So you decided to become a freelancer, test the water, make a buck on the side, or perhaps you really want to make it your primary source of income. Now you have several freelance platforms to choose from, and each one requires an investment in time and a little money too. There are thousands of other freelancers on there and writing a good profile, finding your niche and getting good reviews takes a few weeks at minimum.
Which one should you choose?
To make it a little easier, you can forget about Upwork. Here’s why:
1. Upwork is not an online platform
Upwork limits the number of applicants to their site. The application procedure is vague; fully completed profiles get rejected frequently and while Upwork claims that they only reject profiles when there are already (too) many freelancers with a similar skillset, this is often not the case. Many candidates report that after adding or changing skills, they still got rejected.
Upwork behaves in this sense more like an employment agency than an online platform, however they do not publish any data on job openings and you’ll only find out after having submitted your profile.
2. Upwork does not believe in the free market
While it seems at first glance sympathetic that Upwork limits the number of applicants to ensure higher pay for their existing freelancers, this is not a viable long-term strategy. From a client perspective, it means that posting a job on Upwork is more expensive than on other freelance platforms.
Upwork claims that their application procedure ensures higher quality standards, and of course a little filtering doesn’t hurt, but the final assessment should always be made by the customers. In the same way that AirBnB does not judge the quality of accommodations offered, but let their customers decide through their review system. Those who do not perform are filtered out and those that do perform get the highest pay. By limiting the number of applicants, in other words, competition, Upwork lowers overall quality in the long run.
3. Upwork has no customer service
When you post a ticket to the helpdesk, replies usually take more than 24 hours, in some cases as much as four days. There is no direct email or live chat, and while Upwork does have a phone number, it is not published on their own web site. Customer service consists of referring to automated scripts and suggesting finding help from other freelancers on their community forum. Thousands of negative reviews of Upwork seems to have had little effect on this company practice.
4. High commission fees
Upwork charges freelancers 20% commission over the first $500 earned. Add up other fees for the client and additional charges for payment processing and the total fee becomes 25%. Only earnings over $500 are charged less, but most projects do not reach such numbers. This is far more than comparative freelancer platforms.
5. Upwork is a cult
Those who work with Upwork swear by it. Voice any minor complaint on the community forum and you get lambasted by loyal followers. Undoubtedly many freelancers make a good living through Upwork. But that doesn’t mean one should turn a blind eye towards its many flaws; especially if you are just getting started. There are many other platforms that are cheaper and better.