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masharichart
Community Member

Hey mods, any insight into the drastic differences felt by many of us in 2023?

There have been a number of threads about the phenomenon that many solidly earning Upworkers are currently experiencing: a dried-up invitation stream and no responses to job posts when we had previously been getting great conversion rates. It seems like the shift is way too drastic to be explained by the old "rotation in search results" argument. Here are some of the threads where this is being discussed: https://community.upwork.com/t5/Upwork-United-States/Is-anyone-else-struggling-to-land-jobs-lately/m... https://community.upwork.com/t5/Freelancers/Invitations-have-dropped-DRASTICALLY-for-months/m-p/1253... Has something broken on Upwork? Or are there deliberate, back-end changes that are responsible? I've been here for three years and have been able to grow my business thanks in large part to this platform. But it's like something changed overnight since the start of 2023. I'd love to hear some insights from Upwork.
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williamtcooper
Community Member

Maria,

 

I just attended Upwork's Stockholders annual meeting for 2022 and their forecasts for 2023.

 

It was a very interesting meeting and below are my takeaways from the meeting in no specific order. Feel free to ask any questions.

 

- In 2023 40,000 Clients have signed up for longer term hiring on Upwork and 2,000,000 Freelancers.

 

- Upwork lost $89.9 million dollars in 2022 with a possibility of becoming profitable in the second half of 2023.

 

- The current focus is to generate more revenue from existing clients versus adding new clients in the first half of the year.

 

- Clients are taking longer to make purchasing decisions due to the macro economic conditions.

 

- Marketing spend will drop 12% in 2023.

 

- Companies are in Phase 1 of 3 phases of economics. In English - companies are scaling back and are cautious.

 

- Upwork is very excited about AI and stated that during the past 4 months AI posts are up 39 x!

 

- Upwork stated clients are purchasing from freelancers that produce their work using AI because it reduces client costs.

 

- Indirectly stated skilled freelancers are in more demand and less skilled in less demand.

 

- Upwork sees the first half of 2023 as challenging and the second half to be better based upon their enterprise sales team.

 

My takeaway is that freelancers need to be incorporating AI and expert level Skills or risk being less in demand. Expect the first half of this year to be slower due to the economy. AI and the economy have taken the show for the next six months.

 

William and I were posting at the same time, and we both posted his valuable material from the Upwork Stockholder's meeting.

 

Great information again, William!

Thanks for everything 🙂

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celgins
Community Member

Hi Maria,

 

I know you are looking for insight from Upwork Moderators, but they probably will not get into specifics regarding the status of Upwork and the level of work opportunities across the platform.


The thread discussions you linked to provide some good information. You may also want to review William T C's first post here. He attended Upwork's Stockholders Annual Meeting for 2022, which included forecasts for 2023. His first post in identifies some of the issues Upwork is having and I think those are contributing to the lack of invitations and responses to job posts.


Those things, along with an influx of freelancers during the pandemic, could be part of the issue. If it is something else, I would be surprised if the Moderators provided feedback.

 

Either way, hopefully the invitations and responses to your proposals increase soon.

Based on William's post, it seems that the answer is clear--Upwork has taken a direction it has been signaling for a couple of years and shifted its focus away from marketing to clients who are looking for true freelancers and toward long-term hiring. That means the primary value Upwork has always provided--a massive advertising spend on drawing clients who are looking for the type of services we offer--is gone. They explicitly mentioned targeting a different type of client, but what they didn't say directly is that if they're advertising to a different type of client, they are of use to a different type of "freelancer"--one that looks a lot more like an employee. 

They explicitly mentioned targeting a different type of client, but what they didn't say directly is that if they're advertising to a different type of client, they are of use to a different type of "freelancer"--one that looks a lot more like an employee.

 

Tiffany,


Definitely, and I would surmise that most freelancers use Upwork to be freelancers, and are not inclined to become an employee.


I haven't searched for any stats, but I would be curious to know how many freelancers are opted into the "I'm open to contract-to-hire opportunities." The stats probably wouldn't reflect true intent though. Some freelancers likely opt-in because they believe it makes them appear "more available" to those differerent types of clients Upwork is targetting and advertising to.

kochubei_valeria
Community Member

Hi Maria,

 

Thanks for sharing your feedback and experience. Rest assured we take a note of discussions and feedback shared here in the Community and pass it onto other teams internally.
I wouldn't say that the type of community discussions you're referring to is new and exclusive to the beginning of this year. Earlier last year our product team did an investigation into similar reports and identified an issue with some of our search models. It was quickly fixed and you can check Emily's comment here about that.  Other than that, the team didn't identify any significant changes. We, as well as many experienced users of this platform, do note that it is normal to have ebbs and flows of work due to many factors.
I'd also like to add that we publish information about notable product changes and tests in our Product Release Notes

~ Valeria
Upwork

Valeria, multiple freelancers and a few clients have made reference recently to changes in the way proposals are ranked that occurred around the same time boosting was added. Are you saying that was inaccurate and no change took place?

Whatever search model adjustments were made, the results are nowhere near where they were before. The team might not be seeing changes but the freelancers sure are. Conversion rates for people with proven track record seem to have dropped almost universally across the platform, with few exceptions from what I've observed.  Whatever was done, I certainly wouldn't call it a fix. 

 

And this is not the normal ebb and flow. I've been through enough of those in the last 12 years to know the rhythm. The macroeconomic context is almost certainly worsening the downs of the curve, but something very clearly changed in Upwork's way of operation too. 

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