The Upwork Battle: Things I’ve Learnt & Scams I’ve Avoided

Feeling overwhelmed by the mammoth competition on Upwork? New to the world of online freelance work, but you don’t know how to get your foot – or even just pinky toe – in the door? Don’t know what jobs are legit & which are scams?

I’ve been there.

Before I launch in – quick disclaimer: please don’t hold me responsible for your career. This post is just my experience from all the dodgy jobs I’ve managed to avoid. Hopefully it helps you to avoid them too – but it won’t guarantee earning millions immediately (although if you do, well done).

I wanted to land a few jobs, to kick-start my rating in the hope that they’d all come flooding in after. I soon realised that – while there is lots of competition for each job – equally, there are lots of scams from potential ’employers’.

So here’s what happened to me so far. I’ve been hired and fired, by the same person, in one day. I said no to some sketchy-looking & massively underpaid offers. And I dodged some scams.

So here’s what I’ve applied for so far

1. “Very much interesting work. IOS app tester wanted!!!” – $5.

  • Brief: To download 10 different games on my iPad and iPhone, and take screenshots while playing them. Keep the apps on my devices for a minimum of 48 hours.
  • I said no. I used to work in digital marketing; this is a straight-up scam for them to skew results and pretend to their clients that their app is performing better than it actually is.

2. “Virtual assistant needed” – $5 per hour.

  • Brief: Respond to emails, basic research, track expenses for a real estate company.
  • After two Skype interviews, I got the job! This was going to be my big break.
  • Day 1, Task 1: Set up a new email campaign, to send to 1 million customers, all on my first day. ONE MILLION. The email hadn’t been built, his data seemed to be collected in an illegal manner, and he told me  not to be offended when I receive abusive emails back from unhappy customers.
  • This all seemed a lot of responsibility for a virtual assistant, that was getting $5 an hour. So I asked if we can revise the pay, to reflect the role of CRM manager, not VA. He said no.
  • We parted ways.



3. “Looking for people to test our product” – $300.

  • $300? This one seemed too good to be true.
  • Brief: To watch a video & then ‘test a product’. “Simply prove you are human and input your credit card details.” Dodgy AF.
  • Small print said I will be charged $50 per month, and I’ll be enrolled in some program that I’m sure would be difficult to leave.
  • Clearly a scam. No thanks.

4. “English experts needed” – $20 per hour.

  • Brief: To advise on questions related to English grammar. As a Brit who studied English Literature at uni, this seemed right up my street.
  • I am invited to apply with an online test. I have 30 minutes to analyse one of Martin Luther King’s speeches, AND write the opening to a novel.
  • WTF?
  • I applied and am currently awaiting to hear. Pretty confident I have not got this one.

What’s next?

Upwork tips - What's next

If you want to know whether I succeed in becoming a digital nomad, learn about any other scams I dodge or if I get the English expert storytelling role…

Come back later, or sign up to my newsletter & you’ll be first to hear the updates.

And welcome to the family 🙂

If you have learnt any more Upwork tips please do let me know!

Like this? Then might like some of my other posts…

How to stay fit travelling How to pack for travelling 7 tips for how to learn Spanish



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