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. To become a successful freelancer, you need to gain freelancing experience and find clients willing to pay you a decent hourly rate for your services. Upwork is a popular platform for gig workers and freelancers.
No matter your level of experience, Upwork offers professionals the opportunity to earn income off of freelance work. Keep reading to learn how people turn their freelancing side hustles 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 more benefits.
How Does Upwork Work?
To become a freelancer on Upwork, you can sign up for free and create a profile. When you are done, you can start to apply for projects that match your 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.
When you send a proposal to a potential client, the client can choose to accept or ignore the proposal. 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 Actually Make on Upwork?
According to a study commissioned by Upwork, freelancers in the United States earn an average of $20 per hour. This data also revealed that some freelancers earned more due to their specialization. Those in the legal, web development, accounting, and marketing fields earned over $28 per hour.
Another report from CNBC reveals that a freelance writer earns an average of $30 to $40 per hour. Freeland editors earn $25 to $35 per hour. Programmers are on the higher-earning end at $60 to $70 per hour. Freelance web and mobile developers earn around $50 to $60 per hour.
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The Pros and Cons of Working on Upwork
Upwork has a lot of benefits for freelancers from different fields. You can work remotely and get paid while working for quality clients. However, like other gig economy platforms, there are some disadvantages of 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 satisfied 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.
- 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 resources 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 free ‘connects’ every month as well as a rating system that propels new freelancers.
Cons of Working on Upwork
- High fees. One main disadvantage of Upwork is the high fees. The platform takes from five to 20 percent 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 you make $5,000 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 beat the competition.
- 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. Upwork offers a desktop time tracker for hourly payments. This time tracking tool takes screenshots every few minutes while it is on. It does this to ensure you are doing your job and sends the photos to the client during the weekends. It may disturb the flow of your work in some cases.
How to Become an Upwork Freelancer
Joining Upwork is easy. You simply need to fill out your relevant personal info online. You just need to be at least 18 years old to work on Upwork. Here are a few tips on how to get started through 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 while preparing the profile.
Start by filling out the kind of job or service you want to offer and add your relevant skills. You will also be required to add your level of expertise to help clients assess your skills. It is essential to be honest about what you can do because if you are hired and fail to deliver, your account could be closed or put on hold.
It is also important to add a professional profile picture. You’ll also need to add your portfolio and work samples. The profile requires other information such as your education, work experience, location, preferred rates, and how many hours you want to work per week.
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, you can also send a sample to show your skills.
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.
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3. Get Paid
While completing your profile, 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.
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 the platform. 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 Profile
Your main selling point is your profile. You need to craft it well because clients will review it before deciding to hire you. It is important to highlight your expertise and demonstrate how you can do a better job because of your skills. Those in the creative fields should add a portfolio that lists their previous work.
If you are a programmer, you can link your portfolio containing websites you have built or apps you created. Writers can also add samples of articles they have written or links to reputable websites reflecting their work. Don’t forget to add an introduction about yourself and your employment history.
Deliver Quality Work
The best way to retain clients is to deliver quality work. Aim for quality over quantity. Delivering quality work prepares you to become an expert in your field. You won’t need to scramble for jobs with other freelancers if you have good relationships with clients. You could get more extended projects, referrals from old clients, and returning clients.
Focus on Long-Term Projects
As mentioned earlier, long-term projects are better than short-term projects. This is mainly because of the fee structure in Upwork. With long-term clients, you will pay fewer fees. Long-term projects also mean a steady source of income.
Do not hesitate to ask for more payment if you believe the job demands more of your effort and time. Freelance industry rates are never static, especially for those who have grown in the field. You need to charge according to your skill level and the job requirements. If you offer quality work, most clients will gladly pay what you request.
Is Working on Upwork Worth It?
Working on Upwork is worth it if you want to work remotely and earn a decent living. The platform protects its freelancers by ensuring that they get what is due to them after submitting their work. Upwork has some cons, but with the correct information, you can work seamlessly on the platform.
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Making Money on Upwork FAQ
Can you make good money with Upwork?
Yes, you can make good money with Upwork. Some experienced freelancers earn an average of $20 per hour and others can earn up to $60 per hour. This wide range means that the best-paid freelancers can make anywhere from $32,000 to $120,000 in annual income on Upwork.
Can anyone join Upwork?
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.
Is Upwork worth it in 2021?
Upwork is worth it if you want to connect with clients all over the globe and get paid for your skills. The platform allows professionals to work remotely and make money by sending proposals to potential clients and applying for jobs on the platform. Successful freelancers are sent contracts and paid after the job is delivered.
Is Upwork good for beginners?
Upwork is excellent 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, others will follow to help kickstart your freelance career.
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