On May 5, 2015 oDesk relaunched as Upwork. The news dominated the internet for a day or so. Various online media and freelancers blogged on the topic, listing all the information they have received from the company’s PR department. But what does this name change really mean for us, freelancers and clients who have been using oDesk for years?
First, let’s see the official information about Upwork (formerly oDesk).
“Upwork is a new name, and also a new platform for connecting businesses with talented professionals, faster and more easily than ever before,” says Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork, in a blog post announcing the relaunch.
The key areas of improvement in the coming months are:
Two are the new features, expected in the near future:
- Real-time availability status for freelancers, enabling freelancers to set their online status and get contacted in real time by clients who are posting their job and filtering applicants at any given moment.
- Improved tracking of applicants because of the better user experience for clients – Upwork promises it will be easier for clients to invite, review, communicate with, and hire freelancers. Also, they promise improved algorithms for suggesting freelancers to clients, according to the specific project requirements and needs.
For me, the new features are not what makes me happy (I couldn’t care less for online availability of freelancers, to be honest), but the new direction Upwork is taking – the relationship focused approach.
Upwork seems to put communication in a central position when developing new features. This enables freelancers and clients alike to find each other and match their communication styles and preferences before they even exchange a single word about the project details.
The second area of improvement on Upwork in the coming months is the improved collaboration.
oDesk used to have a message center which was a very basic email box, so to speak. It is still available on Upwork, for that matter.
Elance has a work room where clients and team members can exchange messages, share files and collaborate in various ways but it does not offer good user experience, not for me anyway.
What Upwork is planning to do is take the best of both worlds and release one kick-ass message center, enabling clients and team members to collaborate anywhere and anytime.
With the ability to have chats and even video calls, using Skype or other real-time conversation programs during interviews will become obsolete and will unarguably make both freelancers’ and clients’ work easier.
There are some developments for Upwork Enterprise, designed specifically for collaboration with larger teams. See the details here.
And for those who like working on the go, new apps for Android and iOS will be available. They will enable freelancers to receive job alerts or messages on their phones and communicate with clients, especially prospective ones, even when “out of office”. This would result in more landed projects and better matched freelancers and clients due to faster communication.
The third area of improvement on Upwork in the coming months is the emphasis on freelance success and the opportunities for contractors to thrive.
Top Rated status, job success score, work history statistics, top skills in demand – all of these are aimed at helping you be the freelancer your clients need and pay top dollar for.
These new features at Upwork make it easier for clients to find contractors with stellar reputation and to hire the one who is best suited for their project.
Furthermore, the new “Hiring Hub” on Upwork provides tips and actionable advice on how to make the most of the platform and also teaches both freelancers and clients some best practices for working with remote teams.
For more information, I’d recommend reading the following materials:
- The official announcement on the Upwork blog – be sure to follow the internal links as they lead to additional information regarding specific features. All the images in this post are taken from the Upwork blog, being one of their official information channels.
- An article on Forbes website – Elance-oDesk Becomes ‘Upwork’ In Push To Build $10B In Freelancer Revenues.
- An article on Techcrunch – Elance-oDesk Rebrands As Upwork, Debuts Slack-Like Chat Platform.
But what does the relaunch of oDesk as Upwork really mean?
No doubt all these features that Upwork is about to release will make the collaboration between freelancers and clients easier. But I can’t help but ask myself – did they really need a new name? Why?
If you look through Upwork blog and forum, LI group discussions, internet forums where former oDeskers, now Upworkers discuss various issues relating to their work and life, you’ll see that, as expected, this change was not received very well. The fact that oDesk relaunched as Upwork literally overnight without telling anyone anything about it, didn’t help either.
The majority of people seem to hate the new name, the new platform, the new everything. It’s the human reaction of people who don’t like change and don’t handle it well. It’s only natural to be frightened when facing the unknown. And working on oDesk one day and forced on Upwork the next day can be quite intimidating for the freelancers who are yet to establish themselves as authority and are still making a name for themselves.
I get that. But how different do you think could Upwork be from oDesk right now, really?
Why do people hate it so much?
I urge you to pause and think well about the opportunity that Upwork is offering everyone.
If you think about it, it is basically the same platform – just a new name, new website colors and new font types. One can and will easily get used to them with time. None of those are essential to your well-being and good work as a freelancer.
However, a major pro that all nay-sayers are overlooking is the opportunity for freelancers and clients alike.
oDesk and Elance, and most freelancer job boards for that matter, are always confused with content mills by freelance writers, or race-to-the-bottom websites by freelancers from all professions. Although there are plenty of success stories and opportunities for making a good living on oDesk and Elance, the public perception of the platforms simply seem to be rock solid negative.
So the launch of Upwork is nothing more than the first step toward establishing their brand as the best work marketplace there is, which by the way is totally in line with their goal from a couple of years back.
Let me refresh your memory what Elance-oDesk set to achieve when they merged in late 2013.
Elance-oDesk mission is: “To create economic and social value on a global scale by providing a trusted online workplace to connect, collaborate, and succeed.”
Their vision is: “To connect businesses with great talent faster than ever before.”
But they can achieve either of these only if they distance themselves from the negative public perception of oDesk and Elance. The launch of a new platform is the logical step toward bringing innovation and changing people’s perception.
I find interesting the story behind the name, too. Here’s an excerpt from the article on Techcrunch I cited earlier:
So where does the name Upwork come from? The word work can sound like a “downer,” Kasriel explained. Projects offered on the platform, he says, are different. “It’s really awesome work–better work than you could find locally,” he said.
So in other words, Upwork stands for “awesome work”, or “work, but better” 😉
Of course, the platform needs to change how it operates and connects freelancers with businesses. The launch of Upwork will be pointless if they cannot live up to the expectations they set with this relaunch and the secrecy around it.
But what I am saying is – I am happy oDesk relaunched as Upwork because it means only one thing – they want to break free from the image of a website with a lot of low-paying clients and spammy incompetent freelancers.
Instead, they want to establish themselves as the online work marketplace where high-paying clients and top-rated freelancers meet and grow their businesses together.
Now we just keep doing business as usual and wait as the new features start rolling out. I believe great things await us on Upwork 😀
And if you are just hearing about this Upwork (formerly oDesk) thing, and you want to give it a shot, check out my new book.
How to Succeed on Upwork (oDesk) and Elance – A Winning 7-Step Formula and Some Hard Truths from a Freelance Pro
It will help you lay a solid foundation of your freelance practice on Upwork and take full advantage of the platform, as it proves itself as the high-quality freelance job board it wants to be 😉
Well I have an account at odesk but i use it rarely and I just came to know about this new relaunch. Seems like lot of improvements has been long and I’m gonna check em now.
Diana Marinova says
Hi, Samantha – thanks for stopping by. Yes, a lot of changes happened on oDesk during the past few months, before they even relaunched as Upwork. I am excited about all that is yet to come. Good luck – and be sure to drop by if you have questions or need help with freelancing 😀
Blasto Pala says
@Diana…great article seems you have become a master at this crisis wave riding maybe you should write something on that. Will be very helpful with all the crisis freelancers face 🙂 Just a thought
Diana Marinova says
Hi, Blasto – funny you should mention that. I did write something about it – it was my monthly newsletter tip – check it out here. If I remember correctly though you are part of my mailing list. Did you not see the May issue of the newsletter, or did you have something else in mind when suggesting a topic for the blog?
I’d love to hear more.
Excellent way to keep your tribe informed about the changes. And you are so right about change and people’s adverse reaction to it!
Diana Marinova says
Hi, Jacquie! I am sometimes anxious to write specifically about Upwork and Elance because a lot of my blog readers don’t necesarily work on freelance websites, rather pitch direct clients. Nevertheless, sometimes it’s worth talking about a major change – I am glad you agree the Upwork launch is such an event.
Cheers to the opportunities which come with every change 😀
Swati garg says
Plz any 1 tell me, who all can do the up work jobs, does it need higher qualification to do these projects
Diana Marinova says
Hi, Swati, thanks for stopping by and for commenting. For starters, you should improve your language. No matter your qualifications, proper English plays a significant role when connecting with prospective clients and getting projects on Upwork. Check out a post on the topic of literacy that I wrote a while back.
There are various projects available on Upwork – for both people with higher qualifications and without much special skills. The level of qualification you have will determine the type of jobs you can get and the amount of money you could make when working online. Here’s an overview of Upwork (formerly oDesk) categories, a post I wrote a while back.
And finally, once you figure out what you want and can do as a freelancer, get a copy of my first book on Amazon – it is a step-by-step guide how to lay a solid foundation for a successful freelance practice on Upwork.
Hope this heps.
The convergence of elance and odesk is a bad idea. They should of kept each separate and expanded the elance to be a better site, similar to odesk. Now every other listing on upwork is like $5.00 or $30.00 to rebuild a whole website, sort of like guru dot com. The situation is a downfall and this is hurting the developers that do good work by allowing a larger number of jobs to be posted. This leads to less chance for a good developer to win a bid and lower quality work.
Diana Marinova says
Hi, Larry – good developers shouldn’t compete on price with low-quality low-paid developers at all. If you are a good developer, you should figure out your value proposition and find various ways to stand apart from the crowd. Then the good clients will find you and you won’t be bothered so much with the number of low-paid projects available in your field.
I hope you don’t focus on the negative but take away the key message of the post …
Good luck and thanks for reading!
Good developers should be encouraged to find work.
If Upwork is so dedicated to making a developers experience “better” then it should filter out the low-ballers from the professionals. I only use Upwork to find quality projects and have only taken on very few jobs since most of the jobs seem to be projects targeted at cheap laborers like from India and even some US based workers that have very little experience and will work for nothing. I can not put food on my table working for nothing so I choose to only take those jobs that i know will pay good.
Unfortunately those jobs are bidded on by a large number of workers some of whom are bidding so low that the client takes that low bid as an invitation to get work done for cheap and jump on that opportunity rather than paying a bit more and getting a great product.
I see many listings of a client stating, “I had hired a contractor on [Odesk] and now I can not reach him anymore; and now my site looks like crap and does not work.” This is what happens when you allow EVERYBODY and there cousin to bid on jobs.
Diana Marinova says
I agree with you, tradesouthwestdesigns, that the large number of low bidding contractors poses a real problem. But Upwork are doing something about it.
I am looking for social media marketers for a client of mine and I was pleasantly surprised that the low ballers were filtered out for me. I didn’t waste any time sifting through spam applications this time (which cannot be said for past experiences).
I truly believe Upwork is committed to achieve what they promise – it just cannot happen overnight, so to speak, and they need freelancers’ and clients’ help to make it happen. I think the responsibility to educate clients about getting what they pay for still lies with us, freelancers.
More power to you, and more quality projects on Upwork 😀
oDesk was userfriendly. navigation was easy. upwork doesnt appear to be so. site map and dropdown menus are key issues.
Diana Marinova says
Hi, SHIVANANDA S – if the sitemap and dropdown menus are key issues for you, then I am afraid you are missing the bigger picture. The interface is one of the things which people fight the most, get used to relatively easy, and matters the least in this case. The change and opportunities which Upwork promises are of far greater importance, wouldn’t you say?
Diana, I am afraid your answer was not helpful or even focused on the original question asked. You are not aware of how important IU/UX is to ANY part of the user’s online experience. If navigation is poor (which, I agree with Shivananda) then this is a HUGE issue for a website that spends a great deal of its bandwidth working with Internet related product developers. To state “…I am afraid you are missing the bigger picture.” is a convoluted way of insulting someone’s view-point [opinion] of their experience with [your] company.
Upwork does not even support Linux machines as well as any basic online app. (programmers use Linux in case you did not know this.) The site thinks some of the Linux machines (Desktops) are phones (Android is Linux) and spits our script to modify the screen media calls.
Also the site does not support _blank anchor targets and is a sign of very un-friendly usage of navigation, a major impediment to the navigation of the site… no one wants to be sent to a page that does not recognize browser history. I could go on forever about the lack of user friendly resources upwork is missing.
Diana Marinova says
Thanks for your constructive criticism, tradesouthwestdesigns, and for taking the time to explain what problems with user experience you see. Shivanda’s comment sounded to me more like the “it’s too green” type of feedback. I suppose it was a result of the lack of detail in her comment, unlike yours.
I apologize if I misunderstood the intention of the original comment, I wouldn’t dare insult anyone because of their opinion.
I am very much familiar with the importance of IU/UX – but there is a part of user experience which although important, doesn’t matter as much as what you describe, and that is what I thought Shivanda is talking about.
To give you an example – I hate it how I have to click three or four times to reach the “get paid” section; or how I see how much the client is billed although I am looking at my freelancer reports section; or how I see the desktop site on my cell because for some reason Blackberry isn’t recognized as a mobile device; or how I can no longer see my agency contractors’ work diaries if they are hired directly by a client, and so on.
All of this is bad user experience (at least for me) but it is something I’ll get used to and doesn’t make or break the site as a good marketplace to meet clients and freelancers.
The problems you describe are serious indeed and I hope you have communicated them with Upwork and they resolve them soon.
Thanks again for your comment – much appreciated. I hope I cleared the air and Shivanda accepts my apology for dismissing her feedback the way I did.