oDesk and Upwork present two stellar options for a freelancer. However, the two freelance platforms fill separate roles. Determining which is the right one for you comes down to oDesk vs. Upwork: which freelance platform is better?

Upwork hosts blue-chip clients and boasts an extensive marketplace with jobs from all niches. Companies such as Microsoft and Airbnb source content from Upwork’s freelancers.

For years, oDesk has been a freelancing juggernaut, providing relevant job postings for freelancers. oDesk offers better pay than Upwork for similar efforts. However, pay varies depending on the freelance gig.

Let’s take an in-depth look into both freelance platforms.

oDesk: An Overview

oDesk started in 2003 as an online marketplace bridging the gap between skilled personnel and employers. However, in 2015, oDesk and Elance merged and rebranded as Upwork. Safe to say that oDesk is now defunct, and Upwork is the new oDesk. While some sites may still use oDesk, never fear, they are essentially the same service. In concluding the brief history lesson, here are the pros and cons that each freelance worker should know.

Pros of oDesk

  • Intuitive platform
  • Access to a vast talent pool
  • Plenty of short-term projects
  • Flexible payment periods

Cons of oDesk

  • Hard to land consistent jobs
  • No clear-cut calendar management for project tracking

Upwork: An Overview

UpWork sign and logo near global freelancing platform company

Upwork occupies a larger market share in the freelance marketplace when pitted against apples-to-apples competitors like Fiverr. Upwork has over 3,288 customers in 103 countries under its freelance wing.

Pros of Upwork

  • Easy and safe payment system
  • Millions of job postings
  • Talent manager service provides better pay
  • Intuitive interface that’s easy to navigate

Cons of Upwork

  • Cutthroat competition for one project among freelancers
  • Varying service fees

oDesk Vs. Upwork: Up-close Comparison

Life is full of choices. Some are easy, like choosing your favorite ice cream flavor. But choosing whether to be a freelancer on Upwork or oDesk requires an in-depth analysis of the dynamics and features of each freelance website. Both have rich feature sets that complement your freelancing style. Here is the up-close comparison of oDesk and Upwork presented in bite-size details.

Application Process


Upwork’s application process is easy since the freelancing website provides a fair shot to all freelancers. Simply log in to Upwork.com and create a freelancer profile to sign up. It’s that easy.

oDesk, on the other hand, takes a mirror approach to Upwork. After all, they are the same company. You can create a profile using your social media accounts, log in to oDesk.com, and register using your email.

oDesk Work

The application process is straightforward for oDesk and Upwork. However, Upwork allows for more customization when applying, which is what you want as a freelancer – to stand out in the marketplace.


The comparison would be incomplete without mentioning the most crucial aspect of a freelancer. To get pricing out of the way, oDesk is free, like Hubstaff Talent, another Upwork alternative, while for Upwork, you have to part with a few bucks to get well-paying freelance jobs.

How to Make Money on Upwork

Upwork has a basic plan that you will be put on when you first register. The basic plan gets you 10 Connects, which is Upwork’s business virtual currency you use to apply for jobs. Stepping up to the Freelancer Plus plan for $14.99, you get 80 Connects per month. Upwork also takes a cut based on a sliding scale for earnings after a particular job.

Upwork is the pricier alternative of the two. oDesk users enjoy negligible costs for applying to jobs and getting their pay. If you are a beginner freelancer on a shoestring budget, oDesk is your best bet.


Like all other freelance websites, there are plenty of jobs on oDesk and Upwork that can earn you a decent figure. But here’s the kicker: it depends on the rate you set.

C.R Keyword research tool

On Upwork, you can set a base hourly rate that clients can see on your profile. Generally, the best freelancers charge higher rates and receive gigs from blue-chip companies. For example, a graphic designer can charge $50 per hour. A fixed order rate is also tied to a particular job. Since there are multiple job listings, your rate and bidding quality determines whether you will have a consistent workflow. You can use free keyword tools to improve your bidding and find flaws in your competitors’ bidding processes.

oDesk has a fairly consistent workflow. You can also set the rate and determine the amount of pay you want for each gig. However, Upwork has a better workflow since it has a larger pool of over 5 million clients in the freelance marketplace.

Customer Support

As a freelancer, you need round-the-clock customer support to solve issues that may arise with a client.

Upwork has virtual assistants and human customer support staff with 4.7 out of 5 ratings. Upwork has built an agile team that helps you solve issues in record time. You can contact customer support directly from the platform. Payment issues? Not meeting deadlines? Simply contact a virtual assistant on Upwork. The only drawback is that sometimes the virtual assistant gets clogged with bugs that hamper communication.

oDesk is a quiet platform with decent customer support. However, you will most likely not need it since the jobs describe the finer details. oDesk’s value proposition for customer support is you receive almost instantaneous responses that depend on the nature of your query.

Upwork is the undoubted winner for customer support. You need excellent customer support for such an extensive freelance marketplace to ensure a no-frills working environment.

Standout Feature

There are unique features that Upwork has that make it compete with Fiverr and other renowned freelance websites.

Upwork talent management service

  • Talent Manager -If you desire an automated talent management service that connects highly skilled freelancers to businesses looking for your skill set, then Upwork is for you. The talent management service develops high-value teams that drive value in select businesses.


Learning the ropes of freelancing

To answer which freelance platform is better for you, consider the following ideal situations when you can use oDesk or Upwork.

Use Upwork if:

  • You are a pro freelancer with above-average skills in your niche
  • You are dedicated to submitting bids to multiple potential clients
  • You can continually update your profile with badges in different niches
  • You want flexible payment plans and amounts for gigs

Use oDesk if:

  • You are learning the ropes of freelancing
  • You want less competition among other freelancers for a single job
  • You want an easy-to-use dashboard for viewing jobs available

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