Top 5 Indicators That Will Tell You to Avoid a Bad Upwork Client

22/12/2016 20 comments

You know, I think after spending 5 years on the biggest freelancing platform, I started to develop a “sixth sense” when it comes to an Upwork client I should not work with. Maybe it’s a matter of practice. Either way, I can “smell them a mile away” and can then save myself the stress of working with someone I shouldn’t work with.

Want to know how I “fish them out”? Here are my 5 “red flags”, feel free to use these when filtering an Upwork client not worth working with:

Working with a bad Upwork client


1. Avoid Working with an Upwork Client Who isn’t Verified

Okay, this one you could have figured out for yourself. You know the blue checker next to the client’s name? You can’t see one? That means they haven’t verified their payment method and you shouldn’t deal with them.

Why is that? Well, what other guarantee you have that they are going to pay you for your work? Upwork offers no such guarantees, at least not for fixed jobs.

Of course, some clients just haven’t had the time to do this and that’s usually the new ones. They’re kinda an exception to this rule, but make sure you ask them to first do this before you send them any work. If they refuse or avoid this in any way, don’t work with them.

2. Don’t Work with an Upwork Client if He Immediately Ask You to Work Outside the Site

I recently had an Upwork client that asked me to do an SEO-based article for him. It was easy enough and I was able to do it in a little over 30 minutes. But something about this client was suspicious to me from the beginning and I was on alert. For starters, the way he avoided many of my questions.

But I figured I’d take a risk and see what’s what. So he gave me the instructions on Skype and I wrote the article like he asked.

This is my conversation with him after I told him the article is ready:

Me: Where should I send the article? I would prefer we work this through Upwork for the beginning.
Also, I forgot to ask you to open a contract there. I don’t work without one. The article is ready.

Him: Send here

Me: Sorry, I don’t work like that. I only work through Upwork with new clients for specific reasons. I had some payment issues in the past with clients I worked with outside of Upwork before.

Him: Use that article

Me: The one I just wrote? Use where?

Him: Where you like

Me: So I guess you don’t need it. Okay. Thanks for your time.

Needles to say, that’s the last I heard from him. No loss. But he is a great example of a client you should avoid. If nothing else can be said about Upwork, at least you are somewhat safer and more certain you’ll get paid. That’s why, if you plan on leaving Upwork at any point and you’ve already started to build a rapport with your clients there, take them with you.

3. A Bad Upwork Client Will Tell You Something is “Urgent” or “Time-Sensitive”


If a client posts a job that start’s with URGENT, find another one. If he tells you something must be completed in an hour, also find another one.

Chances are, they have someone over their head pushing them to finish the same task they just gave you. In other words, they want to roll all their shit onto you. You don’t need that.

Now, if a client asks you to finish something by the end of the day or are otherwise very specific about the deadline, respect that. Just give yourself enough time to do it.

4. An Upwork Client Who “Threatens” With Lawsuits

I don’t know, maybe they have their reason. Maybe they got burned before and someone sent them a poorly written, maybe even a copied article. Is that a reason to go around threatening people literal lawsuits if the article does not pass copyscape check? Or that they’ll cancel the contract?

I really don’t think it is.

No worries though, they’re usually all bark and no bite.

5. Don’t Work with an Upwork Client in a Niche You Know Nothing About

Okay, this one is not on the client, but on you, the freelancer. I know many of you take pride in the fact that you can write about “a wide variety of topics”. That makes you a jack of all trades, but a master of none. This is not something most clients are looking for.

Find your focus. It doesn’t have to be just one topic, it can be 5-6, but if you are not familiar with something, it’s better to tell the client that right away than later write a subpar article about it.

For instance, this is why I don’t write about fashion or travel since I don’t know enough about them that I could bestow to my readers.

And that is why I am a freelance writer – to give the reader something valuable.

Do you have any thoughts or comments on what you just read? What other indicators for avoiding a bad Upwork client would you share? Also, if you could spare a moment or two to like and follow my blog and share it with your friends, I would appreciate it. Thanks for reading.