Getting Untangled in Service Fee When Freelancing

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Freelancing seems to be fancy but working through it is back-breaking financially.

But how?

In able to deliver quality work, one must invest in tools to meet the client’s expected deliverable work. As an Admin Support and render help to Salespeople I get to pay my LinkedIn, contact database, and email verification subscriptions. That is why getting untangled in service fees when freelancing in Upwork is so liberating.

Does it even make a difference?


cheerful surprised woman sitting with laptop
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Two years ago, Upwork increased its Service Fee from 10 to 20%. Shocking! I know.

The intention is to create a freelancer-client relationship value. If you reach your first $500 earnings per new client, it will mark down to 10% and will go down to a 5% service fee when reaching $10K lifetime billing per client.

And I get it. The first time I read that email I was so giggly excited. The idea that you can possibly get to work with your clients, long-term, is so inviting and challenging for freelancers to focus on applying and submitting proposals to job postings that they can surely win over. Who doesn’t want that, right? However, let us not forget that one job posting for a Web Research job runs up to 50+ proposals. Plus the fact that Upwork also launched the Connect feature before the increase of Service Fee totally makes all sense. As a freelancer on Upwork, we need to use Connect credits when sending a proposal – Upwork virtual currency. It depends on how many credits a certain posting requires. Connects can be free, can be bought, can be earned.

With all those new terms, freelancing in data space or salespeople support perspective, a 20% cut is enough to pay other subscriptions. Hear me out why.

  1. This is me asking a freelancer – does the client know this? If yes, will they still choose me if my work is great or will they choose another one with a lower expense on their end? No matter how well the freelancer delivered the project, a client budget is also a factor. Then again, the value.
  2. I am a hero to one, I am sloppy to another. One cannot be everything to anyone. Again, the value.
  3. In my experience, as a salesperson support, a project manager tends to change from time to time. PM1 finds me good for the ad-hoc tasks. Then the new PM comes in but chooses the contractor s/he comfortable working with. Value, again.

With those three, jumping from one contract to another is less inviting than what I picture in my mind, especially for a one-time project with a $50 budget.

Pros and Cons of getting untangled in service fees while freelancing in Upwork

A story that cannot be untold is that Upwork helped me build my freelancing career, beyond grateful for that. Then again, at a certain point, one must make a choice. Working outside Upwork has pros and cons and just like any decision-making we make in our lives, we got to suck what consequences may come, unideal or good.


  • No snapshot. One may not be comfortable with this but congrats if you no longer doing it.
  • You get gross pay. $10/hr without a cut is honestly so liberating, gotta use the $2 for more essentials. Right?


  • Delayed Payment

Truth to be told: Upwork Payment Protection for freelancers is the biggest reason why I stay on Upwork – especially for newly referred clients. Upwork really aced on that aspect and as a Top Rated Freelancer on the most popular talent marketplace platform, I get to get paid earlier – expect every week pay-out. The big cons, if you start working outside Upwork, is the delayed payment. Each company/client has its own account payable calendar, it really matters that you discussed it with your client before saying yes to outside Upwork gigs.

I do still have clients on Upwork. There are also clients that I have worked with previously who reached out to me for some support and choose Upwork in a sense of convenience with it comes to paying me.

Outside Upwork, what’s next?

The moment you and your client are committed to continue working on the project outside Upwork; and getting untangled in service fees while freelancing, you have to ask how can you track your hours without the snapshot or Upwork time tracker. Fear not!

Toggle Track will save you from entering your time login on Google Spreadsheet. It is software that tracks the time in everything you do by just clicking the start button and makes you idle when you’re away from your screen or keyboard.

For sending an invoice, I am currently using the free version of Invoicely. Easy to use and no need to convert the time log. Less hassle. You can upgrade to enjoy Invoicely most, like adding 4 or more clients to your dashboard and personalized invoice email.


Regardless of what you choose, it is always your preference. It’s about weighing what’s a win-win for you.

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