Upwork in South Africa: A Review

Freelancing has blown up across the world thanks to the internet. We are now able to work with people from the other side of the world. A lot of this is thanks to freelancing platforms that have given freelancers more opportunities than before. Upwork is one such platform where you can market your skills interested parties. The question is whether Upwork is a good freelance platform to work for and whether you can make it in there. We have done research based on reviews from other people.

What Is Upwork?

Upwork is one of the more popular freelance platforms on the internet. It brings together freelancers and potential clients who are looking for a service. As a freelancer, you apply to their platform under the skills that you possess. If you make it on, you can start bidding for jobs and when you get a job, you can complete the job and get paid for it. For more information, you can visit their website.

Overview of Upwork

As a freelancer platform, Upwork can is a mixed bag. For beginners, it can be very difficult to get going because of the review system that favors freelancers who are well-established on the platform. If you can build up the resume and have enough positive reviews, you can have a good number of jobs to do on the platform. If you are a writer or a content creator, there are various ways to make money in today’s digital era. In many instances, the creators outsource content to people like you so you can easily create your own business with costs that aren’t s high.

Upwork, is however, an option to consider, and can work out for you if you are lucky and patient. If you have other options then you should look into them as well. If you want to go know more about Upwork, continue reading.

How Upwork Works

To join Upwork you will have to sign up using your email address. From there, you have to create your profile by filling in your particulars, stating your qualifications, and explaining what type of work you plan to do. Your profile must be as detailed and as professional as you can make it. What is written there will be read by clients when deciding who to give a job to. When your profile is complete, you can submit it and then wait for  feedback from Upwork on your application.

Once you make it in, you will be able to bid on jobs that clients put out.
You have to write up a proposal for a job that you are interested in doing. The client will then assess all the proposal for that job and decide who to give it to. It may be difficult to get jobs when you are new so you will have to apply for a few jobs before you get your first one. There are also certain things you can do to improve your chances of getting the job.

Challenges With Getting Jobs

The problem with Upwork is that they suspend our account if you apply for too many jobs without being to secure one. This is does not make sense because when you start out you do not have a good profile and it is harder for you to get jobs. This is the same problem that a lot of inexperienced works-seekers and upwork punishes new people for something they have no control over.

It is common knowledge that you have to knock on a few doors first before you finally get a good opportunity. This also heavily biases toward older accounts because most people will go for the freelancers that have done the most jobs. The offshoot to this is that these freelancers hog all the jobs and take more jobs that one freelancer can do and simply outsource the rest to other freelancers who intern do not gain the recognition and jobs under their belt even though they are already doing the work and getting the experience.

Another problem with Upwork is that when you try to get in they do not communicate well enough with you to let you know how to proceed with our application. The user interface is also not intuitive. I ended up giving up because I could not be bothered to go through the hoops of getting in that do not relate to merit. But some of us are more in need and if you want

Read: 8 Ways To Make Extra Money In South Africa

How Does Upwork Pay You?

Upwork charges 2.75% per transaction to the client and between 5 and 20%  for the freelancer for the first $500. This amount can decrease  incrementally down to 5% if you have done $10000’s or more’s worth of work for a single client.

For fixed price contracts, when you have a contract with a client, the client will deposit the fee for the job into an escrow account. When you complete the job, Upwork will release the money into your account.

For hourly rate jobs, the client is billed every Monday for the work done in the previous week. This is based on the work diary that records number of  hours worked and takes snapshots of progress.


  • Opportunity to get more work for established Freelancers
  • Option to get into freelancing for those who are new to it.
  • Choose your assignments and work schedule


  • Not easy to sign up or receive feedback. Upwork reject applications  with not much explanation nor a clear way of knowing how to apply better.
  • Too many bidders make it difficult for a client to separate the wheat from the chaff.
  • Bad reviews can be removed so it is possible for people who deliver  bad service to misrepresent themselves in a positive light.
  • Upwork does not work well as a mediator. There is a lot of reported  scamming on both side, clients and freelancers. Clients can cancel  their account once the project is done? You need to vigilant in vetting whoever you get into contracts with.
  • Poor overall support.
  • In some cases you are competing with agencies which defeats the purpose of a freelancer marketplace for you as a freelancer.


Ask additional questions to fully understand the brief. Write a proposal that address points in the client brief and does not look like a generic one that you didn’t put much time into .

You get what you pay for and it works both ways, as a freelancer you should  not price yourself too low.

Make sure client’s payment details are verified.

Work using upwork’s desktop app and work diary that tracks your work and takes snapshot of your progress on the task.

Adhere to deadlines. Notify client if there will be delays. Client service is key and if you can build a good rapport, it will serve you well in the long run.

Research the client and interview them while they interview you.

What is better than Upwork?

There are plenty of other better platforms which require a bit more tech savvy to get into. Otherwise, there is Fiverr which many people lose and it does not have the number of complaints that Upwork has. Alternative freelancer platforms that you can look at are Fiverr and Freelancer.com. These have also been around for long enough and Fiverr in particular, is a platform that I have used and have not had a bad experience. You must just know how to suss out the good workers.

If you are a media professional such as a writer or a media content creator, there is no reason for you to remain stuck on the sidelines and work at the behest of others. It is very viable to create a profitable business out of your skill and it is also not difficult at all if you know the work that you need to put in. If you can write, you only need to know how to turn that into a business and you can learn that from our favourite free online business training course. Check out their free 10 video course on how to create an online business.

The reviews for Upwork are not very good. There are more complaints and very few positive reviews left on the internet. There is the possibility that a lot of the negative reviews come from a vocal minority as people with bad experiences are likelier to complain than those with a good experience are likely to recommend. But number of bad reviews found is overwhelming and where there is smoke, there is usually fire.


Upwork is a freelancer platform that you can use but it will likely bring you a lot of headaches. I would not recommend it for you if you have other options. If you don’t have many other option and want to try it out, you can do so but just be aware that there is the chance of having a bad experience on the platform. The pay you will get on Upwork will also likely be lower because of the undercutting. If you want to make a decent income, you should either work your way into a great reputation or do the content creation for your own platform or niche website.

Did you find this article helpful? If you did and want to share your experience or have any questions, leave them in the comments below.

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