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A Few Upwork Observations To Help You Get Content Cheap!

Update – Upwork have recently added their latest cash grab to their site. As shown in the screenshot below, they now charge clients to have their job posts have maximum visibility in the marketplace. Due to this, it may take longer to find writers willing to work for the prices I list in this post.

Upworks additional client fees.

In this post, I will be going over some observations I have recently made as well as some of the experiences I have had since using Upwork as a client for all of my content orders. I just want to quickly say this is not a sponsored post and I at the time of writing I am not affiliated with Upwork.For those who are unaware, Upwork is a

For those who are unaware of Upwork, it is a marketplace where clients can post jobs and have freelancers bid to do the job for them. There are a number of different skillsets that are available on the site and at the time of writing all of my experience is based around using the site as a client to find writers for my content orders.

When I first got into internet marketing I almost exclusively used the services in the blackhatworld market to fill my content orders. In 2015 I decided to give Upwork a try and moved all of my content orders from the blackhatworld marketplace over to Upwork for a test project. Off the top of my head, I think I spent around $500 on the site for the project and ultimately decided to go back to using blackhatworld services.

A few month back I started to notice that the blackhatworld marketplace prices were going up, quality was going down and deadlines were being missed without any warning from the service owners. After having one of the service owners submit spun and plagiarized content for one of his orders I decided to go back to Upwork and give it a real try.

My Upwork Spend And Feedback Score

Now I just want to quickly touch on this as I have had a number of people over on Reddit come back to me saying that freelancers simply weren’t bidding on their jobs at the rates I post. Although it is just a personal theory of mine, I think that having 100% feedback with 142 five star reviews without a single four or below star review may help attract freelancers to my jobs and I am realistic with what I post in the job descriptions for the prices I post.

For example, this is a realistic job listing at a rate of $5 per 1000 words consisting of two 500 word articles.

“The articles do not have to go into great detail but do have to be unique, human readable and pass a Copyscape check for duplicate content. Both articles will be based on the same subject.

The articles will be required for Saturday 10th June.”

Don’t Presume Higher Budgets Get You A Higher Standard Of Work!

In the past, I have paid upto the $100 mark for 2000 word articles with flashy sales graphics containing buzz words such as “native English speakers”, “university educated”, and “Journalist standard”. I now pay around $20 for 2000 word articles that are of a very similar standard if not better than the content I paid $100 per 2000 words for.

Depending on my goals I may also use $10 per 2000 word content on my money site from a few of my select writers. For example, a site based on the micro niche site model geared towards display advertising programs such as AdSense.

High bounce rate.

The screenshot above shows some of my analytics data for one of my AdSense sites. As you can see, it has over 90% bounce rate with an average session duration of only 18 seconds. My goal on the site is to maximize ad space above the fold to maximize the initial ad exposure to the user and increase the chance of them clicking on one of my display ad boxes.

The content required for this standard can be low and cheap as I don’t care if the person reads the full article or not, the article is there for Google for the page to rank rather than the reader. I know people say sites with bounce rates like this fall out of the ranks quickly but this particular site is over a year old now and was profitable after being ranked for only a few months.

You Don’t Know The Freelancers Personal Circumstances!

Everyone’s personal circumstances are totally different. You can use this to your advantage to get some very talented writers working with you for less than they may usually charge. Below are some examples that I have managed to leverage for excellent cheap content.

  • Stay at home mothers who are looking to earn a little side money.
  • Students who are wanting to earn some money to help get them through school.
  • People from/Digital nomads in countries with a lower living wage than.
  • People in rural areas with limited job opportunities.
  • People who need a sudden increase in cash for a number of reasons.

Don’t Presume A None Native English Speakers Content Will Be Subpar!

The below screenshot is a breakdown of all the nationalities of the freelancers I have hired from Upwork for English language content jobs. Some were good, most were average and some were bad but the point I am trying to make is that the majority of the countries national language is not English.

Writer nationalities.

The majority of the freelancers I have hired to date produced average content but all of them were cheap, perfect for test sites or display ad based sites.

The British Empire was the largest empire the world has ever seen. This has resulted in a large number of countries who were previously in the empire having English as an official language even if it is not their national language. As most of the freelancers I have hired are from Pakistan, the screenshot below shows their language breakdown for their country. Although English is not their national language, it is an official language that is widely spoken.

I have definitely noticed that some writers from western countries have a very high of themselves and their ability yet fail to realise a client can easily outsource their trade to other parts of the world much cheaper than they will charge.

Don’t Fall For The “Published” Writer Blag!

I have seen some writers attempt to inflate their fees by stating that they are published writers on well-known sites such as Huffington Post. What they don’t tell you is that until recently, it was relatively easy for anyone to sign up to the site with a contributor account and post content without being paid for it.

Although the official contributor account signup program has been closed recently I have read a few forum threads and blog posts saying you can still get them by writing to them via the contact us links on the domain.

There are a bunch of other well-known domains offering similar programs to these too where people can essentially submit content to the domain without being paid for it. From what I have seen from people using these accounts to sell links on the domains the standard of writing does not have to be high.

I have also seen freelancers attempt to increase their fees by claiming they are published authors using the Kindle KDP program. Again, this is a free service that anyone can sign up for and submit their books to the Kindle library. One of the first things I did in internet marketing was using a kindle books sales page on the Amazon domain as a parasite and blasting it to rank it in Google. I know first hand the content in the books can be far from good and still be accepted.

Copyscape Everything!

I can’t stress this one enough guys, if you are new to the site and building up your writing team Copyscape check everything that is submitted to you! Personally, I Copyscape check 100% of the content coming from the site and if you can’t afford the extra cents required to Copyscape check 100% of the content try to check 50% or 33% as a minimum.

The Copyscape premium check has a much larger library than anything else I have ever tried but if budget is an issue then the free Small SEO Tools Plagiarism Checker maybe able to help you detect some of the more obvious scammers.

Copyscape check with 98% duplicate content.

I have had a fair few first-time hires attempt to scam me by submitting plagiarized content that they have gone out and copy and pasted from other websites. The above screenshot is from an Upwork freelancer who had fairly good reviews and job success scores, the job was for a 2000 word article and he submitted 258 words that turned out to be 98% duplicate content and asked for full payment. Needless to say, I ended the contract, reported him to Upwork and blocked him to prevent him from bidding on my future jobs.

Build Relationships With Your Writing Team!

Noone’s life if perfect and random things happen that may result in a freelancer being unable to submit work for a given deadline. I have noticed that some cultures seem a little under confident with their clients until you take the time to build a relationship with them. Once I have received a few good articles from a freelancer I add them to my writing team and tell them that if for whatever reason they are unable to meet a jobs deadline just let me know.

Provided they give me a heads up and I can work my plans around their predicted deadline and I will keep the job open for them. If they skip a deadline without warning me then I cancel the contract, request a full refund from the Upwork escrow service and usually will sack the freelancer from my team.

Recognizing or at least appearing to recognize the hard work of the freelancer can also go a long way in keeping them loyal to you at a cheaper rate. Once a contract has been completed successfully I release funds for the contract, leave them a five-star rating and then inbox the freelancer the following message.

Thanks for your hard work, funds released and five-star feedback left please leave me feedback for the job :).

It thanks them and lets them know I have left them five-star feedback and requests they leave me feedback. Although it is a theory, I believe doing this increases the chance of the freelancer leaving me five-star feedback and as I mentioned in my earlier theory, this may help attract good writers to my low paying jobs.

If you are a Mac user and have the Alfred app then you can take a few seconds out of your life to set up a macro to paste this message into the upwork message at the touch of a hotkey or by typing a short codeword taking only a second of your time in exchange for an increased chance of getting five-star feedback.

Provide Templates To Your Writers

Your writing team are not able to read your mind so unless you provide them with guidance, you will get a standard generic article from the freelancer. For my Amazon affiliate sites, I use the below template for my writers, it is simple and easy to explain to a new writer but it helps the freelancer deliver the article in the format I want for a few seconds of my time.

Click To Expand The Article Template!

Title

Product 1

Special Features

Pros

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

F.A.Qs

Product 2

Special Features

Pros

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

F.A.Qs

Product 3

Special Features

Pros

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

F.A.Qs

Product 4

Special Features

Pros

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

F.A.Qs

Product 5

Special Features

Pros

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

F.A.Qs

Buyers Guide

Conclusion

Let Them Know You Can Provide A Large Volume Of Contracts

From my experience, freelancers seem to price themselves for hit and run clients. This means they price themselves higher than they would for larger or continuous contracts as they are unsure when they will get work again.

If you inform them that you have large volumes of work to offer them after a successful initial article then I have found many freelancers will lower their overall price. I have managed to negotiate upto 40% discounts on freelancers initial rates by uploading batches of contracts at once and hiring a set freelancer.

Use A Code Word!

I no longer do this as the majority of the jobs I post for bidding are low prices but if I ever return to posting higher priced jobs I will go back to adding a code word into the job description to easily remove bids from bots or people who bid on everything.

The idea is that half way through your job description you add something like…

Start your covering letter with the word CHEESEBURGER to prove you have read the job description or you will not be considered for the job.

Then when it comes to filtering your applicants you simply glance at their covering articles and remove all that do not start with the code word.

Don’t Take Advice From The Freelancers!

If you are at a stage when you don’t know how you want your content setting out then you should be writing it yourself, not hiring it from freelancers. There is a reason they are freelance writers who sell their content for a one-time fee rather than made websites out of it themselves for a long term income.

Although I haven’t done this personally I would guess you could ask 10 different freelance writers to do perfect on page search engine optimization on the articles and all 10 would do something different to each other. Use templates as I share above and tell them a set word count you require to meet your required keyword density rather than letting them wing it.

There are also a few other little things I have noticed freelancers try in an attempt to get more money out of clients as shown in the screenshot below.

Upwork freelancers reply to my review.

The freelancer placed a bid on a job and I awarded her the contract, she accepted the job and completed it then asked for an additional 20% to cover Upworks fees, we have blocked each other now so I am unable to screenshot the actual inboxes between up but my feedback to her and her response are shown in the screenshot above.

As you can see from my first screenshot in this article, I have over 170 hires on the platform and this is the first person who has ever did this in this way so in my experience it is not a common practice, she was just attempting to get more money for work she had already completed. She then tried to play the victim card claiming my feedback made her seem like a beggar even though I still gave her 3.8/5 stars and then offered advice suggesting there won’t be anyone willing to work with me.

Thankfully, I have seen enough crap like this to know it’s all part of her hustle but someone new to the site may think this is true and pay her the extra for no reason at all!

Block The Time Wasters And Report The Scammers!

In the past, I have reported scammers and their accounts have been banned quickly, it seems Upwork have recently changed their rules or the instructions given to their moderators as all recent accounts I have reported are still active and able to try their tricks on more clients in the marketplace.

In addition, I have noticed a few people who will bid on jobs and once awarded them will leave the job as pending and message you in an attempt to increase their fee even though the budget on the job is clearly visible during the bidding stage.

I now block time wastes and report then block scammers as to my knowledge it prevents them being able to bid on my jobs and waste my time or attempt to scam me in the future. One of the best things about Upwork is it has a massive amount of freelancers from all over the globe so there is no shortage of people willing to bid on your jobs as shown in the screenshot below for one of my hiring rounds.

A hiring round on upwork for a group of content contracts.

How I Quickly Filter The People Who Bid On My Jobs

The hiring round in the screenshot above was for one of my recent micro niche sites and I have logged my filtering process for the freelancers in a hope it helps my readers if they choose to try Upwork.

Overbidding on Upwork.

The first thing I get rid of is people who overbid on the project as shown in the screenshot above where the freelancer has placed a bid of $12.50 for a $10 budget. Although it is only a small over bit the freelancer has only earned $20 on the site and has no reviews or job success rating so in my opinion, he should be under bidding to build up his social proof.

I have no problem giving good writers increases in pay if I feel they are worth it but for an initial order, I refuse to pay over the budget price, especially on a fresh account to the site that may just be a burner account for a scammer or time waster.

Freelancers having a low completion rate and job success score.

The screenshot above is a good example of the next two steps in my filtering process in one screenshot. They are the job success score and the customer satisfactory rating. To my knowledge, the 56% is the number of jobs the freelancers has bid on, won and then completed for their clients. I suspect that having a score of 56% means the freelancer has had almost half of the jobs he has won dropped for various reasons.

The customer satisfactory rating is the little line under the job success score. To my knowledge, this is the average of the score out of 10 a client gives a freelancer at the end of a contract be it completed sucessfully or not. This particular freelancers customer satisfactory rating is around the 10% mark so he is definatley a no go for me.

I personally try to go for freelancers with a job success score of over 80% and a customer satisfacotry rating where the green line fills at lease around 75% of the bar.

Upwork freelancers having no work history.

Now that we have filtered the initial set of freelancers who bid on the job I open each of their profiles in a new tab and check their work history. If they have 0 hours worked and 0 jobs as shown in the screenshot above I usually drop them in favor of a freelancer who does have some past experience on the site.

This helps reduce the number of potential burner accounts for scammers who have had their main accounts banned but if you are new to the site you need to remember your stats will be similar meaning some freelancers may pass over you for the same reason. In the past, I have hired freelancers with these types of stats and off the top of my head, the majority of their work has been fine.

Upwork jobs with the freelancers filtered.

The screenshot above shows the exact same jobs that were shown earlier in the post, just the freelancers have now been filtered and as you can see this round of hiring managed to pick up seven new freelancers on initial orders. Out of those seven, I managed to get a girl who is an excellent writer and will probably be given a rate increase to keep her working on my projects rather than going to other clients.

A Small Test I Ran

A set of jobs posted on upwork.

The screenshot above shows another recent round of hiring I ran over on Upwork. In this particular round, I decided to see how the job budget would affect both the number and quality of applicants applying to my jobs.

Due to my own foolishness in wanting to get the test started as soon as possible, I posted the three jobs at the bottom of the list within a minute of each other. As they were all shown close to each other in the freelancer’s job searches you can see most people were only bidding on the $20 one.

If any of my readers are considering using Upwork as a freelancer rather than a client and you are presented with a similar situation I highly recommend you bid on all three jobs if you ever end up in the same situation, especially if you are on a new account. The guy who placed a bid was the only applicant for the job so provided his account got through the filtering stage the job was his, as well as an easy review on his account.

Noticing my mistake, I readded the $10 and $15 jobs at one hour intervals on the site to increase the chance the freelancers would bid on those budgets and as you can see the strategy worked.

A filtered list of jobs on Upwork.

The screenshot above is the same list of jobs with their bidding freelancers filtered. I know there is only a marginal difference in $10 to $20 budgets but I noticed no real difference in the content delivered for the jobs so I have gone back to $10 per 2000 word article for my display ad micro niche sites.

I hope this article has helped my readers pick up some tips on how to get content for cheap on sites like Upwork. I doubt I will return to the blackhatworld marketplace for my content orders in the foreseeable future as the content provided via Upwork using the various things I have shared above is of similar or better content while being much cheaper.

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