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Having a frustrating freelance experience on Upwork, need some help

Hi! I´m new to Upwork, and I´m having a quite frustrating experience with the platform...
I had sent 150+ proposals (a couple of hundreds of connects), all of them individually written based on each job ad, made sure to only apply to jobs with 5-15 received proposals and which I was a 100% sure of being capable of doing, each time I apply I send portfolio examples, a PDF of my portfolio, and/or a link to a web portfolio (it connects back to Upwork, has no external contact info).
So far, in four months, I only landed 7 jobs, all of which are of a quite low-skill threshold that required like 5min of work, not a single fulfilling one where I could apply my skills (I´m a Graphic Designer and High-End Commercial Retoucher) or get good economic compensation for, and only 1 invite from some random that invited like 50 people.
In the last month, I got 0 profile views or discoveries, from those 7 jobs mentioned earlier, 3 clients just disappeared from the face of the planet after receiving the job, and didn´t leave a review (the feedback system in place in this platform really, really needs to get on track with other platforms.. it's easier to create a new job post than leaving feedback for a previous one...), so I can´t even have a JSS, let alone getting a "Rising Talent" badge, which are things that most of the jobs I´m interested in require.
I tried rechecking my old proposals to see who got hired for the jobs, and more than half of those jobs are abandoned, with no hires. Every day I receive a bunch of "archived" proposals. Those are A LOT of my connects (not to mention the time used to write the proposals) lost into the void, I got none of these back, and more than a few of them were expensive ones (4+ connects to apply).
After researching other freelancers in my area I just got very frustrated by seeing that there are a lot of people with less skill, having an inferior portfolio and even with a very limited description about themselves, having badges, 100% JSS and hundreds of invites...
I was planning on making a couple of good professional video presentations of my services (I have 3 specialized profiles), but now I just see that as a further waste of my time and resources. I don´t know if it´s something with me or with the platform, or the market, but I got really discouraged from continuing to try to find work with this platform.
Any suggestions of how to get out of this situation? (if it´s even possible)
Thanks in advance,
Community Member

It takes time to get noticed. I opted to be patient, do other things, and update my profile as I went. 75% of my earnings have come in the last 6 months, and I get a couple of invitations a week now. They mostly go nowhere but it's nice to have active interest in my work. When I'm waiting I just keep doing things that will improve interest in my particular set of skills.

Community Member

Alejandro, I think you might have sabotaged your own track record by accident.

You're a high-end service provider. But why would you accept your first project to be in the class < $50 when you know that it is that number that shows in your work history page one until there are enough projects to hide it on page two?

And the size of projects seems to go down, not up...

Now, unfortunately, the numbers in your track record tell the story that you seem to like doing $50 projects. Since that's the only thing you've done so far. Clients with thousands to spend will look for those who have been previously trusted with thousands.

In most cases it is good to show the earnings in your profile, but in your case, if nothing else works, you might try hiding the earnings.

Makes sense?

From my previous experience in review-based gig sites (I manage an AirBnb property and work with a friend in their Uber Eats business), and the research I did on how the platform works, I know that the probability of being noticed by both the system algorithms and the clients is very low, if I don't get my metrics on par with other freelancers.


I'm currently trying to get on the basic level field with others by having a 100% JSS, a Rising Talent badge and a 5-star review next to my proposals :). The 50$ jobs I'm taking are the most effective way to get there, and even if they indeed are of a very low skill treshold, it takes me max. half an hour to complete them, so they are inside my hourly rate :). Getting my scores with them will at least give my proposals an  edge and maybe an opportunity to be opened by the clients I want, so my portfolio is seen by them!


Sadly i'm in no position to go the conservative way of waiting a couple months for my ideal client to risk it and take a look at my profile,  when I do not have all their prerequisites (they require at least 1k+ earnings, 100% JSS and at least a Rising Talent badge), let alone finding me through the search function, when the algos just ignore me and from there inviting me for their jobs.... It would take me a year only to get my metrics on par with the competition this way!

Once I get my metrics right, I will stop doing the entry level stuff and will only focus on the market I'm interested in, since I will have a better chance of being spotted by the algos by having more search checkboxes filled by my profile 🙂


Community Member

It's not you or the platform, it's the current global economy.


Over the past 6 or so months I've put in far more proposals to get work than I did in the past. I've also started bumping into unrealistic clients more often, but I quickly pass them by.


If you want to establish yourself you must keep trying. There's nothing wrong with accepting lower-paid jobs to build up a history because I assume you think your hourly rate is relevant. Also, many freelancers don't only work on Upwork (I earn a separate monthly income from private consulting ) so your earnings might not be an accurate reflection of your total income. 


Apply for jobs that look right for you and, where the rate is higher than what you've earned here before, tell the clients what your skills are by providing examples of past work done elsewhere. I really don't think this strategy is wrong for you or that you've done your profile any harm at all.


Just persevere if you think freelancing is for you 🙂

Community Member

Hello Alejandro,
After 2 years of this post, I can see things improved on your Upwork profile, actually, I'm going through a similar phase to yours currently. I have sent about 80 proposals but haven't received any good projects yet can you tell me how you managed to keep going in this frustrating time?

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