Is It Luck or Something Else [UpWork]

I stumble upon a video series called Make Money with Python. Where the instructor goes to UpWork find a scraping job and executes it live. So I wanted to give it a shot.

To my surprise my non-existent PayPal account was linked there and I saw my first gig. $8.00 on Jul 31, 2013 to PayPal lol. Then the memories rushed I saw my old proposals without a single response.

Anyways I found a job, https://www.upwork.com/jobs/~01c7c342dda9554550 handle it in short amount of time, took a screenshot and sent "Your files are ready". Guess what, no responses again. Now I checked he hired someone else. I need to pay to see the bids, pay to apply for more. Feels like a huge gimmick. Anyone else has experience on the platform. I'm curious did I wasted a few hours after 8 years. Do I ever learn from my mistakes :)

  1. 3

    You can definitely earn good money on Upwork (that's one of my main sources of income currently, though I'm a full stack developer, I don't take scraping jobs since those seem to be a race-to-the-bottom in terms of pricing).

    Generally I've found it not to be worth it to send proof-of-concepts or prototypes or other things to people before they actually hire me on Upwork.

    There's a great many jobs that are posted and then never viewed again, or they choose someone else, or you misunderstand what they wanted and just look silly, or now that you've given them something for free they expect the rest for free; so you just end up wasting a ton of time for no benefit to anyone.

    My current favorite approach (that seems to get good responses) is to take their proposal and ask questions. The exact questions are informed by what their posting says and what they're looking for, but some broad themes you can riff off of:

    1. Potential issues you're aware of from working on similar things in the past.
    2. Asking for clarification on things that are ambiguous in their posting.
    3. Asking for existing examples or what their inspiration is drawn from.
    4. Asking for preferences on how to handle edge cases you know will come up based on what they've asked for.
    5. Proposing what you see as the next actions and asking if that sounds like what they're looking for.

    My understanding is that a lot of people send very generic proposals, so asking questions helps you stand out, and it gives you more information to work off of when you get hired. It also gives you information on about the client, and how good the client is at communicating.

    Their response (or lack thereof) is good information you can act on. After getting a response I've stopped when:

    1. It's clear their budget just won't work for what they're asking for.
    2. They're unable to articulate well what they want.
    3. They take forever to respond (i.e. a week between each message).
    4. Everything is "urgent".
    5. What they're ultimately wanting is sketchy/unethical.


    Finally - it's important to know that getting ignored or rejected is normal in a marketplace - any marketplace! And you won't always know why.

    When I first started, my proposal-to-interview ratio was like 6:1. That is, for every 6 people I messaged, I had 1 good conversation about the job to be done. Things are a bit better now that I have a high rating and recurring clients, but I think it's important to accept that rejection is just part of the job on Upwork.

    I hope these points helped! I'm happy to answer questions if you have any.

    1. 1

      Thanks Tyler, very insightful.

      I find my proposal log, apparently I tried twice, 63 in 2012 and 6 in 2015. Only landed 1 gig. Of course none of them follows your advices. Mostly like "I can do this in N hour, ready to start now."

      To be clear I'm not upset by being rejected but the lack of transparency. To this day as you mentioned, people putting some words into description to make sure applicants read it through. It was the same in 2012. Even this makes me think if there is a fake activity going on by UpWork itself.

      Anyways it's great to hear that these platforms working for many but I'm still putting my two cents on entrepreneurial path rather than freelancing.

      In short I wanted to see if it's a place where I can occasionally earn some money and I get my answer by quickly giving it a try.

  2. 2

    UpWork is generally legit. I spent some 4-5 years working through them when it was still called oDesk. Ironically, I recently came back to consulting on UpWork again as my SaaS isn't quite picking up steam.
    oDesk is all about ratings and work history, and it's super hard when you have none. There are even people who sell "warmed up" accounts, but it's definitely illegal and nobody should go that route. The only "honest" option is to fight for some low-level jobs initially, and try to grow your rate as fast as possible. Literally, increase it with every gig you're taking. It's super competitive at the bottom, but the higher you get, the easier it is to land a job.

    1. 1

      Right, it was called oDesk back in then. Also the bids where public iirc.

      System could be legit but feels unethical. As you mentioned not welcoming new players to the scene. It's not about the lowest bid but you may always lose to lower bidder. Surely time consuming, and not dependable. I guess I can propose to max 5 gigs per month without paying, no transparency etc...

      Weird part for me is, in both gigs I mentioned that work was done within hours I've submitted them before other proposals. I'm new or not I doubt it changes a thing if they were there to make their business going rather than waiting for the cheapest solution.

      IDK anyways I already have my scraped products on sale, making money. I wanted to share this experience for those who plan to work in these places. They should keep their hopes low.

      Instead of spending their time on a one time gig. They could build their own stuff and spend that time on marketing it. It's a better approach, which worked well for me.

  3. 2

    I would suggest you to try harder.... It is difficult market but if you are good you will succeed.... Upwork was and is the main source of income for more than 5y now:)

    1. 1

      Thanks for the suggestion but I don't think I'll stick with it. Nice to hear that works for you and others. It's not for me.

      Would you mind elaborating good, I handled another gig within 15 minutes, scraped 33k domains. Not bad if you'd ask me.

      I'm not sure how that market even survives. I'd call myself expert in this case but I did something for $30, which is controversial. I have to pay to see if someone bid lower, I have to pay to bid more. Basically I need to pay to work with 20% cut. Even after there is no transparency.

      1. 1

        I will try to make couple of suggestions but not all might apply to your case. First of all , your target market sounds quite over saturated. This means that not matter how hard you try someone always will be cheaper and quicker than you are. My first suggestion would be to try to find a niche in what you do. Secondly then job budgets you are targeting are quite low so this wont let you enough flexibility on pricing.

        1. 1

          "someone always will be cheaper and quicker than you are." that sounds awful, even if I can beat them in price and time that rat race is non-sense. Which leads to worse output, but it seems it finds it balance at some point.

          Thanks for the suggestion, I've opted out freelancing years ago. I might not clear enough in the post, I watched a video and give it a try to see if things have changed. So other should know how it look like. I'd appreciate this heads up when I was younger.

          Currently, there are 116K gigs
          "total": 115969,

          Proposal distribution

          "0-4": 30353,
          "5-9": 30179,
          "10-14": 19456,
          "15-19": 11885,
          "20-49": 20364

          Category distribution

          "web-mobile-software-dev": 31459,
          "design-creative": 21745,
          "sales-marketing": 20877,
          "writing": 12749,
          "admin-support": 7890,
          "engineering-architecture": 5427,
          "accounting-consulting": 4190,
          "it-networking": 2861,
          "data-science-analytics": 2857,
          "translation": 2692,
          "customer-service": 1801,
          "legal": 1415

          It seems 25% is not saturated or newly added. Of course ignoring the fact those might be extremely under-priced or unreasonable requests.
          If scraping in data-science-analytics category than yeah chances are pretty low.

          1. 2

            If I understand the above numbers correctly, you have to combine three factors, i.e. proposals distribution 0-15, the target distribution niche i.e. data science and the missing pricing factor i.e. jobs >500$. This should give you the niche you should be targeting.

  4. 2

    I used Upwork every day for a few years when I first started PeopleFish. Communicating with clients on the platform wasn't always easy, but it's not a gimmick. Sorry this happened to you!

    1. 2

      I see, I know my communication skills are the worst. But ignoring a notifications says "Your files are ready" IDK sounds weird to me.

  5. 1

    I would be careful with scraping jobs. I was banned from Upwork shortly after making a TikTok scraper. Obviously they didn’t tell me exactly why I was banned, but recently a colleague of mine was banned from an Upwork client account for making a job posting for an Instagram scraper.

    Be careful with doing any jobs in the “grey area” and remember, Upwork won’t hesitate to permanently ban you without giving you a reason. No appeal process either. It was my only source of income during the early part of quarantine and it got completely cutoff overnight (including the money I didn’t withdraw yet).

    The good part of this all was that I built leadzy.co after getting banned to help freelancers who are in a similar position as me find work.

  6. 1

    Update; going after another gig, already scraped the half. It's so good to be true. I'd be a billionaire within a month if I land these gigs.

    It's no longer taking much time of mine, so just sharing these to save yours.

    15 minutes later

    File is ready and submitted. Let's see if it's going to work.

    1. 1

      Hey anilkilic, what's your profile on upwork?

      I actually need some scraping work done. Do you also have experience scraping from multiple sources, combining info/removing duplicates and normalizing data?

      1. 2

        is this one time gig or you need to build an app to run this time to time?

        1. 1

          It would be nice to be able to run the script occasionally, as the data does change a few times per year.

      2. 2

        Thank you, appreciated the offer. I'm a hobbyist what you are asking is over my experience.

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