are a beginning freelancer who wants to start gaining experience through simple jobs and thus start expanding your portfolio. 

It is also a platform that will be ideal for you if what interests you are hourly and short-term projects. 

These two platforms are preferred by many freelancers and will undoubtedly help you boost your freelance career.





The fee depends on what you earn with a particular client. It ranges from 20% to 5%.

Fees of fixed-price projects is 10% or $5.00 USD and 10% for hourly projects.

Payment Methods

Allows free direct deposit for US banks.

Allows bank transfers without charge.

Entry Difficulty

Your profile must receive approval.

Anyone can join.

Quality of Work

Professional company or agency vacancies abound.

You will find many entry-level vacancies to help you gain experience.

Special Features

You can use Project Catalogs to sell your services.

You can participate in contests to earn unique job opportunities. 

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