3 Things I Learnt After 3 Months on Upwork

It’s been exactly three months since I signed up to Upwork and started as a freelance management consultant. During these 120 days, I scored the following interesting stats:

  • Submitted 84 project bids
  • Won 5 projects from 3 clients
  • Generated $3,910 of gross revenue and $3,419 of net revenue
  • Achieve 5-star ratings on all five gigs
  • One client is seeking long-term cooperation and we are working out the details

A pretty good accomplishment for a novice during his first 3 months on a freelance platform. However after careful consideration, I’m going to scale down from Upwork for the time being and here’s why.

Reason 1: I have accomplished my goal

One of my 2018 financial goals is to start another income stream.

At the start of the year, I had 2 income sources in addition to my main salary: property rental and dividend. I wanted a third to achieve income stream diversification and as an avid listener to Chris Guillebeau’s Side Hustle School podcast series, I knew the benefit of leveraging off my existing skills, so I decided to side hustle on Upwork as a freelance consultant.

Three months in and I’ve already proven that I have successfully achieved this goal: I averaged over $1,000 per month during that period.

Upwork earning is a function of my time dedication to bidding and consulting, therefore as long as I continued dedicating my time to bidding for projects and delivering them then I will have a sustainable income stream.

Tick for both.

Reason 2: I want to stop trading my time for money

Having done some digging on my time sheet, here are some fascinating data:

  • I spent on average 7 minutes bidding for a project -> 10 hours in total
  • Project 1 took 3 hours
  • Project 2: 2 hours
  • Project 3: 3 hours
  • Project 4: 12 hours
  • Project 5: 10 hours
  • My average hourly rate = $85

That’s about right because my advertised hourly rate was $90 per hour and most of the projects I accepted were on a fixed fee basis (at least I’m not severely undercharging).

However I can already see the bottleneck in my earning potential:

  • I get 2 free hours each night during the work days
  • I have an additional 10 free hours during the weekend
  • If I were to dedicate every single of these hours to Upwork, my weekly earning will still top out at $1,080 per week or $4,320 per month
This is a classic example of trading time for money and I would be no different from being an employee, except without the slightly increased job security or benefit, in exchange for a higher rate.

I simply don’t like the mechanism of this earning model, which brings me onto my next point.

Reason 3: I want to dedicate more time to things that matter more dearly to me

WB40 Junior will be the newest addition to our family in 5 weeks’ time. This will bring us so much joy as well as time pressure into our lives and I want to dedicate every available hour to him as well as passive income generation endeavours.

The problem with trading time for money is that every hour not spent on consulting is an hour of lost revenue. This means I need to make an either-or trade off:

  • Either spend time with WB40 Junior to watch his growth or consulting
  • Either going out to socialise with friends or consulting

This is in fact the dilemma facing most of us who are employees and I’ve seen colleagues making such trade offs first hand.

I don’t want to be making such trade off. Period.

I want to be able to spend time with WB40 Junior, Pursue my passions, socialise and earn. This means my side hustle will need to pivot from active to passive.

Currently I have 2 endeavours lines up which I will be dedicating the hours saved from Upwork to:

  1. Developing the WB40 blog: I have exceeded my goal of blogging 30 posts and consistently for 3 months. It’s time to take it a step further. I want to create amazingly useful content for my readers helping them to transition from “just about managing” to “comfortably managing”.
  2. Publish my novel: I’ve kept this quiet for a while as I was busy typing away. The first draft of my novel has been completed. I now want to dedicate time to review, edit and publish. Interested in knowing what it is? Watch this space. The mystery will soon be revealed.

Wrap up

I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience on Upwork. It allowed me to achieve one of my financial goals of the year and provided the necessary confidence for me to keep hustle on. For now however I’m bidding it farewell and will be moving onto the next stage of side hustling.

If you just started out on Upwork, please don’t be alarmed. It’s a great platform and I will always keep my profile active and updated. You never know what the future might bring! Plus I need to work out the arrangement with the potential long-term consulting client I met there. It’s definitely full of pleasant surprises.

How have you found Upwork? Which stage are you at? Do you see it as a long term revenues generator for you? I’d love to hear your stories. Please comment away.