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danielmfriedman
Community Member

Upwork no longer viable: Why have connects increased and other problems

I am a top-rated freelancer with great reviews and an 100% job success rate. I am finding it impossible to make anything close to decent money on Upwork, whereas in the past I did well. I wanted to reach out to see if any other freelancers are experiencing similar problems. There are two factors I would imagine fueling this problem...

 

1) Connects - applying for a job used to take between 2 and 6 connects, now it takes between 8 and 16. Has this change been made because Upwork wasn't making enough money?

2) ChatGPT - this is a bigger and deeper problem than the one regarding connects - I am a writer and since the rise of ChatGPT I get a small percentage of the work I used to get. 

 

If anyone has any insights (especially on the first problem, as the second problem - of writing becoming obsolete thanks to AI, is not really possible to solve), please let me know. It may just be good to learn if others are going through the same thing. 

ACCEPTED SOLUTION

There are too many freelancers in general, and clients know that they can pay low rates for non-AI, professionally written content, as it seems, like on an eBay site for example, price is king, regardless of quality.

 

Seems like there aren't enough hours in the day to write enough 1,000 word, thoroughly thought out pieces of content to make it worth the time, to get $20, minus Upwork's cut.

 

The trick is to find the diamonds in the rough, that you can uniquely serve, who are willing to pay decent wages, but yet again, the cost of connects is higher now, and to come back full circle, too many people competing. These are the corporate clients, who are willing to pay the higher rates for true quality.

 

Try, try again. There are other sites, and other ways to market a writing business as well. I have been putting most of my eggs in the Upwork basket, and need to expand my horizons.

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10 REPLIES 10
2ef54d61
Community Member

Rest assured you are not alone in the "AI is ruining my field" boat. I work in post-production and every day I see fancy new tools that can do in seconds what it used to take an experienced professional half an hour to do. But the AI revolution is here, whether we like it or not. We have to learn how to utilize these AI tools to stay relevant or change careers. 

 

 

celgins
Community Member

Many freelancers are experiencing the same.

 

1) Connects - applying for a job used to take between 2 and 6 connects, now it takes between 8 and 16. Has this change been made because Upwork wasn't making enough money?

In my opinion, yes. Upwork had never made a profilt until a recent quarter, so they are always looking for ways generate more income.

 

2) ChatGPT - this is a bigger and deeper problem than the one regarding connects - I am a writer and since the rise of ChatGPT I get a small percentage of the work I used to get.

I think the drop in jobs wins for many freelancers started a little before ChatGPT became a hit. OpenAI released a demo of ChatGPT in November 2022. By December 4, 2022, it had over one million users. In January 2023, ChatGPT reached over 100 million users. Many freelancers started seeing declines as far back as November 2022 when many people had never heard of ChatGPT. But I have no doubt the increased use of ChatGPT throughout 2023 has contributed to the problem--especially for writers.

 

Aside from Connects and ChatGPT, the issue can also be attributed to the sheer volume of freelancers on the site. I would add:

 

3) Total Active Freelancers - The total number jumps around, but it's probably somewhere between 4-8 million. By "active," I mean those who use the platform daily, weekly, monthly, etc. to seek work opportunities. This number freelancers affect search results, and the more freelancers you have, the more profiles there will be to clog up search results. And, search results are shown on a rotating basis, which means profiles--whether they are Top-Rated, Top-Rated Plus, Expert-Vetted, or not--are getting pushed around quite a bit. Since clients may not be seeing your profile in search results as much, your chance of getting invites decreases.

 

4) Competition - More freelancers means more competition. If you ignore ChatGPT, the higher number of freelancers includes writers, so any drop in available jobs would likely happen anyway. Upwork eliminated most barriers to entry, so anybody with a pulse can create a profile and setup shop.

benjackonwriter
Community Member

I've found myself, as a freelancer on this site and others, that the combination of COVID and AI tools has really hit hard.

 

COVID started it, flooding the market with freelancers, and then AI tools came in straight after. My earnings as a freelancer have never reached the peak they were in 2021/2022, and I think I'm probably making 80% less than I was two years ago. 


I think the posters above are right with what they've said about competition and AI. We either need to adapt and find new ways to earn an income, or look for other fields where there's more room for growth.


Unfortunately, a lot of people still want their written content AI-free. However, they don't want to pay anywhere close to what it's worth to create that content. 


The sheer number of jobs posted on this site and others where buyers want 1000-words of SEO content, including photos, native-English speakers, topic research, keyword research, and on and on, but they're only paying $5-10 for it is simply staggering. 

 

If anyone asks me about working as a freelancer these days, especially as a writer, I tell them to consider a different career seriously before they commit to this one. 

There are too many freelancers in general, and clients know that they can pay low rates for non-AI, professionally written content, as it seems, like on an eBay site for example, price is king, regardless of quality.

 

Seems like there aren't enough hours in the day to write enough 1,000 word, thoroughly thought out pieces of content to make it worth the time, to get $20, minus Upwork's cut.

 

The trick is to find the diamonds in the rough, that you can uniquely serve, who are willing to pay decent wages, but yet again, the cost of connects is higher now, and to come back full circle, too many people competing. These are the corporate clients, who are willing to pay the higher rates for true quality.

 

Try, try again. There are other sites, and other ways to market a writing business as well. I have been putting most of my eggs in the Upwork basket, and need to expand my horizons.

2a05aa63
Community Member

If chatGPT can do your job it means it's time to change jobs.

Sorry but to me that seems naive and glib. AI is machine learning, and the point is for these models to be able to improve. So at the moment, sure, there are jobs that AI can't do.

 

My speciality is comedy writing, and AI certainly can't do that yet. But because comedy writing is very niche, my bread and butter is work such as blogging, YouTube scriptwriting, and web copy. I would argue that human beings do a much better job with this work than ChatGPT, but many clients are willing to put up with a dip in quality if it means receiving work for free without having to deal with a freelancer. So in that sense, the amount of work for freelance writers has dramatically decreased.

 

Furthermore, if you accept that these AI tools will only increase in power, there may come a time when ChatGPT can write better than the average person. And this is only one job that will be affected. According to my research, AI could in the future replace coders, developers, software engineers, data analysts, in fact most kinds of analysts, teachers, financial advisors, graphic designers, and accountants. So I would agree with your comment if AI was being designed to take on drudge work that people don't want, but its not. It's being trained to take over most of the jobs that enable middle class people to live a decent life.

 

So when you speak of people changing jobs, my question would be to what? Should we all become farmers? 

Haha, farmers... As silly as it sounds, it's almost right when you consider that AI is now doing coding, video, editing, writing, social media, and a lot more. My opinion is that as giants such as Google develop their own AI, they'll start to identify content that's written by other AI programs as ChatGPT, and penalize people who don't use their programs.

 

Creative writing, such as fiction, is still fairly viable if you have the skills to do it. 

AI models improve only from human data. They cannot write anything better than the average they can find on the internet. You only see the "good" AI creations, not how many hours you need to randomly generate stuff to get something half decent.

AI will never do comedy. Comedy is so specific for everyone and evolving all the time with each generations. It's like asking AI to create a new recipe while they don't have a mouth or digestive system. Sure, it will be able to create something after the joke is old and everyone is already tired of it.

ritecraft
Community Member

I am in the same boat. With 100%JSS and excellent feedback from clients, it is almost impossible to get work. And, yes, the number of connects seems to have drastically increased. Not only that, thanks to the connects used for boosting, that many freelancers do, it has become expensive to use this platform. 

I am really sorry to hear, it is good to know I'm not alone, but it's sad the way freelancing is becoming an impossible way to make a living. 

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