When I was 9 years old, I’d beg my grandma to take me to this super neat-o, GIANT dollar store called Bill’s.
And she almost always caved in.
We’d make the drive, walk inside, and I’d excitedly look up and wonder:
“How are there are so many amazing things here?! And all for $1?!”
I was weirdly obsessed with Bill’s Dollar Store.
Because, let’s face it:
Seeing a shit-ton of $1 toys is a pretty exciting event for a 9-year-old kid who only has a few bucks to their name.
I’d pick out a couple things I liked, and we’d be on our merry way.
(Usually, the next stop was McDonalds to get a kid’s meal and play in the kids playplace… ah, 90s nostalgia.)
Now, if I’d have walked in that dollar store and seen a toy that cost $100+, I’d have been all like:
“WTF!? This shit’s supposed to be cheap. Um, I’m 9 years old. I’m broke. No WAY can I afford that!”
Because here’s the thing…
When you go to the dollar store, you expect to pay… a dollar.
Maybe a couple bucks more.
Walking into the dollar store immediately puts you in this mindset:
“Everything in here is going to be cheap!”
To clients, Upwork is like the dollar store of shopping for freelance writers.
The kinds of clients who use Upwork for hiring go in knowing that they’re going to be able to find cheap workers.
…Which obviously sucks for you, the freelance writer.
Do you want to be the dollar store freelance writer?
Undervalued and underpaid, working hard with shit to show for it?
No? Didn’t think so.
And that brings us to our first reason freelance writers should avoid Upwork at all costs.
Why Upwork Freelance Writing is a Waste Of Your Time
1. The best clients aren’t looking for freelance writers on Upwork.
Truth is, good-quality clients who pay top dollar for writing aren’t looking for freelance writers on Upwork.
They’re using LinkedIn.
Searching on Google.
Getting referrals from their network.
Because they know that the BEST writers who are serious about their career / able to drive business results aren’t typically on Upwork.
They’re marketing themselves independently… on social media, with a website, etc.
Aaaaand that’s why you need to do things like:
- Optimize your LinkedIn profile for your freelance writing niche.
- Create a nice-looking, professional freelance writer website that sells.
- Market yourself and grow your network.
My students and readers who do these things are killing it.
I had one student get a $500/mo+ client by following my LinkedIn profile optimization method.
And another student who landed a $1,200 blogging client, JUST from following my freelance writer website optimization method.
This shit works. And it gets you GOOD clients who are ready to pay you well.
2. Upwork creates a race to the bottom because clients are shopping for the lowest possible price.
Since clients are in the “dollar store” mindset when they use Upwork to find freelance writers, MUCH more often than not, they’re going to shop on price.
Meaning that not only do you not get to set your rates…
You have to actually COMPETE with others who are pricing their writing services lower than yours.
And yes, that can be the case with any client you’re pitching, BUT REMEMBER…
Upwork = mostly clients who are shopping at the freelance dollar store.
Quality clients, on the other hand, shop based on the VALUE you can offer their business.
It’s why Upwork whitepaper writers charge a few hundred bucks while professional whitepaper writers who market themselves independently charge THOUSANDS.
Do you want to put yourself in front of clients who are shopping for the lowest price?
Or do you want to stop being lazy and learn how to market yourself FOR REAL so you can build an actual business?
I hope you choose the latter.
3. Upwork strips you of control over your freelance writing career and takes a percentage of your earnings.
Yup. Not only does Upwork result in you being underpaid.
They then take part of your payment.
20% for the first $500 billed.
10% for lifetime billings with the client from $500.01 to $10,000.
And 5% of lifetimes billings with the client over $10K.
Note that these dollar amounts are for working with ONE client. Not your total amount earned on Upwork.
Now, some will argue that it isn’t that bad. It’s not that much money.
But you know what’s a hell of a lot better?
Keeping all the money you earn.
And building a more profitable, sustainable freelance writing business because you’re marketing yourself independently.
(By the way, you have to keep in mind that pay as a freelancer is NOT the same as pay as an employee. Factor in healthcare, business expenses, and hefty self-employment taxes, and you may realize you need to be making a lot more than you think.)
Now, as far as control over your career…
When you use Upwork and remain clueless about marketing, you’re pretty much limited to the clients up for grabs on the platform.
And you can even get KICKED OFF the platform at any time.
On the other hand, when you have:
…You can land your dream clients.
Maybe not right away, but even at the start, you can land better clients from pitching and cold emailing than you can from Upwork.
I’m living proof of this.
Cold emailing and pitching literally allowed me to build my business up from nothing.
I was fired from my shitty full-time job, and 4 months later, had my first $5,000 month as a freelance writer.
That would NEVER have happened if I had settled for crappy Upwork gigs.
It happened because I decided to build a REAL freelance writing business.
4. Upwork de-values freelance writers.
It does this by creating a race to the bottom and giving clients the “dollar store mentality” when they hire writers.
Again, clients on Upwork are shopping on price.
And when you’re not valued as a writer, it’s extremely difficult – if not impossible – to be paid well as a writer.
This doesn’t just hurt you.
It hurts other writers too.
5. Upwork doesn’t get you the marketing experience you need to have a long-term freelance writing career.
Think about this:
What if Upwork goes under and you’ve been relying on it as your sole source of clients?
…Even if that never happens, using Upwork means you don’t have to learn how to create a REAL marketing strategy.
Which might sound nice because it saves you a lot of work.
But it’s actually horrible for your career long-term.
I mean, come on. You NEED to know how to market yourself if you want to grow a real, profitable writing business.
(Instead of settling for clients who want to pay you $20 to write a blog post and living month to month terrified that you won’t make enough money to get by.)
Did you ever stop and realize that you don’t HAVE TO struggle to find work, get paid, and make a good income every month as a writer?
There are actually writers out there who make a DAMN GOOD living.
And guess what?
The writers who are makin’ the big bucks aren’t sitting around on Upwork bidding for clients.
They’re MARKETING themselves.
Because they understand that having a real marketing plan + knowing how to pitch/sell is KEY to long-term success as a writer.
(Side note: Learning marketing is essential to a long-term career as a writer. It can even help you if you decide to do something else one day, like write a book! In fact, marketing and growing your network can mean the difference between publishing a bestseller and publishing a book that only your mom buys. Stop being lazy – learn how to market yourself and get freelance writing clients!)
Now, some of you may be thinking..
“But… but… but… I found a good client on Upwork! It’s not all bad for freelance writers!”
Okay, well, good for you.
But know that you’re a MAJOR exception to the rule.
And you’re still doing yourself a massive disservice by staying on Upwork.
Also, your definition of a “good client” is probably flawed.
I doubt you’re actually getting paid as well as you think you are – because all you have to compare your pay to are the pennies-per-word gigs on Upwork.
…Now, I’m not going to say that’s it’s IMPOSSIBLE land a good client on Upwork, because that would be a flat-out lie.
But wouldn’t you rather keep the money that Upwork takes from you?
Wouldn’t you rather have control over your career and build a REAL business where clients come to YOU?
Wouldn’t you rather create a REAL marketing strategy that eventually results in a WAITING LIST of your freakin’ DREAM CLIENTS?
I know I would.
Sounds a lot better than bidding for work on some shitty platform that devalues writers.
So, how exactly do you get clients without Upwork?
How to Ditch Upwork for Good and Make Your First $1,000 as a REAL Freelance Writing Business Owner
Long story short:
You create a REAL business and marketing strategy, which involves stuff like:
- Choosing a freelance writing niche
- Setting up a professional freelance writer website/portfolio
- Learning how to write client-winning pitches/cold emails and attract clients to you organically (yes, this works for total beginners too if you do it right!)
Rather than write a jillion more words in this blog post explaining this process, I’ve put together a totally FREE CLASS for you:
In this free class enjoyed by over 4,500 writers, you’ll learn exactly how to market yourself and make your first $1,000 as a freelance writing, even if you’re a beginner with NO experience!
(No shitty Upwork or content mills required!)
You can do this!
(Even if you’re like me when I started out – aka broke and clueless with NO college degree.)
You just need to take the first small step in the right direction…
Sign up right here now to take the first step by joining my free class, and get started creating a REAL, sustainable freelance writing business.
Don’t put it off anymore. Don’t settle for less than what you’re capable of.
Let’s make this the year you become a full-time freelance writer – WITHOUT shitty bidding sites.
See you there. 🙂