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ยป Forums ยป Freelancers ยป Re: It's Time to Look Elsewhere for Work
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phunt555
Community Member

It's Time to Look Elsewhere for Work

It's becoming more and more difficult every day to find talent and jobs on Upwork, mainly due to the company's policies. That's not going to be fixed. They're just making things worse. I would like to use this space to talk about viable alternatives and raise awareness among members of the community. People who are smart are looking elsewhere, and many of you should consider doing the same. Don't abandon Upwork, but be prepared and diversify.

53 REPLIES 53
tlsanders
Community Member

People who are smart never for one day relied on a single platform as their only source of business. 

No, they don't. But they do know to expand their horizons even more when things go south, and there are a lot of people on this sinking ship. We should discuss this. Even people who work on other platforms and have other ways of finding work are having a hard time right now. 

The topic is worthy of discussion, but I'm afraid all you will get is people hating on Upwork instead of thoughtful comments. Yes, Upwork has decided to race to the bottom, but the issue of too many unskilled freelancers is not Upwork's alone. It was not the only platform to look at short term warm bodies as opposed to what worked in the past (elance/Odesk).

 

COVID 19 (for the 19th version, not 2019) changed the world, and it will never return to the way it was. We lost millions of people, and we are still losing them. COVID is killing 500 people per day in the U.S. and is now the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. The economic health of the planet will never be the same. Everyone acts like COVID is over and everything is back to normal. It is not over, and the ramifications from the deaths and economic hardships have not recovered. It has changed the way we live, work, and socialize. Businesses have gone under that will not be replaced. We cannot underestimate the impact of COVID. We can find ways to make the situation better for all if we discuss it in meaningful ways.

I know you have been doing this for a long time. Someone I trust said she's known you for years and that you're really awesome. So I was hoping you'd pop up. I'm a basic writer, and I've been seeing signs that I might not be able to rely on Upwork the way I have been. If you have any advice, I would greatly appreciate it. I've been here and on the sub trying to find people who can help me gain some perspective and learn how to find consistent work offsite. Please tell me everything you can. I think things are unraveling, and I have my parents to take care of. Frankly, I'm scared. I've never been able to work out inbound sales. I only know Upwork and Odesk. I'm at a complete loss. I think there might be certifications I can get or viable niches I can learn. But I have no degree or resume. I even thought of hiring ghostwriters to do Kindle. Are there any sites that you think I can use to find work? Any skills or qualifications I should get? Maybe there's a specialty, like a high-demand AI resistant medium I can learn. I hope I hear back from you. There's only so many people like you out there.

Thank you for the kind words.

 

Being a basic writer has worked well for you so far, but you should improve your profile for jobs here. Being a basic anything is going to relegate you to the lowest paying jobs. Polish and promote a specialty, and change the introduction to something grabbing in the first two lines.

 

I have always said, do not have one source of income. If you are an employee, this is still good advice, or have other skills you can use to find another job. For freelancers, it is crucial to have more than one source. As long as you do your job as an employee, you can't suddenly be laid off or fired without legal remedies. In freelancing, the client can do whatever they wish, and now the legal remedies may be years long. Any platform can be sold, completely drown in red ink, or have an "expert" rebrand it, making self-defeating changes. Freelancers can focus on one area, but you have to keep the other doors open, and that requires effort. Trying to restart an old profile on any platform is starting over.

 

In this specific case, please contact me privately. Be patient, I have lots of messages. I have some ideas for you, but I don't want to distract from the thread. I still think there are discussion points that don't involve listing other platforms, because as you said, it is happening elsewhere to different degrees.

Thank you so much! This really means a lot. I hope you know how much I appreciate your help. โค๏ธ

As long as you do your job as an employee, you can't suddenly be laid off or fired without legal remedies

 

This is not true in most US states. The norm is that a person can be fired for any reason or no reason so long as that reason isn't prohibited by law (such as based on race). Employees do have access to unemployment, but in some states the maximum weekly benefit is as low as $250. And, you have the right to continue your medical coverage for a time, but most suddenly unemployed people can't afford the high cost.

Hey, Jeanne. I typed out a long PM. I'm not sure if it got sent or not. Upwork is doing it's glitchy thing. Let me know if you don't see it. You can also PM me. It's basically stuff I wrote out here. 

I think the best approach is not to go to other platforms (or, at least, not that) but to develop a variety of different channels that may draw different types of clients. In addition to Upwork, I get work from referrals, LinkedIn, my badly neglected website and job boards. I think the mix helps because different clients may coe through those differing sources and trends that impact one may not impact another.

What job boards do you use?

Yes, It's 100% correct. 

spectralua
Community Member

Found that Upwork finally died at apr. But no luck with alternatives.

Let me know if found something.

Many times i tried to change other platform for work but we spend lots of time to build our profile strong. We gave our best to all clients, one more thing when you go to other platform for work they are not even notice or view our praposal because of our blank experience. And we are helpless to show them our telent without hiring us. 

marjan22
Community Member

We are all eager to know ConnectsWork alternative. Anybody ?

carloaraujo
Community Member

I think so, it is more difficult to get clients on Upwork but it is not impossible either

I have time with my profile and the truth had given me up, luckily I was motivated by how the current global economy is and I came back and with a lot of effort I got my first client.

I'm still looking forward to getting more. Luckily I have something else outside of Upwork that helps me sustain myself until I get more clients on the platform.

alexandernovikov
Community Member

I don't think "elsewhere" actually exists. In all my life i haven't seen a single developer or company consistently attracting new, unrelated (one recommends another) clients through any other channel but oDesk/Upwork. All other instances were not real: usually it was a case of "a client created me rather than other way around" (a college friend emigrated to the U.S. and opened agency there and feeds me jobs), or "an agency is just a development subdivision of some product company" (think Pornhub->MindGeek, this arrangement is very common). Everyone else boils down to Upwork, or to once-in-a-lifetime luck which never repeats again.

 

If you want one client to recommend another, and work this way, this is possible but not a sustainable path forward, because it puts severe restrictions on your minimum quality and maximum prices. Simply no way to turn a significant profit. I know many agencies like that, but owners spin like hamsters in the wheel all their lives and make very little.

 

Reality is, we should all hope Upwork stays in existence for long enough for us to save up and retire. No one does this job of fishing best clients from the Internet nearly as well.

There are plenty of freelancers who have found ways to attract clients outside of Upwork. I've done it. I've also been able to charge higher prices that way. Many freelancers survive off of that along. LinkedIn helps a lot. Craigslist used to be really good, but it's died down. Freelancer is a viable source of work. There are specialized sites for techies like developers, and they actually tend to be more reliable than Upwork. Writing is the real problem area for most. There used to be content mills that we could go to, and it was easy to live off of them. Now they are dying down. Some of the other sites like Bark and nDash still have enough to work. You have a narrow perspective of things. In fact, this is probably the worst I've seen. You have to broaden your horizons. Upwork will not be around forever. 

I have a shot at retiring in 3-5 years and i think Upwork will stick together for that long. Hope so.

As for "things dying down", i don't agree. I have found top 2 out of 3 best clients ever on Upwork within last 3 years only, during and after the pandemic.

It just feels scary to know that Upwork is not making money, and never did. That makes me fear for it's future. Other that that, i think it is doing just fine and good clients are abundant.

Less than two hours ago, you didn't even know there were options offsite. I've never seen anyone less informed about this issue. You don't know what's happening. 

Don't want to be offensive, but i really can't see how someone with a $30K account can claim someone with a $3M account doesn't know what was happening. I'm sorry if i offended you, but it's really eyebrows-raising to see this conversation go the way it does, without apparent reason.

Even though we all share the same platform and forum, we have to accept the fact that we are living completely different lives, coming from different backgrounds and having different levels of expertise.

 

I started freelancing on upwork and met many amazing clients, made considerable amount compared to my past earnings as an employee. It is a unique platform indeed.

 

That being said i think one can meet clients elsewhere too. If you are a solo freelancer you only have a handful of hours to sell and you only need a few good clients to make a living. Those can be found in multiple places and can be kept as clients for a long time by offering great service.

You're making wild claims like how you could build another site like Upwork. You're making decent money, but you're completely misinformed and you have trouble with the basics. You're living in a bubble. 

Since the discussion was of ways to connect with clients outside of Upwork, it's hard to see how your respective upwork earnings are relevant at all. If anything, your massive earnings in one place suggest that you've been very focused here.

When someone brings in deflection, it is obvious. You have not been able to debate the situation, and you have made claims that you can create a site like Upwork for very little. Yet, you haven't addressed the questions. You can't expect someone to post such a sweeping statement and just let it go.

 

Because you can't support your statements, you react by bringing in deflection. Earnings are irrelevant. You can believe you are superior because you have made more money here (Do you think everyone only works here? Why? Because you only work here?) but it doesn't matter. You are not special because you have "x" amount of money, nor does it mean you are more intelligent than others.

 

How much money you have made or not made is just your way of trying to get people into a different discussion that gets you out of your grand claims.

I agree, you have no idea what running a website is like. I don't know what you earned, where, or if you are a farmer or an agency. None of that is relevant, see my point?

 

My experience, education, skills, employment, and training, and as someone who has established and maintained websites, I am saying you display an incredible amount of ignorance (ignorance is fixable) on the costs. Maybe you have never dealt with that aspect and literally don't know. Please educate yourself because websites are very expensive. 

 

 

It just feels scary to know that Upwork is not making money, and never did. That makes me fear for it's future. Other that that, i think it is doing just fine and good clients are abundant.

 
It should alarm everyone that Upwork has been bleeding out financially since becoming Upwork. The connects for revenue path is a dedicated course to the bottom. The excellent free advice has been ignored and instead Upwork chooses warm bodies throwing connects over quality freelancers and quality clients. I realize they are making a small fortune from connects. The math is impressive, but the good clients have left or are leaving in many categories.
 
How can you say it is doing fine, when you know it is in dire straits? You hope it will last that long? You are worried it might not last long enough for you to leave, and that's "fine"? Obviously, if you ran your business that way, you would not be able to comfortably retire soon.
 
Have you read the taxes, the quarterly reports, etc.? The connects are not going to restore Upwork. It will continue to function with fewer clients and eventually fewer freelancers as most run out of money. Another 5 vvvv rrrrrr.
 
Clients are looking for new ways to connect that are safe and simple. Creating a website like Upwork is very expensive. However, there are alternatives, and people should explore on their own before jumping into a platform.

I could be wrong, but I think the cash grab is a temporary measure to set Upwork up for a massive shift in its business model (that will not benefit us)


Tiffany S wrote:

I could be wrong, but I think the cash grab is a temporary measure to set Upwork up for a massive shift in its business model (that will not benefit us)


Making the financials look appealing to a buyer?

 

Maybe the Electric Car Space Guy - or even the Sell All Your Data Social Media Guy - will buy the thing and help accellerate its demise.

A buyer is possible if they see the potential. They would have to understand the business and be willing to make changes that, at least, did not harm freelancers or clients or the platform in a desperate attempt at quick cash. Not many buyers want to do that. If they continued the current path, or even a contract to hire, it is still not going to put them in the black.

 

Maybe it would be better to just go quickly. Rebrand it "Y" for "why."

A sale like that would tie in with everything being run-down.

 

We're living through an economic wind-down, are we not?

 

Feels like a similar but more slowly-applied economic death to the lockdowns.

Is this pan getting a little hot?

I think the shift it's already happening... and not benefiting us...

I agree, but we are not seeing what they're moving toward because we aren't a part of it. In each category I've checked, 1/3-1/2 of postings are now "contract to hire."

I haven't seen that...yet. But then I use so many filters, there are barely any jobs to look at.

 

How would increasing fees on the higher paying jobs benefit that model?

I went looking for it--searched categories like web design, writing, development, illustration, etc. and used the filters to determine what percentage were contract-to-hire.

 

By Upwork's own statement, they have shifted to advertising for "long-term" clients. This is supported by the large percentage of postings that are contract-to-hire and by the fact that freelancers who have used Upwork successfully for years are seeing fewer and fewer relevant postings. 

 

If the goal is to have most or all of the relationships on Upwork long-term engagements, then most or all will exceed $10,000. I think they made that change because if $10k+ jobs are going to be 80% of contracts (or more) instead of 5% or whatever it is now, they can't afford to charge them all at such a low rate.


Tiffany S wrote:

I agree, but we are not seeing what they're moving toward because we aren't a part of it. In each category I've checked, 1/3-1/2 of postings are now "contract to hire."


that's remarkable. isn't that just wilful destruction of this platform, and of freelancing more generally?

This is just my speculation based on observations over the past couple of years, but I think they're shifting away from serving freelancers. 

You could be right, but they sure do encourage people to bid, bid, bid, and boost, boost, boost! It still seems to be it's another 5 vv rrr. Increasing fees on higher paying jobs and decreasing them for the lower paying jobs sure seems like a race to the bottom. I'm quite certain any actions they take now will not benefit us. Maybe they have the chatbotgpt writing proposals, so Upwork gets all the money. No, the proposals would be better than most of what they receive now.

Creating a website like Upwork is not too expensive. I could do it myself if i wanted.

 

Question is different: whether or not this kind of business is viable in principle. So far this haven't been proven. All of them are either bleeding money, or exited to be sold to acquirers... that are bleeding money. It almost feels like a Ponzi scheme.

 

Maybe it's just a fact that money needed to acquire clients (Upwork has a massive ad spending), money to be spent fighting fraud and money to be lost due to the fraud, are simply higher than viable commissions to be made on this market. Set commission lower and you make less, set them higher and they get circumvented more frequently and/or put people off in the first place thus decreasing your top line revenue per ad $ spent, to fight circumvention kick people off more frequently and lose commissions they still make, kick them less and thus increase circumvention (because already existing clients will pay more to unpunished chronic circumventers vs those who'd they hire on the platform if circumverters were kicked) - all of these variables (risk tolerance for clients and freelancers, commissions rate, aggressiveness in kicking out known or suspected circumventers) - have it's optimial, perfect point. Worse than that, there are no separate optimal points for all of them - because variables are interdependent - they have a tuple of optimal points, together.

 

Main part of what results in "make or break" for Upwork and platforms like this, is how close to perfect is their guess of this optimal point. My rather uneducated guess is: not very close.

 

But, in a larger sense, we must ask ourselves: is there ANY optimal point at all which results in a positive conversion? So far this haven't been proven. Which is same as saying: is freelancing a viable, sustainable concept overall, or it only exists due to "millenial discount" (stuff being free/existing at all because it consumes VC dollars, like Uber was very cheap in 2013-2016 and still made good money to drivers and no one understood why, let's say)?

 

It will be probably the most spectacular revelation of my financial life if in the end of the day, that will turn out to be the case, and the entire "online freelancing to strangers" thing flops. It is quite likely. It didn't exist before VCs started propping it up, it never took off organically, while the concept looks obvious.

 

How could it all work better? To be honest, i have ideas, but implementation of any of those ideas would have cut off almost all of freelancers (that don't matter anyway because they make very little), leaving only the bigger ones, and then cut off almost all of the bigger ones too because of much better trustworthiness checks. In the end of the day, Upwork could be a system for vetting businesses. Where most of contractors are offline companies with probably dedicated staff assigned to managing Upwork relationships and verifiable achievements through also working with their past clients, with most customer-contractor relationships being in the multimillion dollar range (otherwise transactional expenses will be too high). It could be a system for "someone with a high profile success in one area, to step into another area without knowing many people in it, minimising risks of making a mistake". Simply put, a customer comes in looking for a provider that could build a web or mobile app doing X, and Upwork has a list of contractors who already did X - not just bragging on their profile but "a team of Upwork agents met with the previous client for who provider Y did X, in their Zurich office and audited quality of work done and actual client satisfaction, receiving letters of recommendation etc." - and thus ready to offer services of Y to a new client Z who also wants to build a similar thing - for a modest $3M budget. Just become a prospecting/audit/trust provider in the field of contract work. They could recruit new clients using offline agents on business events, as well as advertising in printed press and places where businessmen congregate having little to do (first idea: FBOs, most FBOs are operated by large chains that can be direcly talked to); and new contractors on industry shows and conferences.

 

But honestly, if you want to build a sustainable business - not just the one that's good at burning VC $, but organically sustainable one - you need to have most of your clients satisfied, moreover, you need them to be good and actually make money on what they order here. Which is double hard: satisfying someone who has no idea what the alternatives are and what they are at all doing, is easy but pointless: they won't make money with what they got anyway, thus won't have money to stay as return customers. Doing something for people who know what they are doing, and will make money, isn't hard either: they can interview well, weed out bad candidates well, and can set clear tasks anyone with half the brain can execute on - but these people are also incredibly hard to satisfy because they have plenty of alternatives, are savvy and picky. So being Upwork, you must do both in order to have sustainable revenue stream without ad $ spent. Achieving this with a web platform where anyone from a country that's name will be censored anyway, can sign up and get to work, is simply a pipe dream.

Creating a website like Upwork costs millions of dollars, and it takes years and years for it to be profitable. Just the servers alone would be enough to put a lottery winner in the poor house. You could not do it. Upwork alternatives almost never get off the ground, and when they do they never become viable marketplaces.

You are mistaken wrt complexity. Complexity is not AT ALL in play here. It's rather easy coding. I could afford all the coding and all the hosting for the actual Upwork easily.

Making it profitable is, as i have explained, is probably an impossible task simply due to the nature of the whole thing. It doesn't work because it was never supposed to work in the first place.

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