Sketchy First Job?

Hi guys,


So I finally got my first client and he accepted my proposal. There are a few things that kind of stick out to me and I was hoping to get your advice on whether or not I should continue the contract. Please note that he has been nothing but polite, has verified payment method, did not ask for my contact/personal info nor introduced himself as the "hiring manager."


So here are the things that stick out to me :


1. Client has time zone listed as Alaska Standard Time, but his city is New Delhi. I looked to see if there is a New Delhi, Alaska and there isn't.


2.The job entails me searching for small businesses like wedding planners ran by women. He is asking for the website, names, email and phone numbers of these businesses. Of course they are all available on the wedding websites so I don't see a problem since the info is public domain, just wanted ot double check and get opinions on this. 


3. He is breaking it up into to 2 milestones. $25 for as much as I can get done by the 11th, and $25 for the rest of the list. $50 seems to be very little when I have to do a ton of research to find these companies, but I took it because I am looking to at least have one client under my belt so my profile doesn't remain empty of accepted jobs. 


What does the poeple of the Upwork Community think? Thoughts? Advice? Thanks!!


1. I've had many clients with messed up Upwork city and time zone stuff. That by itself I wouldn't worry about.


2. If the information is publicly available, then it's probably fine, but this is a personal comfort level judgment call. If you think the information is going to be used for something you don't feel comfortable with, pass on the project.


3. IMO, in general, "as much as you can get done by the 11th" isn't a milestone. It's too vague. Is there anything objective and tangible defining the entire job? If so, breaking it up like this might be fine. If not, it's a recipe for you to be required to put in potentially unlimited amounts of time for a small fixed sum.


The #1 rule of business: trust your "informed" gut. By which I mean, we all have blind spots and prejudices, and we should be careful not to jump to conclusions or make calls based on invalid assumptions. But overall, if something feels wrong to you, it probably is. 90% of the time when I violate this rule, I regret it. (To be fair, I've also gotten a few good things by taking a gamble. But I wouldn't do it with a first client.)

Thank you for your helpful insight. I have no idea what he is using the information for. Think its appropriate to ask? The job is to make a list of 1000 women who are small wedding planners. I told the client that 1000 people is alot to research since thres no way to automaticaly do it. So we agreed upon whatever I could get done by the 11th as the first milestone and then the rest after that. My gut isn't really sending me "STOP! This isn't right!" signals but it's not saying, "Oh, This is the PERFECT client!" either. 

"I told the client that 1000 people is alot to research since thres no way to automaticaly do it. So we agreed upon whatever I could get done by the 11th as the first milestone and then the rest after that."


<insert flashing red lights and warning sirens here>


This is a recipe for an unhappy client, unhappy freelancer, or both.


What if you think getting 200 done by then is good and he's expecting 800?


IMO you MUST come up with a number you both agree on by that date.


Have you already accepted the offer on this job? If so you are on the hook and need to find a way to make this project succeed, because a bad experience on your first project would be a bad start.


I'd really try to communicate with him as much as possible and come to specific agreements.


How long does it take you to research a record for this list?


ETA: This seems to be a new client. Make sure they have a verified payment method before you do anything. If they do not, tell them per Upwork rules you need the payment method verified before you start.


I think $25 dollars for 1 hour of work is fair. I wouldnt spend excess amount of time on it. You can probably get a good list of numbers and sites done in one hour. If he wants more he should raise the price. 

"As much as you can get done by the 11th" is not a reasonable milestone. If the date comes and goes and the client insists you could have done more, you'll have little defense.


I would spend a few minutes googling, to see what kinds of resources are out there that you'll be able to use in compiling this list; how much overlap there might be (so you have some idea of how much time you might spend de-duping); settle on how you're going to deliver it to him (in a spreadsheet, I would imagine). Figure out a set of search parameters that you'll use. Then propose to him that instead of framing the milestone by how many names you'll turn up by a certain date, set it up instead by what measures and activities you'll complete in search of the names. Maybe you'll have 1,000 names via your first wave of searching. Maybe you'll have 300 names plus a very good understanding of what will be required to obtain 700 more. Or strong evidence that 1,000 is unrealistic but 500 is a solid goal. I would not let my payment hinge on getting a certain number of names, for either a partial milestone or job completion. Tie it to effort/time expended. Don't let it be your problem if the 1,000 name quota is unattainable.


Yes, this represents doing the very first spadework ahead of getting the contract. But the whole reason you want this job is to get your toe in the Upwork door, so maybe it's worth investing the up-front time to be sure the project is set up in a way that is fair to you.


Nichole - I am very leary about the statement -3. He is breaking it up into to 2 milestones. $25 for as much as I can get done by the 11th, and $25 for the rest of the list.


IMO this spells trouble since there is no clearly defined, detailed scope of work assigned to either milestone, especially the first one.


You need to find out exactly how many total wedding planners does this client expect/need.

Then you need to probably break it in half with the first half defined in milestone 1 and the second half clearly defined in milestone 2. And when does this client expect the "rest" of this list. That is defined in milestone 1, which is good so you know you must meet that deadline. But what about the 2nd milestone.


Before accepting this job, you need to clarify all the above points, You shouldn't start a job without knowing exactly what's expected of you, and what you will deliver to the client.

Alright, so he changed up his job posting some - added more to it and also changed his location to India. Really, 1000 names is almost unattainable without some sort of automated system that scours the internet and compiles the list automatically, lol! I think I am probably going to cancel the contract politely. Here's what the job description currently says:


*** Edited for Community Guidelines ***