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isakfreelance
Community Member

Just me who think Upwork is getting worse?

Hi guys!

 

I've been here several years and I'm also one of the 100% success freelancers. Started here when it was oDesk and not Upwork and in my opinion, this site is getting worse by the year.
Before you answer "then leave...", this site is still the best out there, but it's getting worse.

 

I have two main reasons for my statement:
1) High fee on first 500 USD

2) Clients expect too much and pay too little.

 

Reasons:

1) Most contracts here on Upwork are below 500 USD (small tasks). I'm guessing most freelancers fight for the better/ longer positions with higher pay. If you get one of those - great! If not, then you are in a position where you need to fill out on smaller tasks.
I'm guessing no one (not me at least) want to risk their high score profile and job success for a 100 USD task. On top of that, I need to pay 20% and the task is ended it most cases.

2) I'm starting to see more and more clients asking/ almost demanding high-quality work for no to little money. Even the interview process is ridiculous many times for the position.
I had one American company now promising "career growth" and other fancy words, but they want me to go through an "extensive recruitment process" as well as profile check and tests for 8 USD/ hour!?
And I'm starting to see a lot more of these!

 

So you either have a high risk, low pay, small task - or complicated process, low pay, but longer position...hopefully...

I also see other fields affected.
A translation company in my language take around 0.10 - 0.16 USD/ word, a little lower for proofreading without corrections.
Most upwork clients only want to pay 0.02-0.03 USD/ word for top-quality work?
Proofreading land on the same, but many expect you to fix a machine translated document/ or handwritten, without it costing the same as a new translation?
Some documents I've received has been legal documents that are highly confidential and need a legal translator.
Sales are almost only on commission with no security.

I apologize for rambling without any solutions of my own. I'd say that Upwork need to set rules, not just recommendations, but that will lower the amount of client work and money for them.
Do you guys agree?
Do you find other things that worry you about the progress of the site?
Any solutions of your own?

Thank you for reading and happy hunting!
/Isak

23 REPLIES 23
chazgossmedia
Community Member

I agree completely. For the price that, some not all, clients are willing to pay for the amount of work and input they want, is not balanced. And some potential clients have an attitude with you in their first few messages. If you want someone to do work for you and your budget is almost non existent...try to be nicer. Upwork is great, but some of the people/companies posting jobs are ridiculous.

tatianart
Community Member

Absolutly agree. Just want to add huge technical issues spoiling working process permanently. Leave this site.... still don't have alternative. Solutions - written a lot of times here in different forum threads, nobody care.

Yeah, I've been talking with Upwork on phone as well as with their staff online. The only answer you get is that they will put it in their suggestion box...
Each solution they have brought has been for the benefit of the clients, not the freelancers.
The 100% success stamp and perks for top freelancers are exactly the same as for a regular newcomer.
You are just allowed to join in more forums and get that irritating message saying "10 new jobs for you".

 

Some countries may be able to survive on nothing, not me. This will eliminate the diversity in the end and become a site for mass, not quality.

 

I actually wrote to Upwork again. One new job popped up on my screen that I don't think is OK. It said:
-"Translate 10.000 words. You also need to keep structure and maintain quality"
He/ she will pay 100 USD after completion.
That is free work and I feel sorry for those who need to accept it.
80 USD after fee for loads of work...

 

This will open a market for regular people whom take on task for others and then receive a cut. In other words, a client will have no idea who will actually complete the task in the end. The receiver or someone entirely else.

 

I hope they start to regulate this better and not just put "recommendations" here and there.

charles_kozierok
Community Member

I don't agree.

 

I won't deny your experience, but mine has been wholly different. Part of this is because I have deliberately changed my focus to move away from the areas where pay is low and competition is high. But even ignoring that, IMO the overall quality of jobs and the utility of the site has improved significantly.

 

I go back to the late 2000s and early 2010s, a time when sites like oDesk and Elance were just FILLED with clients looking to "get rich quick." Outright scams, requests to write novel material for a penny a word... dozens, hundreds of them a day. I see far fewer now. I see more clients looking for a legitimate alternative to conventional hiring to get real work done by people with real skills.

 

Is it perfect? Of course not. I've criticized Upwork many times in areas I feel they could do better, and especially, where they could be more proactive. But there has been a lot of improvement.

 

They do a much better job now of dealing with fake and spamming freelancers. Last year the site had constant downtime issues; this is now much improved as well. Client quality overall is slightly improved, but more importantly, the number of higher-end clients is dramatically higher. (I don't care if 500 new lousy clients join the site if 100 new good clients do as well.) CS is still hit or miss but the moderators on this forum are among the best I have ever encountered in participating in and running online discussion communities for over 25 years.

 

"High fee on first 500 USD"

 

Avoid small jobs or just work this into your pricing. I am looking to build-long term relationships, so I simply view Upwork's pricing as "10% plus $50," which is entirely reasonable.

 

"Clients expect too much and pay too little."

 

Then you are not filtering as well as you could. There will always be cheap clients (just as there will always be rip-off freelancers, which nobody here likes to talk about much). Filter them, ignore them, look for the good stuff.

 

"I'm guessing no one (not me at least) want to risk their high score profile and job success for a 100 USD task."

 

The risk to your JSS has almost nothing to do with the size of the job (as long as it's not $5) and everything to do with properly assessing the client and task.

 

"I'm starting to see more and more clients asking/ almost demanding high-quality work for no to little money."

 

This has been a constant since online freelancing started. But again, it actually used to be much worse.

 

Anyone here remember "This is an easy job for someone who knows what they are doing"? Some Internet "guru" got famous telling clients that they should use these "magic words" to instantly get work done cheap on freelancing sites. I used to literally see it dozens of times a day. Now I see things like this only a handful of times a week. Part of that, again, is screening, but there's also been a shakeout and most of the "get rich quick" clients have realize they can't and moved onto other things.

 

"Even the interview process is ridiculous many times for the position."

 

Entirely under your control.

 

"I had one American company now promising "career growth" and other fancy words, but they want me to go through an "extensive recruitment process" as well as profile check and tests for 8 USD/ hour!?"

 

Response: "I'm sorry, this will require too much time for the pay offered. Good luck with your project." Pull proposal. Done.

 

"Most upwork clients only want to pay 0.02-0.03 USD/ word for top-quality work?"

 

Then how are there translation freelancers making far more who have more work than they know what to do with?

 

"I apologize for rambling without any solutions of my own. I'd say that Upwork need to set rules, not just recommendations, but that will lower the amount of client work and money for them."

 

Venting is fine, we all need to do it, but here I think you are recognizing that these are not simple issues.

Isak, I am in the same category as you are, only that I work in a "cheaper" language (rates for Swedish are higher than for German) and my hourly rate is more than twice yours.

I pay 10% and 5% fees on almost all my income because I have long term and repeat clients.

 

I think your problem is partly that your rate is too low for the high spending clients and too high for the lowballers, so you have priced yourself out of both markets a bit and are stuck in the crowded middle ground, where you don't stand out because your overview isn't selling you as well as it could.

 

Your whole profile could do with an overhaul, your overview needs to be good enough to attract the high quality, high spending clients.

 

Otherwise I have to agree with Charles K.

 

@Isak M wrote:

1) Most contracts here on Upwork are below 500 USD (small tasks). I'm guessing most freelancers fight for the better/ longer positions with higher pay. If you get one of those - great!

 Strangely enough the bigger, longer term, high budget jobs tend to have LESS applicants than the small ones.

It takes no more work to bid on a $ 5000 - $ 10.000 - $ 80.000 contract than a $ 20 one. I mix short and long term, small and large contracts, fixed and hourly. Building relationships with clients so they come back again and again means not having to chase after work.

 

My aim is to do as close to 0 "work related stuff" that does not earn me any money as possible, so I try not to have to apply for any gigs and have enough (or more than enough) work without having to apply.

 

The last time I applied for a job was in November and I have more work than I know what to do with...

 

I tried to take a week off because my best friend is visiting from Germany. She is also an Upwork freelance translator and we have unfortunately both been working despite being "on holiday" because our long term clients are throwing work at us...

 

 

"I think your problem is partly that your rate is too low for the high spending clients and too high for the lowballers, so you have priced yourself out of both markets a bit and are stuck in the crowded middle ground, where you don't stand out because your overview isn't selling you as well as it could."

 

I avoided getting into Isak's particulars but I agree with this.

 

I think the issue with translation is that there are just too many people trying to do it and very few who truly excel.

 

Isak, when I go to your profile, I do not get the impression that I am dealing with a top-quality translator, at least for going into English. And I'd imagine the amount of translation work into Swedish here is limited.

 

There are a number of people who do translation who post on this forum. All of the very good ones have one thing in common: when I read their posts, I see absolutely nothing to suggest to me that they are anything but born-and-bred, used-it-for-decades, native speakers.

 

I'm not saying you are not a good translator, but I don't know if you have the English skills to demand top rates for translation into English. When I read Petra's profile, I KNOW that she does.

 

And by the way, that bit at the top about only wanting jobs that are 2 weeks' duration or longer is likely not helping much.

 

PS For context, I have edited literally hundreds of documents translated from other languages into English or written by non-native speakers. I know instantly the difference between someone who is good at it and someone who is not.


@Charles K wrote:

Isak, when I go to your profile, I do not get the impression that I am dealing with a top-quality translator, at least for going into English. And I'd imagine the amount of translation work into Swedish here is limited.

 

There are a number of people who do translation who post on this forum. All of the very good ones have one thing in common: when I read their posts, I see absolutely nothing to suggest to me that they are anything but born-and-bred, used-it-for-decades, native speakers.

 

I'm not saying you are not a good translator, but I don't know if you have the English skills to demand top rates for translation into English. When I read Petra's profile, I KNOW that she does.

.

 Thanks dear ๐Ÿ™‚

 

There are actually plenty of high earning translators into Swedish - there are far more jobs for translating from English to Swedish than the other way round.

 

Personally I rarely (in the overall scheme of things) translate to English although I actually enjoy it more. In general, translators who are not truly bilingual (have not lived in an English speaking country for many years, ideally decades) are best advised to not translate from their native language into English.

 

BIG thank you to both of you Charles and Petra for the feedback! ๐Ÿ™‚
I will re-create my page and put in a video as well, I've been thinking about it a long time, but I decided to not to proceed since I do not like the jobs offered here anymore as stated.
Will also up my rate as you suggested Petra, I thought I landed on a good rate since it's a typical
rate in Sweden, but I guess it doesn't fly here the same.
My profile has become somewhat of a mix since I've done several different jobs on several sites and at home, so instead of looking great at one/ two particular, I look so-so for several I guess..

I also understand that the "Note:" part is not good on my profile, it came in the same moment I wrote this and had a overall bad day.^^

However, even if my profile doesn't look professional enough, the offers are the same as I see
it when I personally look for a job.
The Swedish category is very limited and doesn't provide much, so I'm guessing I need to start looking at other categories/ places.
Sales, CSR, Translations/ Proofreading, Subtitling, SEO writer and everything else I've been working on has always started with "You are too expensive".

I've lost 90% here on that alone.

 

Someone above wrote that clients can be rude, I truly agree with this, but hard for Upwork to do anything about.

Most clients are ignoring my questions and instead asking their own at submit proposal. I'm really curious how I can reach better clients and I'm truly thankful if you have any suggestions there?
(Fix profile will be step one)

I just think it's sad that I feel I have good reviews and other proof to show that I can deliver, but I've only had 18 jobs out of hundreds, maybe thousands of offers here.
That does not include when I personally look.
Only 1 of them has brought in good long-term money.


@Isak M wrote:

I'm really curious how I can reach better clients and I'm truly thankful if you have any suggestions there?
(Fix profile will be step one)

I just think it's sad that I feel I have good reviews and other proof to show that I can deliver, but I've only had 18 jobs out of hundreds, maybe thousands of offers here.


 You need to filter much more carefully. Go after the big jobs and go after them hard (AFTER you've fixed your profile and rate...) If you win only 2 out of many - it only matters if they are small.

 

As I said above, the big ones take hardly any more time and effort to win, so you might as well go for it.

 

No, you won't win many of them. but you don't have to if they're big enough.

 

Isak: You deserve a lot of credit for accepting feedback with grace and also for taking responsibility for what you can do to improve your success here. This speaks to your professionalism and sets you apart from some folks who only like to gripe and blame all of their problems on others.

 

I hear you about the bad day. Been there, done that. Often. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Fix up your profile, might as well start there.

 

As for finding good clients, there's no substitute for practice here, as in other cases. Read a lot of proposals and learn to look for warning signs and indicators that they are not what you want.

 

For example, I rarely even read any proposal that has "$" or "$$" on it. If the client is looking for a bargain, I'm not his guy. I lose out on a small percentage of potential good clients this way, but it's worth it for the huge amount of chaff I don't have to sift through.

 

Think more about what you do well compared to others. Do you have knowledge in an in-demand field that would allow you to specialize in what sorts of translation or other work you do?

 

The more you specialize, the more you can charge and the more quickly you can build up a reputation in an area with less competition.

 

Start with the profile and figuring out what you're good at. For example, I focus on business and technical editing because I have a background in those areas. I've only done one fiction editing job, and that was mostly for fun. There are dozens of good fiction editors here and I don't have experience in that genre so I avoid it in favor of places where I can bring value to the client.

 

Value is what it's all about. There's no such thing as too expensive or too cheap, just benefit for cost (value) and finding the right clients who match what value you offer.

Thank you all, appreciate it a lot! ๐Ÿ™‚
I will re-create my page and see what possible response I might get, can't hurt. As for taking on feedback, I LOVE feedback, no matter what it may be. Growing and becoming the best possible version of myself is what I live for, and hopefully, I can teach or give something back to others in return. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

I'm actually a little jelous of Americans Amanda. It truly look like the land of opportunity if you want to make money by being creative or innovative. You can even float on other businesses like e.g. Amazon or eBay and make a fortune.
We have a few TV shows in Sweden which is about making quick money in the US, great shows!
I can even see the differences between US and Sweden here as well.

I love freelancing since it gives me the possibility to be free and travel. However, I'm looking for options to save now to start my own company and I havn't had any luck with that as you may have read.
I feel hope again, thank you all!

afifield
Community Member

There are still lots of good high paying clients. I do feel ever since they implemented the US only system that the amount of decent jobs is declining though for people who aren't in the US like myself. I am also getting a lot of interviews and people are not hiring anyone in those, that's all about the waiting game though and those clients are probably very busy. Some can take a month or more to actually hire as I have had lots of interviews where that happened. 

 

I have noticed a large increase of jobs closing without anyone being selected. 

 

Keep applying to the good jobs with your best proposal writing and work. ๐Ÿ™‚ 

I can't really make a comparison as I was only on Elance for a brief time (a couple months). But I can say I peeked around at that time and the jobs were very low-paying - at least the ones I was seeing - and clients were stingy with their stars.

 

Again, it may not be a fair comparison as it was so brief. But I find the fees on Upwork much easier than advertising in other ways - for example, you pay Facebook for your ads even if you literally get zero projects - and I find that while there are and probably always will be "cheap" clients, there are also clients who know Google is a cop nowadays, blogs and sites are a dime a dozen and any eight-year-old can make a moderately functioning one, and that competition for quality sites is very, very, very high. I find FEWER "just throw some SEO in there, and write me a bunch of 'whatever' and we'll toss you a very low rate" offers nowadays. Higher quality tends to cost more and many clients are paying per that worth (or perceived worth; it's always subjective, no matter what the project).

 

It could also be my method; I literally skip right over such projects, which can often be discerned at a glance. There's a job for every skill level, even the lowest, and for every rate, and there are freelancers willing to work at very low rates (for a whole variety of reasons), and the clients and freelancers find eachother. I don't worry too much about it. That's up to them and I begrudge them nothing at all. Within the rules/TOS, clients can ask whatever rate they want, and freelancers can answer or not answer any jobs per their preference and skill level.

6fe5a9c7
Community Member

All my experiences with upwork have been terrible.  I just got nabbed for a 120$ job, to now 400$. And if you look into it, its clearly the woman crammed a minimum 10 extra hours, pure robbery. 

Hi Daniel,

 

I`m sorry to hear about the bad experience you had with your freelancer.
I can see that you already have opened a dispute, it is for the same freelancer correct? If yes, our dispute team will assist you as soon as possible directly on your ticket. If you have any additional questions let me know, thank you.

~ Goran
Upwork
iaabraham
Community Member

Isak, you are certainly not the only one who feels this way. I was also here during oDesk days (as were many other forum regulars), and feel that clients back then were more willing to pay good rates than they are now. Over the past couple of years, the site's quality of jobs posts has decreased dramatically for me, not to mention all the horrible new practices that Upwork has introduced and the consistent bugs that plague the site.

 

The only solution, since Upwork doesn't acknowledge most valid complaints, is to look for work elsewhere. That's what I'll be focusing on this year, though it just plain sucks because Upwork is still the best site available for freelancers, and putting time and money into marketing is a headache ... for me anyway!!

Isabelle, I agree.  I've been putting all my eggs into one basket.  My one off-platform client is now taking most of my time - YAY! - which is great because there haven't been any decent jobs in my category for months now.  I keep hoping that the mega- lawfirms in the US will catch on to using freelancers but it hasn't happened yet.  I get stuck with potential clients who are representing themselves (no way will I touch that) or young solo practitioners with no budget and high expectations.  Sigh.  I'm actually working on setting up a home studio and going into voice-over work.

 

My experience has been a bit of both. There are great clients on Upwork, however finding them in the stream of job posts is tricky.

 

Two things helped.

 

After an initial period of applying to various jobs I started to do classic marketing. Researched who my best clients are and in what terms they describe what they need.

 

Its important to realise that there are very few 'bad' customers. For example, my best clients describe what they need in general terms, however I can see why many in my industry prefer opposite kind of clients who describe job in precise technical terms.

 

Once I knew who I was after, I began to focus and it helped. However, with good clients often finding a freelancer within 1-2 days, reviewing all potential jobs in my target categories was taking simply too much time. I figured what keywords my clients use to talk about their jobs (which are not skills in my case) and while this helped it still casted a net that was too wide.

 

Once I built intuitive understanding of who my 'good' potential clients were, I began to formalise it. I described the process on paper first and then created an AI tool to analyse stream of jobs and automatically disqualify bad leads. I used natural language processing technology similar to Watson to measure specificity of the job description, mainly to tell between posts looking for full-time employees and project-based work. I also developed a set of simple rules like ignoring posts from countries where contractors' market rates are lower than mine or where job description starts with a lower-case letter.

 

All of this together really transformed Upwork experience for me. Currently I'm automatically filtering 80-90% of jobs left after keyword search automatically, so I have to read only posts that have high probability to be written by clients from my target segment. Plus I get real-time notifications when they come along.

 

The key for me was knowing who my customer is and fixing Upwork search shortcomings.

 

That said, unfortunately I have to concur that once you focus and specialise in a segment there are not that many jobs even in popular categories.

 

The abundance of posts in categories grouped at a high level is misleading. I think Upwork is missing huge revenue opportunities by focusing on reselling man-hours of generic labour in bulk and not doing niche marketing for segments that have professional freelancers and customers prepared to pay higher rates for specialist knowledge. (Such as the one that Mary has described above.)

69b66341
Community Member

Im leaving upwork because they just started charging for a freelancer search, that is the stupidest idea. 


Emin E wrote:

Im leaving upwork because they just started charging for a freelancer search, that is the stupidest idea. 


Can you elaborate on what you mean? I have a free client account and I seem to be able to search for freelancers exactly the same way I always did.

aocumen
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Emin, 


I'm sorry to learn you feel that way. I want to confirm that we do not charge for freelancer search. Could you please share more information about your post so that I can look into it further?

ETA: I checked your account further and it looks like you were inviting freelancers to apply to your job post. On the Upwork Basic Plan, clients get to invite 3 freelancers on their job post. However, if the job post's visibility is public, freelancers can send their proposals to the job. As a client, you will not incur additional charges for these proposals. The $29.99 that was being offerred was to feature a job post (Featured Jobs), to send unlimited invitations. Just the same, if the job's visibility is public, freelancers will also be able to send proposals for the job post. 

The Upwork Plus Plan ($49.99) has other benefits which you should be able to check through the link I noted here. If you have other questions, you can let us know. 


~ Avery
Upwork

Is this new? I keep getting the feeling that clients/jobs are diminishing - charging for # freelancer invites would add another layer to that problem... Isn't 20% fee enough?

abdulmoizkhatri
Community Member

I agree with you. Also, boost connects is also not good.

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