Let’s end the Great Upwork Debate? once and for all

Written By Steven Alexander Young
January 18, 2021

Last email, I announced I’d finally start teaching my freelancing strategies.

…but before I got even ONE post out, two prominent writers dropped the newsletter equivalent of rappers’ diss tracks in a battle about how to get clients.

I’m talking about Daniel Throssell of Persuasive Page, and Rob Allen of Kings of Conversion.

AKA… one of my first students, and one of my first hires.

Tsk, tsk!

Normally I wouldn’t get involved in their drama. But since much of my own audience is following one (or both) of their newsletters, it’s my duty to protect you from their totally incorrect opinions.

Sassy Season 3 GIF by NETFLIX

BTW: Only cowards hide behind newsletter emails — so I’m putting my response here on the blog!

The topic in question is Upwork, the online freelance platform.

For those unfamiliar, this is a site where freelancers can connect with clients and find work. Sometimes clients even send you private invitations, like this one I got yesterday:

So what’s the beef?

Well, as Daniel passive-aggressively explained in his email, writers looove to hate on Upwork:

He’s not kidding. Just after I started this post, Instagram showed me this ad:

Seriously, what is this??

Are they gonna teach strategies as outdated as that landline phone? I’m surprised that dude’s notebook isn’t a rolodex instead ?

But these people are not the target (for now).

Anyway, soon after Daniel’s email, Rob wrote one so spicy it needed a controversy warning:

Hmm… wonder who that ?prominent copywriter? was ?

*cough* Daniel *cough*

Now the fun part. Rob outlines a simple test that supposedly proves that all Upwork gurus teachers are frauds:

That is an extremely narrow lens of success.

Imagine telling a room of medical school students that they should quit trying to become a doctor because it’s not the most direct path to building a multi-million dollar tech startup.

Hugh Laurie House GIF

When I first tried freelancing, I didn’t care about processing “multiple 6-figures of revenue”.

I wanted to make a great living. I wanted to do work I enjoyed. I wanted a way to break into my field despite never graduating college. I wanted to get clients quickly, whenever I needed them. I wanted to avoid relying on networking and connections.

Upwork gave me all that and more.

So sure, I’ve never tried going after multiple 6-figures. But with regular passive offers like the one I shared in my last email, I have the all elusive 4-hour work week as a freelancer:

No proposal, no bidding, no negotiation — a client found my profile, read my bio, looked at my rate, then asked me to work with them. And I’m supposed to feel? “meek”?

(And you know what? I took all the skills I learned building my Upwork business and DID end up building a “multiple 6-figure” business after all ?)

That brings us to Rob?s next jab:

Oh sweet child? how far you’ve  strayed from the light ?

To explain how ridiculous this argument is, let’s play a little Mad Libs: 

?Hmm? Interesting that [online dating app] is such a good platform, and yet even the most successful relationship seekers vanish when they meet their soulmate, get married, and live happily ever after.?


But enough with Rob, here’s where my problem with Daniel starts:

This is just bad copywriting ? Do you serve your clients with that style?? I can’t even be mad at Rob’s diss — you handed it to him on a silver platter!

Let me give you a quick lesson on how to properly preempt an objection:

?Upwork was SO great at building my freelance career that Australia’s #1 Bestselling Author reached out to ME for a project when my ENTIRE work history was NOTHING but Upwork jobs. He gave me SO much high-paying, recurring work that I was making a full-time income with just part-time hours. PLUS, the skills I developed while building my freelance business on Upwork ALSO helped me start my current (very successful) business, The Persuasive Page.”

Ahh… much better.

There’s absolutely nothing to be defensive about, especially when you never really left Upwork. (which you proved yourself in your email):

I’ve also had periods where I wasn’t actively looking for jobs on Upwork. Sometimes to go all-in on some entrepreneurial opportunity… sometimes to take a full-time role at a fast-growing company… and sometimes just to vacation for half a year.

But that’s not an Upwork problem, that?s just proof that Upwork can lead to just about anything you want.

…and even now I’m still on it.

So if you want to learn more about how to get started with freelancing… stay tuned!

P.S. Do I really think Daniel is a terrible copywriter? Of course not! Look at this amazing copy he wrote in a previous email:

And do I really think Rob is a bad freelance teacher? No way! He regularly drops great freelance insights, like this one:

So if you want to learn more from one of the most innovative (and hilarious) copywriters I know:

Subscribe to Daniel’s newsletter here.

And if you want to learn from someone so good they built a freelance career without ever using Upwork (AKA the obvious best way to get clients):

Subscribe to Rob’s newsletter here.

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