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High Upwork fees

Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
11 of 26

@Nikola P wrote:



2.) Charge the same amount, and work for less money, meaning: underpaid/work for free. I am in the disatvantage.


Not really. Not if you're thinking like a business person.


Different estimates place the percentage of time a freelancer spends on unpaid tasks such as seeking out work and invoicing at between 30% and 70%. 


Let's go with the optimistic view and say that your administrative investment in finding new clients, billing them, collecting, etc. would be 30% of your work time.


That means that in a 10 hour work day, you can bill 7 hours. Or, you can work through Upwork and bill 9.5 hours.


If your hourly rate is $20/hour, you can bill $190 through Upwork and pay $38 in fees, for a net revenue of $152. Or, you can bill 7 hours outside of Upwork with no fees for a net $140.


Of course, that assumes that you don't spend a single dime on your efforts to solicit business...which also means that your efforts to draw in new clients are probably much less successful than Upwork's widespread advertising campaigns.



Community Guru
Vesna M Member Since: May 15, 2012
12 of 26

If you raise your rate to $20 you'll earn same as before, and no client will be on disadvantage because they choose to hire someone for $20 and not $15. I would recommend to go for the first option and continue applying for jobs. 

Don't correct my grammar!
Active Member
Sam T Member Since: Feb 22, 2018
13 of 26

Sad to see the Upwork fanboys and girls dismiss the high fee's argument.

Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
14 of 26

@Sam T wrote:

Sad to see the Upwork fanboys and girls dismiss the high fee's argument.

 You mean the people who make a healthy profit through Upwork and find the fees to be worthwhile?


I'm not sure why you think it's "sad" that others are successful, but it doesn't speak well of you.



Community Guru
Rene K Member Since: Jul 10, 2014
15 of 26


"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless
Community Guru
Reinier B Member Since: Nov 3, 2015
16 of 26

@Rene K wrote:


 Deleted as well. Fanboys/fangirls? Really?  

Community Leader
Michelle S Member Since: Jun 23, 2017
17 of 26

I know that I've also said this before.  If you are working through Upwork, you are working for yourself.  You are not working FOR Upwork.  You can set your fee to whatever you want.  If you believe you can make more locally, doing the job you are doing, you should definitely do that.  I have clients on Upwork and I have local clients.  But I live in a small city and local clients are not readily available.  Plus, cost of living differences and all, my clients on the coasts will pay me more than my local clients for the same work and I don't have to move and I can continue to live in an area with a lower COL.  If I did not use Upwork, I would have to be out every day drumming up clients.  I would incur significant, brochures, lunches, travel, other advertising, etc.  I may go weeks and weeks between projects.  Plus it's tiring.  To me, Upwork is a luxury.  It is a cost I incur to match my skills with clients who need to hire a small (1-person) company.   If I have 2 days that I don't have a job, then I can spend an hour replying to bid invitations and get something in a matter of hours to fill that time.  Where else can you do that?


Also, after just $500, the fee drops to 10%.  At this point most of my clients are able to hit that within the first day of me working for them.  That's nothing compared to advertising.   If you are truly offering a service that people need, with experience to back up your fee, people will pay.   If you don't, then it's possible this isn't the right platform for your skills.  I read here all the time about people not being able to find work.  I turn work away here on Upwork.

Active Member
Johnathan M Member Since: Jun 22, 2015
18 of 26

The 20% fee is outrageous - you can't possibly defend that. Hell, a personal literary agent doesn't charge that much!
Even 10% is way too much once you learn that they only charge clients 4%. Yeah - the companies that have money only have to pay a measley 4%, while Upwork takes 20% out of the pockets of the starving freelancers. Whose idea of fair is THAT?

So, Upwork gets a total of 24% of every job - and freelancers pay 80% of that total. How fair do you think that fee structure is NOW? Huh?


I can tell you this much, too - and this is another clear indication that the freelancer fees are way too high. Before Upwork raised the fees from 10% to 20%, I think I had one client in three years ask about paying me outside of Upwork (in order to get a lower rate - because I do build Upwork's fees into my fees and I tell clients that right up front, that part of the reason for my fee is that when they pay me $100, I only end up getting $80.) Since Upwork DOUBLED their freelancer fees, I'd estimate that about three-out-of-four of the many clients I've dealt with have asked me about making payment arrangements outside of Upwork.

J.B. Maverick

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
19 of 26

re: "The 20% fee is outrageous"


The fee is voluntary.

Nobody in the entire world is required to pay Upwork fees.

Nobody is required to use Upwork.


You are welcome to use other comparable services with lower fees, or set up your own website or other resource from which you market your services.


re: "I'd estimate that about three-out-of-four of the many clients I've dealt with have asked me about making payment arrangements outside of Upwork."


That is not my experience. I think if you ask most regular Forum participants, they would say that such a thing is very rare.


Maybe there is something about your communications with clients that lead to this.

Active Member
Johnathan M Member Since: Jun 22, 2015
20 of 26

"Maybe there is something about your communications with clients that lead to this"
Seriously? Well, since my communication style is pretty consistent, please enlighten me with your logical explanation as to why the drastic change in the frequency of this happening.

"The fee is voluntary."
Well, DUH, yeah. But not really - it's not like it's a donation and I can just pay Upwork whatever I want to. It's ony voluntary to the extent of, "If you want to get any work from here, here's what it costs. If you'd like to try to live without any income, then you can VOLUNTARILY opt not to pay it."
The fact that it's voluntary has no bearing at all on the question of whether or not it's a fair or reasonable fee.


Just a point of information: With most successful companies, the price of their goods or services goes DOWN as they become more successful, not UP - this is due to the business achieving economies of scale.  In short, when a business is first starting out and has few customers/clients, it might need to have a 50% profit margin just to make enough absolute dollars to stay in business - but once it has, say, a thousand customers, it can usually afford to do with a lower overall profit margin. Well, Upwork isn't shy about crowing its success, but apparently, for Upwork, having twice as many customers somehow necessitates them charging twice as much for their services. (Can you spell "GREED"?)

Just out of curiosity, do you think it's fair that the freelancers should have to bear the burden of providing 80% of Upwork's total fees while clients only contribute 20%? Between clients and freelancers, who do you think generally has a greater ability to bear the cost?

And if you think a fair price for merely hosting a site where you can connect with potential clients is TWICE what you'd pay a literary agent who ACTIVELY seeks out work for you and negotiates deals...well, you're welcome to that opinion.

J.B. Maverick