At Upwork, we want to help you grow your business every way you can. With Direct Contracts, you can easily create hourly and fixed-price contracts with non-Upwork clients. This gives you access to features such as escrow services, dispute assistance, simplified contract management, and instant payments. We manage the back-end so you can focus on creating something amazing with your clients.
Follow the steps below to create a Direct Contract, start working, and get paid:
Create a Contract
As a freelancer, you can send Direct Contracts to clients outside of Upwork. First, you'll create a contract with your own personal terms.
- Enter your hourly rate. We’ll calculate what you’ll receive after fees.
- Set your weekly limit. This is the amount of hours you and your client expect you to work weekly on this project. It doesn’t need to be exact but, if you go over, the client will need to manually approve the hours. If you’re not sure, we suggest discussing the estimate with your client.
- Your weekly limit determines how much the client must deposit before getting started. Hourly contracts require an initial deposit by your client into escrow to ensure Upwork Payment Protection.
- Enter the amount for the deliverable you’re going to provide. We’ll automatically calculate what you’ll receive after fees.
- If your project has many steps, you can choose to add milestones. Milestones break big projects down into smaller parts for easier management.
You can add up to 5 milestones for direct contracts. Milestones are individually funded, and your client will only be able to fund one milestone at a time. After you complete a milestone, then your client can fund the next one. The minimum per milestone is $5.
For hourly contracts, you’ll need to submit your hours weekly. The weekly billing period begins Monday at 00:00 midnight UTC and ends Sunday at 23:59 UTC. Learn more about how to enter your hours here. You can also use the Time Tracker app to track your hours as you work. Although it is not required for Direct Contracts, it is available for your convenience. It can also help you show that you did work the hours you billed.
You can review your logged hours at any time during the current work week in your Work Diary. At the end of each billing cycle, you’ll have an additional 12 hours to review. That 12-hour review period starts immediately after the work week ends, on Monday at 00:00 midnight UTC and lasts until Monday at noon, UTC.
Your client will have until 11:59 pm UTC on the Thursday after you submit your hours to review and approve or dispute your hours. If they take no action during that time, this counts as their approval and we’ll automatically release the funds.
With Direct Contracts, you’ll be paid on Friday UTC once the hours are approved. There is no 5 day holding period on Direct Contracts payments. We won’t charge you any freelancer service fees, only a 3.4% processing fee on the total payment amount. Your client will also pay a processing fee.
Please note that all transactions are in USD.
Request Payment on fixed-price contracts
Once your contract is funded, it becomes Active. When you finish the work on a milestone or the entire contract, you can request a payment.
You'll get a confirmation that your client has been emailed.
Learn more about the Direct Contracts experience for clients here.