Growing your team can be a daunting task. I wrote this article to help small businesses and content creators understand the whole process of how to hire on Upwork. Unlike what most people say out there, it is easy and straightforward to find help for your project, and guess what: they recently announced that Upwork is cutting off fees even more. In this guide, I include steps to start a new project, and best practices to keep in mind from our years of experience as a small business owner.
Using Upwork transformed our business. We have been using the platform since 2016 and remained an advocate for its freelancers’ quality and overall experience using the site. We highly recommend you check it out.
What is Upwork?
Upwork is a marketplace for freelancers in writing, graphic design, video editing, and web development. The site helps professionals find projects, communicate with clients, and get paid. If you’re a business or a new freelancer, you can rack up valuable experience without always having to pitch clients cold.
Recent rate reduction on Upwork
Upwork fees are about to go down! The major freelancing and hiring platform just announced a new fee structure that cuts down fees from 20% to 10%, starting in March 2023. Upwork Fees Go DOWN in 2023: GREAT News For Freelancers!
How to hire on Upwork: Sign up and create a job
Signing up is free! Simply visit Upwork, and click “Sign Up”
How to post a job on Upwork
1. Post a Job
Click the Jobs dropdown, select “Post a Job”
2. Getting Started
Follow the steps to create your job. First, choose between Short term/Part-time, vs longer-term work. If you are just getting started on Upwork, Short term is likely a better choice.
3. Job title
Give your job a Title. I’m going to use “YouTube video editor” as an example. You’ll quickly see how Upwork helps you navigate the posting process without you having to think of every last detail.
This is part of the magic of Upwork. As soon as you specify a “Job category”, such as Video Editing, it immediately prompts you with skills and deliverables that are most popular on Upwork. In other words, Upwork knows what companies are looking for. Even if you are new to the field and don’t know exactly what to ask for, Upwork can guide you through 90% of the way.
The “Scope” is an important concept. Typically my projects are “Medium”, well-defined, and moderate complexity.
You have the option to choose between US only and Worldwide.
Typically US resources are more expensive, but these are projects that are best suited for US resources. Please choose according to your project needs. If you choose Worldwide, you can further narrow down regions and counties as well in the dropdown.
Upwork gives you the flexibility to choose between Hourly rate vs. Project budget.
I have typically used “project budget” because it helps me understand exactly what I’m going to spend. With that said, this option makes sense if you have a well-defined, clearly-scoped project. On the contrary, if the project is not yet scoped with arbitrary deliverables, it’s better and fairer for freelancers to work with you on an hourly basis.
8. Describe your job
This is the only part where Upwork doesn’t give you a choose one/many selections. You have to come up with a job description of your own. There are examples of what makes an effective job description. Furthermore, you can attach files that aren’t confidential to share with the freelancer.
Once you are done with this page, just hit “Review Job Post” and post it on Upwork.
You have the option to set a job description as public, or private. If it’s private, only freelancers who are invited to see the job description (by you) will have access to it.
I have most often posted my jobs as public jobs. Oh my! You often get a response within the hour if not sooner, and likely 15-20 candidates to consider within the first day. Upwork will allow you to shortlist your favorite candidates based on their responses, experience, and work samples.
From there, you can hire them directly into your contract. Time tracking and even video conference calls are all features you can access easily from within Upwork.
Tips for hiring on Upwork
Best practices for Job Descriptions
After years of practice hiring on Upwork primarily, and a few other secondary freelancer marketplaces, here are my best tips for writing a job description, no matter which job you are hiring for.
- Include as many details as possible. You can never give away too much info related to the project as I’ve learned over the past 10 years
- Make the job description as human as possible – real talk, avoid jargon. Express where you thrive and where you need help with
- Always include context and background for what you are trying to do (i.e. the project you are hiring for, where it’ll be hosted, who it aims to service/help, and how it will be used)
- For example, in hiring a YouTube editor, you want to include a link to your channel, and highlight a few videos and styles you enjoy (in or outside of your channel) to give editors a sense of what you are looking for aesthetically and style-wise. Video editing effort and associated costs can vary significantly based on these factors.
How to structure and pay for a project
There are many ways to pay a freelancer on Upwork as mentioned above, generally speaking, you can pay by:
- Hourly Rate
- Monthly/retainer rate
For a video editor freelancer, you can:
- Pay for a single video (per project)
- Pay for a series of videos (collectively as a project)
- Pay by the hour
- Pay by the week/month if also possible (this often if a video editor can provide you with an estimated number of hours or videos that be produced in that time)
For a virtual assistant and/or social media manager, it’s more often to consider a weekly or monthly retainer with tasks more clearly defined. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that you can’t change the plan at all. Just keep in mind that adding something to the list of tasks probably means that you’ll need to:
- Pay more, re-negotiate or
- Remove some tasks off the list. Once you establish a relationship with a good or a great freelancer, making these changes won’t be as annoying as it sounds.
For example, Upwork.com allows you to provide a budget for any of the options above, which makes hiring even easier.
What are the rates, and what’s reasonable?
Online platforms such as Upwork.com will display rates for freelancers upfront. You have the option to filter freelancers not only based on skills but also on their rates.
Please keep in mind that the rates vary based on region, level of skills, inflation, time of year and many other factors.
You can find freelancers who charge as little as $2-3/hour, and many more who charge between $20-50/hr. As Upwork increases its quality and popularity over the years, I start noticing highly rated freelancers who charge well over $100/hr.
My experience has been paying between $10-50/hr for my projects, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t evaluate freelancers outside of this hourly rate depending on your projects.
How to Hire for Success
My recommendation (if you are starting out) is to hire more than one person in the domain you are looking for (video editing, virtual assisting, etc.). Ask each person to perform a small enough task that shouldn’t be the most urgent and risky assignment. You’ll know almost instantly who you like the most and want to hire on a regular basis.
In other words, avoid locking in with a person for months or years. You can’t always tell how people are at their jobs by reviewing the resumes alone. Hence I also recommend scheduling a video call if possible to chat face-to-face. It’s much more human and you’re going to thank yourself for the time you invested upfront.
Conclusion: How to hire on Upwork (with confidence)
This should be a trivial question but it’s not. I’ve strongly disagreed with a few content creators in the past. The answer does depend on your preference for how you want to work with your freelancers.
Some of my colleagues believe that freelancers should only be in charge of straightforward, clearly defined, and often repeatable tasks.
I get their point, and I do provide instructions when I can on tasks I’m familiar with and know have worked well. But, and it’s a BIG BUT, I’d much rather hire freelancers who can think with me (and sometimes for me) like a strategic partner!
With this in mind, I’ve found my video editor (German) since 2016, my virtual assistant (Rose) since 2018, and most recently my content manager/2nd VA (Anna) since 2020. We are a small but mighty team. They not only work with me on Feisworld Media’s YouTube channel, Feisworld Podcast, and Feisworld Documentary but often my client projects in digital marketing as well.
Finding the right person (or the right team) likely takes time. With that said, you want to be patient with yourself and your freelancer. The good ones will surface to the top and you’ll wonder in no time where this person has been on your creator’s journey.
Did you know we are also on YouTube? Check out our channel here.
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