Freelancing the Change Forever

Regularly, a thread will pop up in the Upwork Community Forums regarding rates. These are typically instituted by newcomers to Upwork and freelancing in general, and mostly originated by Americans. People sign up on Upwork when they hear “work from home”, and they look for instant gratification. When they realize that you actually have to work hard to 1) build up a reputation and work history, and 2) prove your worth, the threads come through the forums like wildfire.

These people usually fall into one of two categories:

1) They have never freelanced before
2) They have never freelanced on a global scale before

They come into the forums, usually after having been on the site for less than a week, and complain about the low rates with quips such as, “how can I make a living working for $1/hr” or “this is not legal, the minimum wage laws [blah blah blah]”.


What they don’t realize is that minimum wage laws only apply if you are a normal W-2 employee of a company located in the United States. Minimum wage laws do not apply if you are a freelancer because you are not an employee, but an independent contractor – you are your own employer and you run your own business. You work for what you want to charge for, and what your buyers (clients) are willing to pay. Anyone can charge any amount, and it’s all perfectly legal.

It’s not the buyer’s job to make sure you can pay their bills. It’s yours. Assuming that just because other people can afford to work for $1/hr (and do) that the rules should change just because cost of living is higher for you is arrogant. The rules aren’t going to change just because it doesn’t work for you – you have to adapt to them. If you can’t afford to work for $1/hr, don’t. It’s as simple as that.

The problem with these self-righteous-rates-war types is that they don’t think about the global nature of Upwork. They don’t think about the fact that the minimum wage in the Phillipines is roughly about $8 USD per day. They don’t think about the fact that anyone with a computer can do mindless copy/paste data entry work, and will be hard-pressed to find a buyer willing to pay $15/hr for someone to do something a trained monkey can do. They don’t think that they have to prove that they’re worth what they want to charge, and to do that they need to not have a blank profile and portfolio.

They just don’t think

When you have the security of a day job that pays your bills as long as you just show up, it’s easy to get away with it. But not thinking in the world of freelancing will be your downfall. You are running a business. Business owners who don’t think end up going out of business…or borrowing $70 Billion from the government.

You can’t not think!