Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Upshot of Upwork

Elance, the freelancing site that I've been using to find new clients, has been taken over by the freelancing site Upwork. The transition has happened over the course of a couple of months, with things like reviews and experience transferring from one site to the next. Of course, these things are never seamless, and I know, from my experience in IT, that new software or hardware is always met with skepticism.

Human beings are creatures of habit, and once we know how to use something, even with any inherent limitations, we're comforted by familiarity. That's why I fully expected to be irritated with the new Upwork, and to refrain from taking that irritation to the next level. It's slightly different than elance, and elance was what I was used to.

But I've given Upwork a month, and I am still struggling. The damned thing still says that my "native English" status is "self-assessed," and there are no options for making it otherwise. My attempts at correspondence with support have led to nothing in the way of solutions; I've been instructed by one staff member to take the Cambridge English certification exam - something that has to be administered by a testing center, and the closest one to me is in New York. In case you've forgotten where Maine is (I know we're way up here!) - New York's an unrealistic commute, even for a one-day test. Yet another staffer, though, informed me that even if I took this test, it wouldn't change my official status - I'd just be able to advertise that I'd have taken the test.

Elance made me do a brief Skype interview in order to determine I was who I said I was, including my native status. Why is this so difficult for Upwork to accomplish?

Additionally, there's the problem with the app. I use an iPad for almost everything, and I was really excited to see an app for Upwork. However, no matter what I do, the app does not notify me on either my iPad or iPhone when a potential client attempts to communicate with me. I asked support about this nearly a month ago, and the person with whom I spoke said it was being researched...and it's never been fixed.

Another thing - I've realized how much freelancing absolutely rapes writers. Please, writers, you can do better. Work in fast food and work on your novel, website, or blog at night. It will be painful, yes, but getting writing jobs on Upwork will be more painful and will pay less. There are people outside of the U.S. and the U.K. who speak and write English as a second language who are willing to spew out poorly-written English content for pennies on the dollar - making it nearly impossible for a reasonably talented English-speaking author to make a decent living writing for someone else.

Ultimately, though, it doesn't matter - I feel stuck with Upwork for finding new clients. Fortunately, I'm developing more word-of-mouth references, and perhaps very soon I'll be able to bow out of it altogether. And I will never refer anyone to it - there has to be a better way.

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