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How to Build an App Like Upwork in 2023

3880 Views | 1 min | Published On: December 12, 2022 Last Updated: April 1, 2024
how to build an app like upwork

Formerly known by the name Elance-oDesk (named after Elance Inc. & oDesk Corp.) Upwork has now become the world’s largest online marketplace for both independent professionals and talents.

With more than 12 million registered freelancers and about 5 million clients worldwide, Upwork has taken the freelancing market by storm. A solid reason to generate $502 million as annual gross services volume in 2021.

Needless to say, these facts clearly indicate the bright future of apps like Upwork. Then why not grab the opportunity?

Well, to help you out on the same, this guide will provide you with much-needed details on how to build an app like Upwork from scratch.

So let’s begin the journey without any delay.

What is Upwork?

Upwork is the biggest freelancing platform that serves as a network between freelancers and clients. The freelancers sign up and create a profile highlighting their skills. On the other hand, clients (business owners or entrepreneurs) post jobs in various fields like Development and IT, Sales & Marketing, Engineering & Architecture, Writing & Translation, Finance & Accounting, etc.

Based on the skills of individuals the clients select a freelancer to work on their projects in return for money.

In simple words, Upwork offers a win-win strategy for both freelancers and clients, freelancers get an easy job whereas clients get a professional person to work on their projects at a lower price.

Why Build an App Like Upwork?

how to build an app like upwork

Needless to say, Upwork has come up with flying colors within a short span. If we take some statistics into account, they speak out loudly about the growth of Upwork.

  • Upwork had about 793,000 active clients (people with spending activity on the platform within the past 1 year) in Q1 of 2022. This is a whopping increase of 281,000 from Q1 2019 to Q1 2022. As of now, more than 300 enterprise clients are using Upwork.
  • The Total Gross Service Volume (GSV) for the year 2021 was $3.5 billion. It was about $1 billion higher than for the year 2020.  Apart from this, there was about a 150% increase in annual GSV between 2017 and 2021. Moreover, about 80% of GSV was generated from small as well as medium-scale businesses.
  • As of Q1 2022, the average gross service volume per client was $4,742 whereas for freelancers it was about $5,850.
  • Upwork generated services revenue of about $10 million from enterprise clients in Q1 2022. A massive $6.7 million increase over the past two years.
  • The online freelance marketplace is one of the most visited websites in the world with about 40.8 million website visits monthly.
  • Upwork for freelancers app gained 200,000 downloads on Android and about 90,000 on the App Store. Even Upwork for clients earned immense popularity with about 20,000 monthly downloads on both Play Store and App Store.
  • The global freelance market economy is expected to reach $455 bn USD by 2023.
  • The number of freelancers is estimated to reach 90.1 million in the US by 2028.

After going through these statistics you must be clear why Upwork is in trend. So building an app like Upwork can prove to be a game-changer.

How Does Upwork Work?

Upwork follows a simple business model in which both clients and freelancers are allowed to take maximum benefits. The clients are provided with an opportunity to expand their business by getting their work done through professionals across the world at a lower price. On the other hand, freelancers are given an opportunity to earn maximum by working for clients from across the globe. Upwork charges from both clients and freelancers.

Upwork follows a simple working process. It is categorized into three phases.

Phase 1: Registration

Phase 2: Finding and Engaging Talent

Phase 3: Doing the Work

Note: There are 2 plans on Upwork – Basic and Enterprise. Based on the same, the criteria remain similar with slight differences.

Upwork Basic

All a user needs to do is sign up and write a job post followed by deciding on whether the project will run on an hourly basis or a fixed-price basis. Once done, a person is required to post or search for a talent followed by creating a company profile.

Once the profile is completed, there comes a hiring phase in which proposals are reviewed or a search for talent is carried out. Once done, there comes the interview followed by finalizing a talent. After finalization, there is a final phase in which work is performed by a hired talent.

Upwork Enterprise

Here a user needs to consult the account team for account configuration. Then a user is either required to email an Upwork talent specialist about the project or post directly to the pre-vetted talent account. Once done a user is required to create a company profile.

Once the profile is created there comes a hiring process where a user can hire talent from the pre-vetted talent pool. Once the talent is hired successfully, the work is carried out by the hired talent.

How Does Apps Like Upwork Make Money?

Apps like Upwork makes money by either charging service fees from freelancers or through client subscriptions. Upwork makes money through

Service fee

20% for earnings up to $500

10% for earnings ranging from $500.01 to $10,000

5% for earnings above $10,000


Upwork charges access fees from clients for using the platform. There are various subscription plans as per the requirement of the client. Some of the most common plans are:

Upwork Plus: This subscription costs $49.99/month

Upwork Business: This subscription costs $849/month

Business plans are a great choice with Upwork charging a 3% payment processing fee and a 10% service fee.

How to Build a Feature-Rich App Like Upwork

Developing an app like Upwork from scratch requires extensive planning and market research. Apart from this, there is a need for experts that can put the planning into action with minimum to no errors. Here is a step-by-step process for the same:

build an app like upwork

Step 1: Be Clear With Your Niche

Before diving into development, it is crucial to be clear with your niche. Have in-depth research about your target audience and current market trends. This will put you on the right track.

You can take the example of 99designs and Fiverr. They have done an amazing job by building a product keeping the needs of the target audience in their mind.

Step 2: Be Specific With the Value Proposition

Once you are done with your niche you are required to find the best way to meet their needs through your Upwork-like app. It is easy to create a unique value proposition taking into account some values like

  • Accessibility: It’s up to you whether you want to provide easy access to users or you want to implicate some restrictions.
  • Minimum Price: Analyze the prices of Upwork along with other competitors and set up your own competitive price.
  • Time: It is better to reduce the time to receive payments to earn a solid reputation in the market.
  • USPs: Adapt practical strategies that have generated results in the past. For example, Upwork’s competitor Fiverr avoids multitasking and uses subscriptions to exploit more of the gig market, Outsourcely offers access to both part-time and full-time freelance gigs, and Guru offers robust features that allow freelancers to create agreements, define milestones, share sample work, & do direct communication with clients.

Step 3: Select the Type of Marketplace

If you are planning to go with a slightly different approach, it can be beneficial as you will be providing something different from the mass.

For example, you can go with only short-term projects, long-term projects, industry-specialized projects, local freelancing projects, enterprise-based marketplaces, and so on.

Step 4: Choose the Revenue Model Wisely

As discussed, platforms like Upwork earn most of their revenue from the commission that they charge. You can follow the same or move with a different approach. Some of the common  approaches are:

  • Gigs & Packages Model: This strategy provides freedom to freelancers to set prices based on the estimation of the work.
  • Freemium Model: This approach lets users access the platform for free but with limited access and opportunities.
  • Subscription: Here users are required to pay a monthly fee to use the platform. You can set various subscription plans as per your choice.
  • Deposit Model: In this model, customers are required to deposit money to access the platform. In case they are not satisfied the money will be refunded.
  • Advertisement: Here freelancers can highlight their profile and show themselves on top with an additional fee.
  • Mixed Model: Here you can combine various models to offer more flexibility to your users.

Step 5: Identify Functionality as Per Your Requirement

It is crucial to focus on functionality in order to provide a rich user experience. Here are some must-have features of an App Like Upwork:

  • Registration & User Profiles: This is the main feature where users can add crucial information. This includes photos, bios, skills, an overview of the completed projects, etc. Candidates can also verify their qualifications.
  • Search & Filters: Everyone is running short on time. So the search and filtering option will help your users a lot to find quickly what they were looking for. You can take an example of ElasticSearch technology, Search365,  Lucidworks, and others alike.
  • Job Listing: This feature allows users to post their projects along with specific skills that they are looking for in a candidate.
  • Bidding Mechanism: This feature allows users to reply to the relevant job postings and offer their services without any hassle.
  • Messenger: There can be situations where businesses need to discuss specific project details or work conditions with freelancers. In another situation, companies demand updates on the progress of work. To handle such cases it is good to establish two-way communication between both parties.
  • Review & Ratings: Give an option to customers to leave reviews and ratings once the project is completed. This will help you earn the trust of your users.
  • Project Management Tools: The time logging feature will ensure complete transparency. Apart from this users will be able to track the time they need to complete hourly billed tasks.
  • Payment Gateways: It is crucial to add multiple payment gateway options to attract users from around the world. An escrow payment option will be a good idea to make a mark.

Step 6: Choose the Technology That Fits Your Needs

Upwork is a reliable and stable platform that can easily meet future requirements. You too need to choose the technology stack wisely. Let’s see which programming languages, frameworks, and tools make apps like Upwork an effective platform.

Back-end: Apps like Upwork have utilized PHP and Java programming languages. However, when it comes to the backend there are many options like Ruby, Ruby on Rails, Elasticsearch, etc.

Front-end: Apps like Upwork have used Angular.js and Bootstrap for the front end. You can also use React, HTML5, Vue.js, JavaScript, and Gatsby.

3rd-Party Tools & Integrations: You need to understand that the technologies and instruments used by apps like Upwork are not limited to the tech aspects alone. Jira, Google Workspace, Slack, Marketo, and Zendesk are some of the 3rd-party integrations that offer the immense ability to freelancing apps to achieve their objectives.

Step 7: Testing & Launching

Testing plays a crucial role in the development process. It not only fixes the bugs and errors but also improves the overall performance of your app. Once tested successfully, you can launch your app on both Play Store and App Store.

Cost to Build an App Like Upwork

Building an app like Upwork demands a lot of time and effort apart from talent. Hence it is crucial to plan your budget in advance to avoid financial hiccups.

Well, when it comes to the total cost, it varies from region to region and if we consider regions like the UK and the US the average hourly rate ranges from $50 to $150. On the other hand, the cost also varies as per user requirements. It all depends upon site type, domain & hosting, components and tools, the technologies used in building an app, customization level and service.

build an app like upwork

To give you an overview of the same, here is a table defining an average cost considering $50/hr:

build an app like upwork

Final Words

The online freelance marketplace has grown exponentially, especially post covid. Both business owners and entrepreneurs are preferring outsourcing. Even most of the talent from across the world is opting for freelancing. Then why not build an app like Upwork that has a huge potential to generate revenue?

All you need is an award-winning mobile app development company that can help you beat the market competition.

build an app like upwork

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