You have a set of skills and you’re all-in to become a freelancer to either make another income stream or become a full-time freelancer. UpWork must have caught your attention – but should you become a freelancer on UpWork or are there better ways to get work online?
UpWork has been around for quite a long time now (it used to be oDesk), and I believe that almost every freelancer out there started by trying out UpWork (or any other similar freelancing platform).
Doing the work isn’t the hardest part of being a freelancer. It’s actually the process of acquiring clients and looking for work which is something every single freelancer dreads.
In this post, I’ll show you the good side and the bad side of UpWork and try and help you find out whether UpWork is an ideal place for you or not.
Therefore, stick around and
Who is UpWork For?
As I’ve mentioned earlier, UpWork has been around for quite a long time. There are plenty of people from all around the world making some decent money on UpWork.
But like anything in life – there’s always a catch. UpWork has a catch as well (which I’ll be discussing later). But now, let’s see if UpWork is an ideal place for you to look for more freelancing work.
I find UpWork to be a great place for both freelancers who are just starting out but also for freelancers who have been established for quite some time now.
But there’s one thing you should keep in mind. It’s hard to get started whether you’re a newbie freelancer or an established freelancer.
It’s a great place to acquire a couple of first clients, practice your skills & develop your business relationships. I also find it to be a great place to use as an addition to another way of acquiring clients for established freelancers.
However, I don’t think that UpWork is the ideal place for a full-time freelancer who is looking to make all of its income solely on one platform.
Because, as I’ve mentioned earlier, UpWork has a catch (or a couple of them) – and putting all your eggs in one basket will require you to establish yourself as a freelancer on their platform following all of their rules.
Often times, this could end up costing you in both money (fees), time, and clients.
Let’s start with the good stuff before we go to the cons of UpWork – so you can know exactly what to expect!
Benefits of UpWork
Since UpWork is a place made for freelancers and clients to start business relationships, it’s a platform that features plenty of benefits.
Here are the most common benefits of UpWork:
- Access to clients from all over around the world
- Ability to gain experience and make money at the same time
- Ability to find long-term clients (and long term contracts)
- Create a second stream of income
Most people hate pitching, sending cold emails, and any process necessary to acquire new clients. But UpWork is no different and you will still have to bid on projects.
However, with the number of clients and projects available on the platform, you will be able to decide which projects are ideal for you and which ones are not.
Once you find clients that provide projects of your interest and you get hired – you have the ability to start a long-term relationship with clients from all around the world.
This could create a second stream of income and help you support yourself.
Disadvantages of UpWork
Even though, UpWork might seem like an ideal platform to start your freelancing career – it also comes with plenty of disadvantages that might not be ideal for everyone.
Therefore, before you think of joining UpWork, here are some disadvantages to think about:
- Fees on every order (20% service fee charge)
- Too much competition (known as a bidding war)
- A limited number of bids on a monthly basis
- It’s hard to start with a profile without rating
The beginning is always hard and you should expect to work twice as hard to get your first project even though if this means you will have to lower your price and spend a bit extra time to finish the project without earning a lot of profit.
On the other hand, you will have to carefully choose projects. You aren’t only looking for projects that will fit your criteria, but also projects that don’t have too many bids (competition).
The image above is an example of a low-priced project which can seem like a long-term work ideal for beginners – but on the other hand, it’s also very underpaid, especially when UpWork takes their fees.
You’ll also have to pay attention to your rate and project rate. UpWork takes a hefty 20% fee on every single project (transaction) you make, so you should calculate in this as well.
For example, if you win a project that pays $150 USD, UpWork will take $30 – leaving you with $120 USD. This might not seem like a big issue, but this is something that you will have to think of every time you make a bid on a project.
The question is – are you able to make your work profitable for yourself without raising your rates too high so you are still able to outbid your competition on projects?
While there are some high-quality clients on UpWork, most of the clients are concerned more about the cost than about quality which is another thing you should keep in mind.
Therefore, I find it important to consider all of the aspects and do your own research before joining UpWork and putting your time into it.
Because you might end up spending hours and hours trying to score the first project and build a great rating for your project, when in reality – people who have had success on UpWork are leaving the platform since it’s not profitable for them.
But what kind of work can you do and should you become a freelancer on UpWork? Read on to find out!
What Can You Do on UpWork?
No matter what skills you have or what you think of doing to start making money online – a great thing about UpWork is that it’s versatile.
It has plenty of work in almost any industry or category you can think of.
Here are some of the most common categories on UpWork:
- Web Development
- Mobile Development
- Admin Support
- Customer Service
There are plenty of other categories and you should head to UpWork to check out all of them. What’s also great about UpWork is that you will be able to find work such as transcribing or virtual assistant even if you don’t have a set of particular skills.
But just because you can do almost anything on UpWork, that doesn’t mean you should, in every situation. Sometimes, you’d just be better off spending the same amount of time working on your own portfolio and your own way of acquiring clients.
Personally, I’ve tried UpWork for a couple of times (briefly) and even though I have had luck/success to find a couple of projects – the fees were really a big turn off for me. When you add tax fees and other additional fees you have to cover as an established business – I decided that I could do a lot better branding & marketing my skills in other ways.
Therefore, I’ve never really relied on UpWork.
If I ever decided to join UpWork again, I wouldn’t probably spend as much time trying to acquire the projects – but I’d be looking out for higher-paying projects coming from serious clients who don’t mind the cost yet know to appreciate the quality.
Most of you might find themselves in dilemma, at this point, not knowing what should you do. Should you give it a try or do something else?
I’ll help you make a decision in the next part of this post!
Should You Become a Freelancer on UpWork?
If you’re having a dilemma – that’s totally fine. I know you might feel overwhelmed or even feel at the verge of giving up already – but stick with me and I promise you, you’ll be fine.
If You’re Just Starting Out
My advice is that if you’re just starting out and you are looking to acquire some experience, get a couple of orders in, and just see if freelancing is for you – you can give UpWork a try. However, keep in mind the disadvantages of UpWork so you don’t end up wasting a lot of your time only to end up disappointed later on.
If You’re Looking for Extra Work on the Side
If you’re just looking to earn some money on the side by doing a couple of hours extra per week – UpWork might have some suitable jobs that are ideal for pocket money.
Maybe choosing a different type of online business such as affiliate marketing would be a better idea. In case you don’t need money urgently – putting hours into working on your project or even a blog might end up being a lot profitable than working actively on other’s projects.
If that’s something you’d be interested – I highly recommend checking my Inside Wealthy Affiliate review which will show you how to start your own online business at a very minimal cost.
If You’re an Established Freelancer
And if you’re an established freelancer – I wouldn’t recommend you to solely rely on UpWork for finding work. Instead, you can still give it a try – but try choosing projects wisely to find quality clients who don’t mind the cost yet are rather focused on the quality.
If You Think of Doing Freelance Full-Time
But if you’re about to become a full-time freelancer, I wouldn’t recommend putting all of your time into UpWork. You can still give it a try, gain some experience, acquire some money – but you should still have other ways of marketing yourself & acquiring clients.
UpWork is a very established platform with plenty of clients and freelancers doing business on a daily basis – and they can be definitely trusted.
However, while this might be an ideal way to earn some money on the side, it might not be a perfect option for someone who is looking to do freelance full-time.
There are plenty of things to consider such as your other expenses, fees, and even the rate you’d like to work at.
I can guarantee you that about 60%-70% of freelancers who work on UpWork might work for a lot lower rate than what they had in their minds when they started. Just because they put a lot of time & work up-front to acquire mediocre projects.
Therefore, you should think about what is best for you – so you can enjoy freelancing and still be able to make decent money or even live from freelancing.
Should you become a freelancer on UpWork? It all depends on your needs and situation. If UpWork doesn’t work out for you, don’t worry since there are plenty of other ways to acquire clients & work online.
Have you ever tried UpWork? What was your experience?
Feel free to leave a comment below since I’m very interested to hear your story!