The day is dawning soon that Elance will be gone forever and only Upwork will exist in a place once occupied and dominated by Odesk and Elance. For those of us who were with both sites before the merger, that means a significant drop in the number of applications you could send out since the beginning of the year, dropping from 140. The old Odesk used to permit 25 per week which they reduced to 60 “connects” (with most jobs worth 2 connects) and elance permitted 40. Once Elance closes, you may apply for just 30 jobs.
You’re probably wondering how you will survive with such a significant loss in application numbers. You can get by and you will. You’ll probably find you’re application-hire ratio is significantly better than it was, and with so few jobs, you might be concerned about your income. Of course, Upwork should not be your only source of finding new clients, but you do want to get maximum benefit from the site including those limited connects. Here are a few tips for making your upwork connects last longer now that you are limited to just one application per day.
The other problem is that when you withdraw an application because a job turns out to be unsuitable or fraudulent, you’ll no longer get your connects back. Hopefully Upwork will change this in future.
It goes without saying, but the best way for making connects last longer on Upwork is to stop carpet-bombing; it never really worked as a strategy. Too many clients closed jobs unallocated because they had 150 applicants and none of them were suitable. This was why Upwork changed the system in the first place. Now you have a limited number of connects, you should pay more attention to the requirements of the potential client. If there’s only a remote chance that you’ll be considered, save your connects and don’t bother. If they want dirt cheap and you charge $25ph then they will not consider you, even if you are top rated.
Aim for the Long Term
Another great way for making connects last longer on upwork is to not need to use so many in the first place. Not every client wants a long-term deal and not every one is going to turn into that, but the closest thing we have to job security in this precarious world of freelancing is long-term clients where there is mutual trust. The more long-term clients you have, the more ongoing work you have, the less time you have for pitching for new contracts. You get paid for doing actual work, you don’t get paid for trawling the job boards. With regular, reliable work your connects will go far. I’ve had weeks where I have applied for no jobs at all because I’ve had so much work going on and all work for clients I successfully pitched six months or more ago. You’ll also get repeat clients and those hires cost you no connects.
Make Your Profile Enticing
What’s better than pitching for lots of jobs and getting lots of interest? Getting lots of interest for jobs you haven’t pitched for. That’s right, the better your profile is, the more up to date your skills are, the more client feedback you have, the more samples you put up, the more searchable you are, the greater likelihood you have for getting work while doing nothing. Half the problem with Upwork is getting people to notice you in amongst those as equally qualified and experienced as you are. Get them to do that part of your job for you and you can spend more time doing actual work and earning more money. Your Upwork connects will last longer if clients are approaching you.
Ignore Unverified Payment+No Work History
These jobs usually sound too good to be true, and that’s usually because they are. If a client can’t be bothered to get their payment system verified before they post a job, or have been on the site for three months and still haven’t done it, then chances are the job is not legit; even if it was legit, they are probably unreliable. If you auto-skip these jobs in the feed, then you will certainly be making your upwork connects last longer as you focus on legitimate clients and legitimate jobs with a much higher chance of contract allocation. If you want to be even more cautious, it’s an idea to look at the job post to allocation percentage for clients with a work history. The higher the percentage, the greater chance that a job will result in work. Clients who post jobs and then don’t allocate them has become a problem, and I think Upwork will start penalising these flaky clients and time wasters.
Remember, it’s not a goal to use up all your connects every month – though I understand the feeling that they are wasted if they are not used – they are a way of facilitating access to work and are not a finite resource.