I will tell you in detail about entering the West through the Upwork remote specialist search service in September at SEMconf 2018 in Moscow, and below is my chart of problem clients.
Everything described below is the result of our experience on Upwork, and your experience on the platform will not necessarily be the same. But I still hope that if you are just going to the West through Upwork, this article will help you avoid some of our mistakes and wasted time and money.
5th place – Customers from Asia, Latin and South America
Everything is very simple here: there is no point in competing in cost with Indians, Pakistanis and Filipinos. It is necessary to sell not the price, but the expertise.
And clients and customers from Asia, Latin America and South America are usually looking for performers with minimal rates. It should be understood that the Upwork customer has already decided not to hire his local local agency, that is, he already wanted to save money. Therefore, if in the customer’s country there is already a rather low standard of living and rates, then he will look for contractors at even lower rates.
4th place – Dropshippers, info businessmen
In America (probably, not only there, but now about it) there are a lot of courses on dropshipping, making money on Amazon, Ebay, etc. Customers of this category looked somewhere, read something, got charged with motivational videos and decided to open a business reselling goods through Amazon or an online store.
Everything would be fine, but, as practice shows, by the time you need to start investing in advertising and marketing, their budget is already tending to zero. At the same time, they quite buy sites on templates for several thousand dollars or animated videos that “increase sales.”
Therefore, when it comes time to pay for advertising and attract qualified contractors, such customers are looking for minimum rates, they necessarily demand to guarantee sales tomorrow, guarantee ROI, ideally pay only a percentage of sales.
I’m not against aspiring entrepreneurs, but I think that wasting time testing their hypotheses and taking risks is not really our job. We had cases when we entered a project with the condition of receiving a success fee – a bonus for the successful achievement of targets, but these were stories with a business that was already firmly on its feet and well-established business processes. Where we saw that due to our expertise we can scale the already working business of the customer.
3rd place – Local agencies
This is about partnerships. We had experience in both outsourcing production and working in partnership.
In the first case, the American partner was responsible for sales and accounting, with the production of context and analytics on our side.
In the second – on the client side, there was again sales and accounting, but also the production of search engine promotion and web design. That is, if he had a new project, then we, for our part, prepared everything related to paid traffic, analytics, conversion optimization, and the partner prepared his part and then sold all the services to the customer, while the customer was aware that we are a performer by context.
Everything is fine, but you immediately see the weakness of the situation. Working exclusively on outsourcing, we did not have any control over sales and communication with the customer, which means that at any time we could be replaced by a cheaper contractor.
Moreover, in American business culture, this is quite normal: you communicate with your partner sincerely, discuss plans for the next few months of collaboration, and in the morning you find a notification that you have been disconnected from all projects, and a letter that the partner has decided to change you to someone another. Nothing personal, just business. Have you seen American films or TV shows, where an employee, on demand, collects things in a box and leaves? This is the same.
And in the second case, the partner started some kind of personal conflicts with customers, and they simply refused to continue working with him.
This type of partnership – outsourcing to cheaper countries – is about 90% of stories about working with local local agencies in the USA, Europe, Australia. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to make money on expertise with them, and the risks of losing projects are high.
2nd place – “Come on yesterday, you have WhatsApp, record video screencasts”
Such customers are found everywhere, this is not a characteristic feature of Upwork. If you have not been working in the industry for the first time, then you know that it is better to bypass this category of customers.
They can pay well, but they will create such unbearable (especially taking into account time zones) working conditions that it will be more profitable to close the project than to waste energy and nerves on it.
1st place – “Pokemon”
These are our former compatriots who moved to the USA, Canada, and Europe.
Maybe we did it, but this category of customers is always trying to push through the price, squeeze out, several times we were simply thrown for money.
Working with native clients in the USA, Canada, Australia is much more pleasant and profitable than with this category.
In the article, I told who it is better not to work with, so as not to waste time and nerves, but with whom and how to work, I will tell you already at SEMconf. See you in Moscow.