The short answer: Yes. As someone who has made over $10k in the last 6 months, I can tell you that UpWork is very legit.
Is it possible to have a bad experience? Yes to that as well.
When I started out I heard:
- It’s flooded with foreign workers that work for low pay
- The fees are high
- Clients are demanding and expect too much for little pay
But the truth about UpWork is that it’s an excellent way for a web developer to make money in their spare time.
Traditional Freelancing vs. UpWork
The problem with traditional freelancing is it is all about personal relationships.
- You build a network through people in your local area
- They trust you and give you work
- They refer you to their friends and you get more work
But what if you are located in a small city with limited web development opportunities? What if you are not ‘out and about’ meeting other people in person? How are you going to build your network then? That’s what freelancing on UpWork solves. I no longer need a local network.
The UpWork process works more like this:
- You apply for jobs
- You complete a job and get a good review
- Other clients see your good reviews and hire your for more jobs
With traditional freelancing the trust is established in person, on UpWork is established through online reviews.
You may say, I can apply for jobs on Craigslist or Reddit for Hire. Yes, that’s possible. But you have no reviews to follow you around. Every job you apply for will be like trying to get your first job all over again, needing to prove that you are capable. Trust will initially be very low. Plus, how do you know if the client is going to pay you?
Do Bad Things Happen on UpWork?
I’m not going to make this sound too easy. Are there foreign workers available on UpWork for low pay? Yes. Are there bad clients out there that are too demanding. Yes.
Are the fees high? Honestly for short-term jobs the fees are too high (20%). But as a developer working with long-term clients, my fees are typically 5 to 10%.
The counter to these issues is clients want to work with someone speaking their native language, in their timezone. You can screen bad clients once you learn how to sniff them out. And by working with clients longer the fees go down to an acceptable level.
The truth about UpWork is I’ve found a lot of success with it. I hope I can help you find success there too!