When I decided to give freelance writing a try in 2016, I started off at a pretty big disadvantage. I had never graduated from college, had no network or connections and I didn’t have a single writing sample to send potential clients.
Fortunately, a friend happened to tell me about the global freelancing platform Upwork and my world was changed forever.
I know that’s a little dramatic but the minute I learned about Upwork, I saw a path to being a writer that I had never seen before. I figured if I just kept pitching potential clients, eventually, someone would have to hire me.
This strategy quickly paid off and I landed lots of freelancing writing jobs, banking roughly $500 during my first full month as a freelancer. Four years later, I’ve earned over $100,000 using Upwork alone.
Why do some freelance writers hate Upwork so much?
Once I started networking with other freelancers, it was a pretty big surprise to learn that most people are not a fan of Upwork. In fact, many freelancers will recommend you avoid it at all costs.
The interesting thing is that many of the people who hate Upwork the most have never tried it.
But of those who have, here are some of the biggest complaints I’ve heard:
- Upwork charges high fees: When you start working with a new client, Upwork charges a 20% fee on the first $500 you earn. After that, you’ll be charged a 10% fee until you’ve earned $10,000 from that client. Once you reach $10,000 in earnings, the fee drops to 5%.
- It’s a race to the bottom: I can’t even count the number of times someone has told me Upwork is a race to the bottom. The theory being that you’ll be forced to charge less for your services to compete with low-bidding freelancers.
- Upwork never worked for me: Of those who have tried it, the most common argument I hear is that Upwork never worked for them. Usually, this means they joined, sent a few proposals and didn’t get the results they hoped for so they moved on to something else.
Is Upwork legit? Here’s why I still use Upwork to this day
So given all the supposed disadvantages to being a freelance writer on Upwork, why do I recommend you use it?
Here are the five biggest reasons why:
1. It’s an easy marketing strategy
I once heard someone say that anyone who looks for writing work on Upwork is lazy. At first, I felt offended, then I realized they were absolutely right.
Yes, I choose to make things easier and more convenient for myself whenever possible. Call that lazy if you want, but this strategy is what allows me to earn six-figures as a freelance writer working roughly 25 hours per week.
To this day, I have not found an easier way to drum up new freelance writing work than by using Upwork. I can log into Upwork and immediately find 5-10 writing jobs to apply for. On average, I spend about 30 minutes a day (or less) looking for work.
2. Great clients use it
Great clients are on Upwork looking to hire writers and that is a fact. Many of my best clients came from Upwork jobs, or as a result of referrals from clients I met on Upwork.
I’ve landed writing projects with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, PandaDoc and Business Talent Group thanks to Upwork. Those kinds of clients aren’t interested in hiring someone who’s willing to write a $10 blog post because they know that person isn’t a professional.
3. Payment is guaranteed
Many people love to complain about the Upwork fees, but can we take a second to talk about the fact that payment is guaranteed on Upwork? This is true whether you do a fixed rate or hourly contract.
Upwork offers payment protection on hourly work, and you can see if the milestone is funded before you begin a fixed-rate contract. Plus, I receive payment on most of my Upwork jobs within a week of finishing the work.
As someone who regularly works with clients that have invoicing terms of either net 45 or net 60, getting paid that quickly is a huge advantage in my book.
4. Your success builds over time
I think most people give up on Upwork too soon because they are expecting overnight results. But Upwork will work best for you if you use it as a long-term strategy.
I’ve been on Upwork for over four years now so I regularly get invited to apply for new jobs and don’t have to spend much time looking for work. This doesn’t happen overnight, but if you put in the time, you’ll start seeing success a lot sooner than you might think.
5. Upwork levels the playing field
And finally, the biggest reason I like Upwork is that it levels the playing field for all freelancers. And this is especially important right now when so many people are being forced to start over in their professional lives thanks to COVID-19.
With Upwork, you don’t need a journalism degree or tons of experience to start finding clients. You can start exactly where you’re at right now and raise your rates slowly over time.
The bottom line on Upwork
If you find tons of freelance writing work using LinkedIn or cold emailing, then I’m not here to convince you to switch to Upwork. I wrote this article for the person who finds themselves where I was four years ago — desperate to try something new, but unsure of where to start.
If you want to make money as a freelance writer, then you can do it using Upwork. Just like any other marketing strategy, it “works” based on the level of effort and energy you put into it.
What are your favorite platforms to use to find freelance writing work? Let us know in the comments.
Photo via franz12 / Shutterstock