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Upwork: The most frustrating way to find work ...


So far I find Upwork to be the most frustrating way to find work that I've ever tried. Please see the attached file as my exhibit. I'm a new freelancer here, so of course I have no success score. I am not designated a "Rising Talent" even though I met all the requirements immediately. I have no Upwork hours, much less "at least 100 hours," and so on and so forth. The bids that I have submitted were custom tailored (as recommended) to each client, which was time consuming--I received no acknowledgement that they were received (or read). After reading at least 100 jobs, according to the Preferred Qualifications I'm not qualified for at least 95% of them, nevermind my 25 years of experience.


I see no way to filter out the jobs I'm not qualified for per the "Preferred Qualifications." Is there a filter? If so, where is it please? If not, why isn't there one? Regarding these preferred qualifications, am I just supposed to ignore them and submit proposals anyway and hope for the best? I'm really not getting how this works. Endlessly submitting tailored bids when one does not meet the "Preferred Qualifcations" is no work at all. It is more like an excercise in killing your own soul.


Yes, I'm sure you all have heard similar complaints to these over and over, but Upwork really isn't shaping up to be a viable option, at least for me. I don't have the time to scroll through dozens and dozens of jobs every day that require a job success score of 90% and numerous Upwork hours that I don't have.


If I'm missing something here, would someone please talk me down? Otherwise, I'll try submitting another bid or two for jobs I'm not qualified for to see if anything happens, but I really don't think Upwork is for me.


Thank you.





Community Member

Yes Tom it is frustrating and challenging.  But the frustration part doesn't end even if you get the job the tasks often become frsutrating as well.


hang in there, you will strike a job and you will break the ceiling.

Community Member

Hi Tom,

I'm sorry that you're feeling discouraged but I'd urge you not to give up.

It can take some time to land the first gig. Please keep in mind that these are just preferences set by the client and are not requirements whatsoever. If you have an interest in a client's project that you know you're absolutely qualified for and confident in your ability to complete the job successfully or even excel at it, then by all means do apply with a terrific proposal.

Community Member

Hi Tom,


I agree 100% to what you said. Every day am going through the same:(

Community Member



I've been getting projects through Upwork and its predecessor for a few years. 


I estimate about 7% - 8% of my applications have actually turned into paying jobs - it can be a lot of work just getting work here, depending on how competitive your pricing is and whether your particular specialty already has lots of active low-cost freelancers.


Initially you should consider submitting your bids at the low end of the range of what other bids on the same project have been so far - there are a lot of penny-pinching clients on Upwork who will look at the lowest bids first. (The number and range of current bids on a particular project is available on the project's page, unless you are on the "basic" freelancer program.)


You might even start the cover letter for all your bids with something like, "I am a new freelancer here on Upwork. I am highly experienced in ___________. My bid on your project is lower than I will be offering six months from now, but at this point my main goal is to take on challenging projects like yours to establish my reputation for future clients." If you can show a potential client that your skills are significantly greater than other low bidders on a project, that might give you an advantage. Over time, as you build a portfolio of work here on Upwork, you can gradually up your bid pricing.


Keep in mind that Upwork defaults the minimum Jobs Success Score in client job posts to "above 90." But not all clients use the minimum JSS requirement as a hard requirement, so try ignoring that requirement for a couple of weeks' worth of proposals and see if you get more interest from potential clients.


Also, you may not need a completely unique cover letter for each job you apply to. A template with a number of empty spaces to customize for each project, as long as you can make it look and sound personalized, can save you a lot of time in your applications.


Hope this helps. 



@Will L wrote:


Initially you should consider submitting your bids at the low end of the range of what other bids

Lol 😀 



 Hope this helps. 

I'm sure you do. But it doesn't. It's totally silly. It's the best way to establish yourself as a cheap provider and to attract nightmare clients and scammers.

"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless
Community Member

We each started with no JSS and zero UW hours. Here are some quick tips:


1) Revamp your profile keeping in mind that clients only see the first two lines unless they click it open, so those first two lines have to grab them. What can you do for them? They don't care where your first job was. Pretend you're a client and search for FLs with skills and credentials comparable to your own. Find the ones who seem to be thriving and study their profiles and portfolios.

2) Ignore the Preferred Qualifications and target jobs you know you knock out of the park.

3) Your primary objective to start with is establishing a strong track record. You want to complete enough contracts to get a JSS going.

4) Initially, set your rate at the low end of the range you want to operate in--but not so low that you'll attract bottom feeders and cheapskates. And be willing to bid on a small job at an even lower rate.

5) At the same time, be selective about clients. Don't accept a contract unless/until the project scope and schedule are clearly defined. For hourly, be sure you and client are on same page about how many hours are expected per week and for the whole project; and manual versus tracked hours. For fixed price, be sure at least the first milestone is funded in escrow before you start work. Don't accept a contract if payment method isn't verified. AND use your spidey sense--even if logistical boxes are checked, if client seems problematic in any way, stop. When it comes to problem clients on UW, there are more ways a FL can get screwed on feedback, than there are to escape that fate.

6) Keep cover letters short and sweet and make sure the first two lines hook the client into opening the document.


Good luck!

I feel as if this is a super easy complaint to make, but I found that with some extra work I was able to tailor my Cover Letters so that they were specific for each client.


Also, don't try and underbid for projects. When you think about it, it really establishes you as somebody who, in the eyes of the client, is providing cheap, low-quality work. I would rather hire someone who proposed in the median, rather than the cheapest option. 


Quite honestly, the best piece of advice: spend time on the Cover Letter. For every job I applied to in the past week, I never met the preffered qualifications, but my Cover Letter set me apart. 


Also, don't get discouraged! Keep on trying. Once you get that first job, you'll feel like this successful feeling rush through you. It's amazing.


Best of luck, 🙂



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