I am not very happy with Upwork now taking 20% of what I make. I have had to raise my price just to continue getting 10%.

Does anybody have any suggestions for a good alternative for Upwork? I do use Guru.com but it only has a new job every hour, compared to a hundred jobs per hour. I do have established customers paying me via Paypal, but new customers want to stick with the platform.

Any suggestions?

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    Are you freelancing in IT ? You might want to checkout Toptal – Jean-François Savard Jul 26 '16 at 13:32
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    You're looking at things wrong... you're focusing on the 20% in fees rather than the 80% you've earned. Change your mindset. There will almost always be fees somewhere... 4% for PayPal, merchant fees, domain registration, hosting, etc. It is important to focus on what you are earning, not on the fees you must pay to earn anything. – Scott Jul 26 '16 at 19:17
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    I do agree that a site charging a 20% comission is outrageous. – Rui F Ribeiro Jul 27 '16 at 13:51
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    Thank Jean. Toptal looks fantastic, but I don't think my skills are good enough. Thanks Scott. I haven't left Upwork immediately because I do enjoy the 80%. But just because "enjoy" my house, doesn't mean I should "enjoy" with the 30 year mortgage. If I can find a way out I should. Thanks for the pep talk though. :-) I did raise my price Apfelsaft, but the customers are paying more just to cover Upwork's charge. Not my fault, but still, nobody is getting a good deal out of that except Upwork. – DandC Jul 27 '16 at 15:00
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    20% for the first $500 is nothing considering the benefits you get, most important the fact you are guaranteed to be paid, given you follow their guidelines. – Prix Jul 29 '16 at 2:10

Agreed! Upwork charges a hell of a lot of the Fee. On the top of that Freelancer had to pay withdrawal fees, currency conversion fee, bank fee, etc. and the actual amount which a freelancer receives is very small. So, strategy is to deliver good work, make your clients happy and take them out of Upwork with mutual agreement. Upwork charges a Payment Processing fee to clients as well, which can be a plus point for you to convince them.

Other alternatives can be: http://www.guru.com/ https://www.toptal.com/ https://outsource.com/ https://freelancer.com/

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    It's actually against Upwork TOS to skip Upwork as a payment gateway (look up Upwork TOS Non Circumvention Clause) – Nino Škopac Feb 4 '17 at 9:02
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    When I use Upwork, I don't have to pay withdrawal fees, currency conversion fees, or bank fees. Maybe you should change your withdrawal method. – user45623 Feb 17 '17 at 1:47
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    You can take a client out of Upwork. But you have to pay Upwork certain fees in order to do that. They introduced this recently – prat1kk Feb 22 '17 at 7:27
  • @NinoŠkopac Agreed! But there is a legal way to Opt out from the Upwork which ask for Opt out fee. upwork.com/legal (Service section 7). – Raj Feb 22 '17 at 7:56
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    I was banned (albeit temporarily, until they actually read messages) just for mentioning bitcoin as an alternative to paypal when reimbursing me for expenses. Information only - so a client could avoid paypal fees... Now I only use email, outside upworks messaging system. I do not consider upworks TOS legitimate after this ban (a bot scanning for keywords). I would have no qualms about offering a reduced price to someone if they buy my time outside upwork. It is ethical. – user400344 Feb 22 '17 at 20:55

The key to avoiding the 20% hit on Upwork is to develop long term clients. Long term clients are great to have but they require:

1 - strategic selection

2 - sustained hard work

This doesn't happen in the span of a few weeks.

I say strategic selection because frankly, there are a lot of people who use Upwork to try and resolve a problem but they have one or more of these attributes:

  • they have limited funds
  • they have limited understanding or capability to understand the issue
  • they are not prepared to pay for value
  • they have no intention to do anything for the long-term
  • they have trust issues

You may be making a few dollars working for these type of clients but it is all short-term gain. You need to be strategic by searching for possible long term clients and when they don't exhibit the behaviours of a long-term client, reduce them in your list of priorities or drop them altogether.

To a long-term client you are a trusted advisor. You have repeatedly given them good advice and shown that you are prepared to do whatever is necessary to solve their problem. You have demonstrated this over and over again. To the point where they would never even think about using someone else.

If they have a long term vision and can find the budget to fund that vision, then by showing that you can deliver you will repeatedly get their business.

This takes a lot of effort and sacrifice. Occasionally I come up against really hard problems and if it is a long-term client, I will turn the clock off until I resolve that issue as:

1 - My motivation is to be an expert in this area, not clock as many hours as possible.

2 - I want to deliver, even when the going get's tough. If you deliver on the tough problems, a client with enough understanding will realize you just did something that they couldn't of done themselves.

Repeated business with a long-term client who recognizes value means that you will be only be charged 5% once you go over the $10,000 mark.


unfortunately Upwork puts roadblocks in place to make this behaviour hard. Specifically, they:

  • allow virtually anyone to ping you with offers which are 1/4 of what your advertised rate is. If you don't respond within 24 hours then your communication is penalized
  • have tests which have had the results made so public that doing them legitimately is unviable since you are completing against multitudes who have all the answers pre-ordained
  • ask you to do 6 hour unpaid projects on a third-party website and then penalize your status if they don't like the result
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  • Workers need to be building up their reputation for repeat, private work. But there is nothing wrong with a quality freelance site to solicit business. I loved vWorker back when it was alive; they offered certain guarantees to prevent Employers and Workers from being ripped off and I was happy to pay 20% commission for this, including an arbitration system which is expensive and time consuming to manage. No different than a shopping mall where vendors pay to have a stall/booth; the mall charges a fee for a booth, but you get traffic you otherwise could not get on your own. – Jon Grah Feb 27 '17 at 14:20

I have created today an account on HubStaff Talent. They claim not to have any fees at all. I have not tested it yet to see whether it is true.

So far, I have used Freelancer and UpWork. Both of them have fees. Freelancer even charges you 4 USD for accepting a won project (crazy idea, I guess).

Beside OutSource ( https://www.outsource.com/ ), they have also recently created OutSourceLY ( https://www.outsourcely.com/ ). This one also claims not to have any fees. I guess that they obtain their revenues from the advertisements that they post alongside the useful pieces of information.

The bad thing about OutSourceLY is that one needs to verify their account. So, if you do not feel like contacting ANY of your former employers in order to get some credentials, it is pretty useless.

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  • There is no way under any circumstance a freelancer website doesn't charge anything. They need to make money. – HelloWorld Jan 27 '17 at 1:39

Here they are mentioning their price:

Beginning in June, freelancers will see a sliding service fee of either 5%, 10% or 20%. The service fee is based on a freelancer’s lifetime billings with each client (across all hourly and fixed-price contracts the freelancer has ever had with that client on Upwork).

You’ll pay:

  • 20% for the first $500 you bill your client across all contracts
  • 10% for total billings with your client between $500.01 and $10,000
  • 5% for total billings with your client that exceed $10,000

Well, you're only highlighting 20% and not 5%.

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