UpWork vs Freelancer.com Review. An Employers Perspective

Nov 21, 2013 by

Update Aug 2016: My personal, 100% positive feedback (from hundreds of jobs) freelancers are now available for hire so you search might end even before it’s started! However, they only work on WordPress. To read more about hiring them, read this post.


Outsourcing plays a big part in helping me to run multiple businesses in a diverse range of niches.


As a result, I outsource loads of different tasks to different types of freelancer and I’ve tried almost all of the platforms out there. From Elance to RentACoder (before it was named vWorked and acquired) to oDesk (now ‘Upwork‘ – graphic will be updated shortly),  Freelancer.com and more.





So, Who’s Better?

As Freelancer.com ballooned in size thanks to a string of acquisitions, I started off by using them to hire the workers I needed. But every-time I used the site, there was something that would p*ss me off. I then tried UpWork after hearing good reviews and it was the best move I made.


I’d never go back to Freelancer.com and here are the reasons:



Freelancer: Horrible, Punishing Up-sells

The reason why Freelancer has been able to acquire many competitors is because of their profitability. And that profit comes from fleecing their users as hard as possible. The moment you register on the site they try to make you pay for everything and anything. From paying so that your project is available straight away without a review (even though they go live in a few minutes anyway) to prompting you every at every step to become a paying member to get crappy ‘perks’. At the moment, they’re even trying to flog Freelancer baseball caps.


If you want to delete a project that you’ve posted, PAY for it. If you want to hide it from search engines, PAY for it! The list in endless, exhausting and overwhelmingly frustrating.


And their crafty fees don’t stop there. While going through old emails on one of my gmail accounts, I realized that I had a Freelancer account under a different username too – it was my vWorker account that had been transferred over.


Out of curiosity, I logged into it and was pleasantly surprised to see a positive balance of around $130 on the account. That was from funds that I had in vWorker before they were acquired and had forgotten about. After looking into it in more depth, I was stunned to see that this amount originally sat at over $200.


Freelancer had quietly been taking $10 a month as an ‘inactivity fee’. I had never received any notification of this. A quick email saying: “Hey Sandip, check your account or we’re gonna start taking a fee” would have sufficed. But of course, in true Freelancer.com style it’s all about making money wherever you can.



Freelancer: Surprisingly Bad Features

For a website that has some amazing technical talent, the website has some basic technical flaws. Logging back into my account was a battle – the login pop-up didn’t show until a few refreshes.


Navigating through shortlisted freelancers was always hard and communication while quickly re-reviewing their credentials was also not thought out very well.



What’s so good about UpWork?

The above was enough for me to abandon Freelancer and use UpWork for all my hiring needs. And what’s so good about them is that they’re exactly the opposite of Freelancer. They never up-sell, it’s so easy to use and the talent on the site has never let me down. For me, the site feels pure – it’s all about allowing me to hire to best person for the job – end of. No bullshit, no hassle.


Heck, I’ve been using the site so much I’ve even been involved in some of their beta testing for new features.


So, if you need to find a freelancer online, use UpWork before you even consider using Freelancer.


Update Aug 2016: My personal, 100% positive feedback (from hundreds of jobs) freelancers are now available for hire so you search might end even before it’s started! However, they only work on WordPress. To read more about hiring them, read this post.


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  1. Alexander

    Freelancer.com – the biggest scam!

    Very serious and responsible I work 120%. On freelancer.com since 2008, but employers were allways happy and my ratings is still 5.0.

    Since the site passed into the Australian hands, the freelancer.com strongly degraded. A lot of things changed: the number of projects increased, new functions were added, greed of the freelancer.com grew many times, scam scale increased.

    The administration isn’t capable to control monetary operations. They have no tools for this purpose. It is ok for the site, if after a good review and released payment, freelancer.com reversalt he transaction depriving you earned money. You do not even notified about it. They quietly remove the money from your account. I will say more. Freelancer.com can reversal the transaction after the money is withdrawed and keep your balance in a deep minus , and then they demand from you to put the money back on your frelancer account. As a result the freelancer.com will remove from you 110% (10% fees, which were removed at the beginning of a project + 100% of your earned money that were returned to the employer). Sounds absurd? Today it is quite so on the site. To all claims they answer in the manner „We can do nothing. A chargeback has been filed on the employer‘s payment provider. We only take fees. We would recommend that you contact the employer directly and ask to pay again.“

    All of these milestones – complete nonsense! An employer can post a project, create a milestone, get the project done, release the money and after get all money back. Freelancer.com promotes scam. What milestones for? To give the appearance of reliability? After a project is done, you won‘t see the money anyway. In addition, you pay 10% fees. Cool!

    Today the freelancer.com is not the guarantor of honest execution of deal. It is just a message board with the job offers, where you take all risks upon yourself. Freelancer.com only can guarantee that you will pay them all fees for the opportunity to be deceived!

    It is a pity to lose rating and reviews, but it is even more a pity for the nerves. There are alternatives and it is time to leave freelancer.com. You are sure it is no concern of you? Just type in google „freelancer.com scam reversal“.

    • Sandip

      Hi Alexander, thank you very much for sharing your experience – I’m sure others will find it useful

      • Kay

        I’m stunned that freelancer.com is good for no one, not even to employers. I recently posted an urgent job, paid 50% milestone. Because my paypal account is in USD and my freelancer account in GBP, the exchange rate they applied shocked me. I lost nearly 15 pounds just to exchange the money from USD to GPB.

        But the worst came when my account was blocked hours later, that I needed to verify verify my phone number. Never mind I had verified this number, but because I travel a lot, I sometimes log in from different countries. So when they tell me to verify my number, and am in another country outside my home cell phone reach, I was left stranded. I can’t contact the freelancer working on my project, deadline for my presentation is hours away, freelancer support are not responding to my queries. My job hangs in the balance because just imagine directors seated in the boardroom and I have nothing to present because freelancer has frustrated me since Friday. I just pray that they respond. It’s terrible, horrible, pathetic….

        I do not know what will come out of it, I am clueless about making animations that was part of my presentation, my money is stuck in freelancer in the name of milestone, and I have no time to hire another person. Freelancer locks my account (they call it protect) on a weekend when you can’t do certain things like bank transactions. I just wish someone can guide me to take legal action against this company. what laws guide freelancing when I am a Briton and freelancer is for Australians? My job hangs in the balance!!!!

        • Sandip

          Hi Kay,

          Sorry to hear of your experience – the complaints with Freelancer continue.

          If you do want to take legal action, of course the best route would be to contact a lawyer but I guess it’ll be a costly process. I hope things work out for you…

    • I also have similar exp.
      i had project from some Mr. x
      he had given me a website to complete, i did the work after completion my milestones are gone. Even employers profile is also gone.

      I asked at freelancer support they replied same” we just ask employer to pay you back.”

      I started R&D for this so that i can get client contact detail or FB detail.
      But i was socked the domain he given me to make website on is of a city nearby to me.
      and when i called on the phone number from whois data base the who answered me told me that” you got tricked by somebody name kunal(who had this number before ). he getting such calls from last month. he is fraud and did to some many people.

      I did work for him on pay pal and 2 checkout.
      This was the serious issue , i just logged a complaint against it.
      Its really unsafe to work in this type of platform.

    • MKMS

      Hi Alexander,
      the same thing happen with me i lost €1100 :(

    • aser

      same happened with me.
      Each year this Reversed milestone policy followed up by freelancer.com as CHARGEBACK.
      I cant get it how always fraud employer win bcs freelancer.com says that they will fight and provide all evidence behalf of freelancers.
      This happened with 4 times always employer win, get his work done, all files and i got only 5 star review no money.

      All four time released milestone reversed and i had to pay the negative balance with my new project earning to continue my account.

      Dont know why and how this going on….
      But yes this is wrong, illegal, freelacer.com should do something for this.

  2. Aravinda Kumar

    Hey sandip,

    By reading this article i am stunned! because i am a freelancer in freelancer.com. i am a newbie, for past 1 year i was not awarded any projects till now. even i came across with fraud employers! they without accepting my bid, send the instruction to do the job! so from now i decided to discontinue from freelancer.com

    And i am going to start a Odesk account. Can you guide me to earn in Odesk? I am a B.E graduate, just now completed my graduation.

    Thank you.

    • Sandip

      Hi Aravinda – as an employer, first I look for what experience a contractor has that directly relates to my job. But in your case, you obviously don’t have feedback so you need to take a different approach. First, complete as many oDesk tests as you can. And then, offer employers a money back guarantee through the oDesk system. Finally, send a personalized pitch succinctly explaining how you’ll complete the job to a high standard and with a minimum of hassle. Don’t send copy paste CVs. Every employer I know (including myself) ignore those. The more personalized and succinct, the better. Good luck!

  3. Priyanka

    Hello Mr. Sandip, Even I think same that freelancer.com is an scam. I had upgraded membership plan and they top up my bids but at the time of renewal they told me that you will receive used bids(last month bids) and for subscription moth they will not top up the bids up to the limit, (which is in plan) they only after a certain period of time as a bid replenishment. We charge for the bid limit not for the bids. even I tried a lot to make them understand that it is not good way to taking money from anyone for just limits. One more thing my client had posted 5 star review but I was unable to see that in my profile. I have contacted them that client has already posted the review but your system not fetched that. They completely denied that that could have happened. After that I have provided a screenshot of my dashboard that my client has already provided the review it is your fault that I am unable see that in my profile and after they updated my profile. I can understand that there can be issue with the automated system but they don’t assist even better. I hate them and fed up. I can’t understand their words that we are charging for the limits only not for the bids. Even if I purchase a internet plan and after certain amount of time I renew it they also provide me the required data that is included in the plan. I don’t know what to do. Please assist me, I need a help.

  4. Arty

    Having used both sites as an employer, there is just no comparison.

    oDesk is VASTLY superior :

    oDesk : clean, simple, efficient interface. Follow up of projects in depth. Clear pricing.

    Freelancer : Impossible to follow up the projects live, you have to ask the freelancer, that often does not reply. Outrageous fee policy.

  5. Jay

    Freelancer.com is really a waste and no one should ever use it. It’s the FoxNews & Ruppert Murdoch of the internet. A total scam. Avoid it.

    However, for the inactivity (or maintenance or dormant they have many names for it) fee, I found out that you can request a refund (printed at the very end of their fees page).

    Maintenance Fee

    User Accounts that have not logged in for six months will incur a maintenance fee of up to $10.00 USD per month until either the account is terminated or reactivated for storage, bandwidth, support and management costs of providing hosting of the user’s profile, portfolio storage, listing in directories, provision of the HireMe service, file storage and message storage. These fees will be refunded upon request by users on subsequent reactivation.

    So go there and reclaim the money they stole from you !
    BTW: LOL 10.00 for storage, bandwidth, support and management costs of providing hosting of the user’s profile, portfolio storage, listing in directories, provision of the HireMe service – how stupid do they think we are ?

  6. Tu Nguyen

    Hi sandip,
    This is funny when freelancer.com charge conversion fee. I have account in usd, my customers give projects in other currencies. It took me 9.5 usd for this…if ny customer give project price in usd, i must took fee agian for conversion of currency….everytime…so why…..

  7. Bee

    Very true. These guys left my project on search engine even in my company name. It’s so dumb of them. Let it be! I will not pay them a penny to remove it from search engines, it is their greedy and unprofessional problem. I even still manage to use them again, I am almost awarding a project now on freelancer, but thanks for this because I am switching to odesk right away!

    Once again, thanks and I am very grateful for this piece!

  8. Jay

    Hi. We are agree with you. odesk is better than freelancer. freelancer is very money minded. i hate that. and doing unethical business.
    many scam and hidden charges !

  9. roxan

    Freelancer.com sucks- unreasonable charges just go on and on. One thing, be careful when you link your paypal or whatever source of your funds, because they’ll automatically deduct you whatever charges you have in the site. They do not even inform you ahead or give notice that you have these deductions or whatsoever.

    Odesk.com – Charges are all clear especially the project fee.

  10. Imran

    Hello to all,
    In my view both site are against the freelancer and in favour of client rather that that client is fraud or fair. Odesk returned my fixed project money to client because he is defaulter of odesk (just take my money from and send back to client) I can’t decide that this decision is right……… I was just shocked when my money $0 from $75. and other side client is not accepting this matter and said that he did not received back any money from odesk after laps of 20-25 days. if the client lying the reason of the lying is just Odesk policy in the fixed price (some one told me that this problem is due to tax rate increased on fixed price project and than odesk go made and returned the money to client so they can save their tax.

  11. Chris

    I can’t comment on oDesk (now called upwork I guess) but Freelancer is awful.

    I took their basic numeracy skills test so I could add something else to my profile to show to prospective clients. Their tests – or at least the ones I looked at – cost $5.00 plus a processing fee of around $0.42. Here’s an actual question exactly as it appeared on the test I took:
    “John eat 2 pieces of apples a day. Now, is Thursday, but he remembered the his apples left after eating apples during Monday are 30 pieces after that, he gave the half of all his apples to her daughter. How many apples left, if today is Friday after eating the two pieces of apples?”

    At least three other questions on the test had issues, such as multiple correct answers or no correct answer. Needless to say, this is completely unprofessional, especially considering these are paid tests. How can I showcase my skills to prospective clients with a test like this? After the test was completed, there was an option to add more questions to the test. It looks like they don’t even verify new questions for accuracy.

    I contacted customer support and 4 days later I was told they do not refund the exam fees. Instead, they offered to let me take another exam for free and they offered me one free month of the lowest paid membership option. First, there’s no way I’m ever taking another exam for that site, free or not. Second, because of the exam that I did take I was already eligible for one free month of a higher-level paid membership, so offering me the lowest one is completely pointless.

    Based on this experience and the countless other reviews I’ve read about this site, I just decided to cut my losses and run. I advise you all to avoid this shady site.

  12. Dabei Matthews

    Freelancer is a for scammers and should be avoided. There is more or less a guarantee that you will be scammed at some point if you choose to use this site. And freelancer.com offers no help or support if you do. They email and say there is nothing they can do. Imagine if eBay offered no protection if something went wrong. Would you use it? No you would not.  This site offers no protection at all. So you will lose money. Do not use it.

  13. Ray

    It’s 3 years ago. But i would say now, they have become more greedier than ever!
    I’m working as freelancer.
    They have few member plan type to purchase.
    I usually purchase $50/month to get standard member plan, in order to just pay 3% for project charge. (free and smaller plan charge 10%)

    Just today, i see there’s no more that plan. All plan is the same, they want 10% fee. OMG!
    What worst when project awarded to freelancer, they charge our money directly.

  14. Atif

    I am shocked why are they even allowed to operate. They are openly scamming and Australian Government is plain passive about the issue. I think we have to inform Interpol to put them on a leash.

  15. Freelancer Is a SCAM!

    Hello I read your review. I TOTALLY agree. a Similar thing happened to me. I got so angry I set up a petition to NASA for them to boycott Freelancer.com.
    Can you sign it and share it please?
    The more people who sign it the better our chances!


  16. Valeria

    They charged me 97 dollars out of the blue, for a “contest” i didnt know what I was doing, thought i was just browsing around, its a new platform so I just did what the website told me to do. Next thing I know i have 97 dolars less on my card spend on the dumbest thing ever. Im never using that site again.

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