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bwegscheider
Member

After nine years of freelancing, still not finding "better" clients

I can't believe I've been freelancing for nine years. This year has been one of the worst for me as far as dealing with abusive or nasty clients (four off the top of my head). My overall income is slightly higher than it was last year, but I've had more scary-long dry periods in between jobs too. Just wondering if anyone else is experiencing a bad year.

 

I always thought I'd have a better time once I got more experience and education and asked for a higher hourly rate. I find most clients are still going for the cheaper bidders and aren't looking for expert-level work. Maybe something's wrong with my proposals, but maybe it's something else. Any ideas?

10 REPLIES 10
tlbp
Member

It looks like you are focusing on writing jobs yet your profile still promotes your editing services. Perhaps potential clients are confused by this fact. If you have moved toward writing jobs, I would suggest changing your profile headline. 

 

Also, I have found success this year by building stronger relationships with fewer clients.

@Tonya P: Thanks for your input. I actually am moving away from writing and toward editing, as it seems to garner more respect and higher pay. People still pursue me for writing jobs though (as most editors write well, or else I get offers from past clients who hired me to write before), and I hesitate to turn down work. I've adjusted my skills tags to reflect mainly editing, so I hope this looks less confusing to clients.

 

I try to build strong relationships, but something always seems to go wrong. Mostly, clients are just busy or don't need ongoing writing and editing work. Some of them may not like me or my work and are too polite to let me know; they just drift away. I'll keep thinking about this.

acgpakistan
Member

Though I am no expert here but the little that I am able to decipher the algorithm in play brings me to the point that the "Skills" mentioned in the profile coupled with the "Tests" taken increases the probability of discovery or higher ranking towards a potential client. Despite you have taken numerous tests with amazing results however the skills are not verified as I am not able to see the check mark (โœ“), so maybe something worth looking into it.

@Ghulam R: Thank you. I've never been able to keep up with how the algorithm works. My JSS recently dropped a few points, so I suspect some parameters were changed again (on top of having several unhappy clients this year). I've updated my skills (why just 10?) to match the editing jobs I'm seeking. For some reason, many writing and editing skills are not linked to tests, so I may contact Upwork to ask about that. I appreciate your time and expertise.

Not an answer to the actual question, but I agree that a few more skill tags would be nice.

And there is not a test to all skills. Or languages. I am aware that is impossible though.

 

I would re-work your profile narrative. Strip out everything that makes the case for hiring an editor--if they're seeing your profile, they're already looking for one. (You make the case well but it's wasted real estate in this context.) Focus on the parts that tell them what you can do for them. Start with the second sentence of your third paragraph and go from there.

 

As for the general climate, I've relied less on UW this year than I had anticipated. Off-platform obligations have kept me tied up a lot and I haven't pursued UW work as vigorously as I did last year or expect to in 2019. One thing I did notice was last spring, the minute my calendar filled up, I got a relative deluge of high-quality invitations that I couldn't accept. (By "deluge" I mean up to half a dozen inside two weeks, some of which looked promising for long-term work and relationships. Prior to that, 90% or more of invitations I got were complete non-starters--mis-matched with my skills and/or paying pennies on the dollar.) I assumed that I had finally rotated to the top of the wheel. I'm getting nada in the way of invites these days, but have a full plate through the end of the year, so will start beating the UW bushes again in Q1. My own profile needs an overhaul, I think.

 

Re. unsavory clients: Are more of them turning sour on you? Or have you taken on more questionable ones because fewer good opportunities?

 

@Phyllis G: Excellent point about cutting my overview; thank you. It does seem that the algorithm cycle is more severe this year. I too get lots of "matches" that don't match my skillset or level of expertise, even from Upwork "talent specialists."

 

Regarding clients, a couple were ones that my gut told me were unsavory but I took because I was desperate. The others were either miscommunications or personality/professionality mismatches that probably couldn't be helped. I had one client end my contract and pretend it was a mistake, implying that I'd ended it, lol. I fear that a lot of my clients (beyond the ones who were outright nasty) dislike my work and have usually been too polite to say anything, which is good and bad. But I find that a lot of clients have disorganized projects or rude policies (will put you on a call for a live edit and not even introduce you to the people in the room, for example). Maybe at a lower price level, they figured they got what they paid for and didn't say anything. When paying a higher fee, they're more critical, I suppose. I know I'm a good writer, but unfortunately, writing quality is often a matter of opinion. Editing doesn't really get judged, so I'm switching to that for now.

 

I see a career change once I hit the 10-year mark. Haven't figured out a plan though. I may need to keep doing this to put myself through grad school if it comes to that. Anyway, I'm rambling. Thanks so much!

Don't allow desperation to induce you to work for bad clients. Screen, screen, screen and learn to recognize the warning signs before you accept the offer. 

Scoping out to the highest level, I think the fact that the world is just a much faster moving, scarier, more stressful place than it was even two years ago is resulting in people feeling more insecure, dissatisfied and left behind and that causes more nastiness to fellow humans. Sorry left out two hyphens there key is broken!

bwegscheider
Member

Thanks, everyone, for your input. I've done a lot of thinking about this and have determined that a career change is in order. My writing and editing skills are sharp, but the way I'm using them now doesn't suit my personality or values. (I've come to hate "marketing.") And most clients won't pay what I think I'm worth.

 

Look like I'll be selling my personal items on eBay for a while to make up for being selective about jobs. I've signed up for a GRE prep course and am also looking into other career paths. I hope to make a major switch within about a year.