Why the best freelance writers on Upwork reject your invite

I’ve worked as a freelance writer and editor for about four years now. I take pride in my status as a top-rated freelance writer on Upwork, a reputation I’ve maintained for three years running. After becoming a managing content editor in 2017, I went from applying for jobs to reviewing proposals and making important hiring decisions. I’m pleased to say I’ve worked with some of Upwork’s best freelance writers.

I’ve also reached the point in my career where jobs come to me — I don’t (usually) seek out clients. While I enjoy steady work, I do take on side contracts from time to time if I think they suit me or if I want something a little different.

But I reject 90% of the job invitations I receive.

Sometimes I’m too busy to take on more work. Sometimes I’m not interested in the job.

But almost always, I reject job invitations because of something the client did.

Here are five reasons why.

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Your rate is too low.

This is the main reason I reject job offers. I will not hesitate to hit “decline — rate too low” on that invitation.

I get it. Some people will work for a low rate. Goodness knows I did when I first started out.

But if you want a highly qualified writer with years of experience, don’t insult them by offering them less than their hourly rate.

If you can’t afford that rate, you need to lower your expectations, find a different freelancer, or figure out a way to increase your budget.

(I find this especially funny since my hourly rate of $30 plus service fees is far lower compared to other freelancers with my experience and qualifications. I’m not in this for the money, but I got bills to pay, too.)

Your job invitation is too impersonal.

“Hello there! I’d like to invite you to apply for my job. Please read the job post and apply if you’re available.”

I’ve received way too many invitations on Upwork with that exact stock message.

This tells me two things:

  1. You didn’t read my profile.
  2. You don’t want me for the job ⁠— you’re just inviting top-rated freelancers in hopes that one of them accepts you.

If you’re hoping to hire one of the best freelance writers on Upwork, but you can’t be bothered to vet them, then I can’t be bothered to accept your interview invitation.

The most recent invitation I accepted was addressed to me, by name.

The client also said he was impressed with my profile, experience, and feedback. (Which means he took the time to read them.)

I accepted his offer almost instantly, and we’re still happily working together nearly two years later.

You expect way too much for way too little.

Most clients on Upwork aren’t writers themselves, which is why some clients don’t realize they’re asking far too much for the price they’re offering.

I’ve had clients send me outlines with tons of content to squeeze into too few words for too little money.

Recently, I received an invite that expected me to be available 5 days a week to edit 20,000-word ebooks and respond to writers within 72 hours — for $30 per ebook.

Seriously? That’s not even my hourly rate.

Granted, without any writing experience, sometimes it’s hard to know how long a job will take. But how clients expect the best freelance writers on Upwork to accept those rates is truly beyond me.

Of course, the freelancer should let the client know when their expectations are too high or unrealistic, but clients should also do some market research of their own.

(The freelance world is give-and-take, people.)

Freelance writing clients should take a few things into consideration when setting their requirements and budgets:

  • how many hours the project will take to complete
  • the level of expertise they’re looking for
  • the writer’s base hourly rate
  • any expenses and/or hidden fees involved

This last point leads me to my next one.

You didn’t research the freelance platform before posting an ad.

Many clients — too many — have offered me paltry sums for big jobs. Then, when I tell them Upwork charges a 20% service fee (which I expect them to cover), they’re shocked.

If you’re using a freelance job platform to hire your writers, it’s your responsibility to research all aspects of that platform. You need to know if writers are responsible for paying fees and/or taxes.

You should also be prepared to cover their fees.

(Yes, you should. And if you aren’t…well, maybe you should look elsewhere.)

You literally asked a freelancer to do your homework.

Y’all, when I first joined Upwork, I was shocked to receive contracts that were clearly homework assignments. I’ve even received some offers outside Upwork directly from essay mills. 

(I tried not to take it as an insult.)

No, I will not write your college paper for you, so don’t bother sending that invite.

Some writers have no problem ghostwriting essays. That’s cool — I mean, you do you — but I’m not one of them. Ghostwriting essays and homework assignments goes against everything I stand for as a writer.

If you’re not skilled enough to write your own paper, go to the writing center. Do a little Googling. And if all else fails, maybe choose a different degree.

The golden rule and the bottom line

If you want to work with the best freelance writers on Upwork, you have to be one of the best clients on Upwork.

That means you must…

  • set realistic expectations and budgets
  • personalize your job invites and offers
  • take the time to vet candidates carefully
  • offer rates in line with industry standards
  • research the platform before posting an ad
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If you can manage those five simple tasks, you’re much more likely to strike up a long-term relationship with one of the best freelance writers on Upwork.


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