The gig economy has experienced steady growth in the past two years. According to Statista, there are 57.3 million freelancers in the United States. Freelancing sites such as Upwork continue to grow accordingly and offer both new and experienced freelancers the opportunity to connect with clients and gain experience. If you’re considering this route for your freelancing career, you may be wondering: how much can you make on Upwork?
In this guide, we will discuss everything you need to know to make money on Upwork. No matter your level of experience, this platform offers professionals the opportunity to leverage their skills to earn an income. Keep reading to learn how much Upwork pays and how you can turn your freelancing side hustle into a source of full-time income.
What Is Upwork?
Upwork is an online freelance marketplace for professionals to find work in fields like graphic design, writing, and web development. This marketplace connects freelancers with people looking to hire these professionals for short-term or long-term projects.
Freelancers can search for job posts and submit an application or bid for each one. The platform offers Basic and Plus as its two different membership plans. The Basic plan is free while the Plus plan costs $14.99 per month and offers benefits such as more visibility and additional ways to contact clients.
How Does Upwork Work?
Upwork works by allowing clients to make posts for the jobs they completed. Freelancers can sign up for free and create a profile to bid for these jobs if they match their skills. To bid for projects, you need to use ‘connects’. Upwork offers some free connects when you sign up for the platform, but more can be purchased when needed.
To get a job on Upwork, you need to send a proposal that the client can choose to accept or ignore. If they accept, they will send a message and chat more about the project. If you pass the interview stage, the client will initiate a contract through Upwork per the agreed-upon terms. There are multiple ways to receive payment, which will differ if you’re working on hourly or fixed-price projects.
How Much Can You Make on Upwork?
How much you can make on Upwork can vary greatly, as each freelancer is able to set their own hourly rates and rates per project. How much you earn will also depend on your particular skillset, level of experience, the strength of your portfolio, and your ability to market yourself and stand out from the competition.
What Skills Can Help You Make a Living on Upwork?
Making a living on Upwork is a real possibility for professionals in a wide variety of fields. According to their 2022 report on the 10 most in-demand skills for technology, marketing, and customer service, top contenders include web design, WordPress, web programming, social media marketing, lead generation, Facebook, and SEO.
What Is the Average Freelancer Salary?
According to data published on ZipRecruiter, the average freelance salary in the US is $33 per hour. According to a study commissioned by Upwork, 44% of freelancers claimed to earn higher wages in 2021 in comparison to what they earned in traditional jobs. The report also revealed that professionals with postsecondary education are dominating the freelance field and earning higher wages.
Highest-Paid Freelance Careers
According to the 2022 ZipRecruiter report on the highest-paid freelance jobs, the best career options can lead to incomes of up to $114,500 per year. Many of their picks are jobs in the tech industry, so you can expect to earn a healthy freelance programmer salary or web developer salary working independently through platforms such as Upwork.
- UX Designer
- Applications Developer
- Remote Web Developer
- Contract Technical Writer
- Public Relations Manager
The Pros and Cons of Working on Upwork
Upwork offers many benefits to freelancers in different fields. It gives you the chance to work remotely and get paid while being selective and picking quality clients. However, like other gig economy platforms, there are some disadvantages to working on Upwork. The pros and cons of working on this platform are listed below.
Pros of Working on Upwork
- Payment is easy. Upwork makes it easy to receive payment from clients around the world. The platform has a built-in payment system that allows you to receive payment directly to your bank account in your local currency. There are other payment methods if you prefer to use digital wallets like PayPal.
- The hiring process is fast. When you apply for jobs on Upwork, most potential clients are ready to start immediately. If they like your work samples and are convinced that you can do the job, they will create a contract so you can start as soon as possible.
- You can work remotely. The best feature of Upwork is its flexibility. You can work remotely from anywhere in the world as long as there is an Internet connection. The process is easy and allows you to travel the world and fund your travels. The flexibility makes it an attractive option for most freelancers.
- You have access to higher-paying jobs. Upwork offers higher-paying jobs compared to many other freelance sites. There are a lot of high-end clients that are willing to pay more for better services. These high-quality clients expect high-quality work, attention to detail, and good communication.
- Upwork offers security and support to help you get started. Upwork simplifies the process to help you find a job faster. New freelancers on the platform receive free ‘connects’ to help them send proposals right away. The platform also offers some security by asking clients to put funds in escrow once a contract is in place.
Cons of Working on Upwork
- High fees. One main disadvantage of Upwork is the high fees. The platform takes from five to 20 percent cut of your earnings for each job. Freelancers are charged 20 percent at the beginning, 10 percent when they have earned $500 and above with a single client, and five percent when they make $10,000 from a single client or project.
- Some clients are exploitative. Some lower-paying jobs can help you build your brand as a freelancer on the platform. However, bad clients offer low-paying jobs with ridiculous requirements. New freelancers who need to establish themselves on the platform may be tempted to take on these jobs.
- It is challenging to get your first job. Upwork is a globally known freelancing platform with gig workers from all over the world, making it a very competitive space. Getting your first client can be challenging because of this competition. Applying as early as possible after the job is posted is one way to overcome this hurdle.
- Long wait after payment. Upwork has a security hold on payment after clients release payments to the freelancer. This means that after you submit your payment request, you will need to wait five days after the client releases it to send the funds to your bank account.
- Screenshots are required. Freelancers on hourly contracts need to use the Upwork time tracker, which takes screenshots every few minutes and tracks mouse and keyboard movement. This is to ensure you are doing your job, but it may disturb the flow of your work in some cases, or be problematic when you´re doing work that doesn’t involve being active on your computer all the time.
How to Become an Upwork Freelancer
Becoming a freelancer on Upwork is easy. You simply need to fill out your relevant personal info online, provide your location, and verify your identity with a form of valid ID. Below are the steps you need to follow to start freelancing on Upwork.
1. Create a Robust Profile
Like resumes, profiles help prospective clients learn more about you and determine if you are a good fit for the role. Creating a profile is compulsory on the platform and it’s important to be honest about your identity and location, as the platform will vet this before giving you access to job listings.
To create a strong Upwork profile, start by filling out basic information such as your education and previous work experience. You’ll also need to select at least one skill tag to help prospective clients find you. Add your level of expertise to help clients get a sense of whether you’ll be right for the job. It is essential to be honest about what you can do because if you are hired and fail to deliver, your account could be reported.
Another crucial aspect of freelancing on Upwork is creating a strong portfolio. Upload samples of your previous projects, as well as all the details of what you did and the results you obtained. You can even request testimonials from previous clients until you can start gathering reviews from Upwork clients. This will serve as proof of your skills and help reassure potential clients that you have what it takes.
2. Connect With Employers
Once your profile is approved, Upwork provides you with some free ‘connects.’ You can use these to submit proposals. The proposals often involve answering some questions set by the client, providing an introductory letter, and stating your desired fee. If the client requests it, you can also send a sample to show your skills.
Once you secure a project, it is essential to do the job well because you and the client will rate each other after completing the contract. Both ratings are visible on the client and freelancer profiles. As a freelancer, you have a job success score determined by your ratings, and it helps clients know which freelancers have a good record on the platform. The rating system also allows you to decide whether you want to accept a job from a client.
3. Get Paid
To get paid on Upwork, you will be required to choose a method of payment. You can choose to receive compensation through your bank account. In that case, you will need to fill in some information, which will be verified to ensure that you are not impersonating anyone. It helps to use the same name on your bank details and your Upwork profile.
When it is approved, you can send funds from Upwork to your bank. You can also automate this process with their Instant Pay feature, which works similarly to direct deposit. You can choose to be paid monthly, quarterly, or weekly using this automated payment feature. You can also select how much is sent to your account each time. Keep in mind that payment methods may vary depending on your location.
How to Make More Money on Upwork
Upwork is an excellent platform to take on freelance gigs. Some successful freelancers make six figures per year on Upwork. Here are some valuable tips to help you increase your earning potential on this freelancing platform.
Starting small is one of the best ways to break into this platform because it helps you get the reviews needed to attract higher-paying clients. It is unlikely that a client with a considerable budget will trust a newbie to handle their projects. They need proof that you can handle serious tasks.
There are a lot of clients who pay less on the platform and prefer newcomers. These jobs are often more straightforward and don’t require much time and effort. As you scale up, you can increase your rates and begin to earn more. However, it helps to avoid clients who overload you with work, cannot verify their payment, or pay very little for your work.
Polish Your Pitches
Your profile will show clients what you can do, but your pitches are how you can stand out from dozens of other freelancers applying for the same job. Make sure to read the job listing thoroughly before pitching to ensure you have the necessary skills, and ensure your pitch is concise and addresses the client’s needs directly.
As you gain experience, you will learn what works and what doesn’t work when pitching to clients. Whenever you do apply for a job, make sure to mention previous projects that are similar, and even throw in some ideas about how you would tackle the project if selected. Don’t waste time going over every detail that’s already in your profile and portfolio. Instead, talk about the specific project at hand and explain why you’d be the best fit for the role.
Deliver Quality Work
The best way to gain clients and retain them is to deliver quality work in a timely manner. Remember to discuss the requirements of the project in advance, decide on a realistic timeline, and stick to it. Delivering quality work will help you build a reputation so you won’t need to scramble for jobs or take on projects below your set wages. It can also help you get more extended projects, referrals from old clients, and returning clients.
Focus on Long-Term Projects
Long-term projects are better than short-term projects. They provide a little more stability to your income and, as discussed above, they let you take advantage of the Upwork fee structure. With long-term clients, you will pay fewer fees to the platform and keep more of your income to yourself.
Charge What You Are Worth
You might be tempted to keep your wages low at all times, but this is not a good strategy in the long run. How much you charge on Upwork should be based on your skills and experience, not necessarily on whatever the competition is charging. Keep in mind that freelance industry rates, and therefore Upwork pricing, are never static, especially for those who have grown in the field. If you offer quality work, most clients will gladly pay what you request.
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Is Working on Upwork Worth It?
Yes, working on Upwork is worth it if you understand how to leverage the platform to your advantage to work remotely and earn a decent living. There are some drawbacks to using the platforms, such as the high number of competitors doing work for low fees. However, how much you can make on Upwork will ultimately be determined by whether you offer quality work and are reliable as a freelancer.
If you set up a strong profile with good samples, work to polish your pitches, and have the necessary skills to back you up, you can make a living as an Upwork freelancer. Take the time to understand the ins and outs of the platform, learn as you go, and be proactive when working with clients. This will help you succeed as a freelancer, whether you stick to Upwork or start freelancing on your own.
Making Money on Upwork FAQ
Some easy Upwork jobs you can do to start your freelancing journey include polishing PowerPoint presentations, designing custom apparel as a graphic designer, or translating marketing content for clients expanding into global markets.
Anyone can join Upwork as long as they are at least 18 years of age. The platform offers web development, graphic design, writing, legal, and even accounting jobs. If you have similar skills, you can join the platform and hit your income goals.
Upwork fees for freelancers range from five to 20 percent. Initially, you will be charged 20 percent as a freelancer. Once you’ve earned $500, the fee is lowered to 10 percent. If you make over $10,000 from a single client or project, the fee is further reduced to five percent.
Yes, Upwork is good for beginners who want to pursue a freelancing career. The platform offers thousands of jobs per day. However, it can be a bit tough for newbies to secure their first clients. Once you succeed in getting the first job, it will be easier to secure new projects, as clients will have evidence of your skills.
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