Getting Help from the Upwork Community

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the Upwork Community Forums is there to help you. Whether you have a general question or need basic (non-account-specific) technical support, the buyers and providers on the forums are there to offer help, guidance, advice, and support.

However, as with all social situations, there are certain things you can do to get the most out of your experience – especially when dealing with technical issues.

How to search the forums

I would guesstimate that a good 80% of the threads started in the forums are from people with problems (it’s just the nature of forums, not just on Upwork). If you have a general question, or even a tough one, there’s a good chance it has already been asked – and more importantly – answered before.

Upwork allows you to search almost every aspect of the site – jobs, providers, tests, help, and community.

At the top right, you’ll see a searchbox with a dropdown menu next to it (by default, the dropdown says “providers”).

Searching the forums

Any search term entered in the box to the right will bring up results in the community forums. This is how I find most of what I’m looking for, and also how I am able to provide answers to those asking for help. While I do know a lot about how the system works now, I started out as a newbie like everyone else – but any time I had a question, I searched first, then asked if I couldn’t find an answer.

How to ask for help

I think it’s only fair to warn you that these types of posts are utterly useless and will not get your issue resolved:

Help! I can’t install the software! How do I fix it???

Your statement may be absolutely true, but it does nothing to define the problem. Without knowing the problem, no one can help you.

WHAT does it not do, and WHERE does it not do what it’s supposed to do, and WHEN does the not-doing happen?

A more effective post would be:

I downloaded the oPack installer for Windows. When I cliked on the download link, I selected “run”. That’s when I got an error that said, “UpworkSetup.exe is not a valid Win32 application”

The statement above works because it tells people what you were doing, when you got the error, and the exact error message1.

It may seem trivial, and almost silly, to have to recount your actions step by step. But knowing the exact turn of events will be the difference between a helpful response and an ignored thread.

Roll playing

Let’s try this…put yourself in the “supportive friend” roll…and I came to you because I had nowhere else to turn.

Me: My car won’t start!
You: What happens?
Me: It just won’t start?
You: Is it out of gas? Does it chug when you try to start it?
Me: I’m telling you, it just won’t start!
You: (frustrated) You said that already. So what does happen when you turn the key? Does it click? Does nothing happen? Does the key even turn? WHAT???
Me: Oh…I don’t have the keys, my husband needed to borrow them because he left his at work.

See why it’s important to know all the details up front? Every good detective will retrace their victim’s steps to determine exactly what happened – it’s the only way to put the pieces together to solve the crime.

That dialogue may seem absolutely ridiculous, but tech support reps and tech-savvy users in the forums experience the same bang-head-on-flat-surface-frustration when users request help but don’t explain the situation properly. Save them the dents in their desks and just provide everything up front to start with!

PS: Don’t take Doreen’s comments as a personal affront – she provides extremely helpful information without the sugarcoating (which is more valuable, if you ask me).


Building Trust with the Community

In a recent interview I gave, one of the questions asked was:

Any tips on developing trust with new buyers?

This is what I had to say about it:

Just do the job and do it well – that’s the best way to build trust and credibility.

Because I had to keep my answers relatively succinct, I going to elaborate on that answer a bit here…

A job well done is your best promotional tool

People talk. The question is, what will they say about you?

There’s only so much your profile and cover letters can do for you – they show you can talk the talk. What you need to do next is prove you can walk the walk.

Word of mouth is a powerful tool, and it goes both ways: good and bad. It should go without saying that you want to do the best possible job on all of your assignments.
How I cook


5 parts: Coffee
4 parts: Speed
4 parts: Precision
3 parts: Communication
2 parts: Perfectionism
A dash: My Awesomely Awesome AwesomenessTM


Soften ½ of the communication and pour into a large bowl. Sip coffee. Add speed, precision, and perfectionism. Beat until mixture is smooth and free of lumps. Sip coffee while beating. Fold in remaining communication steadily and beat until mixture starts to solidify. Continue to sip coffee. Sprinkle with a dash of Awesomely Awesome AwesomenessTM and serve while fresh…with coffee.


Finding & Getting Help When Needed

Quite frankly, I get tired of seeing posts like this in the Upwork Community Forums. And it’s not so much the posts themselves, but the sheer volume of posts that repeat the same statement two posts down.

I’m not the only one, either. The Upwork staff has better things to do than repeat themselves like a broken record, so the rest of the forum regulars are left to explain how the global market works…over and over…and over and over.

So I’ve decided to break it down here folks too lazy to search.

The great rates debate on Upwork

oConomy – Rates by categories
Upwork Forum – Search for “minimum wage”
Upwork Forum – Search for “low rates”
What Good Morning America doesn’t tell you about Upwork

The rates debate on the internet

Is Upwork economically viable?
Escape the commodity trap
Freelance writing rates
The truth about “Data Entry” jobs
Rates vs. wages

Attitude adjustment

Think you’re someone special?
What happens when the most “entitled” generation hits a recession?
Something for nothing: The entitlement mentality
Of freelancing and the arrogance of Americans


Setting Your Freelancing Rate

The topic of rates often turns into a heated discussion, whether it’s in the Upwork Community Forums or any other freelance outlet. I think it was summed up best by Rebecca in this post:

You know, I think the people who start the threads don’t realize that this topic has come up repeatedly, and searching first doesn’t occur to them – I never do that, to tell you the truth. So then they get the accumulated disgust of all the people who have been reading these things for months or years. And since they’re always new people, it seems inhospitable.

In-person, people often don’t think before they speak. On the internet, people don’t search before they post. Either way, misunderstandings can occur and it will lead to resentment on both sides.

With all this hostility, pent up or otherwise, sometimes it’s hard to get a straight answer. But in the words of Kenny Rogers, “There’ll be time enough for counting talking when the dealing’s done”…so let’s talk rates, shall we?

Taking advice from The Gambler

Know when to hold ’em – If you’re a professional in your field, you should have a proven track record readily available. Set your rates according to what you think you’re worth, and be able to back it up with a solid portfolio. Even if you are competing in a global market, there will always be buyers willing to pay you what you’re worth – but you have to be able to prove it.

Know when to fold ’em – If you’re just starting out, and don’t have a rich portfolio to show for it, be willing to lower your rates some to compete in the global market. Remember, some providers are living in countries where $10/day goes a lot further than it would here in the US. Remember: you’re just getting your foot in the door, you’re not going to keep this rate forever.

Know when to walk away – Of course, there are certain job categories that simply don’t go hand in hand with high paying rates. Data Entry can be done by almost anyone with a computer. It doesn’t take special degrees or vocational training to send an email or record names in a spreadsheet, and price becomes the deciding factor in 95% of these jobs. You have two options in this case:

Lower your rates to compete, even if it is only temporary
Don’t bid on the job

Know when to run: Some buyers are simply unreasonable in their requests – some of it has to do with the large amount of providers in other countries able to work for lower rates. If a buyer’s expectations are too high for the amount they are willing to pay: don’t apply. It’s as simple as that. Don’t say it’s illegal, because it isn’t. You may say the buyer is cheap, but it is definitely not illegal since you are an independent contractor.

Breaking free of the commodity trap

Unless you have absolutely zero marketable skills (or live in a country where the USD goes a long way), don’t get into Data Entry. If you’re a native English speaker and can form complete sentences, pick up a few grammar resource books and try to break into writing. While there will always be buyers looking for the lowest bidder, writing jobs typically pay higher rates.

The Insider said it better than I can, so I’m just going to link to the posts from their “Make More Money” series here.

Escape the Commodity Trap
You’re Worth How Much? Prove It!
How to Get a Buyer to Pay You More Money
Upwork, How it Works

Just remember, your rates are dictated by you. Yes, there are times when a buyer simply cannot afford to pay what you are asking for, but there are definitely people out there who will.


Freelancers: How to Deal with Feedback

Like eBay, feedback on Upwork is an extremely important part of ensuring your success. Having great feedback lets potential buyers know that your previous buyers were happy with your performance – in other words: you did an excellent job for someone else, you’ll probably do an excellent job for me.

However, you can’t always please everyone. When this happens, Upwork makes it possible for you to hide your feedback comments (not the score itself).

But the question remains: should you hide comments?

The psychology of feedback

Whenever I see a profile that has hidden feedback comments, the first thing that comes to mind is, “what are you hiding?”

More often than not, when unfair feedback is left by either party, people can tell when someone is simply being spiteful…but it relies on people using their better judgment. They can’t do that if your feedback is private.

Without being able to read the feedback, good or bad, people tend to assume the worst. This can be much more damaging than leaving unfavorable feedback comments up for all to see.

While you may think that it tarnishes your good reputation, hiding feedback comments can subconsciously cause significantly more damage – especially for new providers with a shorter work history on Upwork.

Honesty in feedback

I’m sure many will disagree with me, but I don’t think feedback comments should be hidden.

Because of Upwork’s double-blind feedback policy, you’ll never know when someone will be unfair, or even vindictive, in their feedback. Which is why you need to be honest in yours.

If, for whatever reason, you couldn’t complete the task, leave it in your feedback. I’d much rather read, “I completed the first half of the project, but the second half was beyond the scope of my original bid so I did not complete it” or “XYZ was a great buyer, unfortunately, a family emergency came up and I couldn’t complete the assignment” instead of “user has made this comment private”.

Not only will this give an accurate description of what went wrong (if anything did go wrong), it will set potential buyers’ minds at ease not having to guess at what went wrong in your previous assignment(s) to warrant a low feedback score.