Upwork Was a $47K Pipeline in 2017 - How to Make It Work for You
In this post, I'm covering a really controversial topic:
Can you still make money on Upwork even though so many people have the perception that the market is saturated and that it's a race to the bottom?
You CAN make money on Upwork
Let me start off with this powerful fact from my business in 2017.
Upwork was a $47,000 pipeline of leads for me in 2017 alone.
Upwork wasn't even my biggest source of leads. In the past, it's been a bigger percentage of my overall bottom line but as I've grown my business through referrals, word of mouth and other channels such as LinkedIn, Upwork has become less and less important. However, it's still a vital piece of my business.
Upwork is a Warm Lead Generator
You'll see plenty of people out there telling you never ever to use Upwork. That it's the worst thing you could ever do for your freelance business.
But let me ask you: do you have another way to get warm leads? Do you have another way to get those presold leads for people who already have made the decision to outsource to a freelancer? If so, are you consistent with those results?
I see a lot of people out there who are working on methods that aren't converting into real sales. That's great, if you have a cold email campaign that converts one out of every 25 people you send an email to, but given all the time you have to put in to write a personalized pitch, to find the company, to verify their income, to go through all the hoops to get on a phone call with them, if you're not converting very many of those, you are leaving money on the table. You are losing money, whereas Upwork can be a much faster source of business.
Who is Upwork Right For?
It's right for the person who can position themselves against other freelancers.
On Upwork it's not only about showcasing your talents, it's about showing to a client why you may be a better choice than other freelancers.
Yes, you're going to have to compete and guess what? The clients who want the race to the bottom on price alone probably weren't your ideal clients anyways.
Here's a newsflash: don't bid on those jobs.
Don't take it personally when it goes to someone who quoted cheaper. Keep working to find those gems and high-quality clients.
I know this because I have multiple high-quality clients, many of whom I've worked with for so long that they've come off the platform after the two-year Upwork rule expired, and we now work together privately.
Invest in Your Business
Yes, I pay a percentage of my earnings and a monthly fee to Upwork. In exchange for the amount of money that it has generated in my business by delivering leads to me that I never would have otherwise encountered -- pre-sold, warm leads, ready to buy -- it's an easy business expense.
It is an investment in my business to pay $10 a month to be a member of Upwork and generate thousands in return.
For all those people who panic about the idea of the 20% cut that Upwork takes, here's a pro-tip: factor it into your proposal fee. Increase your rates by 20% and pass that cost along to the client. You don't even need to tell the client that you're doing that.
I used to even tell my clients, "Hey, this price includes the Upwork fee." They know you're paying a fee for being on Upwork, however, you get the peace of mind of Upwork's money protection and escrow service.
Stop Chasing Down Money
I can't tell you how many times I and other freelancers have had to chase down money from freelance clients off of Upwork who don't pay their bills. Guess what? The number of clients I've had who had issues getting payment from on Upwork with over 400 clients? Three.
I don't even want to count the number of people I've had problems with getting payment from off the Upwork platform. I know it's more than a dozen. I've had to chase down money, enforce contracts, hire debt collection agencies, you name it.
Having that escrow service, especially as a new freelancer, gives you a great deal of peace of mind and clarity that you have that protection there, should you need it, if you're using the platform the right way.
Freelancing is Growing
A lot of people ask, how can I make money on Upwork when there are so many other freelancers? Freelancing is the fastest growing section of the workplace.
There'll be more freelancers than any other type of employee in the next ten years.
Because of that, there are massive opportunities. Companies are finally seeing the benefit in hiring freelancers: they don't pay health benefits, they don't have to rent office space, they don't have to deal with all of that overhead and they get to partner with an experienced professional for a meaningful budget that gives them exactly what they are paying for.
So, if you've been writing Upwork off because you think it's not for you, I'm going to tell you a cold hard truth:
You're not using Upwork properly.
Every time you bash it, it makes me and other Upworkers more money because those people never end up on the platform.
But I want to see more people having success with Upwork. All too often, people aren’t successful because they are not thinking of Upwork with the right mindset. They are not using the tools available to them there.
There are bad clients everywhere, through every means of marketing. If you know how to use Upwork and grow a powerful job success score, reputation, and feedback on Upwork, you will see your freelance earning skyrocket as a result.