By Ofir Nachmani, Founder and CEO, IOD
Look: Upwork can be quite useful if you have a very specific, well-defined project. But for content creation, Upwork failed me—big time.
I came to this conclusion via personal, hands-on experience. About a year ago, I invested huge efforts to use several Upwork freelancers to create some in-depth articles for a database-related brand. Although I managed to squeeze out two articles, it cost me thousands of dollars and endless hours of my time.
This blog tells two true stories that present two points-of-view on the challenges of working with Upwork: that of the customer (me) and that of a freelancer. I conclude by presenting an alternative model for a content creation marketplace—a model that consistently meets the needs of both content customers and content creators.
Just Before We Get Started…
In case you’re not familiar with Upwork, it began as the merger in 2013 of two well-known freelancer marketplaces: Elance and oDesk. In 2015, the merged company was rebranded as Upwork. It is a web-based platform on which subscribed companies post jobs across a wide variety of fields—from developers to designers to accountants and everything in between. The job is published among the relevant freelancers registered in the Upwork pool, who respond with proposals. You work directly with the freelancer you hire, and payment is made through Upwork only after you approve the work.
My Story: The Customer POV
I was looking for a database expert to write one or two articles for the brand I was serving at the time. Back then, I was still one of those misguided people who regarded content creation as a low level skill that could be bought for $100/article.
So I looked and looked for someone who could really do the job, someone who could say “yes, I understand this subject”—and truly mean it. I reached out to the 21(!) freelancers who responded to my request and, after a huge qualification effort, I chose a few and we started working together. I was very patient. I was very instructive. I participated in endless Skype calls and I was charged for every minute. I simply couldn’t control the costs and, after three months, I had spent $3,735.58 on creating two articles for my customers.
The Freelancer POV
A little less than a year ago, a freelancer named Shadi published an article that got a lot of exposure. Clearly frustrated by an incident that threatened to undermine his livelihood, he openly discussed the trials and tribulations of being a freelance service provider on a global platform: high levels of competition that lower fees unfairly, potential customers that refuse to provide even basic job specifications, potential customers who disappear for weeks and then want the work done ASAP and at a lower price than what was quoted, and so on.
But what clearly irked Shadi the most was the total lack of support that he got from Upwork when the situation got nasty. This potential customer, who never even properly hired Shadi according to the Upwork rules, complained to Upwork and directly contacted other Upwork clients who had been working happily with Shadi for years. Based on this one (abusive) customer, Upwork first temporarily and then permanently banned Shadi from the platform, including cutting him off from fee payments that he had already earned.
I just want to make it clear that there are many freelancers who are positive about their relationship with Upwork. But I do find it shocking that Upwork, on the basis of one incident, totally abandoned a freelancer who, for years, had received nothing but positive reviews from Upwork customers.
If you got this far and you know what IOD does, what you’re thinking now is “this guy is promoting his services using Upwork stories.” And you’re right, that’s exactly what I’m doing. I learned from my mistakes and I have built IOD as a boutique tech research and content marketplace that takes full responsibility for providing its customers with high quality content, on time, and on budget.
And it’s not just responsibility towards our customers. We accept freelancers only after very careful vetting, but once they’re in, they get full support from us at all levels. We have built and maintain a rigorous process that makes sure that the freelancer gets everything he needs from the customer and from us so that he can produce the best content possible.
If you need top content at scale to support your brand, you might be tempted by the lower fees of mass marketplaces like Upwork. But be prepared to pour lots of time and money down the drain for work that does not meet your standards. At IOD, our fees are higher, but there are no hidden costs and, at the end of the day, it will cost you less for predictable results and high-quality tech content. Want to learn more? Drop me an email or find me on LinkedIn.