Elance and oDesk have partnered to create a new staffing platform called Upwork. Although Elance still remains a separate entity under Upwork, the oDesk platform has now become Upwork. At the dawn of this new merger, there are still many similarities and some differences between the two that you’d want to consider. Both continue to provide users with a well-developed marketplace for testing the waters of freelance work. This blog post will help you choose between Upwork and Elance based on your needs.

Freelance work has become one of the most attractive sources of income for millions of professionals around the world. According to some statistics, more than one-third of Americans engage in some kind of freelance work, and this number is expected to rise an additional 50% by 2020.

Freelance work has become one of the most attractive sources of income Click To Tweet

Professional freelancers around the world offer great quality of service and delivery time at an acceptable price. Plus, there are millions of enthusiasts and novice workers that can and will offer depreciated pricing for their services.

There are several perspectives that are probably of interest when analyzing the pros and cons of Upwork and Elance, and how they fare in the comparison. These usually include:

  • the favorability of engagement as a job poster (client), and then as a freelancer;
  • the tools available for control and supervision of the work underway;
  • the security of payment and delivery of results;
  • the provisions due on each transaction; and more.

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From the Client Perspective

Perhaps you need someone to do graphic design for your site, clean and edit some records, do a quick translation, fill up a spreadsheet, or write blog posts and articles for your site. Perhaps you might just want someone that can shoot a video of themselves doing a triple-backflip with your logo on their shirt, just because you need a video to put in the ‘fun’ section of your site.

If you are price-conscious, you’re probably considering employing freelancers from around the world to save some money. There are people on both of these platforms that are ready to do these things at a fair price, but which platform do you choose to invest your time in? Which one is better for job posters – Upwork or Elance?

They both offer a very simple procedure for registering and getting started with your first job posting. Of course, you are obliged to enter information about your company and/or yourself. You are also obliged to enter your payment method – a credit/debit card, PayPal or a bank account (Elance only accepts MasterCard, Visa, PayPal or an Elance account for payment.)

They both have good guides posted on their websites, and it is wise to review them. They can help you with your first job post and answer some questions you might have about the registration and job posting procedures.

When discussing the quality of freelancers, there are hordes of quality professionals on both platforms. Elance is slightly tilted towards freelancers, and Upwork slightly towards employers. They both have the same minimum hourly rate of $3.

However, Elance defines the minimum for a fixed price job at $20, while Upwork’s minimum is set at $5. Elance is more inclined towards fixed-price jobs whereas Upwork leans toward hourly-paid jobs.

In summary, when you make an Upwork vs Elance comparison, you’ll see they are very similar and you won’t make a mistake choosing either of them. Yes, Elance might lean a little towards freelancers, but that means that you will probably find slightly higher quality professionals there, ones that value their own quality of work.

On the other hand, while Upwork provides somewhat better conditions for employers, you can still expect to find a wider community of average freelancers that bid on all of your postings.

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From the Freelancer Perspective

There are many differences between the employer’s side of the coin and your side of the coin. You are now the provider of a service and are bound to deliver quality within the agreed time-frame. So, which one is better for providers of services – Upwork or Elance?

The short answer is, they are incredibly similar. An employer posts a job and you have to prepare your application and submit it. Then the employer chooses which one of the applicants satisfies their criteria. If you have prepared a good application and you have a high rating, you will get more responses and more jobs.

To submit an application on Elance you use something called ‘Connects.’ These are virtual tokens that you use to apply to job posts, and are limited in number.

Upwork uses an almost identical system, except that they do not have a fancy name for it. To increase your number of application tokens you first have to thoroughly fill out your profile and pass some tests – this is the case on both platforms.

The bidding system is very similar and one can easily shift from one system to the other, once you build your profile up to (presumably) the same level of detail and run similar tests.

Now, the differences.

Upwork takes 10% of what you earn, Elance takes 8.75%. The difference is not huge, but it can definitely have an effect on your bids.

This means that freelancers are able to earn a little bit more money on Elance than on Upwork. They will also be able to submit somewhat cheaper proposals on Elance for the same net amount earnings.

Expect more fixed-price jobs on Elance and more hourly-paid jobs on Upwork. Click To Tweet

Another difference is that you can expect more fixed-price jobs on Elance, whereas you will find more hourly-paid jobs on Upwork. Some freelancers prefer one over the other, so this might be the deciding point when choosing what platform to pay more attention to.

The envisaged merger will probably eradicate most of the differences between the two platforms and even make them one and the same. Until then, there are few differences that set them apart.

Tools for the control of quality of work

When dealing with freelancers, you need them be punctual and deliver high quality work. As a client, it’s in your best interest to ensure they don’t spend more time than needed on certain tasks.

Both platforms offer tracking software for hourly jobs. They are called Elance Tracker (Work View) and Work Diary respectively. They both offer a chat interface for direct communication with the freelancers and for sharing pictures and other files and media.

These tracking programs take random screenshots while the freelancer is working, which complies with the guaranteed payment system implemented on both platforms.

The programs are somewhat clumsy to work with, but they do the job. The Elance tracker is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux and the Upwork Team app is compatible with Windows and Mac.

Guaranteed payments

Both Upwork and Elance have payment guarantees implemented in their systems. The main difference is that Upwork only provides a guarantee for hourly-paid jobs (under the supervision of their Upwork team software), whereas Elance offers a payment guarantee on both fixed price and hourly-paid jobs (using their Work View software).

For fixed price projects, the Upwork system makes an initial check on the employer’s account to see whether they are able to pay that amount at that moment, but this is not a guarantee to the freelancer that the payment will be able to proceed. This is one of the reasons why Upwork is more inclined towards hourly-paid jobs.


In conclusion, both platforms are more similar than different in what they offer to employers and freelancers. If you are an employer you might consider engaging more with Upwork since it is slightly more inclined towards employers. On the other hand, if you are a freelancer, you just might have a better time on Elance.

The difference is slim. There is no clear winner and it all depends on your needs and preferences. Try them both and choose for yourself to see which one provides you with a better experience in terms of time and money spent.

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