AI Studies

Up to 37% of Upwork Writers Use AI

Shocking! 37% of Upwork Writers Use AI. Is Your Content Authentic? Learn how to spot AI-generated content and protect your SEO.

Since the introduction of ChatGPT, using AI to help with everyday tasks has become a lot more mainstream than it used to be. While AI can make many tasks more efficient, for some tasks, such as writing, it can be a controversial method. 

We know the prevalence of AI content has been on the rise through various online mediums, such as Reddit, Quora, Amazon reviews, and academic papers - all of which have seen an increase in AI content. We also know that too much reliance on AI content has had negative impacts on SEO rankings and Google is taking direct action on these through helpful content updates. Although all of this data is helpful in understanding where AI content is being used, we wanted to have a better understanding of how many writers are actually using it. 

As a digital marketer, online publisher, editor, or website owner, you may get the majority of your content from freelance writers. But how do you know if the content you’re getting is authentic? That’s the question we wanted to dig into. 

In this study, we look at how many freelance writers are using AI content and are there any trends in who is using it. 

Quick Takeaways

  • In total (and across various pay rates), 24.11% of articles written by Upwork writers were detected as AI-written
  • There was no trend in pay rates compared to AI content, however there was a significant decrease in AI with writers charging $60/hr or more
  • Across all pay rates, the majority of Upwork writers use AI to generate their cover letters

Methodology and Dataset 

This analysis consists of 647 articles and 100 cover letters from 100 writers on The articles vary in length and include a variety of topics, including product reviews, academic papers, listicles, etc. We also looked at writer pay rates, which vary from as low as $10 per hour up to $85 per hour. 

Each article and cover letter was scanned through the detector and given a human score and AI score. Below are our findings.  

Our Analysis

AI vs Human Score 

When taking the entire dataset of Upwork writers, the percentage of articles found to be using AI was 24.11%, while articles with no AI was 75.9%. Although almost a quarter of the articles being AI-generated doesn’t seem high, ideally this number should be zero. When employers hire freelance writers, they expect content to be authentic and free from both AI and plagiarism. Based on our analysis, Upwork users can expect a 24% chance that the content they’re paying for will be AI-written.

Total Ai Detected

AI Score Compared to Hourly Pay Rate

Percentage Of Articles With Ai Vs Payrate per Hour

To get a better understanding of which freelance writers were using AI, we looked at the correlation between AI scores and pay rates. With a total of 647 articles analyzed, 156 articles have been detected to have some usage of AI content, representing a total of 24%. In the above chart, we’ve broken down the percentage of AI detected per pay rate. 

We see the highest percentage of AI in the lowest pay rate ($10-19 per hour), however this trend doesn’t decrease as pay rates go up. Rather, we see a 14% dip in $20-29 per hour writers, then a 2% increase in $30-39 per hour writers, and shockingly another 8% increase in $40-49 per hour rates (33%). Once we go to $60+ per hour writers, we see a major drop down to 5% AI detected. 

Although there’s no direct trend or correlation here, the biggest takeaway is that no matter the pay rate, Upwork users should be wary of AI being used in the content they’re paying for.

AI Score Compared to Hourly Pay Rate

Below is a more detailed view of the specific pay rates and their AI scores. Here we can see that the data also varies greatly, and there are spikes in AI content with some higher pay rates. From this data, we can gather that although there is a slight correlation between higher pay rates and less AI, there is AI being used amongst all Upwork writers.

Al Detected VS Hourly Rate

Distribution of AI scores for Cover Letters

Al Detected in Cover Letters VS Hourly Rate

When we analyzed cover letters, we saw less of a trend. Although higher pay rates did have overall lower AI scores for their cover letters, there wasn’t as clear of a correlation amongst writers here. It seems that many writers use AI to help aid in writing their cover letters. We found that 60% of cover letters had used AI, while 40% did not.

While the AI numbers are higher here, this may be less of a red flag. Although employers put some weight into how a cover letter is written during their selection process, using AI to write a cover letter doesn’t necessarily mean the writer will also use it when writing paid articles. 

Our assumption is that most employers wouldn’t have this affect their selection process, although it is interesting to see that approx. 60% of writers had a clear indication of using AI in their cover letters despite their pay rate. In addition, 41% of writers had 100% AI scores in their cover letters.

Al Score in Cover Letters

Article Length vs AI Score

When looking at articles exceeding 5,000 words we found that these articles have a slightly higher average AI score (44%) compared to the overall AI score (34%).

Al Score Percentage of 5000 words Longer Articles vs Shorter Articles

Topics & Categories vs AI score

When analyzing the highest AI scores amongst all writers, there were similarities in categories/topics of articles. Below are the top 4 categories that were detected as highly likely to be written using AI (highest AI scores):

  1. Relationship advice
  2. Academic guidance (psychology, medical device manuals, etc.)
  3. Business advertisement
  4. Article guides (x steps to xxxx, a guide with better hair health, etc)

There may be some correlation between the type of articles and whether or not AI is being used, however more analysis is needed here. 


The biggest takeaway within this dataset and analysis is that we know freelance writers on Upwork are using AI in some capacity. The amount of AI being used varies, and tends to be higher with lower cost writers. We highly recommend that anyone who uses freelance writers through Upwork (or any other hiring platform) should implement Originality.AI to scan their content - this will not only help detect if AI is being used, but create more stringent editorial guidelines for you and your content team.

Jonathan Gillham

Founder / CEO of Originality.AI I have been involved in the SEO and Content Marketing world for over a decade. My career started with a portfolio of content sites, recently I sold 2 content marketing agencies and I am the Co-Founder of, the leading place to buy and sell content websites. Through these experiences I understand what web publishers need when it comes to verifying content is original. I am not For or Against AI content, I think it has a place in everyones content strategy. However, I believe you as the publisher should be the one making the decision on when to use AI content. Our Originality checking tool has been built with serious web publishers in mind!

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