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Re: Unique profile desired for agency business manager

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Garrett B Member Since: Jun 2, 2020
1 of 11

As a freelancer, I'm providing web design and server security services. I wanted to start an agency to work with an off-platform artist that provides drawing and illustration services.

 

I would like a profile as an agency business manager that is different than my existing freelancer profile which is for a completely different line of services. How do I do this?

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Bojan S Moderator Member Since: Mar 9, 2018
2 of 11

Hi Garrett,

 

After creating an agency you'll be setting up a separate agency profile that will showcase services the agency has to offer.


~ Bojan
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Garrett B Member Since: Jun 2, 2020
3 of 11

Sorry, I will try to be more clear. My concern is with the business manager profile, not the agency profile.

 

I would like for the business manager profile to not be my freelancer profile which is used for services completely different than the agency's. It's confusing. I understand that an agency is created from a freelancer account, but I was surprised when it tied in my profile as a freelancer, when the agency is not related to my freelancer work.

 

Looking for advice on how to address this concern, thanks.

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Joanne Marie P Moderator Member Since: Nov 26, 2017
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4 of 11

Hi Garrett,

 

 Upwork is currently set up so that you must create a freelancer account to create an agency. However, you can create an agency account that showcases your agency services as Bojan mentioned. You can add more information about your agency, and that is not limited to providing details that are similar to the ones you have under your freelancer account.

 

Freelancers are only allowed to have one Upwork account. If you would like to have a separate account that will not show your agency affiliation, that would mean creating another freelancer account, which is a violation of Upwork TOS. 


-Joanne
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Garrett B Member Since: Jun 2, 2020
5 of 11
I was afraid you might say that, as I have read the TOS.

I'd like to make a feature suggestion that would be a continuation of other features already in place. Allow me to make the case in order to explain, and maybe you could assist in passing this on?

Existing features
1) profile description for agency is separate from freelancer profile
2) agency connects are separate

New features
1) agency proposals and work history, ratings, etc separate from freelancer work history, ratings, unless freelancer worked a job for the agency. In this scenario the freelancer work history would show an icon to indicate work done for the agency. That job should also show up in the agency profile history.

2) the business manager profile should not include work history of the agency if the agency is able to make proposals. The agency profile should include that history instead. Off platform freelancers and their work results should contribute to the agency's history, not a freelancer's history. The current setup unnecessarily appears exploitative to off-platform workers.

3) The business manager profile should also allow for a freelancer flag in case the business manager might also do the actual work on occasion.

4) The business manager should be able to assign the work from the agency level, versus doing the agency work only from the freelancer level.

I'm disappointed the features don't already fully support the marketed benefits of agencies, and its confusing to see combined freelancer data when it's unrelated to the agency. These suggestions might help bring a clearer and more meaningful UI to the agency experience. Many features are already there that are meaningful but more are needed.

These would allow an agency to be an agency in coordination and function rather than in mostly name and advertising only. It's getting there but lacks some basics.

Thank you for your help,
Garrett
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Goran V Moderator Member Since: Mar 24, 2017
6 of 11

Hi Garrett,

 

Thank you for your feedback, I will share it with our product managers. 


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Avery O Moderator Member Since: Nov 23, 2015
7 of 11

Hi Garrett, 


I was reading your post, and I wanted to discuss some of the features that you have suggested so that I can understand it better, and relay it to the correct team. However, I think some of your feature suggestions are already available in the agency context of a Business Manager/Agency Owner's end. 

 

1) agency proposals and work history, ratings, etc separate from freelancer work history, ratings, unless freelancer worked a job for the agency. In this scenario the freelancer work history would show an icon to indicate work done for the agency. That job should also show up in the agency profile history.
While there is no 'icon' to indicate that a contract was done through the agency account, the agency name is added on the contract in a freelancer's Work History. The same will also be noted on the agency profile's Work History tab. All contracts that were completed through the agency will be listed in the agency's Work History.

As for the ratings, the Job Success Score of the agency is an aggregate score of all the agency's jobs. If a freelancer is an exclusive member of the agency, the agency freelancer's Job Success Score will reflect that of the agency's JSS. If the agency freelancer is a non-exclusive agency freelancer, their Job Success Score is a computation of all their contracts as an individual freelancer. 

Screen Shot 2020-08-13 at 1.59.21 PM.png

 

2) the business manager profile should not include work history of the agency if the agency is able to make proposals. The agency profile should include that history instead. Off platform freelancers and their work results should contribute to the agency's history, not a freelancer's history. The current setup unnecessarily appears exploitative to off-platform workers.
I'm not sure what you mean here, and I want to understand it better. Any contract completed by the Business Manager for the agency will be listed in their individual freelancer profile, and it will also be listed in the agency's Work History. Off-platform freelancers can only work on fixed-price agency contracts, as they are not allowed to log time on hourly contracts (it is against the Upwork ToS). If Agency Managers are looking to outsource/sub-contract work to off-platform freelancers, they should inform their client about this setup, the client should agree to it, and the contract will need to be a fixed-price contract. In this case, the client will need to hire the Business Manager or another agency freelancer through the agency, whichever is most convenient for the agency and its members.

 

Alternatively, off-platform freelancers can create a freelancer account and be members of the agency. Here is a help article for more information on how to invite members to the agency.

 

3) The business manager profile should also allow for a freelancer flag in case the business manager might also do the actual work on occasion.
Could you please elaborate on this point? If a contract requires a team of freelancers to work on it, the best option would be to set up a fixed-price contract for any member of the agency (Business Manager included). You can check out this help article on Agency Proposals and Offers and this help article on Agency Contracts for more information. 

 

4) The business manager should be able to assign the work from the agency level, versus doing the agency work only from the freelancer level.
I am trying to understand this feature request, and are you requesting for a feature where the project/contract can be managed easily through the Agency Manager's Upwork account like a task management software?
If not, I'd like to point out that the Business Manager will be able to send proposals on behalf of their agency freelancer. They will also be able to accept/reject offers, and invitations on behalf of the team. This information is in the Agency Proposals and Offers help article I noted above. 

 


I hope the information I added here is helpful, Garrett. If I didn't hit the nail on the head please don't hesitate to reply here, and we can discuss it further. Robot Happy


-Avery
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Garrett B Member Since: Jun 2, 2020
8 of 11

Hi, thanks for the follow-up.


I know there are already many smart people working to make Upwork successful, so I appreciate being invited to submit feedback. These are just my humble opinions and ideas. I admit I would not know if they have any value to Upwork's overall strategy.


The ideas I propose would head toward a bigger vision which would include being able to sell an agency with real Upwork market value. If agencies can't be bought, it's possible Upwork might lose them.


The last response was very helpful and appears to confirm my view that Upwork has not (yet) decided to treat an agency like a real-world agency, where contracts are with an entity, not an individual (unless the individual is wishing for it be so). From a system/app architecture standpoint, I am concluding/assuming that Upwork's "agency" component is simply a feature of a freelancer account, rather than a separate component. Or, maybe the contract component doesn't have the ability to use the agency component. Of course, I could be wrong, but with everything you point out, it seems tied to a freelancer account out of design limitation, rather than business practice rationale.


I would generally suggest considering changing agencies from being a feature that is part of a freelancer account, to a separate component of its own. An agency could still be started by a freelancer, and always be required to have a business manager (who has a freelancer account), but would also be capable of standing on it's own legally from a contract standpoint, have it's own bank accounts linked, etc. It would not need to be a component with it's own login or treated as a user, because there would always need to be at least once freelancer associated with it. I see this as a missing piece. People have asked for years about this. As they say "corporations are people." We could facilitate this better while still not allowing a login for the agency component.


To make the point further, I could answer the question "Why create an agency?" with the following:

  • To create a new brand for a different set of services, but still be one freelancer (organizational tool)
  • To create opportunity to work with other freelancers (both on and off-platform) (collaboration tool)
  • To provide needed legal/financial separation as needed by the freelancer (business need)
  • To create a venture that becomes valuable on its own (market potential)
  • To establish a reputation as a manager of freelancers, separate from your reputation as a freelancer (get hired to be a manager)

Maybe, "agency" is not the best word to use in all of these cases. But, the current use of agencies seems to suggest an attempt to invite or address all of these, even if it's not completely succeeding in doing so.


Regarding highlighting a freelancer's agency work:

I didn't know how "AGENCY::" shows up in the freelancer work history - so yes this is what I had meant by icon.


Regarding agency ratings, work history, etc:

It's even more compelling now from what was described that agencies are really still just a freelancer with extra powers. But this is odd to me because it only addresses a small part of the value of an agency (the value in a one-freelancer scenario). If I create an agency, and the agency never existed before and has never done any work for anyone before, how can there be any score at all? But, as was confirmed, a one-person agency is defaulting to the freelancer's profile. And that's fine, but it should at least also filter out work not done for the agency. It is not reasonable to assume that previous freelancer work of the business manager does (or even should) have any meaningful bearing on the agency's reputation itself when the agency is newly created.


Regarding how a client is able to contract, it was said, "In this case, the client will need to hire the Business Manager or another agency freelancer through the agency, whichever is most convenient for the agency and its members." In my opinion it would be most convenient to do neither and to follow through on the real-world agency functionality and actually provide the capability for the client to contract directly with the agency and NOT with the business manager's freelancer account (unless the business manager is using the agency only as a separate brand and nothing more). Without this capability, an agency is an agency in name only and not in practice. Very confusing. Most importantly to clients who have the money. People will not use what they cannot understand. "No agencies please" in jobs is the metric this addresses.


And, as was pointed out, there can be off-platform freelancers (which make it in reality NOT a one-person agency). The system does not currently reflect this at all (and I would suggest therefore not support it). This might be the heart of my suggestion overall. Since the freelancer is off-platform, what that could mean instead is not actually "off-platform", but "in-agency-only". They should have access to agency resources, but nothing else. I limited sub-account of the agency that is organizational in nature (a model not unlike email folders with tags), versus a classic freelancer account with an added affiliation (which is what it seems to be). Both the relationship and contract activity from Upwork's perspective would be with the agency/business manager, and not in-agency-only freelancers.

 

The article about exclusive members reads very plainly, but really includes scenarios that have nothing to do with agencies. In practice are the contracts paid to the agency? Should it not read the "to the business manager"?


In my thought, an "in-agency-only freelancer" would not be able to search for work, but they would see a job assigned to them by the agency that was found for them. This arrangement would model real-world agencies, where some of the work (or all of the work) is done by folks that don't have a presence outside of the agency, while at the same time observing the agency work is not being done by the business manager. I'm promoting a scenario option where the business manager is purely that - just a business manager and not a freelancer doing the work. This is instead of the current scenario where since the one-freelancer is on platform, it is recorded and displayed as if they are doing the work.

 

If the in-agency-only freelancer wants to get work outside of the agency and work through Upwork on their own, they would need to make a classic freelancer account. This is how I would incentivize making a classic account, versus trapping the agency in the middle.


Point 3 probably makes more sense now, as the business manager could "assign" themselves the agency work on occasion. As the business manager already has a classic freelancer account, it would add both to their score (while noting it was for the agency), and to the agency's overall reputation. However, in my suggestion, the in-agency-only freelancers would only contribute to the agency score, not their own, and not the business manager's freelancer profile.


I see these additional parts as needed in order to create the full picture for both an ecosystem with the right incentives in the right place, and the existence of additional resources and capability made available for the additional cost.


At the moment, it just kind of seems like agency costs are another way for Upwork to make money, while still being more or less no different than what already happens in a freelancer's work. "Agency" is like a catch-all word at the moment that is capturing potential value propositions that could be unpacked and clarified.


I am mindful of why a business manager role in any real agency exists. The freelancer just wants to do the work, and not have to find the work or worry about running anything. An agency operating properly has a reputation that a freelancer benefits from. The business of an agency itself cannot be defined by a freelancer. It's a higher level of organization than that. It carries value that a freelancer cannot create alone. It's sell-able, in a way that a freelancer account could never be.


Obviously, I'm not trying to make the case that agencies are valuable - Upwork already sees this. But I am trying to highlight how Upwork is not recognizing and supporting this value in a way that is meaningful to the agency's needs, in addition the the opportunity that Upwork could capitalize on by realizing the fruit of the support provided in the long-run. There is a risk of over-focusing on the freelancer account while failing to support the legal and financial needs of a scalable agency which can bring more value out of a freelancer to clients and to Upwork than many individual freelancers could bring on their own.


Thank you for taking the time to read through this lengthy set of ideas. And thanks again for helping.

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Upwork Staff
Mike J Upwork Staff Member Since: Mar 18, 2019
9 of 11

Hi Garrett,

 

Thank you for your thorough feedback and suggestions. My name is Mike and I work on the Talent Success team. I actually authored the Exclusive vs. Non-Exclusive agency member article you referenced. I would like to share some additional insight with you and hopefully alleviate some confusion.

 

One of the biggest elements I saw in your feedback was the desire for work to be completed on an agency level, such as being able to win work as an agency and then assign that work to a member. While I can't comment on the contents of our roadmap, I can say that we too would like to revamp the agency platform. We certainly understand the obstacles posed by not being able to win work as the agency itself. You are correct that the agency infrastructure was built on top of the freelancer infrastructure and we hope to someday remedy the limitations caused by this. 

 

In terms of the agency structure, agencies are not designed to be "freelancers with extra powers". Agencies are intended to be teams that provide a group of services, such as an animation studio that provides character designs, screenwriting, voice acting, and animation services. Different members would be responsible for each of these steps, but a client would only have to work with one agency to reach a final product.

 

Agency earnings are not paid to a Business Manager. It's important to understand that there can be multiple Business Managers within one agency. Earnings are paid to the agency account itself. From Settings within the agency account, the Agency Owner, or any agency member with Admin or Financial permissions, can set up the withdrawal method for the agency's funds. Agency funds are not paid to any freelancer account, including that of the owner.

 

Thank you again for the amount of thought and reflection you put into your posts. I will share this thread with my team to continue to foster conversation around the evolution of agencies on Upwork.


Best,
Mike J. | Jr. Program Manager, Talent Success
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Garrett B Member Since: Jun 2, 2020
10 of 11

Mike J wrote:

 

We certainly understand the obstacles posed by not being able to win work as the agency itself. You are correct that the agency infrastructure was built on top of the freelancer infrastructure and we hope to someday remedy the limitations caused by this. 

 


First job in the agency goes great! But it's disappointing to see the 5 star rating not produce a 100% success score for the agency work due to lower scores from a completely different line of work outside the agency and not done by the artist.

 

If only freelancers could be scored on agency-only work...If only freelancers could be scored on agency-only work...

Also, I have associated the completed job with the specialized profile and also the public agency profile shows one job completed. However, the Work History tab does not show any work done... ?

Shows one job completed...Shows one job completed...

No Work History?No Work History?

I'm also seeing the Jobs list is not showing Agency in the public view...

Shouldn't it show "Agency::"?Shouldn't it show "Agency::"?

Still trying to figure out how to make it look right...what am I doing wrong?

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