7 Myths I Had to Overcome to Earn $100,000 On Upwork

7 Myths I Had to Overcome to Earn $100,000 On Upwork
Everything you think about the platform is wrong Image of Author

Friend: “I will start freelancing on Upwork this week. I aim to get several 5-star reviews by getting some jobs from the Upwork job feed; the wording is unnecessary. My rates will be low at the beginning, and I will check jobs daily.

Also, I will write all my experiences in each cover letter to show the clients that I am professional. However, I won’t show my website because it is against the terms.

If I get a bad review, I will work on getting good ones to improve the average. I am excited….”

Me:Everything you said in the above paragraph is wrong.

Myth 1: “I am aiming to get several 5-star reviews; the wording is not necessary.”

If you started freelancing on Upwork, you probably heard about the Job Success Score. It’s a variable out of 100% that appears on all freelancers’ profiles.

Let’s say you worked hard on a project, and the client liked you. You ended the job perfectly. The client took the work, paid you, and vanished without giving you a review. Your job success score gets negatively affected.

You: “Seriously? I’ve been reading this article excited about something I don’t know, and you tell me the ABC of Upwork freelancing?”

The above is quite obvious. The client leaving you a review is necessary to survive on Upwork. Are you ready for the catch?

It has to be a verbal review. They can not just leave a 5-star review without writing something about you. For example, this screenshot of one of my works affected me negatively.

Image from Author’s Upwork Profile

So, if you were blessed with a shy client, you are doomed.

You: “Hey, I hope you are satisfied with the work!”
Client: “Yes, I am. Thanks!”
You: “Alright, if you have a moment, please do not forget to review our work on Upwork!”
Client: “Sure, I will do so when I get home.”
You: “Perfect, I am assuming you’ll do a 5-star review?”
Client: “Umm, yes. Why not? You did the job well.”
You: “Okay, can you also write a few words?”
Client: “Write a few words? why does it matter?”
You: “According to Upwork, if you do not leave a word review, I might not get the full score.”
Client: “That does not make any sense.”
You: “I know…”
Client: “… Fine.”
*Client Leaves a Review — 5 Star Rating with the following wording — “Thanks.”*

You: “Wait, who told you this?”

Me: “Their customer support.”

You: “Oh, so it’s guaranteed to be true.”

Me: “It should be. But keep in mind that Upwork, in my opinion, has terrible customer service. So it might be that their agent was just fooling around with me, which would be worse than this being a fact.”

Myth 2: “By getting some jobs from the Upwork job feed.”

The Upwork Job Feed is terrible. This is out of my own experience there. If I had 50 jobs on that platform, it’s possible that one or two were from the job feed.

It is specifically not designed for new freelancers there.

The feed itself is not the problem. How quickly clients hire is the problem. Avid freelancers there know this. Clients on Upwork hire very quickly. Whatever Upwork says, I wouldn’t estimate this to be more than 12 hours.

I never applied for any job that’s older than 12 hours. So what’s wrong with the Upwork Job Feed? — It’s too slow.

For you to get a job there, you need to refresh every 10 minutes, for example, which is unpractical.

What I did to actually know the moment clients posted jobs is through a google chrome plugin — Upwork Jobs Feed Tracker by Ilya Nee.

This allowed me to work on whatever I wanted, and when a client posts a relevant job, I hear a ping on my computer. I check it out, and if it makes sense, I apply.

Then, the more I earned, the more I became confident in my abilities to catch clients’ attention because I have a strong profile. In that case, applying for a job posted 12 hours ago would still put me on the top.

Myth 3: “My rates will be low at the beginning.”

Me: “Why would you do that?”

You: “Because I want to be competitive, and any established freelancer there will have a high rate.”

As a client who hired freelancers on Upwork for over $30k, I would like to tell you that this is untrue. Not that you have to start with $1000 as your first bid. However, there are tons of established freelancers with a 90%+ Job success score and that are pitching very low rates.

So if you believe “any established freelancer, there will have a high rate.”, you are up for a surprise.

Myth 4: “I will write all my experiences in each cover letter to show the clients that I am professional.”

Unfortunately, everyone is doing that. As a result, you will be branded as one of those who surely did not read the job post and are just applying with their written script, even if you did read it.

Quite a significant number of established freelancers post ten paragraphs or more of their stats and works.

I said this before: most of my jobs were obtained by a cover letter that looks like this: "Hi, I am Al. *Asking a question about their product*. If you want to know more about me: alanany.com”

The website would have everything this client would think of asking.

Myth 5: “I won’t show my website because it is against the terms.”

Most of the freelancers there know that this is incorrect. They know the correct rule — “You can have a website as long as it does not have contact information or a form.”

Here’s a grey zone for you — Facebook Pixel (or Google’s)

As far as I know, as long as Upwork permits you to put your website without contact information, it’s not against the terms to install a Facebook Pixel there and re-target those clients through advertising when you wish.

Why would I want to re-target those clients?

Myth 6: “When I get paid through Paypal or whatever, I can spend that money on my personal needs.”

They can ask for it again.

You: “What?!”

Me: “Yes…”

You: “You mean the clients or Upwork?”

Me: “Does it matter? You could be asked for a chargeback….”

A chargeback is when a bank interferes and tells Upwork they need to refund the amount taken from a credit card, for example, because it’s a fraud or it’s within their client’s rights. You see, there are tons of regulations around the world in different banks. Upwork is an international website, so it is possible.

You: “I still don’t understand. So if I am a client, I can hire a freelancer for $5,000 and then pay that freelancer on Upwork. Then a month later, I can change my mind and ask for all this money back because, for example, my project did not work out?”

Me: “You might; the only risk is that your Upwork client account could get banned.” (This is not a big deal unless you hire there constantly.)

You: “How do you know THAT, then?”

Me:I got asked for a $12.5k chargeback after more than a year because a client was using someone else’s credit card for over three years.

Myth 7: “If I get a bad review, I will just work on getting good ones to improve the average.”

This is one of my favorites as I always get surprised faces when I inform of this. If you get a bad review, your job success score will be affected negatively.

Unless you are a Top Rated or Top Rated Plus freelancer, in that case, you can remove a bad review from your calculations every three months.

You: “Thanks for the useless tip; I am not a Top Rated freelancer. Plus, I am sure they already know that.”

Yes, they probably do. But now I want to talk to you, the non-top-rated freelancer. If you get a very bad review with paragraphs saying that you are terrible because you didn’t “vibe” with the client, there is a solution for you.

While this is not the best, it’s still very good. I advise you to refund the entire contract. If you do that, then the review automatically gets removed. (Why would a person review you if they did not pay for your services?)

However, it will still affect your job success score. So it’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a good one because any client looking at your profile will probably see this terrible review about you.

Extra Tip 1— Always check out the Upwork Skill Reports every quarter.

They release a skill report stating what is the most in-demand skills at that moment. It could be beneficial to you so that you would anticipate the projects you could publish in your project catalog, for example.

Extra Tip 2 — Create an additional profile on Fiverr and TopTal if you can.

Finally, Upwork as a company is performing very well in terms of growth and revenue.

  • 2019 Revenue — $ 300,562
  • 2020 Revenue — $ 373,628
  • 2021 Revenue — $ 502,797 (Annual Growth: 34%)

However, Fiverr, as their main competitor, is also growing crazily. So consider having a profile there as well.

  • 2020 Revenue — $ 189,510
  • 2021 Revenue — $ 297,662 (Annual Growth: 57%)

Their stocks are both performing terribly. However, the freelancing industry is projecting massive growth. So people will become freelancers; it’s just the question of whether that will be on Upwork, Fiverr, Toptal, All of Those, Linkedin, etc...

Only the future will tell.

Never put your eggs in one basket. This is not the social media world where if you have 10 million followers on Instagram, you could migrate them to TikTok by telling them to follow you there.

It takes time to create an established profile; hence, now is the best time to start.

I’m Al, a business consultant in Zurich, Switzerland. I believe in the power of delivering value to you, the reader. Follow me on various social media platforms if you’re interested in the value of my content.

Note: I wrote a guide last year about Upwork. A section of it inspires this. Hence, if you had already read it, then you could find some of the elements below familiar.

Finally, all humans are imperfect. If you ever spot an error in my references that you are sure is a mistake, whether that’s grammatical or an incorrect piece of information according to your reference, let me know in the comments to update the article. The most vital element here is to spread correct and valuable content to the readers.

7 Myths I Had to Overcome to Earn $100,000 On Upwork was originally published in Entrepreneur's Handbook on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

* This article was originally published here