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Average annual income from Upwork?

mikepile
Active Member
Mike P Member Since: May 21, 2020
1 of 10

I have been perusing a bunch of jobs recently and see budgets of $5 and $50 and $100 for projects that require hours and hours of work. E.g., new logos, 2,500 word blogs, 30,000 word ebooks, new company names, entire vehicle wrap design and logo. Certainly no one is obligated to bid on these but they seem to make up 90% of the jobs I see.

A freelancer has to spend 20-30 minutes writing a cover letter/proposal/answering questions in additon to the time spent on the project itself if you win it and then Upwork takes a 20% haricut. I mean that is less than minimum wage. Who is taking these tiny budget jobs?  Is anyone making any kind of decent income on Upowork?

tlsanders
Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
BEST ANSWER
2 of 10

That depends on a lot of factors. I only use Upwork part-time, so it fluctuates a lot. I've made $75k+ in a year here and I've made about $25k, just depending on where I'm focusing more of my time.

 

The key is to pay no attention to those tiny budget jobs. It's not your problem who is taking them and frankly, it's none of your business. They're not for you, so keep on scrolling. Probably 2% of the jobs in your feed will be worth considering. That's fine. They add up. Just ignore the rest.

 

ETA: I don't know what field you're in, but unless it's a highly technical one, I'd aim for more like 5-10 minutes/proposal. It varies somewhat depending on the job, but 7 minutes seems to be quite sufficient for me, and quite a few take 2-3 minutes.

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a_lipsey
Community Guru
Amanda L Member Since: Jan 23, 2018
3 of 10

My off platform clients take up too much of my time to  respond to most of the invites I get on Upwork. I get about 1 invite a day. I have about two ongoing clients on Upwork, and I make about $5k a year on Upwork from them. They are my smallest clients (although they are great people doing great work),  and it only makes up about   3% of my total earnings. My off platform clients keep rehiring me and keep referring me. Upwork is  a basket I keep active as a backup.  And because those few clients I do end up working with are great in a slump. 

n-abada
Active Member
Noureddine A Member Since: May 16, 2020
4 of 10

Hi Mike,

Indeed, it's sad and even depressing to see these ridiculous posts with a ton of bids on them!

But, concerning 5$, it's often not a real price.

Apparently, Upwork does not allow clients to leave the price field empty(required field). So, they're forced to put a number, and 5 is the minimum possible.

gilbert-phyllis
Community Guru
Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
5 of 10

Like Tiffany, I only work through UW part-time and the proportion varies from year to year.

 

I never look at job posts outside my areas of focus and I pay little attention to posted budgets. If the project seems like a good fit and the client seems viable, I submit a proposal. More often than not, my proposals contain placeholder budgets and a series of questions I need answered in order to scope the work. I believe that works as an effective filter at least some of the time. I often spend as little as two minutes on a proposal. Occasionally, I invest up to 12-15 minutes if it's a large opportunity. That typically means I need to put together a set of detailed questions tailored to the client's category and/or situation.

 

I am living more and more off invitations, which is great. Although, I still get plenty of off-the-wall invites. Not sure what people are thinking sometimes.

 

Re. tiny budgets: if somebody can make a living doing what I do for 10% of what I charge -- or even 50% -- more power to them. I am pretty confident they are not really delivering the same thing I do because I am landing plenty of work, too. If their clients are happy and they're all making money, that's fine, it doesn't have anything to do with me.

florydev
Community Guru
Mark F Member Since: Jul 10, 2018
6 of 10
For the last two years the majority of my income has come from Upwork clients. However, although I have done it and it is possible it is definitely too many eggs in one basket.
tlbp
Community Guru
Tonya P Member Since: Nov 26, 2015
7 of 10

Mike P wrote:

I have been perusing a bunch of jobs recently and see budgets of $5 and $50 and $100 for projects that require hours and hours of work. E.g., new logos, 2,500 word blogs, 30,000 word ebooks, new company names, entire vehicle wrap design and logo. Certainly no one is obligated to bid on these but they seem to make up 90% of the jobs I see.

A freelancer has to spend 20-30 minutes writing a cover letter/proposal/answering questions in additon to the time spent on the project itself if you win it and then Upwork takes a 20% haricut. I mean that is less than minimum wage. Who is taking these tiny budget jobs?  Is anyone making any kind of decent income on Upowork?


People taking those jobs probably aren't spending 30 minutes writing a single proposal. 

If you browse the public profiles of freelancers in your niche, you can get an idea of what they have earned using the platform. And, if you are curious about who takes the lower-paying gigs, you can look at the freelancers who were hired for the client's previous gigs. 

cartrellgeneral
Community Guru
Catherine M Member Since: Jan 20, 2017
8 of 10

Mike P wrote:

I have been perusing a bunch of jobs recently and see budgets of $5 and $50 and $100 for projects that require hours and hours of work. E.g., new logos, 2,500 word blogs, 30,000 word ebooks, new company names, entire vehicle wrap design and logo. Certainly no one is obligated to bid on these but they seem to make up 90% of the jobs I see.

A freelancer has to spend 20-30 minutes writing a cover letter/proposal/answering questions in additon to the time spent on the project itself if you win it and then Upwork takes a 20% haricut. I mean that is less than minimum wage. Who is taking these tiny budget jobs?  Is anyone making any kind of decent income on Upowork?


It's possible to make a very good income on Upwork. I work Upwork part-time because I have clients outside of Upwork plus I am not interested in working full-time (yet). I think I average $25K and $35K a year. It really depends on the effort I put forth to find clients plus I prefer to take on long-term clients.

david_fallows
Ace Contributor
David F Member Since: May 19, 2020
9 of 10

I'm a UI/UX/Web designer with 23 years of experience. I'm going to be lucky if I make $400 by the end of this month full time.

I'm basically competing with people who are bidding $10/ph or less.

florydev
Community Guru
Mark F Member Since: Jul 10, 2018
10 of 10

David F wrote:

I'm a UI/UX/Web designer with 23 years of experience. I'm going to be lucky if I make $400 by the end of this month full time.

I'm basically competing with people who are bidding $10/ph or less.


That seems like a mistake.  How can you compete with that?

 

With just a smidge of searching I found someone who does UX/UI design that has made over $500k on Upwork over many years.  Maybe you should try competing with her instead.  She has one ongoing piece of work that she has made $130k since June 2018...1861 hours at $70.00 an hour. 

 

There is a line from a movie that I love because of the principle behind it:  What one man (in this case woman) can do another can do.

 

She did it, so can you.

 

Personally I find this idea of competition to be way overblown.  I came into Upwork with a very similar fear and what I found was that with a lot of work you can sift through clients and find hidden gems.  You just have to speak to what it is they need.  Many, perhaps even most, clients are cheap but all of them want good work done and a few even realize they will have to pay to get it done.  You have to find a way to sell yourself as being capable of delivering.

 

If you have made it this far and are still considering what I am telling you then the next step is to look at your profile.  You are talking not to a client, not to what you can do for client, but speaking about yourself (and in the third person which is, IMO, a mistake).  You just put a blah blurb you might see at the top of a resume.  This, is not for that.

 

You also have to be very careful about the words you choose.  A simple example is you say CURRENT specialization which very easily could strike someone as RECENT specialization...and why current?  Are you thinking about becoming a bus driver?  You need strong, definitive language.

 

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