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joshua-mercutio
Community Member

Requiring a client to pay for samples? Ridiculous.

Do you guys know how many industries actually have request work samples as a part of their hiring process? It is a legitimate part of the hiring process in professional settings. Not being able to ask for a work sample is actually incredibly unprofessional. Real professionals know that is likely to happen in any interview. Is Upwork not a hiring platform? Is Upwork an unprofessional marketplace?

 

You do realize a work sample actually increases the accuracy of the hiring process? Is this not important to Upwork? Portfolios only go so far. You need to see real work that adheres to your specific needs/company/medium/project, etc.

 

Facebook, Reddit, etc. are all much more unprofessional places to hire yet I can get a higher quality hire there because I know the skills of the person I'm actually hiring related to my actual task. It's honestly embarassing for Upwork to be getting outperformed in this area by these platforms.

 

And now with a contract initiation fee no less? Are you guys just trying to collect money via having to hire someone for a sample?

Many people offer to provide a sample for $1 because Upwork requires payment for a sample. Isn't that an absolute ridiculous hoop to jump through?

This reminds me of when Upwork tried to convince everyone not to use Zoom meeting and use their own meeting system so they could keep all that stuff in house. Just a silly initiative at policing their platform that ultimately made it more difficult on the client and failed to do what it set out to do.

I have a video editor job open and have 15 proposals and counting. You want me to hire 15 people for samples? I'm sure you would, so you can collect $10 per sample and charge me $150 on top of the % you're going to charge the freelancer and the $29.99 you try to upcharge for a Premium job post.

There's an easy way to police free samples. If someone is asking for a full body of work, that's not a sample. If they're asking for a short sample, that's a sample. If you ask for a 1 minute video editing sample they can watermark so it canโ€™t be used, thatโ€™s a sample. It's pretty obvious. And the logistics of how you guys police that are not a client's issue. They're your issue as a platform.

Do you know how many freelancers want to take the hire off of Upwork? But the ones of us that are ethical say, "I found you on Upwork and because of that I feel that we should stay on Upwork pursuant to their TOS,โ€ only to have you guys try to squeeze even more money out of us and make hiring that much more difficult? Don't you understand how that makes us want to stop using Upwork as a hiring platform? It's honestly embarassing that we even try to follow the TOS anymore.

 

I've spent a ridiculous amount of money on Upwork but you guys just want more and more.

 

I'd love a community rep to jump in here and explain this:

 

1) Why do you guys need a contract initiation fee?

2) Why do you guys refuse to fall in line with professional industry standards and allow work samples as a part of the hiring process?

3) Why do you guys feel the need to make the hiring process less accurate and more convoluted than necessary?

38 REPLIES 38
bobafett999
Community Member

Yeah, but many buyers ask for free samples, never hire and use those samples.

 

People have their art portfolio for you to see and judge their capabilities.

 

If you feel strongly then don't use the platform.  Go where you can get stuff done for free.

Completely disagree.

 

There are ways to work within this.

 

A portfolio is one step (and a low bar) in showing your capabilities. Have you ever considered that freelancers can fake their portfolio? It's actually pretty easy. And then I pay $10 to Upwork to hire you for a sample and then pay you as well only to find out you don't have the skills you said you did.

 

A sample is needed to not only determine you can do what you say you can do but to also make sure you can do it in an adherence to our specifications. I'm not going to pay you to figure that out. You need to demonstrate that to the client.

 

What person makes a purchase decision not understanding fully what they are purchasing? Plenty of people. They have that option. However, people who do their due diligence also have the option of doing their research on a purchase decision first. All I'm asking for is for Upwork to give the option. You're welcome to say no. In this current iteration of Upwork I am not allowed to ask. If you don't want to provide a sample, you don't have to.

 

In terms of samples, watermark them. If you aren't in an industry that can watermark them then figure out how to work with the client to provide one that isn't able to be easily taken and used as real work.

 

If a client asks for a sample and you're wondering if they will steal your work, check their profile, reviews, and hiring history. Do they hire often when they post jobs? Are they new to Upwork? Do your own due diligence. Or simply don't apply.

 

What's the worst that can happen? Someone gets hired instead of you because you didn't want to provide a sample? No offense but good. They demonstrated they wanted the job. And that they were willing to work for it. This is how the actual job market works.

 

It's not my job to tell Upwork how to do this. It's their job to figure it out. Saying you don't know how to provide an essential feature isn't an excuse for not providing it. That's what you get paid to do.

 

Unfortunately, Upwork has the market cornered here. Trust me, if there was an ample competitor, I would have been gone a long time ago. Upwork is the Google of freelancing at this point. And when you own that type of market share, you have a responsibility to your user base. That's the whole legal precedent for "monopoly".

 

You sound like a freelancer. Have you ever been on the client side? Do you have extensive experience on the hiring side?

 

If you are a freelancer have you ever considered the cost to the client side to try someone out? Let's say I want to try 10 people out. That's $10 per person to Upwork. That's a minimum of $10 per person (likely more) for a sample. You want me to pay $200?

 

Honestly, that sounds like a freelancer mindset. Of course a freelancer would be okay with that.

You are manipulating numbers. Why do you count 10 people if you want to hire one?

Let's count with your trick. A freelancer also spends about $200 to submit 10 applications. And no one even viewed them but you still get 10 "samples".

I'm sure it's hard for freelancers to do business with you. You only think about yourself and don't worry about others. 

Have you ever considered that freelancers can fake their portfolio?

 

Of course, they can. As I said in another post, anyone can lie about anything. Freelancers and clients have to do vetting, no matter where you go. If I give you everything I give to other clients, and you want your work sample done, I have no recourse when that work is used, even if I can prove I wasn't paid, I did the coding and can prove it. You may not do this, and would never think of stealing work, but many clients will, even the ones with great profiles.

 

A sample is needed to not only determine you can do what you say you can do but to also make sure you can do it in an adherence to our specifications. I'm not going to pay you to figure that out. You need to demonstrate that to the client.

 

It sounds like you are talking about something you might do (still, without getting your project done for free) for an employee. Employees are completely different from freelancers. Freelancers don't jump through those hoops. Some will, but clients are missing the majority, and likely some of the very best, who won't do free work.

 

If a client asks for a sample and you're wondering if they will steal your work, check their profile, reviews, and hiring history. Do they hire often when they post jobs? Are they new to Upwork? Do your own due diligence. Or simply don't apply.

 

But wait - why does the freelancer need to do all the vetting? You expect free work from the freelancer, but the freelancer is supposed to believe what you say? Are you aware of how many scammers there are on Upwork? Do you know how many freelancers have wasted hours and effort on proposals for scammers? Are you aware that everything you mentioned can be faked? It can. I said earlier, vetting is mandatory for freelancer and client, and it's true. I find it telling that you expect the freelancer to do all the proving, and the client just posts stuff (yes, jobs and reviews are faked all the time)

 

All I'm asking for is for Upwork to give the option. You're welcome to say no. In this current iteration of Upwork I am not allowed to ask. If you don't want to provide a sample, you don't have to.

 

Upwork doesn't want freelancers giving away free work. They aren't going to make money if the freelancer gives the work for free. Additionally, the freelancers are going to be very unhappy, and leave when most of the clients get what they want and no pay is forthcoming.

 

In terms of samples, watermark them. If you aren't in an industry that can watermark them then figure out how to work with the client to provide one that isn't able to be easily taken and used as real work.

 

Watermarks are easily removed.

 

Why should a freelancer "work with the client to provide one..." So, now the freelancer is given more work to do, just to talk to the client? To land a quality freelancer, who is willing to do all of that to talk to you about the job, you are going to need to increase your payment or take what you get.

 

What's the worst that can happen?

 

The client steals the work, and uses it to make money, leaving the freelancer without credit or compensation for their work, time, and connects.

 

Trust me, if there was an ample competitor, I

 

Wow, you haven't looked. There are at least a dozen platforms I could name that have great coding people. Of course, most have fees, and have skills tests, so you are going to have to pay more than you probably do on Upwork.

 

you have a responsibility to your user base.

 

It's not in the Terms of Service, so, no, they don't.

 

Honestly, that sounds like a freelancer mindset. Of course a freelancer would be okay with that.

 

With your adversarial attitude with freelancers, I can see why you have problems.

 

There is no replacement for heavy vetting. The freelancers have no clue who is behind the job description or why they are here. I understand wanting the right freelancer, but there are better ways. Especially during the video meet, you can ask questions that will tell you if this is fraud or a real find.

 

 

 

If you want free work Upwork is nor for you. Only low price starters may fall for that.  Established and good freelancers will let go your job. They will not waste time for a chance to earn few dollars from you.  You sound like a cheap buyer anyway.

And have you ever considered that in an online world freelancers can fake their free samples (by getting others to "sell" them free samples)? You haven't, have you?

Not really.  We are bit empty on the top floor!

Honestly I don't understand this childish mindset "some people fake so that means everyone fakes".

I will never take responsibility for monkey kids faking stuff and I will not respond to "do me free sample" other than "my portfolio is my free sample for you to see, free of charge".

People should stop using this collective responsibility as an excuse for their laziness.

sealvlservices
Community Member

I'm not in the video editing category, I'm in the graphic design category and wouldn't even know what a "sample" is. How would I provide a "sample" of a flyer design? Makes no sense to me and I wouldn't even waste my time.

I doubt you need samples in your industry.

 

I've had to hire freelance graphic designers and I don't need a sample.

 

And that's the point.

 

Also, I'm very surprised at the amount of freelancers replying to a Client issue in a "Clients" sub. I'm actually not sure why any of you are here? Is this sub meant for you guys or for "Clients"?

 

Or is this a place you guys come to sound off on Client issues? It reeks of bias. And an inability to see things from anything other than your own perspective. I'd love to see a little perspective somewhere.

 

It also seems like you guys are very fearful of having to compete with people who are willing to work for their job. It makes you guys look a little elitist and like you've gotten cozy off of Upwork's policies. Or even worse, Upwork has treated you guys like crap too and you're holding onto the few policies that work for you guys in order to make up for the ones you feel like you don't have a voice on.

 

Don't come here and defend Upwork. Go to your own sub and use your own voice to stand up for Freelancer issues insetad of coming here to take down Clients.

 

Ease off the friendly fire.

 

I came here to ask a question of Upwork. All 3 of my questions were directed toward Upwork. Which of them did you guys suppose was directed towards Freelancers?

 

And to be fair, not all of this is directed toward you David. This is in response to the 7+ freelancers (at the writing of this post) that jumped in here. So, I apologize if this feels like it's coming toward you. It's for all freelancers who want to have a conversation in this thread. It just happened to get put in this reply.

Also, I'm very surprised at the amount of freelancers replying to a Client issue in a "Clients" sub. I'm actually not sure why any of you are here? Is this sub meant for you guys or for "Clients"?

 

This is a community forum. Anyone can post or respond to a post, anywhere. One always has the risk of posting something unpopular.  When someone one wants to break the Terms of Service in the contract with the freelancer, it certainly does impact the freelancers.

 

Or is this a place you guys come to sound off on Client issues? It reeks of bias. And an inability to see things from anything other than your own perspective. I'd love to see a little perspective somewhere.

 

Your condescending comments aren't helping. The only ones who will break the Terms just to get a job are desperate or inexperienced. It would be good to see some perspective, I agree.

 

It makes you guys look a little elitist and like you've gotten cozy off of Upwork's policies.

 

Following rules and industry standards is called being a professional. Demanding work on your specific project is called theft and a violation of the Terms. No, you won't find qualified professionals giving you work.

 

Don't come here and defend Upwork. Go to your own sub and use your own voice to stand up for Freelancer issues instead of coming here to take down Clients.

 

You understand the situation very well; you don't like being challenged on anything, and you won't follow the rules. Most freelancers aren't giving you your free work, no matter what the situation. None of my clients, anywhere, any time, have ever asked for free work, or received it, and they never will. I rarely add to my list for newcomers, but your name will be there. As a matter of fact, I think I'll save this under, "clients you never want to work for, because they want free work."

 

Ease off the friendly fire.

 

Wow. A few posts from people who follow platform rules and refuse to give you free work, and you call this "friendly fire" - you don't think your incendiary comment have colored responses?

 

This is in response to the 7+ freelancers (at the writing of this post) that jumped in here. So, I apologize if this feels like it's coming toward you. It's for all freelancers who want to have a conversation in this thread.

 

What don't you understand about a public forum? If a freelancer had posted in the freelancer section, about demanding money from a client before a contract or any work, there would be clients posting about it, in the freelancer section. Freelancers often post here to help clients.

 

No one is defending Upwork. However, we agreed to follow the Terms of Service, and so did you as a client. If you have no intention of following the rules, then you shouldn't be here. I recognize Upwork has issues, but I still follow every rule while I use the platform. If the rule were not there, you still wouldn't be getting free work, because the experienced freelancers know better. In freelancing, no one gets free work, period.

Why do you think we read the clients' thread?!!!! Certainly not because we enjoy your rants. It's because we need to know how we can better serve you people out there. Would you rather we were ignorant of how to improve our services?

spectralua
Community Member

Any works must be paid.

Unusable samples is allowed. But lot of clients requesting usable "samples" to get works for free.

crart
Community Member

All work must be paid. If you cannot assess after seeing freelancer's portfolio if they have the skill, you should educate yourself and then try to hire. You don't ask a baker for free bread "just to sample the taste". Offended? Yeah, we are too. Too many "clients" demanded samples for free from multiple people only to get the job done that way. For free. What a ridiculous attitude.

Assuming education is an issue in hiring is a mistake in the assessment of the situation. All other platforms actually do this. In hiring groups on Facebook, Reddit, etc. it's common practice. Tech companies require in an interview for you to sit there and code. Not sure why that's surprising to you.

 

Then don't provide the samples if you don't like it. Very, very simple option. Feel free to use it.

 

Did you really just use free bread from a baker as an example? You realize that literally happens all the time, right? It's called...

 

A sample.

Anyone, anywhere, can lie about anything.

 

All other platforms actually do this. In hiring groups on Facebook, Reddit, etc. it's common practice. Tech companies require in an interview for you to sit there and code. Not sure why that's surprising to you.

 

I spend a lot of time with clients, but I am not a client myself. Lots of them are looking for coders. One HR /hiring manager said he was not told to find trained robots who could sit down and spit out code, he was told to find people who had formal education to a certain level, experience working in the specific field for at least 2 years, glowing references, checked credentials, and something (positive) that makes them stand out amongst all those people who can write code. Then they hire people after heavy vetting. If it doesn't work, they fire them. However, in this situation, the hires, all of them, (83) were still with the company 5 years later.

I will certainly avoid you, just like I avoid any wannabe smart who only sees one side of the business relationship. Not educated enough to see freelancer's skill after their SAMPLES given in their profile indeed for free? Please go to your reddit and fb, where - I am sure because I am very active there in many communities - free samples are not required, more so, people demanding those are banned from groups. But I guess you are in very specific group, from those real ones you would be fired right away.

No my dude, this does not happen all the time. Among irrelevant, unskilled, tricky people yeah, probably, but I do not take pleasure in being around such people.

Perhaps we should start charging clients to view our portfolios, seeing how many have issues with simple fair play attitude.

fe9b8d82
Community Member

There's a huge difference between "show me samples of your prior work" and "make a new sample for this potential project."

I'm sorry that you feel like you need to require freelancers to produce new, unpaid work for you (especially those freelancers with extensive portfolios or experience), but as everyone knows time is valuable, and a freelancer's time is better used on paid work than on creating "samples" for someone who **MIGHT** hire them.

I will never produce free samples for someone, that policy has served me well, and it's gotten me some amazing and wonderful clients who respect the value of a freelancer's time.

Of course this policy serves you well. It's a very pro Upwork and Freelancer policy. I would expect you to like it.

 

And you don't need to produce free samples. At least you have the option. Clients don't. And that's the point.

My work is primarily outside online platforms. I work with medical and science professionals. My extensive CV is usually satisfactory. I include relevant samples. However, I have never, and will never, do part of the job for free. In addition, I advise freelancers to not give out free work as well. Also, it is against the Terms of Service for a client to ask for free samples of work.

 

The policy isn't "pro" anyone, it is standard business practices. This is not some ad campaign you are selling, this is freelancing. You don't give the client part of the job for free. Vetting is required for both freelancer and client. After interviewing, checking their profile, and the video, etc. hire several people for small jobs and hire the best for the project. Clients may think they are weeding out the poor freelancers, but it's just the opposite. Only those who are inexperienced, gullible or desperate will give a client free work.

I do see your side of this, but the danger is that taking your logic, every client is going to start assuming they're entitled to a "free sample" which will lead to an absolutely ridiculous amount of effort for a job that's like a one or two hour gig, or unscrupulous clients taking samples and attempting to use them rather than hiring.

The example you use of tech companies making coders spit out sample code is generally for large projects and full time jobs, not a few hour project.  If you've got projects paying tens of thousands of dollars, sure, I can see where you're coming from a little better, but if you're hiring for small gig stuff asking for samples is just a useless hoop that most professional freelancers are going to avoid.

Just as anecdotal evidence, the folks who have posted in this thread are generally some fairly successful freelancers, and if you're getting that kind of backlash from people who are well qualified in their roles, perhaps asking for samples is going to actually turn off the exact people you want to hire?  I doubt you'll agree with me, but if samples work for you, then best of luck with your approach and I really do wish you well.

bobafett999
Community Member

Miles, I guess in your work no one has asked you to do a sample bypass trust.

People have asked me to send them a sample contract ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Lol "to bypass trust".

 

As a freelancer do you expect to automatically be given trust because you said you are trustworthy and sent me something that may or may not be your work?

 

That's a serious question.

Make Google your friend and ask what is a bypass trust

yofazza
Community Member

There's an easy way to police free samples. If someone is asking for a full body of work, that's not a sample.

It's based on the project (niche). On some, you can create samples that cannot be used. I agree that in the real world, people are doing this. Presentations, proof of concept, wireframes, low-quality logo and flyer samples, cannot be used by the client. It's also a bit different in the real world where it's easier to "tell everyone" if a client steals "an idea" from the samples. A business that dares to do this should prepare for a big backlash.

 

What usually becomes a problem here, other than it being harder to 'tell everyone' if a work is stolen, are projects like lead generation, research, voice samples, etc., where the client can get hundreds of samples to complete their project for free.

 

--

 

Rules said that you can't ask for samples, but the rules also said that freelancers are allowed to provide them.

 

For the rest of your comment, Upwork has opened their entrance gate to the fullest and shifted from being a marketplace into a unique internet business model that can legally trick their enormous number of members for profit. They don't really care about things like quality anymore.

I agree that there are real repercussions in the real world for this. There should be on Upwork as well. In fact, there are. People get suspended for it. As they should.

 

This can be done. And Upwork needs to figure it out.

 

Upwork saying we don't know how to do it (while profiting from it quite a bit) isn't an excuse.

It's not easy to 'figure it out'. I assume you agree that 'lead generation' and similar jobs are not allowed to request samples (although a client disagrees). Then, we'll need another set of rules to distinguish what samples are allowed and not allowed, etc.

 

So do repercussions. I actually mentioned before that freelancers who got scammed by real clients can chase them to their social media, etc., but it's different than if they live nearby. On the other hand, we  see freelancers using other freelancers' portfolios that they grabbed not just from outside but even on this same site, without feeling any shame nor worry. In real life, no 'designers' etc. dare to do this.

 

Upwork never made any profit for nearly a decade, until their recent 'changes' finally provided them with their first profitable months. This change includes "reducing the hassles of dealing with keeping this place a high-quality place". You can't argue that having a profitable business is better than 'high quality place with losses every month'. They don't need other excuses.

 

I mentioned that freelancers are allowed to provide samples. You can find a way to not break the rules by making sure your job description is 'correct'. I'm being realistic, there are a lot of freelancers (see 'gate opened' above) who are willing to work for free as well, but not the quality ones probably.

 

 

Buyers getting suspended on Upwork is a JOKE.  just use another email address and you are reincarnated!

williamtcooper
Community Member

Joshua,

 

View a freelancer's reviews, portfolio, and pitch deck which if completed properly more than shows whether a freelancer can perform the job.

 

I have NEVER given free samples of anything in 27 years of freelancing; it's not necessary.

As with all the other posts from Freelancers, respectfully, I wouldn't expect you to understand this.

 

The portfolio is not enough. I've detailed why I believe this above. Feel free to see my response there.

 

As a freelancer for so long, I'm assuming you're not in the job market which means you wouldn't understand work samples and why they're integral to a good hire. And as a freelancer for 27 years, it sounds like you do an incredible job. I'm sure you have amazing reviews and people who want to work with you will take a chance on working with you.

 

You are in the vast, vast minority with your experience, skills, and body of work.

 

This is probably an issue you're unfamiliar with based on those aspects alone.

 

But I can certainly see your point.

 

Can you see mine though? That's the question.

Joshua,

 

Actually I have spent millions on hiring other freelancers.

He also has insider info from OpenAI. ๐Ÿ˜‚

atlinguist
Community Member

You are comparing the online platform marketplace with the offline business world. Well, that is not quite the right approach. There are at least three important differences.

1) The hiring process in the offline world takes place between individuals protected by country legislation. Probation periods (for employees) or work samples (in the case of freelancers) may be "free", but they are conducted within the limits of the respective market rules;

2) Reputable platforms such as Upwork provide clients with the option of delaying payment to request revisions within the specified ToS;

3) "Free" work samples are free only if the contract is not extended beyond this trial phase. Otherwise, they will have to be priced into the fee. 

 

As you probably know, giving real work samples (rather than pre-composed portfolio samples) to clients can lead to misuse in an online market that still sees a lot of misconduct. Copyright can only go so far in protecting freelancers in cyberspace, where anonymity is the rule. 

 

My suggestion for making your hiring process less arduous and more harmonious is to a) request work samples within a contract (requiring only small initial milestones and allowing you to request revisions or a refund), and b) discuss important points during your chats with the bidders. Alternatively, get to know your favourite bidder really well through this platform to establish a real working relationship. 

joshua-mercutio
Community Member

Still looking for a reply from an Upwork Community Rep.

 

I'll reply to the rest of you guys approaching this topic constructively later.

 

Thanks!

You can ask moderator to step in via this option.

1.jpg

I'm curious. Do you expect Upwork to do something differently for you? What do you expect them to say?

 

1) Why do you guys need a contract initiation fee? 

 

Money and to help make sure the client is serious.

 

2) Why do you guys refuse to fall in line with professional industry standards and allow work samples as a part of the hiring process?

 

Upwork is following the best business practices. They do allow samples, that's what's in the portfolio and with the proposals. However, you are not getting your project done for free, not even a little tiny bit. I do not know where you got the idea that freelancers should give away work, but it is against the rules on every platform to ask, as well as the physical world.

 

3) Why do you guys feel the need to make the hiring process less accurate and more convoluted than necessary?

 

It's not convoluted, it's straightforward. The rule is in place to prevent clients from obtaining the work for free.

2297e2bc
Community Member

#1 I am NOT an employee - I am an active Freelancer, so below is my perspective

 

) Why do you guys need a contract initiation fee?

        > to reduce/eliminate the spam and junk, spam and bot  contract writers.     If you have a better way to make humans 100% honest, lets hear it.

 

2) Why do you guys refuse to fall in line with professional industry standards and allow work samples as a part of the hiring process?

        > I alsways TELL my clients to send me (up to 1min) of their footage and I will perform whatever majoc they are asking for. Seems many of the clients don;t even know what video editing (my profession) is about, but they have Oscar dreams!

 

3) Why do you guys feel the need to make the hiring process less accurate and more convoluted than necessary?

         > I still believe this is part of the trust issue on all sides, especially web safety. Zooming is great, when you know who is at the other end. When we did School to Museum teleconferencing, we both could trust each other as we were both corporate (type) entities. Now it's, at least for me, unknown Jr Director or Mom wanting a video done, from only God knows where on this planet!

 

Just my reasoning - I'm sure I'll get blasted by someone........Dave

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