Saturday, September 4, 2021

A Dog's Eye: Freelancer v Upwork

Starting a new business is not easy, especially when you're not a business oriented person. For me the 'business' of writing is nowhere near as fun as actual writing. It has its moments of course, but rather than being 'writing' moments, such times are the fruit of writing and/or the fruit of the business of writing.

As a 'nobody' novelist, the business of writing is all about selling books: marketing, to find readers, while as a short story writer, it's all about the search for markets, trying to find publishers. On the other hand, the business of writing for a freelancer is all about getting clients.

Irrespective of the specific target of my writing/business of writing endeavours, the bottom line goal is to meet needs, to satisfy demands.

Which brings me to Upwork and Freelancer. How have these two platforms met my need to find clients? How are they supporting me to build my freelance writing business?

Profile creation 

Not much difference between the two. It's relatively straight forward to create a basic profile on both. However, the Upwork website looks cleaner, more professional, and is easier to navigate than Freelancer.


Freelancer charges a monthly fee for membership at different levels. I'm on a basic membership plan which allows me to bid for 50 jobs per month for $13. For an additional fee, you can take a grammar test which if you pass adds 20% value to your profile. I refused to do that. They also offer to boost your proposals for a fee. There are a number of other allegedly useful services which also requirement payment.

Upwork gives you Connects to use to pay for bids when you sign up. Proposals cost from 2 to 6 Connects. When you run out of Connects, you can purchase more in packages starting from $3 for 10 Connects. If you respond to an invitation or interact with a client, Upwork also gives you free Connects. In other words you get rewarded for being active. It's been two months since I purchased any Connects on Upwork.


Freelancer has two channels for finding jobs, one of which is a drop down of the very latest jobs. Initially I thought this was great. As there is a lot of competition for jobs, it makes sense to bid on the most recently advertised jobs as soon as you can. In practice, it is not as useful as it seemed. When doing a traditional job search, you can't save jobs. You can't attach any documents to your bids and Freelancer also limits how low you can bid which means in many cases you won't get the job because obviously clients will select the lowest bids. The other problem is Freelancer doesn't tell you when you've already bid on a job. It's difficult to keep track of what you're doing, and what you've done, on Freelancer.

Upwork only has a traditional job search, but you can save jobs you like, then go to your saved jobs and work through them one by one, to send a proposal or not. Upwork also limits your bottom bid, but on some jobs you also have an option to bid an hourly rate or a milestone rate. For example, it's $40 an hour or $250 for the job, divided into three milestone payments of $50 + $100 + $100. Upwork notifies you when a job you have bid on is no longer available. It's very easy to keep track of what your doing in terms of job searching and bidding on Upwork.

Next time, I'll talk about the communication functions of the two platforms, payments, dispute resolution, and the quality and volume of the work.

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