Five Tips for Clients Working with Freelancers On Upwork

Upwork is one of the most popular freelancing platforms available today, but in order to make the most out of it as a client, you have to know how to narrow down your choices and how to work with freelancers effectively.


Give Good Directions

A freelance relationship can easily fall apart because of poor directions. If you are not sure of what you want, then schedule a time to talk with a freelancer to dive into more detail. Not having any guidelines and then coming back to the freelancer after he or he has already turned in work is not exactly fair to the freelancer. Be clear about what you want upfront and if there are any guidelines in your instructions that the freelancer needs to follow, he or she must be aware of these before working together.

It is not reasonable to ask a freelancer to revise things three or four times because you have changed your mind. If you're not exactly sure what you want, look for a freelancer who has expertise in this area and can get on a phone call with you to discuss some options.

If you do go this route, however, be prepared to pay for that freelancer’s time as it is also not fair to expect free advice. Someone who helps you in a strategic sense can be extremely valuable for carrying out the work and recommending the best way to do it. Some freelancers will offer a limited time period in which you can ask questions about their services, but it’s rude to go beyond this.


Set Reasonable Deadlines and Be Open to Flexibility

Most freelancers are like all humans. Things come up and sometimes deadlines can't be met or challenges arise. Sometimes these challenges are even due to not following my first tip of setting good directions. Make sure you have a reasonable deadline. Requesting that a freelancer complete a 50,000-word e-book in one week is probably an unrealistic request, particularly if you are not paying a premium price.

Make sure you use the Upwork function to see what the freelancer recommends as far as a timeline. You may need to adjust your expectations either with regard to price or with regard to deadlines. However, if you do have a freelancer who does not comply with the deadlines the two of you have set, then be open to terminating that relationship or figuring out other options.


Understand the Impact of Both Good and Bad Feedback

Good feedback is the lifeblood of Upwork as a freelancer. It is essential to have positive feedback from your clients who have been satisfied with your work and the working relationship in order to land future business.

An Upwork profile is much like an EBay seller. You need positive feedback from others in order for those new potential clients to consider hiring you. That's why it's extremely helpful to the freelancers you work with to spend the two minutes to leave them some positive feedback. Remember that anything you type will appear on their public profile. Certainly, it is fair to leave comments if you have had issues with the freelancer and if he or she did not respond in a way that met your needs, but be aware that bad feedback can haunt a freelancer on Upwork forever.

Imagine that this was one of the freelancer's first jobs and if you leave one-star feedback and negative comments, it is likely that this freelancer may never earn business again. Certainly, be fair but be honest in your feedback and consider how it will impact this person's future. It is certainly reasonable to warn future clients about a particularly egregious experience.


Know That We Can See Your Feedback, Too

One of the greatest features of Upwork is that freelancers can also leave feedback for their clients. This is a major tool that I and many other freelancers use in disqualifying clients. Remember, this is a working relationship and many freelancers have the choice about who they partner with in any kind of project. If I see numerous comments from past freelancers that you have worked with on your profile that there were problems with payment, that a client was rude or that other boundaries were crossed, I won't even consider working with that client.

The experience of several freelancers is certainly enough to cement a reputation and throw up all of my red flags. Be aware that your freelancer does have the opportunity to leave you feedback so make sure you hold up your end of the deal too and always handle things appropriately and professionally.


Understand That You Are Likely One of Many

If you are offering a client $100 a month or even $500 a month to handle something for you on Upwork, you are likely not their only client. Most people would be unable to pay their bills and make a living if they had just one client on Upwork. This means you need to be somewhat flexible with response times and deadlines. If your freelancer is juggling multiple clients, he or she may not be available to jump on a phone call when you email them two minutes prior to request that.

They also may not be able to fit in bigger projects without getting on the phone with you first and talking about a realistic deadline for those projects. This is one of the benefits and it can also be seen as one of the disadvantages of working with freelancers. You are one of multiple, if not many, clients so be patient and remember that, do not treat a freelancer like your employee because that can lead to a negative working relationship and communication breakdowns, none of which benefit your project getting done.