Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

$3/hour for Customer Service EXPERT? Am I wasting my time w/ Upwork?




I just joined the Upwork platform two weeks ago hoping to make a higher income by setting my own rates. I have more than 10 years of Customer Service and Sales experience. Plus, I'm college educated. I should be able to charge at least $20/hr. Yet, I've felt compelled to drop my rate twice because I've come across so many job postings where the client's Avg Hourly Rate Paid is four bucks, for example. 


Yesterday, I turned down an ongoing, full-time project because the most I was offered was $9/hr. After Upwork's 20% fee, my rate would be $7.20, which is less than the U.S. federal minimum wage! 


What American can comfortably live out of $7.20 per hour?!


Not only did I cut my rate but in order to find higher paying projects, I also narrowed my search to only "Expert" level jobs. Yet, that isn't working either! I just came across a job posting where the client is seeking a Customer Service Expert but wants to pay no more than $3/hour! 


$3 an hour for an expert.  Seriously?!  What planet are these clients on?  


I've read comments in the Community that a majority of Upwork clients are extremely cheap when it comes to filling their Customer Service openings. They want top-notch freelancers, who speak (and write) in fluent English, to basically work for free!


Currently, my rate is set at $16/hr. I can't afford to go any lower. Is there a way to overcome this obstacle or am I simply wasting my time with Upwork?


Thank you,




Community Guru

I am also fairly new (almost three months) and in a different field than you. But here is what I noticed...


1. Do not pay attention to the beginner/intermediate/advanced. This platform is full of clients who think very low rates are "expert pay". I have received better fees from some who say they chose "the lowest rates" than some who want "experts'. This is subjective to the point it is not very useful. 


2. Many clients come here looking to outsource to less expensive freelancers who may be from other countries. You just have to learn to ignore them. Decline their invitations if they invite you to interview and don't apply for their opportunities. One clue is the very low average hourly rate and perhaps another clue is if you look at who they actually hire. You may occasionally win one of them over, but they are shopping based on price. 


3. In your field, you also need to be wary of scammers. They are not as common in my field, but super common in data entry, customer service, and virtual assistants. Usually, they offer something that seems too good to be true and they want a Google hangout interview. They will try to get you to accept payment offsite and usually never pay or somehow trick the freelancer into paying them.  


Beyond that, since I am not in your field I don't know the legitimate clients or what they pay. They probably exist, but may be hard to find. Don't change your rate based on the clients who are looking for cheaper international outsourcing. You will just end up earning very little. Your $16 an hour is still too much if they are expecting to pay $3 per hour.  Just ignore those clients. And maybe raise your rate back to what would be reasonable in your field with your expertise. You are better off with one decent client than ten of these $3 per hour clients.

View solution in original post