Ten years ago, hell even three years ago, a lot of aspiring freelancers decided to start on one really common website:
Do a quick Google search, and you’ll find plenty of articles from 2014, 2015, 2016 saying UpWork was a place where it didn’t hurt to put in some effort. We even told you that, too.
But, times change.
Is Freelance Writing on Upwork Worth It?
If you want a yes or no answer as to whether you should spend a lot of time focusing on UpWork as a new freelance writer, the answer is probably not.
Check out this video to learn a couple of reasons why UpWork isn’t always worth it:
1) There is Lots of Competition From Other Freelance Writers
For freelance writers especially, UpWork is a lot harder to break into now.
There’s a ton of competition. Freelance writers have flooded the market.
It’s gotten to the point where we’ve heard from members inside the LR Forums that signing up for UpWork as a freelance writer delayed getting their profile approved.
When you’re trying to get yourself off the ground that’s not great.
2) It Can Be a Race to the Bottom (Dollar)
Another issue a lot of new freelance writers run into is the quality of work available.
Of course, there are certainly diamonds in the rough on the site. However, in order to find them, you might have to shovel through a few feet of, well, you know.
One thing we really try to stress with LR is getting paid a real rate for your work. Rates that are one or two cents a word are not that.
Now, combine that with a lot of writers who are willing to take scraps to write and you’re working against both the competition who will accept nothing and companies who want to pay nothing.
That’s not where you want to be. Even from the start, you deserve to get paid real money for your work.
3) Fees Can Be Rough
There’s also the fee situation too.
According to UpWork’s website here’s how it works:
- 20% for the first $500 billed with the client.
- 10% for lifetime billings with the client between $500.01 and $10,000.
- 5% for lifetime billings with the client that exceed $10,000.
They provide a nice graphic on this too. You can see that here.
For a new freelancer, that 20% fee is rough and can put a pretty big dent into your final paycheck.
Obviously the goal is to get more work with the same client. It would drop the fee way down. However, that’s not something that’s always possible when you’re just getting started and need to grab a few clients fast.
What if You Still Want to Give it a Shot?
If you want to sign up for UpWork that’s ok.
It’s understandable to want to have a lot of lines in the water so to speak. But, if you’re going to go that route, there are a couple of really important things to do along the way.
Make UpWork One (of Many) Options
First, don’t make this method your number one source of finding work.
There are tons of places where you can find freelance writing work today. So when you set out at this stage and want to find more (or your first) clients cast a wide net and look all over the place. Don’t just rely on 2-3 options and call it a day.
Pay Attention to Ratings
One good thing UpWork does is it highlights the ratings of both freelancers and companies. Make sure you check out the ratings and reviews of any company that is posting up a job.
Don’t work with companies that have bad reviews or no reviews. This can help mitigate some of your risks.
Dig for Good Work
There are a lot of people out there who will tell you they make a lot of money exclusively on UpWork. No doubt that’s true. But these people are probably getting good clients after they spent a long time digging through layers of low paying and red flag jobs.
So set aside the time to do the same. Search for higher-paying jobs that are in the niche you have targeted.
Also, find projects that are high paying and can help your portfolio. Getting $2,000 for a white paper can blast you into a better fee zone and can get you something to show off and might get you to repeat work too.
Is Freelance Writing Still a Viable Business?
I’ve had a few people asking me lately if freelance writing is still a viable business for new entrepreneurs.
My answer to them is a resounding yes.
You see there are a lot of people who consider themselves freelance writers.
The problem is that most of them have no idea how to actually build relationships and find work.
Even fewer of those people know how to actually be responsible, communicative writers that people love to work with.
This leaves a huge opportunity for the person who does know how to get work, and is able to be reliable and great to work with.
Final Thoughts on Upwork for Writers
At the end of the day, if you’re just starting out, you’re better off looking at other places for work.
If you’re someone who has some experience under your belt, knows what you want to target, and already has some clients then it might be another avenue to explore (along with a bunch of others).