Getting Paid on Upwork: Are You Following These 6 Crucial Rules?

Navigating a freelance marketplace like Upwork can be a bit of a minefield at times.

That’s why it’s important to do your homework, especially when it comes to getting paid. After all, getting paid is one of the main reasons, if not the main reason, you are freelance writing. Duh.

Whether you choose to undertake hourly assignments or fixed-price contracts, the trick is to ensure that you’re adhering by Upwork’s payment policies in order to avoid getting yourself into any disputes or sticky situations.

You’ve worked hard, you’ve completed the contract and now naturally you want what you’re owed. Read on for my 6 crucial rules that you must follow so you can get paid successfully on Upwork.

#1: Leverage Hourly Protection

If you’re already familiar with Upwork, you’ll know that the site offers payment protection to freelancers for the hours they work, as long as the freelancer meets certain criteria.

First of all, you have to ensure that you’re logging the hours that you’re putting in through the timesheet on the Upwork Desktop app. You can simply download this app for free from the site as soon as you sign up.

Then, you need to make sure you’re regularly updating your Work Diary with activity labels. This is so you can demonstrate the tasks that you’re performing for the purpose of your client.

If you’ve never worked with a particular client before, this hourly protection is ideal if you’re unsure about them, or if they’re suspicious, in any way. Trust me, it’s a trust builder. But once you’ve got the hourly protection down, then you can proceed to kick ass at those fixed price contracts!

#2: Fix Your Timesheet To Avoid Disputes (Hourly Only)

There are some instances where freelancers won’t qualify for hourly payment protection. I know – what’s up with that, right?

At the end of each week, you’ll have a brief window which you can use to help you clean up your timesheet. Make sure you check over and edit it before you send it off to your client.

The key is to remove any segments that are added manually, as well as any incorrect or missing memos. If you have long periods of low activity, you might want to remove them too, as this won’t work in your favor if there are any disputes. It’s also worth taking out any screenshots that are irrelevant or inappropriate.

Basically, keep things tidy and you’re laughing!

#3: Leverage Fixed-Price Protection

Not only does Upwork aid freelancers working on hourly contracts, but the site also offers payment protection for fixed-price contracts.

When you first start working with a new client on a fixed-price contract, there is the option to split heavier workloads into milestones. The client must always fund the next milestone in the contract. Then the money will be held in Escrow until the work has been completed to, what the client deems, a satisfactory level. Then the client approves the milestone and you gain access to your dollar. It’s as simple as rice and peas.

Like with hourly protection, fixed-price protection allows you to develop trust between yourself and your client which will hopefully result in a happy long-term relationship!

#4: ALWAYS Submit Your Work For Fixed-Price Jobs

What a lot of freelancers don’t realise is that sending work through Upwork’s messaging service or via email is considered as unofficial delivery. I was also guilty of this in the beginning!

The best way to go about it is to submit your work through the Upwork contract which will then kick off a two-week review period. The client can request changes or edits to be made to your work within this time limit. When the client is satisfied, they will approve the milestone and you will get paid! Happy dance!

However, if the client gives you the silent treatment and you don’t hear from them within these two weeks, you will still be sent the payment at the end of the review period. Another happy dance!


#5: Set Up Automatic Payments

You can choose the way that you get paid by Upwork, both through the payment method and the payment schedule.

In terms of method, you can decide which way you’d like your mullah to come through to you. The most popular methods are direct to your bank account or via PayPal. You can also have the funds wired to your bank or delivered through Payoneer.

In terms of schedule, you can choose to either get paid weekly (every Wednesday), twice per month (the first and third Wednesday of the month), monthly (the last Wednesday of every month), or quarterly (the last Monday of each quarter). Choices, choices!

However, make sure you choose carefully. As you get charged a flat-fee for every withdrawal, it’s better to specify a higher payout amount. Think about it.


#6: Don’t Be Tempted By Outside Payment Methods

As originally talked about in this article, there are plenty of clients who try to coax you into being paid outside of Upwork. The little rebels. Now it goes without saying that you will lose Upwork’s protection by agreeing to this.

I can understand why it’s so attractive; you get to skip the 324 fees of Upwork which end up taking a big chunk out of your wage (okay, slight exaggeration). And you can get paid according to your own terms and time schedule.

However, this is a little risky. If you get caught by Upwork then you could lose your account. Say what you like about Upwork, but it is a core driver of leads for your business as a freelance writer. So, be careful.

It is tempting in one sense, but completely not worth it in another. If you choose to get paid via PayPal for example, and there’s a dispute, PayPal tends to favor buyers over sellers. So not only would it be bye bye client, but it would also be bye bye money! Not cool.

If you really, absolutely, unequivocally want to take your client off the platform, there is an opt-out fee that few freelancers even know exists. It’s pricey, though.

Wrapping It Up

Essentially, it’s all about putting measures in place and respecting Upwork’s policies in order to protect yourself and your wages.

Being a large freelance marketplace, I know Upwork can be overwhelming at times. The getting paid side of it can be a little challenging to get your head around, especially when you’re new to it all, but if you follow these 6 rules then you won’t go far wrong.

And you’ll be an Upwork pro before you know it!


  1. Upwork rejected my application. I have superior writing capabilities and access to online databases like EBSCO Host. I could have brought excellent writing and content creation skills to the platform yet they rejected my application because they have too many writers. How is that possible? Why not let employers decide? I guess I should have lied and showed myself to be less capable of delivering quality writing and online content. Don’t waste your time with Upwork!

  2. Hi Lewis, can you clarify something for me? I understand that there is an option to be paid direct to your bank account (even if your local account is not in the US) but when selecting methods it only offers a method to receive direct payment to a US bank account. What method do I select to receive payment to a non US bank account?

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