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plantostart
Community Member

Annoyed with recent quality of Upwork

I've had mostly long-term clients here on Upwork; 100% job success score, top rated, etc....all viable clients that immediately went from invite to proposal to interview to hire within a week.  I've paid Upwork at least $20K in income fees the past year alone, possibly more.  All my clients are 5 stars.  

 

Within the past 6 months, I don't what the issue is- but the number of invites and quality of clients have signficantly decreased.  I'm to the point where I'm easily having to send 50 proposals and do 15 interviews with no results.  Or "limited results" where the client wants to hire, but can't actually afford rates.  Additionally, I've seen far too many new "knowledge suckers"- ie: startups under the impression they can solicit random strategies and ideas from multiple people for free in a one-hour "interview" call.  As though that actually works for a real company?  Laughable.  I don't see any eventual hires on these contract postings either.

 

Another issue- prospective clients are allowed to privately DM me; without posting a job, and without me being able to view/vet their company.  Previously this worked in my favor as they hadn't yet solicited others, so I've continued to respond; but with the new lack of quality clients, it is resulting in pure ludacris. 

 

After recently ending a large contract, I turned on my "availability badge" (which costs money); yet can't control what clients this is advertised to.  Odd considering I work in B2B digital marketing, and targeting is always our number one concern in producing viable pipeline.

 

Considering the connect & new bidding fees, percentage of my income being taken, and recent decrease in quality; honestly I can't see what the value proposition here is anymore.  This is business- the only value prop is when a platform is saving you money or time (because time equals money regardless), when x-y=z.  I could prospect on my own with less time then what I spend here....with much better targeting then these new algorithims and/or lack of client vetting. 

 

Side note: this is a rant.  There is no technical solution or problem solving to be had from my side.  What I am basically annoyed about, is I invested those fees in order to build a steady, viable dealflow of clients.  And yet that is essentially worthless now because of Upwork's own poor strategies.

39 REPLIES 39
c18f1786
Community Member

You are not the only one who feels like this. Not by a long way!

 

The number of quality clients on Upwork seems to have entered freefall right about when the boosting system was launched. Just saying...

Mark,

 

The world economy has been slowing since the summer of 2022. Businesses are more challenged with their budgets. To get hired, you must offer incredible value and service.

 

There are many challenges that Freelancers are facing; however, there are some workarounds and best practices that will be helpful. View the posts on this site for the answers. Do you have a specific question? Thanks!

Dude: It sounds like you are just spamming your own past post out about "economic conditions" etc and not directly addressing the poster's specific concerns. Sorry, but it's just link spamming, not a serious response to this particular thread. 

Agree. It just sounds like a paid advertisement. 

I agree with CJ. It's not helpful to tell us that you've "solved" the issue; it's nice that you're doing so well, but just because you don't see a problem, it doesn't mean that no problem exists or that Upwork bears no responsibility for making changes that have hurt many of their most experienced freelancers. Please don't insult the intelligence of everyone here; you don't have all the answers.

Have you not read posts from freelancers who are highly qualified, top-rated, made a lot of money, with lots of jobs and great reviews - who can't get a job? Then I suggest you do. Of course, for some, no skills is a huge issue. That is not the problem with many highly skilled experts.

 

The platform has changed. We're all happy for you that you are doing well. However, your master solution(s) don't work for a great many freelancers. It has nothing to do with skills. I have excellent skills, whether you want to acknowledge that or not. I used to work in the physical world and decided to branch out years ago. I never put all of my eggs in one basket. Upwork has changed, and they aren't going back. I will continue to work outside of Upwork, because that is where the work is coming from, and I can charge much higher rates with no problem from the clients. The clients are nicer and tend to appreciate my work.

 

There are a lot of hurting, highly skilled freelancers on the platform that are not doing well through no fault of their own. Upwork has decided the flood of unskilled is great because of connects. Upwork is driving clients to me outside of the platform.

Yeah the quality of Upwork has definitely took a major hit. You have a lot of low quality clients and we're back to high amounts of proposals. When Upwork staretd charging for connects it really removed the unqualified freelancers and it dropped the amount of proposals. Now its sky high again and I am sure that is running quality clients away from Upwork.

ericaandrews
Community Member

I have seen a drastic drop in quality as well, and I think much of it has to do with the 'boosting' system that allows anybody that can buy enough connects to simply 'flood' /spam client inboxes with unqualified or copy/pasted JUNK proposals. This has likely caused many of the quality clients to leave the platform.

 

"Another issue- prospective clients are allowed to privately DM me; without posting a job, and without me being able to view/vet their company. "

 

Don't even get me started on that one:

I hate this feature as well and can't believe Upwork would release such a feature without giving the freelancer the ability to disable 'random messages' if they choose to.  It is a complete invasion of privacy for a random person to just 'jump' into your message box like some pre-teen social media network.   Even worse, I discovered a bug /security hole in the feature months ago that allows ANY client to send these types of 'direct messages' to any freelancer.  The FAQ page says that only clients that meet certain requirements (being on the platform 90+ days, having spent a certain amount, in good standing, etc) can send these types of messages, but several months ago I got a random "what's up?" message from a so-called 'client' whose profile said they had only been on the platform a couple days, and had only spent like 10 bucks on the platform. Basically, because ANY client can message ANY freelancer, it won't be long before this 'direct messages' feature becomes the chosen vehicle for scammers, because their job 'posts' can be reported and taken down, but if they can just create a 'new' UW account and immediately start 'messaging' everybody 'whatsapp' numbers and scams....well, that's a bit harder to stop. 

 

I tried to tell UW that feature was a security disaster waiting to happen, and to-date the bug/security hole I reported many months ago has not been fixed. The ticket was simply declared a 'complex issue' and put 'on hold'....indefinitely, apparantly.   I don't like that feature because I don't want messages from random peple just wanting to 'get to know" me or people who haven't figured out exactly WHAT they need to hire for and just want to 'bounce ideas' off me, "brainstorm" or try to describe a 'possible' job in thousands of back-and-forth messages .  I don't have time for that.  It's also inconsiderate, because while clients may be looking for the 'best' freelancers, most of the 'best' are busy WORKING during the day...so just popping out out the blue and pummeling the freelancer with messages in the middle of the day is not a great idea. Much better to QUIETLY send a job 'invite' that can be reviewed when the freelancer has TIME too look at it.  This isn't snapchat or whatsapp: Go get your head together,  figure out what you need, figure out if you can AFFORD it, write it down in a formal job post,  send it over via invite, and  I'll look at it, and respond back if interested.   The entire random 'DM'  feature is an INVASIVE annoyance.

 

 

The job post quality has gone down recently - severely.  I often see job posts for $5 "fixed rate" jobs on the board posted 2-3 minutes ago that already have 50+ bidders, with some of them likely "boosting" their proposal ridiculously, spending more in connects than the job is actually worth. (I guess that's why Upwork refuses to get rid of the boosting feature.)    It's like the platform is moving more and more toward trying to find a way for people to spend/waste connects for quick 'short term' gain, even if it causes all the good clients to leave - leading long term monetary loses from lost fixed rate and hourly jobs. Also, what I call, lots of JUNK jobs have been appearing: Clients wanting the moon and the stars from 'experts' with 200+ years experience in "high demand" fields like AI and machine learning, and then offering to pay $8/hour or some silly nonsense like that.   I think the fact that UW has been going out of its way to look more and more like Fiverr (like the 'project catalog')  has  encouraged more cheap skates and scammers to flood the platform, which has caused more high quality, serious clients to leave or do their hiring elsewhere.

 

Basically, UW now makes lots of initial money on a job post when hundreds of freelancers spend hundreds in connects so they can 'spam' the client's inbox and 'staple' their JUNK proposals to the 'top' of the client's inbox with 'boosting' bids, but then, that client that was planning to hire someone for $80/hour for 40/hours per week for 6+ months gets frustrated when they cannot 'sort' their inbox to find somebody who is actually QUALIFIED for the job and LEAVES the platform altogether, hiring nobody at all.  Basically, thousands and thousands of dollars in recurring, long-term income was sacrified for a quick one-time 'sugar high' of profits from people burning connects to 'boost' and SPAM client inboxes. I have definitely seen a recent surge in 'abandoned' job posts  (where the client gets flooded with junk proposals and just 'gives up' and interviews nobody) after they re-instituted the 'boosting' feature.  It's like some silly 'raffle ticket' game where nobody wins but UW.

 

They have also changed the search (on the client's side) in a way that doesn't always showcase available platform talent in the best light.  Now they 'rotate' all the freelancer profiles around in the search, regardless of the quality or success score of the freelancer/profile.  So, in the past, when a client search for a term like 'SEO', the first page showed relevant profiles from the TOP/best freelancers based on JSS, experience, earnings, etc.  Now, the search does a 'lottery' scramble of all those profiles, so a new client searching for 'SEO', might see a first page full of freelancers with incomplete profiles, grammar mistakes in their profiles, or worse-  freelancers with LOW JSS scores.  I have seen freelancers with JSS scores under 40% sometimes showing up as the first 'match' on the top of the first page of 'results'.  Now, if you are a new client searching the freelancer listings for the first time and see freelancers with a 60% failure rate, how long would you stay on the platform? Me - not long:  I would say "Oh, this is JUNK. A bunch of amateurs" and leave immediately.  Bascially, in the interest of trying to be 'fair' to every freelancer, UW is shooting themselves in the foot by not highlighting the 'best' to keep the new client ON the platform and interested. The first key to getting a new client to PURCHASE freelancer services is to get them to STAY long enough to do so, and showing them profiles from freelancers with 30 and 40% JSS scores or no experience/earnings is not how you get them to STAY.  That's how you make them run for the door.

 

A strange business model indeed, but definitely explains the negative 'earnings reports' attached to their Nasdaq ticker for the past 4 years.   Personally, I have found myself moving more and more toward other platforms/venues for networking with potential, new clients

CJ,

 

On November 30th, 2022, worldwide AI changed how companies will conduct business. A 200 page novel can be written over the weekend, whereas before that was a 6 month project that was billable for $5,000 to $10,000. I saw one Job post that wanted to pay $40 for this work because of the new AI tool. At $3 to $5 per hour in some countries, $40 for a poor to average written novel might be acceptable to some clients. The same concept is playing out with programmers, law, video, graphics, writers, social media, financial, etc.

 

The changes are not only happening on Upwork, but across the Net. As a micro-influencer on LinkedIn with 36,000 business owner connections, it is obvious by the interactions that most companies are experiencing the same issues. This is a universal business issue โ€“ too many posts keep blaming Upwork. This is NOT an Upwork problem.

 

EVERYONE SHOULD INCREASE THEIR SKILLSET!


William T C wrote:

A 200 page novel can be written over the weekend, whereas before that was a 6 month project 


I think you chose the wrong example - such a novel would likely face plagiarism issues, not to mention the quality going down the drain.

 

But - the issue is with clients. THEY should change their mindset and stop thinking that AI or MT or whatever will be the deus ex machina solving all their budget and time issues once and for all. 

Elisa,

 

Unfortunately there are now AI API application tools that are 99.99% plagiarism free. Of course those are paid for tools, but are becoming quickly known.

 

From my experience, everyone of us must quickly move to EXPERT level in multi-subjects to solve more complicated client problems. I can't believe how complicated some of my client requests have become in the past few months. We can all make the transition, however it will require change, focus and an investment of our time to upgrade skills.

William,

 

My main field of work (translation) has already been heavily impacted by machine translation. The solution is not learning new skills in my case - it is focusing on quality. 

 

If you translate a poorly written source text with a machine, you will get an equally disappointing target text. Machines have no taste for good writing nor any sense of aesthetics. Humans do and that's where we (still) make the difference.

Elisa,

 

Greater focus on quality is part of a skill set. Think of all the entry level translators who's quality is lacking and needs to be improved. If Amazon has 100 translators that now start using API application tools, it now takes 20 to get the same job completed. Now there is less need for contractors and a flood of translators on the job market seeking employment. Will this happen in one day; no. However the changes have begun and will continue.

 

As an AI Marketing Economist, I am in the middle of these trends due to my client base. It's real.

William,

 

I know that today everybody feels like they can be translators (there is Google Translate, right? What could ever go wrong) and the example you posted is not far from reality.

 

But my initial observation still stands - part of the problem lies with the clients themselves. The idea of saving money with such tools might be enticing, but they should be aware that quality (and probably a good ROI) resides elsewhere.

AI is against the Terms of Service. AI can't be plagiarism free when it pulls the information from other writing. Give the program a dictionary and thesaurus, and then let it create.

 

My skills are just fine, thank you. I do not need to upgrade or have new skills. Upwork needs to limit the flood of freelancers driving away clients.

 

My Upwork business is down, but my non-Upwork business has increased very nicely over the past year. If the state of the economy or AI or what-have-you was having a universal impact, you'd think that my profits would be down across the board, but that's far from the case. I'm having a bad January here, but inquiries on Linked In and other websites have been great. So I can say that personally, the problem of fewer clients/lower quality jobs - for me - is limited to Upwork alone, and can't be blamed on the factors that you describe.

 

Don't get me wrong, I don't blame Upwork - at all - for trying to make a profit just like every other business. It's just that lately, it's not working for me. And your solution of increasing my skillset won't have any impact if my category is so overcrowded that clients can't find me in the search results, and my proposals are buried in an avalanche of 50+ other proposals.

As with Christine, I have issues. Upwork clients have dropped off and the decent ones have almost disappeared. Several thousand dollar jobs used to be in my specialty at least every other day. Now, I can go weeks before finding anything worth doing. However, thanks to Upwork's free for all freelancer flood, clients are getting disgusted and leaving Upwork. Those angry clients are finding me outside of Upwork and then we are on my business terms. So, I guess I should thank Upwork for sending me clients outside of their platform.

 

I don't need to increase my skillset, I need the client to see my proposals.

Jeanne,

 

I am completing my research and will post in a few days the MAIN cause of the 100+ proposals on job postings. When the "true" freelancers get buried in 100+ proposals, it is very difficult to get an Interview and Job offer. There are reasons for this occurance of skyrocking proposals, and no this one has nothing to do with the economy.

Thank you, but I have done my own research. I know why there are so many. It's not a secret. As I said in another post, if I set my fee to $300.00 an hour with all the Boolean filters, I see far fewer scams. However, that is not sustainable for me.

 

Whenever I try to post screenshots, no matter how they are presented or in what format, Upwork removes them. This is a problem when trying to explain about the scams and when freelancers are not playing nicely. Then Upwork removes the links and says it's not valid. When there is proof of a problem, there should be some way to post, without using any identifiers, of course.

What is an Upwork free for all freelancer flood; more proposals? If more proposals which I agree, where are these freelancers coming from? Best guesses are fine.

 

Increasing Skill sets has to do with the AI revolution taking place; a completely different issue, however both have negative affects on freelancers.

Are you finding it difficult to believe that Upwork committed a terrible error by introducing policies that have affected freelancers as well as clients? I remember vividly when Upwork brought a test version of proposal bidding, 70% of Upwork freelancers were against it; still, Upwork went ahead and implemented that. I agree with the writer of this thread. Quality clients are reducing every day on Upwork. That's not due to whatever AI or World Economy or whatever you're talking about rather Upwork is contributing to it. I've had clients complaining about the Upwork bidding system and how it's not helping them to higher quality freelancers. 

 

Secondly, clients who aren't ready to hire for a specific job shouldn't post jobs thereby making freelancers waste their connects. I've seen verified clients posting 10 jobs without any hire. Some clients would interview 100 freelancers in the process, stealing freelancers' ideas.  Is this still due to World Economy or AI?

 

Upwork should revert back to the old system. Of course, I know they won't because they're making money from connects. How would you justify the top 3 proposals spending over 1500 on connects alone? I screenshotted that very job post. Top 1 bidding 600+ connects, the top 2 was 500+ and the top 3 was 300+. This is insane.

 

Everything is wrong with the new Upwork marketplace. Clients are leaving the platform. Upwork doesn't listen to freelancers. They'll just wake up one day and implement policies. Freelancing is a business and those that rely on Upwork are paying heavily. Thank God for side hustle ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜€

 

 

 

 

 

David,

 

Proposal bidding has had no negative or positive affects on my ability to obtain projects on Upwork. I have completed 40+ projects since November. However, when Upwork changes the process, I adjust my strategy. I have written several posts on how to adjust that obviously work. Just modify to what works in January 2023. Thanks!

I think they might go back to the old format. This is likely reducing what they make in service fees. They will definitely see a big drop, I am very sure many top earning freelancers will go elsewhere or work on Upwork less.

Just the flood of demands/begging for jobs is enough to cause freelancers to flee. Why in &$(@#@! Didn't they do something, so we could control our own messages. Just turn the darn thing off and my colleagues or friends can find me other ways.

Interesting. I've seen some negative comments about the 'free-for-all' messaging functionality, but I've actually got a couple of good clients through that route (one of whom has been a regular client for several months).

 

If you receive a lot of unsolicited messages, I guess it would get annoying pretty quickly, but I've found they're often more relevant than invites.

It's either people wanting me to give them a job or get them a job. The client's messages are great, but buried.

I agree that DM is a pretty awful feature, particularly on a "marketplace" platform focused on agencies. I know how time-consuming it can be to chat with all and sundry because I get these messages in my non-platform business too, and it's easy to tell when these messages are not based on genuine interest. An easy way to block timewasters in the DM is to refer them to the two "pillars" on Upwork -- (1) the project catalogue and (2) the job posts. Plenty of choices there. 

money5510
Community Member

I feel the same way. This site has made so many changes. They don't ask for our input or seem to care. All I have been getting are clients to get free consults and they will not pay once they get this advice and somehow no longer need the work completed. Last client hired and after I gave him the plan to remedy his application, he said I will close the job and started sending me all kinds of screenshots as if I didn't know what I said to him, cancelled job and then now my score went from 100 to 80%. We also have to keep buying connects to try to get a job and get messages now from so many clients just to ask questions. It's to the point I no longer want to work on here. Very frustrated.

That may be an answer, but it is not the answer.

Even more frustrating is when they ask for our input, we offer it, and it's completely ignored.

williamtcooper
Community Member

Amanda,

 

To increase conversion rates, I stopped giving free interviews in November 2022 and now charge $200 for a one hour Marketing Strategy Consult. 30 clients have signed up since and many have converted into clients ($4,000 to $10,000 each). When I charged for a Marketing Strategy Consult versus a chat / interview, the clients came to the call prepared to do business.

elisa_b
Community Member

What is the purpose of sharing the same link 4 times in the same thread?

74b661f4
Community Member

Hi gyz am new on upwork and UU/UX DESIGNER WHO WANT A JOB TELL WHAT REAL TIPS TO USE TO GET HIRED AT UPWOTK 

Read this post. Go through and follow every single link. Being new, you are a target for scammers. You need to learn about freelancing. There is enough information to take you from the Terms of Service through advancing your career.

allpurposewriter
Community Member

I could prospect on my own with less time then what I spend here....with much better targeting then these new algorithims and/or lack of client vetting. 

 

Amanda,

So the question is ... why don't you do that?

 

Freelancing is all about runnng a business and one should never put all your eggs in one basket. If you don't have three or four or more methods of finding clients, then you're just asking for trouble.

I don't mean to disparage your complaints. I got totally burned out on writing querry lettters to publishers and reliled up Upwork exclusively for a long time. I'm not anyone to emulate.

 

And, you should check out Jeanne H,'s rant "To all freelancers looking for help."  An eye-opener for me. In her view, echoed by many, Upwork is virtually flooded with maginally talented or even untalented freelancers who are, essentially, using all kinds of cheap tricks and scams to sell themselves as experts. I won't look at my profile reviewing the same way again -- I'll tell you that. 

nmbarnett
Community Member

Yes, totally experiencing the same thing.  Itโ€™s like Top-Rated Plus and 100% Success mean nothing anymore. 

Iโ€™m not saying getting jobs should be a piece of cake, but like Amanda mentions, after paying Upwork tens of thousands of dollars in fees, and earning goodwill with clients, it feels like that should mean something โ€“ and used to โ€“ but doesnโ€™t seem to now.

In my mind, the two major items causing the downfall โ€“ the pandemic (where everyone and their Mother decided to stay home and become a freelancer), and the boosting system, which frankly is difficult to understand, monitor, and take advantage of.

Hearing this now quite often from veteran freelancers I donโ€™t think bodes well for Upwork.  Their future seems to be getting a bunch of low-quality jobs, with low-paying clients, and marginal freelancers.

It would be nice if Upwork would reach out to those of us who have had a number of successful years under our belts and have been responsible for a large chunk of their revenues.  I think many folks could offer suggestions that would help both Upwork and Freelancers alike.

I doubt if Upwork will ever listen to freelancers. They had the chance and opportunity to do so during their test (trial) version of proposal boosting. Most freelancers complained about the boosting stuff here and there but they went ahead to implement it.

 

35dd3b62
Community Member

Agree 100%. I went from rceiving 4-5 (often more) job offers per day to applying to 30+ jobs for one hire. Many of my clients say the hiring process is in shambles too. One client recently told me several of the "US based" freelancers were CLEARLY not in the USA. I could go on for days on the rapid decline of Upwork. 

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