Is it me, or are project budgets for design getting more and more ludicrous?

I'm aware of what an open market like this platform brings.
With the added handicap of not having any kind of restriction for lowballing a proposal.
All of this translates into what in any other situation would be disloyal competition.
But, regardless of how unfair competing against members from economies, where a person can survive for a fraction of what the ones that live in places where the cost of living is exponentially higher can't.
I have noticed how proposals get less and less realistic (from the point of view of someone who has worked in design for over 30 years) regarding the Project Extension/requirements vs budget ratio.

Not only is there an endless list of project components that needs to be done for a proposed fraction of the real cost (according to the client), but a lot of the time the client even mentions that the list is for an undetermined amount of iterations. Meaning, a fixed small budget, is also contemplated as a total to pay over a period of several months of work.

Now, this is nothing new to the platform. In fact, to any platform for freelancing. And Upwork is certainly not the worst of them when it comes to ludicrous budgets.
You can take a brief look at a place like Fiverr, and the laughable amounts people expect to pay for graphic work there.

But even with all of that, I have failed to find even a minor amount of reasonable proposals on Upwork for over six months now.

I notice that a high percentage of the work being posted is from Asia, mostly India.
And this brings me to the question:

Is this what I should expect for the future of Upwork then? 
A platform for EXTREME cheap labor, where clients propose ludicrous budgets and then candidates proceed to out-lowball each other for the project?

I'm one of the survivors from Elance. And even though I did notice the change, the higher commission from the platform, and other things that were not up to Elance standards.
But being a member with almost 100% five-star reviews, mid to high budgets (which give juicer commissions to Upwork in the end), I also find other things happening, like the disappearance of skill test results (which helped a bit by proof of concept when it comes to knowledge - a way to fight off the lowballers) and that my profile becomes "invisible" if I'm not willing to accept any jobs for a while now, because I'm not about to give my work away for ALMOST free... I find that I come to the platform less and less.

I wonder, is it even really worth my while to check in anymore?


I am an active freelancer here since 2017 and I am noticing the same, especially for the last 3 months. The number of low paid job postings compared to those suitable for me is like 8/10. It is seriously increasing, even for me who is living and from Asia. I know that I can set new keywords and use the specific filters as I have done that, but still so far not happy with the result.


And maybe because I am from Asia, I cannot read the ‘US only’ jobs too. I am not sure with that. But I would rather do something with my portfolio (not the Upwork portfolio) than do the cheap labour for sure.

I don't usually pay much attention to these "lately, I've noticed... " posts (because I've already seen them hundreds of times), but this time I can't help but agree. Not having access to the U.S. only jobs has undoubtedly had a negative impact for me. I bid on so few jobs now, I expect my 60 free connects will last me until Christmas.

With the increase in connect price per project, I doubt it...

Oscar B wrote:

With the increase in connect price per project, I doubt it...

I don't bid on low-budget projects, which means that I don't bid very often. Anyway I'm not fussed about paying for connects; I'll gladly do it if there are projects worth bidding on. 

what I meant was that now projects (at least for design) now go on average for 6 connects, not 2.

And when what you pay is only for tentative proposal, with no guarantee of being hired since you are competing based on price, not on merit as is this type of platform, especially with the removal of proof of concept tests, then that increase makes me think twice about purchasing more connects.


Even with my five-star track record of 8 years+, plenty of portfolio samples onsite and in my own personal websites. It still comes down to how low you are willing to go price-wise. Which I will NOT do.
There's a point you can't go past, or you are simply taking on a lose-lose situation.

In fact, the only two replies I have gotten to my proposals with a REASONABLE budget have been from two potential "customers" who asked for SPEC work before "deciding" if they wanted to work with me!
And third, wanted my quality, but only if I was willing to lower my price significantly, when I didn't, he got angry and questioned the value of my work.

Until about November of last year, I would average two to three successful projects in my more platform-active months. Since then, it's been ZERO.