As the CEO of Infinite Marketing, a full-service marketing firm powered by freelancers, I’ve become well-versed in the freelance platform ecosystem.
I started my journey brokering freelance talent in 2016.
I began to leverage talent teams for departments in 2017 while working as a Director of Strategic Marketing at CompuVision – an IT management and consulting company.
At the time, I was working as a one-woman marketing team who needed the scale of a 12-person team to deliver against our marketing strategy and respond to emerging trends.
That’s when I discovered Upwork – a remote-first organization – and the power of building scalable teams of freelance marketing experts from around the globe.
Since that time, I’ve been using Upwork to broker all-star teams of freelancers and contractors to help businesses across Canada and the United States scale their marketing efforts.
This was the catalyst for launching Infinite Marketing in September 2022.
For those of you just getting started, the thought of embarking on this journey may feel a bit overwhelming. I was there too.
And so, in this article, I’ll share my experience using Upwork Enterprise to build freelance marketing teams. I will also answer the following questions:
- What is an Upwork Enterprise client?
- How much does it cost?
- How does it work?
- Is it worth it? (plus pros and cons)
What is an Upwork Enterprise client?
Upwork Enterprise is a subscription-based premium client account designed for high-level business clients.
An Upwork Enterprise client is usually looking to engage a multitude of freelancers and agencies for large-scale, highly-skilled project work.
Whereas a marketplace customer may engage one or two freelancers for quick turnaround projects, Enterprise clients are typically looking for longer-term partnerships. They are also willing to pay for higher-quality work.
Enterprise clients can range from fast-growth one-person startups to large companies and large enterprises like Fortune 500s.
The one common thread across many Enterprise clients is the need for scale and a full-service solution that bundles a technology trust-driven platform with high-touch talent services.
Typically these companies engage multitudes of freelancers to support strategic project initiatives and can use additional support sourcing, managing, and paying their hybrid team.
For companies working with large teams of freelancers, Upwork Enterprise offers a number of advanced tools including:
- Upwork Payroll
- Analytics and reporting
- Custom workflows
These tools make it easier to manage projects with multiple freelancers and agencies.
How much does it cost?
Upwork Enterprise is a subscription-based service. It includes advanced features that aren’t part of the traditional client account including:
- Worker classification and compliance services
- Advanced analytics and reporting capabilities
- Customized onboarding and workflows
- Talent sourcing and project support
- Dedicated account manager
Unfortunately, Upwork doesn’t publicly share pricing for their Enterprise offering as the fee is a subscription and is contingent based on the level of service required.
As a rough ballpark, clients can likely expect to pay anywhere between $2,500-$5,000 per month based on the services required and the number of users needed to access the platform.
However, I will caveat that this was the range I saw prior to 2020. And that range may not reflect pricing for add-on services such as Talent Services.
Pricing can vary drastically depending on your usage. I recommend reaching out to the Upwork sales team for a customer evaluation and a better understanding of what pricing might look like for your business.
At the end of the day, pricing options are flexible and tailored to fit your needs.
Upwork frequently offers discounts for monthly payments. They also usually provide payment plan options that lower the monthly fee for clients working on the platform over an extended period of time.
That said, Upwork’s pricing structure is complex. And it’s important to do your homework before getting a quote.
Not sure where to start?
Thinking about upgrading to Upwork Enterprise but not sure where to start?
Start by looking at a single department within your organization (say marketing, for example).
As yourself: Where could freelance talent help offset some of the team’s needs and make a visible impact?
Perhaps you might need graphic designers to assist with an upcoming event. Or perhaps you could use some writers to help scale your content strategy.
Whatever your need may be, think about where you can use an extra set of hands to support projects with tight deadlines and/or seasonal spikes.
Another exercise you can explore is layering a freelancer organizational chart on top of your existing one.
Look for talent gaps or opportunities to scale the business.
As you look at the charts, think about the work that needs to be done by employees and what could be contracted out to freelancers to free up the capacity of your full-time staff.
How does it work?
Whether you’re a current marketplace client looking to upgrade your account or a new customer, the first step to signing up for an Enterprise account is contacting the team via the Upwork website. They will partner with you to find a custom solution tailored to fit your specific needs.
Once you execute your Upwork Enterprise contract, you will be assigned a dedicated account manager. The account manager is your day-to-day contact. They are there to help you maximize your return on investment and ensure customer success.
And as with any good relationship, communication is key.
When working with Upwork’s account managers, make sure you take the time to build a connection. Help them understand the nuances of your business. The more they get to know you, your organization, and your work, the better they’ll be able to support you.
Finding freelancers as an Enterprise client
The work itself starts with your first project.
Enterprise clients can use Upwork’s advanced search features to find freelancers and agencies with detailed specifications and requirements. This helps ensure that you get proposals from only the most qualified candidates.
Once you have a clear understanding of the skills and talent you need to support your project, you can search the marketplace using Upwork’s matching algorithms.
The matching algorithm can be an imperfect science.
If you decide to self-source, make sure you know exactly what you’re looking for and be patient in the process.
There are several ways to filter your search results based on ratings, client feedback, hourly rates, skills, availability, and more. Use these search filters to your advantage.
For instance, you could choose to narrow your search to only Top Rated freelancers who have billed more than $10,000 on the platform.
The more time you invest in reviewing individual profiles upfront, the more successful you’ll be long-term.
Take the time to become fluent in search and save yourself a lot of time and headaches down the road.
Utilizing Enterprise Talent Services
If you need assistance hiring your own talent, Talent Services are available to assist with project scoping and shortlisting relevant freelance candidates based on qualification.
This is a great option for clients that don’t have the time to self-source. But again, I would advise you to do your homework first.
Start by developing a detailed description of the work you’d like to have performed. Think of it along the lines of a job requisition for a traditional full-time employee.
In addition to the work description, having a target profile of the candidates you’re looking to source will help Upwork’s talent specialists identify the best candidates for your job. This minimizes the number of back-and-forths between you and the team.
If the project is time-sensitive, Talent Services might not be the best option as it can typically take between 3-5 days to source the talent.
Managing freelance talent
Once you start a contract, you can begin communicating and collaborating with your freelancers.
The Upwork mobile app is a great tool to help facilitate daily interactions and track progress across your team of freelancers on the go.
Available on iOS and Android, the app serves as an extension of the desktop version and includes many of the same features including:
- Search Functionality
- Proposal Management
- Job Posting
- Contract Negotiations
All your contracts, files, and communication are centralized on the platform.
You can also track spending across various projects and teams, as well as automate onboarding workflows and invoicing all in one place.
If you need more customization in terms of workflows or with the platform itself, Upwork Enterprise can support that as well.
One of the biggest advantages of using Upwork Enterprise is the ability to customize your portal based on your business needs.
For instance, does every freelancer in your organization need to sign an NDA? Do you need specific cost code information incorporated in your billing? These can all be customized through the platform.
Where the rubber meets the road is during the onboarding process.
It’s important that you have a firm understanding of how you want to customize the platform and the services needed to support internal processes and workflows. This will help provide the team with a detailed list of requirements for your platform build.
Without the list of requirements, you can expect a lot of back and forth with Upwork’s development team, which can take longer to build and implement than intended.
Is Upwork Enterprise worth it?
I think that Upwork Enterprise is great for businesses looking for a single solution to manage their freelance workforce.
But it’s important to note that while it’s a great solution, it’s not an ‘out-of-box’ solution.
If you haven’t engaged freelance talent using a platform like Upwork before, there will be a learning curve.
It takes time to adjust to this “new” way of working and your organization may not always be as quick to adapt as you might like.
I speak from experience having spent the last seven years engaging freelance talent on the Upwork platform.
During this time, I’ve developed success criteria for engaging amazing teams of freelance talent at scale.
At my company, Infinite Marketing, it is our mission to help clients skip the learning curve by brokering freelance talent on their behalf working alongside them to scope out project deliverables and the skills they need to support.
As the largest work marketplace, Upwork has the benefit of attracting top talent.
Top freelancers are skilled professionals who often favor remote work opportunities, project variety and finding work they are passionate about.
And with Upwork Enterprise, you can add requirements that align with your internal needs, such as cost center tracking and intellectual property ownership agreements.
Other benefits include:
- The option to have Upwork’s compliance team classify each freelancer’s engagement
- The ability to curate a company or team-specific pool of freelancers and agencies
- Tracking spending over different teams and projects with real-time reporting
- Manage contracts, files, and communication all in one place
- Talent services to assist with project scoping and sourcing
While Upwork offers a number of amazing benefits in terms of ease of use and robust capabilities, it’s not without its challenges.
The range of talent you can find on Upwork is almost too broad.
In some instances, the price per hour can vary by upwards of $100 per hour (or more) depending on the freelancer’s experience and location.
While reviews and portfolios are helpful, catching the red flags of an improper fit for the project takes time and practice to develop. And if you’re looking for a freelancer with niche skills, the problem can become further compounded.
Is Upwork Enterprise right for your business?
Additional considerations for Upwork Enterprise include:
- Cost. Upwork Enterprise may not be the most cost-effective solution for the services you seek. As previously mentioned, clients can pay anywhere between $2,000-5,000 per month depending on their service requirements. If this is not within your budget, you may want to start with a free Upwork client account instead.
- Interface. The browser-based user interface can take time to learn, and at times can be confusing to use.
- Self-sourcing. Self-sourcing talent leveraging the search algorithm can be difficult and time intensive.
Overall, I think Upwork Enterprise is worthwhile for organizations that engage large teams of freelancers and are looking for a centralized solution.
Upwork Enterprise allows you to source, manage and pay your freelance team with ease and flexibility.
Also, as attitudes towards remote work begin to shift and the freelance economy continues to gain steam in our post-2020 world, Upwork Enterprise remains a powerful tool for accessing the skilled professionals you need to gain a competitive edge.
Upwork is the self-described ‘”world’s work marketplace”. They have physical offices in San Francisco and Chicago.
Editor’s Note: For more information on Infinite Marketing, check out the company’s website: InfiniteMarketing.ca. You can also follow Cara Bedford on Twitter @yegcloud. For more information about Upwork, visit Upwork.com.