Leaving Upwork Neverland

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

I left Upwork after seven years for good.

One of these days would have been my eighth anniversary.

What happened?

Why, oh why?

Strike One — The Double Bubble Fee

I began my freelance journey on Elance. Then, I joined oDesk. It worked for me just fine. Elance was my freelance plan A. oDesk was something you would call a “sidekick” platform to work on.

Then, The Great Merge took place. Upwork was born.

To tell you the truth, they did me a favor. They merged both of my accounts. All of my reviews were now in one place. Cool.

They also rubbed me the wrong way during this process. The number of my available bids or connects stayed the same as if I were still working on Elance or oDesk only. That wasn’t cool. But hey, I had to live with that.

Then, Upwork doubled its fees just like that.

That was a bitter pill to swallow. Not much of a choice. It was Upwork’s new fees way or the freelance highway.

Here comes the interesting part.

I didn’t worry about the money, but the message. That was Upwork’s way of saying, we don’t need and want you here.

Look, I’m a freelance writer. I’m not a developer. I can only dream of clients who spend more than $10K on my projects. I write you the content for your website and you’re gone. Unless, you want some regular blog posts.

Truth to be told, I got some clients who made it possible for me to pay a 10% instead of a 20% fee. You can earn more than $500 per client to get into a 10% fee zone. But, the magical 5% fee was clearly reserved for the freelance rock stars.

OK, I get it. As a freelancer who works on small one-time projects, I’m nothing more than a logistic burden to Upwork. And, this is a price I have to pay to play.

Strike Two — My Suspension Fears and Upwork’s Deaf Ears

So, I couldn’t do a thing about the new doubled fee. I tried to do something about the limited number of available bid (connects).

I wrote a heartbreaking letter to Upwork support. I asked for a way to bid more, so I can earn more.

They told me I should pay for a Plus Membership. So, I paid. That was a joke. All I got for $10 was 10 additional connects and some “perks.” If you wanted more then you had to pay one dollar for each new connect. Meaning, I need two dollars for every new proposal outside my free and Plus membership.

That’s two proposals a day in the best case scenario. Good luck with that. The odds weren’t in my favor.

Then, I got the first warning letter. Upwork made it perfectly clear that if I bid too many times without success, I could get suspended for good.

You want me to shoot, but you aren’t giving me the ammo. They said something like, make every proposal you send count. That’s so encouraging and supportive. Bid only where you stand the best chances of winning a project. If I were an X-man that wouldn’t be so hard, but I’m not.

Then, I got the second stop-or-you-are-done letter. The guys in Upwork community told me I should be grateful. Upwork obviously respected my freelance “veteran” status, so they didn’t suspend my account.

I got away with my bidding crimes. Later, I found out that many guys with fewer Elance/oDesk/Upwork years under their belts weren’t so lucky. The first warning letter they got was their final one.

So, my only option left was to hold my bidding horses and pay a 20% fee.

Strike Three — The Rising Dying Star

So, I came up with a brilliantly stupid idea.

I would close my old Upwork account and open a new one. I proved to myself that I was a good freelancer. In a matter of weeks, I was already a Rising Talent.

For some time, it really felt different. I got my shiny badge and some nice recommendations too. Then, I was back when I started.

You can’t be a rising star forever. The next step is to become a Top Rated freelancer. For that you need the years I so easily trowed away.

You brought it on yourself stupid!

OK. I don’t take it personally. I have tried everything and anything Upwork wanted me to be. I failed.

I closed my account.

Where Do I GO From Here?

I turned a new freelance leaf.

Now, I’m the one to decide whether or not some freelance website is good enough for me and not the other way around.

I made my list of demands. That’s my gimme five freelance rule.

  1. No memberships!
  2. A flat reasonable fee no matter how much I earn!
  3. No limits how many times I can bid!
  4. No “sheriff badges.” No rising or fallen, top rated or underrated freelancers. We are all equal!
  5. No downtime! If my clients have zero tolerance for my excuses, why should I treat my freelance website differently?

Have I found what I’ve been looking for?

What do you think?

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