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kosbik
Member

Very difficult to find high paying clients

Hi Community,
From my personal experience, for some time it's very difficult to find high paying clients. 90% of jobs became underpriced. I am a freelancer and been accepting work from Upwork for several years. What I can say is that it seems great clients have left Upwork. I want to ask my freelance fellows, are you having the same feeling ?

11 REPLIES 11
yasminewriter
Member

I totally have the same feelings. I ended my contract with a client because she wanted to pay me only 10 dollars for deep work that will take more than 20 hours. Many clients are offering work for 5 dollars or less and the sad thing that freelancers accept  to be underpaid because they want any work. The quailty of the clients is getting worse and many of them don't even bother to respond to proposals and the freelancers now have to pay to send propasals for fake or small jobs. 

Although I got top rated  success score many times this year , I don't get any invites to jobs and the few ones I get are very low paid jobs.

The whole situation is very frustating and applying for jobs right now are a waste of time. I hope Upwork protect the freelancers by putting manimum wage for each job and make sure to remove fake jobs and try to attract good clients to the site.  

 

florydev
Member


Kostya B wrote:

Hi Community,
From my personal experience, for some time it's very difficult to find high paying clients. 90% of jobs became underpriced. I am a freelancer and been accepting work from Upwork for several years. What I can say is that it seems great clients have left Upwork. I want to ask my freelance fellows, are you having the same feeling ?


It is very difficult.  Why would it not be difficult?  

 

Really though, to frame it correctly, finding clients on Upwork is easy, convincing them that your value proposition of a higher rate versus someone who is willing to do the work at a lower rate is a tough sell.  And again, why wouldn't it be?

 

If I were selling you ice cream, and you thought all ice cream was the same, all ice cream was vanilla, and you only need vanilla ice cream, then could I sell you the premium expensive brand?  That would be really hard, woulnd't it?

 

What would I have to do to get you to convince you to buy the premium brand?  What would I have to do to convince you to try, I don't know, strawberry.  Chances are good I am going to fail to sell the fancy strawberry ice cream to you.  I might not even be able to sell it to you or to 30 people like you or 100 or perhaps to anyone at all that thinks like that.

 

But what about the person who just wants some great ice cream.  It may be that she thinks great ice cream costs $5.00 a cone...but mine cost $10.00.  Now, I have some work to do, but it's not nearly as impossible as selling to someone who thinks all ice cream should be a $.99 vanilla cone.

 

Everyone wants easy, fast, well done, and free.  Nearly everyone understands you can't get all that.  The trick of any client is figuring out which way they are willing to swing.

 

All of this is philosophical...so for straight up advice...never let ANYONE tell you what a piece of work is worth.  You decide that.  If the client can't or won't do it, so be it, not the client for you.  But don't assume because they attach a number to whatever it is they have any idea what it is worth.  


Mark F wrote:

Really though, to frame it correctly, finding clients on Upwork is easy, convincing them that your value proposition of a higher rate versus someone who is willing to do the work at a lower rate is a tough sell.  And again, why wouldn't it be?

 

If I were selling you ice cream, and you thought all ice cream was the same, all ice cream was vanilla, and you only need vanilla ice cream, then could I sell you the premium expensive brand?  That would be really hard, woulnd't it?

 

What would I have to do to get you to convince you to buy the premium brand?  What would I have to do to convince you to try, I don't know, strawberry.  Chances are good I am going to fail to sell the fancy strawberry ice cream to you.  I might not even be able to sell it to you or to 30 people like you or 100 or perhaps to anyone at all that thinks like that.

 

Excellent point - and you are right on the nose. That said, it comes back to the frustration that many Freelancers have expressed with regard to their "branding options." If I am selling premium ice cream, my storefront and packaging is likely to differ from the generic brand. 

 

I would like to see Upwork continue to innovate with respect to what we can present on our profiles, to give freelancers additional opportunities to ehance our value proposition to potential clients.

Thank you for sharing you thougths, Mark. However, how can I maintain my value if others don't bother ?
I feel these days putting yourself on Upwork is like hopping on the shelf of your local Walmart. Walmart is there to give its customers the lowest prices. I knew I had to start at the bottom and work my way up. But now after few years of hard working I'm feeling the same way as on the beginning.

Obviously, the number of freelancers seeking for the jobs on Upwork is significantly higher than the number of jobs available. Since the market is so competitive, the most popular way for newbies to win their first project is to bid the lowest prices. New freelancers are basically ready to work for unrealistic prices. So the rates expected become so low, that the freelancers who are actually good at what they do and now their worth are suffering.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against competition however the living cost of countries like India and China, Pakistan is so low that freelancer from those countries are ruling the entire freelancing industry.

When I was starting freelancing I felt that most of those people are unqualified and horrible but I wouldn’t say that today I have seen so many freelancers who become good at their work and they are still ridiculously cheap.
This situation makes people from high living cost countries pretty much unable to compete, you can only get so much better with your service and quality of work and if your competitors can do the same or better a lot cheaper you simply cannot compete and cannot continue to make a living as a freelancer.


Kostya B wrote:

Thank you for sharing you thougths, Mark. However, how can I maintain my value if others don't bother ?
I feel these days putting yourself on Upwork is like hopping on the shelf of your local Walmart. Walmart is there to give its customers the lowest prices. I knew I had to start at the bottom and work my way up. But now after few years of hard working I'm feeling the same way as on the beginning.



I agree the marketplace seems very challenging right now. I also believe that Upwork has a vested interested in building a thriving marketplace with high rates and longer term engagements. 

 

Admittedly I find the approach and execution Upwork has taken "weak," and I'm not convinced it will lead to success. That said, I firmly believe they share my goal of a marketplace of higher value projects to support my cost of living and drive more revenue for their share holders. 


Miriam H wrote:

Kostya B wrote:

Thank you for sharing you thougths, Mark. However, how can I maintain my value if others don't bother ?
I feel these days putting yourself on Upwork is like hopping on the shelf of your local Walmart. Walmart is there to give its customers the lowest prices. I knew I had to start at the bottom and work my way up. But now after few years of hard working I'm feeling the same way as on the beginning.



I agree the marketplace seems very challenging right now. I also believe that Upwork has a vested interested in building a thriving marketplace with high rates and longer term engagements. 

 

Admittedly I find the approach and execution Upwork has taken "weak," and I'm not convinced it will lead to success. That said, I firmly believe they share my goal of a marketplace of higher value projects to support my cost of living and drive more revenue for their share holders. 


How should they do it?


Mark F wrote:

Miriam H wrote:

Kostya B wrote:

Thank you for sharing you thougths, Mark. However, how can I maintain my value if others don't bother ?
I feel these days putting yourself on Upwork is like hopping on the shelf of your local Walmart. Walmart is there to give its customers the lowest prices. I knew I had to start at the bottom and work my way up. But now after few years of hard working I'm feeling the same way as on the beginning.



I agree the marketplace seems very challenging right now. I also believe that Upwork has a vested interested in building a thriving marketplace with high rates and longer term engagements. 

 

Admittedly I find the approach and execution Upwork has taken "weak," and I'm not convinced it will lead to success. That said, I firmly believe they share my goal of a marketplace of higher value projects to support my cost of living and drive more revenue for their share holders. 


How should they do it?


While I'm a fan of reducing the "spam" clients often experience, I'm not sure they paid connects is the best approach, particuarly as there is no real feedback loop for clients with poor listings. I know the hope is the market will suss it out, but I would like a more robust feedback loop for poor listings. Someone mentioned in another thread that when a FL gives a "thumbs down" to a listing, it doesn't have any real impact. 

 

I, of course, understand the balance b/t keeping clients happy (and friction low), but instead of charging clients for reports they already received, I would rather create a loop that puts more pressure on the quality of their listings. I mean, we have "rockets" next to our names, why not let clients know 80% of top rated freelancers in their desired area thought their posting "lacked relevant details." (as an example)

 

I would also much rather see a flat rate for proposals. There is so much chatter and frustration about the "value" of a project and it's so far off base from the reality of what these projects deliver.  It's been a quiet summer, which could just be summer, but of course it concided with the new connects policy. I have received interviews for something like 10 jobs since july, two of which I applied to directly and only one of which hired me. And, from what I can tell, the other jobs where I interviewed also have yet to hire.  This seems really low and many of these are clients who have hired in the past. Again, my data is surface and incomplete (not a data scientist), but it's very frustrating.

 

I think subscription pricing is the better approach. More painful in the short term, but I suspect it may create a better match b/t clients with larger budgets and freelancers who they want to hire.  

 

Free plan (buy connects at the current rate)

Subscription plan -  Tiered, but more like the old connects policy, you can apply to certain amount of jobs each month. And maybe there is a way to better match these freelancers with clients.  I haven't completely thought this out. 

 

Finally, I alluded it to previously, there are some very frustrated clients on the board this summer. Now, obviously people who are frustrated "type the loudest," but Upwork appears to have made some tactical errors with regard to how they manage client plans. Changing FL  plans at the same time as Client plans, in my mind, makes it hard to determine which is having more of an impact. Of course, I don't know what level of revenue pressure they are experiencing, just my two cents from the cheap seats.


Miriam H wrote:


While I'm a fan of reducing the "spam" clients often experience, I'm not sure they paid connects is the best approach, particuarly as there is no real feedback loop for clients with poor listings. I know the hope is the market will suss it out, but I would like a more robust feedback loop for poor listings. Someone mentioned in another thread that when a FL gives a "thumbs down" to a listing, it doesn't have any real impact. 

 

I, of course, understand the balance b/t keeping clients happy (and friction low), but instead of charging clients for reports they already received, I would rather create a loop that puts more pressure on the quality of their listings. I mean, we have "rockets" next to our names, why not let clients know 80% of top rated freelancers in their desired area thought their posting "lacked relevant details." (as an example)


I think this is an excellent idea. I've been on the paid connects plan for nearly three months, and from what I've seen, most freelancers have now decided that it's not worth their while to bid on projects with vague descriptions and/or unrealistic budgets. Some clients are undoubtedly completely in the dark as to why they're getting so few responses (and/or only getting responses from sub-par freelancers), and they should be given feedback so that they have an opportunity to adjust their budgets or provide more details; otherwise, Upwork will lose them.


Miriam H wrote:

 

Admittedly I find the approach and execution Upwork has taken "weak," and I'm not convinced it will lead to success. That said, I firmly believe they share my goal of a marketplace of higher value projects to support my cost of living and drive more revenue for their share holders. 


How should they do it?


While I'm a fan of reducing the "spam" clients often experience, I'm not sure they paid connects is the best approach, particuarly as there is no real feedback loop for clients with poor listings. I know the hope is the market will suss it out, but I would like a more robust feedback loop for poor listings. Someone mentioned in another thread that when a FL gives a "thumbs down" to a listing, it doesn't have any real impact. 

 

I, of course, understand the balance b/t keeping clients happy (and friction low), but instead of charging clients for reports they already received, I would rather create a loop that puts more pressure on the quality of their listings. I mean, we have "rockets" next to our names, why not let clients know 80% of top rated freelancers in their desired area thought their posting "lacked relevant details." (as an example)

 

I would also much rather see a flat rate for proposals. There is so much chatter and frustration about the "value" of a project and it's so far off base from the reality of what these projects deliver.  It's been a quiet summer, which could just be summer, but of course it concided with the new connects policy. I have received interviews for something like 10 jobs since july, two of which I applied to directly and only one of which hired me. And, from what I can tell, the other jobs where I interviewed also have yet to hire.  This seems really low and many of these are clients who have hired in the past. Again, my data is surface and incomplete (not a data scientist), but it's very frustrating.

 

I think subscription pricing is the better approach. More painful in the short term, but I suspect it may create a better match b/t clients with larger budgets and freelancers who they want to hire.  

 

Free plan (buy connects at the current rate)

Subscription plan -  Tiered, but more like the old connects policy, you can apply to certain amount of jobs each month. And maybe there is a way to better match these freelancers with clients.  I haven't completely thought this out. 

 

Finally, I alluded it to previously, there are some very frustrated clients on the board this summer. Now, obviously people who are frustrated "type the loudest," but Upwork appears to have made some tactical errors with regard to how they manage client plans. Changing FL  plans at the same time as Client plans, in my mind, makes it hard to determine which is having more of an impact. Of course, I don't know what level of revenue pressure they are experiencing, just my two cents from the cheap seats.


I think these are pretty good ideas across the board and for the most part I would think reasonably implementable by Upwork.  In particular I wonder ever time when I click the thumbs down and select a reason if it matters what reason I use.  The clients are not hiring on a signficiant number of jobs and maybe if they were actually told why people are ignoring their jobs they would know.  There was just yesterday a client complaining about not getting anyone to respond.


Kostya B wrote:

Thank you for sharing you thougths, Mark. However, how can I maintain my value if others don't bother ?
I feel these days putting yourself on Upwork is like hopping on the shelf of your local Walmart. Walmart is there to give its customers the lowest prices. I knew I had to start at the bottom and work my way up. But now after few years of hard working I'm feeling the same way as on the beginning.

Obviously, the number of freelancers seeking for the jobs on Upwork is significantly higher than the number of jobs available. Since the market is so competitive, the most popular way for newbies to win their first project is to bid the lowest prices. New freelancers are basically ready to work for unrealistic prices. So the rates expected become so low, that the freelancers who are actually good at what they do and now their worth are suffering.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against competition however the living cost of countries like India and China, Pakistan is so low that freelancer from those countries are ruling the entire freelancing industry.

When I was starting freelancing I felt that most of those people are unqualified and horrible but I wouldn’t say that today I have seen so many freelancers who become good at their work and they are still ridiculously cheap.
This situation makes people from high living cost countries pretty much unable to compete, you can only get so much better with your service and quality of work and if your competitors can do the same or better a lot cheaper you simply cannot compete and cannot continue to make a living as a freelancer.


Perhaps you are right and it is just a crappy marketplace.  I don't know what you do, what your profile says.  I am a US freelancer, I nearly only look at US jobs so that is perhaps my bias.  I can only speak to what I have experienced...there are good clients out there that want a good solution to their problems and not a cheap one.

 

I feel comfortable saying across the board, no matter where you are, there are clients looking for good solutions to problems, not cheap solutions that lead to more problems.  But I have no proof.  If it is as bad as you say then if I were you I would explore other avenues, which you should do anyway.

Kostya,

 

"Don’t get me wrong, I am not against competition however the living cost of countries like India and China, Pakistan is so low that freelancer from those countries are ruling the entire freelancing industry."

 

No, they are not.The global freelancing industry is probably about $3 trillion. Online freelancer job boards make up about one to five percent of that. The job boards are dominated by third-world low-priced freelancers. The other 95-99% is dominated by solo high-value providers.

 

I sell based on quality. My core strength is identifying the real issues, and the real available levers that can affect and direct them. The vast majority of my competitors are in consultancies and advisory firms and are charged to clients at $200+/hr. When I left that universe nearly twenty years ago I was charged to clients at $500/hr. Today I'm fine with $90/hr and work with smaller ventures because it's a heck of a lot more fun.

 

My clients come to me with existential issues. How do I exploit this once-in-a-lifetime situation? How do I keep from going bankrupt? Shouls I sell my company for $5M? Nobody $5/day gets hired for those jobs. And, few of them are on internet job boards.

 

Seek out offline clients. Today I have passed off all but two long-term clients to another veteran of the $500/hr universe because my mind is in danger of slipping. The only two left refuse to go to anyone else. Such is life.