The Dark Side of Services Like UpWork

Had a client recently ask about a very particular, niche project they have. They told me they were considering searching for someone through UpWork. I said that would be a good idea (I suspect they were hoping I could help with the project – but it was so obscure, although I personally could have helped, it would take me away from my clients and bread and butter and wouldn’t be scalable so I wasn’t interested in assisting).

But… I also warned the client of the dark side of services like upwork.

So what is the problem with upwork?

Doing a quick search for “upwork” i quickly found a ton of people that have been saying upwork sucks for sometime – and sadly this is the case.

What’s the problem? The problem is hustle culture.

I’ve been trying to supplement our main in-house local team for some-time with contractors. I prefer U.S. based contractors for multiple reasons, not least of which is simply scheduling and communications.

But here’s what I’ve experienced over the last 18 months of working with contractors from UpWork:

  • They virtually ALL suck – literally, they suck. They misrepresent their skills, claim they’re better than they are, and wholly incapable of doing the job, thinking about the problem, etc.
  • The cost of actual capable designers, developers, and marketers, is getting exponentially more expensive – even with AI being a factor.
  • I’ve hired 4 different contractors to assist me with my load with Pay Per Click marketing – the first 2 literally lied, didn’t do the work, missed deadlines, and flipped out when I refused payment. They were basically trying to “hustle” their way to a marketing agency – by pretending to do the work and outsourcing it (and their outsourced talent was doing the same thing!). A true house of cards. They left a scathing review because I refused payment – I have a feeling they paid their own contractors upfront lol.
  • In the few cases where I was able to find someone decent/capable, I’ve found people just don’t want to work any more for money, no matter what the money is. In two cases, super simple ongoing updates with massive margins weren’t “interesting enough” to warrant continued work.
  • Everyone Misrepresents themselves – be it their language abilities, coding skills, etc. I’ve found it valuable to quickly test them with a small project, for which we both have skin in the game, and move on if they fail any part of the test
  • No one is good at scheduling, communication, or business (in my experience) on UpWork.

You have men like Andrew Tate (who all things aside, does seem to be a capable business man – or at least have people behind him that completely are) advocating for all kinds of “hustling.” Business is hard, you have to bring value, be consitent, communicate, etc. Service businesses are MUCH harder than product businesses because you’re selling your time and expertise. In hindsight it’s no wonder that we’re in this mess.

We’re at the start of the competancy crisis and things are going to get MUCH worse here on out. Imagine this… in the HVAC industry – for example – right now for every 7 techs retiring only 1 is entering the field. Apply this to electricity, engineering, the legal field and more… things are going to be collapsing quickly in my opinion over the next 15 years.

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