Last week, UpWork announced some big changes to their business model.

I’m sure if you’re using UpWork, you are already well aware of the changes. But just in case you don’t know, here is the low down.

UpWork is changing from their flat 10% fee to a sliding scale fee that favors big jobs and long term client/freelancer relationships.

For some freelancers, this will be a great move. If you are a developer that works on big jobs of $10,000 or more, you’ll be paying lower fees. Win!

If you are a writer, marketer, designer, or any type of freelancer that works with clients on smaller jobs or one time projects, your fees are going up. 

Well, that sucks. So what can you do? It might be time for some freelancers relying on UpWork to consider a new game plan. Here are a few suggestions to get you going:

UpWork's fees are going up. Here are 3 alternative ways to find clients for freelancers | The Freelance Hustle

Use Alternative Job Boards

UpWork is definitely the leader out there, but they’re not the only player in the game. Depending on what kind of work you specialize in, there are probably several niche job sites that you can get on.

These are just a few. Take a look around and check out their terms of service. Some of these might be more appealing for you than UpWork.

Network On and Offline

Networking – barf.

But for real, networking is really important when you’re freelancing and running your own business. Don’t think of it so much as going to cheesy/stuffy networking events and awkwardly handing strangers your business card. More like, meeting cool people on the internet and IRL to exchange ideas, build relationships, and start collaborating.

And bonus, when you meet people in real life there are no fees!

Where are some good places to do this?

  • Facebook groups – find where your ideal clients are hanging out on Facebook and start interacting with them in there
  • LinkedIn Groups – same as above, but on LinkedIn
  • Slack Groups – yep, you know the drill
  • Meetups – head over to and find some entrepreneurial meetups in your area (or meetups that relate to your ideal client). Start going to Meetups and making new business besties.
  • Twitter. Instagram. Periscope. The social web.

Get Recurring Work and Referrals

Recurring clients and a constant stream of work coming in from referrals is the dream. No applying for gigs? Yes please!

This isn’t a reality for most new freelancers, but even if you are just starting out you can put things in place now to make this happen in the not-too-distant future.

How do you do it?

Step 1: Do amazing work for your client. Duh.

Step 2: Ask that client for a testimonial when you’ve completed the job.

Step 3: Put that testimonial on your personal/freelance website and portfolio. Now you’ve got some social proof.

Step 4: Keep in touch with your past clients. Send them emails once in a while checking in on how they’re doing. Retweet their stuff. Comment on their blogs or Instagram posts. This isn’t asking for more work, this is just being a good person and staying in their mind.

Step 5: Since you’re friends with them now, you can occasionally ask if they have any projects coming up that they want to work on or if they might know anyone that could use your services. Offer them a “favourite customer discount” or a referral fee if they send work your way.

UpWork’s changes could end up costing you hundreds of dollars a year, if not more. It just might be worth your time to try out some new tactics for finding clients and gigs.

Let me know if you’ve had success on other niche job boards or with other methods of finding clients.


*SparkWrite is a new startup that I am so happy to be a part of. We are launching our platform that connects writers with clients right now. If you’re a writer, apply to be one of the first writers in our community now.

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