Why Is Freelancing On Upwork And Freelancer So Terrible?

Upwork and Freelancer.com are the two biggest freelancing marketplaces on the internet. They connect employers with freelancers for all sorts of projects, from writing to graphic design to development.

Most people looking to hire a freelancer or get hired as one will start on these platforms. It’s a great idea in theory, but when you consider what they really offer, it’s not that exciting at all. Let’s take a look at why Upwork and Freelancer can be so terrible:

You’ll Have To Fight For Work

When you’re starting out in Upwork, it is going to be tough to get projects. This is because your client ratings are zero and there are thousands of other freelancers competing for the same work. The best way to get work on Upwork is to look for projects that are underfunded, under-staffed, or that clients haven’t started yet.

This means staying up late and getting up early (or vice versa, depending on where your clients are located) so that you can see what new projects have been posted. That way, you’ll be one of the first applicants for the project as well as a low-cost candidate with no feedback or reviews from previous clients.

Work Will Be Low Pay

Let’s start with the hardest pill to swallow: you will not earn much money when you start freelancing. In fact, if you pay attention to how some clients talk about pricing, you might think that your time as a developer is worthless.

This is because some clients believe that developers have nothing better to do than work for them. It’s up to us (as TAs) and yourself (as students) to teach them otherwise by refusing low-paying jobs and arguing for higher rates when needed.

My Experience

One example of why this is a bad idea is from my first freelance job on Upwork. I spent 33 hours working on a project at a rate of $8/hour for a total payout of $264 before taxes (Note: this does not include the 20% Upwork fees). If we assume that each hour would have been 40 hours in corporate America, then I made roughly minimum wage ($7/hr). If I was an hourly employee working on this project, it would have cost the client $1320 before taxes—so they saved nearly 80% using me instead of an actual employee.

Yes, they got lucky having me as their developer but I should have charged at least 5x what I did to be fairly compensated. That’s over $1000 in lost revenue!

The moral of this story is that freelancing is not a get-rich-quick scheme. You need to charge fair market value since it’s basically impossible to find full-time work as a junior developer without experience; companies want senior developers so they can focus more on product features and less on training junior developers who are still learning new things.

This means you will probably end up working in short periods with many different companies which often results in lower rates than what you could get paid if you worked full time for 1 company over an extended period of time.

Clients Will Make Unrealistic Demands

The first is when a client will reach out to you after you have been hired and ask for extra services. This might be extending the project or adding more features. When this happens, it’s important to consider whether you want to do the additional work. If the price of your service was low and you’re in a hurry, then it might not make sense to increase your workload.

However, if the original offer was higher-paying or if you have some time on your hands, then it could be worth taking on additional tasks; just make sure that they are within the agreed-upon scope of work.

It’s also important to remember that most clients don’t know as much about design and development as freelancers do. This is why sometimes a client will ask for something that doesn’t make sense from an economic perspective—like asking for free changes after paying for an hour of design time at $100/hour—or something else unreasonable like asking for a website redesign when only cosmetic changes were requested initially.

Clients Won’t Pay You

If you’re not careful, you can end up working for free. This is because clients are often unwilling to pay what they’ve previously agreed to pay. Often, clients will want more work done than the scope of their original project.

If this happens, it’s important that you make sure they agree to a higher rate before you do any more work. Otherwise, they won’t pay you for your extra time and effort. If a client doesn’t initially agree to a higher rate, then tell them that the additional work will take longer and cost them more money if they don’t agree to it right away.

Another common problem with clients is that they don’t have the money to pay you right away or at all (believe it or not). The best way to deal with this situation is by demanding upfront payments.

This means requiring payment before beginning work on a project—or at least requiring an initial deposit before starting anything. A client who actually plans on paying is usually fine with this request because he or she wants you as an employee and knows that paying upfront ensures your dedication for the duration of the project.

If you want clients to pay you fairly, keep the communication brief and focus on producing your best work.

The other thing you can do to keep yourself from getting bogged down is to keep your communication with clients brief and focused. Don’t build a relationship with them. It’s not worth it–they’re just going to rip you off in the end. The only thing you should be doing is working on their projects.

If I could go back to when I first started freelancing, I would have avoided all of the worst situations by being more careful about who I worked for, and spending less time communicating with them.

Clients Will Want All Your Time

  • You’ll be expected to be available 24/7

This is a major downside of freelancing on Upwork and Freelancer, or really any other freelance website. Keep in mind that the client doesn’t know when you’re working or when you’re not working, so if they message you at 2 am and don’t get an immediate response, they might become upset.

Take into account the time zone differences between you and your clients. If you live in the US but a client lives in Australia, it’s going to be hard to find mutually agreeable times to work together.

Currently, I’m working with a client who lives in the US and our time difference is 12 hours! We have meetings at 7 am my time (which is a super early lunch for him) and throughout the day I’m pretty much always online because he can message me at any time. He’s fine with me doing other things while I’m online but wants me to respond quickly so he doesn’t feel like he’s waiting around forever (I try not to take more than 5 minutes unless I happen to be sleeping).

  • You’ll need a way for clients to reach you

If possible try not to use your home number for business calls (it can lead to some embarrassing situations if family members pick up).

It also wouldn’t hurt if your phone was connected over WiFi vs using data (so there are no long-distance charges). It may also help if you set up voicemail so that people know how long it will usually take for you to respond back or what times of day are good/bad for contacting you.

The Quality Of The Clients Isn’t Great

Because anyone can hire on these sites, most of the clients looking for freelancers aren’t very nice or professional. They might expect you to work for free before committing to pay for your services, and they might not agree to a contract before assigning work to you (meaning there’s nothing legally binding them to pay you).

Client Evaluation Is Completely Subjective

You have to keep applying for jobs, over and over again, because you have no way of knowing what clients are looking for. It’s all about who gets the most applications, who are willing to work for the lowest rate, or who has the right portfolio.

Lack Of Trust

There’s no way to verify the identity of a client, so you have to trust that they’ll pay you reliably once you’ve finished their project. This can make it hard to feel confident about taking on new work.

Upwork And Freelancer Also Have Very Little Oversight Over Clients

If a client gets angry at you or decides to break off your contract, they can leave you with negative reviews, which will tank your profile and make it almost impossible to find work again. Although most clients are nice people who will pay you fairly and treat you with respect, all it takes is one bad experience to ruin your profile.

They Have Lots Of Scammers

Freelancing is a hustle, and if you work on Upwork or Freelancer, it’s pretty much a guarantee that you’ll run into some scammers along the way. These are people who will “hire” you for a job and then either disappear without paying you or ask you to do extra work without providing any more compensation.

You can avoid this by doing your research, but it’s still something that happens all the time on these sites. Keep in mind that there’s no protection for this as a freelancer on either site—if someone doesn’t pay you for your work, it’s up to you to get them to pay.

Wrapping Up

Sadly, there are worse than good stories about Upwork and Freelancer. We wish that wasn’t the case but unfortunately it is. That said, not everyone will end up having terrible experiences with these sites; plenty of great gigs and honest freelancers call them home. Just be sure to vet your potential clients on each site before you commit to working with them, and don’t be afraid to get professional advice if you feel like you’re in over your head.

People Also Ask

What Is Freelancing?

Freelancing is selling your services on a per-project basis rather than working for one company full time. On Upwork, you compete with other freelancers to win projects and get paid for the work you complete.

What Is Upwork?

Upwork is a platform where clients post projects and freelancers bid on projects. In order to be accepted as a freelancer, you must submit proposals for project applications, and pass interviews as required by individual clients. You can also create an agency profile if your company has multiple employees who work together.

What Is A Freelancer.Com?

Freelancer is a platform similar to Upwork in that it allows clients to post their “jobs” or “projects” and allows workers who register as “freelancers” to bid on the jobs. As far as I know, there are no skills tests or agency profiles on Freelancer like there are on Upwork.

Why is freelance job searching on Upwork and Freelancer so terrible?

Freelance job search sites like Upwork and Freelancer are a great way to find work if you’re just starting out in your freelancing career. But they can also be pretty exhausting because the competition is really stiff.

Are There Other Options For Freelance Job Searches?

Absolutely! Craigslist is a great place to look for freelance jobs. You might not find as many things as you would on Upwork or Freelancer, but you can usually get the same number of gigs in a week. And you’ll be able to set your own rates, which will help you make more money over time.

Why Is It So Hard To Find Work?

Searching for jobs on these sites is like looking for a needle in a haystack! You have to sift through hundreds of jobs to find the ones that fit your skills, and even then you’re competing with tons of other freelancers.

How Do I Get Paid?

You have to be working on an hourly basis and have a contract set up through Upwork or Freelancer for them to pay you. Otherwise, you’ll have to figure out an alternate way to get paid.

How do I know if a job listing is a scam?

To tell if a job listing is a scam, try googling the company name + “scam” or “code test” or other suspicious keywords. You can also lookup whether the company has had any complaints filed against them with sites like the Better Business Bureau in their area.

What Are Upwork And Freelancer?

Upwork and Freelancer are two of the most well-known job boards for freelancers. Both provide a marketplace where freelancers can showcase their skills and apply to work on projects, and where clients can post jobs and hire freelance workers.

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