Diana Kelly Levey

Upwork Pros and Cons for Freelancers

man using laptop for freelance work on upwork

June 16, 2023

When someone thinks about becoming a freelancer, a lot of new phrases and keywords are used in searches, like “how to find freelance writing jobs” “how do I get started as a freelancer,” and “what is Upwork” and “is fiverr worth it?”

But you’re probably wondering what the Upwork freelance platform is, if fiverr is a great freelance website for earning money, and whether it’s worth creating a profile on these websites for freelancers.

Watch a few YouTube videos from some freelance influencers, and it seems like all you have to do is set up a profile on one of these freelance platforms and wham, the freelance work will come flowing in. 

It’s easy to get freelance work on UpWork, right?

Maybe. It seems the Upwork pros and cons comparisons are about equal.

In this blog post, I’ll explore the pros and cons of Upwork as a freelancer.

Is Upwork a good platform for freelancers? Should you start here when you’re looking for work from home jobs for freelancers?

In my opinion, based on what I’ve heard, it could be a way to supplement freelance work and it’s a place where freelance beginners can get freelance writing jobs and experience.

Personally, I haven’t used Upwork to find freelance writing jobs in a long time. I prefer different forms of freelance marketing.

 But, when the company was originally two separate companies, Elance (1998) and oDesk (2003), I used those platforms to get some beginner freelance writing jobs. Upwork was founded when those companies merged in 2013.

I don’t remember what freelance projects I worked on for those platforms but I do remember hiring graphic designers and some upwork designer help with my website.

I asked some of my freelance writing tips newsletter subscribers to fill out a survey to share their feedback on working with Upwork.

They listed some of the pros of using Upwork as a freelancer above as well as the cons of using Upwork as a freelancer.

Here, learn pros and cons of working on Upwork.

Upwork Freelancers Pros and Cons: The Pros of Using Upwork as a Freelancer

Here’s why some freelancers love this freelance platform and the Upworks app:

  • You set your own hours: Work in the middle of the night if you want.
  • Choose the work you want to do: You can bid on jobs that interest you or post about your skills and interests to attract your ideal client.
  • It’s a low-pressure way to start out. If the client is on the platform, you know they’re seeking freelance help. 
  • It’s secure: You are assured of pay after completing work. (That said, be mindful that there are scams.)
  • There are lots of freelance writing jobs available for upwork freelancers.
  • You can negotiate payment. 
  • If you get a long-term client, you can get good money from it
  • You can use it for direct payments.
  • Upwork takes care of invoicing (with a fee).
  • You can get a feel for the client based on the job they post. A lot of them also post a budget or rate, so you don’t have to waste time shooting in the dark.
  • It is an excellent way to get experience, experiment with topics, learn the trade and learn your worth in the industry.
  • The ability to scroll through dozens of fresh assignments each day
  • Opportunity to get involved with enterprise clients
  • You can use it to hire freelancers and outsource freelance work while outsourcing time-consuming or technical work.

Upwork Freelancers Pros and Cons: The Cons of using Upwork as a Freelancer

Here are some Upwork complaints from freelancers who use the platform to find freelance jobs:

  • Competition is fierce if you’re an Upwork freelancer. If it’s easy, the job post can have 20 to 50 proposals within 30 minutes.
  • You have to buy ‘connects’ to apply for jobs and take advantage of upwork freelance opportunities. That can be expensive, especially if you don’t get a job using the available ‘connects.’
  • Some upwork jobs show payment “not verified,” meaning getting paid could be an issue.  
  • They charge a fee for their service (as they should, but it cuts into profits),
  • The platform charges 20% commission for the first $500 and then reduces the amount as the project progresses. 
  • Upwork scams are aplenty, according to several freelancers who filled out my survey.
  • You have to buy connects to apply for jobs, which I find expensive, especially if you don’t get a job using the available connects.
  • Some Upwork freelancers say the platform seems to prioritize experienced freelancers over new freelancers as well as users who pay for upwork fees over users who use it for free. 
  • It’s easy to get discouraged when you don’t secure freelance work.

Based on this very small sample size, I was surprised to see that beginner freelance writers struggled the most with finding work.

The freelancers surveyed answered the following:

  • How many years of experience as a freelancer do you have? 6 months to 28 years
  • How many years have you used Upwork? 3 months to 7 years
  • How much is the most you earned for a project/assignment on Upwork?
    • $75 for a 500-word article
    • $100/hour
    • $1,000 to edit an eBook
    • $3,000+

What are the Upwork benefits for freelancers?

Seriously, is upwork legit?

  • To start freelancing, work in a freelance niche, build a freelance writer portfolio, and gain some confidence. 
  • To hire Upwork freelancers to help with specific freelance work. (Yes, you can use Upwork to help your business by hiring freelancers!)
  • To gain writing experience.
  • To practice skills and get clips to show other clients off the platform.
  • To supplement other freelance work when I started out
  • To get experience writing for paying clients.
  • You can get a feel for the client based on the job they post. Many of them also post a budget or rate, so you don’t have to waste time shooting in the dark.

What Upwork Freelancers Say about Upwork Jobs and Using the Platform:

I’d recommend Upwork to freelancers starting out, says seven-year Upwork veteran Amelia Harvey. “If you want to build a freelance writer portfolio and gain some experience in a specific field it can be beneficial.”

“Upwork provides a low-pressure way to get experience, gain credibility, and build confidence,” says writer Stephanie Mickelson on ThePracticalPen. “There are great opportunities to work with great clients, but it takes some trial and error.”

“I’ve used Fiverr and Upwork and I much prefer Upwork, as I find it gives freelancers more autonomy and provides more opportunities for growth,” says Zanny Merullo Steffgen, a freelancer for nine years who’s used Upwork for two years.

“I would recommend Upwork to freelancers but I’d tell them to be aggressive with applying for jobs because the competition is quite high,” says Brian Mwangi.

What are the drawbacks of working on Upwork? “The fees were the main reason I stopped using Upwork after only a few months. And now they have a bidding system too. Those two things put together, plus the low rates you usually end up working for make it really difficult to be profitable on Upwork. It’s a ‘no’ for me. Before they added bidding, I would have said ‘yes’ to recommending this platform for freelancers. But, now I’m not sure. I always thought of it as an easier way to get some experience before pitching to the clients you actually want. But the added bidding raises the barrier for entry and really just seems like a cash grab. – Gizette Edis, who has one year of experience as a freelancer 

“I would say it might be true for experienced freelancers, but not for new freelancers,” says Claire Lawry, who has been freelancing for six months and using Upwork for six months. “Barriers to entry are higher, and as a copywriter, it is my professional opinion that Upwork and Fiverr engage in false advertising to the detriment of new freelancers. Even if you try the paid version, it doesn’t guarantee getting work. It’s easy to get discouraged.”

Can you earn a living freelancing on Upwork?

Is Upwork a good platform for freelancers?

“Yes. It depends on how people go about it. There are great opportunities to work with great clients, but it takes some trial and error.”

“If you are excellent at a certain skill, it seems like you can make a decent living on Upwork,” says Peter Marino, owner of PoshFitness who uses Upwork to hire individuals to help proposals, technical writing and business plans.

“Yes, but unless you get a big job you are always hustling/competing for the next thing,” says Faith, a retiree who says she’s a freelance beginner who plans to work on her skills to find more work in proofreading, editing, and beta reading.

Have you experienced freelance success on Upwork?

Reply in the comments: “What are the benefits of working on Upwork for your freelance business?”

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