Hi CandiW, 19+ years freelancing/running my own webdev business (and other online ventures). I’ve shared my experiences here and there here on FCC. Just look into my post archive.
I’ve never done Upwork. I think they’re a race to the bottom in terms of pricing. But if cost of living in your country is low, and you’re getting Western/European clients, you can make a good living charging customers U.S. Dollar$. Otherwise, it would be hard to make a living wage. There are some exceptions, but most will not.
Instead of trying to get a “job”, maybe try creating your own “job”, web design business in your area/town/county… approach businesses in your area, offer to design their website for a low price ($300-$600 for a good 5-10 static page website, just offering basic info, contact form, map, services, products page)… and even make some recurring income by offering to host the same website for them (you’ll be a reseller of hosting services, adding your own markup), so they don’t have to worry about anything… a single point of contact - YOU. And you charge them $20/mo to $25/mo per website hosting (that’s an easy $240-$300 a year, per client). So you’ll design their website, plus host it… so 1st year, a business will just pay you a flat fee of say $600–$800… then on the second year, they pay you $240 for hosting fees… and if sometime during the next 12 months, they’ll want additional pages on their new spanking website (believe me, they will), they’ll call on you to do the work, and you can charge them another $25-$75 per HOUR of work… and we’re just talking about (1) client here.
Now, imagine you have 50 to 100, or 200 of these design+hosting clients in your town. That’s reasonable, doable… each paying you for hosting and web design services. — you may change your mind about wanting a job as an employee! Just do the math.
Approach realtors, criminal lawyers, insurance agents, stores, bakeries, cake shops, retail businesses, service businesses, churches, childcare services, etc. You get the idea… And if you provide good service, they’ll come back to you again and again, and also refer you to their friends and associates.
** ps. this is how I personally started in this web dev business. I used to just do this as a hobby at night after coming home from my day job. Pretty soon, making more than my day job and I’m calling in sick every week just so I can finish my own project deadlines.
*** ps2: and you don’t need a CS degree to do this kind of thing. Don’t have any “graphics/fine art” skills? Then use Upwork to find someone to design the logo for you… and you pay them what $5-20 for that task, and charge your client $50-100 for that extra task.
***ps3 It’s not easy, running your own business is hard, some months you’ll have plenty, some months you have famine, some months you’re overflowing. But you can also see the potential (and limitless) upside to this. You’re not limited to a fixed salary per year. It’s all up to you, on how much or little you want to work.