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Suggestions for Upwork Improvement

Thank you Upwork for making a change that I’ve mentioned before, allowing me to put a minimum hourly dollar amount in my screening for new hourly jobs. And thank you for removing any effect on my JSS from projects I have to close where the absentee client never leaves feedback.


These are some other improvements I’d like to see Upwork make so I can better manage my freelancer account and, in some cases, both I and Upwork can make more money:


1) Notify me if a client’s JSS feedback for me is going to be used in calculating my JSS. (If it isn’t going to be used in that way, I don’t care.)

2) Integrate the Upwork Zoom app with TimeTracker, so time I spend on Upwork Zoom calls with hourly contract clients, which are already being tracked by Upwork, are automatically included in my TimeTracker work time calculations. I should not have to invoke TimeTracker for such calls and there need be no specific tracking of my mouse activity, keyboard strokes or screenshots necessary for the client and Upwork to confirm at any time that I was working for the client during a tracked Upwork Zoom call time segment.

3) Allow clients to change the start date of their hourly projects after I we have both agreed to a contract. (If that is already possible, please make it easier for the client to understand how to do it.) At the very least, have the date originally set by the client be the first date that TimeTracker actually allows work to be tracked—not the day after based on Greenwich Mean Time.

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Excellent suggestions, Will. I would like to exemplify why suggestion #1, in particular, matters.


Right now I have an invitation to take on a project from a client who is brand new to Upwork. We are at the stage of negotiating project scope, but I am not fully sold on whether I should even be investing time in that. The reason is that although the work falls squarely within my competencies and I know I can do it to a high standard, the client is new - with no previous jobs on his profile, and neither ratings from other freelancers nor ratings given to others - and I have no idea what working with him might be like and how objective/ethical he might or might not be in rating me once the project is completed.


The gig pays well but I am not desperate for the money, so I will likely decline, if only for the fact that I don't know how the client approaches feedback and am unwilling to bear the risk a less-than-perfect private feedback could mean for my JSS (I am TR+). The work requires very specific domain expertise and the client may or may not find another freelancer in the same niche who is able to do the work to the level I would; if he doesn't, Upwork will have missed an opportunity to make money. 


This is the second-order effect of giving clients free reign and full and unquestioned discretion over private feedback, in addition to then making it impossible to correct in the case of a client misunderstanding of the weight private feedback/JSS carries for freelancers. This is why Will's suggestion is a constructive one Upwork should consider be taking very seriously.


Hi Will and Gergana,


Thank you for sharing your suggestions I will share them with our team for further review and consideration. 


~ Nikola
Community Member

Gergana K.,


I can be choosy about whom I work with on Upwork, so I don't mind investing up to an unpaid hour or so on the Upwork Zoom app talking to a prospective client about their project. And I sometimes provide them with a list of what I'll need from them and wait to see whether they provide it.


Everyone has to start somewhere, so I don't automatically avoid working with clients who have no track record on Upwork. A track record with other freelancers is useful, but I do not think all freelancer feedback is honest or accurate. And I understand that sometimes two strangers will have their differences when working together remotely.


I avoid clients who know next to nothing about what they want me to do for them. I also avoid clients who think they know all there is to know about what they want me to do for them. Collaboration only works when both parties respect the strengths of one another. Working remotely also requires very strong communications skills. If those things are missing, I tell a potential client I'd recommend they use another freelancer. And if I just don't want to allow a client to have the permanent ability to leave feedback for me, that's a good enough reason for me to look for work elsewhere.


My spidey sense about potential clients is not always perfect, but it usually serves me well enough. 



I agree with everything you say. I don´t automatically dismiss working with new clients, in fact I have worked with several such clients already. Two of them left me mediocre feedback because I dared to give them my professional opinion on what I thought would make the final product more successful (one product was a ghostwritten op-ed that ended up being published in an important trade magazine, exactly as the client wanted); despite this, the client rated me low on "cooperation." Another client who was new seemed to know exactly what she wanted for her product, but kept changing the goalposts and giving conflicting directions once we started working together. As a result, I am now much more cautious about taking on new clients because while differences of opinion and working styles are to be expected, I don't enjoy having my JSS "dinged" over and over again by clients who have no history on UW - and thus no record that they are a reasonable work partner beyond what I may perceive in a brief Zoom call - yet have full and unrestricted freedom to impact my JSS (a poorly designed algorithm because of its opacity and rigidity). 


So while having a well developed spidey sense comes in handy, sometimes it's just not enough to determine a client's temperament. And since UW makes private feedback such a decisive, unchangeable factor in calculating JSS, sometimes it is just best to avoid the risk of ending up working with a spoiled brat that has the ability to ruin it. 

Community Member

Oh, and Upwork should automatically suspend the active project(s) of any client for whom Upwork has had to pay freelancer(s) out of its own pocket under its excellent hourly payment protection program, regardless whether the client has made good on what (s)he owes Upwork to repay Upwork's payments to freelancers.


If the payment coverage Upwork has had to repay exceeds the current $2,500 coverage limit the suspension should be permanent until the client provides irrevocable cash in escrow (not through further credit card payments) to cover all future billings for the freelancer,


Such escrow is not currently part of Upwork's payment system. If the client does not comply with this funding requirement, they should be told by Upwork the freelancer will not be able to provide further work to the client.


Some of this may already be happening, but Upwork has never, to my knowledge, addressed what freelancers should do once Upwork has had to provide payment protection on a project beyond the current $2,500 lifetime limit, meaning the freelancer no longer has any payment protection on that client's project(s). Maybe all such clients are permanently suspended, even after they are given a chance to reimburse Upwork in full?


I won't work for an hourly client without payment protecton, especially for a client prone to not paying for work done. And I don't want such a client to be able to leave feedback for me to complain that I refused to work for them. I would want to be able to leave accurate feedback for them, although that may be moot if the client can no longer engage freelancers on Upwork.

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