If you have a hobby like collecting baseball cards, do you think you’ll find more to buy around you locally, or online through a marketplace like eBay?
Or to help illustrate, think about your job search days before LinkedIn was a thing. So much better now that you’re able to easily connect with people far and wide, right?
Maybe not perfect comparisons, but it’s what I think of when I hear the question of whether or not Upwork is worth it. Of course, the main point being this: would one be able to find a freelance job without it, and how easily?
What determines worth?
I’ll say it a few times, but what determines if something is “worth it” will differ from me to you. And, something that’s worth it to me today might not be worth it to me tomorrow.
It sounds obvious, and it may also sound like a cop out, but it’s just the way of it. A blog post from a stranger can’t make a decision for you. But, what I can do is talk about my experiences in hopes that some of it can be applied to your own personal situation, or, that it sparks at least something you can relate to.
So with that, what determines worth? Generally speaking, something is “worth it” if you get more out of it than what you put into it. Or, you get more out of that something than you would out of the alternative.
What determines Upwork worth?
So, let’s look at the factors that would determine “worth” with Upwork:
There are a few different associated costs to consider as a freelancer looking to use the platform for work. One, to be able to bid on jobs, you need Connects. Each Connect costs $.15, but a job might require between one and six Connects depending on the specifics. This is assuming a basic freelancer plan.
If you upgrade to a Freelancer Plus membership, the cost is $14.99/month to do so, but you receive 70 Connects per month, along with additional benefits. You can always purchase additional Connects if needed, and a freelancer can roll over up to 140 unused Connects per month.
Now, beyond that, there are also Upwork fees to be aware of. I lay things out in the blog reachable by that previously stated link, but in general, Upwork will take 20% of contracts valued between $0 and $500, and then after completion of the first $500, the fee drops to 10% and then down from there.
This will vary wildly, but think about what you can come out on the other side with. If you’re reading this, you’re looking to monetize your writing, and if you’re successful with Upwork, that means you’ll obviously be earning income, and that can range from just a couple bucks to hundreds if not thousands depending on the job.
Secondarily, though, each job that is completed successfully can result in increased credibility, and a new connection for potential future work. This makes it easier for you to acquire jobs moving forward, not to mention that each deliverable is a potential new portfolio item as well.
Last, if you’re weighing whether or not Upwork is worth it, what are your alternatives? On one end of the spectrum, you might have someone who is just getting started as a freelancer. This means no experience, and really no pool to draw from in terms of landing a client.
In that case, a platform that allows you to easily connect with clients needing help; help that aligns with the skills you provide might leave you better off than other alternatives.
Now, on the other side of the spectrum, you could already be wildly-successful in your freelance endeavors, and thus landing new work isn’t at all difficult. In that case, Upwork might not be providing much value. Make sense?
Is Upwork worth it?
Again, I can’t answer that for you, but here is how I look at it through my own personal set of circumstances.
Freelance work is a side gig for me. Thus, I don’t have a lot of time for side work, and the time I do have, I want to be able to maximize by revenue-generating actions; meaning, working on a job I know I’m getting paid for.
In that case, this is one point that makes Upwork worth it to me. It allows me to readily get in front of those who are hiring, and I don’t need to put in much of any work to uncover opportunities. It’s all laid out there for me, just waiting to be bid on.
Additionally, something that personally determines whether or not Upwork is worth it is my ability to land work. If I’m going to spend money on Connects and memberships, and spend time bidding on jobs, I’d like to be able to see some return.
Thankfully, I’ve found success bidding on and getting hired for jobs (here is more on how to land your first writing job on Upwork). So, the little time I put in to comb through opportunities and bid on those opportunities is definitely worth it.
Earnings vs. cost/fees
Yes, fees hurt tremendously. But always keep this in mind—Upwork is providing a service which offers value to all of us freelancers by aggregating jobs, allowing us to bid, creating a feedback system, and everything else involved. If it or any related site didn’t exist, how much harder would it be to “break in” and find work?
So, if the platform allows you to land a $100 job and takes 20%, that’s still $80 in your pocket. Now, it’s up to you to determine the rates you as a freelance writer should charge, and while it’s tempting to undercut and bid as low as possible to earn a project, that’s really what’s not worth it.
In the end, I didn’t get into freelancing until such sites were available, so I don’t have much to compare the experience to.
But all of this considered, I truly feel Upwork is worth it. It’s my personal stance, and is fueled by the successes it has allowed for, but until the scales tip more in the other direction, from fees, to application process, or some other factor that makes things tougher to swallow, I see it as a viable option for those looking to earn on the side.