This is really quality advise, thank you so much. I will be implementing your instruction and seeing if I can turn things around. A lot of work to do but defintely have gained some confidence reading your response so thank you for that.
Regarding clients doing a bajillion interviews and looking for dirt cheap prices and even asking for free work as a method of application - ignore them (you can flag the latter, though). You need to spend considerable time learning how to use the filtering functions in the job search, and then still spend considerable time sifting through even heaps of "filtered" jobs.
What you're seeing is not unique to any one category on Upwork. My job feed/searches are absolutely flooded with time wasters asking someone to create the next Facebook for $500. Some of them have learned that most self respecting people will not even register their jobs at $500, so to bait a desperate dev they sprinkle a few grand extra, which of course is still ridiculous.
If you're feeling like wasting a couple of connects when the latter comes up (looks like they at least made an effort to acknowledge the value, even if still far off), you could place down a short proposal with a "To be determined" price set at the minimum and simply tell them that you'd love to help them out, but need to know if there is room in their budget to make it happen. I'm pretty forward when I do this and curt even, telling them that they're going to get false promises and a garbage deliverable if they don't reconsider their budget. Occassionaly this has worked out to land significant jobs but I wouldn't over invest in this practice.
When you find jobs that have even a semblance of legitimacy, you need to apply them until there are either none left, or you exhaust your connects, at which point you just buy more. I've sometimes spent consecutive days scanning through and applying to such jobs, being highly selective, and then I wind up finding good jobs that pay well and as you point out, form relationships that last. One time I hastily accepted a job, one time, and boom I got a bad client, but that's a different story.
Take your time, filter-filter-filter, take chances when it's not 100% obvious that it's a waste of time, don't be afraid to waste connects to simply open up a discussion rather than submit a formal proposal (I usually do this over formal proposals) and be selective about who you do business with.
* 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.*
This happens a lot in the writing category. Too many clients who are just not serious or are not willing to pay well for quality work.
Interesting post! It caught my attention that some people here recommend that you should broaden your focus while I read hundreds of other posts saying that freelancers should focus on one thing only, because clients look for specialists and not jacks of all trades. So... the forum confuses me indeed I have seen top-rated freelancers who do data entry, T-shirts and copywriting; and also others who only do one single thing. So who is actually right?
I think you are great at image retouching so I would stay focused on that since it is your speciality. I would also recommend that you write shorter simple proposals with less jargon and addressing specifically the job you are applying to. That is essential! And it's called tailoring the proposal, so you should not have a "typical proposal" to begin with. Your profile summary is to talk about you, the proposal is to talk about the job, not you. You already talked about yourself in the summary which is pretty long already so don't say the same in the proposals. By the way, please don't offer unlimited revisions. There are people who take advantage of that and keep asking for more and will never get satisfied. It can become a nightmare pretty easily. Finally be patient, there are areas that are overcrowded and many ghost clients that post a job and never hire anyone. Don't get discouraged, you are very talented.
@Sergio S wrote:
Interesting post! It caught my attention that some people here recommend that you should broaden your focus while I read hundreds of other posts saying that freelancers should focus on one thing only, because clients look for specialists and not jacks of all trades. So... the forum confuses me indeed
Well, there is a difference between a profile that throws everything including the kitchen sink at the market hoping that something sticks (People who are expert accountants, designers, writers, sound mixers, translators and coders if their profile can be believed...) and someone only advertising a small slice of their skill-set.
One needs to narrow their focus, the other can safely broaden it.
Once you have gained traction and have a long history you can get away with doing whatever you like - it likely won't do any harm. If I started offering handknitting organic slippers tomorrow it wouldn't hurt my profile.
Tom has various different skills within his "skill-set" - so narrowing it too much to only retouching is likely one step too narrow AT THIS STAGE.
I agree it's likely where he'll really shine (I am deeply, DEEPLY jealous of his portfolio work) but at the moment it's getting a dozen or sojobs under his belt so that needs to be the main focus.