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I'm presenting a feedback of  my 4 months at Upwork. In June 2022, I began working at upwrk. I've been in 5 bad incidents in the last 4 months.


I'd always heard that people struggle with their first project, yet I finished two in the first two months. My desire prompted me to focus more and take on other projects as I grew.

 First Incident

In August, I was hired $25 to design a landing page and a website content upload tutorial. The client escrowed $10 and asked me to finish the website and deliver a tutorial in two milestones.


I finished my first milestone in 24 hours. When I provided the full landing page, the client disappeared and cancelled the contract after a few days, saying I was late in my delivery. Despite proof that I delivered her in one day and left her dozens of texts.

Second incident
The client hired me for $400 in graphic design. I did the task and gave it to her. She approved my work and ended the contract. The amount was released following upwork evaluation. After a few days, Upwork emailed me and stated that because it was a fraudulent activity, we must withdraw $320 from your profits.


Third Incident

A lawyer hired me in September to build his website. Cost: $350. After I was almost through with my job, with his approval, he abruptly cancelled the contract, saying he no longer desired my work.

He stated he cancelled the contract since he converted from Wordpress to Wix and wouldn't give me a bad review.

Despite stealing my ideas and disappearing to avoid paying,

All proofs are on Upwork chat.

Fourth Incident
In August, this client hired me to develop a 10-page basic website for $125. Each milestone requires three weeks of repetitious work. I requested her to approve the milestone because I submitted the work, but she gave me limitless modifications. Unlimited revisions, additions, and changes.


I worked discreetly to avoid criticism. I'm still new to Upwork, so I kept working. After nearly complete 16 pages, or 80% of the website, malware attacked.

To prevent being bullied if she gave me a bad review, I redone several tasks. I've been doing her job for $25 for the past two and a half months. An experienced developer can create a 10-page WordPress site in 5 to 10 days.

I have no choice to keep on doing her task or she will give bad review.

Fifth Incident

Client hired me to develop a pixel-perfect Figma website in one day for $70 and $17 escrow. He wanted online, mobile, and tablet versions. I gave him the milestone in 24 hours and asked for approval so I could do the same for the other two functions (responsive). The moment he recieved all the work he jsut disappeared He just emailed me a blurry copy. I provided the evidence of my task completion  but he changed his credentials and stopped responding on Upwork. No response to my messages. In a few days, he'll stop the contract.

Some clients have learned to pay in milestones, so they do 90% of the work in the first milestone and then change their credentials so we can't access them.

What's the best method to handle clients that won't approve milestones?
Is that Freelancers must complete their work for fear of a bad review?
Are we going to face the fear of bad feedback forever?
Is the milestone model is good enough and safe?


Community Member

Hi Mehwish,

I don't know where start because there's a lot going on there. I don't want to give you the impression that any of what you're experiencing is your fault. But there is definitely a learning curve in terms of understanding how to assess and deal with clients. And learning to protect and value your own time. 

First off, I think everyone on Upwork should read this article. I don't know if it applies to the situations you've specifically mentioned, but it's useful information to bear in mind.

The reason I'm recommending that is it seems you were working for rates that were quite low before you were offered the $400 graphic design contract. A typical tactic with scammers is to offer someone a contract at a much higher rate than the freelancer has typically been charging. I don't know the details of the contract negotiations, but I wonder if something like that might have happened. That tends to make people accept contracts more quickly with fewer questions.

1) Consider charging more. This might be anti-inuitive to begin with, but it looks like you do work that's high enough quality to support changing more. One issue is that cheap clients tend to be more demanding, and they can be more difficult to deal with.

2) Escrow can work, but you're not using it effectively. In the case of the fifth incident with the three version job, it seems like the first version might have been the most time consuming part of the contract because you're setting up a base for the other two. So if the major part of the work is happening in the first stage, you need to account for that by setting the first milestone up as the largest.

I don't work in the same area, so I'm guessing at that, and I don't have specific advice to give. Hopefully, someone who works in the same area can give you more specific advice about how they handle contracts.

Community Member

That sounds fairly typical (no empirical data to back it up, though!) for people who "heard somewhere" that you need to start low to gain a few jobs with good feedback. That was never a strategy that worked, and I feel sorry for the people who went that way. 

There is a misconception involved, that being that cheap clients equals happy clients, on the premise, I guess, that they should be happy to get their work done for cheap. 

Now, the opposite is true, as many people have found out. Cheap clients are often terrible clients, and on top of all the aggravation, the freelancer's profile is saddled with a debt of small jobs with not great feedback, a debt that has to repaid, if it ever can be. 

If freelancers want to be treated with respect and paid a fair amount, they need to start demanding respect and charging a fair amount. A few jobs that look good on a profile are invariably better than twice or three times the number of jobs with low payment. Even if the feedback is good, the freelancer has put himself into a niche that will be hard to get out of. 

For everybody who hasn't yet found any jobs:

1. Make your profile a perfect shining example of how a profile should look. Time: 5 to 6 days including all the Academy courses. Many more if you have to create a portfolio to go with it. 2. Learn to write good proposals. Time to learn: 1 day. 3. Apply to jobs with good pay. Know your worth.    

And please don't listen to anybody telling you you need to start cheap. It is not true. Finally: of course all this advice is only valid and will work for people who are REALLY GOOD at the skills they are offering. If you are not, learn a skill first. 

Community Member

Yes, I'm also noticing, there are some bad clients here. I stay away from such clients as much as possible. 

How can I avoid these types of clients?

I will apply if client verified payment method, 4+ rating, 75% hiring rate.


I agree. It's a good idea to look at the client history and the rating. 

Verified payment on its own isn't a guarantee of anything because clients can sometimes register with stolen credit cards. But if you consider it together with the rating and the history, you can get a better picture of what the client is like to work with. 

Community Member

First place to start - stop accepting fixed rate contracts!

Instead, suggest an hourly rate UP TO the fixed amount that the client is proposing.  Example - client has $200 fixed rate contract, try to convert it to hourly by proposing $25/hour up to (but not exceeding) $200.  Doing this will provide you with the ability to use the time tracker and Upwork's payment gauruntee.  It also gives you screenshots while you are working (for transparency).

You should note that it does not protect against bad reviews or bad clients.  But at least you'll get paid and that payment is covered.


As far as bad clients - yes, there is no shortage of them on Upwork.  Pay attention to the job postings.  Often, the job postings provide hints that you may be dealing with a bad client.  Either the way a job posting is worded or little hints that reveal the job poster has no idea of the job they are hiring for or need completed.  The ability to spot these comes with time and you'll get better the longer you stick with it.  Hang in there!  

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