Here's what NOT having an affiliate program really says:
Please promote us to all of your friends and connections so we can make more money. We will be keeping all of the money, by the way, since we don't value the service you are providing be sending us more clients. Thank you for the free leads.
Like several others here, I have the desire to promote a service that I use, but when that service is a paid service, and I have expenses connected with providing my service (of driving traffic to other services), then I expect to be paid for my service. If not, then I will promote another service provider instead of Upwork. And if I am promoting someone else..... It would make sense that I am using them as well. It's a costly mistake not to have an affiliate program in today's Ecommerce economy.
There is a certain purity to the way Upwork works currently.
Clients can find freelancers to work for them.
If the freelancers get hired and earn money, a percentage of their earnings are kept by Upwork as a fee.
Otherwise, freelancers pay nothing.
If clients hire freelancers to do work, then clients pay those freelancers. Otherwise, clients pay nothing.
That's REALLY elegant, and REALLY clean.
It means there are no "gimmicks."
I'm not saying that an affiliate program HAS to be gnarly and gimmicky.
But I am saying that right now, there are no tricks or gimmicks or hidden fees or questionable motives. It's not a pyramid scheme. Upwork and its freelancers aren't making money by getting clicks or simply by funnelling people here.
Work, get paid. Don't work, don't pay.
There's much to appreciate about this.
Preston, I think you're missing the point. An affiliate program is a win win. It incentivises freelancers to send potential new customers to Upwork via affiliate links. This is obviously beneficial for freelancers and UpWork because it creates a larger client pool on this website which in turn allows both UpWork and the freelancers to make more money from the increase in projects here on the site. There's a reason so many companies offer affiliate programs. It's because they work. Amazon is one of the most wealthy companies in the world and they continue offering their affiliate program, and a pretty fair one at that. Because they know it makes everyone more money.
Upwork needs more clients not freelancers. As an employer on Upwork since oDesk days and running an agency I constantly promote Upwork.
Now I am looking to other platforms to promote because Upwork is slow to the market.
At least start one for client referrals which will generate more income for you.
We don't want to bring our own freelancers and you are already overloaded with freelancers.
Any chance you can put this forward to your Executive team for a definitive answer?
We appreciate your feedback, Charmaine.
We've recently added a couple of programs that encourage freelancers to bring their clients on Upwork. If any new programs are added, we'll make sure to notify the users. Thank you.
This is in reply to your reply to Charmaine. Why in the world would we bring you our clients? Unless we are 'top rated' or 'rising star', that would cut into our pay for no reason. Right now, I get 100% of my pay, and my client has always been more than responsible to pay me on time or before. I wouldn't any more refer him to you than cut my own throat, which would what it would be financially. If you want to retain excellent freelancers and get referrals for clients, you'll have to do better than this.
I agree with Charmaine, Upwork needs more clients offering work, not more freelancers underselling themselves to get work.
I run a design studio myself and I would love to pass on extra work to freelancers on Upwork. An affiliate program would help both of us out a lot.