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How My 8-Month Journey with Upwork Looks

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Below, I will share my experience providing services using Upwork. As a brief background, I have been working in the embedded systems industry since 2014, both in online and onsite positions. I began my journey with Upwork 8 months ago.

Why I Started Providing Public Services?

Last week, I received a request from my main client to pause firmware development due to challenges in fundraising (By the way, I'm actively seeking new potential clients).
I have been collaborating with this client for the past three years. The product, a pioneering smart ring (check it out here:, posed significant challenges, integrating numerous sensors and peripherals into a tiny device with a very limited capacity battery. It was a fascinating experience working with a Japanese startup alongside colleagues from the Middle East, Europe, and South America.
However, upon learning about the client's fundraising difficulties last year, I decided to publicly offer my services using Upwork and announced it through my blog, Atadiat ( While I used to find clients through technical forums, utilizing Upwork was a completely new experience for me.

Here are some statistics from the past 8 months on Upwork:

- Approximately 150 proposals were submitted (averaging 1 proposal per working day for the first 3 months).
- Completed 6 small jobs (2 of which were from outside Upwork).
- Worked for 27 hours.
- Earned less than $1,000 in net income.

I cannot claim this as a success, but it was not a complete failure either (really close to failure 8) ), considering the global economic crises and the high competitiveness due to many recently laid-off individuals joining the platform. I believe I entered this business type during a challenging time.

Insights gained from my practical experience with Upwork

I've learned during the past 8 months very key things regarding Upwork and similar platforms that I would like to share among others:

🟢 Upwork keeps you updated with the real needs of the startup and individual market. For instance, the most commonly used MCUs for product development come from the ESP32 and STM families.
🟢 Upwork enables you to connect with many clients and showcase your portfolio directly to them, bypassing HRs or hiring agencies.
🟢 Submitting numerous proposals will sharpen your skills in convincing clients of your abilities and develop proficiency in project applications.
🟡 You operate in a competitive environment where some jobs may receive 50-100 proposals, especially for less complex tasks.
🟡 Crafting a good proposal requires time for reading, understanding requirements, conducting research, and writing. A well-prepared proposal typically takes at least 30 minutes.
🟡 You need an average of 1-0.5 USD per proposal using the connects (credits) balance required for the application.
🟡 To avoid working with unreliable clients, conduct thorough research on the client's history, including reading past freelancer comments, checking for unresolved contracts, assessing personality from feedback, and searching for additional information on LinkedIn.
🟥 Clients on platforms like Upwork often prioritize speed and cost over real development, seeking quick and inexpensive solutions. You may encounter complete product development (#firmware, #PCB, and #Software) with unrealistically low budgets.
🟥 Scams are prevalent, particularly when working with new clients without a recorded history to build your profile.
🟥 If unlucky, dealing with an unprofessional client may result in difficulty reclaiming your rights. Clients can terminate contracts at any time and leave damaging feedback, potentially harming the positive profile and working history you've built.
🟥 Many clients on platforms like Upwork lack clarity about their needs, making collaboration risky as they may underestimate the complexity and challenges of development.

When it is good to start contracting?

As with anything in life, there is no perfect time, but certain factors make any time ideal for starting:
- Accumulate at least 5 years of professional work experience, dealing with challenging tasks in various companies.
- Ensure having enough savings to cover expenses during the initial period without a steady income, such as the salary from a job.
- In the case of Upwork: Having a clear specialization (not broad) and a proven portfolio are essential for securing clients.

I've been on a similar platform for about 15 years. Over all that time it resulted in getting 1 real customer (beside 1 small job for a couple of hours). My own network and being on Linked-in is much more effective to get new work.

How do you get customers via Linked IN ? Do they simply DM you or u made specifically offers on your page?


--- Quote from: Sniper1 on March 16, 2024, 04:46:45 pm ---How do you get customers via Linked IN ? Do they simply DM you or u made specifically offers on your page?

--- End quote ---
I get contacted by companies looking for a developer. I just list projects I've worked on and what I'm specialised in.

I have been retired from full-time mainstream work for close to 5 years. I became involved with Upwork to seek opportunities that present a good technical challenge to help prevent atrophy of my scientific mind, and to pick up a little "pocket money" to support operation of my home lab. But, for many reasons, Upwork was mostly a big disappointment.  A lot of solicitors are looking to get serious work done on the cheap - particularly those who want near-"unobtanium" without the slightest thought to the number of hours required or the cost to get there. Then, if you prototype anything, you need to get the customer to come up with the needed parts and get them to you outside of the contract, or else Upwork puts their tax on the expenses. (Nothing is worse than you ordering a few hundred dollars worth of stuff from Mouser, and having your reimbursement through Upwork only cover 90% of your expenses.) Then there's all the silliness of weeding through all of the solicitations by kids wanting someone to do their homework or take an on-line exam for them. (The fact that Upwork doesn't attempt to weed these out ends up giving the platform a rather seedy image.)

I initially met a couple of customers via Upwork that led to many follow-on jobs outside of Upwork, and these were rewarding. But I don't really have much good to say about the platform as a whole.


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