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I've noticed on Upwork that there are some job listing sporting an egregiously low offer, which, as far as I know, is inconceivable that could actually generate the desired outcome.

Often, those offers are also poorly written, so much that I think it is very likely that who wrote those has absolutely zero idea about what he really wants and how much time and money do something cost.

Are these offers known to be almost always a waste of time, or does it often happen that who posted them realises this after you explain it, and the hiring process goes through?

The order of magnitude is someone offering $100 for something I'd ask them $900.

This does NOT include the case where the poster specifically states that "the price is just a placeholder" (obviously).

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    I try to avoid doing business with people when I know nothing about them except the one fact that they have no idea what they are talking about. – user42272 Dec 17 '16 at 0:17
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    @JoeStrazzere Do and deliver are not the same. They typically get what they pay for. – paparazzo Dec 17 '16 at 2:56
  • Hmm, I guess this is on-topic, but it could do with an edit to improve it. Is your question basically "Can you negotiate price on online freelancing platforms?"? – Lilienthal Dec 17 '16 at 10:18
  • @JoeStrazzere There are high-paying jobs on Upwork from reasonable clients, but they're just harder to find. Upwork's search allows filtering by price and skill level, so this makes it a bit easier. I'll limit searches to expert-level jobs and restrict fixed-price to $1,000+, and I'm usually able to find a few good ones per day. – Joshua Dwire Dec 18 '16 at 3:08
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The order of magnitude is someone offering $100 for something I'd ask them $900.

No, it doesn't work that way. You can't expect exclusivity at the $900 price just because you were the one to point out how ridiculously low $100 is for that job. The most you can expect is that they will repost at $900. Since there will be a lot more freelancers willing to deliver at $900, you have only a 1/X chance of getting the job. So you are basically doing a public service (i.e., wasting your time).

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  • Great answer -- > To the point and brutally honest. – Mister Positive Dec 17 '16 at 19:08
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I've worked quite a bit on Upwork, and I've never had success asking much more than the client's budget. Even when I'm invited to interview for a job that's way under budget, I never get a good response if my quote is high.

You should be spending a decent amount of time crafting a custom proposal for each job, so unless the job post specifically mentions that the budget is a placeholder, there's no sense wasting your time (and connects) applying for jobs.

Keep looking for jobs (and use the filters to filter by price). There are high-paying jobs on Upwork. A couple tips for how to get higher paying jobs:

  • Have a strong portfolio (Here's mine if you're interested)
  • Have good test scores
  • Start out working for a little cheaper than you'd like and increase your rates over time as you get good feedback and experience. (I started at around $35/hour and increased to $80+/hour over about a year)
  • Limit your job search to higher-paying jobs (Here's mine)
  • Focus your attention on jobs that are the best fit and price for your skills. Once you've exhausted those, then you can consider applying to ones that aren't as good of a fit.
  • For hourly jobs, if the client has job history, look at the average hourly rate and/or job history to see how much they're used to paying for jobs similar to the one you're applying to.
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