To be sure, Upwork and the like are funny places to make a living. You need to go into it with a plan working towards an outcome that will work for you and your goals. And at the start it will be slow, small quick jobs mostly, but that’s okay as it builds your online profile ( reputation ) and raises you up the ladder when clients do a search. In the beginning I think you are so far down the list in searches you may as well not be on Upwork. But that is where those 60 connects per month comes in. I’ve never used them all in any month applying for jobs, although at the beginning I was constantly worried about it. Now months go by without using any connects at all, people wanting work done come to me. And that was my goal. Stick with it, do small jobs, build your Upwork profile to give clients confidence in you. Bend over backwards to make those clients happy and get great reviews. Be modest in what you charge per hour to start, then give it a nice jump when you finally earn your Upwork “Top Rated” badge ( one of my major goals starting out ). Another goal for me was repeat clients. Checking the stats this morning 43% of my work is repeat clients. Clients looking for someone often throw out small jobs to get a feel for freelancers, looking for someone they like, seems reliable, is good to work with, etc., then if all goes well they will come back with bigger jobs. Those bigger jobs look great on your profile and attract even bigger jobs from other clients. You see the strategy? Its taken me a bit over a year to get to this point, and now I am scoring jobs that pay $1000+, and a year from now I expect to be making a good living at this.
So SeanDez, it is true that places like Upwork can be challenging, frustrating, and all that, pay crap for a bunch of work, but if you take the year or two year view and “work” the system you can do pretty well.
One last point. If you do well, build your profile, agencies notice this and you will probably start getting approached to take on some of their overflow. This was another of my goals starting out. and I am happy to say I’ve been test driven by several agencies, and a couple have worked out for me. You can gain a predictable steady cash flow doing this, a freelancing dream come through.
A word of advice. There are a few courses around on how to write a winning profile. Take a few of these, you can get a few really good pointers on how to make yourself stand out, and especially on how to write a winning cover letter when applying for a job. Any time you spend on polishing this will be time very well spent.
Great luck to you whatever you decide.