Why It's Time to Stop Using Upwork to Find Clients

why it's time to stop using upwork to find virtual assistant clients

When Elance and oDesk, the two biggest freelance gig sites, got married back in 2015, Upwork was born.

I’ve been in the virtual assistant industry long enough to remember both of the giants. I even took some gigs here and there.

Here’s how it worked: you created a profile, took skills tests to prove you actually knew what your profile said you knew, did a search for potential clients, submitted a proposal using free Connects, your proposal was accepted or rejected and if accepted, you started working.

Back in the day, Elance was considered a bit more upscale than oDesk, with a better quality of clients.

So it was pretty exciting for freelancers and virtual assistants when the two giants decided to make a go of it together.

There was talk of finally seeing the end of offshore freelancers underbidding those who just couldn’t work for $1 per hour and ridding the site of scam clients.

And some of the more experienced virtual assistants in the industry used to look down on us newbies for even using freelance sites - like we were any less of a virtual assistant.

But if you were (or are) a new virtual assistant with more bills than money and scared witless to get out there and network like everyone tells you to, than Upwork was the solution. This is a judgement-free zone, y’all!

I haven’t used Upwork in years to find clients. I’ve now got enough years and experience under my belt where the butterflies don’t eat at my stomach lining when I send a proposal to someone I’ve never met (cold pitching does work, my friend).

For the new virtual assistant in a jam needing a client stat, Upwork was a decent option.

But Upwork went and did something this week that the freelancer world is chatting about - and not in a good way.

You know those Connects I mentioned earlier? Connects are kind of like virtual tokens and whenever you apply for a gig, you use a Connect to submit a proposal. The most basic Upwork plan gives you a certain number of free connects to use. Some gigs require more than one Connect to send a proposal.

Well, this week Upwork announced Connects, formerly free, will now cost you $0.15 each. And if a gig requires 6 connects to even send a proposal, do the math: that’s $0.90 per gig.

This is what Upwork had to say about the change:

“We want to help professional freelancers like you win more jobs. With paid Connects, we expect freelancers will submit fewer proposals, increasing your likelihood of winning projects and making it easier for clients to identify high-quality talent.”

Read that however you like but they way I read it is that smaller freelancers, the ones who the platform was designed for in the first place, are going to get squeezed out by those who are more established and can afford to pay the upfront fee.

And to me, that stinks.

Because I think there should be an equal playing field for anyone who wants and needs to freelance as a virtual assistant.

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What are your thoughts about the Upwork change? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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