Upwork's recent move to shift towards a bidding-based selection platform has been making waves across the board, as now its freelancers must purchase and spend site tokens to apply for listings.
The new system is designed to narrow the field of freelancers going after a job to those who are the best fit. Because of the added cost, freelancers who may have been bidding for free for certain jobs that weren’t a perfect match will have to give extra thought to whether it makes sense to pay to submit a proposal going forward. “We spent a lot of time with users of all types to design a program that optimizes for our most professional freelancers,” says Hayden Brown, Chief Marketing and Product Officer at Upwork.
One common complaint about freelance platforms is that there can be a “race to the bottom,” where large numbers of freelancers compete for jobs and the ultra-low bids some make to win a job end up reducing the ability of everyone on a platform to earn a living wage. Well-compensated freelancers are often reluctant to join platforms because it can be hard to get the rates they would earn from clients found through other means, like referrals.
To bid on projects on the platform, freelancers must use what are called “Connects.” Starting in May, freelancers will need to use one to six Connects, priced at 15 cents a connect, to submit a proposal for a job they are interested in. The number of Connects will be calculated on the project’s value. No Connects will be free. Freelancers will have to buy them in bundles of 10 or more.
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