How to post a job on Upwork: 7 mistakes to avoid at all costs [2022]


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So you’re ready to post your first job on Upwork but you’re unsure of how to proceed.

Never fear – I’m here to help!

For a bit of background on me, I’m an Upwork client who has spent over $10,000 on the platform. I’m also an Upwork freelancer who has earned $600,000 on the platform.

Needless to say, I know my way around the Upwork website.

And so, in this article, I am going to answer a few frequently asked questions about the freelancer platform, walk you through the extra steps needed to post a job, and share seven big mistakes to avoid in the process.

Morgan Overholt Upwork
A snapshot of my freelancer profile
a screenshot of my upwork client profile
My Upwork client profile stats

Is it free to post a job on Upwork?

Yes, it is free to post a job on Upwork.

However, the platform isn’t entirely free to use.

You’ll obviously have to pay any freelancer you hire. And all transactions will be subject to a 5% payment processing fee (or 3% for eligible U.S. clients who pay via ACH).

Client Transaction TypeClient Fee
ACH (eligible U.S. clients)3% per transaction
PayPal5% per transaction
Credit Card5% per transaction
the upwork client dashboard
To create a job post, click on the “Post a Job” button in the upper right hand corner of the Upwork Client Dashboard

How do I post a task on Upwork?

There are three basic steps involved in creating a job post on Upwork.

  1. Create a client Upwork account
  2. Click on “Post a Job” from your client dashboard
  3. Follow the prompts

For a detailed list of instructions that walk you through each prompt and how to answer the questions, be sure to check out my full-length article on how to hire on Upwork.

Read Also: How to hire on Upwork: Step-by-step guide to hiring quality freelancers

Upwork

Create a free account on Upwork

Create your client or freelancer account on Upwork for free today.
reviewing upwork proposals

What happens when you post a new job on Upwork?

Within minutes of posting a job on Upwork, you will start to receive a handful of proposals from qualified candidates.

You can find these proposals by logging into your Upwork client dashboard, clicking on the title of the live job post, and then clicking Review Proposals.

What to do if you’re receiving too many proposals

If you’re receiving too many proposals, you might want to consider using the Filters button (located next to the Sort drop-down) to narrow down the talent pool to only the most experienced and qualified individuals.

Here are a few of my personal favorite filter settings:

  • Earned Amount: $10k+ earned
  • Job Success: Top Rated
  • Last Activity: Within 2 weeks

What to do if you haven’t received any proposals

If a few hours have passed and you haven’t received any bids, there could be a number of issues with your job post.

The most common issues are as follows:

  • Job is too niche
  • Rate/budget is too low
  • The job title and/or job description needs work

What to expect when reviewing proposals

Each proposal you receive will feature the following information about the prospective freelancer, and I suggest that you review all of it carefully to help you make an informed hiring decision.

  • Name
  • Profile pic
  • Title
  • Location
  • Earnings
  • Job Success Score
  • Top Rated status (if any)
  • Link to the freelancer’s Upwork profile
  • List of skills
  • Availability badge (ignore this*)
  • A proposed hourly rate or proposed fixed-rate
  • Proposed milestones (if any)
  • Cover letter
  • Chat box

*Pro-tip: The blue availability badge is purely for looks and isn’t a true indication of the freelancer’s availability. Freelancers pay Upwork to turn this badge on. It’s just a way for Upwork to make a bit of extra money, and for freelancers to add a bright pop of blue color to their proposals in hopes of standing out.

Be sure to read the proposals carefully, and don’t forget to take a peek at each freelancer’s profile for positive reviews and glowing feedback from past clientele.

You can chat with a prospective freelancer as much as you wish before making your final hiring decision. And I highly encourage doing so as communication is key to a successful project kick-off.

When you are ready to make a decision, simply return to your Upwork client dashboard and click on “Hire Freelancer“.

The Upwork Proposal Screen
Chat with prospective professional freelancers in real-time at the bottom of the proposals screen or via the Upwork messenger app (available for both desktop and mobile)

7 mistakes to avoid at all costs

Now let’s get into some of the biggest mistakes I see new clients make on the Upwork platform.

Some of these mistakes will scare off the most talented freelancers. Others might even get you kicked off the platform.

woman looking angry holding a clock
(photo by ViDI Studio/shutterstock.com)

1. Don’t use Upwork to find full-time traditional employees

At least once a month, I see some poor hiring manager posting a traditional job ad on the Upwork platform for a regular part-time or full-time employee.

Upwork is not a traditional jobs board platform. Upwork is a freelance marketplace.

Upwork freelancers aren’t looking for traditional employment. The vast majority of freelancers are usually freelancers by choice. We are service professionals who enjoy running our own businesses and being our own bosses.

Quality freelancers will almost never respond to these types of ads. So if you’ve come to the platform for traditional employment endeavors, you’re probably wasting your time.

And that’s not even the worst part. Posting a traditional job ad might even get you banned from the platform. This is because most traditional employment ads contain information about how to contact the company. They also usually encourage applicants to applicants to circumvent the Upwork payment system. And both of these acts are against Upwork’s Terms of Service.

a woman looks confused by other people trying to contact her
(photo by ViDI Studio/shutterstock.com)

2. Don’t include personally identifiable information in your job post

As mentioned in the previous section, it’s against Upwork’s Terms of Service to share your contact information pre-contract (like an email address, a phone number, a website that contains a contact form, etc).

There are two main reasons that this rule is in place.

First, Upwork needs to make sure they are getting paid for services rendered.

Upwork makes its money by taking a 5-20% commission out of the freelancer’s paycheck. This means, if you’re immediately finding freelancers and hiring them directly off-platform, Upwork isn’t getting paid. And not getting paid, isn’t great for Upwork’s bottom line.

Secondly, scams, while rare, do happen. And both clients and freelancers alike are vulnerable to scammers.

So, as you might imagine, the easiest way to prevent these nefarious behaviors is to ask that all pre-contract conversations and negotiations happen via Upwork Messenger so that Upwork can keep an eye on things.

woman looks insulted by something on her computer
(photo by ViDI Studio/shutterstock.com)

3. Don’t expect to pay a lower rate for expert help

This is another all-too-common mistake.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with trying to find a deal or someone to work on the cheap. I get it, I am a business owner too. Margin is everything.

And while you may have some luck in finding a few beginners who are willing and able to perform the work on a budget, low rates tend to send the best freelance talent running for the hills.

If you want to hire the best talent, with the most subject matter expertise, you’re probably going to have to fork over a bit of extra money and pay higher rates.

But what sort of hourly rates should you expect to pay for beginner, intermediate and expert talent on the platform? Just check out the table below for a guide to some of the most popular Upwork job categories.

I pulled this data directly from the Upwork job post-budget screen in 2022. The hourly rates below are based on the average prices being paid for global talent in each respective category.

Note: U.S.-based talent tends to skew a bit higher. Actual rates may vary.

Upwork Job Category (Global)BeginnerIntermediateExpertHighest Earners
Web Programming$10-$25$13-$26$20-$45$100+
Graphic Design$10-$25$14-$35$25-$45$105+
Social Media Marketing$6-$20$7-$20$15-$50$145+
Software Engineer$13-$29$15-$30$25-$47$120+
Content Writing$10-$25$11-$35$25-$60$145+
Average rates paid for global talent on Upwork 2022
woman shuns her phone
(photo by ViDI Studio/shutterstock.com)

4. Keep your job description short and sweet

While it’s important to be descriptive, and include key details like budget, deliverables and project preferences, don’t overwhelm prospective talent with too many details in the job post.

Just because Upwork gives you 5,000 characters to work with, doesn’t mean you should use all of them.

To put things into perspective, the average length of a novel runs between 50,000 and 110,000 words. Five-thousand words is a tenth of a novel. And to be blunt – excuse my Southerness here – ain’t nobody got time for that!

Whenever I see a job post that looks like it’s going to take me more than 2-3 minutes to read I just move on.

Keep your job posts short, sweet and easy to comprehend.

woman looks angry
(photo by ViDI Studio/shutterstock.com)

5. Don’t disrespect your freelancer

You aren’t the boss of your freelancer. The freelancer is not your employee. Nor are they your servant.

The best freelancers on Upwork are independent professionals who excel in their respective fields.

Mutual respect in a freelancer-client relationship is key for a successful outcome.

a woman motions - talk to the hand
(photo by ViDI Studio/shutterstock.com)

6. Don’t ask for free work or a free trial

Asking for free work is a violation of Upwork Terms of Service. This includes free “trial runs” and free “tests”.

This ain’t Sam’s Club, there are no free samples.

This one goes back to the whole Upwork not getting paid thing.

Again, Upwork gets paid by taking a cut of the freelancer’s earnings. And if the freelancer isn’t making any money, Upwork isn’t making money either.

In addition to the practice being a direct violation of Upwork policy, it’s also just disrespectful.

With that said, there’s nothing wrong with asking for additional work samples from previous jobs. There is also no rule against asking for a test or trial. Just make sure it’s a paid trial.

woman looks scared
(photo by ViDI Studio/shutterstock.com)

7. Don’t take the freelancer off of Upwork

And finally, whatever you do, don’t take the freelancer off of the platform. Doing so may result in both your account and your freelancer’s account, being permanently suspended from the platform.

There are only two legal ways around this rule.

  1. You wait at least two years
  2. You pay the conversion fee

Read Also: Hiring outside of Upwork: Advice from a $600k Upwork freelancer

It is perfectly legal to work directly with your freelancer two years after the original Upwork contract commences.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to wait the full two years, you can instead pay a 12% conversion fee.

A freelancer’s hourly rate, for the purposes of calculating the 12% conversion fee will be the highest of the following:

  1. Earned hourly rate on any hourly project on Upwork
  2. Proposed hourly rate for any hourly contract on Upwork
  3. Hourly rate as it appears on the freelancer’s profile

That hourly rate is then multiplied by 2,080 hours (the equivalent of a 40-hour workweek multiplied by 52 weeks). Which, in my humble opinion, seems more than a bit unfair, but I digress.

The equation looks something like this:

(Freelancers Hourly Rate * 2080) * .12 = Conversion Fee

In most cases that equates to a ridiculous amount of money that’s not even close to worth it, at least in my opinion.

But for those of you with money in your bank account to burn, you can start the process by contacting Upwork using this email address: [email protected]. Clients can also start the process by clicking on the Move Outside Upwork button in their contract room.

Upwork

Create a free account on Upwork

Create your client or freelancer account on Upwork for free today.

Is this your first time hiring on the Upwork freelance platform? Found any talented contractors or quality talent lately? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to connect with me on social media.

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