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Post-merger blues : No jobs for months, I'm about to give up :/

michaeldk
Ace Contributor
Michael D Member Since: Jan 29, 2015
1 of 18

Hi all!

I've been part of oDesk/Upwork for a while now. The merger to Upwork never worried me, initially. However after more than 3 months of solicitations and responding on jobs, I have ended up with exactly zero clients. Well, one client who scammed me, if that counts.

I am getting a bit desperate, especially because I depend financially on extra income from Upwork. Some basic information about my situation:

- I'm a Dutch graphic designer with a Bachelor in Art & design.
- I speak four languages, of which Dutch as a native and English as near-native (raised internationally)
- I am Top-rated, have a 100% job-success score
- I am part of the Upwork Pro talent pool
- My specializations are (art)magazine and (e)book designs and corporate identities. But I also have experience designing posters, brochures, whitebooks and generally anything printed.
- I have applied various writing styles and techniques, emphasizing different aspects
- I always respond to any clue in the client's job offering to show I write tailored emails, not generic ones
- My website (which I always mention various times as a source of portfolio material) is modern and looks good

Last year (basically before November 2015) I would respond to 6-7 job offers and would be awarded one, or at the very least receive an invitation to interview. Right now I have written perhaps as much as 60-70 solicitations to job offerings (including on lower and lower budget ones, and lower my asking price more and more as an experiment) and have received exactly one back, which turned out to be a scam.

I've checked my competitors, and even on jobs that are a perfect for my skills (e.g. similar design style required, e-book or printed book / booklet design) and without any talented competition visible I still don't get those kind of jobs. Or even just an interview! more concerning is that people don't even seem to read my messages, as my website is getting very few hits in periods where I do a lot of job-searching/writing.

So...you can understand it's hard to bring up motivation when you've been trying to get jobs for months, writing many useless/rejected/ignored texts. I try to write every text as personal as I can, bringing in information about the customer his branch, his target audience and discuss some ideas I already have reading his job description. I've tried to go lower and lower in price too (just last few weeks), even responding to jobs that would result in an hourly wage of $5 or less. (I do fixed price-only contracts exclusively, something I might need to change in the future as a last resort. It does not fit well with my modus operandi, however)
 
Am I overlooking something really obvious? I had my profile and website checked by some professional friends. And even if there is something to be improved, it cannot be so massive that I am simply not getting jobs for 3 months whilst being extremely highly qualified/decorated and am bidding on projects that earn me perhaps 50% of what I would have asked last year. Or less.

Anyone else noticed the same? Anyone suggestions what I am doing wrong?

thanks...Smiley Sad Smiley Happy

Michael.

jsutherland
Community Guru
Jean S Member Since: Oct 22, 2007
2 of 18

@Michael D wrote:

Hi all!

 

I've been part of oDesk/Upwork for a while now. The merger to Upwork never worried me, initially. However after more than 3 months of solicitations and responding on jobs, I have ended up with exactly zero clients. Well, one client who scammed me, if that counts.

 

I am getting a bit desperate, especially because I depend financially on extra income from Upwork. Some basic information about my situation:

 

- I'm a Dutch graphic designer with a Bachelor in Art & design.

- I speak four languages, of which Dutch as an native and English as near-native (raised internationally)

- I am Top-rated, have a 100% job-success score

- I am part of the Upwork Pro talent pool

- My specializations are (art)magazine and (e)book designs and corporate identities. But I also have experience designing posters, brochures, whitebooks and generally anything printed.

- I have applied various writing styles and techniques, emphasizing different aspects

- I always respond to any clue in the client's job offering to show I write tailored emails, not generic ones

- My website (which I always mention various times as a source of portfolio material) is modern and looks good

 

Last year (basically before November 2015) I would respond to 6-7 job offers and would be awarded one, or at the very least receive an invitation to interview. Right now I have written perhaps as much as 60-70 solicitations to job offerings (including on lower and lower budget ones, and lower my asking price less and less as an experiment) and have received exactly one back, which turned out to be a scam.

 

I've checked my competitors, and even on jobs that are a perfect for my skills (e.g. similar design style required, e-book or printed book / booklet design) and without any talented competition visible I still don't get those kind of jobs. Or even just an interview! more concerning is that people don't even seem to read my messages, as my website is getting very few hits in periods where I do a lot of job-searching/writing.

 

So...you can understand it's hard to bring up motivation when you've been trying to get jobs for months, writing many useless/rejected/ignored texts. I try to write every text as personal as I can, bringing in information about the customer his branch, his target audience and discuss some ideas I already have reading his job description. I've tried to go lower and lower in price too (just last few weeks), even responding to jobs that would result in an hourly wage of $5 or less. (I do fixed price-only contracts exclusively, something I might need to change in the future as a last resort. It does not fit well with my modus operandi, however)

 

Am I overlooking something really obvious? I had my profile and website checked by some professional friends. And even if there is something to be improved, it cannot be so massive that I am simply not getting jobs for 3 months whilst being extremely highly qualified/decorated and am bidding on projects that earn me perhaps 50% of what I would have asked last year. Or less.

 

Anyone else noticed the same? Anyone suggestions what I am doing wrong?

 

thanks...Smiley Sad Smiley Happy

Michael.


You overview could be reworked to make it stand out more. You talk a lot about yourself but you don't talk about what you will do for the client. You say things in your overview that really don't need to be there. Why is Dutch important? Why is speaking 4 languages important when you do artwork? And so on.

 

I don't know what you proposals look like so I can't comment on that but definitely rework that overview. With a few simple changes and some coaching I think you could easily get a job.

michaeldk
Ace Contributor
Michael D Member Since: Jan 29, 2015
3 of 18

hi Jean!

 

Thanks for your reply Smiley Happy I emphasize the dutch-ness and the languages because I would like to stand out against the cheaper, often lesser quality non-western designers. Perhaps this is not so relevant in your specific area of expertise, but designer-wise as a western-European I have a greater degree of understanding of the needs of both the clients and audiences in the USA, Australia/new-Zealand and Europe. I will give the language-part and perhaps nationality less emphasis or remove it completely, thanks for the advice!

 

I tried to talk about my qualities beceause that is what I would be looking for myself if I was hiring someone. I guess I must be a bit different than most in that aspect - I don't really care about what they can do for me...just show me the goods (portfolio) and tell me what your qualifications are. Perhaps I am too dutch or too pragmatic in that sense and indeed need to think more in the way the customer-I-am-not-getting does. Something I find difficult obviously Smiley Happy

 

 

arifsaeedd
Active Member
Arif S Member Since: Aug 27, 2011
4 of 18

Well, you will get generics replies from gurus about how your pitch should be changed to talk more about clients, profile picture etc, (no offense) , but after following and executing I have also seen nill results, after merger.

 

I have also asked my fellow upworkers from my city and got same results. Not every can be doing wrong if they were getting work prior merger.

lysis10
Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
5 of 18

@Arif S wrote:

Well, you will get generics replies from gurus about how your pitch should be changed to talk more about clients, profile picture etc, (no offense) , but after following and executing I have also seen nill results, after merger.

 

I have also asked my fellow upworkers from my city and got same results. Not every can be doing wrong if they were getting work prior merger.


 Nobody with a brain will tell you exactly how they are winning proposals. You have to take the generic advice and think for yourself and figure it out. 

researchediting
Community Guru
Douglas Michael M Member Since: May 22, 2015
6 of 18

Arif,

From before the merger, both Elance and oDesk were taking steps to reshape the talent pool they offer. This has only accelerated since the rollout of Upwork. With each such change, Upwork has announced its intended effects, and contractors have responded with their own reports of effects on their businesses.

The merger was announced at the end of 2013, and Elance-oDesk was rebranded as Upwork in mid-2015. Especially given all the subsequent changes and information about them from Upwork and from our colleagues and competitors, isn't it a little late to be blaming the merger for a lack of work, whether personal, by services offered, or even regional? That horse is dead.

If I were not getting contracts on Upwork, I would be looking at whether my niche services and how I provide them are even feasible on Upwork any more. I would be studying Upwork's program changes and contractor responses to them. I would be looking at successful competitors for hints as to what my approach lacked. And of course, I would be looking for other sources of income.

Maybe that's just me.

Best,
Michael

kulkarni_ashish
Community Guru
Ashish K Member Since: Mar 1, 2016
7 of 18

Don't give up. Clearly what you are doing now is not working out. So change something (you cant get lower than 0 jobs). 

 

As Jean says, try changing your profile overview. Or, change the way you write proposals. If they are long, make them short but impactful. 

 

I see no reason why you should not  be getting jobs.

 

Cheer Up!

Ashish

jsutherland
Community Guru
Jean S Member Since: Oct 22, 2007
8 of 18

Another idea for your overview is to look at the overview of freelancers who are getting the jobs and get ideas from them.

st-leipzig
Community Guru
Sandra T Member Since: Nov 26, 2014
9 of 18

Trying different proposal/cover letter styles definitely helps to find out what gets your foot in the door with clients. I think along with the change of clients (ex Elance clients, new clients) comes a general change in online behavior, online expectations, etc., so what used to work doesn't necessarily work forever.

 

Don't waste time proposing to $5 postings (unless the rest of the posting seriously indicates that the dollar amount is just a dummy and the client is willing to spend real money.) Focus on the real clients and real postings, even if that only means applying to jobs twice a week. Market yourself in other online places, connect your reputation from different places, and so on. Don't follow the lower-and-lower trail, things just tend to get twice as frustrating on there.

michaeldk
Ace Contributor
Michael D Member Since: Jan 29, 2015
10 of 18

HI Sandra,

 

Thank you for your kind advice. I actually have tried this already. Both short, to the point messages bullet-listing my strongest points and longer messages as I described in my initial post (e.g. going in-depth and proposing the plan of attack that I could undertake with that particular customer and his desired audience).

 

I never respond to $5 post (not even when it is obvious they are offering more later on). This is because those kind of posts usually act as a honeypot for lower quality / budget designers and I am probably waisting my 2 connect points (hard to find me among 60 others ;-). 

 

I indeed was about done with the lower-and-lower spiral, but in the end one needs bread on the table. And I would rather be overqualified and underpaid, than overqualified and hungry.

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