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So many negative experiences. Surely someone is doing well on Upwork?

I'm relatively new to Upwork and there seems to be so much mixed feeling from freelancers. I have no idea what the migration from Elance involved so I can't comment on any issues arising from that but it seems that the forums are full of people saying they're not getting work. However, when I have been browsing the profiles of my potential competition, some people seem to be making big money.


Just wondering if there are any positive stories. I'd love to hear about people who are doing really well for some inspiration. I've had a positive experience so far. I started on Upwork as a 'test' to see if I could make a proportion of my income from such a platform and I think I could potentially make my living from it. Anyone else proved this is the case?


You have to remember that people come here to complain. Rarely does anyone who is happy and making bank come to the forum and let everyone know that they are killing it. 


My migration from Elance has been slow yet I continue to see improvements in my jobs here. Elance is slowly winding down. I still bid occasionally there, but knowing that it's going away, I've been trying to focus my efforts here.


Just like anything else, you have to figure out a way to make it work for you. I'm sure Upwork knows that they have some improvements that they need to do, but as long as I can communicate with clients, bid, get paid, and transfer money, all the rest is not important to me as long as the issues are being worked on. As long as you focus on get clients, do work well, get paid and ignore a lot of the noise, you'll do well. 


I think my big concern is hopefully the clients that I have on Elance migrate easily. Repeat customers are my bread and butter mainly.

 Jennifer, that makes sense. I guess people do use this to complain but I also thought it might be good for getting questions answered rather than creating a ticket. I'm glad things are going well for you and I hope your clients migrate over.

 Hi Jennifer, that makes sense. I guess people do use this to complain but I also thought it might be good for getting questions answered rather than creating a ticket. I'm glad things are going well for you and I hope your clients migrate over.

I am a recent Elance to UpWork immigrant.  I have been here for a week or two.  I find UpWork to be not as provider-friendly as Elance is, and as is typical with me, I find it difficult to adapt to some of the changes.  I am dissapointed in the overall functionality of UpWork (website down, irksome CS, awkward messaging system, etc) and some of its features.  


Some of it is just me not knowing how the system works.  Some of it is just poor implementation/planning on behalf of UpWork.  


That said, I have placed four proposals since being here.  Of those four proposals, two resulted in jobs at rates comparable to that on Elance, which is more than okay with me. My JSS seemed to correlate appropriately to my former Elance rating.  I'm not sure if this is a fluke or not, but for now, I'll reserve judgment.


As for the disgruntled nature of Elancers, I don't think UpWork did themselves any favors in how they handled the transition.  Particularly, rolling out features and transferring people to UpWork before they were sure everything was running smoothly, inviting people in waves (for example, some of my clients were prompted to shift their business to UpWork MONTHS before I was allowed to duplicate my profile here), shifting timelines for transition/closing dates, etc.  These things just leave a bad taste in people's mouths about the transition in general.  


Thanks Julianne,


That's interesting to know. I didn't know that and can see why people are upset, Doesn't sound great. I'm glad things are going well for you though.


Hi Nicola,


I think a lot of the negativity stems from some of the frustration that people who have been on this platform for some time and those transitioning from Elance. Plus it doesn't help that something doesn't seem to be working on a daily basis.


Despite that I am thankful that I did find this platform when I did. I have been a freelancer for over 13 years but about 3 years ago I lost some of my steady clients (and my other clients had cut my workload considerably). I didn't know quite what to do and then I stumbled upon this site. It has filled in the gap from my clients' cutbacks. I don't think I could make a living from it but it has helped me considerably in terms of supplementing my income.

Hi Amy,


That's good to know. I'm glad it's filled the gap. That's what I was really hoping for too. I agree that it isn't always working properly though which is particulalry frustrating but hopefully the bugs will be ironed out soon.




I have to say that for what it worth my success rate (winning / applied) on UpWork so far seems to be broadly in line with my Elance experience.

Had to say though I've only applied to 10 jobs here and won one. 🙂

To make it worthwhile for me I would typically need to win 3-4 jobs a month, which is currently a bit hard to do due to lack of good jobs here, but this may be due to the season. Finance jobs usually cluster around February-March May-June and than September and December.  Overall though at least in my field I doubt it would be possible to make a living on UpWork alone, as least in its current format. 


Nicola, when Upwork was still oDesk, I was doing really well and had more work than I could handle.


But since day 1 of the change to Upwork, my success on the platform has been steadily decreasing. However, I am still able to make a living solely through Upwork because of the long-term clients that I got through oDesk.


My advice: do your best here, but don't limit yourself to this site. Research other platforms and invest in some online marketing, because there's a whole other world of successful freelancing out there.


@Nicola V wrote:

Just wondering if there are any positive stories. I'd love to hear about people who are doing really well for some inspiration. I've had a positive experience so far. I started on Upwork as a 'test' to see if I could make a proportion of my income from such a platform and I think I could potentially make my living from it. Anyone else proved this is the case?

 I will be eternally grateful toUpwork (or oDesk, as it was called when I first joined.) and as you were specifically asking for happy stories; This is why:


A few years ago I was living in a place I didn't much like, doing a job that was both challenging and at times downright dangerous (due to the type of people I was dealing with)


I found oDesk completely by accident, because it appeared as a partner on my Payoneer page, and Payoneer is how I am paid the royalties for my book every month.


I took a look, signed up more out of curiousity than anything else, took some tests out of boredom, applied for a few contracts more for fun and waited.


Much to my surprise I won a contract, got paid, and won another.


Soon I used my spare time to earn spare money for extras, such as holidays etc.


Eventually I was getting more work than I could do part time, and suddenly it dawned on me that I could do this full time, and if I did, I could live anywhere I wanted, as long as I had Internet.


A few months later I packed everything I owned (and had not sold or thrown away) into an old Jaguar (including cat and dog) and set off from the North East of Scotland to the South of Italy, where I had rented a place in a town I'd never been to.


I didn't speak any Italian, and didn't know a soul, and never regretted it for a second since.


What started as a moment of curiosity has become a way of life, a GREAT way of life, and literally CHANGED my life 100% by completely setting me free from having to be where I could get a conventional job.


I am happier now than I have ever been, my quality of life is amazing and none of this would have happened had I not stumbled across this site.


I didn't even know that there is such a thing as online freelancing.



Now that's what I'm talking about! Thank you Petra, what a lovely story. I'm so pleased you have found it so worthwhile. I love the idea of being able to work from anywhere. I have a part time job at the moment and a young family but this is definitely something I will be considering for my future instead of my job. It's well paid, very sucure etc but I love what you've described. I don't think I'm cut out for a life working for someone else.


Thanks for sharing x

Thanks, Petra! Man Happy


Your story is truly inspiring. I started writing English some 3 years ago, but I started freelancing in the past year. It was really hard to get a job that paid 2$/500 words. I couldn't continue this trend and I worked hard at writing articles at 1$/500 words.


I did all that work on another platform. Suddenly, I was hired at 30$/article. One of the managers at 101domain hired me to do a copywriting job. I refused to do the work because I thought that I was not qualified. They told me, that "You are recommended by the specified freelancing network.". 


I said okay, let's do a trial. I passed the initial test and got the project for 500$. The client went away and I refused to do all 1$ jobs. Then, I started as a Virtual assistant at 4$/hour.


After some writing projects, I found Odesk which is still much better than other freelancing networks. Now my regular rate is 10$/article. It is much better than any traditional job in my country.


So, In most ways, Upwork has helped me (Although the JS is not very good).I have seen successful people over here and I hope that I'll create a successful profile very soon. 

Why work for $10 an article when you can easily get $50-$100 per article?  


Sure, you can't get that on a site like Upwork very often but the reason for that is because so many are willing to work for peanuts on here.  


If freelancers on here quit accepting such low paying gigs, clients would be forced to pay more.


I stopped looking for work on Upwork weeks ago. It became a waste of time. This isn't a legitimate freelance site and the reason for that is there are thousands of people willing to be taken advantage of by underpaying clients.  Sad.


RIP Elance

Hi, Jon!


I agree with you. There are jobs on other platforms that pay much more. There are jobs on Upwork that pay 100$/article. 

I am still learning this craft. I guess, I need some work on profile and my portfolio. I have done some copywriting projects, but there is always an NDA involved that doesn't let you showcase the project.




Hi Jon,


I agree that some people work for peanuts but I don't consider those people competition. Employers who want low end work for next to nothing are not the sort of people I want to work for. I have found there are plenty of people willing to pay higher rates and they are the best clients. They are paying for a job to be donw so they communicate well and have realistic expectations. These clients pay for quality and they are who I'm targetting. I've been able to steadily increase my rate over the 6 weeks I've been on here and I'm actually getting more work than ever.

I agree.  I would never waste my time with clients that aren't willing to pay solid rates. I value my services and time enough to not allow myself to work for low rates.


But I haven't even placed a bid in two months on here because I've found exactly 0 jobs in the niches I write about that pay reasonable rates (10 cents per word on up). I gave up a few weeks ago.  Fortunately, I have too many repeat clients that it doesn't matter right now, but it would be nice if some respectable clients actually came over to Upwork for when I actually do need to start looking for work again (if I do).


I just browsed through the current job posts.  I eliminated all entry-level and intermediate gigs and what I still found was 99% are looking to pay like $1 per 98,000,000,000 words. Total nonsense. 





It sound slike things are going well. My advice to you is be more confident in your abilities if clients are. I was worried the jobs were beyond me at first but I grew in confidence with every job. x


Hey Nicola,


I would mirror Petra's observations about oDesk/ Upwork. Stumbled on the link completely by chance, got registered...just out of curiousity!!


And since then, my standard of living has changed radically (make that a capital 'r', bold, italics....)


I was stuck in a job which paid me peanuts for grinding out 10 hours a day and the commute took another 4 hours. I was unable to look after my family, couldn't afford a vehicle of my own nor any worldly possessions.


Now after 2 years on this platform, all that is history!! I have complete freedom of work, I get paid handsomely by a very supportive employer...and that too on a weekly basis 🙂 


Rented a huge, spacious house, went on exotic vacations with family, bought tonnes of new stuff including a shiny new 'Arancio Taormina' Vespa (its sold at a premium here)


All in all, I cannot thank oDesk/ Upwork enough for the opportunities and the kind of life that they have presented me with.


I wish you a similar or even better success in your endeavours. Cheers 🙂

That's great Nikhil,


I'm really pleased you've found it so worthwhile. Thanks for sharing.



I found I was getting more work about 6 months ago. It takes a lot of time just submitting propsoals, as I would probably on get about one in 15. This partly because I like to maintian a fairly high hourly rate, so get undercut often. Upwork helps to boost my income but there is no way I could survive on this alone.


Some thinks that made it work for me included:

  • Only bid for hourly jobs, I have been caught out too many times on fixed jobs with feature creep and/or poor specifications
  • Try to deal with clients who have completed several jobs
  • If client can't specify initial job description clearly and accurately they are more trouble than they are worth
  • A lot of jobs involve illegal activity, such as breaching copyright, stealing competitor information, violating web site conditions of use etc. So scan them them very carefully
  • Look outisde your area of expertise. I have completed several projects in areas of have no formal training in. So long a s you are confident you can handle the work, look for new challenges.
  • Search for jobs from the country you live in, local knowledge and access counts for a lot

When they put in the $4/hour minimum, it weeded out the worst jobs. But then many clients seemed to shift to fixed price jobs. I have suggested a fixed price minimum of say $25. So the low margin/high problem clients would go and more money for us and Upwork.


  • Search for jobs from the country you live in, local knowledge and access counts for a lot



So true. This has tipped the scales in my favor a few times.


I'm actually pleasantly surprised that most people don't give me a hard time about my rate for hourly. I have another phone call on Monday for another hourly. I had a really hard time on Elance with my hourly rate. 

I used to work abroad (Middle East, Afghanistan, Africa) as a manager and in between stints always stayed in the Philippines, this could be a few weeks or even up to a year. It also entailed leaving my partner behind and alone during these work periods. After having done my last 1-year job in Saudi Arabia and returning to the Philippines with my savings about a year ago, I decided to start a bakery. Didn’t work out due to customer behavior being contrary to what it is in a first-world country. I once again faced going abroad but held on for a while, don’t know why.


A British friend in my area suggested checking Upwork and it turned out to be good and sound advice. Within two weeks, the first contract came into existence and since then I have been able to receive bigger payments from each client. I am so far quite content with my income and am aware that it can rise further in the near future. Having acquired premium software to support my undertaking supports me immensely.


Contrary to what I sometimes sound like in the forum, I am still mostly satisfied with Upwork, but I am also pushing for more clarity and faster solutions when it comes to certain issues.


Wishing you all a very successful time on the platform!


I feel like I have very few complaints in comparison with many of the other freelancers I see. I take a deep personal responsibility for myself, and if there's any way possible that it's my fault - I take the blame and change my actions to correct it as best as possible.


However, I know that not everyone does this. I think this accounts for a lot of the complaining.


Sometimes, though, it really is the site's fault. You know, like when everything goes down for hours at a time, or when it gets wonky for a few days. Those ones I don't take the blame for. 😉

- Barbara Herrera -

I used to have a job that I absolutely hated. I hated waking up in the morning just to have to face going into work. My wife realized that I was very unhappy and encouraged me to quit. So I did and found a part-time job that I liked more but it wasn't enough to pay for everything I wanted (or needed) to do.


After a year, I realized that I would have to go back to my old job even though I didn't really want to. They paid okay and there were limited opportunites where I lived. I even started talking to them about coming back to work for them but they had just hired another worker and didn't need anyone at the time.


Then I was talking to a person on an online forum and he mentioned that he had found some work writing on oDesk. So I went to have a look, set up my  profile and began to apply for jobs. It was definitely a learning curve, expecially, trying to price fixed-price jobs. I think I ended up working for less than a dollar an hour on some of those until I learned to gauge my time better.


I started low at first. I had actually put $5.00 an hour into my profile at first because I had read in the forum that $5.00 was a good rate to start at, but then I decided there was no way I was going to work at that rate so I bumped it up to $10.00 an hour. Anyway, I got a number of jobs, gained a lot of experience and decided to focus more on editing than writing (although, I'm starting to think about getting back into writing if I can). I took a certificate course in editing over the next year to help me stand out from the crowd a bit and continued to apply for jobs. I also began to raise my rates. I now have a number of repeat clients as well as a number of referrals from old clients.


I am not brave enough to give up the part-time job yet and I realize that I basically need to start marketing myself more that I do. I basically don't do any marketing or looking for other jobs other than on this platform. I have some off-site clients but they were all referrals from old clients that I found on this site.I also need to work on my profile and on my sales pitch a bit more to increase the amount of jobs I get.


Eventually, I'll give up on the part-time job and focus strictly on freelancing but I like to have at least a semblance of security from the part-time job.


I often say I'm so glad that my old job had just hired someone when I went to ask about being hired again because then I never would have tried oDesk and realized that there were other opportunities open to me--opportunities that I never even knew existed.


That's why even with all the problems, I still appreciate the opportunites I get here.


I haven´t get any positives stories yet. I came from Elance as an ´´Agency´´ so here I have 2 users: a) agency b) freelancer. I have applied with both users, sending 32 proposals, 4 of them declined and haven’t heard from the rest. All this in 1 month (or less). 

When I get back to the job offer, I see clients last view says 24 days, this happens with most of the proposals. 

On the other hand, it was hard to find the right offers, had to look very close among projects needing very complex work for $50 (fixed price) and between 5 and 10 per hour. And it´s crazy how many of them have more than 50 proposals. 

I think it will be nice to have a minimum hour rate much more realistic and far from slave work.


At Elance I use to work at least at 3 projects per month, and with proposals at least received questions from clients…from 40 proposals, I had 5 questions and at least 3 contracts. But here I get nothing but declined proposals.