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Re: Why Are Fixed Rate Jobs Made So Difficult?

Community Leader
Patrick P Member Since: Jun 17, 2015
1 of 25

Hi there, guys.

 

I've been on Upwork about a month - with some success - but  the experience has been very underwhelming so far (that seems to be a theme here).

 

I started on Elance in March and opened up an Upwork account after the rebranding in May. Based on my early success on Elance, I figured this would be a breeze. Not exactly the case. As has been mentioned elsewhere, quality jobs seem to be near nonexistent for writers, and the number of clients who post jobs and then leave them to stagnate (while my connects dwindle and time spent on cover letters mounts) is maddening.

 

My biggest issue, though, is how difficult Upwork makes fixed rate jobs. I do not (and will not) use TimeTracker (which, that's a whole other thing). On Elance, this was no problem. If a client posted an hourly job, I could almost always suggest a fixed rate and the client would be amenable to the change. All we had to do was change the terms (which was something I could do on my own). On Upwork, this is impossible. For whatever reason, fixed rate jobs can be made hourly, but hourly jobs cannot be made fixed rate. Here, if a client who posted an hourly job wants to hire me, they need to create a brand new job. This is simple enough, but the process is a waste of their time, and I end up having to copy/paste sections of Upwork's FAQ to make things easier on them.

 

Then there is the matter of milestones and submitting work. Under Elance, I could (and still can) modify the terms of a contract, then submit those terms to the client for approval. It allowed me to 1) set the milestones I know would be effective on short-term projects, 2) submit work on long-term projects in installments, with a new milestone created after each submission. On Upwork, only the client can set milestones, which means 1) despite knowing the schedules I work best with, I cannot set those schedules myself, and must walk new clients through the process, 2) if I submit an installment on a large project, I need to wait for the client to set a new milestone before I can submit more work/request further payment.

 

I discovered this last point recently, when I submitted a small installment on a much larger project, then found out I could not submit more work to this client without first "Request[ing] more work from this client." Great. Thanks.

 

It's frustrating and disheartening, especially since I can't just flip back over to Elance. Not only is it dead in the water a few months from now, the level of client quality there has significantly dropped since Upwork opened.

 

I get that this is a running theme here so far, but for a company that was hoping to dramatically increase the flow of online freelance work, I am baffled by how difficult and frustrating it is to connect with quality clients, and how the site seems to tie an arm behind freelancers' backs, especially if they don't want to work on an hourly model.

Community Guru
Nichola L Member Since: Mar 13, 2015
2 of 25

Patrick, I have only had a couple of jobs, since Upwork started, and like you, I only work on a fixed-rate basis. The jobs I had were small, so there was no problem with the milestones. One of them was hourly, but at my request, my client was able to switch from hourly to fixed-rate without any problems. So I am not quite sure where this idea that it is not possible to switch comes from.

 

Several people on the Elance forum have been concerned about this. So it would be good to get some clarification as to how a switch really works from a mod.

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Ace Contributor
Jaime L Member Since: May 11, 2015
3 of 25

Just out of curiosity, why are you so against using the time tracker?

Community Guru
Nichola L Member Since: Mar 13, 2015
4 of 25

I don't do big brother, and I have been freelancing since long before the internet or time trackers were even heard of. Quite simply, they paralyze me!

 

Let's hear from Patrick. Smiley Happy

Community Guru
Sandra T Member Since: Nov 26, 2014
5 of 25

@Nichola L wrote:

 Quite simply, they paralyze me!

 


 I hear you.

 

I quite often offer fixed-price rates on hourly proposals because I like how then both parties know how much it is going to cost right away, and I can take bathroom/coffee/balcony breaks without turning the thing on and off. I too had to guide clients through the process of switching/setting up new contracts.

 

I didn't work much through Elance and don't remember the set-ups and features, but the idea about setting up milestones from the freelancer's side in the original posting sounds handy to me. Some clients are cool and set the whole thing up before even inviting, with others you have to go through the whole "let's do X milestone for this, Y milestone for that" and "ask" them to set the whole thing up. Nothing wrong about a bit more freedom for freelancers to share control over the whole set-up.

Community Leader
Patrick P Member Since: Jun 17, 2015
6 of 25

@Jaime L wrote:

Just out of curiosity, why are you so against using the time tracker?


  1. I find it invasive. I work from my personal computer, and while I do what I can to separate the work elements from my private, at-home elements, the idea that clients can get a peek at my professional bookmarks, search history, file directories (including folders named for other projects), professional email (which is a major part of my work with clients), etc. I feel is very unprofessional.
  2. It impacts my ability to rove between projects. I keep multiple projects from multiple clients on the go at any given time - through both Elance and Upwork - and if I hit writer's block on one, I'll switch over to another, even if only for 30 seconds, to try to re-energize. In any given five minute span, I could write a valuable snippet of content for three or four different clients.
  3. It doesn't capture offline work. While I generally do sentence-by-sentence work in MS Word, I use paper and pen for structural drafting and planning. Time tracker has no way of reflecting this work.
  4. Fixed rates stop cost overruns. I'm still somewhat new to freelancing, and still make occasional mistakes re: time estimates for projects. Fixed rates mean that if I have to work twice as long to produce something I'm proud of, I can, and I don't need to worry about blindsiding my client with way more hours than they expected
Community Guru
Douglas Michael M Member Since: May 22, 2015
7 of 25

@Jaime L wrote:

Just out of curiosity, why are you so against using the time tracker?


Wouldn't stand a real-life boss or client breathing down my neck. Ditto for a mechanized one.

 

Though most of my editing is done at the computer, it may involve activities extraneous to the work file; that's a given, and this is the one and only time I want to explain that. For that matter, I have one client who prefers traditional hand markup on hard copy.

 

Though I take few writing jobs, I can be anywhere—washing dishes, say—and be writing.

 

I don't sell my time. Been there, done that. I sell results. If I underestimate the time it takes to get something right, I eat it. That's my lookout, not the client's.

 

Best,

Michael 

 

[edit:] I posted this before seeing Patrick's reply. Any similarities are entirely professional. B^)

Community Guru
Krisztina U Member Since: Aug 7, 2009
8 of 25

Converting an hourly job to a fixed price one works exactly the same way as converting a fixed price one to hourly does (unless there's a beta test going on that I am not a part of). In short, both contract type changes require a new contract.

Community Guru
Iftikhar I Member Since: Mar 10, 2015
9 of 25

I recently get hired on hourly job but i hardly work on hourly job so I ask the client if he can make a fixed price job but he said he still can  send payment as milestone or bonus so there is no need to do another contract and I get paid without adding hours.

Community Leader
Patrick P Member Since: Jun 17, 2015
10 of 25

@Iftikhar I wrote:

I recently get hired on hourly job but i hardly work on hourly job so I ask the client if he can make a fixed price job but he said he still can  send payment as milestone or bonus so there is no need to do another contract and I get paid without adding hours.


Did not know this was possible. Are these milestones still pre-funded through escrow?

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