Freelancing Is a New Way To Economic Freedom, but Is Upwork Worth It?
Nov, 30 2018 | Technology

Ten years after the great recession of 2008 (which came largely unprepared for), fears continue to grip corporate businesses about labor investment for production purposes. The said recession had left companies, perhaps the corporate world in its entirety on the verge of seeking affordable labor for their production activities in fear of what may befall their investment in the future. Many firms was forced to lay off permanent staffs to lessen their wage burdens and therefore utilize virtual workers as much as possible. This and many more reasons including global technological advancement mark the birth of freelancing platform such as Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer, and Toptal to mention but a few. These platforms came to the rescue of firms as they specialize in bringing sellers and buyers of digital products and services together across the world to transact business of all sort in the simplest ways possible.   Freelancing has since continue to grow in popularity not only as a remedy to affordable labor but also as a sure way to economic freedom and self-dependency. It thus became one of the most prominent ways wherein individuals make money via digital means particularly in the comfort of their homes.

Of these platforms, Upwork seem to rank among those that enjoy massive popularity over others probably because of its global coverage and long aged history. It used to be known as Odesk/Elance before it eventually rebranded to Upwork as it bears today. The truth is that many freelancers have awesome testimonies about the platform being the key to their economic freedom as digital entrepreneurs, while firms and serve clients have also rated it highly for getting their work done quickly and more affordably because it usually present them with pools of sellers to pick from to complete their tasks at every given time, and particularly at relatively cheaper service charges.

Even so, there has been negative reviews about the platform as well. In fact, the platform seem to be losing popularity and reputation to competitors by the day owing to the growing negative reviews as observed from users’ submission on various online platforms and media. This has made curious bloggers like us query and investigate the authenticity of the many claims about the freelance platform. The question therefore is; ‘Is Upwork worth it?’ Our honest observations are analyzed on both sides of the coin thus;

Upwork can be difficult for starters

You most likely have read on Upwork’s website that signing up on the platform is free but it is technically not. While you would be allowed to create a free account, you have to subscribe a service fee for all contracts received on the platform. This makes the platform different from competitors’ that allow free playing grounds, where as a freely signed up member, you can offer your prices for advertised jobs and get hired without any fees or subscription. However, virtually all freelancing platforms including Upwork charge certain percentage of sellers’ revenues, in this case, 20 percent.

Image source: https://spendmatters.com/2016/05/06/upwork-upgrades-itself-with-pricing-model-for-online-freelancer-marketplace/

In addition to this barrier, setting up an account to look exactly professional might be ambiguous as it sometimes requires the touches of experience. You might have to create distinct and unique profile with top gig videos, presentations, images and lots more which represents your skills just perfectly. These processes are usually very technical as specialized contents are often needed on your profile to create a professional feel of you to clients.

Clients may be discouraged with Upwork’s pricing

Upwork may be posing financial barriers on clients making it difficult for sellers to get the right volume and quality of sales if clients are to consider other platforms. This is because of the payment processing fees and other charges they are meant to pay if they require some level of services as shown in the mage below;

Upwork offers less ‘worth’ and possibility for Competition

Let me begin with the point that the concepts of satisfaction and standard of living is relative, and that could affect the pricing mentality of sellers on freelance platforms. There is no difference at all with Upwork. It then makes one wonder if freelancing is actually worth it or one should rather seek a permanent job in his environment which would probably rank him according to the immediate working and living standard. Competition is practically impossible on Upwork because sellers are seriously undercut by their counterparts that live in countries with lower cost and standard of living. This can be investigated with differences in currencies among top freelance countries thus;

 

1 dollar to; Conversion
Indian rupee 70.71
Nigerian Naira 365
Pakistani Rupee 138.88
Bangladeshi Taka 84
South African Rand 14.39
Indonesian Rupiah 14,530
Ugandan Shilling 3695
Kenyan shilling 102
Philippines peso 53.18
Rwanda Franc 876

Review of Upwork might affect sales volume

Upwork seem to be more interested in the service fees charged clients than the quality of work provided on its platform. This has no doubt tell bad stories against its reputation anyway as clients seem not to have been getting the right worth of services for their money, hence the negative review it has earned over time. The recent changes in pricing shows that it now take up to 20 percent fees from freelancers on their incomes to top up the additional fees they charge the poor customer support they offer users cum the weak quality of work they have. Maybe we should say Upwork’s quality control mechanism is just out of shape. This could be detrimental to sales on the long run since most new clients usually checkup freelance companies’ reviews before signing up for their use. This then promise a long run doom for freelancers’ sales regardless of the strength of their individual sales review.

Image source: https://www.trustpilot.com/review/upwork.com

Probably a tactics to attract more clients to fold, but it has ended up on the negative side with freelancers. Upwork seem to support and protect their service clients over freelancers during order disputes and that has contributed to its negative reviews on many grounds. A professional freelancer who has worked on the platform for years and have made good money on it shared his ordeal with the support center at https://hackernoon.com/why-you-should-never-use-upwork-ever-5c62848bdf46, where he has no choice but to advice freelancers to give up a chance if at all they want to use Upwork support because of the perceived unjust treatment he got from them. The question all freelancer should ask themselves in this kind of situation is if they are protected and wouldn’t fall victims of unjust situations too. In all honesty, the freelancer according to the story shared in the link probably deserved a better treatment if the situation had been well investigated or handled more professionally than the account suspension dished out to him. It ended up that the client successfully framed him up for punishment making him lose reputation and money. Whichever way, this speaks of the many similar horrible judgment and situation as have been read online about Upwork’s support.  Below is a similar message reportedly received by Emir Ribic after being completely honest with information he provided Upwork support with during an intervention;

Image source: https://www.ribice.ba/upwork-suspended/

Now, Is Upwork really worth the freelancing stress?

This is a question every freelancer must ask themselves before joining the platform or doing any business with Upwork. And as a current freelancer under the umbrella of the platform, one also needs to be able to answer this question to realize if he hasn’t been leaving some opportunities untapped from Upwork’s competitors. As for us, we have decided not to be judgmental in our post but rather make up an objective piece from the various resources and list of sources visited. The fact is that Upwork has been a reputable freelance platform since it has been established, and if it is anything to go by;

  • It has open doors of economic freedoms to many unemployed individuals and served millions of companies to tasks completion across the globe
  • It offers many aspiring digital entrepreneur a technical business platform to render services for money
  • It offers a chance to conduct business professionally (like in the real world system with job application, cover letter, resume) from the point of setting up an account to the point of meeting clients and transacting business.
  • It teaches job time management and principles of respect for business agreement
  • It also offer a coordinated business platform based on IT system and a proper monitoring conditions for pricing, payment and several verifications.

 

Conclusion

Going by all of the stated reasons and many more, we can authoritatively say that Upwork has produced both the good and bad feel across quarters. The answer to the question asked in the title of this article would then be based on your evaluation of the pros and cons of the platform as directly applicable to you to decide which side position you stronger over the other. Make time to review every of your activities as well as peoples’ review on the platform as you would most likely be able to conclude if freelancing on Upwork is worth it.

References

https://entrepreneurs.maqtoob.com/freelancing-on-upwork-my-first-client-a4ea64a8512

https://hackernoon.com/why-you-should-never-use-upwork-ever-5c62848bdf46

https://www.upwork.com/i/pricing/

https://www.trustpilot.com/review/upwork.com