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What happened to the freelancer/upwork market? Or is it Me?

I'm a senior full stack developer / tech lead.


2020 was an aweome year for me. For the first time in my life I was working with 2-3 clients a time, made enough to move out of my parents' place, and felt (for the first time in my life) that I wasn't going to get fired out of the blue. I was able to take ownership of projects, build them, deploy them, and produced projects that people liked.


But then near the end of 2021, things started to slow down. Clients started ghosting, or claiming I didn't have enough experience, or--more commonly--deciding to move in a different direction.


It's not just upwork, either. I've done probably over 200 interviews in 2022, and no matter how I approach it, the client/employer always passes.


Here's my strategy that was magic in 2020 (but not serving me now):


1. Post content like crazy. Blog, blogs, and more blogs! And a few videos for good measure. And the blogs provide value, too; it's not just my insane ramblings (though I do slip one in a paragraph here or there).

2. Interact with the community. Reply to EVERYONE's comment. Repost someone's comment if I think it's valuable (especially if I think it's *under*valued)

3. When I send out cover letters, I focus on what I can do for the client/employer, focusing on asking what they need in order to bring them greater success. And, yes, I always include a call to action (referencing my website, which I designed to tell people exactly what I do and who I'm here for!)

4. On the initial call I jump right in to listening to what the client is looking for and walking through how I'd go about it, scoping out the project work. If I need to do a little more research before placing a bid, I give them a timetable when to expect an answer. Otherwise, I say the bid right there.


This formula worked in 2020, so I stuck with it. But I started to see in 2021 that things were going downhill. Now I get bombarded by crappy recruiters that want me to do a 50-stage interview process that includes licking hot coals. But I've somehow lost that 2020 magic that I can't get back.


I've tried messaging previous clients as well, but all have gone silent.


I've spent many hours just reflecing, trying to find out what thing I was doing right in 2020 that isn't working now. And I'm at whits end. I can't figure it out.


Any ideas? Has anyone else noticed this?

Community Member

Are you focused solely on using Upwork? I'm also struggling on the platform, and I've been using it since the oDesk days. The platform's settings and features keep changing (including the categories), and its setup is a bit like pushing someone into a box they won't fit in. 

Sorry for the delayed reply.


No I'm on other freelancing sites as well. Although UpWork has been where I've had the most success.

Community Member

I think a lot of it is poor client management. There aer so many spammers and scammers now it's crazy. At least 30-50% of the jobs I apply for are either scammers or people who never hire anyone and just let the job expire a month later (oh and you then lose the connects you used to apply).


Until UW gets the spammer/scammers under control, it's going to continue to go down hill. They need to apply a more rigorous process for onboarding clients.

Community Member

Downfall in all categories, no hiring, no jobs, no invites, fake clients, fake interviews, fake job posting, low-paid jobs, asking demo you mean free work even you are top rated, lol


high commission charges client and freelancer on both sides.

boosting proposal,

Mini Fiverr ( project catalog)

private client feedback.

proposal not boosting according to qualification, experienced, achievements, rating, and job score. even low-rated and new freelancers show top in the job post.


3 months 960 jobs applied got hired 1 time, original proposal non of generic 

wasted in connects more than 400usd.


currently just feeding Upwork nothing in return can not survive now.






I'm afraid you are not sending job applications with right focus and right approach. Are you sending same bids to all projects? Then chances of rejection are very high.

If you send individually crafted bids for jobs, the chances of getting interviewd and hired increase significantly. Here is my chart of last 90 days:


If I include two jobs that I landed in the last 18 hours, then my hiring numbers go to 6 in the last 90 days.

All these jobs are long term, although low paying. But, as my father used to say "it is better to sell a $5 item 500 times than to sell a $500 item just one time." 

I already have one higher paying, long term job at hand so all these small jobs are taking care of my small expenses.

I had earlier written how to change one's approach to bidding for jobs. If I can find that post, I'll repost it for the larger benefit.

90-days chart.jpg


Very true Hassan,

- you described exactly how I feel about all new features and updates..


No response at all and I tried different methods in my cover letters and overall approach to clients. Also I top rated, if that even means anything anymore.


Previous 2 years it was different and better I think..I don't know what is the reason or is it just in my category of work(3d arch viz) or the whole marketplace..

Community Member

Hi Jordan,

Here is your problem -This formula worked in 2020, so I stuck with it.

You are following a strategy which is 2 years old, which worked in a totally different global environment (lockdowns).

For example, I got inundated with transcription orders during that time (because every office meeting, webinars were happening online), and the price was great. But now, the same offers, clients have disappeared becasue now they are again having meetings at their workplaces. 

Now, the competition in freelancing has gone up considerably since a lot many people lost their jobs/ have not been able to get a job after the lockdowns. 

They feel, the easiest way to earn money is -

  1. by trading stocks or forex
  2. by becoming a freelancer

I am a day trader, so trust me, stocks and forex markets have gone through the same churing earlier. Brokerage houses increased their fees, imposed various restrictions to stop people from gambling in markets.

So, nothing is worng with you or your talent. You just have to change your strategy. 

I can say this now, with confidence becasue a few hours ago, I got two jobs within hours of each other after changing my job-applying approach. I want to write a seperate post for that to help all other freelancers.

Good luck & don't lose heart. We are all in this together.

Community Member

I facing same problem as a 3d freelancer, I'm top rated and fits the job descriptions but nobody is even replying to my offers... Also the current pricing for complex jobs is being very out and maybe they waiting free work? I facing this since october when my client finished Our long term contract and I had to back searching new contracts... But this is being very difficult, I think the pandemic times and this war is causing that.

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