Credit Business Insider
There are two types of inspirational stories for freelancers.
The first type of stories are about the humble freelance experiences and achievements. They make you feel good. After reading them, you say to yourself, hey I can do it! You can feel the warmth and honest intention of your fellow freelancer who wants to help you make it with his or her story.
Then, you have the second type of these so-called "inspirational stories." They make you feel bad, really bad. Why? Because they're showing off with the six-figure earnings and just a few years of freelance work. They're just too good to be true. I'm not saying that they aren't genuine, but they're notorious freelance spirit killers. By default, one of the main points of these uplifting stories is that these freelance superstars have achieved their jaw-dropping success while working on just one very specific platform.
So, this latest Business Insider story about Upwork success immediately caught my attention. I decided to dig a little bit dipper. Guess what happened?
I Immediately Hit Another Paywall
I thought I was done with the paywalls after I decided to move my stories from Medium to Hacker Noon. It must have been some kind of new annoying trend because Business Insider also asked me to pay, so I can play (read).
Screenshot Business Insider
This isn't something I can't afford to read the "exclusive stories." But, I simply refuse to do so. Don't get me wrong. I pay my monthly Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO GO subscriptions with no regret and great joy. Can we agree that this is something totally different?
So, I will have to analyze this story based on the quick screenshots I was able to make before this annoying Business Insider subscription reminder occupied my screen.
Let's put this Upwork success story to the test with some simple and unbiased questions, shall we?
What Are The Odds, For Real?
Plain and simple, how many Upwork freelancers make $200K a year? We can never know for sure, but we can guess. You don't have to be a freelance rocket scientist to know it has to be an extremely small percentage.
Here's what you can find on the official Upwork website when you apply filters for selecting the freelancers:
I took the liberty to highlight some of the most indicative and confusing numbers, at the same time. See for yourself. Pay attention to the number of Upwork freelancers with "no earnings yet" and "any amount earned" against their colleagues who make $10K+.
I can confirm first-hand that this lovely and talented young lady is a real person (freelancer) because I checked her profile on Upwork. She has definitely made more than $100K+ since she joined this platform in 2017. My honest kudos to this impressive success, but how many Upwork freelancers can say the same?
Is she one in a million or a hundred thousands?
The Math Says: There's No Win-Win Scenario Here
We all know how Upwork's fees system works for freelancers, don't we? You pay a 20% fee until you earn $500. Then, you pay 10% until you make $10K per client. From there on, you pay a 5% fee.
Screenshot Business Insider Twitter
So, Morgan Overholt had to pay at least $10K in fees to Upwork. Considering that this has probably been her most successful year ever as a freelancer, I'm safe to assume she isn't complaining too much about it.
But, there's a catch. The biggest loser(s) in this Upwork's success story is/are actually Morgan's client(s). Why? Well, the processing fees for clients on Upwork are 3%. Meaning, Upwork gets $10K from Morgan and $6K from her client. What about the membership fees for both a client and freelancer in this story? I sure hope that this freelancer doesn't have to pay for connects/bid. When you have this kind of a VIP client, do you even have the time or need to bid on other projects?
The only true winner in this story is Upwork. Who says that running a freelance platform doesn't pay off?
I really meant when I twitted that I actually feel sorry for her client. There are freelance platforms that are absolutely free for clients to use without any processing or other hidden fees. For example, goLance has a no-cost-to-client policy from the day one.
It's Hard To Get Inspired When You're Waiting To Get Hired
I literally lost count on how many freelance conferences I have attended. When I had a chance to speak, I made sure that it wasn't all about me. You are supposed to inspire your fellow freelancers rather than make them retire before they even land their very first project. Right?
Just think about all those freelancers on Upwork who're still waiting to start earning, for a change. How do they feel when an article such as this one comes out? You feel you are light years away from the six-figure earnings.
What one freelancer makes in a year, it will take years for others to get even close. One freelance platform may be a perfect match for me, but not for some other freelancers and vice versa.
Freelancing should be the kingdom of conscience or it is nothing. Agree?