The Entrepreneur Forum | Startups | Entrepreneurship | Starting a Business | Motivation | Success

Advice Wanted; How Should I Respond to This?

Remove ads while supporting the Unscripted philosophy...become an INSIDER.

RandD

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Sep 15, 2017
20
28
29
On the way
On Upwork:
I was invited by a client to write content for their own website. The client is a website designer and I had previously completed a number of smaller, low cost proofreading and copywriting jobs for them.

The client wanted me to write 3 specialist articles of 100% original content stating they are on a tight deadline. They provided example content which totalled about 4,500 words so it wasn't a small job.

I advised I could provide the copy by the end of the week and it would take about 28 hours. My hourly rate was $25 (even less than my profile rate of $30). A quote from my cover letter:

Researching, writing, reviewing and revising the written copy for the 3 original articles as required will take about 28 hours. If you approve this Monday morning I will be able to complete it by the end of Friday, 29 March.

The job ended up taking 26 hours and 40 minutes to complete and I submitted time sheets for that duration.

Yesterday I received several messages from the client advising that:

  • It looks like there's been a mistake and they have been charged a crazy amount for the work.
  • They think I've deducted the money and asking for it to be refunded [note: the money is in escrow - I haven't received it yet].
  • Asking me to refund the money and discuss a more reasonable amount.
  • They know good articles can be written for $30-$50 per article.
  • The most they will pay is $100.
  • The time taken to write the articles is unreasonable.

For context:

  • This is the only Upwork client I've had so far.
  • My intention is to prove my worth to clients (and eventually end up on a far higher rate). My first jobs were low-priced to get a start and build my reputation.
  • I will not work for this client again unless they change their attitude and realise the worth of the work I have done. I prefer to keep good relationships with every client but am prepared to make exceptions.
This has been a good lesson about being too cheap initially.

Experienced Upworkers/freelancers, any advice on how to respond?
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

Bekit

Platinum Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Aug 13, 2018
762
3,539
863
On Upwork:
I was invited by a client to write content for their own website. The client is a website designer and I had previously completed a number of smaller, low cost proofreading and copywriting jobs for them.

The client wanted me to write 3 specialist articles of 100% original content stating they are on a tight deadline. They provided example content which totalled about 4,500 words so it wasn't a small job.

I advised I could provide the copy by the end of the week and it would take about 28 hours. My hourly rate was $25 (even less than my profile rate of $30). A quote from my cover letter:

Researching, writing, reviewing and revising the written copy for the 3 original articles as required will take about 28 hours. If you approve this Monday morning I will be able to complete it by the end of Friday, 29 March.

The job ended up taking 26 hours and 40 minutes to complete and I submitted time sheets for that duration.

Yesterday I received several messages from the client advising that:

  • It looks like there's been a mistake and they have been charged a crazy amount for the work.
  • They think I've deducted the money and asking for it to be refunded [note: the money is in escrow - I haven't received it yet].
  • Asking me to refund the money and discuss a more reasonable amount.
  • They know good articles can be written for $30-$50 per article.
  • The most they will pay is $100.
  • The time taken to write the articles is unreasonable.

For context:

  • This is the only Upwork client I've had so far.
  • My intention is to prove my worth to clients (and eventually end up on a far higher rate). My first jobs were low-priced to get a start and build my reputation.
  • I will not work for this client again unless they change their attitude and realise the worth of the work I have done. I prefer to keep good relationships with every client but am prepared to make exceptions.
This has been a good lesson about being too cheap initially.

Experienced Upworkers/freelancers, any advice on how to respond?
I'm not an experienced upworker, but I am a freelance copywriter.

Questions:
  • What was the total final word count? Was it 4500 words per article, or 4500 for all three?
  • What was the difficulty of the subject matter? Was it a common-knowledge topic, or an obscure area that would require any normal person to put in a lot of research?
  • What proportion of the time would you estimate you spent on research, and what proportion on writing?

A couple of observations:
  • You had it in writing that it would take you 28 hours. They still chose you.
    • They either didn't read the proposal fully, or they're just trying to be a bully and retrieve the money after the fact.
    • If your proposal clearly states this, I would guess that Upwork would rule in your favor. But I don't know how they roll.
  • You completed the work in less time than you estimated.
  • 26.5 hours times $25/hour = $662.50 total.
    • That works out to $220.83 per article.
    • That's not unreasonable for high-quality writing.
    • If the articles were 1500 words each, that's 14 cents per word.
    • If the articles were 4500 words each, that's 4 cents per word.
    • Either one of those prices is solidly in the range of the prices that companies pay writers (when the fee is based on word count).
    • I don't know your skill level or your writing style, but based on this post, it doesn't seem unreasonable that you would have been able to charge this.
If I were in your shoes, I would politely stand my ground using some of the arguments I've listed above.

Just riffing here... but...
"Dear [client name],

I'm sorry to hear that you were surprised by the cost of the finished articles I provided for you.

As originally stated, my estimate for the job was 28 hours at $25 per hour. This would add up to $700. You still selected me for the job.

You said you had a tight deadline. I provided the copy on time and in fewer hours than my original estimate.

So I'm confused. I am having trouble seeing what the problem is.

Are you asking me to re-negotiate my rates after the job is already finished?

Hoping that we can clear up this misunderstanding!

[Your signoff]


[side note: It's a Chris Voss negotiation technique to try to get the other person to answer "no." That's what I was going for in the question, "Are you asking me to re-negotiate my rates?" But the fuller picture is that you try to get them to say, "That's right." A very powerful technique he suggests is to ask "How am I supposed to _?" after that. Might try working some of those techniques into the copy.]
 

lowtek

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Oct 3, 2015
1,911
6,268
1,480
38
Phoenix, AZ
Did all of the discussion take place in the Upwork chat? In other words, is there a paper trail where you can prove to Upwork that they were in agreement?

Sounds like you did an hourly contract, what did they set the weekly hour cap to?

Have you already turned over the work and have they posted it on their site?
 
OP
OP
RandD

RandD

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Sep 15, 2017
20
28
29
On the way
I'm not an experienced upworker, but I am a freelance copywriter.

Questions:
  • What was the total final word count? Was it 4500 words per article, or 4500 for all three?
  • What was the difficulty of the subject matter? Was it a common-knowledge topic, or an obscure area that would require any normal person to put in a lot of research?
  • What proportion of the time would you estimate you spent on research, and what proportion on writing?

A couple of observations:
  • You had it in writing that it would take you 28 hours. They still chose you.
    • They either didn't read the proposal fully, or they're just trying to be a bully and retrieve the money after the fact.
    • If your proposal clearly states this, I would guess that Upwork would rule in your favor. But I don't know how they roll.
  • You completed the work in less time than you estimated.
  • 26.5 hours times $25/hour = $662.50 total.
    • That works out to $220.83 per article.
    • That's not unreasonable for high-quality writing.
    • If the articles were 1500 words each, that's 14 cents per word.
    • If the articles were 4500 words each, that's 4 cents per word.
    • Either one of those prices is solidly in the range of the prices that companies pay writers (when the fee is based on word count).
    • I don't know your skill level or your writing style, but based on this post, it doesn't seem unreasonable that you would have been able to charge this.
If I were in your shoes, I would politely stand my ground using some of the arguments I've listed above.

Just riffing here... but...
"Dear [client name],

I'm sorry to hear that you were surprised by the cost of the finished articles I provided for you.

As originally stated, my estimate for the job was 28 hours at $25 per hour. This would add up to $700. You still selected me for the job.

You said you had a tight deadline. I provided the copy on time and in fewer hours than my original estimate.

So I'm confused. I am having trouble seeing what the problem is.

Are you asking me to re-negotiate my rates after the job is already finished?

Hoping that we can clear up this misunderstanding!

[Your signoff]


[side note: It's a Chris Voss negotiation technique to try to get the other person to answer "no." That's what I was going for in the question, "Are you asking me to re-negotiate my rates?" But the fuller picture is that you try to get them to say, "That's right." A very powerful technique he suggests is to ask "How am I supposed to _?" after that. Might try working some of those techniques into the copy.]
Bekit,
Wow, thank you for your extremely helpful advice!

It was 4,500 total for website design, maintenance and lead generation. The client required copy that passed Copyscape. The client gave me copy from other sources that they wanted an original version of. However, I believe all this is of secondary importance as I clearly communicated to them my rate and an estimate of hours and they accepted it and began the contract (if they didn't read my cover letter, that's their issue).
 
OP
OP
RandD

RandD

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Sep 15, 2017
20
28
29
On the way
Did all of the discussion take place in the Upwork chat? In other words, is there a paper trail where you can prove to Upwork that they were in agreement?

Sounds like you did an hourly contract, what did they set the weekly hour cap to?

Have you already turned over the work and have they posted it on their site?
lowtek,
Thank you for taking the time to respond. To answer your questions:
  1. Yes, all the discussion took place in Upwork chat. I put the hours estimate in the cover letter.
  2. Yes, it was hourly and the weekly cap was 40. After sending the post-submission messages, the weekly cap was reduced to 3.
  3. Yes, all these messages came after I submitted the work. I just did a search and my content is already on their site.
 

lowtek

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Oct 3, 2015
1,911
6,268
1,480
38
Phoenix, AZ
lowtek,
Thank you for taking the time to respond. To answer your questions:
  1. Yes, all the discussion took place in Upwork chat. I put the hours estimate in the cover letter.
  2. Yes, it was hourly and the weekly cap was 40. After sending the post-submission messages, the weekly cap was reduced to 3.
  3. Yes, all these messages came after I submitted the work. I just did a search and my content is already on their site.
So they basically knowingly contracted you at a high rate with full time hours, liked the work you did well enough to post it on their site, and then decided they wanted a discount.

In my mind, them posting the work constitutes fulfillment of the contract. They don't get to come back and unilaterally renegotiate after the transaction is over. If they had been morons and just said "oops, we didn't mean to pay you so much. Let's discuss this before we post the work.", then that would be a totally different conversation, and one in which I would say it's better to just eat the loss of time and money and get the 5* review and move on with your life... but that's not what happened.

It's up to you how you want to proceed. Your position seems defensible to me, given the facts. Upwork *should* side with you on this, provided you have all the evidence in order.

Take screen shots of the chat immediately, in case they try to edit it.

Take screenshots of their site, showing they have put up your work, thus accepting it.

As far as I understand it, if they don't formally file a request for refund then the money should default to you in a couple weeks. So, you could just keep your mouth shut and collect the money and then tell them to bugger off. They'll nuke your review, which won't look great, but you'll have a chance to respond on your profile, mitigating some of the bad juju. You can always deal with that in the next few gigs you get by addressing it with new clients up front. If you do a great job, you'll get more 5* reviews and life will go on.

I had a client try to get $500 of work for free off me, and they didn't use the formal dispute system. It defaulted to me and they nuked my rating from orbit, but I recovered. I had previous 5* reviews to show I was a good freelancer, however. I just say this to show that it's possible to come back from such a crappy situation.

It depends on who you are. Are you comfortable getting negative feedback from someone who is an entitled spoiled child? Are you comfortable taking the extra time it will require to overcome that negative feedback?

If yes, tell them to get bent.

If no, then chalk it up to getting paid in brain bucks (i.e. experience) and work out a deal.

Either way, don't sweat it. In 5 years, it won't matter. Hell, in 6 months it probably won't matter.
 
OP
OP
RandD

RandD

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Sep 15, 2017
20
28
29
On the way
So they basically knowingly contracted you at a high rate with full time hours, liked the work you did well enough to post it on their site, and then decided they wanted a discount.

In my mind, them posting the work constitutes fulfillment of the contract. They don't get to come back and unilaterally renegotiate after the transaction is over. If they had been morons and just said "oops, we didn't mean to pay you so much. Let's discuss this before we post the work.", then that would be a totally different conversation, and one in which I would say it's better to just eat the loss of time and money and get the 5* review and move on with your life... but that's not what happened.

It's up to you how you want to proceed. Your position seems defensible to me, given the facts. Upwork *should* side with you on this, provided you have all the evidence in order.

Take screen shots of the chat immediately, in case they try to edit it.

Take screenshots of their site, showing they have put up your work, thus accepting it.

As far as I understand it, if they don't formally file a request for refund then the money should default to you in a couple weeks. So, you could just keep your mouth shut and collect the money and then tell them to bugger off. They'll nuke your review, which won't look great, but you'll have a chance to respond on your profile, mitigating some of the bad juju. You can always deal with that in the next few gigs you get by addressing it with new clients up front. If you do a great job, you'll get more 5* reviews and life will go on.

I had a client try to get $500 of work for free off me, and they didn't use the formal dispute system. It defaulted to me and they nuked my rating from orbit, but I recovered. I had previous 5* reviews to show I was a good freelancer, however. I just say this to show that it's possible to come back from such a crappy situation.

It depends on who you are. Are you comfortable getting negative feedback from someone who is an entitled spoiled child? Are you comfortable taking the extra time it will require to overcome that negative feedback?

If yes, tell them to get bent.

If no, then chalk it up to getting paid in brain bucks (i.e. experience) and work out a deal.

Either way, don't sweat it. In 5 years, it won't matter. Hell, in 6 months it probably won't matter.
Thank you for your wise advice!

In my original cover letter I also asked an unrelated question which they didn't answer. They wrote in their offer that they will publish the copy first to check its originality using an online plagiarism tool. I'm inclined to believe their intent is not malicious based on that and our previous correspondence.

I'll wait and see their response to my message.
 

Drynochmorfin

PARKED
Apr 3, 2019
1
0
3
This is basically a well-thought-out fraud. I don't want to frighten you, but it seems like they do this to every person that decides to work for them (it turns out eventually that they work for free). I'd next time check up on such customers and do a little experment: do the job by myself, but only partly; the other part of the work I'd leave to an expert (there are such services like this essay writing site) to if they are objective or not. Better not to have any deal with such companies at all.
 
OP
OP
RandD

RandD

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Sep 15, 2017
20
28
29
On the way
This is basically a well-thought-out fraud. I don't want to frighten you, but it seems like they do this to every person that decides to work for them (it turns out eventually that they work for free). I'd next time check up on such customers and do a little experment: do the job by myself, but only partly; the other part of the work I'd leave to an expert (there are such services like this essay writing site) to if they are objective or not. Better not to have any deal with such companies at all.
Interesting first post - are you promoting your own site?

Based on my interactions with them I'm pretty sure the client is not a fraud.
 

pawon

Contributor
Dec 4, 2018
21
27
19
"Dear [client name],

I'm sorry to hear that you were surprised by the cost of the finished articles I provided for you.

As originally stated, my estimate for the job was 28 hours at $25 per hour. This would add up to $700. You still selected me for the job.

You said you had a tight deadline. I provided the copy on time and in fewer hours than my original estimate.

So I'm confused. I am having trouble seeing what the problem is.

Are you asking me to re-negotiate my rates after the job is already finished?

Hoping that we can clear up this misunderstanding!

[Your signoff]
Love this. I will look up Chris Voss to learn more. ... It will come in handy every now and then in my freelance work (web development).
 

AlexVilch

MVP Development || StartupServices.ca
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Aug 23, 2018
28
34
26
Toronto
write to support, I did work on upwork and they are very understanding. Try to do it asap, ask them what you should do. I think your case is solid and you should be fine. If you get negative feedback, again contact support and report it as slandering. There is no reason you should be punished or work for less if you feel the quality of your work is solid. If they wanted 30$ articles, they should have thought about it sooner
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

NewManRising

Silver Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Oct 30, 2017
372
553
252
40
Medford, OR
My suggestion:

Just agree on some amount in the middle if possible and cut your relationship with them. The problem is, there are a lot of clients on Upwork with the expectation they can hire cheap writers.

The ones that hire these $5-$10 per blog writers is that, they receive very low quality work. These clients with this approach and mentality can't understand what it takes to create, and the value of, a well-researched and error-free article.

However, there are clients that do understand this. The goal is to quickly and effectively position yourself away from the bottom/mediocre writers and clients. Just don't accept these kinds of jobs anymore.

When I started out I had a few repeat clients that wanted me to write lengthy blogs for little pay. These cheapskate clients almost always never provided any instructions, guidelines, an outline, or even any information on the topic. They left it all up to me to do everything from scratch. And when it is on a topic you know nothing about, you have to spend some time educating yourself on it before you can even write.

After a few jobs I simply just told them that I was going to move on to other things. A had one of these past clients try to contact me not too long ago trying to get me to write a blog for cheap pay and I just shined him on. Things move in a natural way and as you focus on the type of work and clients you want to deal with you will naturally move away from clients like the one you are currently dealing with.
 
OP
OP
RandD

RandD

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Sep 15, 2017
20
28
29
On the way
My suggestion:

Just agree on some amount in the middle if possible and cut your relationship with them. The problem is, there are a lot of clients on Upwork with the expectation they can hire cheap writers.

The ones that hire these $5-$10 per blog writers is that, they receive very low quality work. These clients with this approach and mentality can't understand what it takes to create, and the value of, a well-researched and error-free article.

However, there are clients that do understand this. The goal is to quickly and effectively position yourself away from the bottom/mediocre writers and clients. Just don't accept these kinds of jobs anymore.

When I started out I had a few repeat clients that wanted me to write lengthy blogs for little pay. These cheapskate clients almost always never provided any instructions, guidelines, an outline, or even any information on the topic. They left it all up to me to do everything from scratch. And when it is on a topic you know nothing about, you have to spend some time educating yourself on it before you can even write.

After a few jobs I simply just told them that I was going to move on to other things. A had one of these past clients try to contact me not too long ago trying to get me to write a blog for cheap pay and I just shined him on. Things move in a natural way and as you focus on the type of work and clients you want to deal with you will naturally move away from clients like the one you are currently dealing with.
@NewManRising - you've spelt out the situation exactly
 

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.

Sponsored Offers

  • Sticky
MARKETPLACE Fox' Web School's "Legend" Group Coaching Program 2020
This year has been quite crazy so far, and a lot of people have reached out to ask me if web...
  • Sticky
FEATURED! Introducing... WEALTH EXPO$ED, A Short Story By MJ DeMarco
Got it several weeks ago and have listened to it several times now. I've definitely met both...
  • Sticky
MARKETPLACE You Are One Call Away From Living Your Dream Life - LightHouse’s Accountability Program ⚡
Just got off the phone with @LightHouse. Having just a 45 minute conversation with him has...
  • Sticky
MARKETPLACE Kill Bigger Incubator
@Kak Out of curiosity, what types of businesses are you advising on? (I read this whole thread...
  • Sticky
MARKETPLACE Lex DeVille's - Advanced Freelance Udemy Courses!
Just bought 5 of your Upwork courses. Thanks for making valuable content Lex!
  • Sticky
MARKETPLACE Grow Your Business With a Book (An Unorthodox Marketing Strategy That Built One of the Largest...
Thanks for your offer to look at my book. Here's the link to the squeeze page Buy The Prosperous...



Forum Sponsor

sponsor

New Topics

Fastlane Insiders

View the forum AD FREE.
Private, unindexed content
Detailed process/execution threads
Monthly conference calls with doers
Ideas needing execution, more!

Join Fastlane Insiders.

Top Bottom