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Buying connects, boosting bids? Yes or No



It seems that Upwork is very interested in "selling" connects, more than offering serious clients and professional freelancers.


I have 10 connects per month, after many years of working here. In the last time, I even didn't use them because I don't find many real jobs in my field. But, last month I used them...or I "wasted" them. Because, only 1 of those clients hired a freelancer. They even don't close their job (in that case, we receive the connects back). 


I emailed the Help Support Team about it. They said that they ask the client to close the job, or they wait the job to expire. The solution? Buy connects.


I see that there are freelancers that boost their proposals with 30 or 50 connects. I'm not sure that it helps. Or, I'm sure that it doesn't help to convince a serious client about your skills. I think that it helps Upwork to earn money from connects and not from job payments fees. So, why will Upwork solve the scammers' problem, or search for serious verified clients and professional talented freelancers if they earn money just from freelancers proposals, no matter if the client hires anyone? 


Am I right? What's the solution? Not buying connects? Not boosting bids?

By now, I decided not to buy connects until I find a good job offer that deserves it, or waiting to receive my 10 free connects. And NOT BOOSTING my bids. I have a good Profile built working here during 12 years. I believe that serious clients will recognize it. 



Community Member

Short answer: NO BIDDING


Why?: Let the client read our profile and choose the best one rather than the one who bid the most; it sounds like a freelancer website with all the bidding bots; I guess everyone knows what the site is.

Clients will know Upwork is the platform with no bot bidding, and all proposals are accurate with high-quality freelancers and real ones. More clients' trust in the platform means more income and a successful freelancer-finding platform.


But I know, Upwork might never consider what we say.

Community Member

I barely bid to outboost.

Freelancer Plus

I don't boost my bid on a job, and it seems that those who are bidding in big connect numbers must be really stressed and trying anything to get a job.

Community Member

I think that boosting the bid doesn't work if the client is serious and professional. It only works for Upwork, they get money from stressed freelancers buying connects. 

Freelancer Plus

If boosting the bid improved the chance of a proposal being a winner, Upwork will eventually let us know. They are no doubt keeping track of this metric. If they never provide such information, I will assume boosting has no clear effect on whether a given proposal wins or not.


I won't even consider boosting my proposals until I see proof there is a good reason to do so. But it is a good thing that Upwork is providing transparency on boosted bids.

Community Member

Quick answer: No.

Now the more detailed answer: I was hoping that I could grow up in Upwork, but since this boosting feature was implemented I´m not getting jobs, I got first orders, I did a good job, then.... desert. No more invites, few interviews. I spent on membership, boosting proposals, and got just few interviews, and no hires. It is not worthy anymore spending money in Upwork.

I´m just a small freelancer that realizes that isn´t worthy spending my time, energy and money here until Upworks changes things as it was before. Lets see what happens when the majority of freelancers gets the same conclusion as me. A lot of them will leave, will work on other platforms and when Upwork loses money, they will regret and change things again. This boosting proposal and connects sales focus will destroy Upwork in long term. In short term, Upwork is getting a lot of money, but in long term will destroy its reputation and the platform will loses a lot of money.

I´m getting better results in other platforms than here.

Hi, please which other platforms do you use?


Freelancer Plus

Too bad Upwork won't paywall ala carte features on the client side.

Stuff like
1. Pay to filter proposals based on rating, reviews, earnings, location, etc
2. Verified ID vs non-verified ID
3. Verfied vs non-verified payment
4. Charge to offer fixed price contract - based on the idea that a service fee would deter some scammers, but also be pooled to service the issues with fixed price.  Maybe charge non-verified IDs for fixed price job postings and not charging clients who do have a verified ID to offer the same fixed price job.  Eliminate free anonymity for fixed-price job posts.
5. Referral system - pay clients who refer new business (thats successfully completes transactions/work/some other qualifier)

Community Member

Thanks a lot to you for saying a real problem. I think without selling any connects, Upwork could test a little loss & Upwork will never do that. But Upwork could set a limited number of connects for any job proposal according to the budget of the job, type of job & duration of the job. For instance, 5 connects for a short-budget job like $100, then 10 connects for $200 & so on. After getting all proposals within 5 connects, it's the client's responsibility to choose one among them. 


But if Upwork wishes on that!!


Freelancer Plus



I posted a similar question yesterday. 


I'm not getting better results since this system started, so I see no use in spending connects for boosting a proposal. 


The main problem is the quality of jobs is very low and that is why the few good ones get 50 proposals in two minutes, all biding a lot of connects. I feel like in a wolf pack.


Most of the connects I spend go wasted. The thing is if I get projects through Upwork I'll keep investing money in connects and bidding. If no, there's no point. And I'm not getting more jobs, so I've decided not to spend more money in bidding and, if I see no improvement, not to spend any money in connects from next month on.

Not applicable

No boosting, EVER.

I see it as gambling, I am not anti-gambling, but I don't see any benefit from a race to 1000 connects for a job and desperation wins, or does it?


I see people talking about connects as a business expense,

Do you ever use cash to apply for a job? No, never, do you ever give money to a recruitment agency to apply for a job? no never.

I am suspicioous of those that say it is a business expense and cyniclaly think it is an Upwork narrative they are pushing.


I can understand having connects as an availability function, one connect to show you are available per day, that would indicate very clearly to the client that you as a freelancer are serious and then your JSS and reviews take over to show suitability to the task.


I have limited proposing on contracts since the bidding war and now focus on long-term clients or clients outside of Upwork.

In fact I have only applied for one job in the last 30 days and didn't boost, I was awarded the contract.

In the last 90 days, I have applied for 16 jobs,, 2 were boosted as a test, those boosts weren't viewed and only 25% viewed the proposal.


I have now drastically reduced the proposals, and won't get involved with desperation tactics and throwing money on the fire to see if it burns.


Connects is not a buisiness expense, this is an Upwork narrative that they want you to get online with.


I've previously considered connects to be a business expense for freelancers. But, this was for regular connect costs before proposal boosting started. Connect boosting is definitely not a business expense, and it is similar to paying a commission to someone referring you to an employer, or just pushing your application to the top of the pile. 


I see your point: "Do you ever use cash to apply for a job?" No.


"Do you ever give money to a recruitment agency to apply for a job? " Yes, there are recruitment agencies, job placement agencies who take money and get you an interview, and/or take a cut from your paycheck. But, this is already happening (Contract Fees being collected by Upwork).


So, I was happy with the earlier connect costs that we had, as that somewhat ensured only serious applicants would apply, and also consider that to be a business expense.


This new boosting feature however, is not that at all! And, I will never boost my proposals.

Community Member

I have yet to see a single freelancer on this community forum who is in favor of boosting proposals. 

Community Member


Community Member

Nooooo.... It didn't feel right to me.

Community Member

Bidding is useless.
Its such a waste of resources. I have seen people use 50 connects for simple jobs  Any good freelancer knows not to spend in this scheme. If you are good you don't even need to.

But it definitely does affect the whole hiring procedure. I used to apply for 1-2 jobs a day only which I thought were appropriate for me and mostly got them too because of my strong portfolio in the respective field. But now even with more experience, applying for more jobs and better portfolio I can't seem to get more jobs. It doesn't even come to clients answering my proposal because I am not boosting any of my proposal. If this continues most good freelancers eventually will end up leaving the platform. But all the bad ones and scammers know its a good opportunity for them to use clients. Its a shame. When I joined upwork it was great but now I will see it for few more months if it doesn't work out I will have to find a new platform. I wish they would go back to previous version of just simply applying for jobs using connects.

Community Member

Since the new connect-bidding started, I haven't been able to get a single project. I am a top rated plus freelancer and I have been working for years on Upwork. The whole concept seems more like a gambling, a gamification gone wrong, I am so very disappointed that Upwork started to filter out serious experts and freelancers for the sake of a crowd-oriented mass-targeted street marketplace. Obviously, the wave of disapproval is imminent.

You are not the first person to compare Boosting to gambling or gamification. You aren't even the first in this thread. And I understand why it can seem like that, since all you see is that there are high bids and maybe a hire. Even though there is no actual evidence, we inherently assume that the 1st place bid got the job. Because, well, first place!


But that is inaccurate.

  • Boosting is stricly a form of advertising - fundamentally no different than posting a business sign in front of a company/government office that is collecting bids on a job.
  • Boosting is not gambling; it is an auction. If you are out-bid, you get those Connects back.
  • Boosting is not gamification; it is a silent auction - the least fun/game-y auction there is.

Also, Boosting generally doesn't work. As I break down in Placebo Boosts?, using Upwork's own published metrics (although 8 months old, it is what we have), the effect is minimal. If a job receives 50 proposals, each has an organic chance of 2% conversion (all else being equal). On average, the first place Boost slot will change that to 2.86%. On average, the remaining 47 organic (or out-bid) proposals will drop to 1.95%. Again, that is a simplified example that does not take into consideration things like portfolio strength, JSS, certifications - you know, the qualifying stuff.


The biggest factor in whether your proposal results in a conversion is how it is placed by the algorithm. Some Clients have reported that 90% of all proposals are "Best Match". Many complain that the "Best Matches" lack qualifications or work experience. Many clearly state that if your proposal is not placed in the top 10-20 spots by the algorithm (which gives no preference to when the proposal was submitted), then you won't even be considered. Which sucks, but that is the reality.

I strongly disagree, at least in my field, that bidding does not win more hires. Please see my letter to Upwork below and you'll see why I say that (screen captures might not appear):

When the option to bid connects came out last year, I told myself that surely my ratings, reviews and outstanding reputation, along with my regularly returning clientele, would all be enough to ignore it. However, after five years of developing skills and building a portfolio, profile, badges, and an incredibly diverse international clientele, I’m finding that the newly released bidding option is not so much the marketing tool that Upwork would have serious, long-term freelancers like me think that it is. In fact, it would seem even short-sighted—allowing agencies and those without the required skills to bid high and appear in the top three proposals—only to farm out work to others who can actually deliver the work. Here is proof that bidding, at least in my field, is a necessary evil:





As you can see, fewer and fewer clients consider me at each step for the “organic” proposals and literally NO CLIENT hired me in the past 90 days for proposals that were not boosted. That’s huge: I’ve been extremely active for the past 5+ years on Upwork, with regular hires almost weekly on projects large and small.

This month was the first that my connects have dwindled down to nothing, and now I am faced with the prospect of buying additional connects. I certainly could do just that: I have a full-time job and make plenty of money on Upwork and another freelancing platform as well. That said, it’s the principle: why should three proposals appear at the top for clients just because they’ve paid the most to be there? I’ve heard over and over that serious clients will look further down the list, that this is giving freelancers more “freedom” to express interest in projects they want to work on, etc. But from the above screenshot, you can plainly and undeniably see that—despite the Top Rated Plus badge, despite a 100% JSS, not to mention putting in weekends and nights for over five years in addition to my full-time teaching job, learning and building back from mistakes, and on and on—all that doesn’t really matter, since I can only win new clients if I spend the right number of connects to land in the top three proposals.

What’s more, the whole bidding process has gotten out of hand. I recently saw 50+ proposals with bids of up to 21 connects—for an assignment to translate just 46 words. That shouldn’t cost more than $5 even with SEO and a bit of research!




I’ve created a dummy client account just to see what the process looks like from that side and learn more about what clients see, and at least in my field, I must say it’s horrifying. There are so many bogus, would-be freelancers that if I were a true client looking to hire, I would abandon any effort here. In my job post, I wrote in short, simple instructions to translate “à bon chat, bon rat” at the beginning of their proposal. I saw proposals from people who had buildings or flags for their profile photos and others who wanted to move off the platform, both major violations of Upwork policies. Out of the 50+ respondents, just one—ONE—translated my expression correctly (“two can play that game,” and NOT “good cat, good rat,” which is just lazy machine translation…

My point here is that if Upwork would at least filter new freelancers more vigorously while giving prominence to proposals from top-rated, experienced freelancers who can reliably deliver quality work on time, every time, it could in turn boost its own reputation. Instead, it’s giving prominence to proposals from anyone willing to pay the most.





The entire bidding scheme seems not only short-sighted in this sense, but also contradictory to Upwork’s own policies. Are freelancers not paying for connects?


I beg Upwork to reconsider and remove the bidding feature and restore fairness and integrity to the entire hiring process. I have never been a gambler and refuse to participate in a pay-to-play scheme. Otherwise, I will have to “bid” farewell to five great years on Upwork and move to another platform.

This is exactly what I see as a trend: I am a top rated plus freelancer, I used to enjoy 1 of 5 conversion rate and suddenly - this month - I have 48(!!!) proposals sent with no result. I lowered my hourly rate, paid 6 connects to have my availability status on and even added more skills to my profile - my self esteem got under the weather.
My proposals are always written on the go, never template-copy-pasted, I have a unique portfolio but, it seems, all of a sudden I became invisible. 

Which is that other freelance platform you mentioned in your post? 

Hi, Anna, the other major platform that I used is based in France, and unless you're fluent in French and have a French address, it's going to be hard to land much there. That said, as soon as my faculty profile is back online (under maintenance now), I'm going to explore other U.S.-based platforms. It's been a wild ride these past five years, but for veteran freelancers, Upwork is just about dead as far as I can tell, and that's after talking to other top earners in my field. 

Wishing you the best!

That is so true. I am not top rated or anything. I just have good portfolio. I used to get good conversion rates from upwork. But now it seems impossible to land jobs by just normally applying and sometimes not getting anywhere with boosted bids also because some dingus has used 30 bids for 10$ job. If everyone stopped using boost upwork might realise it is extremely useless and it was way better before. I usually rely on the invitations I get directly which really helped me. Atleast my portfolio sustained me.

I don't think what you are suggesting here is an actual representation of what's happening.


"fundamentally no different than posting a business sign in front of a company/government office that is collecting bids on a job" those are tenders for the actual work, work will be awarded to the most affordable offer. What's happening here is more similar to pay per click advertising similar to google or apple search ads. And there's nothing normal or good about it. Because these are not generic search results, these are tailored proposals to your problem. So this is bad for both client and freelancer. That's why its not useful. Client is not benefiting from this either thus they wont pay more attention to boosted proposals just like you quickly skip google search ads and start reading from organic results.


"If you are out-bid, you get those Connects back." this is also not true. You bid, you are placed on 2.nd place, client clicks on your profile, 5 minutes later another person outbids you, you are no longer in boosted spots but because your profile is interacted with, your connects are not given back. The whole value offering is that if you don't boost, client may not view your proposal. Well isnt the value proposition of upwork bringing you the best match talent? So they are decreasing their platform quality in the hopes of more earning. Nothing to like about that for both clients and freelancers




Alper D wrote:


"If you are out-bid, you get those Connects back." this is also not true. You bid, you are placed on 2.nd place, client clicks on your profile, 5 minutes later another person outbids you, you are no longer in boosted spots but because your profile is interacted with, your connects are not given back.

I think it was Jennifer M who first noticed at the beginning of the year that she got her Connects back when she was outbid, even after the interview had been initiated. I've noticed the same in my transactions. And if a Client opens my proposal because it was Boosted, then the Boosting did its job. I don't pay to get the job. I pay to get viewed. Which, you may be right when you say that more resembles pay-per-click than traditional sign-posting.


Client is not benefiting from this either thus they wont pay more attention to boosted proposals just like you quickly skip google search ads and start reading from organic results.

What page do I need to start reading on Google to find the truly "organic" results? Because it isn't page 1.

This is where it all came from : 



Google's Ad programs are not the only PPC system that gets you onto the top results of Google. For example, purchasing marketing packages via Xometry (and its subsidiary, Thomas) for industry can result in 1-3 separate hits on the first page of Google results. Not a pie-in-the-sky promise. Demonstrated and proven on many occasions.


That's the source of my remark about "organic" results. Even SEO optimized sites can still end up on the 2nd or 3rd page.

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