5 Reasons Why Upwork Sucks for Writersby@nebojsaneshatodorovic
384 reads
384 reads

5 Reasons Why Upwork Sucks for Writers

by Nebojsa "Nesha" TodorovicAugust 21st, 2022
Read on Terminal Reader
Read this story w/o Javascript
tldt arrow

Too Long; Didn't Read

I’m not one of those people who says, if it’s not working for me then it must be broken. However, in this case, I’m pretty much sure that I’m not the only one who feels this way. I will give you a handful of reasons why I think Upwork isn’t a writer-friendly place.
featured image - 5 Reasons Why Upwork Sucks for Writers
Nebojsa "Nesha" Todorovic HackerNoon profile picture

“Upwork doesn’t suck for writers, you suck as a writer!”

If this was the first thought to cross your mind after seeing this article’s title, that’s OK. You just saved five minutes of your life to do something else. That’s totally fine with me.

I’m not one of those people who say, if it’s not working for me then it must be broken. However, in this case, I’m pretty much sure that I’m not the only one who feels this way. I will give you a handful of reasons why I think Upwork isn’t a writer-friendly place.

Reason #1 — Have to bleed to bid.

As a freelance writer, you’re doomed to be a “one-timer.” Unless you find a client who needs new blog posts on a regular basis, you jump from one project to another. One-time gigs. That’s what freelance writing is mostly all about. You finish writing content for a new website. You won’t see that client again until the time comes to redesign his website.

As such, I need to “consume” a few bids each day. So, what am I supposed to do with the 60 bids or connects per month? That’s enough to place one bid a day on Upwork. You usually need two bids for one proposal. I have to be insanely lucky or super creative or a perfect match or all of these to nail a project with almost every single proposal I submit. I even used to pay for Upwork’s membership plan. What’s it called? For ten bucks you get ten additional bids. Really? What’s the point?

If you want to bid more, you have to pay more. One dollar for each new bid. That’s two dollars for each new proposal. At the end of your freelance writing month on Upwork, you have hundreds of dollars to pay just to bid. The best thing about it. If you bid too many times with no success, you can get banned for good. That’s just lovely, but I have to move on to the next reason.

Reason #2 — Killing me softly with your initial freelance fee.

If you don’t want to pay a 20% fee on Upwork indefinitely, then you have to catch a “whale.” I’m talking about clients who’re paying $10K+ per project, freelancer, or year. In freelance writing waters, you don’t see the whales too often. I remember a freelance “colleague” who slammed me in the Upwork community with his replies to my comments. His “whales” were worth $50K or even $100K per year. When you read something like that, you feel like you’re working for peanuts. Or, maybe he wasn’t entirely honest about his “achievements.” One thing was obvious, though, he wasn’t a writer.

So, that’s about it. I pay a 20% fee or 10% in the best-case scenario when I earn more than $500. I really don’t know how many writers pay a 5% fee on Upwork, but I’m definitely not one of them.

Reason #3 — It ain’t fair that quality writing projects are so rare.

Upwork has mastered the art of self-promotion. The most densely populated platform with superlatives in the world, if you’re asking me. And then, you stumble upon a series of project descriptions where you are expected to write the works of art for five or ten bucks. It would be acceptable for me if one in ten writing projects available on Upwork can be labeled as a “decent” one. The trouble is that you can say that for just one in twenty or fifty projects.

I’m a professional freelancer. Whatever that’s supposed to mean for you. I have no plan B. I’m in dire straits by default, but I have my limits. I’m not that desperate. I would rather work on a construction site than write an article or page for five bucks. Where are all those top-quality writing projects on Upwork? Either I don’t see them or the best writing seats are already taken.

Reason #4 — Who cares if you’re creative if you aren’t a native?

This reason doesn’t necessarily apply to all writers working on Upwork. I have no problem when a client insists on hiring a native writer. That’s his or her prerogative. What I do mind a lot, though, is a client who lectures me about writing that’s reserved for native speakers, but he can’t tell a difference between “its” and “it’s.” That’s something I call the power-of-the-flag syndrome. If you can change a flag associated with your account, you can change your client’s perception of your writing skills before you even start working on his project. One of my freelance friends moved to Australia. Guess what? He became a native writer. What happened to don’t judging a book by its cover and a freelance writer by his account’s flag?

Reason #5 — The last thing Upwork need is a new writer on board.

Ah, the famously infamous “Dear John” letter Upwork sends to all new freelancers who’re trying to go through the registration process:

Unfortunately, at this time there are already many freelancers with a similar skill set to yours and we cannot accept your registration.”

I did a small experiment on Upwork. My cousin applied as a new freelance writer. Of course, he was rejected immediately. Then, he applied again, but this time as a developer. Guess what happened? This time he got accepted. The trouble was, that you can’t register as a developer and then work as a writer. So, he closed his Upwork account before even placing the first bid.

There’s a chance that something has changed in the meantime. However, I’m pretty much sure that Upwork has even more writers than it needs. The most troubling part is that the clients should decide who to hire or not. This way Upwork decides. What happened to the free, open, and unbiased freelance market with equal opportunities for everyone?

And the Moral of My Story Is?

What fair’s fair, Upwork doesn’t suck for all writers. I used to work on Upwork. My point is that this platform fails in one particular category for the unacceptably high percentage of freelance writers.

I always like to say, freelancing is for everyone, but not everybody can be a freelancer. The same applies to the writing, as well. It has been a while since I got my university degree, but I clearly remember something called laissez-faire economics. That’s something capitalism is all about. Or, in plain English, let me do my job. When the “government” (Upwork) interferes too much and messes up with your business, then we have a problem.

Upwork systematically and intentionally makes life difficult for the overwhelming majority of freelance writers. That’s the only point I wanted to make. Upwork could and should be a much better place for writers.

That’s all freelance folks.

Also published here.

Vote for this and my other freelance-related stories in Noonies 2022 category: