When I first began freelancing, I dreamt of earning $2,000 per month to cover my living cost.
Even though there are many freelance projects displayed on Upwork, it can still feel confusion whether it is really possible to earn real money.
In this article, I’ll show you how much you can make on Upwork. Let’s jump right to it!
How much can you make on Upwork: examples of top earners
If we look at other freelancers, we can see that you can earn great money on Upwork:
Presentation deck designer
If you are looking to earn, say, $100,000, that is possible but not easy.
The elephant in the room is that most freelancers earning good money on Upwork do so because they are located in the main four English-speaking countries: America, the UK, Australia, and Canada.
As shown in this article, it is not impossible to earn good money with Upwork even if you are outside of those countries.
With the sample I showed for online marketing-projects, just 3% of the top earners were from other countries — those are people charging a high hourly rate and having earned near or above $100,000.
There are several reasons for that. Many clients are from those four countries and sometimes they simply don’t realize that there are great talents available outside their country or they might be concerned with the timezone difference.
And some clients are simply not able to pay invoices without a local tax number through the software they use to manage payments.
Occasionally, we can persuade them to think otherwise.
Either way, we can still earn good money freelancing on Upwork, and in order to earn a great living, we have to start somewhere.
If you are looking to earn enough to live comfortably without having to go to the office and do the 9-5 grind, that is possible, too.
Can you make a living on Upwork?
Anyone who’s ambitious and can get their account approved on Upwork can earn their first $1,000 there.
In fact, I’d argue that you might even be able to land projects worth that in 30 days. It will take longer to also complete the tasks but by sending one good proposal each day for a month, you’ll be able to complete this goal.
If, say, we charge $30/h, a thousand dollars comes out to about 34 hours of work and across three clients that is a small project of 11-12 hours per client.
As you might have seen in this case study, I landed projects worth about $1,800 per month during the five months long experiment.
If that’s about the living cost where you live, that’s great. According to Transferwise, the average living cost for a single person in New York and San Francisco is $1,100 and $1,114 per month respectively.
That doesn’t seem realistic but even if the average living cost is 3x higher than that, it is still possible to earn on Upwork as we saw the examples earlier in this article.
Another alternative is to freelance without using Upwork or lower your living cost by moving to a more affordable place to live since freelancing on Upwork gives location independence.
For comparison, in many countries in Asia and South America, a few thousand dollars per month offers a terrific living standard.
A reader example
In this Upwork case study, a reader earned $30,000 in his first year freelancing on Upwork by offering a specialized service to clients.
His secret was to apply for fewer projects and spend more time on each one.
If you are ready to give Upwork a try, read this mini-guide on how to send a proposal that lands clients.