Hiring on Upwork in 2021?

I'm looking for React Native developers on Upwork. The pricing and quality of work are hard to distinguish. You get someone from India for $15 p/hour and then from the USA at $80 p/hour.

I posted a job and already got 20 applicants. The line between cheap and worth it VS cheap and bad quality is very fine. Obviously one wants the best value for money right?

Anyone has experience with Upwork or can recommend a good React Developer on Upwork?

Maybe a framework on how to evaluate Devs on Upwork?

Or any other advice or resources?

Thanks 🙌

  1. 6

    I am a Top Rated Plus freelancer on Upwork with 100% successes rate. Though not React Native) And this is my job during many years. While you shortlist contractors I shortlist clients. So, how to attract attention of a freelancer who really can do job.

    The main rule - create the job description containing detail of your project. In this case we can create a detailed proposal. This save your time actually.

    Hire yourself.

    Don't create a long list of required skills. Just explain technical basis of your project.

    Don't add questions like "Why you think you can do this job?", "What is the most appealing in this job for you?". No time for this shit.

    Please read the profile of the freelance before even start to examine his skills. I earned hundreds thousands dollars and worked thousands hours on Upwork but regularly encounter requirement to provide a proof that I am a capable programmer. Are you serious?

    If you hire a developer who is not native speaker in your language don't request fluent level of language unless he must attend meetings. But, of course, it's always useful to have a talk with candidate before hiring. You should understand each other.

    Please understand, people who are full-time freelancers seldom available. Personally I seek for a job actively a couple of times a year. If you want to find professional developers but not for full-time it is better search and send invitations. Look to rate and hours on Upwork. Forget about portfolio, see history.

    1. 1

      "Forget about portfolio, see history." ==> right, true. I have 10 years of experience on Upwork (oDesk before), and people rarely look at my history, and they asked for skill tests or something like that

    2. 1

      Thanks 🙌

      This was very helpful.

  2. 3

    Hi Erin, I would recommend vetting Devs by setting up mini projects and extrapolating technical and comm performance to your work with them. If you build with someone for the long haul, 5 or 10 hours will feel like a rounding error.

    What we do at Turtle when vetting Devs (not on UpWork, but the framework can be applied):

    • set up a project that's capped to a 10 hour budget, mimic the real work the Dev will be doing (or actually share real work if you can)
    • see how they do! What questions do they ask? How does the app feel? How does the code look? How clearly can you see what they billed you for?

    It's a simple process but carries a cost (up to 10 hours are billable, of course, whether it's a test or real work). Try to shortlist down to just a few folks, or trial your top choice!

    You should vet carefully on UpWork. Unfortunately their systems benefit the most 5-star reviews and the lowest prices, which IMO is not the best way to build a global community of founders and Devs working with them. They've created a race to the bottom and that's not fair to Devs.

    If you don't find what you like on UpWork, consider https://www.match.dev/, a free service my company runs to match to vetted agencies or independents. Most React Devs you'd be introduced to charge about $55 p/hour

    1. 2

      Thanks - I checked and bookmarked MATCH.dev 👊

  3. 3

    I've been hiring devs for 20 years. The only way I've found to hire devs effectively is to give them a test and see how they perform on a real-world example of the type of work that you do. If you're not technical person you can still do this - you're just going to have to pay for a couple hours of work. Can you break down a part of your problem into something that can be done in an hour? Maybe "I need a page with a React widget that displays upvotes and downvotes. Please develop a widget that increments / decrements a counter when the corresponding buttons are clicked." I don't really know - I don't work with React, but I imagine that's pretty simple. Hire a minimum of four candidates you think seem to be able to solve this problem. You'll be surprised by how different the quality of work is from one person to the next. The people that perform the best can be retained for longer projects.

    1. 1

      Thanks - yes this is great advice. Will have them perform one small development feature with a fixed timeline and see what they can do. This is great!

  4. 3

    My experience with UpWork and other similar platforms is:

    • Create a series of questions related to the job they are applying for. People will apply even if they are not qualified for that job. For example, you ask them "What are the higher-order components?", or "What is the difference between controlled and uncontrolled components?"

    • I event put some "secret word" in a job description, and ask them to repeat the secret work when they apply because a small number of people even read a job description. When they do not read the description I know they are not the person I am looking for.

    This will help you to filter proposals, and see who is the person with real knowledge.

    1. 1

      You mean secret "word"?

      1. 1

        Yes. I edited answer.

        1. 1

          Can you give an constructive example what you mean by secret word?

          1. 1


            This is example of the job post.

            For start let me present myself and my business.
            I am building a new SaaS for licensing WordPress plugins. My application customers are Wordpress plugin developers.
            What my application offer is licensing plugins and auto-update from private repositories. Plugin developers can sell licenses in the subscription model. That means they can charge in a specific period of time (monthly or yearly for example). When you post for the job write sentence "Plugin is the king". I need that to distinct bots and real honest people.
            Note: We already build a Landing Page, and we already have a copy for that page.
            What you need to do is:

            This is an example of the job post, and important part is this:

            When you post for the job write sentence "Plugin is the king". I need that to distinct bots and real honest people.

            When I receive proposals from 20 people, just few have sentence "Plugin is the king". Other didn't read the job post at, or they just scan it without understanding it.

            1. 1

              This is great as there is a lot of SPAM 👩‍💻

  5. 1

    I've had horrid experiences with people I found on Upwork that were technically sound and capable of completing the work that I needed them to, but were the furthest thing from proactive and were bad communicators.

    I had one person ghost me 3/4 of the way through a project! Completely vanished!

    I've also had really good experiences, but for those, I've typically paid some kind of premium. IMO "cheap but worth it" and "cheap but bad" is a line that is virtually indistinguishable before working with someone; it's always a roll of the dice, and you get what you pay for except in rare exceptions.

    While I think that how much somebody charges is usually a somewhat valid signal for what the experience of working with them is going to be like, there are plenty of others too (many of which are obvious):

    • do they have a solid history of positive reviews from past clients?
    • do they use proper grammar and spelling in their proposal?
    • does their proposal address your listing specifically, or is it a canned application that they've clearly copied and pasted?
    1. 1

      Yip all true. You get what you pay for. Sometimes there is a bargain though. Hard to find 😔

  6. 1

    I regularly use Upwork, both as a freelancer and as a client. When hiring, I follow the trick many others use as well: somewhere in the mid job description, say something like

    to let me know you have read the job description, please start your application with the word 'fish'

    This helps filter out most low quality applications. Of course you can use any word, not just fish. But I go even further and ask applicants to start their application with the capital of California or something like that.

    Let me repeat a few points others mentioned:

    • Write a good job description. Not too long, but not overly short. It should let a freelancer know if it's a potential good match and what the project scale is
    • Avoid template questions like "Why do you think you are a good match"
    • Invite invite invite: best freelancers almost never need to look for jobs so they won't see your job post
    1. 1

      Thie invite thing makes sense yes.

  7. 1

    Here are some general steps I use to figure out who's worth it and who isn't:

    1. I use qualifying questions and cover letters to figure out who's worth talking to.
    2. I set up interviews with the shortlisted folks.
    3. I start with a small project (1-2 weeks) before deciding if we're a fit.

    Here's how you can figure out who's worth talking to/interviewing:

    • Put some qualifying questions (2-3) that require brief but meaningful answers. This will help you get a good sense of their communication skills, broad technical know-how, and whether they read the job description or not.
    • Enable the "Require cover letter" option. Templated cover letters are usually a bad sign for me. Well-written cover letters are a good signal to see who's worth talking to.
    • Check their reviews, job completion rate, and in-progress jobs. Any bad review is a red flag. The job completion rate should be very high. Too many in-progress jobs are also a big red flag.

    Once you've shortlisted a few candidates, set up an interview:

    • This is basic, but make sure both of you turn your cameras on. It makes a big difference.
    • The rest is up to you, but make sure you test them technically and talk about their previous work/projects. Sadly, I've run into many folks with fake experience. It's not easy to catch but a few general questions can help.
    • See if they're open for a small-term engagement for a few weeks. Once you see how it is working with them, you can decide on the next steps.

    There is another personal rule that has helped me a lot. I'm not recommending it, because I know this isn't the norm. But I never ever work with agencies off Upwork. There are many great agency folks there, but I've not been lucky in finding them. I stick to working with independent freelancers only.

    I hope these tips help! All the best!

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