I'm a freelancer, and I hate sites like Upwork. My opinion is largely based on the fact that I investigated what it was, during my first few months of freelancing. I signed up for an account and then decided that I didn't want to bother anymore because I didn't think it was fair.
There are a lot of sites like Upwork out there. Companies post a project and members bid on the project. Unfortunately, more often than not, the winner isn't the most qualified but the lowest bidder. It's basically where companies go that want someone else to complete a project for them for cheap.
I get it. When you're just starting out places like Upwork can be tempting. They're this bizarro world, where getting the job is less about experience and connections, and more about offering clients the best deal for the finished product.
It's also completely unlike the real world because people can get away with rates that are as low as $1 per hour, just because. That's exactly why you don't have to use Upwork when you're just starting out.
Are you tempted by sites like Upwork? Here are a few, great ways to destroy your temptation:
1) Use the connections that you have at your disposal
Take a second to think carefully about your connections. Who do you know, what do they do, and could they use help with anything you're really great at? Do you want to know how I got one of my first freelance projects?
A family friend I once worked with heard I was just starting to branch out into freelancing and asked me to transcribe video content for a not-for-profit she worked for. The work was dull, it didn't pay much, but I learned a lot, and it looked really great on my resume. This is exactly why using your connections is so important.
If you don't have any applicable connections, get the hell out there and meet people! Make some business cards, and network at niche relevant events. Sites like Eventbrite and Meetup.com are a great start, for instance!
2) Develop relevant content on sites like Medium, WordPress, etc.
The best part of sites like Medium and WordPress is the fact that you don't need anyone's permission to write whatever you feel like, and you don't need to know anything about technology to use them. Did I mention they look professional if your work is also error- free? Include a call to action and a bio, at the end of your post, to get the word out there about your work. It's a great promotional tool, and if you're a writer, it's a great way to accumulate portfolio samples that get peoples' attention.
*If you're bad at writing, and your niche isn't related to writing, I offer reasonably priced ghostwriting services, hint, hint...*
3) Always ask for feedback
Once you start to actually do freelance work for others, ask for feedback when they're happy with your work, then post that shit everywhere: (on your website, on your social media feeds, etc.) Asking others for feedback can be a bit overwhelming, but a formula I find that works, to get actual feedback, is the following:
1) Client says: "good job, you."
2) You say you'd love to get their feedback and ask questions that force them to talk about you in deeper detail
3) Client says something nice about your work, and you directly quote them
4) Ask for their permission to post the quote online, and then get that shit online, if they say yes, which they often do...
4) Have a functional website and social media presence
If you want to get good work, from clients that don't immediately resort to Upwork, having a great online presence is important. So is including relevant keywords and descriptions, and promoting your profiles as much as you possibly can! Once you have concrete proof that you know what you're talking about and you're 100% legit, people will happily pay you what you deserve.
Last but not least: just keep swimming. I know I'm quoting Pixar, but it's true! Building a business takes time and hard work so make up for every "no," and every quiet period with another pitch or two that's out in the ether. Good luck to you, and remember, you don't need Upwork to be a freelancer!