Is Upwork Legit? The Thorough Answer for Freelancing Writers

Zulie Rane
10 min readApr 7, 2023
a white woman is sitting in a cubicle working at a computer. She has a dinosaur head, looks like a t-rex. She could be smiling or screaming. Who knows.
This is exactly how I felt while researching whether Upwork is legit or not. Notably, AI did an OK job with this lady’s fingers. She does seem to have two wrists and an unnecessary amount of cleavage, but never mind. Midjourney prompt: dino woman office computer smile — Upscaled by @mdelcastillo86 (fast)

Every freelance writer has watched the YouTube videos of people making six figures a year on Upwork and thought to themselves, “Huh. Is Upwork legit?”

Seems mighty profitable! 4 screenshots of YouTube videos promising to make $1000s on Upwork.

I was one of those people. Short answer: Yes, Upwork’s a real platform for freelancers. It’s not a scam. But it’s not the best solution to make money as a freelancer, for reasons I’ll discuss below.

Let’s get into everything you need to know about Upwork, and how you can tell if it’s right for you.

What is Upwork?

Upwork is a freelance platform. As a client, you can upload jobs you want freelancers to do. I used Upwork to design a logo for my website, for example. As a worker, you can bid on those projects.

I know Upwork is legit because:

  • It’s a well-established platform, founded in 2013
  • Upwork has millions of freelancers onboard.
  • There are 814,000 clients
  • In 2022, there were $4.1 billion transactions across the platform.

It’s worth noting that Upwork still isn’t profitable — this year, they made a net loss of nearly $90 million. In fact, they’ve never made a profit. Remember this as you scroll down.

How does Upwork work?

In short: join, get tokens, bid on jobs with tokens, win.

In long: For freelancers, Upwork revolves around tokens called Connects that allow you to bid on jobs proposed by clients.

Once you’ve created a profile, you’re issued with a certain number of Connect tokens. You use those Connect tokens to bid on jobs. This ranges from two to eight Connects per job, depending on how “big” the job is.

You get 10 new Connect tokens for free every month. You can also buy them for $0.15 per Connect token, or earn them by registering for Upwork (40 Connects)…