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Contractor Disadvantages, Problems, and issues when using Upwork

Updated on July 14, 2015

Update: there is no more oDesk -- it is now Upwork

Beginning May 6, oDesk was rebranded as Upwork. Some aspects remained, while others are changed. According to an email sent to its members, the site must be revamped to connect contractors with appropriate suitable jobs easier and faster.

What to expect on UpWork?

On top of conveniently connecting contractors to appropriate jobs, below are supposedly new things that one will experience when using UpWork as claimed by the new CEO:

  • New set of messaging tools for faster communication and collaboration
  • A new so-called “Hiring Hub” that comes with new assistive articles, helpful ideas, and guide section
  • A new mobile app for iPhone and Android

Is Upwork (formerly oDesk) a SCAM?!?!

Definitely NOT!!!

First and foremost, Upwork is not a scam. It is actually a reliable tool to earn cash online (provided you landed on a decent paying job or project).

Moving on, the above question is commonly asked by people who are trying to look for online income opportunities. Online revenue streams have been increasing through the years and sadly, some of which are scam sites.

“How to make money online”, “How to earn cash from the Internet”, “Work at home opportunities”, “How to become a virtual assistant, online coder, or freelancer on the internet”, etc… These are just some of the questions curious people will search in Google (or any other search engine) where they would eventually stumble to Upwork.

Why do people claim that they have been scammed?

Unfortunately, if you searched the web if oDesk/Upworks is a scam, you may chance one or two mentioning that it is. There are people who shared that they had negative experiences with the site. Some of these experiences are listed below:

  • Not being paid
  • The client rejected their work (but there are some feedbacks that those clients still used the submitted output)
  • Unresponsive / vanishing client after finishing the project

These are indeed unlucky incidents. However, it is important to note that the site as a whole is not the scam. It those delinquent and bogus clients (sometimes referred to employers) that scammed the contractor.

This is the reason why it is important to be on the look-out and to avoid such clients and projects.

How to avoid being scammed on Upwork

Before moving on, the information provided on this post is suitable for Upwork contractors. These are people who are looking for an online freelance job on the site (members that are hiring workers on Upwork are called buyers, providers, or clients)

Always remember that Upwork is a great opportunity to earn money online. It is not a scam and if you are not paid, then majority of it is your fault. Read the tips on this article discussing job posting, examining contract conditions, read the client’s feedback, and past history of job rates.

How-to and things to remember when signing up in Upwork

One must first sign-up to Upwork in order to see and apply to the available projects or work. Joining or signing up is free so don't worry about any membership fees.

Signing up to Upwork is quite simple. Visit their main site and fill up the required details. Please be sure to put in correct information. A simple advice to follow when venturing on making money online is to provide accurate details. Naturally, this information would also be used for payment processing and identity verification, etc… Needless to say, it would be unwise to put in and use a fake account.

Some basic and important information regarding Upwork

These are just basic but important-to-know information based on personal usage. A more comprehensive list can be found on the site.

  • There are two types of job posting in Upwork. One is with hourly pay (guaranteed payment) while the other is fixed priced (not-guaranteed)
  • In guaranteed payment, contractors are required to use the Upwork software which monitors and logs what they do to their PCs (keyboard press and mouse movement) by sending screenshot of the computer monitor to the site's server.
  • In fixed-price payment, payment is usually done once the project is completed or when the contractor has submitted the project's output to the client. Again, payment for this job types are not guaranteed since the client can reject the output claiming they are not satisfied with the outcome of the project.
  • Upwork offers numerous freelancing jobs like article writing, programming, photo editing, transcribing, encoding, etc…
  • There are many payment / withdrawal options in oDesk. The popular ones are via paypal and LFT (local fund transfer)

Contractor problems and disadvantages that may arise while using Upwork

This section will discuss some problems and concerns new and seasoned contractors may have on Upwork. Luckily, this section will also discuss corresponding tips and advice for each problem or disadvantage.

Finding a job on Upwork

The first disadvantage new contractors usually has is finding a decent job on Upwork. Being hired is extremely tough for new members as competition is very stiff. Upwork already has a huge workforce and thousands of members. Some of these members belongs to the top rated community (those with good account standings and positive feedback from historical projects / clients). Obviously, a client will go for the applicant with good standing rather than a newbie with no records at all.

However, don’t let this water you down. a good tip to overcome this dilemma is to have an honest resume with excellent work samples. For example, if you are a website designer, put into your resume your main selling points as well as links of your works. Another tip is to be honest about your work.

Some contractors lower down their pay rate just to be accepted. Be careful about this. The main reason you are looking for a job in Upwork is to make money and not to earn meager income that at the end of the day you just broke even with earnings and expenditure (electricity, effort, time consumed, etc...)

Not getting paid

The next problem some contractors have with Upwork is not being paid. This item is actually quite popular and may still occur especially with "Fixed-Price" jobs.

The best way to avoid this problem is to only apply hourly rate jobs (though this will limit your job hunting options)

However, if you are forced to apply for a fixed rate job then be mindful of the following:

  • Discuss carefully the terms of the project with the employer. You may suggest things like dividing the project in parts and payment be made after successful completion of the particular portion, etc…
  • Choose a client with outstanding history and whose mode of payment is verified
  • Avoid huge and time consuming projects - especially if the employer is a new member or something is fishy with the employer

Low rates or payment

There are certain situations where some members complain that the job postings have very low rates. For instance, I once saw a client requiring a 1000-word article but will only pay $2. As a writer and seasoned member, I see this job posting absurd.

Unfortunately, there are some who might still grab it. Sad as it sounds, those members are usually the ones who couldn't bag a decent project or someone who is trying to build up their reputation - they are hoping that the client will be satisfied with their work and give them excellent feedback since the pay is very low pay for the great output. The problem arises when the client gives otherwise.

Again, this all depends on you. As much as possible, avoid very low paying jobs that almost border to slave-labor. The whole point of using oDesk is to earn a decent income and you are not pouring in time, energy, effort, or anything else, for such an unreasonable amount.

Privacy issues with the oDesk software

Some people just don't want to be monitored when they do their thing - especially when they are doing their job. Just think about it this way, since you are guaranteed to be paid, this is the employer’s only tool or option to ensure that they are getting their money’s worth. So be honest when logging time to the Upwork software.

Abusive clients

Another problem can arise in the form of abusive clients. There are some clients that will request additional items not included on the original contract - like requesting numerous revisions that it can stand as another project.

In case you encounter something like this, don’t lash out, remember to be professional. Politely state that it is not within the agreed contract or doing so is like having another project. Be sure to offer suggestion in a humble and non-offending manner.

Upwork Benefits and Bonuses

The benefits and bonuses does not come from Upwork but from the clients that hired the contractors. Since Upwork does not require employers to give benefits and bonuses to their contractors, this would depend entirely on the former. However, chances of receiving a bonus increases when the client is extremely contented with the kind of work provided by the contractor.


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    • writerjj profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Hi Joevahun,

      You are correct. But Upwork is a straightforward method of making money online. The member looks for a job, found one and got hired, discusses the terms, then get paid (assuming it is an hourly type of job)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Unlike many other areas, there are many thousands ways to make money oinnle so if you can make a web site, you can drive clients to it, either to buy services or to click on advertizements.

    • writerjj profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Hi Bhaskar,

      Thanks for visiting. The site itself is not a scam, though the same cannot be said with some employers. Actually, its been quite a while since I have been there because of some cheapskate employers.

      Be sure to get the good ones and those that pays fairly. Lastly, don't quit your day job yet. Not until you found a great employer on oDesk. Actually, a good idea would be to build up and establish your profile here in HP while waiting for a decent employer in oDesk ;)

      Hope this helps :)

      Thanks again for visiting

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great advice. I am a wirkong mom with two kids, with a very stable job, but the yaya-hunting has left me no choice but to seriously think of quitting my day job and join oDesk. Do the clients pay well? Do they pay on time? These are my hesitations. I have a few interviews lined up this weekend on oDesk, as I applied for a few jobs related to what I'm doing now. I plan to take on part time jobs first before finally quitting my stable job and just stay at home with my kids.


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