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Freelancing Trends - Including Clients Behaving Badly More Often

First, thank goodness for the excellent support team at UpWork and their policies which are both designed to protect us as freelancers. That said, I'm seeing a growing problem with clients behaving badly.


Is anyone else seeing this?


I'm in the USA market and freelance for clients worldwide, largely tech and bioparhma clients but not exclusively. Over the last couple of years, I've seen some trends and I'm curious if others are seeing the same things. Or perhaps there are geographical or industry-related differences? Let's discuss what you're seeing ... 


Observed Trends:

  • the total monetary value of each project is decreasing significantly year-over-year
  • clients use the "interview" as a vehicle to get free advice and complain if you try to keep the conversation limited to discussing skills qualifications and attempt to keep the call short
  • clients insist on recording zoom calls - what do they do with all the recordings they're taking of us?!
  • project types that previously had <5 responses now commonly have 20-50 within hours of posting
  • clients have become more demanding with what they expect to be delivered for $x and in what timeline
  • clients now expect "free" extras and complain if they don't get them
  • clients insist on communication via mobile phone and text / call even outside normal working hours: a couple of clients have even been hostile and toxic in their treatment of me
  • clients are increasingly in "panic mode" and need something that day: you go full-tilt for them then they ghost you 
  • clients believe that they are the only client you're supporting and are shocked to learn you have a queue
  • several clients have been slow to pay or disappeared before payment and I've had to get UpWork's support to get paid - which has not always worked out with payment - sometimes, the client disappears off the platform without paying
  • a few clients have initiated work then canceled the project once they have a draft or the finished work to get out of paying for work delivered: I have notified UpWork about this software loophole
  • a couple of clients have complained that they wanted ABC but received XYZ so they asked me to do more, delivering DEF, then GHI, then JKL without extra payment plus the added "bonus" of giving me a bad review

What is everyone else seeing? And how are you navigating the trends you're observing? UpWork provided some excellent support and guidelines, which I'm now following much, more closely. I pasted them below as they may help you, too.



It is only through the logged working hours that we can bill your client and that your client will be able to pay you for your work for an hourly contract. This is why we strongly recommend freelancers always track their working hours and follow the guidelines for Hourly Payment Protection.  Let me share with you these helpful articles related to online safety and security:
Staying Safe on Upwork – Upwork Customer Service & Support | Upwork Help
Report Suspicious User Activity – Upwork Customer Service & Support | Upwork Help 



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Is it possible that the work someone does today, with its boundaries and definitions, are also subject to "inflation". So everything will reduce in value over time. Unless you find another "thing" or change your "thing" so that it stays equally valuable.


About customer behavior, i believe there are all kinds of customers here. You have to be picky. But when there is less work and you have some pressure on your shoulders you become less picky and start seeing those bad examples.

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