I agree Ashley. Even to this point, Upwork is still a considerable part of my growth as a writer. I managed to land a truly amazing client on the platform whom I’ve been working with for about 6 months now. At the same time, I’ve got a few other clients on there that are as you say help “pay the bills” and that’s it.
It’s definitely a good platform to start off with your freelance career, though branching off and doing your own outreach is equally as exciting and provides more growth once you get the hang of it. I’m of the mind that it’s best to branch out your pools of income whenever you can since if you rely on one platform for too long it can present dangers. Even platforms like Upwork where now on top of the fees they take from each job you get, they now change for connects. It’s small for sure, but that can cut into profits. Especially if you manage to only get one-time clients who pay you $20 here and there.