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Discouraged; I have quite a few questions and would like constructive help in being successful.

I just started my profile around one month ago, and I've had some great luck landing some jobs. My second week, I was even invited to two design jobs- I'm not sure how or why, but I completed one of them even with a five star review.


My most recent client was a wreck; it was a simple job of making NEXT and PREVIOUS logos for a hundred bucks. Before I accepted the contract, they messaged me, asked if I could design logos for a bunch of brands on their website, etc, and I said OK. They then send really convoluted instructions about it, to which I asked them to clarify a little bit more in detail before I began the project. Two days later, they reply, and within 24 hours after that I had sent them drafts to see how they liked it. They said it was great, gave me feedback, and within 3 days from starting I submitted the final results. I asked them to check over before I closed the contract, they didn't say a word for another day, and on the last day of the contract I closed it. They, within 20 minutes, left me 4.24 total star feedback. I got a 4/5 for timelieness and a 3/5 for creativity. I really am upset that they wouldn't have said these graphics lacked creativity when i sent them draft 1, draft 2. After this review hit my profile, boom, rising talent badge dissappeared.


I'm feeling very discouraged Proposals aren't getting answered, Upwork is highly competitive. 


Here are my questions;


+ How dire is the situation of getting average reviews on your profile? Is this somehing I'll encounter often and just have to live with? How much can this impact my future with Upwork?


+At what point here do I have to stop grinding proposals and I actually begin to get offers? Should this already be happening and is it perhaps because of the way I set up my profile?


It's my first forray into the professional world and I'm trying to do the best I can. The 4 star fiasco with my last client has me re-examining everything and seeking added help and advice.


Let me know what you think and I'll be open to anything constructive that can help. Thanks so much in advance.


Addison B wrote:

Here are my questions;


+ How dire is the situation of getting average reviews on your profile? Is this somehing I'll encounter often and just have to live with? How much can this impact my future with Upwork?

It is not the end of the world, but there seems to be something they were not thrilled with.  Whether you will encounter it often or not depends on how carefully you choose your clients (paying particular attention to the feedback they left other freelancers...) - how well you communicate and how well you manage your contracts and clients.


As to how much it will affect you: That actually depends on the private feedback the clients who marked you down left for you. Because that is what will feed into your Job Success Score which you will get soon. Half your clients with completed contracts marked you down on skills and quality so you need to take a step back and take a long, hard and critical look at how your stuff stacks up against the competition / professional standards.


I must say, to my eye your portfolio is a bit underwhelming (you should use your very best, most creative creations - I am a little stunned at the choice of futuristic neons to advertise icecream from happy cows) and I don't really see much evidence of professional training / experience / education in the creative design area on your profile.


Also, what is that indecent rush to close a contract? Let clients do that!


Addison B wrote:


+At what point here do I have to stop grinding proposals and I actually begin to get offers? Should this already be happening and is it perhaps because of the way I set up my profile?

That will NOT happen within a handful of contracts and for a hell of a lot of people it will never happen at all.  You are in one of the most competitive categories on Upwork and most (the vast majority) of newbies never even manage to win their first contract.

If you can build up a nice portfolio of long-term and repeat clients you may get to a point where you will be fine with just invites eventually, but not yet and possibly not ever.


Petra, I wouldn't say I'm in a rush to close the contract, I just want to make sure my work is submitted before the contract deadline- as I said with the one client, having submitted work a day early, I was still given a 4/5 for timliness. But enough about them.


As far as work experience and my portfolio- I suppose more professoinal works being shown off will be more impressive to clients. Could you give me any more tips/ advice/ feedback to make my profile the best it can be for where I'm at in the time being? The professional experience is something I'm going to need to be building here at upwork and not something I have to present right off the bat, I'm trying here.


Thanks for the thoughtful response.

Both Petra and Renata have offered solid advice. I'm commenting about one specific thing: timing of closing contracts. You're missing the point on this because you haven't done adequate homework about how the platform works. There is no need to close a contract in order to submit work or be paid. I've had contract sit idle for years for a client who kept adding milestones until she didn't need to any more, and then never got around to closing them. They finally aged out of my JSS calculation window. As a FL, you want your clients to close contracts if possible, because then they are forced to leave feedback. If you close a contract, then the client is notified and invited to leave feedback but there's no guarantee they will get around to doing it.



Hi Addison,

I'm not going to address your questions in terms of how things are going to evolve in your freelancing life. That might depend how you evolve as a designer. All I'm going to say is, if you really want to go for it, don't get discouraged by responses like this.

One thing I am going to share is that graphic design has got to be one of the toughest gigs going in terms of the client relations learning curve because the quality of any visual deliverable is going highly subjective. Even if you have admirable communication skills, clients often can't express what they want in visual terms and/or often don't even know what that is to begin with and/or change their mind midstream without any outward indicators. So if you want to stick it out as a designer, you're probably going to need to deveop a sense of humour and a really tough hide in response to this, and of course some ninja-level communications skills. And you might need to learn how to get a feel for clients who might be harder to deal with and how to make some choices about whether you think you can work with them or not.

I once had a job doing QA for a media company that did a lot of websites. One of my jobs was to check to make sure the work the web designers were producing matched up with the work orders, and to send stuff back for changes when it didn't. Something that crossed my desktop was a classic "difficult client" work order. It was for a carpet company. The owner had clearly stated the following: I want it grey and beige, and don't make it boring!

I sent it to the project manager with a question: How the *@*! can I tell if we've achieved this?

Figuring out how to work with incomprehensible statements like this is part of the art of being a designer. Please see question #1 at the link below. To some degree this might be a factor in deciding what you want to do.

These are also a good references:


I appreciate your response Renata- I've got to bulldoze my way through this!

Addison, I can't judge the artistic merit of neon cows for an ice cream ad, but endorphins is misspelled, unless your client wanted it misspelled, so maybe you can modify it after the fact. 

"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce
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