I was on Elance for a while, and had a few decent jobs there. Since everything was switched over to Upwork, I have yet to get hired for a decent job.
I've sent out 50234502375982436580235409 proposals, and only landed ONE job - which hasn't even begun yet and the lady is unresponsive!
Mostly, I find that I'm competing against people who are willing to do tremendous amounts of work for next to nothing. So, clearly, my proposals are being declined and they're hiring people for $3.00-$4.00 an hour.
I have over 17 years' experience and typically make $25+ per hour. How am I supposed to realistically compete with people that will do the same work for $3.00??
The quality of the job selection is very poor. There are a LOT of scams. Way too many. And they're all looking for whoever will do the most work for the least amount of money.
I'm honestly asking - how does an experienced professional actually get ahead in this Upwork market?
You're not supposed to compete against people who charge $3-4/hour. You're supposed to recognize that there is a market for dirt-cheap work and a market for quality work, and if you can provide the latter, you are not in competition with those who provide the former. Get rid of the idea that those people are doing "the same work" at lower rates. They are not.
Submit fewer proposals. Evaluate job prospects carefully and focus on the ones that seem to be seeking quality work and that are a good fit for your past experience in a way that sets you apart from other bidders.
I don't think it's accurate to say I am not competing against them. Yes, I am. They are applying to the same jobs I am applying to (jobs that match my skill set and require my level of experience). And they are getting hired for peanuts, doing what *should* be a $20-$25 per hour job (in the real world).
I'm not applying for every job that comes along. I am being selective. I'm not applying for the low-end jobs.
I recently applied to a job marked as $$$ - willing to pay higher rates for the best freelancers. I had all the skills and level of experience they required, I sent a really great cover letter, resume, and samples of work. I got a notification that my proposal was declined, and so I went to look at the job, and they hired someone for $4.50 an hour!
People who are charging $3-4/hour in your field are very unlikely to be providing high quality work. Therefore, the clients they are working for are those who prioritize cost savings over quality and who do not have a high standard in mind when hiring (even if that's not obvious from the initial posting). That is not your market. It may sometimes be difficult at the bidding stage to differentiate those clients, but the person who chooses someone with sub-par English skills to manage his social media or do his writing was never your market.
There are many clients in these fields who recognize that the quality of the content reflects on their reputations and are willing to pay to have the job done properly. Often, you can get a sense of which ones they are by the quality of their job postings. Those who don't present themselves well in the posting often don't care or are unable to differentiate quality of work in this arena. Someone who presents a solid plan and articulates it well is much more likely to be quality-conscious and willing to pay for your skills.
It's also to your benefit to include information in your bid that your low-end competitors probably won't, and to explicitly differentiate yourself from the "competition" (though by highlighting the qualifications that specifically relate to the job, not by talking about the other bidders).
re: "And they are getting hired for peanuts, doing what *should* be a $20-$25 per hour job (in the real world). "
Heather, if you can do X for $20/hour, and somebody else can do X for $4/hour, then a wise client will save money and pay $4.00/hour.
When you use the word "should", what does that mean? "Should" according to whom?
Clients pay my rate not because they "should," but because it is the only way to secure the services I provide. Those services are not available at a lower rate.
Heather, in addition to the advice you've received from Tiffany and Preston (which I agree with), I think there's a couple of things that you could change on your profile to make it more appealing to clients (I'm a client, but in a different niche to you).
First, I think you need to reword your paragraph about wanting to do more writing and just turn it into a service you offer, rather than saying that it's something you want the opportunity to do more of. A client doesn't care what you want to do in order to expand your skillset - they just want to know what you can do for them.
Also, I'd suggest removing the paragraph about your family and hobbies. Again, they aren't really relevant to a client.
Finally, that one job you got bad feedback on has dragged down your JSS (bad) but also your long and angry response to it makes it look even worse than it really is and also that it might be difficult to work with you, which I'm sure isn't the case at all. And the reasons you're giving also make you sound bad. I think you should edit your response to it to be short and factual. Something like:
"During this project, this client provided me with positive feedback and additional responsibilities. When my availability changed, I provided this client with ample notice that I would no longer be available to continue work on their project."
And leave it at that. You are stating facts and not drawing attention to the bad feedback with a very long response that makes it stand out in your feedback.
Otherwise, like Tiffany said, over time you will learn to pick out the higher quality clients. I believe that you can also see a client's average hourly rate paid, so you can also use that to determine which clients you want to work for and which you want to skip over. Good luck!
I will follow Heaven's advise here - change your profile title to something that can provide a good overview of your skills and expertise so that client's have a general idea what you can do just by looking at your profile title.
I'm happy to share with you some of our educational videos and blog posts, and best practices shared by other users, to help you get started on Upwork
I hope these will help. Good luck!