With the evolution of technology advancing every day, and the numerous amounts of tech startups available for extra income–such as Uber, Wag, Lyft, and Postmates–it’s no wonder why the freelancing lifestyle is slowly but steadily gaining popularity.

Freelancers made up 34% of the United States’ workforce in 2015, which comes out to about 53.7 million people. A research study suggests that the freelancing workforce is not only growing, but also steadily making more money as well. Freelancers work remotely and take on jobs from third parties for either an hourly wage for the duration of a project or a lump sum per project.

Not only is the freelancing lifestyle attractive to the freelancers, but businesses see freelancing as a positive opportunity as well. Businesses can now hire a person per project, and does not have to worry about the cost of a new hire, let alone health insurance, taxes, and on-boarding expenses.

But how do freelancers find work? Is it a secret underlying network? The answer is technology applications such as Fiverr, Thumbtack, Elancer, and Upwork provides a platform for people to request work and an opportunity for a freelancer to pick up that work. Very similar to the LinkedIn job search tool, a person will post a job (such as “I need a website”), and freelancers can apply for the job by responding to the job request. The requester can then compare prices, view profiles, and even see how each freelancer ranks (previous jobrequesters rank the freelancer 1-5 stars).

Of these freelancing sites, the best by far is Upwork. This site is user-friendly for both the freelancer and the job poster, payment is flexible, and Upwork payment protection. The best part about freelancer? Their fees aren’t unsightly, benefiting both you and the freelancer.

So, how does Upwork work? Let’s take a look:

Sign Up at Upwork

Signing up is easy, you just create a new account by clicking on either “I want to hire a freelancer“, or “I’m looking for online work.” Yes, it’s that straightforward.

If you are a freelancer looking for online work, you will go through the process of setting up your online portfolio, identify what type of work you are seeking, and complete the process. One of the greatest aspects of Upwork is that this freelancing platform supports all types of freelancers–from writers to web developers to graphic design. Virtually any job that can be done on a computer is available for hire.

If you are a client seeking to hire a freelancer for work, the profile is much more straightforward. Once you account is created, you can then begin requesting jobs. A client can request multiple jobs. For example, a new business owner wants to set up a website for his store. He signs up for Upwork and then posts a job for a new website. Then, he decides he needs copy for his website, so he posts another job for hire. Then, he wants to redo his logo to better reflect his new online look, so he posts a job for a Graphic Designer.

Submitting a Job at UpWork

Let’s take a look at the previous example. The store owner begins with a website request. What is needed to submit this job? As much detail as possible. Again, I applaud Upwork and how user-friendly their platform is. Upwork will walk you through the process of a job, prompting you with very straightforward questions like –

  • What kind of job are you looking for?
  • How much are you willing to pay for this service?
  • What would you like to see accomplished with this project? or
  • Are there any other details the freelancer should know about this project?

Questions prompted depend upon the type of job you are looking to hire (copywriting questions will be different than web development questions).

Sounds too good to be true? I thought so too, until I posted a job for a web developer for hire to build a WordPress website. I was able to create my profile in minutes, and the job posting (even with all of my instructions) took less than five minutes. Ten minutes after that, the applications started rolling in. I had no less than seven freelancers write to me about their credentials, listing their portfolios, asking what I was looking for and how they plan to accomplish the job. Attached to the cover letter was their price quotes (remember, the job prompt asks for categories on what you’re willing to spend, such as “up to $500, $500-$1000, etc.). I was blown away by the prompt replies and the professionalism of all of the freelancers. (My WordPress site came out pretty great too!)

How to Apply for a Job

I don’t think I can stress enough how user-friendly Upwork is. Becoming a freelancer is as easy as signing up and setting up a profile, and then searching for jobs. As stated before, searching for a job is similar to the LinkedIn job search tool, where jobs that are filtered by the freelancer’s specialty, based on the profile settings created at signup. For example, “I am a copywriter/editor/technical writer” will filter jobs for clients looking for copywriters/editors/technical writers.

Once a freelancer finds a job he or she is interested in, then that freelancer can submit a cover letter and their profile. Upwork even has templates for freelancers to help them through what a client might expect in a cover letter. From here, the freelancer will be notified of the status of the job (closed, hired another freelancer, open), so that the freelancer has the opportunity to reach out to the client and answer any questions he/she might have.

Project Tracking at UpWork

Clients who wish to bill their freelancers on an hourly basis also have the option of requesting a work diary from their freelancer. This tool (also integrated into Upwork, bonus points for an integrated dashboard with all the tools on one dashboard) takes screenshots of the freelancers computer every ten minutes to show that the time billed is verifiable, and the work is relevant to the client.

Payment for Services

Another fantastic feature about Upworthy is how efficient their payment system is. Both parties must agree to a payment plan (either a lump sum or hourly), and the client does not pay until the freelancer hit certain milestones within the same project. This benefits both freelancers and clients because there is 100% mutual agreement for work and complete transparency between the two parties. Similarly, this payment process also protects clients from paying a freelancer for work that is never completed.

Clients can pay through a number of channels, including direct bank account payments, PayPal, debit and credit cards. The platform is secure, and payments go through Upwork before the money is released to the freelancer, so no one receives payment information except Upwork.

Receiving Payment for a Job

Freelancers no longer have to worry about chasing down clients for their work. Upwork handles all of the money and pays freelancers based on completed projects or certain milestones accomplished, depending on the agreed upon billing type (lump sum or hourly).

Even better, Upwork pays out freelancers weekly, and their invoicing platform is also integrated into the freelancing dashboard. Freelancers rejoice–Upwork tracks hours worked, completed projects, projected weekly payments, and handles the billing for you.

Fees?

You’d think that with it’s user-friendly interface, completely integrated dashboard (all of the tools you need are in central location, no extraneous additional applications to download or invoicing to keep track of), and straightforward, simple way to find jobs for hire, you’d think there would be a membership fee or a high percentage taken from each order.

Many technology platforms for freelancers charge something called a “finder’s fee,” that is often 30% of the freelancer’s rate. This leads to inflated rates for the clients and less money for the freelancer. Other applications, like Thumbtack, charges a $1.50 per bid, so if ten freelancers apply for the same job, each of those Freelancers pays $1.50, regardless of whether they are hired or not, which can make some freelancers wary of even applying for a job, limiting the client’s options for the perfect fit.

Upwork charges 10% of a freelancer’s rate. That’s it. If the client and the freelancer agree upon $20 an hour, then freelancer will take $2 of the $20 for every hour. The client doesn’t pay anything extra, and the freelancer is deducted 10%. Not bad considering everything Upwork does (jobs for hire, project tracking, payment processing, etc.)

Verdict

Freelancing provides a sense of freedom for freelancers, while it cuts costs for employers. The freelancing workforce is steadily growing and continues to grow every year. Upwork eliminates the worry of trying to find work, the stress of hunting down clients for payments on completed projects, and unfair rates. On the other hand, Upwork also ensures a freelancer’s accountability for the client, while safely distributing funds and taking the uncertainty out of hiring a freelancer.

Upwork is user-friendly, reliable, and straightforward. This platform is perfect for both clients and freelancers and garners a mutual respect between the two. Upwork is the best technology platform to connect freelancers with their clients. Check Upwork out today, it’s free to sign up!