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Is Freelancing On Upwork Worth Your Time? (My Experience)

freelancing on upwork worth it

Upwork is getting tougher and meaner for new freelancers for some reason.

And it really makes you wonder if it’s really worth investing your time on finding jobs on Upwork.

If you’re wondering the same thing and tired of getting rejected on Upwork or any other freelance marketplace, this post may help you make a decision for the better.

In this post, I wanted to share a personal story of mine related to Upwork and how it helped me to earn $5K a month. But it’s not how you think it is.

Whether you’re a member of UpWork, Freelancer.com, Guru, or any other marketplace, you’ll find some helpful tips below. So keep reading.

My Story

I landed my first freelance job on Upwork.

Back then it was called eLance. It became Upwork after eLance was mashed together with oDesk.

My first job was a small one. But it’s the one that made me believe in making money online. For that, I’m grateful for eLance.

However, once it turned into UpWork, things took a turn. I landed a few more gigs on Upwork. I landed pretty big clients as well.

At the time, there weren’t millions of freelancers on these platforms. The competition was normal. There were no bots or scammers. The job was usually awarded for the most talented person.

But, after a while, more freelancers joined Upwork. Freelancing was getting popular. And, as a result, more scammers surfaced. And finding jobs on sites like Upwork became a total bidding war.

The freelancer who send proposals with the lowest bid usually won the job.

The clients were just looking for someone to get the job done at the lowest price. Most didn’t care about the quality. This was a massive blow for me.

I was just starting to raise my prices after realizing my worth. But had no luck winning clients.

In fact, one client replied to one of my proposals while mocking me for charging around $20 for a 1000 word article. He said he’s never seen such outlandish prices in his life.

This pushed me to a dark place and I was beginning to wonder if it’s even worth continuing to work as a freelancer. Either way, I stopped applying for jobs on Upwork altogether. It just wasn’t worth my time.

A small glimpse of hope came around when I saw a news article mentioning a new freelance marketplace. I went to check it out and saw that there were less than 5 freelancers signed up for the writing category.

I immediately signed up for the site. The made me go through a small test but I go in. And guess what, I started getting one client after another. And the prices? Well, they were more than happy to pay more for my work.

I kept increasing my prices and clients kept placing orders. That’s where my freelancing career took off.

There’s more to this story. But, my point is, Upwork used to be a great platform that put quality over quantity. Sadly, the platform has turned into a paradise for scammers and cheap clients.

The same goes for other sites like Freelancer.com, Fiverr, and many more as well.

You Should Still Join A Freelance Marketplace!

still join upwork

If I had a terrible experience with freelance marketplaces, why would I still encourage newcomers to join a freelance marketplace?

Even though sites like Upwork are terrible for freelancers, I strongly believe that they are a great source of experience for new freelancers.

You can learn so much from a single place when you join a freelancing site. You can learn to look for jobs, write proposals, communicate with clients, position yourself above the competition, and so much more. Such an experience is priceless.

And who knows, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to be among the 1% who are actively getting jobs on Upwork.

So yes, you should join a freelance marketplace when you’re first starting out as a freelancer. But, never depend on them. Never use such sites to find clients for the rest of your life.

Once you get enough experience, prepare an exit strategy and start looking for jobs elsewhere. Preferably on job boards.

But, Never Depend On Freelance Marketplaces

never depend on upwork for freelancing

There are many and many stories, Reddit posts, videos, and articles online where freelancers share their ugly experiences with sites like Upwork.

Particularly related to Upwork and other marketplaces banning their accounts. All of a sudden. Like this, this, and this one, just as examples.

Even though they had top-rated profiles with 5-start ratings. Upwork would just ban their accounts in an instant. With no explanation.

That’s how fragile your life can be on freelance marketplaces.

So, as I said before, use these sites as a starting point. But never depend on them. Make sure that you’re building your portfolio while looking for your first jobs.

There Are Many Great Upwork Alternatives

alternatives to upwork

A common issue with these giant freelance marketplaces is that they dominate the search engines.

Whenever you enter something related to freelancing, either Upwork or Freelancer.com comes up on top of the search results.

This leads new freelancers to believe that these two sites are the only places where they can find work.

This is not true. There are dozens of great websites you can use to find freelance work.

I often recommend freelancers to look for marketplaces that are new. So that they have less competition which means it’s easier to land jobs.

Try these articles to find great new freelancing platforms:

In Conclusion

Sites like Upwork and Freelancer.com will keep raising their platform fees. And keep banning freelancers over no particular reason, and worst of all, they will keep letting in cheap clients who will degrade your work to get stuff done for cheap prices.

Use freelance marketplaces to your advantage. Learn from them. And move on. Build a reputation so you can survive anywhere as a freelancer. And put the “free”dom back in the “freelancer”!

Images via Freepik.com

Did you find this article useful? Then you should check out my book Freelance Like A Pro. It includes 21 lessons and 5 secrets from my freelance career to help you supercharge your journey as a freelancer. Click here to learn more.

Roshan Perera
I’m Roshan Jerad Perera, a freelance writer/blogger and the founder at FreelancingHacks.com. My goal is to help other people get started in freelancing and guide them toward a successful career and financial freedom.
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1 Comment
  • Kelvin kipruto Aug 31,2020 at 10:23 PM

    I really liked this piece and it’s my wish that you could train me be one of a good beginner freelancer. It will be with much appreciation

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