The Hidden Costs of Upwork's Boosting Feature: How It's Hurting Freelancers
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Upwork is an online platform that connects freelancers with clients looking for their services. It has been a go-to platform for many freelancers looking to find new clients and build their businesses.
Recently, however, Upwork changed its bidding system and introduced a new feature called "boosting", which allows freelancers to bump their proposals up the list for visibility by the client. While this feature may sound beneficial, the reality is that it has had a detrimental effect on freelancers, particularly those who are new to the platform or have limited resources.
|You cannot send proposals without Connects.
The Hidden Costs of Upwork's Boosting Feature: How It's Hurting Freelancers will explore the negative impact of these changes on freelancers and how it leads to a situation where only those who can afford to boost their bids are favored over more qualified but less financially capable freelancers.
|Agencies are abusing Upwork's proposal boosting feature, putting independent freelancers at a disadvantage.
Image borrowed from the FB post of Ammad Aslam
The Negative Impact of Upwork's Bidding System Changes
Upwork's recent changes to the bidding system, particularly the introduction of the boosting feature, have harmed freelancers. The boosting feature allows freelancers to bump their proposals up the list for visibility to the client.
However, this feature comes at a cost, as freelancers must purchase Upwork Connects, the internal currency for job applications, to boost their proposals. This puts a strain on freelancers, particularly those new to the platform or who need more resources.
One of the unintended consequences of Upwork's changes to the bidding system is the advantage it gives to agencies. These organizations can pool the Connects from their team members and use them to boost their proposals. This means you might see hundreds of Connects being used to boost a single bid to be in the top three highlighted by Upwork. This creates a significant advantage for agencies over individual freelancers, who may have the resources to purchase and use additional Connects.
|Image borrowed from the FB post of Shahbaz Z
Furthermore, Upwork's algorithm changes and the removal of free Connects awarded to freelancers also impacted its users, forcing them to buy Connects.
Before February 2022, skilled and qualified freelancers would receive monthly invites from clients. After the implementation of boosting proposals, that number decreased significantly. This is a widespread problem among freelancers on the platform, regardless of tenure.
Another downside for freelancers is the Availability Badge feature on Upwork. This feature requires using Connects, and its cost varies weekly. The availability badge is intended to let clients know that a freelancer is available to take on a project. However, if a freelancer cannot afford to purchase the necessary Connects to activate this feature, it can give clients the impression that the freelancer is already busy with other projects, even if they are not.
|If you can't afford to buy Connects, you cannot enable the availability badge, making the client think you are not available for any project.
Upwork's changes to the bidding system have led to massive frustrations among freelancers, particularly those new to the platform or needing more resources. It creates an uneven playing field where only those who can afford to boost their bids are favored over more qualified but less financially capable freelancers. It's as if they are saying, "We are greedy, so if you can't afford to buy Connects, sorry, this platform is not for you." This sends the message that only agencies and those who can afford it (even if you are not skilled or qualified) are welcome on Upwork.
Alternative Platforms for Freelancers
These recent changes on Upwork can be disheartening. Still, it's important to remember that alternative platforms are available that prioritize fair and transparent connections between freelancers and clients rather than solely focusing on profit.
So, as freelancers, what can we do in light of these changes? One option is to explore these alternative platforms and diversify our income sources. Additionally, finding ways to make our proposals stand out and building a solid reputation on the platform can also help increase our chances of getting hired on Upwork.
Let's take a look at Upwork's competitors.
Fiverr is a popular platform for freelancers to list their services and find clients. It is free to join and list services on the platform, making it easy for anyone to get started. The platform also allows buyers to come to you rather than having to seek out and bid for projects, which can be a pro. Additionally, it improves your chances of getting hired by building your reputation over time.
However, the platform also has its cons. One of the main drawbacks of Fiverr is that it takes 20% of everything you earn, which can add up to a lot of lost income for freelancers. Additionally, Fiverr has many competing freelancers, making it harder to stand out. It can be difficult for new freelancers to get noticed and find clients, especially if their gig needs to be ranked.
Overall, Fiverr can be a good platform for freelancers to find clients, but it is crucial to keep in mind that it takes a 20% cut of your earnings, and the platform is highly competitive, making it harder to stand out.
TopTal is a platform that connects companies with highly skilled professionals in various fields, including software development, finance, project management, design, and more. It is a trusted platform by top brands such as Duolingo and Shopify.
To join TopTal, freelancers must go through an application and approval process where their skills and background are evaluated. Once approved, freelancers can create a profile and be matched with clients needing their services. The platform also handles billing and payments for freelancers, making it easy for them to connect with global clients.
Unlike other platforms, TopTal does not charge freelancers directly; instead, it takes a reduced rate from the agreed-upon amount between the freelancer and the client. For example, TopTal may charge a company $60 for a project but pays the freelancer $30. Freelancers can set their hourly rates according to TopTal's recommended rates and be matched to jobs that pay at that level.
- The rigorous screening process to identify highly skilled professionals
- Access to higher paying jobs than other freelance platforms
- Good chances of getting hired due to less competition
- The application process can be time-consuming
- Freelancers may miss out on earning potential by working through TopTal rather than directly with clients.
TopTal is ideal for highly skilled professionals in software development, finance, project management and design. However, the platform's application process can be time-consuming, and freelancers may miss out on earning potential by working through TopTal rather than directly with clients.
Freelancer is a platform perfect for beginners with a wide range of skills. It is home to millions of professionals from over 1800 different categories, making it easy for freelancers to find the right job for them. Setting up a profile for freelancers is quick and straightforward, allowing them to start earning money in no time.
To find jobs on Freelancer, all you need to do is to create a profile and select your skills and expertise. After completing the verification process, freelancers can browse through jobs that match their skills and bid for projects by commenting on why they are the right fit for the role. Freelancer also has a preferred freelancer program, which client hunters can apply for after earning a good record of providing exceptional service. This program gives freelancers direct access to higher-paying roles.
Freelancer charges either 10% of the winning bid or USD 5 (whichever is greater) when they are chosen for a fixed-price or hourly-fixed project. Freelancer will take 10% of every milestone payment for hourly projects instead of 10% of the overall project cost.
Freelancer has its pros and cons. One of its pros is that it is easy to start with a simple profile-building and verification system. It offers jobs for thousands of different skill sets and professions, and its fees are relatively low compared to other freelancing platforms. However, it also has much competition from millions of other people bidding for the same project, making it difficult for freelancers to stand out.
PeoplePerHour is an online platform that connects businesses with a diverse range of freelance talent worldwide. The platform boasts over a million businesses and over 3 million rated freelancers. It is a great place to find content writing, logo design, and website development experts.
To find freelance jobs on PeoplePerHour, freelancers must apply to become "certified" contributors on the website. The application will be reviewed by a moderation team and matched to potential projects that align with the freelancer's skillset. The platform also has an AI algorithm that matches freelancers to tasks, and freelancers can create a profile to attract potential clients.
PeoplePerHour does not charge registration or sign-up fees. However, they set a "service" fee based on the lifetime value of a client. For clients with a lifetime billing of under $250, the fee is 20%, excluding VAT. The fee is 7.5 per cent for clients with lifetime billing between $250 and $5000 and 3.5 per cent for clients with lifetime billing over $5000. The minimum service fee per invoice, excluding VAT, is $1.
Pros of PeoplePerHour include the variety of ways to find and apply for projects, the AI algorithm that matches freelancers to the most appropriate jobs, and relatively low fees for long-term clients. Cons include many freelancers competing for projects and the application process to join the freelancer directory.
PeoplePerHour is best suited for creative website-building projects and content creation. SEO and writing projects are often in high demand on the platform.
While Upwork, Fiverr, TopTal, Freelancer, and PeoplePerHour are some of the most popular alternatives to Upwork, it's important to note that they are not the only options available. Freelancers must research and find the best platform for their needs and skills.
How to Stand Out on Upwork
The changes to Upwork's bidding system can make it harder for freelancers to get noticed, but there are still ways to increase your chances of getting hired. The key is to make sure your profile is complete and search-engine optimized. This includes having a professional profile picture and highlighting your relevant skills and experience. A well-written cover letter demonstrating your qualifications and value to the client is also crucial.
To improve your job proposals, tailor them to the specific job and client, highlight your relevant experience and skills, and include relevant samples or portfolio work. Building a good reputation on the platform by being responsive to clients and networking with other freelancers and clients can also help increase visibility and your chances of getting hired.
Another strategy is diversifying your income sources by having accounts on multiple platforms and not relying on just one. This can increase your chances of getting hired and more work opportunities. Remember that registering on these platforms is free, so it's worth exploring all options to find the best fit. While getting clients from these platforms may take time and effort, it's worth it for freelancers' long-term security and opportunities.
An appeal to Upwork Clients
The recent changes to Upwork's bidding system and the addition of the boosting feature may result in qualified candidates being overlooked in favor of those who can afford to boost their bids. This can result in clients not receiving the best candidates for the job.
|It is important to remember that the best freelancer for the job is not always the one with the highest bid or boost status. (Image courtesy of Freddy Freddie)
As a client, it's important to be analytical of proposals and evaluate candidates based on their qualifications, skills, and experience rather than just bid amount or boost status. Taking the time to review freelancers' profiles, portfolios, and samples can give a better understanding of their qualifications and capabilities.
It's also important to remember that boosting proposals is an option, not a requirement, and clients can choose the best candidate for the job regardless of the boost. By being mindful of these points, clients can ensure they are getting the best candidates for their projects, not just those who can afford to boost their bids.
Evaluating Upwork Candidates: Tips for Clients
When evaluating candidates on Upwork or any other freelancing platform, it's critical to focus on their qualifications, skills, and experience. Here are some tips to help you make an informed decision:
- Review each candidate's profile, including their portfolio and previous work samples. This will give you a better understanding of their qualifications and capabilities.
- Look for specific skills and experience relevant to the job you are hiring for. Don't be swayed by candidates with many talents but only a few relevant to your project.
- Carefully read through each candidate's cover letter and job proposal. These documents should demonstrate their qualifications and value to you as a client.
- Check the candidate's Upwork profile and freelancing history. Look for reviews and ratings from previous clients and the number of completed jobs and hours worked.
- Avoid being swayed by bid amount or boost status. Just because a candidate has boosted their proposal or bid higher doesn't necessarily mean they are the best fit for the job.
It is important to remember that the best freelancer for the job is not always the one with the highest bid or boost status. By focusing on qualifications, skills, and experience, you can increase your chances of finding the right freelancer. It is also vital to conduct thorough research and rely on more than one platform. By diversifying your options, you can increase the chances of finding the right fit for your project.
The Long-Term Effects of Upwork's Changes on the Freelance Industry
The changes that Upwork has implemented to its bidding system, specifically the introduction of the boosting feature, may have long-term effects on the freelance industry.
One possible consequence is a reduction in freelancer job opportunities overall. Because the system favors those who can afford to raise their bids, less financially capable freelancers have fewer opportunities to compete for jobs on the platform. This may result in fewer freelancers on the platform and, ultimately, fewer job opportunities for the entire freelance community.
Another potential impact is that it may lead to a shift in the way clients hire freelancers. As the boosting feature becomes more prevalent, clients may become more inclined to hire freelancers based on their boost status rather than their qualifications, skills, and experience. This could decrease the overall quality of work, as clients may need to get the best candidate for the job.
It's worth noting that Upwork is aware that they are the preferred platform by clients and freelancers. This gives them the confidence and motivation to monetize the job application process, which some people find unethical. However, it's important to remember that Upwork is a business whose ultimate goal is to make a profit.
With these possible long-term effects, it's critical for freelancers to be aware of these potential consequences and to be proactive in looking for alternative platforms to increase their chances of finding work. Clients must also be mindful of these changes and evaluate candidates based on qualifications, skills, and experience rather than status.
Upwork's current bidding system changes and the boosting feature have harmed freelancers, particularly those new to the platform or with limited resources. These changes create an uneven playing field in which only those who can afford to raise their bids are favored over more qualified but less financially capable freelancers. Upwork may be aware of the negative impact, but whether they will take action remains to be discovered. Upwork's apparent strategy of requiring freelancers to purchase more Connects suggests that profit is their top priority. However, you have options as a freelancer, as Upwork is not the only online platform.
There are alternative platforms and strategies that freelancers can use to increase their chances of getting hired, such as diversifying income sources by having accounts on multiple platforms rather than relying on just one, having a complete and optimized profile, tailoring their proposals to specific jobs and clients, and building a good reputation on the platform.
As a client, you must be critical of the freelancers recommended by Upwork and evaluate candidates based on their qualifications, skills, and experience rather than just bid amount or boost status. Clients can ensure they get the best candidates for their projects by remembering these points.