If you are just getting started with freelancing, one of the most difficult steps is getting started on the various platforms available to you. While there are many, the largest and most diverse is Upwork.
I have been working on Upwork since it was known as oDesk, and I also worked on Elance before Upwork merged with it. This is the platform where about half my work comes from. So, to help you get started, here are the things I think you should know about Upwork.
Clients Trust Those with a History on the Platform
I know so many talented people who have tired to get going on Upwork and they just cannot seem to land a single gig. Clients do not even respond to their applications. While I cannot know exactly why they get turned down, I do believe it comes down to not having a history on the platform.
When I started on Upwork, I actually came with a job ready for me; an online friend needed someone to write articles and based on my writing in our chats and on social media, she decided I had the talent she needed (so yes, grammar and spelling matters, even on Facebook). She already hired freelancers on Upwork, so she had me make a profile and then hired me.
For every ten sets of articles, she ended the contract, making a new one when more work came in. As a result, I had a lot of feedback when I finally decided to start freelancing as more than an occasional gig. While I do not get every job I apply for, I have no trouble getting clients to take my applications seriously, which is in part due to my having feedback on my profile.
For freelancing platforms to stay in business, they have to charge you. Upwork does not cost any money when getting started; you can set up a profile for free and you can apply to a certain amount of jobs for free each month. However, they do charge you a certain percentage of your earnings.
If you bring a client to Upwork, no fees are charged, so you enjoy the benefits of Upwork without paying for them. For all other clients, they take 20% for the first $500 billed, then 10% on the next $9,500 billed. After that, they charge just 5%.
The Benefits of Upwork
Given the fees, you might wonder if working on Upwork is actually worth it. In my opinion, yes. Over the years, the Upwork team has helped me when things have gone south with clients in ways other platforms may not, and in ways PayPal certainly doesn't.
For example, they offer their escrow service. With this, you can decline to begin work until the client puts the money in escrow. Once the work is complete, you attach it and request payment. The client must then either ask for changes or release payment within a set amount of days; if they do neither, you automatically get the money.
If the client seems to be requesting changes just to put off payment, you can ask for help from Upwork and they will step in to resolve the issue. They will also help you in other problematic client situations. In one case, I had a regular client go dark on me after I completed $600 in work; I had not asked for escrow because there had never been a problem before. Upwork still instructed the client to pay me or else their profile would have a strike against it; they still wanted to work through Upwork, so they paid. We then ended the contract without them giving negative feedback to me.
Other benefits of working on Upwork include the massive amount of jobs, their talent clouds, and their special programs for top freelancers.
Should You Use Upwork?
My vote is yes, 100%. Out of the various platforms I have tried, this is the one I prefer, and I think once you get started, you will love it too.
Freelance writer and editor with an education background, working from home and living abroad.