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Is Freelancing On Upwork Worth It? (My Experience)

Is Freelancing On Upwork Worth It? (My Experience)

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 in finding jobs on Upwork.

If you’re wondering if joining Upwork is worth it 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.

Alarming New Upwork Policy

upwork exposed tos

Upwork recently introduced a new update to its terms of use. I encourage you to read this document or at least my summary of it.

In short, this update prevents you from doing any work with clients outside of the platform. If you do and get caught, Upwork can take you to court and demand up to $50,000 dollars in damages.

This is part of the toxic movement against freelancers these big corporate marketplaces are developing. They want to trap freelancers into a single place while charging 20% of your earnings, charging more from your withdrawals, and then charging some more via tokens.

Shifting To AI

The developments of AI technology are making big freelance marketplaces panic. This includes Upwork.

With AI replacing many services, like data entry, copywriting, SEO, and graphic design, marketplaces like Upwork are now getting fewer job postings from clients.

Upwork recently introduced a new AI-related section on the platform to attract those clients back to the site.

Here, companies can hire “AI experts” to get work done faster.

Of course, this is a huge blow for the rest of the freelancers on the platform. Why would a client hire a blog article writer at $100 to write just one article when they can get advice from an AI expert for just $50 and learn to generate content for free?

This is just the beginning. Soon, you will see fewer freelancers and clients on these big marketplaces. And more AI services.

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 sends 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 fewer than 5 freelancers signed up for the writing category.

I immediately signed up for the site. They 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.

Avoid Upwork and Other Big Marketplaces

Giant freelance marketplaces, like Upwork and Freelancer.com, are run by big corporate companies.

They have strict rules and introduce weird terms whenever they want to pressure freelancers.

A good example is a recent update Upwork made to its Terms of Service, which prevents freelancers from leaving the platform.

To sum up the story, Upwork now forces freelancers to pay up to $50,000 dollars if they want to work with a client outside the platform. You can read the full story here.

It’s best to avoid those sites, just to be safe. There are far better sites for beginners out there.

There Are Many Great Upwork Alternatives

alternatives to upwork

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

Whenever you enter something related to freelancing, either Upwork or Freelancer.com comes up at 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 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:

  • 21+ New Low Competition Freelancing Sites You Should Join
  • 15+ Lesser-Known Freelancing Sites with Low Competition

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

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