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Re: My experience / observations of Upwork thus far and thoughts going forwards.

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Active Member
Tom N Member Since: Jul 14, 2018
1 of 27

Hello Freelancers,

This is going to be a lengthy post, so apologies in advance.

I am this week going to achieve my 9th week of top rated eligibility, from around 10 or 11 weeks of being a freelancer on the platform. As with any new freelancer it has been a turbulant time with some ups and downs. However I have made some observations about my own area of freelancing and my performance overall which are really starting to turn me away from the platform and think what's the point.

First off, image retouching. Although I have a first class degree in Graphic Design, up to this point my ability as a photographer and image retouching artist has outshone my design work and experience by chance. So this is the avenue I decided to pursue with the most
effort. Unfortunately this area of freelancing seems to be a difficult area to break into, I have sent off 213 proposals in the last 90 days to a variety of retouching jobs I knew I could produce excellent results for, well with in the time frame outlined. However I would say at least 50% of these jobs have never had any hires or interviews, a further large chunk have been people interviewing 8-10 freelancers and requesting "freetrials" in order to complete the work without hiring anyone, and then another good chunk hiring freelancers who are charging ~$5 per hour. There is the small amount of jobs where people are hired and seemingly complete legitimate jobs, however in most cases I have observed it seems to be a rehire of a freelancer they have previously dealt with and subsequently invited to propose.

So try as I might, I have thus far only secured a few jobs (a couple of which were design related) My stats in terms of being viewed, interviewed and hired are very far left of the middle toward "less often". Attached is a low Res copy of my PDF portfolio which you can review, I use this when applying to retouching jobs and update it periodically if I have new information to add or swap in different work which will be more suited to the job I am applying to. I also nearly always leave a link to my website which displays some of my own photography for the clients review **Edited for Community Guidelines**

And here is an example of a typical proposal:

"Hi there!

I'm Tom, I am an award wining photographer and image retouch artist. I am really interested in editing your beauty images, I have expertise in frequency separation and dodge and burning which I see is exactly what you are looking for! I have experience in all areas of image retouching including high end beauty and editorial imagery.

Attached is a low resolution version of my PDF portfolio for you to review, more of my work is available on my website: **Edited for Community Guidelines** or alternatively my Upwork profile!

I would love to work with you to really bring these images up to their full potential, I offer free unlimited revisions to images after my initial work in order to give you a 100% satisfaction guarantee with the work and service you receive. I am a fast worker, however I never compromise on the quality of the retouching work and will ensure these images are returned to you in a perfected state.

I really hope to hear from you, it would be great to discuss further the contract and to establish if we will indeed be a perfect fit for collaboration.

Thank you in advance,

Tom"

I have fuether re-evaluated my price per hour and priced myself in an intermediate range of $20 per hour, which is below what I have charged previously. However it still seems to have not made much headway. When searching for jobs I have been sitting for on average 5-8 hours per day refreshing and reviewing every new job which suites my style of working and I am confident in conducting. I am aware that jobs are few and far between for everyone, however I may as well have been invisible for the last month as my profile views are vertially none existent and I received only interviews requesting 'freetrials".

So I am beginning to wonder is it worth the time and effort I am putting in? Are other freelancers in this area or other areas of freelancing feeling like this? My initial financial target was to attempt to earn $500 - $1k per month from the platform before deductions, however that now seems a highly unrealistic goal despite it seeming like a concervative goal initially.

In contrast to this my partner is also a freelancer on the platform as a designer, and has managed to secure several high paying contracts (achieving my monthly goal in just a couple days) with only using a handful of proposals. The stats on my partner's profile are the direct opposite to my own, all being very near the top end "more often" and all without having a success score or rising talent!

So the questions I am asking myself are this:

Am I focusing myself in the wrong area despite my accolades and experience as a photographer and image retouch artist? And, is it worth it or should I quit now and find another way to achieve my goals? I am trying to work my way toward trying to answer those.

If you have made it this far, I'm impressed!

Thanks for your time, and I am interested to hear other people's opinions and self-analysis of their own performance with in their area of freelancing!

Tom

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Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
2 of 27

re: "Am I focusing myself in the wrong area despite my accolades and experience as a photographer and image retouch artist?"

 

Image retouch artist?

 

Yes.

You are focusing your efforts in the wrong area.

You live in the United Kingdom.

This is something you do to unwind after work or for a lark on the weekend. This is not a career.

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Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
3 of 27

@Preston H wrote:

re: "Am I focusing myself in the wrong area despite my accolades and experience as a photographer and image retouch artist?"

 

Image retouch artist?

 

Yes.

You are focusing your efforts in the wrong area.

You live in the United Kingdom.

This is something you do to unwind after work or for a lark on the weekend. This is not a career.


 What an incredibly offensive, inaccurate and ignorant remark.

I am not often stunned by a post, but this takes the biscuit.

 

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
4 of 27

Petra, I'm not sure what you are talking about. Did you read the original post?

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Active Member
Tom N Member Since: Jul 14, 2018
5 of 27
Actually sir, in next month I am moving to south east Asia with my partner, and of course the cost of living is very small compared to here in the UK. The freelancing I have been doing has been a dry run to practice making enough money to fund my share of our lifestyle per month when we get there.

And image retouching is a viable option as a career path, there are image retouch artists which earn considerable amounts of money, such as assistants to high end wedding photographers who have 1000's of images to sort through and edit in a short space of time. Another example is the images which appear in magazines, all of which will have been retouched before publication.

Thanks for your comment,

Tom
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Community Guru
Richard S Member Since: Mar 12, 2019
6 of 27

re: "Am I focusing myself in the wrong area despite my accolades and experience as a photographer and image retouch artist?"

 

Image retouch artist?

 

Yes.

You are focusing your efforts in the wrong area.

You live in the United Kingdom.

This is something you do to unwind after work or for a lark on the weekend. This is not a career.

 

This. This is exactly the kind of rude, mean, ignorant, unhelpful response that actually puts people off posting here and all of it from a 'community guru'. Seriously, this kind of reply gets me so annoyed (I'm looking forward to Preston coming back and telling me that it really shouldn't). Tom has written a thoughtful, detailed question and this is the sort of flippant feedback he gets from a guy who presumably has little or no experience of his area of work? Jeez.

 

Tom, for what it's worth, judging the quality of your post, you could always make it as a proofreader/editor.

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Community Guru
Richard S Member Since: Mar 12, 2019
7 of 27

re: "Am I focusing myself in the wrong area despite my accolades and experience as a photographer and image retouch artist?"

 

Image retouch artist?

 

Yes.

You are focusing your efforts in the wrong area.

You live in the United Kingdom.

This is something you do to unwind after work or for a lark on the weekend. This is not a career.

 

This. This is exactly the kind of rude, mean, ignorant, unhelpful response that actually puts people off posting here and all of it from a 'community guru'. Seriously, this kind of reply gets me so annoyed (I'm looking forward to Preston coming back and telling me that it really shouldn't). Tom has written a thoughtful, detailed question and this is the sort of flippant feedback he gets from a guy who presumably has little or no experience of his area of work? Jeez.

 

Tom, for what it's worth, judging the quality of your post, you could always make it as a proofreader/editor.

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Community Guru
Kelly B Member Since: Jan 1, 2016
8 of 27

Richard S wrote:

re: "Am I focusing myself in the wrong area despite my accolades and experience as a photographer and image retouch artist?"

 

Image retouch artist?

 

Yes.

You are focusing your efforts in the wrong area.

You live in the United Kingdom.

This is something you do to unwind after work or for a lark on the weekend. This is not a career.

 

This. This is exactly the kind of rude, mean, ignorant, unhelpful response that actually puts people off posting here and all of it from a 'community guru'. Seriously, this kind of reply gets me so annoyed (I'm looking forward to Preston coming back and telling me that it really shouldn't). Tom has written a thoughtful, detailed question and this is the sort of flippant feedback he gets from a guy who presumably has little or no experience of his area of work? Jeez.

 

Tom, for what it's worth, judging the quality of your post, you could always make it as a proofreader/editor.


I would just add that anyone who thinks image retouching is a way to unwind has obviously never done it. It is TEDIOUS, tedious. I hope Tom found some success.

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Community Guru
Will L Member Since: Jul 9, 2015
9 of 27

Hi, Tom.

 

It’s hard to say why you are experiencing this problem.

 

When you use Upwork's "Find Work" function, do a lot of projects come up for each of your search words or phrases? if not, there may not be a lot of projects available for your area of expertise.

 

Or maybe there are a lot of projects, but there is also a huge amount of competition in your area of expertise. When you submit a bid on a project you can see under “Activity on this job” at the bottom of the project description, which shows how many proposals have been submitted on the project, how many freelancers the client is interviewing, how many invitations the client has sent to other freelancer, etc. If these numbers are high then competition on that particular project is high and the competition might lower your change of being awarded the project. You can also usually see a “Bid range” on proposals submitted so far, which should also give you an idea of where your proposed pricing stands in comparison to your competitors.

 

Unfortunately, Upwork didn’t follows its excellent predecessor Elance’s example in showing freelancers what the winning bid and who the winning bidder was on projects they submitted proposals on. A freelancer could then see how the winning bid’s pricing was compared to the freelancer’s own bid. And it was possible to see which freelancer submitted the winning bid – also interesting information.

 

Other things that might affect your success rate:

 

  • Frequency of your bidding – If 1 out of 15 of your proposals are accepted, that’s probably pretty good, depending on how competitive your sector is, how competitive your pricing is, etc.
  • What is your Job Success Score – The Score’s calculation is unknown, but Upwork encourages clients to use it in selecting freelancers. I don’t know what the minimum JSS is, but as long as mine has been above 80 I have had no trouble getting new projects.
  • The quality of your samples – Will low-resolution samples impress your potential clients?

 

Others here will no doubt think of other factors you should consider.

 

Good luck.

 

Will

.

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Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
10 of 27

re: "And, is it worth it or should I quit now and find another way to achieve my goals? I am trying to work my way toward trying to answer those."

 

Tom:

You already know the answer to this question. Yes, you should quit now. Or at least refocus.

 

If you work really hard at it - and if you understand it as a calling or a passion more than just a way to earn money - then there may indeed be some legitimacy to presenting yourself as a serious photographer (who does quality image retouching as part of the services you offer). Your presence on Upwork could be PART of your overall efforts to earn money doing this.

 

But presenting yourself principally as an "image retouch artist" - or pursuing image retouch work as the main focus of your job-seeking efforts - is a dead end for you, given the financial goals you specified. It really doesn't matter how good you are at this. The numbers just don't add up.

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