Is Upwork Worth It As a Freelancer? An Honest Review!
If you’re a seasoned freelancer, Upwork is probably a household name. If you want to become a freelancer, then get comfortable with it! It’s one of the most popular freelancing sites out there. But it costs to apply to listings, and there isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get the job. So, is Upwork worth all the time, energy, and money? Or should you find clients and team members elsewhere? Let’s see!
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What Is Upwork?
Upwork is a worldwide marketplace for freelancers and agencies to find work and team members. These freelancers can be experts in anything, from graphic design, to website development, video production, social media marketing, and even virtual assisting.
People can hire a freelancer instead of an employee to save money. Upwork is one of the many marketplaces available for independent contractors and business owners. But is it truly worth the hassle?
Unfortunately, most marketplaces have a fee to use their services. To apply for jobs, you need to use something called Connects. It’s basically Upwork’s currency. But to get Connects, you need to pay for them. One Connect costs $0.15. So it’s not a lot, but it adds up after a while.
Upwork also takes a percentage of all of your earnings. As a freelancer, 10% of your earnings are taken as a service fee. Before the middle of 2023, the service fees were between 5% and 20%.
You can also “boost” your proposal to the top depending on how many Connects you spend. You bid with other freelancers for the top spot. These bids can be just one extra Connect, but I’ve seen up to 100 for one proposal. I personally haven’t seen a difference between boosting and not boosting, but you can play around and see if it works for you!
How Hard Is It To Get Clients With Upwork?
Well, this depends on a few things. How long have you been using the platform? How much of an expert are you in your field? Do you have a great portfolio? Do you have any previous clients with Upwork?
Even if you apply to 10 jobs a day for a month, there’s a possibility that you won’t get any clients. In fact, you’ll probably only hear a response from about one to three of those potential clients if you did everything great. So, here are some tips to help you land some clients.
- Don’t copy and paste! Make each proposal custom
- Respond to inquiries quickly
- Put together an eye-catching portfolio
- Make sure you answer all their problems that were stated in the listing
Doing this isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get the client, but it does help your likelihood!
Are There Upwork Alternatives?
Yes! There are tons of different marketplaces you can look into to also apply to jobs as a freelancer. But be aware that every platform has different fees. Some have a flat monthly fee but are free to apply to listings and don’t take a percentage of your earnings, while others have similar fees to Upwork.
Here are some great sites like Upwork:
If you are new to freelancing and actively apply for jobs on these sites, you will likely find amazing clients! It isn’t guaranteed that you’ll be hired, but it definitely increases your chances.
Are There Other Ways To Find Clients Besides Marketplaces?
Yes! In fact, it’s how I’ve found most of my clients. Most of these ways are free, but it’ll take a bit more time to find the people to contact.
- Joining Facebook groups of your ideal clients
- Cold emailing a non-copy/paste pitch
- Reaching out to your family and friends
- Connecting with your local community
- Attending your local Chamber of Commerce
- Going to networking events
Just like Upwork, these strategies aren’t guaranteed, but it does help if you take the time and energy to make your proposals and connections great.
General Pitching Tips
To make your pitches worth your time and energy, you’ll need to put in the work and make sure you’re being genuine! As an agency owner, I have received many copy-and-pasted pitches that made me feel like my business wasn’t worth their time of day.
So, if you’re cold pitching, try to:
- Make a genuine connection between you and the potential client
- Mention what you like about their business
- Show them a way they could improve. If you’re a social media manager, do they have an Instagram account? If you’re a copywriter, is there a typo with their website? Do a very minimal audit.
- Offer something free! Maybe five hashtags if you’re a social media manager, a new graphic for their Pinterest account if you’re a graphic designer. Something to show that you put the time and effort into the pitch.
This will take about 5-10 minutes per pitch. Much longer than <1 minute if you copy and paste. But this will show your potential client that you pay attention to detail and work hard. It will also ensure that they remember you. I mean, how many times do you get free things in a pitch?
Sometimes you won’t get a response you want, or a response at all. But for the years I’ve been doing this, almost every time I send a pitch, I either get a response or a discovery call. I used these strategies on listings that have had 1000+ applicants and been their only hire!
So for me, yes, it takes 5-10 minutes per pitch. But that’s about an extra $300-$2,000+/month per pitch!
So. Is Upwork Worth It For Freelancers?
I know this response is annoying, but it depends. For me, it hasn’t been. Not just with Upwork but all marketplaces. It feels like a fight for the bottom dollar, not for expert freelancers with an expert rate.
With that said, I know of (and even worked in) agencies that only get their clients from Upwork and make $10,000+/month from the platform. So, it depends on person to person! Try it out for a month or two and see if it’s worth it.
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