Was thinking of joining Upwork to do freelance work? After reading this article, you’ll never think of it again. If you are looking to do freelance work in the long-term and want it to be a full-time business, Upwork and freelance work just doesn’t go together. 

Do you want to know why? Keep reading. (And yes, there’s an alternative to sites like Upwork at the end.)

Upwork Is a Battle for Who Is Cheaper

Do you know what’s worse than getting paid little for your work? It’s getting paid little for work that involves a lot of brainpower, thoughts, and stress. 

The biggest reason why Upwork and freelance work doesn’t go together is that it’s just about impossible to get the money you deserve for your work.

That’s because Upwork is a bidding site, and that can only end one way.

Why Upwork and Freelance Work Doesn't Go Together

…With a bidding war to the lowest price possible.

Your potential Upwork clients know that, and that’s why they are there. They aren’t looking for the highest value, but more so for the best price.

If you live in NY and you are competing with someone in India or China for work, you are at a huge disadvantage. It’s impossible to compete with people in regions where 5-star hotels cost the equivalent of $5.

And there’s just no way around that. You either keep going down on price, or you don’t land a client. 

It’s Hard to Find Consistent Work

If you want to be a successful freelancer, working on gigs here and there whether on Upwork or not, over having long-term clients, isn’t going to get you there.


  1. Every client has different missions/goals/ways of wanting things done. If you have to constantly re-adapt to every “here and there’ client, you are constantly over-investing your time.
  2. Pitching takes time. Not only do you need to find a gig, but you also need to apply for it. If you have to constantly pitch clients over and over, every week, that’s a lot of your time wasted.
  3. Researching for different projects also takes time. 

If you continuously have to do the basics, over and over, you are wasting time that could be spent on helping valuable clients grow their business.

Upwork? It’s possible to find long-term clients, especially if you are a developer, but the majority of Upwork clients are looking for “simple” projects to be done. Ironically, most of those are never as simple, especially since you often have to do a lot of research to create a good piece of content.

And then there’s the issue of Upwork giving you 60 connects per month. Connects? They are used for applications. If you want to apply for a gig, you most often have to pay with 2 connects. That’s around 30 applications per month. 

Why Upwork and Freelance Work Doesn't Go Together

…Of course, you could pay for more connects, but really?

The Platform Is Also Too Competitive

We mentioned that Upwork is a battle for who is cheaper.

What makes the battle even harder is the number of people you need to deal with in this bidding war. 

If you have hundreds of people applying for just a one time gig, your chances of getting a gig regardless of how good you are is relatively slim. 

Upwork Fees Are Ridiculous

Upwork and freelance work doesn’t go together because of the competitiveness and bidding war in the first place.

…But it gets worse.

Imagine giving away some of the money you make to Upwork.

20% of your first $500 per every client, with most clients being short-term? Some might say that it’s fair since Upwork is providing you with this service to get freelance work in the first place.

…But what about your taxes, expenses, and contributions you need to pay?

Your clients won’t pay that for you. When you are a freelancer, you need to pay for that by yourself.

20% of $500?

That’s $100.

Assuming that you just have to pay a 20% tax on that $500?


Other forms of government payments? Probably around 10%. 

What do you get in the end? Just $250.

If you managed to make $30,000 freelancing on Upwork, you would be paying Upwork $6000.

Of course, you can offset expenses against your income, but wouldn’t it just be better to keep that 20% in the first place?

Clients Are Always Right on Upwork

Upwork always sides with clients because they are the ones that are paying them the money.

If you search for reviews of Upwork from freelancers on the internet, you will come across a tone of freelancers not getting paid by Upwork because their client didn’t like something or because they didn’t want to do extra work that was never mentioned.

That’s not cool.

Neither is the fact that you can’t charge extra for extra work that was never mentioned.

…You either do it or don’t get paid.

…And They Are a Pain to Deal With

If you are looking for great communication, Upwork doesn’t provide that.

Clients on Upwork often fail to communicate what they want, and then request a ton of changes to be done ASAP.

So What’s the Alternative If Upwork and Freelance Work Doesn’t Go Together?

…To find a different site? No. It’s to find your clients by yourself.

cold pitching over freelancing upwork

Searching for clients and reaching out to them might seem like a lot more work, but if you can find 1 client that will pay you that $1000 per month, consistently, and have 4-5 of these clients, then isn’t that much better than having to reach get 50 mini gigs per month, every month?

Here are the benefits of finding clients by yourself:

  • You can be (and feel) of more value. It’s hard to be that when you are just doing a single project.
  • You can deal with clients that treat you right and act like humans.
  • Since you get paid what you are worth, you can put in what you are worth as you won’t have to rush projects just so that you can make enough to survive.

How to Pitch Clients by Yourself

Our blog post about how to make your first $1000 freelancing is where you should go for in-depth advice, but we will dive into the basics to get you started.

  1. Position yourself as an expert. For that, you need a website, a professional email, and a portfolio on your site. LinkedIn also helps.
  2. Find potential clients to cold email. On Upwork, they are right in front of you. When it comes to pitching, you need to find them yourselves. Sites with products such as producthunt.com are a great way to find companies to reach out to.
  3. Cold email potential clients.

Cold emails?

Make sure to check out our post about the Top 5 Simple Cold Emailing Mistakes That You Need to Stop Making to learn about what not to do.

The Key to Landing Clients with Cold Emailing?

To pitch enough while not copying and pasting emails as people can sense that right away while following up when you don’t get a reply.

In reality, most neither pitch enough and also copy and paste giving a combo that’s not going to land you a client.

As far as emailing enough, this is where MailTag comes in as an email tracker.

With MailTag, you will know exactly how many emails you send so that you cannot cheat yourself.

How much should you send? Aim for 20 per day, if possible. (Considering only 24% of sales emails get opened on average.)

You can write the best pitches and offer the best service out there, but if you don’t reach enough people, you might not land the client that you want anyway, because that’s just business.

MailTag won’t just tell you how many emails you sent, though. It will also tell you how many have been opened, and that will allow you to modify them accordingly if they aren’t getting opened or replies.

This will also come in when it comes to follow-ups, which MailTag can automatically send for you if you don’t get a reply. (Make sure to read our post about Top 5 Benefits of Email Tracking Software to learn more about that.)

Why Upwork and freelance work dont go together

Just add MailTag to your Google Chrome, and you are good to go. Mix that in with our guide to making your first $1000 if you are starting out, and you are on your way to full-time income freelancing in no time!

That’s Why Upwork and Freelance Work Doesn’t Go Together

If you are looking for quality clients at prices worth your work, Upwork isn’t the platform for you.

You are better off investing your time in trying to get clients via cold emailing. There’s no reason to deal with clients that are demanding, not willing to pay what you are worth, on a platform that takes a big chunk of your money while always standing with clients over freelancers.

Is there?

Categories: Pitching