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Something's Off

Hi everyone! I've been freelancing on this platform since December 2020 and have always had consistent work. I'm constantly receiving interview requests  - so often that in most cases, I land I'd say at least 60 or 70% of my contracts from these interviews and not with submitting a proposal. Still, when I do submit a proposal, I usually get at least 1 or 2 responses out of every 10 I send. 


I am able to survive off freelance so well that two weeks ago I decided to actually leave my full time job in favor of this. So, I didn't really apply to anything for that first week, as to not overload my plate while trying to wrap things up at work. But I still did apply to get some new contracts set up when I make the transition. In the past week and a half, I've submitted over 20 proposals and I'm not getting a response on any of them. I'm also not receiving interviews. It's like my profile activity just vanished and nothing I do changes it. I called Upwork and the staff kept trying to push using connects for availability badges and on proposals, which I have and still nothing. Even in the past, they've never done anything for me. And I can't just spend money willy nilly like that, especially now that I'm getting practically NOTHING on Upwork. It really feels like my profile is being hidden or like shadowbanned. This post isn't meant to be braggy at all, but this is a 180 turn from how it's consistently been for over TWO YEARS. 


Has anyone else experienced something like this? Could Upwork be hiding my profile from people? Is it just the time of year? Any insight would be great because I felt confident in my decision and now Upwork is proving so futile that I'm scared to death of how I'm going to support myself. It's like everything just dropped off all of a sudden and I don't know why and can't seem to make any improvements. 

Community Member

"I called Upwork and the staff kept trying to push using connects for availability badges and on proposals, which I have and still nothing. Even in the past, they've never done anything for me."


Of course they did, because they just want you to SPEND money, whether it's effective or not.  Please remember the advice UW provides is always designed to be in UW's best interest, not necessarily in the freelancer or client's best interest. If it's not working, then quit spending the money.  The 'available now' badge actually makes freelancers look desperate, and it's confusing to clients who think that means you're sitting at your desk 24/7 ready to 'respond immediately' like somebody working at a call center.  I suggest leaving it off.


"It really feels like my profile is being hidden or like shadowbanned."

"Could Upwork be hiding my profile from people?"


In some ways yes: Sometime last spring, Upwork changed how freelancer profiles show up in Search for clients. The search results no longer show the client the BEST match, based on skills and track record,but was 'redesigned' to basically take all the profiles that might 'match' and 'scramble' them around in each search. 


Before, the client was more likely to see matching profiles kind of ranked by  reputation/success on Upwork.  So 'top performers' used to appear toward the top of the list.  Now, a client might search for say 'editor', and the list might include a full first page of results with people with no experience, no earnings, or even worse people with very BAD job success scores/negative refuse, or people with incomplete profiles, fake pictures, and grammar problems/typos right in their 'headline'.   I did one search for 'Java' one day and the first person on the top of the list had a JSS of 40%, while people who were top rated and rising talent, and expert vetted were either on the bottom of the first page, or on the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th pages of results.  In other words, you might be showing up in the list but getting buried down in the list even though you are the most (or amonng the most) 'proven' talent with that particular skill the client is searching for.  


They made this change last year after lots of new freelancers whined that they weren't being 'seen' enough.  So now, instead of showing clients the most likely 'sure bets' for a particular job, they may get a list of search results back with poorly performing freelancers as the 'top picks' showing up in the list - and probably leave the platform or don't hire/interview/invite as a result.  Apparently, Upwork hasn't figured out that you get more SALES to new clients if you impress them with the 'best of the best' when they search for a particular skill.  No 'new' client is going to stick around if they are getting search results with freelancers with a 40% 'success rate (aka a 60% failure rate).  So, yes, if you are doing well on Upwork, your profile is now being partially 'shadow banned' in the search feature clients see. 


They are also giving more 'search' priority to freelancers that have setup those super cheap 'Fiverr' style 'projects' in the project catalog. They are now showing 'projects' in the client search along with freelancer profiles, so a client can decide if they want pay for a quality freelancer or buy a cheap $5 'quick deliverable' - again, basically ruining the quality of the site and sending it 'downhill' like 'fiverr', 'people per hour', etc


Most of us have seen a decline in the QUALITY of clients and jobs posted on Upwork as a result of a couple major changes they made and the economy:


1. The situation I described above where a 'new' client doing a search now could see a first full page of results of 'junk' profiles instead of the TYPES and QUALITY of freelancers Upwork advertises on their commericals.  This makes it hard for clients to quickly find somebody who is actually qualified. No new client wants to scroll through several pages of 'junk' profiles before finding somebody that actually knows what they're doing.


2. The 'boosting' feature which allows any and every freelancer  to endlessly SPAM any client, and any job post - qualified or not.  I have seen a drastic increase in job posts simply being 'abandoned' by clients after they get slammed and SPAMMED with 'boosted' junk proposals within 2 minutes of posting a job, making it impossible to find anybody truly qualified. If the job is for say a '3D artist' but your profile has to do with Accounting, that doesn't matter: A freelancer can pay HUNDREDS of connects to 'boost' that irrelevant profile straight to the top of the client's 'inbox' and there's nothing to stop them


3. When an economy slumps, spending slows, including from clients: However, in economic downturns, IF somebody decides to spend, they want to spend on something that is most likely to be a 'sure bet' and value for their money.  People do not tend to want to take risks on 'unproven' things, merchandise, or people when money is tight. Those are just facts.  Flooding the client search results with 'junk' profiles  and allowing freelancers to flood client inboxes with 'junk' boosted proposals does NOT encourage people being 'stingy'/frugal with their wallets to SPEND.  It makes them leave, and spend nothing.  The 'boosting' should be stopped, and if a freelancer's profile is incomplete, poorly written, or has clearly NEGATIVE/bad JSS and reviews all over, it should be HIDDEN out of the search altogether until the freelancer fixes the profile problems or raises their JSS and cleans up their reputation. (The freelancer can still 'search' for jobs and apply on their own, but it should not be showing up in the 'search' as basically an 'advertisement' to the client because it reflects negatively on the whole platform.)



Whatever you do, if you've decided to be a freelancer full-time, do not put all your eggs in one basket and depend only on Upwork for income.  Upwork looks out for Upwork, not for you, the clients, or anybody else. Businesses only look out for themselves: Upwork is no different. You should be the same as a 'business owner' and explore jobs/business opportunities on other platforms.



When you say "They are also giving more 'search' priority to freelancers that have setup those super cheap 'Fiverr' style 'projects' in the project catalog." do you actually mean that they are giving preference to superch-cheap projects, or are you saying they are giving preference to projects and assuming that all projects are super cheap?

Community Member

Looks like on January 31st you closed around 25 contracts yourself instead of asking the clients to close them for feedback. So the fact that your profile is completely empty of feedback for the first 3 pages might have something to do with it.  Maybe use your Top Rated perk to remove the 3.00 score to see if that helps. - because that's the first thing prospective clients are seeing if they bother to wade through all those pages. 

Thanks for youre reply. The employee at Upwork advised me to close them because it could have been the reason why I wasn't getting any messages. 

That's because if you have a lot of jobs in progress, some people think it deters clients who might think you're too busy.  But I have tons of open contracts that I'm in the process of slowly closing, and I'm still getting invites and job offers.  


The Upwork support person should have advised you to first ask the clients to close them so your profile receives feedback. And if they don't, close them yourself over time.  

It's important to look at your 'stats' for your account to see if the problem is that the proposals are not being VIEWED.  If they aren't even being viewed, that could just be a factor of the 'volume' of proposals the client is getting.  If you see most of them are being 'viewed' but getting few responses, that's a possible profile/proposal approach issue. 


As for all the contracts you closed out on 1/31, you should consider reaching out to those clients you still have contact with and kindly asking them to leave a review  (if you suspect that client will leave a good one.)   Since the contracts just closed, the clients still have well over a week to leave feedback before the window closes.  You want those contracts showing on the FIRST page of your profile to have more positive reviews and less 'no feedback'.

I know how this sounds, but when looking to maximize your success here, taking the advice of an Upwork employee is among the very last things you should do. If you have questions about that sort of thing, it's far better to come here and get information from successful freelancers who have actually used the platform extensively than rely on cut-and-paste answers from staff who may never have freelanced.

Community Member

Bad timing to quit a job for freelancing lol. It hasn't been this slow IME since early 2020. It's understandable that you had a two year stretch and thought things would never get slow, but you need to have some profit on deck in case of slow times and slow times always come sooner or later. Hopefully you got some cash saved from that job.

Community Member



Please follow this best practice TIPS because Upwork's algo changed this year. It was a bad idea to close all the Projects at once because your Profile Reviews (none) almost look like spam to a client.


PROFILE: Always complete your Upwork Profile before applying for Jobs. Create a Title and Skills to apply for Jobs to match what Clients are searching for. Use one or two of the Skill keywords in the Title to emphasize what you bring to the table for the Client. Create 3 or 4 short paragraphs in the Summary. If the Summary is too long, most Clients will not read the rest of your Profile; too short then there isn't enough information for a Client to hire. Use all 15 Skills IF they apply. The Skills are used to assist a Client in locating your Profile via search. Add your Portfolio and always use a colorful image. Consider adding a Project Catalog if it applies. By the way, it goes without saying make sure that your Profile Settings are on Public not Private so others can view the Profile.


COVER LETTER: Create a flexible cover letter that is less than 100 words. Long cover letters rarely get read, but instead are ignored. Break the cover letter into four sections. Section 1 : Acknowledge the job that you are applying for such as "Looking forward to discussing your graphics design project". Section 2: Highlight your validations stamps IE skills that are brought to their project. Section 3 Explain how you will solve their problem and the final section request an Upwork Zoom call to discuss their project.

Community Member

The "Boost Proposals" feature has definitely been a huge negative from my experience. I can relate with the fact that I would at least get a percentage of responses from sent proposals and invites, but now it's been silence. I have a feeling Upwork is basically just holding our proposals while they wait for the boosted proposals to get purchased for new projects. It's all just a money making scheme for them to force people to purchase connects to actually get work. They definitely have changed directions and care less about the freelancers that support this platform. What a shame.

Community Member

" If you have questions about that sort of thing, it's far better to come here and get information from successful freelancers who have actually used the platform extensively than rely on cut-and-paste answers from staff who may never have freelanced."


Best advise here is from Tiffany. 

UW customer support is not great at all things, but they are really good at a few things - helping a freelancer best navigate their algorithm mine-field to be best positioned when bidding is not something they are good at. 


Maximize $ per-bid:

I believe they do probably hold or manage bids in a way that allows them to earn more $ per bid - in a game where most work done here is from offshore cheap labor, they have few other options to fully monetize the platform, adding boosts and availability-badges and other little tricks is on-the-one-hand genius, but also designed to help themselves, not you.  You, and me are cogs in their game! 


Your Profile is Great:

I dont see the above-mentioned issues with your profile - closing of open accounts, but that you have a great 95% JSS and are top rated.  Maybe you can improve the Portfolio with images of your work.  Maybe use bullet points in your intro, vs the somewhat long-worded Ps.  I would, as a client, take pause at some of the very low-fee work in your que - but I certainly dont know the publishing industry - this may be normal.  Do you have a self-portrait where you are in a more professional setting - the coffee cup image shows a great smile, but gives an impression that we are meeting for coffee, not creating important copy for my business.  Finally, when I hire here (not often) what stands out to me is confidence and expertise, this is where bullet points with success words/phrases can help.  HTH.



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