It’s been a while now since oDesk became Upwork.

Have you made a successful transition to the new platform?

If you’re a freelancer, you’ve probably noticed a few differences. In this post, we’ll take a look at these differences – and share best practices for how to work in Upwork.

Installing Upwork

Before you can bill your first hour, it’s obviously important to have the the Upwork app properly installed. The company offers downloads for PC, Mac, and Linux (click here to view the download page).

Download Upwork for Your Computer

Installing Upwork is fairly straight forward. From Upwork’s page, click “Download Upwork Team App” and follow the prompts. (If you’re downloading the app on Mac, you may have to make a few adjustments to your machine’s security settings for new downloads. Apparently Apple made some adjustments and when I tried to first install the app, it wouldn’t let me. After working with Upwork’s support department, I was able to successfully install the application.)

Install Upwork

Logging In

Once installed, the application will likely launch itself. Enter your Upwork user name and password to log in for the first time. Check the “Remember Me” box if you want Upwork to remember your credentials. Doing so will save you a few seconds each time you need to bill time.

Upwork Log in

As you can see, the Upwork team app looks very similar to the old oDesk team app. Upwork’s new design scheme is a touch more “minimalist,” which seems to be the trend these days.

oDesk Log In

Billing Time to Client Accounts

After logging in, you’ll be taken into the Upwork app. This is where things really start to deviate from the old oDesk team app. With oDesk, only one window opened. It looked like this:

oDesk Team Room

With the new Upwork team app, you’ll notice two different panels (below):

Select Upwork Contract

The window to the right is very similar to the oDesk team app. Instead of a dropdown menu, all of your contracts are now listed vertically. After clicking on a contract, you are then able to start the time tracking process by toggling the switch from “Off” to “On.”

Billing time to Upwork client

As with the oDesk team app, the Upwork app occasionally checks your work status, snapping a fresh screenshot and prompting you to update your work memo.

Upwork Work Memo

To stop the billing process, shift the switch back to “Off” or simply close the app altogether.

Collaborate Real Time in Upwork

One of the new features with the Upwork app is what they call “Upwork Messages.” Instead of having to log into Upwork.com and send an email, this new section of the team app allows you to do that on the fly. I honestly haven’t used it yet, and I don’t know many clients who are. I can see the potential value of this type of tool, but most teams still seem to use Skype or Google Hangouts. Perhaps, in time, Upwork’s Messenger tool will catch on.

Upwork Messages

Tracking Your Progress

In the early days of oDesk, your only option for monitoring the time billed was by accessing the oDesk Work Diary. This was viewed by logging into oDesk.com. I would always have my Work Diary open in a web browser while billing time. For clients that only give you a limited number of hours, you have to keep close eye on the time you bill.

After oDesk merged with Elance, the company began to make this information available on the time tracking app. Now that the company is called Upwork, this information is prominently displayed within the user interface of the app. It’s a subtle change, but certainly a welcome one.

Upwork Work Diary

Get More Done in Upwork

I hope this tutorial on “how to work in Upwork” was useful. For more tips, subscribe to our monthly newsletter, which is packed full of freelancing and outsourcing tips.

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Written by Matt Keener

Matt Keener is the original "Executive in Sweatpants," having built a successful online consulting business (from home). His best-selling book offers tips for capitalizing on outsourcing and freelancing. Matt holds an MBA and has been featured by many recognizable brands, including Upwork (formerly oDesk), Elance, Insightly, the Dave Ramsey Show, and Entrepreneur.com.

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