Both Freelancers and Clients, alike.
I searched for the subject "SCAM" here at the discussion board and found over 3,000 Forum Posts and Replies here in this Community.
This is a very important topic. I believe all of us are concerned about or have experienced being scammed... or "near scammed". Not getting the delivery expected and/or working hard and not getting paid.
I have been on both sides of the process... both hiring freelancers for hourly as well as fixed price work ... and also as a freelancer.
From my perspective ... working "virtually" with unknown requirements and people who have only met "online" at UPWORK provides both risk and rewards.
So, what very simple action can we take and/or can UPWORK take to help smooth the waters and increase the level of "trust" between the members ?
1. Scope - it would be good to indicate and agree upon the scope for an assignment. Is it only to produce clearly defined output (like editing a document)? Or is there artistic design involved?
2. Requirements - we talk about requirements.. but what does this mean? Mock-ups? Drawings? Prototypes? Documentation? And, in most cases, the requirements are not fully known .. and are discovered and "hardened" as the project progresses.
3. Design - outline of the work, diagrams, visualizations, process flows, data models, conceptual architecture.
4. Increments - small clearly defined delivery segments that can help keep the project on track, and reduce risk for both freelancer and client.
5. Change Management - difficult to define and manage, but important. New ideas or changes to the original scope should be identified and communicated as "nice but not included". Helps to have a method or tool to capture these new ideas like a "parking lot".
6. Testing - proof reading documents, or running programs, or reviewing drawings. There needs to be a clear step in the project for testing and feedback. Need to assume there will be errors or missing functionality discovered during testing.
7. Documentation - for technical projects, this might include diagrams, notes, or programmer comments.
8. Earned Value - this is a way to measure progress. Sometimes 80% of the effort only returns 20% of the visual results... while the remaining 20% of effort returns 80% of the visual results. This is important.
9. Skills and Experience - This is key. Freelancers should have experience with the same skills and tools that are needed for a new job. Clients should have experience managing virtual projects.
10. Funding and Budgets - It would be good for both sides (freelancers and clients) to understand the budget. Is the project funded for $100 with $900 more available for followup work? or is the total funds available only $100 and the client needs everything done within that fixed price?
11. Communication - the most difficult area to improve. Sometimes it helps to begin a project with casual topics just to open the communication channels. Most of us speak and use English. Drawings and diagrams are also useful communication tools.
12. Trust - the KEY to virtual teamwork. Trust is earned... slowly.. but can be lost quickly. This includes trust between UPWORK members as well as the Member's trust for the UPWORK system.
These are just a few ideas that might help clients, freelancers and UPWORK improve their virtual work experiences.
Perhaps there are other ideas out there?
From my experience working with writers, the cheaper you go, the worse it gets with professionalism, reliability, and skill. I'm sure it's the same with coders.
Nothing wrong with giving a noob a chance, but if you need something done on a budget and without chancing it, no professional with real-world experience will charge pennies.
I just got burned on a small programming project.
I hired a freelancer at UPWORK that looked excellent on their profile... but had no history / experience.
However, UPWORK system automatically recommended this freelancer to me... so I went with the lead.
It started out OK .. meeting over SKYPE (bad idea.. better to stay within UPWORK's system) ... and was told "no problem".. and "can do it in 3 hours work". I was paying by the hour (bad idea.. fixed price is a lower risk). Then, 3.5 hours was billed to the project, and the "promises" started to come in... by Email (bad idea ... better to use UPWORK tools to have a full record of the activities).
Missed deadline... sorry.. sent program to wrong email ... sorry.. small bug, I need to fix it ... 1 day, 3 days.. then 5 hours billed to the project.
Then, I finally cancelled the project and ATE the loss.
TRY #2 ... found a higher dollar freelancer 2x the rate ($50/hr) with exactly the right skills and experience. And, an excellent UPWORK track record.
Went with fixed price this time... $100 ... I had very clear diagram of the software program flow.. and a good understanding of the needed functionality.
The new higher dollar programmer finished the code in less than 1 hour.. and thew in some additional functionality (first class act). I gave him a $50 bonus for the time he took to help engineer the correct solution.
I now have what I needed.
TRY 1 = loss $120 SCAM or at best JR POSER FAKE
TRY 2 = cost $150 Excellent results with higher dollar PRO
Total paid $270
Live and learn.