How It Works
An overview of how work happens on Upwork.
Easily find quality matches
On Upwork you’ll find a range of top freelancers and agencies, from developers and development agencies to designers and creative agencies, copywriters, campaign managers, marketing agencies and marketers, customer support reps, and more.
- Start by posting a job. Tell us about your project and the specific skills required. Learn how.
- Upwork analyzes your needs. Our search functionality uses data science to highlight the best freelancers and agencies based on their skills, helping you find talent that’s a good match.
- We send you a shortlist of likely candidates. You can also search our site for specialized freelancers and professional agencies who can view your job and submit proposals too.
We have several measures in place to ensure Upwork is a fair and reliable marketplace. We use multiple means to verify that freelancers and agencies are who they say they are. Information is also displayed that gives you a sense of each person’s skill level. In part, this includes:
- Authenticating email addresses
- Verifying identity through ID and video verification
- Displaying Job Success scores and client feedback on past projects for every freelancer and agency
- Providing results of online skills tests
Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to screen prospective freelancers and agencies to make sure their skills and experience meet the needs of your project. Custom screening questions can be included in your job post, and Upwork Messages provides chat and video conference tools for interviewing finalists.
With Upwork Business you get access to a team of dedicated advisors who can help you find quality talent faster and more affordably than traditional staffing providers.
Hire the best
Invite favorite candidates to submit bids, then review and hire your favorite.
- Browse profiles. View finalists’ Upwork profiles to see client ratings, portfolios, Job Success scores, and more.
- Review proposals. Evaluate bids, taking into account their qualifications, thought process, timeline, and overall cost. Learn how.
- Schedule a chat. Ask specific questions, determine who’s the best fit, and contract.
You can evaluate freelancers and agencies by reviewing their Upwork profile. Each freelancer and agency in our marketplace has an Upwork profile. It can include work experience and samples, client feedback, skills test scores, and much more. You may also want to look for freelancers and agencies in our Top Rated and Rising Talent programs. Then, have a quick interview with your top candidates to answer questions related to your project.
Work efficiently, effectively.
Each project includes an online workspace shared by your team and your freelancer or agency, allowing you to:
- Send and receive files. Deliver digital assets in a secure environment.
- Share feedback in real time. Use Upwork Messages to communicate via text, chat, or video. Learn how.
- Use our mobile app. Many features can be accessed on your mobile phone when on the go.
Several methods of verifying work are built into Upwork. On hourly contracts, you can review the Work Diary. It tracks billable time and records completed work. While the freelancer or agency is billing you, Upwork also counts keystrokes and takes screenshots of their screen (six times per hour), so you can verify billable hours. On fixed-price jobs, you and your contractor agree on milestones for each project. When they reach a milestone, you review the work and release funds when the work is approved.
We also include Upwork Messages so you can chat and share files.
Pay easily, with peace of mind
Pay by the hour, or a fixed price for the entire project. On fixed-price jobs, use our licensed escrow service to release funds as pre-set milestones are met.
- Simplified global payments. We deliver payments to freelancers and agencies in over 170 countries.
- Includes Upwork Payment Protection. Only pay for work you authorize.
- Invoicing and reporting. Access your invoices and transaction history on Upwork.
Upwork makes paying freelancers and agencies simple and secure. Choose to pay using MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover, or PayPal. Most payments are subject to a 3% processing fee.
Yes, all payments have invoices that can be downloaded or printed.
You should not be responsible for filing 1099-MISC forms for your freelancer or agency.
One of the benefits of paying through Upwork is that, in general, if your talent is correctly classified as an independent contractor you should not be responsible for reporting payments on Form 1099-MISC. The reason is that our escrow service is a “third-party payment network.” When you make payments through our third-party payment network, Form 1099 reporting becomes our responsibility, not yours. Specifically, we are obligated to report payments to independent contractors on Form 1099-K when applicable, which means you should not be obligated to report on Form 1099-MISC. Therefore, Upwork no longer sends Form 1099-MISC on behalf of clients, and all freelancers and agencies classified as U.S. Persons must submit Form W-9 information to us on the Upwork site, so that our escrow service can accurately report on Form 1099-K.
The foregoing assumes you have correctly classified your talent as an independent contractor to you, instead of an employee.
As a reminder, you are responsible to determine proper classification of all of your freelancers as either independent contractors or employees. For U.S.-based freelancers, you should refer to the IRS guidelines and other federal, state, and local regulations applicable to you. If your freelancer should be classified as an employee, then you should use the Upwork Payroll service. When you use this service, our staffing provider will employ the worker, handle all of the withholding and payment of taxes, and provide the worker with a Form W-2.
Naturally, we’re not experts on tax matters for your specific business, so you should consult a tax professional if you have questions or concerns about this or any other tax-related issues. If you’re not based in the U.S. or have additional questions, please consult your local tax representative for more information on filing tax forms in your country.