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1cac6772
Community Member

Upwork Is Officially Dead / It's Become a Cheap Casino Where They Let Anyone In

I've been saying this now since mid 2023, but I fully believe Upwork is officially dead. Up until 2023, I was doing over 100k each year on Upwork. I was Top Rated Plus and very close to Expert Vetted. I never really had to apply to jobs and just received invitations. Around the middle of last year whenever they implemented the boost system is when everything changed. My profile views dropped to ZERO and I couldn't get ANY jobs. I haven't landed a client via Upwork since mid 2023. 

 

* For the love of God, moderators PLEASE do not send me a link on how to improve my profile *

 

Up until January 2024 I had not been playing the bidding/boosting game. I just thought it would be a waste of money. So around January 1st 2024 I decided to give Upwork one last chance and try it. I bought $500 worth of connects to spend for the whole month of January. What I did was a combination of a few different things. I boosted my profile with 75 connects per day. Meaning whenever someone clicked on my profile, I was charged 75 connects. The other thing I did which was less common was boost some direct jobs that I applied to. If I saw a job that really fit, I would boost it and this was usually anywhere from 50 - 100 connects per job. I stopped all boosting February 1st 2024 and here are my results. The vast majority of days Upwork would take out my 75 connects, but I never received a job invite or anything. So I supposed this means somebody clicked on my profile and then left. There were 2 occassions where I received a job invite. The first one was for a $25 job and the other one was for $5 per hour. I did not get or take either one of those jobs. When it came to boosting my propsoal to the #1 spot for anywhere between 50 - 100 connects, I never received a single reply to any of those jobs. So what was the outcome of my $500 test for January 2024................. well basically that I just wasted $500. The point of this test was to see if paying for connects and boosting was the way to get jobs in this new Upwork system. And it clearly is not.

 

But I went several years without having to apply to jobs and making well over 100k to now not being able to land a single job in a year. And now I've played the boost/bidding game and it CLEARLY doesn't work. It's crazy how many freelancers have complained about this system, yet Upwork does not give a crap. Upwork is clearly a drain of money and time at this point. On top of that it seems that so many quality clients have left the platform, which I don't blame them at all. If I posted a job and then my inbox was flooded with hundreds of unqualified people, I would also stop using it. They used to filter results by the most qualified and relevant freelancers. Now they just display whoever pays the most connects. Upwork has now just become this cheap casino full of unqualified freelancers who are willing to buy unlimited connects. At this point, all I can hope for is that someone will start building a new freelancer platform that is good. It's unfortunate that Upwork decided to go this route. But I think it's safe to say that "Upwork Is Now Officially Dead".

 

At this point it's gotten so out of control, it's almost comical. The other day I was playing around with my project catalog, and guess what they had an option for? You guessed it.......the option to boost. Before long every single aspect of the platform will require some sort of paying for connects. Want to log in to your account.....that will be 16 connects. Want to contact support......that will be 16 connects. Want to have the privledge of having an Upwork account.......that will be 16 connects per day. At what point does the corporate GREED stop? But to them it's justified because they had record profits in 2023. Forget that quality people are leaving the platform and it's become worse than Fiverr. But hey as long as the board members and shareholders are happy, everything is all good. 

 

PS

 

Every time I turn on the TV now I see a cheesy Upwork commercial. There is no telling how many millions of dollars they are spending on these lame zombie commercials. Just think if they invested that money back into the platform to make it better. 

 

But no, their marketing plan is to spend millions of dollars on tv commercials to drive new unqualified signups. Then their goal is to milk those people into having to buy connects. Sure, a lot will leave very soon after they realize they can't land a job. But that's ok because their awesome zombie commercials will continue to drive new sign ups. I'm not 100% certain, but I think they might have hired the marketing team from Bud Light for their recent marketing efforts. Now that Upwork has driven away a lot of good clients over the last few years as well as brought it's integrity into question by most freelancers, they've got some serious issues to address moving forward if they ever want to regain the trust of both clients and freelancers. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tR3SRJ0UQ8w

276 REPLIES 276
spectralua
Community Member

That's right. I noticed catastrophic changes and their results in March 2023. It was inevitable.
Upwork sells connects\boosts and milks newcomers. Nothing else. Clients and professionals gone, there are no more jobs.

Seems like the jobs fall under one of these categories:

 

1) Fake Jobs / Scams - This seems like the majority of jobs on the platform.

2) Low Paying Jobs - Clients are literally looking to pay $4 - $5 per hour for highly technical work. Or they want to schedule "FREE CONSULTATIONS" with the most in demand freelancers. Then take that guidance and try to do the work themselves or outsource it for very cheap.

3) Real Jobs - On very rare occassions, I will see what appears to be a real job that pays a fair wage. When you look at how many people have bid on it, it shows 50+. I love how Upwork won't even give you accurate application numbers. They do this because the job has several hundreds of job applicants. And nobody in their right mind would apply to a job with several hundred other candidates. At least not pay connects to do so. 

grimesr
Community Member

Since your profile is not public, I have no clue what industry you are in or what country you are in. Both are huge factors relative to what you  observe.

 

I agree in the categories, but I don't agree with your analysis. 

 

In many countries, low paying projects are the norm since they follow local pay rates. If you aren't in that country, why even consider them?

 

I see real projects all the time. Unless I have waited for days to look, then I rarely (your word) see 50+ proposals. I am in the tech sector as a reference. My opinion is that you are presenting a misrepresentation of the distribution of the numbers.

 

You are welcome to have your opinion on how projects are distributed. However, I think it is time to stop beating a topic that has been cussed and discussed ad nausem by hundreds of freelancers. What we say here has very little impact on Upwork policies, though it feels good sometimes to vent.

 

My suggestion to you, either reign in your comments or find another platform to work on where you feel life is better for you. Do as you wish and you are welcome to do whatever. For me, I am tired of seeing the continuation of this topic. 

 

My $.03 (inflation).

1cac6772
Community Member

Robert

 

I could care less if you agree with my analysis or what your opinion is. You're tired of this topic, yet you just find yourself reading and even commenting on it. That's very interesting. You must be pretty bored to be reading forums that you are sick of and then commenting on. To be honest you sound like a bot. You want me to reign in my comments or leave the platform.....ok moderator.

 

How about you take your .03 and leave this post since you are so sick of reading about it. 

You are completely right in your analysis. In terms of rates, Upwork turned into Fivver overnight.

Yeah, non public profiles that just come here to crap on Upwork for me have the same value of a 30 dollar bill.

I'm one strong critic of the direction that UW is taking, nonetheless  i still find it one of the best platfforms if not the best platform out there.

There's a difference in pointing out flaws and sugesting options or just crapping. Sometimes i feel going the "QAanon" rabbit hole and belive this are just paid profiles that come here to demoralize others.

So where clients gone? 
in Feb and march some clients suggest me they are working via Fiverr I have profile there or not...why so? I said you can hire me here they still suggest me they would like to hire via Fiverr..now this is concerning because it's not from 1-2 clients are heard there are 3-4 client who said like this..and they are paying sound good but what is an issue with Upwork? It need to check

This post from fiverr's forum may help explain (attached). So the freelancers on Fiverr take the hit and the client saves some bucks.

It's up to you to figure what's best; to pay $15 for connects or pay a 20% fee from your income and then take out the exchange fee from what is left...

Capturar.PNG

โ€ƒ

Ohh this is interesting data and useful too! Now I got it why they are choosing Fiverr

Fiverr. You said the word. Because getting out of projects here, can drive into a waste of money. As I got out of projects, I decided to write proposals for jobs. A thing that back in the now sweet 2018 would be straightforward. But to apply to 4 jobs, I had to buy 17 USD of connects, and, probably because I didn't boost any proposal, I didn't get any interview. Probably because I didn't boost. Another thing that I am not liking from Upwork now. You apply to a job, and just because someone decided to bid 50 connects, you should  bost the proposal with a likewise amount, to be considered.

1cac6772
Community Member

Here is an interview with Hayden Brown, the CEO of Upwork. According to her, Upwork did 168.6 million in revenue in 2023, saw a 7% year over year growth, and had profits of 14.4 million adjusted EBITDA. 

 

Personally for me, 2023 was the worst year I've ever had on the platform. For the last 6 months of the year I didn't land a single job. Most of my friends and fellow freelancers were in the same position. So how is it they had record profits for 2023? Well apparently because the platform had an influx of new people signing up. The majority of these people were new to freelancing, have no profile or portfolio built up, and were likely unqualified for most jobs. However, these people were buying up connects left and right because that's how they thought the platform works. Meanwhile qualified freelancers that have been on the platform for years were sitting back and not playing the boost game. 

 

So with the new system, it's all about whoever spends the most connects. You need to spend the most connects if you want your profile displayed on page 1 of the searches. You need to spend the most connects to boost your proposal to the #1 spot if you want the client to see it. Whereas the old system was just about matching the most qualified freelancer to the job, not the most unqualified. It seemed like a win win for everybody. The client got matched up with a quality freelancer and the freelancer got a contract. But I guess for Upwork, there wasn't enough money in that system.

 

It seems like Upwork is ruining their brand/product/service. Yes they may have record profits for 2023, but at what cost? This idea to cash in on this broken system seems short sighted. Sure, maybe it can go on for another year or so. But at some point it has to end because it's not sustainable. All of the quality clients and freelancers will have left. And all of these new freelancers that are signing up will stop buying connects as soon as they realize it's not helping them land a job. At that point, what is left of the platform?

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEKG63kdLRc

45c717ae
Community Member

Hello can will talk 

If it's will's will - will will talk

marjan22
Community Member

Yes they will say improve your profile,your proposal cover is bad, your skills are outdated, they will send you links to buch a nonsense just to get freelancer confused, even if the profile is fine and you are Top Rated. That is all a one big lie, there is nothing worng with your profile.
There are   freelancers here, that spend up to 200USD on proposals and didnt even get a single job.
Yes Upwork dont care about freelancers and clients (and In May last year they fired 150+ employees, so i dont think they care even for employees), anymore beside lot of them complaing and leaving the platform, but that might pointing to bigger problem and that is Upwork will be closed for x period of time and on the run they are taking as much as they can. so freelancers better stop throwing money, or at least stop for some period.

It would be one thing if I was brand new to the platform and hadn't made 1 cent. Then there is a possibility that my profile might need improvement. But as someone who had made over 300k in 3 years, I'm pretty sure the issue I'm having isn't with my profile. 

 

And I get it, these moderators are taught to just reply with these copy and paste messages on how to improve your profile. But it's pretty ridiculous. 

wlyonsatl
Community Member

We'll see in Upwork's upcoming annual report to shareholders whether the volume of work on Upwork increased in 2023 compared to 2022. And the new boosting policy should be to the advantage of skilled freelancers (to the extent Upwork's job/freelancer matching algorithm is usefully accurate).

 

That report was filed on February 15, 2023 for the 2022 fiscal year, so we might see that report for the 2023 fiscal year in the next two weeks.

Don't need to see an annual report to know that the system is broken and it's becoming impossible to find work. 

Going to marketwatch what we get is that the market value in post covid is flattening but with a market cap of 1.6 B. If you compare that with the 800M of Fiverr and the 97M of Freelancer, there is way more trust in UW then it is with the other platfforms.

On the other hand Fiverr is growing fast in revenue (92M in 2023 Q3), but with a 20% fee charge to freelancers that's easy to explain...

Like you i'm curious to see UW 2024 Q1 report.

Also never forget that banks just love money flowing from one account to another, and currently UW beats the competition.

Yeah I curious too

nawaraj_karki
Community Member

This Client's account proves your point.

Screenshot 2024-02-02 014558.png

โ€ƒ

Here is another one,  He posted 33 jobs, has no hires and aplying for his job is 16 Connects or 2.4$ . 

Screenshot 2024-01-30 051228.png

Marian K.,

 

In the new age of Upwork's connects policy, all investors should pay attention to a prospective client's hire rate, which is included on each new job posting under "About The Client".

Hi Will L

In this age of Upwork expensive connects policy, all freelancers shouldnt apply, specialy new freelncers. 

I disagree. I regularly apply to projects I find using the Search function and only apply to very good fits for me and never pay more than 16 connects (and never with boosting). But I'd guess at least half of my new work comes from client invitations. Lucky me.

 

New projects that interest me dropped off during COVID and have only recently begun to increase in numbers in the past month or so. I'm plenty busy now and very sorry to hear so many other freelancers are not having the same experience.

Great for you, but i disagree, and iam not going in to it, and elaborate, but 16 connects for proposal for freelancers that dont charge 90$ per hour is expensive, especially  when there is so little real and good paying jobs. 

With all due respect to all freelancers who have been experiencing difficulties finding new work on Upwork, is paying $2.40 per well-chosen proposal really a deal killer? For a $50 project Upwork only takes $5 now, not the $10 such a project would have cost until recently. Net net, the freelancer now pays Upwork only $7.40 for a $50 job under the current setup, compared to $10 plus the cost of connects before.

 

Of course, if there just aren't any attractive new projects being posted by clients there's no reason to think anything will change any time soon.

is paying $2.40 per well-chosen proposal really a deal killer

freelancer now pays Upwork only $7.40 for a $50

I personally believe Upwork's rotation and the statistics will eventually bring us hires ("best practices" still need to be applied). So I agree with people who said it's volume-based now, where we can simply aim for jobs with values above the cost to make sure it's worth it.

 

But my personal reasons for not doing it, why I refuse to spend $2.40, is because it means I will "submit" to the "scheme/mess they created". That's the main reason I guess. Other reasons include: I'm not a "spend more to get more" person, also not a "risk-taker" person, and dollar value is high to me, I freelance mainly outside, etc.

 

 

But I'd guess at least half of my new work comes from client invitations. Lucky me.

Yes, I read your other thread. It looks like it's the combination of your profile and the niche that still provides you with invites, while your less than 20% proposal view-to-sent ratio is still in the average range for people who have been here for a while. Although, it doesn't matter, when your projects are valued at thousands of dollars each. You'll still profit even without invites.

 

---

 

So, again, I'm saying, I believe most of the people (who used to be "happy" when this place was still a "high-quality freelance marketplace") can still get some hires by having "volume" as the new principles. Just make sure to do it right. Don't spend hundreds for nothing.

 

Proof: Samer spends $1,500 to get 10-15 jobs. That doesn't matter when he can get hundreds/thousands valued jobs each.

 

But if you don't feel like doing it, just stop bidding and observe. Maybe it's true that everything will eventually backfire, or maybe not. Upwork has reasons and the rights for doing all of this, we can either join the game, or not.

lizablau
Community Member

What "rotation"?  The days of Upwork organically and fairly rotating profiles are over.

yofazza
Community Member

I'm not saying the rotation is fair, at least from our point of view. But I have experienced that we can still eventually get jobs, that statistically derived from the "lowered" views of our proposals.

 

I get less than 1 job each month in 2023 because I don't send many proposals. I see Will and Samer's hire ratio, and I believe mine is somewhere between them. Marjan said he needs 30+ proposals to get a job, this is also still in the range.

 

There are people (probably a lot) who have a much lower hire ratio, or worse, doesn't get hired after spending real money for connects. This is where I'd say, "don't get caught in the game".

Ya what is he talking about "rotation"? I've never heard of this. Or maybe I'm still waiting to get my profile "rotated" to page 1 since the beginning of 2023.

If you don't play the casino game of "virtual tokens", Upwork will bury your profile and not show it. And even when you play the connects game, you still aren't guaranteed to get any viable leads. As an example, one day during my test of boosting 75 connects per day, I got a job invite for $25. 

yofazza
Community Member

Profile search and proposal rankings are rotated. Mod contirmed by saying it's "to give everyone an equal chance"  for search, and "not rotated in the same way as search"  for proposals, which means it IS rotated as well. The "perception of opportunity" is rotated to the millions of freelancers so everyone are "incentivized" to try and eventually spend some money. They have many variables in the algo for deciding how long should someone get another chance of hires.

 

We've seen tremendous reports about how irrelevant and new freelancers are being shown as best matches, and qualified ones are thrown into the trash (other) folder. This is the rotation.

 

Skills and history are still counted but weighted very low.

 

Boosts are weighted the most, although your proposal can still jump directly into the trash (other) folder once you're outboosted, if the rotation variable decides so.

 

 

But to say that "they don't need to start thinking about freelancers" is completely ridiculous.

There are many discussions about this already. Tell me why it's ridiculous, or why Upwork need to think about freelancers. I'll reply.

 

For a start, they have 20 million freelancers, 900k clients. So only 900k of freelancers can generate money from project fees, while the remaining 19.1 millions are only putting burden to the cost of their servers. If they ban 19 million freelancers, they will still be okay. Or, they can monetize them instead, it's a lot of mark. Member base is the key on any internet business. We can at least shove ads to them, or better, tell them directly to pay.

Hi Will 
With all due respect, but your math is wrong.
To land one job of 50$ you need to aplly to 30+ jobs not one, so the cost for 50$ job is 30x2.4= 72$ plus that 10%. 
All the best 

yofazza
Community Member

Yes this is true.

 

Will gets 1 job out of 10+ proposals. Samer gets 1 job out of 50- proposals.

 

So, if you're willing to take a risk, or to gamble you may say, make sure it's worth it.

 

We can't really tell Upwork anything. They don't break any law, they don't need to "start thinking about the freelancers", etc. If I'm Upwork I'd do the same. Shareholders happy, management proud.

 

lizablau
Community Member

You are using two extraordinary examples -- Will and Samar. 

 

They are the exception rather than the rule. 

 

The majority of freelancers are spending much, much more sending proposals -- often hundreds which may include boosting  --  typically with low to 0 results.  They're finding most don't even get read.

yofazza
Community Member

Let's take Marjan and me then.

 

In the past 3 months, I sent 18 proposals and got 1 hire. Marjan, as he implies, needs 30+ proposals for a hire.

 

Both of us are better than Samer! We just need to make sure each job we get is worth it to cover the connect cost, as well as the time and stress (for proposing).

 

I then prefer to stop, Marjan tends to write a lot of complaints ๐Ÿ™‚, while Samer keeps playing with volume because he's probably certain that a single job can get him thousands.

 

People who spent more money but with lower results, should stop to not get caught in Upwork's game.

1cac6772
Community Member

I agree that we can't tell Upwork anything. They've made it very clear that they do NOT care about freelancer feedback. But to say that "they don't need to start thinking about freelancers" is completely ridiculous. 


 Will L wrote:

With all due respect to all freelancers who have been experiencing difficulties finding new work on Upwork, is paying $2.40 per well-chosen proposal really a deal killer? 


Will, I have experienced tremendous difficulty finding new work.  During 2023, I applied to about 43 jobs and got 2 (TWO) and, get this, according to Upwork my stats were โ€œabove averageโ€.  Honestly Will, Iโ€™m not trying to be challenging but when I add that up I donโ€™t come up to very much.  And with all due respect, yes, $2.40 to apply for a job is absolutely unadulterated greed when you factor in those miserable stats and the fact that Upwork has no scruples trashing our proposals and it doesnโ€™t matter if itโ€™s boosted or not; if UW decides itโ€™s trash, it's trash.  So, yes, $2.40 is a deal breaker for me.

 

Also, I'm not liking your connects analogy because it only assumes one job and that's not what's going on here.

yofazza
Community Member

During 2023, I applied to about 43 jobs and got 2 (TWO)

That hire ratio is normal now, but if you only sent 43 proposals in 2023, I assume you boosted a lot?

 

I don't boost, but it's discussed a lot, and I have concluded that my decision to not boost is correct.

yofazza
Community Member

I sent 70+ proposals in 2023.

 

I spent $20+ on buying connects in 2023, and that was from money I earned here after completing a job (I don't have any payment method activated).

 

I can send that many proposals because I always get my connects back after an interview with established clients.

 

I don't know for sure, but I'm assuming not everyone gets their connects back after interviews (with established clients). Well, if this is true, it's another example of their game. The algo wants to persuade me to send more proposals, boosts, and eventually, money. Why did they bonus me? It's not a reward but a trick.

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