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32d86ea6
Community Member

Upwork is now requiring freelancer proposals to contain a pay increase schedule or agree to no raise

I received a proposal this week that included a pay raise schedule shown at the top indicating raises rates out to 12 months.  Since it was the only proposal with it, I archived this otherwise highly qualified candidate because of it.

 

This was the first time I've seen it so I did some digging.  I saw in the freelancer forum that this is now required.  Either put in guaranteed raises or opt out of raises altogether.

 

From my perspective, it's not good for freelancers or clients. 

 

It isn't good for freelancers because they either

  • lose opportunities or
  • forego opportunities for raises. 

 

It's not good for clients because they

  • may lose qualified candidates if the rates set a year in advance don't fit their budget, and
  • have to make decisions about raises before the contractor has done any work.

 

I hope they remove this feature and allow us to negotiate raises directly with the contractor as they do work that justifies it.

70 REPLIES 70
kelly_e
Community Member

And seeing it on your end, you thought it was *the freelancer's idea* to sound so presumptuous. That's the scariest part to me now that I have no choice in the matter. You won't be aloneโ€”lots of prospective employers, especially folks who are new to Upwork, will think it's us, choosing to say "here's what forever looks like," before we've even gotten to Hello.   ๐Ÿ˜ž

 

I can't opt out of it, and whatever choice I make is both *binding* and *unchangeable* for the life of the job. What an awful new "feature."

It's a bad feature for freelancers and clients who work with freelancers. But, I remain convinced that Upwork is phasing out freelancers and the clients who want to hire them.

So true. "How to make a nightmare more nightmarish."

 

Literally no one asked for this & it solves nothing at all.

They are desperately hoping this helps stop them from bleeding red. They can't dump too many more employees to show a profit.

Well, if their management's decisions aren't designed to eliminate the freelancer aspect and freelancers, as well as client's looking for freelancers, they accidentally managed to do just that.

not sure I understand or if it's sarcasm....Upwork is phasing out freelancers and the clients who want to hire them.  

 

I'm not answering for Tiffany, but she's right. We're all supposed to be employees, except when it comes to everything that employment is supposed to provide.

I am a freelancer and absolutely not an employee and have been for 25 years.

 

Upwork is for freelancers NOT employees.

If you were Upwork, which would you prefer...

 

20,000 clients with $500 jobs, resulting in $10,000,000 in freelancer revenues and $1,000,000 in fees to Upwork, OR

 

50 clients each paying 250 low-end freelancers $15,000/year, resulting in $187,500,000 in "freelancer" revenue and $18,750,000 in fees to Upwork? 


Kelly E wrote:

I can't opt out of it, and whatever choice I make is both *binding* and *unchangeable* for the life of the job. What an awful new "feature."


There's no good way to respond to this "optional" feature. Either you'll sound presumptuous for demanding raises before you've even been hired, or you'll sound naive and inexperienced (or a liar) for agreeing to never raise your prices. 

Yes!!!

 

... before you've even been viewed or SPOKEN TO.

tlsanders
Community Member

This is a dumb ass feature, but in fact the freelancer and client aren't really hampered by it as (unless I'm missing something) they could simply say no raise, then close the contract and open a new one if they agree a rate change is in order. It's a stupid hoop to have to jump through and will hamper freelancers becoming top rated plus, but it's not as if Upwork can actually lock anyone into a lifetime pay rate.

There will inevitably be those who interpret the 'never' as being precisely that. At the best that will result in conflict. 

If I were sending a proposal on an hourly rate job at this point (I probably wouldn't), I would include in the text of my proposal that obviously neither of us could anticipate appropriate rates in advance, so I was marking "never" to restore the normal client-freelancer relationship where such issues were discussed at the appropriate time.

abixbg
Community Member

"I was marking "never" to restore the normal client-freelancer relationship where such issues were discussed at the appropriate time."

 

I am stealing that line for my proposal snippets ๐Ÿ˜

williamtcooper
Community Member

Daniel,

 

Use Milestones for Projects.

Maybe he doesn't know the exact amount of work involved in the tasks he needs done and would prefer to pay for actual work done.

 

Maybe he doesn't want to escrow a chunk of money for a couple of months while the project is underway, or to have to constantly return and approve milestones and approve new ones versus the automatic payment under hourly contracts. 

 

Maybe he wants to work with freelancers who only do hourly work do the the greater payment protection.

 

It seems a bit absurd to say "Just restructure the entire way you work with freelancers to get around this absurd requirement that literally no one wants."

Improvise.

No.

If a platform makes you twist yourself into a pretzel to find a far-from-perfect way to conduct business as a substitute for normal, sensible practices, the solution is not to do the contortions.

If Upwork doesn't change back, which it probably will not, what other pragmatic option is there other than to improvise?

 

On the surface, the new change might not seem to make sense, however, many freelancers need to consider inflation adjusted wage increases and are too timid to ask for a raise. Upwork is probably doing the majority of the freelancers a favor.

NO.

 

Friction = fail point.

 

Marketing 101โ€” do not introduce friction to the sales process.

 

One more question mark in a potential client's mind = one more reason not to move forward... with that particular proposal, or possibly with anyone's, since this introduces an enormous amount of friction into every proposal but they're all different.

 

Overwhelm = Do Nothing.

Kelly,

 

I am not implying it was a good or bad move on Upwork's behalf, but instead, making some observations.

William,

 

The observation was, "Upwork is probably doing the majority of the freelancers a favor."

 

And I said NO. They are not. They are doing the majority of freelancers a grave disservice, in a year when they have done nothing BUT do the majority of freelancers a series of grave disservices.

 

From opening the floodgates in 2022 and on and on, favors are not, in the least, something UW has done for its user base.

Take Upwork out of the rotation of the many different channels any sensible freelancer is using to connect with clients, of course. It's a pretty fundamental business principal that when a tool no longer serves your ends, you stop using it.

So does that mean you will be leaving Upwork since you have stated it is unreasonable and a sensible freelancer should stop using it?

I rarely use hourly billing, so it doesn't impact me. But, I've already cut back significantly on use of Upwork A couple of years ago I was steadily billing $6000-8000/month through Upwork, and now I just have one ongoing client here and pick up a one-off project every few months. At this point, it's an insignificant enough channel for me that if Upwork went out of business unexpectedly tomorrow, it would have no impact on my income. 

Upon further thought, I can make an educated guess where this idea came from.

 

Upwork's machine learning algos probably spotted a pattern that freelancers who increase their prices usually keep the client, and at the same time, increase overall revenues for both Upwork and the freelancers.

 

IF this is true which I don't know, but is logical, what would everybody's response be?

Tail wagging the dog, i.e. correlation does not equal causation.

 

If I uncover that red cars get more speeding tickets, that does NOT mean red cars cause speeding.

 

Likewise if fls who increase prices have long-term clients, it's not the price increase making that happen. The sentence is all out of order. It's keeping a client happy long-term that made an increase possible, meaning it should NEVER be introduced as a concept until the situation is already long-term.

 

An algo could get it that backwards, but people couldn't... at least not if they're qualified to have their jobs long-term. (Though a change like this does make me worry about UW's staff.)

 

I very much doubt there was this much thought put into it, flawed though it would be. Seems more like a half-idea tossed out in a Zoom nothing-off-limits brainstorming call and implemented before anybody got to give educated and experienced analysis of the pros and cons.

 

Like everything lately.

Totally agree that the machine learning can interpret the patterns improperly and it's my best guess that happened. It's highly unlikely there was a big meeting to come up with this type of idea knowing how enterprise companies operate.

 

There are all types of machine learning examples of improper patterns and understanding of the data.

And algorithms having no ability to reason, they concluded not that good freelancers who clients want to work with long-term can raise their rates over time, but that raising rates encourages clients to stay? 

 

That sounds about right for Upwork. 

Machine learning can make some bad mistakes and the business staff should monitor these types of decisions and think twice about how the algos got their answers.

 

I can guess exactly how the machine learning could have derived at its answer. For example, a new freelancer might bill less per hour and over time bill more as they gain experience and reviews. The algos could conclude that rates need to continually be increased which is a bad conclusion. Rates can get too high and scare clients off.

A more likely scenario, William T C, is that too many unscrupulous freelancers were partially completing projects and then holding their clients ransom to either increase the project's pay rate or the freelancer wouldn't complete the work.

 

If a freelancer pulls this ruse both Upwork and the client can claw back previous payments to the freelancer because the freelancer violated his/her contract if it included a no pay raise element.

 

I doubt there is any algorithmic excess at work here. The simplest explanation for something is usually the right explanation. No need for mental gymnastics looking for complex reasons.

 

But I could be wrong....

Highly dubious because most freelancers are not involved in fraud.

In 7 years I can't remember ever seeing a single client complain that a freelancer had done what you describe. I'm not doubting that it happens, but I'm very doubtful that it happens on anywhere near the scale that would be required to impact the algorithm.

A freelancer or a client should never have to lock in how much increase they want and when, especially at the start, before a client has even agreed to employ the freelancer.

 

And you right William - Just work by milestones. It saves any of that stupidity.

Only if you acknowledge Upwork is getting rid of freelancers and turning to an employee model.


William T C wrote:

many freelancers need to consider inflation adjusted wage increases and are too timid to ask for a raise. Upwork is probably doing the majority of the freelancers a favor.


If someone is too timid to ask for a raise after they've been working for a client for some time and the project is going well, I can't see how they're going to have the audacity to request a raise before the project begins and before they've even been hired. I'm far from timid, and I wouldn't dream of doing this. I think it's far more likely that people will select the "never" option, thereby locking themselves into never getting a raise.

I would say that if someone's business decisions are governed by their timidity, they're probably not suited to independent work and should seek employment.

"Never" is a very long time, Christine.

 

Even if a freelancer initially selects "never" I don't think they should feel requesting a raise at a later date is out of the question or unreasonable. Choosing "never" does nothing more than reflect a current intention based on current facts.

 

And it allows the client the easy option to just say, "No." If the freelancer then refuses to accept "No" and insists on more pay or threatens to stop working or withhold completed work, both Upwork and the client have reason to cancel the project and refund 100% of what the freelancer has already been paid because the freelancer did not adhere to a key term of their contract they clearly agreed to.

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