Upwork, the global freelancing platform, has recently announced a broad change in policy that will affect their entire audience of freelancers - especially new and basic users.
“Connects,” the virtual tokens freelancers use to submit proposals for jobs, will no longer be free beginning sometime between May and June 2019. Instead, Connects will cost $0.15 each -- and depending on the job they’re submitting for, freelancers will need between one and six tokens to apply. For the most in-demand jobs, that translates to a little less than $1 per submission.
That’s a significant departure from the old model, which provided 60 free Connects as part of the Freelancer Basic plan. In an economy where three in 10 adults take on freelance or “gig” work -- “generally as a supplemental source of income,” according to a Federal Reserve report -- it’s a tough blow, especially in states such as Georgia, where the minimum wage is just $5.15. Upwork says that on average, most freelancers will spend about $5 or less per month on Connects, but the company didn’t provide details on how it calculated that figure.
As for the reason? The freelancing platform, which counts companies including Dropbox, Airbnb, General Electric and Microsoft among its clients, wrote in an email to users: “We want to help professional freelancers like you win more jobs. With paid Connects, we expect freelancers will submit fewer proposals, increasing your likelihood of winning projects and making it easier for clients to identify high-quality talent.”
In the message, the company seems to acknowledge that the new pricing structure will deter a significant number of users from applying for jobs on the platform -- and implies that Upwork believes freelancers who can eat the new cost of tokens are inherently higher-quality talent.
The company’s decision has already incited controversy on social media and among its freelancers.
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