3 Ways to Make Money on Upwork

How to make extra money from home is a question that receives varied suggestions. Freelancing has been a growing trend which saw a spike after the Covid-19 pandemic hit and destabilized most industries. In this article we’ll take a look at how to make extra money from home using Upwork.

When you google Upwork, you’ll get to read both the negative and positive reviews of the platform almost in equal measure. Each and every negative review you read may not necessarily be true though.

I’m not trying to say no one has had a negative experience, but all I’m saying is, if you focus on the negative side of something you may miss on the positives it has to offer. In this article, we’ll focus more on the positives of Upwork and how as a freelancer, you can make extra money using it.

What is Upwork?

Upwork prides themselves as the largest online marketplace that connects freelance talent and clients who are looking for their services. Upwork has been around since 2015 after the merger of oDesk and Elance. When it comes to numbers, we are looking at millions of freelancers across the world that use the platform on a daily basis to make money from home. Isn’t that a positive thing?

Is Upwork good for freelancers?


As a freelancer, you are looking for ways to make money. At the same time you may be trying to avoid going through the hoops and loops of finding clients, sending numerous invoices and reminders before getting paid. Upwork takes care of all these hustles.

How do they do it?

They’ve created a platform that buyers trust. A pool of ready clients who are looking to buy your services. They have mechanisms in place that protects you as the seller; you get paid for the work completed without sending several reminders and thousands of invoices to your client after a job is done. All you have to do, is create an eye-catching profile detailing what it is you are offering and at what cost, bid for jobs that match your skill set, get hired and earn money on Upwork.

Upwork offers extreme diversity in terms of the kinds of jobs you’ll find on the platform. Whatever skillset you have, you’ll find something for yourself. It doesn’t matter whether you are a beginner freelancer or a pro in your niche.

Can you make money on Upwork as a freelancer?

Yes, you can. There are several job boards out here where you can make money as a freelancer but a lot of people don’t know how to go about it, including how to make money on Upwork.

As a freelancer, there are three ways you can sell your services and make money on Upwork. You can bill an hourly rate to your clients. If your services take a wider scope and hourly doesn’t fit, you can go with fixed priced projects.

Recently, Upwork unveiled a new way to earn money where freelancers create predefined projects that clients can buy.

How much do you get paid on Upwork?

Your hourly rate will determine how much you earn as a freelancer on Upwork. If you charge $20 per hour and work for 10 hours, you’ll earn $200 and your take home will be less the platform fee.

This varies from 20% to 5%, depending on how much you’ve billed a particular client.

If this is a new client, your take home will be $16 after the 20% deduction for the first $500 billed to the client.

When you hit $501, the fee reduces to 10% and your take home will be $18. If this turns into a long-term collaboration, and you hit the $10,000 mark, your take home will be $19 per hour.

What kind of jobs are available on Upwork?

There are so many jobs available on Upwork, basically, what I can say is, close to any job that can be done on a computer virtually can be found on Upwork.

Whether you are a designer, writer, proofreader, translator, you are good at marketing, accounting, or you are good at organizing stuff, you’ll find something that fits your skills and experience on Upwork.

There are so many great ways to earn money on Upwork but here are few to give you an idea of what to expect.

Virtual assistant

If you are good at multi-tasking and organizing stuff, you can work as a virtual assistant. More and more small business owners and startups are embracing the idea of having someone to help them ensure everything runs smoothly.

Someone who can take up the no so important stuff and allow them focus on growing their business. The beauty of it is that as a virtual assistant you don’t have to live in the same state or country as your client.

In fact, some clients prefer having virtual assistants in a different time zone such that they assign tasks at the end of the day and wake up to an email with the completed tasks.


  • $5 to $50> hourly
  • $50 to $500> fixed price or retainer depending on the project scope.

Copywriting, writing, blog writing

Though I’ve grouped them together, a talented copywriter may earn more than a freelancer who focuses on blog writing only. With millions of websites available and almost every new business wanting to have a web presence, you’ll never lack a client looking for writing services. The rates vary, with some paying per word, per page or a fixed rate for say a landing page.


  • $50 to $1000

Web developer

Web developers are in high demand. There are several skills that web developers get hired for including but not limited to PHP, React native, Rust, Java, Angular JS, C++, HTML 5, Ruby on Rails etc. You don’t need to master all these but if you can specialize in one or two, you can earn money on Upwork as a web developer.


  • $35 to $120> hourly

Graphic design

Every business owner wants a logo that stands out, something unique that aligns with their particular brand. If you are a designer who can bring ideas to life and are creative, you can earn money on Upwork as a graphic designer. Most designers prefer charging a fixed price rather going for hourly projects. As a graphic designer, your rate may be determined with one the complexity of the project, your skills and other variables.   


  • $10 to $95 hourly

Social media marketing

A simple search of social media marketing job on Upwork brings up over 10,000 jobs. That is how popular this skill is. If you are good at marketing and know your way around various social media platforms, this is skill you may want to explore and earn from it.


  • $10 to $125 hourly
  • $50 to $2,000> fixed

How to win jobs on Upwork

There are several ways to do it. Every freelancer has one that has worked for them. Here we are going to look at some ways to make yourself stand out from other applicants and win that project.

When it comes to finding work on Upwork its more about providing immediate value to the clients and not much about polishing your resume.

As shared above there are different ways to earn money on Upwork; hourly, fixed or predefined projects.

While some find it hectic to bid on projects because of writing proposals, there are those who love the process because it’s one way to let the client know who you are and if you are a good fit to help them solve their problem.

When it comes to bidding, you’ll want to stand out from your competitors. Here are a few tips to help you out if you are a freelancer beginner trying to curve out their niche:

  • Your cover letter. When writing your cover letter, try not to copy paste. It may sound an easier way out but you are less likely going to win a project this way. One, because project specifics are not the same for every client.

A client who is keen enough will notice you’ve copy pasted and decline your application. Try and personalize every cover letter, address the client’s pain points and offer possible solutions.

  • Address the client using their name and not the generic dear hiring manager. You may be wondering how to go about this since you don’t know the client.

It’s simple, when you search through the job listings and find one that looks like a good fit, scroll down and look for the client details in the feedback from previous freelancers. You’ll often find a name this way.

If this is a new client, they may have shared their company name or website in the job listing, go through it and try and find a name. This way, you’ll be able to say “Hello Jim,” and not something impersonal like “Dear Hiring Manager, or To Whom it May Concern.”

This will help move you to the top of the other candidates and show the client that you put in a little effort to know who they are.

  • Try and offer a sample that matches what the client is looking for. If the job is looking for an entertainment writer, don’t share your best recipe article. If you don’t have anything on their subject matter, you can write a quick 250–400-word sample and include in your application. This will help the client gauge your skills and help determine if you are a good fit.
  • Refine your profile. Upwork uses algorithms and just because you are a beginner freelancer doesn’t mean your profile will not be shown to clients.

The description you have in your title, and the skills you have listed come into play.

Don’t use generic terms like “writer” instead be specific “fiction writer,” “beauty copywriter,” be specific.

If you are still trying to figure out your niche, a good place to help you figure it out is the job posts. Look at what clients are looking for to help you narrow down.

How to make money on Upwork

We’ve looked at the different jobs available but you may be wondering how to make money from Upwork. Here are a few strategies that will help you out.

  • Create a professional profile

It may sound obvious but your profile will make or break your freelancing career whether on Upwork or any other freelancing platform.

Outline your education and previous work experience if any. If you have earned any certifications that you believe are relevant, be sure to add them too.

When setting up your profile, use specific keywords in your title that clients are likely to search for when looking for a freelancer to hire.

When it comes to your description the temptation to focus on yourself is what makes most freelancers not to be found.

As much as you should state your skills and experiences, that shouldn’t be the only focus. Potential clients need to know what it is you are offering, how you are going to help them solve whatever problem that led them to look for help. The main question to address is, how will my expertise help my potential clients?

Upwork allows you to add a video of yourself. If you are a natural before a camera this is a good option that allows clients to see who they will be dealing with. If this doesn’t work for you, a professional head-shot is also a good option.

  • Focus on one skill

As a freelancer, especially for beginners, there is always a temptation to be a jack of all trades. While this may work for some, focusing on a single skill and perfecting it will help you grow your freelancing career and command higher rates.

  • Pricing

As a freelancer, you need to think and market yourself as a business and never assume everyone is broke.

  • Its okay to start small.

We all want to charge $1,000 per hour for our skills. However, when starting out as a freelancer on a platform like Upwork you may want to start small, build your reputation before increasing your rates and going for the bigger projects.

Building trust should be your number one focus. By taking on smaller jobs and completing them well, you’ll be able to receive excellent feedback which can help other potential clients to trust you with larger projects.

  • Timely response

Its okay to check out jobs that were posted days ago, but since you have limited connects to use to apply for jobs, it’s best to focus on recently posted jobs. If you can, try and be among the top 20 that applies for the job.

  • Upsell and cross sell

So you won the job, congrats! Give it your best. A happy client is more likely to offer you repeat work and even refer you to their friends and colleagues if they ever need your services. Offer additional value where possible.

It doesn’t have to be a product per se, it can be some advice on how they can improve on something else.

If say, you applied as a virtual assistant but have some design skills and you notice your client’s logo could use some touch up. You can advise them on changes to make or offer to redo it at a small fee.

This is one of the easiest way to build trust and get referrals.

Mistakes to avoid when freelancing on Upwork

  1. Free work

When browsing the job listings, you may come across jobs where clients are looking for free work. This is unacceptable on all levels and thankfully Upwork doesn’t encourage it either.

Free work in exchange for a five-star feedback may sound appealing when you are desperately trying to build your reputation. However, one question you need to ask if you can cash that review at Amazon or at the grocery store. If the answer is no, then don’t do it.

2. Working with your client outside of Upwork

You’re just starting out; you really need the money but at the same time Upwork has to deduct 20% from your earnings.

Paying 20% may sound like a lot of money to part with, but have you stepped back to look at the advantages the platform gives you? Guaranteed and timely payment is just one of the reasons why you shouldn’t think twice about paying the 20%.

On the hand, trying to save the 20% may result in never receiving the pay or sending endless emails to the client before receiving your money.

Find that job and make money online with Upwork

I hope these tips will help you to get started and earn some extra money. Did I miss out on anything, that you feel should have been addressed? Post in the comments section and I’ll get back to you.

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