Why I've Finished Freelancer Work on Upwork and The Better Alternatives

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Why I’ve Finished Freelancer Work on Upwork

Not too long ago you’ll remember I wrote a post about my new direction and one of them was finding freelance writing work on Upwork.

That has now seriously changed direction with a sharp turn. I have been battling to find work on the platform and I feel that even though I have been offering a measly rate of $10 an hour I am still struggling to find work.

In the background, I have been putting wheels in motion to build a business out of my new venture.



Harder To Find Work

Upwork feels like mission impossible, finding work isn’t just apply and you’ve got the job, I’m competing against other hungry freelancers.

Even with 70 credits, which equates to 35 job applications, it feels like I’m hitting brick walls.

As I’m starting from the bottom I’m competing with the other low ranking freelancers which makes it very difficult as some of the other freelancers are willing to do more for less.

Since starting a month ago, I’ve had 4 jobs paying with a grand total of $52 (minus the 20% fee) = $41.60.

This is terrible because I have been looking for work for hours up to this point and that equals to a low hourly rate.

I just have this feeling that the mentality of the employers are looking for the lowest rate for the best quality.


Fighting For Scraps

Upwork is a content mill and the battleground for millions of freelancers.

The advice of most of the successful freelancers on Upwork is start doing jobs for $5 and build up your reputation, and as you get more reviews you can raise your rate.

For me, I’m already working for a pittance at $10 an hour, and if I do an article for $5 the majority of hirers expect more for what they’re paying. Great quality for the lowest rate and they don’t realize that more than likely he won’t get the best piece for that price.

For a time consideration, a high quality 1000 word article will take around 2-3 hours when you factor in the research, writing, proofreading, and editing.

On top of that crap $5, I have to pay Upwork 20% + an extra 20% VAT on their fee, so in total, I am working for $3.90.
Seriously, screw that!


Review Fears

Upwork is a review based system and with only 4 reviews a bad review would seriously damage my chances of getting future work and I would have to lower my wage more and degrade myself just to get a job.

When you’re starting out you’re at the mercy of the employer. I’m not saying do a terrible job but there is that chance you might just get one employer who is unhappy with what you’ve done and give you a 1-star review and you have no way to reason or talk with them.

Currently, I’m lucky with 4 x 5-star reviews

upwork review


The Video Which Changed My Perspective

As I was lacking in success on Upwork I started to watch some YouTube videos for some tips, and I came across Jorden Ropers video where she talks about avoiding the Content Mills and create your own business.

This really peaked my interest.  Why would she say such a thing?

As I watched more she showed her proof of results and I was hooked.

I went on to watch more of her videos and started following her principles.


Building A Writing Business

I wanted more than the content mills so I started to plan out my business and knew which direction I wanted to take.

After some long and hard thoughts, I knew B2B marketing blog posts were for me. I was no expert in B2B, didn’t know anything about SEO, I just knew how to write.

I knuckled down and did some extra studying, and to this day I continually study my craft for improvements so I can become the best in my field and be able to help businesses achieve their goals.

After deciding my niche I built my website RazorSharpCopy.com, I wrote some articles and posted them on my portfolio page, I also linked to some relevant posts that I’d written in the past.

I now had a professional website which when I showed prospects they would be more confident that they were dealing with someone who knew what they were talking about.
razor sharp copy portfolio


My Video Thoughts

More Money

When comparing the money I was set to earn on Upwork compared to what I charge now it is quite mind-blowing, and right off the bat I can charge more.

Instead of the crappy $10 an hour, I charge $25 an hour or a flat rate 5-10 cents per word, this will depend on what kind of post they want writing or the length.

It’s a lot more motivating to go after the work now.

After some hard client prospecting, I landed my first job which paid $200 for a 1,000-word blog post.  And guess what I smashed that out in 7 hours.



The lessons I’m learning as a writing business owner will outweigh anything I would have learned working as a freelancer on Upwork.

The mindset for one is something which changed as soon as I thought of myself as a business owner compared to a freelancer.

I started to think how can I help this business specifically instead of thinking “Oh, it’s just another job”. When you change your mindset in this way it motivates you more.

It makes you want to do the work instead of thinking when will this day be over.


Find Clients Faster

On Upwork it was a lot of manual work, however, I have been able to systematize the way I find clients with my writing business.

As I am cold emailing majority of my clients, 100+ per week, I need to be able to find relevant B2B marketing companies.

I tried doing it myself for 2 days and found I was spending way too much time doing this and only finding 13 contacts per hour. My time is worth more than that.

Ironically I hired someone on Upwork.  His job is to:

  1. Find relevant clients
  2. Write what is unique about the company
  3. Find the email of the person who I’d need to talk to.

He puts all the info from the company into a Google spreadsheet and I use Yet Another Mail merge to send personalized emails to each client.

It’s such a perfect system it only takes me 30 minutes a week.



Better Quality Clients

As I mentioned above most people hiring on Upwork are looking for the lowest of the low and they don’t take quality much into consideration.

What I like about working with companies is they’re more concerned about the results you can achieve for them with your content.

For example, My aim when writing a blog post is to help increase their leads by 50%.  For them, that is money well spent as I have given them their desired result.


The Psychological Attachment

If you’re working on Upwork and thinking you could never give up Upwork, I get you. You think it’s a much safer option and you get an attachment to it.

This attachment is bad, you really should be thinking of what is best for your future, so here are your two options.

  1. You can keep working on Upwork and eventually get better results
  2. You can work for yourself and start earning money your worth.

Just remember you get that extra 20% as well, which can work in the thousands of dollars if you’re working on there long term.


When I Will Work On Upwork

I am not completely ruling out Upwork I just won’t be actively searching for work on there.

If someone approaches me with an interesting proposal and is willing to pay me enough I will take that work but the tiny wage offerings go straight into the trash.


Final Thoughts

Changing from looking for work on Upwork to finding clients I feel was the smarter long-term decision. I feel a lot more motivated to achieve and improve myself.

I now have the goal of building a successful writing business to $5’000 a month by 31st January 2017.  It will take a lot of hard work, but I know exactly how I will get there.


Thanx for reading



  • 10/11/2017
  • Joe says:

    Good to hear it! 20 cents per word out of the gate is great, well done!

    What niche have you gone into?

    I started on Upwork but like you quickly realised that finding my own work was the best option.

    Once you get enough work in, you can start hiring ghost writers to scale things up a bit and switch to the agency model.

    Good luck with your $5k target!


    • mike says:

      Hi Joe
      I’m in the B2B marketing niche. And finding the clients is the hard part.

      I don’t know about an agency but will see what happens.
      The time and effort you put into Upwork can be better spent cold emailing.

  • Jason says:

    Great post!

    I’ve been following you sparadically for a while. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but please please please focus on one thing. If it’s the writing business now – focus on that for a while until you hit your goal.

    Again, hope you don’t take the wrong way!

    I hope you achieve your goals!

    • mike says:

      Hi Jason
      I appreciate your comment and I realized why I was so sparadic up till now. It was due to me having no solid specific goals and an action plan of how to get there.

      The writing business is something I will build up but not isn’t my passion, it’s a means to earn money and keep me a float, but I have talents in writing so it’s the quickest way for me to raise capital for something I’m good at.

      I currently spend 4 hours a day on the writing business, this includes writing for clients, emailing new prospects, linking with new clients on LinkedIn, follow up emails and much more.

      I try to find more to do but there isn’t much until I get more work.

      I understand your points Completely and I saw this myself trying everything and wondered why everything had tanked.

      My main two focuses now are my brand Fresh Belief and the writing business.

      Again I appreciate your words it helps me improve and we can both look back at this day in the future and see the difference I made.

      Life’s always about learning and improving.

  • Jane says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience! I’m in the same position – trying to get job at UpWork, but it’s so hard and not worth it for 3-4$. I agree with you that time is most important. Good luck with your business!

    • mike says:

      Hey Jane
      Yes, it’s one of those things that the desperation will make you try anything and everything when you should be focusing on the long game.

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