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Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
I love that quote. It speaks to the fact that even if something isn’t perfect (or completely sucks), it can come in handy at some point.
That’s sort of how I feel about Upwork.
If you’ve done any research on Upwork, the hiring and freelancing platform, you’ve probably run into some controversial threads, posts, and rants. And you might be confused and conflicted.
Well, I’m not here to bash or boost the platform. I’m just going to give you MY personal (honest, unpaid) Upwork review based on MY personal experience.
I think you’ll find some useful information here, especially if you’re interested in learning how I made $1,500 on Upwork in my first 3 months on the platform. (I have a very special person to thank for that, and I’ll let you know who she is later.)
My Personal Upwork Review: The highs and the lows
How Does Upwork…Work?
Upwork is a freelance gig site. In the simplest of terms, clients come to Upwork to hire freelancers, and freelancers come to Upwork to get hired by clients. When clients post a job, they usually provide a description, a budget, and some sort of deadline.
If you, the freelancer, are interested in the job, you’ll place a bid. In your bid, you can include a cover letter, samples, and answers to any specific questions the clients have asked. You can also propose your own rates, whether the client shares his or her budget or not.
Upwork Review: The Highs
There are a few things I really like about the Upwork platform:
1. Filtering options
The filtering options are really convenient because I can narrow down my search so that I’m only seeing jobs that fit the parameters I set.
For example, most times I only look at jobs from clients who are looking to hire U.S.-based freelancers in the U.S. This helps me make sure they have a budget that’s in line with what someone in America might need to live, versus someone in a country with a lower cost of living.
I can also filter based on the client’s budget so that I don’t even see jobs not paying in my desired range.
2. Client ratings and reviews
I always take a look at clients’ ratings and reviews before submitting a bid. Why waste my time applying if the client is trash?
I look at the reviews freelancers have written about the client and what the client said about the freelancers. Both perspectives give me some idea about whether the client might be a decent human being to work with.
3. Clients’ average hourly pay rate
The client doesn’t have to provide a specific budget in their post, even though many do. In the event that they don’t, I take a look at the average hourly rate the client has paid its previous freelancers. That gives me some idea of whether they are even worth time spent applying.
For example, if their average hourly rate is $20, I know they’re probably not going to be worth pitching, considering my hourly rate is much higher than that. ON TO THE NEXT!
4. Communication within the platform
I appreciate the ability to communicate with clients within the Upwork website itself. There’s no requirement to share your email address, Skype, phone number, etc. if you don’t want to. All of those capabilities exist within Upwork, and freelancers are encouraged to stay on the platform to avoid any funny business.
Of course, if you choose to, it’s okay to communicate outside of Upwork. But Upwork’s protections won’t necessarily extend to those routes of communication.
5. Clients can find you
The benefit of this feature is pretty self-explanatory. You don’t always have to go searching for jobs. If a client has a job and thinks you might be a good fit, they can invite you to apply.
Upwork Review: The Lows
Now, bear with me because I’m a pharmacist: All drugs have side effects.
In other words, there’s bad that comes with the good.
Here are the things I don’t care for so much.
1. Service charge
This is one of those things that makes complete sense from a business perspective, but that doesn’t stop it from sucking sometimes. *shrug*
If Upwork is bringing freelancers and clients together, obviously that’s a convenience factor… Upwork is gonna take a cut. But when you work hard for your money as the freelancer, seeing a chunk of your money snatched away isn’t fun. It’s like paying taxes on top of taxes.
The cut Upwork takes is on a decreasing sliding scale depending on how much money you’ve made from a particular client. The idea of the sliding scale is to incentivize clients and freelancers to stay on the platform and to have longer working relationships.
In other words, the more money you make from one client, the less of a cut Upwork takes.
2. hella low-paying clients
Because of the nature of the platform, many clients come in with the expectation of finding cheap labor. This is where a lot of the contention around Upwork comes in.
Freelancers are frustrated by shitty offers, and rightfully so. But here’s my take on that… In MY experience, if you accept crap pay, that’s on YOU…
That is YOUR decision.
There are plenty of ways to make money on Upwork…and a nice chunk at that! You just have to be extremely, extremely selective about what clients you deal with, how you market & brand yourself, etc.
How I Learned to Make Money on Upwork
So how’d I get started on Upwork, you ask.
Well, the first step was going against the advice I received from a high-respected and successful freelance writer!
Let me back up.
Once I got serious about using my writing skills to bring in side income, I decided to invest in a course by Elna Cain: Write Your Way to Your First $1K! Now this post is an Upwork review, not a course review, but I can’t talk about the start of my freelance writing career without shouting out Elna and her course.
Write to $1K changed my life.
It gave me a whole new perspective on what was possible through freelance writing, and it really gave me the foundation I needed to get started. In Elna’s course, I learned:
- how to set up my writer website
- how to find and pitch clients
- how to set rates
- and most importantly, how to make my first $1,000!
Let me be clear…
At no point did Elna suggest taking our talents to Upwork. In fact, she suggested quite the opposite. From her point of view, a freelance writer was much more likely to get paid his or her value staying away from sites like Upwork.
But y’all know me…
I like to formulate my own opinions, and at this point, I didn’t even know what Upwork was. So when I was advised to stay away from sites like Upwork, I naturally wanted to figure out what Upwork was all about.
Ultimately, what I ended up doing was applying all of Elna’s suggestions for kickstarting your freelance writing career… WITHIN the Upwork platform.
I’d consider it a success.
Within my first 3 months on Upwork I made $1,487. While I may not have done it EXACTLY in the way Elna teaches, I made it work for me and achieved the goal of making $1,000 (and MORE).
If you’d like to learn more about Elna’s course, you can check it out here: Write Your Way to Your First $1K.
Why I Still Love Upwork….Even Though A Lot of People Hate It
Life is SO busy, and it seems that it gets busier and busier every week, month, year…
I have a full-time job, a home, a husband, a son, two blogs…and my days are JAM-PACKED. I know that many of you also have incredibly busy lives with lots of moving parts.
Sometimes convenience is a worthy price to pay. That’s why it can be easier to stop by CVS than make a trek to the grocery store. To be honest the convenience that Upwork offers is what makes it valuable to me currently.
I know that there are ways to use my personal network and other resources to find freelance clients that pay better than many on Upwork. To be honest, I didn’t have the time or energy for all that when I first started out.
I’ve quadrupled my Upwork rates since I first began, and I’m still making good money from my Upwork clients.
I don’t intend to use Upwork for the rest of my life. Currently, I’m transitioning to a non-Upwork-based client pitching system – taking off the training wheels, if you will.
I’m not saying Upwork is perfect, but it’s been working for me. So for now, here’s my Upwork review:
Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
Quick Side Note: If freelancing or working from home has been on your radar lately, you should definitely check out these legitimate work-from-home jobs.