re: pay rates...
Depends on who you are and what you do.
Plenty of people working on Upwork make a lot of money. Lots of people work here as their only source of income.
A lot of people earn over $100 per hour, which is a pretty decent living in most places.
Not all job skills, and not all skill levels within those job skills, are equally in demand.
So a discussion of discouraging pay rates can't realistically be applied universally. Even some of the rates you find discouraging are considered quite thrilling in some circles. Those discouraging rates might be earned by a contractor in another part of the world who is the envy of all her neighbors because she earns so much more than any of them.
A few blocks away from you, your discouraging pay rates are exciting to a young person fresh out of high school or earning extra money doing something then enjoy while going to college.
But, yeah, it can be hard to earn a lot of money if you're competing against a worldwide market. You probably need to either adjust your expectations downward, or upgrade your marketability.
Melissa, there are contracts in your stated fields of expertise paying over twice your asking rate.
I'd suggest you completely overhaul your profile which is currently probably one of the main factors standing between you and the higher paying contracts, and give it a fair shot.
Maybe you are also applying for thewrong jobs
Those low rates sometimes discourage me as well, but then I stop and consider. Well, if these guys have worked for such low wages, right now they have a huge reputation and have considerably raised their hourly rates and have an enviable portfolio here at Upwork.
So, what's the conclusion for me? Stop comparing myself to the others, stick to what ends I can meet currently and get better at what I do. Distraction coming from negative thoughts, anger, envy even, etc. can only be damaging and lead to self-pity. Yes, I do find it unfair that some people can live happily with $5 per hour and I can hardly meet my ends with such a rate, but that's the truth. If I want to earn more I must earn the client's trust and on top of that I must show high quality of work and service. That's it.
Besides, I am looking for other ways to earn money. I can't solely rely on Upwork. I have portfolios elsewhere and basically I have different income sources. I stop complaining and just get to work. I use my brain to get out of my unsatisfactory situation and must persist. The world is full of highy competent people (and this brings crushing competition everywhere), so the only reason why someone competent isn't hired is because s/he doesn't market themselves well enough. That's my view on the matter now that it's been revived I suppose Sara isn't really going to see my post anyway.
What I forgot to mention is that I have seen Asian freelancers (mostly designers) and freelancers from Eastern Europe with some of the most impressive and amazing works and portfolios. I honestly admire them. They live in harsh conditions (I myself coming from Eastern Europe). Living in difficult conditions inevitably makes you fight even harder than people who live in more civilized countries (the Western world). (ADD: I know that even in civilized countries there are people who work super hard! I actually admire hard-workers, that's all! ) So, I don't see anything wrong with outsourcing to these countries when you see that some of these top freelancers are super highly qualified and experienced. Yes, I would pick an Asian guy with 10 years of experience and a smashing portfolio than a German guy with 2 years of experience and recently graduated. And mind you, I have absolutely no problem with German people I love Europe and all its countries and nationalities! It's just an example.
I'm sorry for this long philosophical post, I hardly have had time in the last several months to talk to anyone, so I guess I'm pouring all my thoughts here
Entitlement is something one should not think about if you are in the freelancing business. Once you enter this field, you do not, any longer, compete on a state-wide, or even country-wide scale. You are competing globally, against a myriad of people from all over, with their own, unique skill sets, backgrounds, levels of competency and past experience.
To walk into this business and expect top rates from the outset, is only something which someone whose set of skills is so in demand, can expect. When you are, however, competing in a field where there are many other, equally competent people, you cannot, at first, expect to jump to the top straight away and earn the highest rates. It just does not happen - not unless you are extremely fortunate.
You have to build up your reputation and prove yourself first. As for myself, I am slowly getting there.
If you are responding to what Melissa said...
There isn't anyone in the US who would be able to live even a meager life on $3/hr. I don't think Melissa was talking about the global market. Yes, we all know that some people in other countries can live comfortably on $3/hr. Asking a fair wage for one's work isn't entitlement. Saying Melissa thinks she is entitled just because she is discouraged (a LOT of people here are, did you notice?) isn't fair.
Petra's advice seems more helpful.
If you read clearly, you would have noticed I was not referring to $3/hour pay. I was referring to gaining higher, better-paid contracts, as well as reputation on this site and the competition involved.
Sorry, but I think I did read clearly. Melissa is discouraged because the pay rates are so low (aren't we all discouraged!). You said, "Entitlement is something one should not think about if you are in the freelancing business."
And then, "To walk into this business and expect top rates from the outset, is only something which someone whose set of skills is so in demand, can expect."
I don't see where she expected top rates. Her profile says she is asking $10.00/hr. To me, that doesn't seem like top rates, but I am not familiar with her services exactly, so maybe you know more about that and $10/hr IS a top rate.
But no matter. You are certainly entitled to your opinion. :-)
Cathleen, with all due respect, you are making assumptions and jumping to conclusions as to what I said. Please read the thread in its entirety, and what other people have said.
In no way have I alluded to any person in particular, and would appreciate it if you did not put words in my mouth.