When you need a freelance writer to create custom content for your business, it’s difficult to know where to turn. To help you evaluate different content writing services, we painstakingly researched and published a ranking of the top ten companies, showcasing some of the most well-known brands in the industry.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at the number-two company.

In 2013, two freelance marketplaces — Elance and oDesk — merged their names and their platforms. They rebranded themselves as Upwork in 2015, and as of this writing, the company has more than 10 million registered freelancers (only a portion of whom are writers) and facilitates over $1 billion in transactions each year.

¬†What’s the Upwork Process Like?

Signing up for a client account at Upwork.

It’s easy and free to create a client account at Upwork. Simply provide your name and email address and create a password. From there, you’ll be taken to your client dashboard, where you can choose how you want to proceed.

If you’re interested in hiring a freelance writer at Upwork, you can either post a job description and accept proposals from potential candidates or scour the marketplace for a freelancer who meets your needs. Both approaches require considerable legwork because you’ll have to vet each freelancer to ensure his or her skills are adequate for the job you have in mind.

Once you select a freelancer, he or she will start the job. You’ll pay Upwork the agreed-upon fee, which Upwork will put into a company-owned escrow account. Six days after you approve the freelancer’s work, Upwork will remit the payment less the company’s 10 percent commission.

You can leave feedback for the freelancer (either positive or negative). You can also elect to work with the freelancer again if you liked his or her finished product.

What Will You Pay at Upwork?

You and the freelancer will set the rate for a given project. You can pay by the hour or by the project, depending on your preference, but the rate you advertise will likely impact the experience and skill level of the freelancers you attract. The average project cost for freelance writers, according to Upwork, is $74, and you’re unlikely to get high-quality output for less than $38 per hour.

What Are Other Customers Saying?

The client dashboard at Upwork.

One of the best ways to evaluate a potential source of freelance writing is to check out what other customers say about the experience. Many customers like Upwork’s platform design and range of freelance talent, while others complain about low-quality work.

BestCompany says, “While Upwork offers payments guarantees for both employers and freelancers, it does not have mechanisms in place to hedge lowball job offers. In addition, the foreign competition pushes job values way below market value.”

Meanwhile, the general consensus at BeBusinessed is that “[a]s part of its transition from oDesk to Upwork, the company is focusing on streamlining the job posting and hiring process.” The review cautions, however, that “[t]oo many unqualified applicants spam every job posting with generic cover letters, [and] a lot of qualified freelancers are leaving the site because it is too hard to stand out from the ‘noise.'”

As Mary Hiers revealed in our top-ten roundup, Upwork ranks highly in the search engines thanks to its long history. It has an Alexa ranking of 670, which is the highest on the list, and an impressive Klout score of 81.

What Is Upwork’s Content Strategy?

You can create an Upwork job posting for freelance writers, but you’re on your own in terms of content strategy and project management.

Unlike most companies in the freelance marketing industry, Upwork doesn’t take an active role in projects. All decisions and strategies are initiated between the freelancer and the client. If you need help with devising a strategy, you’ll have to rely on the freelancer you choose.

This might mean setting up multiple projects. For instance, you might create a job posting for ideation alone. You’re paying freelancers to generate ideas for blog posts, articles, press releases, or any other content you need. After you review those ideas, you can create additional projects for freelancers to deliver the content itself.

You’ll also have to post projects for content editors if you want the work proofread and edited prior to publication. It’s up to the customer to publish the work, find images for the content if desired, and track the content’s performance over time.

How Is Upwork’s Customer Service?

Upwork has several protections in place to keep freelancers and clients safe. For instance, if you hire a freelance writer to work for an hourly rate, Upwork takes screenshots while the freelancer works to help document the hours spent on a given project.

Since money goes from the customer to an escrow account, and because Upwork requires customers to approve work before remitting payment to the freelancer, you don’t take a big risk when you work through this site. However, if the freelancer’s work isn’t of high quality, you’ve still wasted time creating the job posting, selecting a writer, and reading the work — and you have to start the process all over again.

Upwork: The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for an inexpensive solution for your freelance writing needs, Upwork might suffice. Many customers find high-quality writers in this marketplace. It’s best suited for customers who have limited budgets and who want to work directly with freelancers.

However, you’re just as likely to wind up with a writer whose skills don’t meet your needs. Additionally, you’re on your own in terms of quality control, editing, proofreading, publishing, and tracking. If you’re searching for a well-rounded solution for your content needs, consider a more comprehensive service.

For instance, at Media Shower, we carefully select freelance writers based on their skills and past experience, and all of our content passes through a quality control process that includes professional editing. Learn more about how our service works so you can compare it to the Upwork experience.

Stay tuned as we work through the other companies listed on our top-ten list. We’re excited to dive into the specifics for each company so you’ll have all the information you need to make an informed decision about your content writing needs.