Kevin had been caught up in the maze of joblessness for two years, after completing his college studies, where he was studying animation.
At the end of his second jobless year, he learned about freelancing from a friend. His friend seemed to be doing quite well for himself, and soon Kevin decided to plunge into the freelancing world too.
He signed up for an Upwork account and was accepted. Two weeks later, he netted a good client. Continuous bidding earned him a second client in the third month. Things were awesome and his friend envied him.
A few months later, Upwork updated their terms of service and introduced a 20% commission on freelancers’ earnings. Kevin, who was quite the smart guy, decided that there must be a way around this.
He suggested to one of his clients to pay him directly to his Paypal account and bypass Upwork. After all, they had each other’s email addresses.
The next day, as he rose early to start another day in freelancing, he got an email notification. Upon opening it, it read:
“Upwork Help Center: Your Upwork Account has been suspended.”
I could tell you the long of it, but the short of it was that he never recovered his Upwork account. as he had breached one of the key terms and conditions of Upwork.
He opened accounts on other freelancing sites, and also started a blog, but it took some time before he was able to get back on his feet again.
This may or may not have happened to you, but many freelancers worldwide have experienced Upwork account suspension. So why does Upwork suspend freelancer accounts?
1. Getting Paid Outside The Upwork Platform
Here’s a scenario. Assume you own a bakery where you’ve employed several sales people. After several years of operation, you realize that some of your employees have been selling YOUR bread behind your back and pocketing the money.
This is after you have set the bakery, marketed it vigorously and even paid your employees well.
Imagine that feeling?
That’s exactly the same situation that Upwork experiences when you sign up on their site, pick the jobs they have sourced for you, then move your clients from the platform.
Remember that there are several costs needed to run the site, and their support staff need to be paid, plus many other costs that I’m not aware of.
This appears to be the WORST mistake that you can commit on Upwork, and it is unlikely that you will get your account reinstated after this.
2. Sending Copy And Paste Proposals
Another reason for Upwork account suspension is when you send copy and paste proposals.
It is understandable that bidding for work can be a little tedious. Since you are not assured of being awarded the jobs that you apply for, you have to apply to as many suitable jobs as possible. As such, some freelancers choose to recycle the same proposal, never tweaking it to suit a particular job post.
Sadly, this is an act that will have you kicked out of one of the world’s biggest freelancing websites.
They perceive it as spamming. I believe the system has now been upgraded and will track spammers automatically.
As an Upworker, I have learned to customize every proposal. This shows the client that you have taken the time to read their job post and that you are a suitable candidate.
3. Sending Many Proposals And Not Getting Hired
This is one of the newest ways to get your Upwork account suspended.
How many is too many? I asked one of the Upwork support representatives and there wasn’t any number given.
I have been approached by freelancers who keep bidding on the site but rarely or never get hired. There might be multiple reasons why your proposals are being rejected and you can read them here.
As Upwork is a for-profit company, they are looking to keep productive freelancers who will earn them money! As such, they keep tabs on the ratio between the number of successful and failed proposals.
Here’s a screenshot about that from the Upwork community.
If your account is suspended for this reason, you can file an appeal, especially if you have a contract running. Fortunately, with this issue, there is a chance of getting your account reinstated.
Remember that following up with your clients to get more work, and asking for referrals, is one of the best practices for freelancers. It’s a great way of ensuring that get regular work from your Upwork clients.
4. Poor Feedback From Clients
You might adhere to all Upwork conditions, write great proposals but if your work doesn’t meet your clients’ expectations, you are likely to receive a warning letter from Upwork, leading to suspension thereafter.
It is highly unlikely that this can happen due to one or two clients posting less than favorable comments about you, but if it’s consistent, and clients state that they are not happy with your services, in the public or private feedback, your account may be suspended.
In that regard, always do your best work.
5. Harassing Clients To Change Your Feedback Or Give You 5-star Feedback
If you’ve been an Upworker for some time, you’ve probably at one time thought that you did such a splendid job, that you deserved a 6-star, let alone a 5 star, only for you to receive a measly 3.85.
Granted, sometimes you deserve that rate but sometimes you don’t.
It can be tempting to harass and harangue the client to change that feedback, but that would not be a wise path to take. The client may report you to Upwork and you might get your account suspended.
I propose that instead of harassing your clients for ratings, you should check your rating to figure out what it is that you missed, probably your communication or quality wasn’t on point.
Sometimes though, it simply isn’t your fault and if the client isn’t willing to change it, then let the matter go.
If you stay within the precincts of the discussed topics, then it’s unlikely that your Upwork account will be suspended.
Other reasons why your account may be suspended may be due to a policy violation, such as entering your contact address on your profile, having more than one Upwork account.
Client Account Suspensions
On the other hand, if you thought Upwork account suspensions only affect freelancers, then you’ve been wrong all along.
If Upwork was an office, you would occasionally see some clients being grabbed by the collar, dragged across the open offices and kicked onto the dirt outside, with their papers and coins scattering in all directions.
Here are 3 reasons why client accounts are terminated on Upwork:
1. Paying Freelancers Outside The Upwork Platform
If a freelancer is found getting paid outside Upwork, their accounts are suspended. The client is not spared either since this is an act that requires two parties.
However, Upwork might investigate to reveal who initiated the process.
If the client gave the freelancer outside payment as a condition for work, the freelancer might be reinstated as the client leaves for good.
2. Giving Unfair Feedback
Like I mentioned earlier, some people will just mess up your ratings for no good reason.
In fact, some individuals are known culprits on Upwork who give freelancers bad ratings regardless of good or bad work presented.
Luckily for us, Upwork collects complaints about unfair feedback from freelancers. If, upon analysis, the client is proven to be maliciously spoiling workers’ ratings, they are suspended. Nobody needs that kind of negativity!
3. Fraudulent Activity
If you’ve been working online for some time, you must have heard freelancers complaining of their work being rejected by clients. Well, this happens all the time and we get used to it.
But it could get worse.
Sometimes clients reject your work only to upload it later on their site. That could literally blow your head off!
Make it a habit of checking for your rejected jobs online. If you ever have a reason to believe and prove that the client refused to pay you but still used the work, report to Upwork support immediately.
How to Recover A Suspended Upwork Account
Unless it’s a grave error like getting paid outside the Upwork platform, there are situations where you can get back your account.
The key is in giving your side of the story. Sometimes you will need to send follow up emails daily. The Upwork community is a great way to follow up on the issue, as the moderators there are highly responsive. The Upwork Facebook page is a good place to follow up too.
As a freelancer, you have to be resilient. If you believe that Upwork has suspended you unfairly, have the courage to confront them.
At times it can take quite a while for these issues to be resolved so patience is needed – always stay professional and gather all evidence from your side and be ready to present it.
If your account is not reinstated, do not sulk or quit freelancing. There is life beyond Upwork.
It is important for freelancers to diversify, and not to rely on one site or one client.
Even as you enjoy your stay on Upwork, make sure that you register on other sites, such as Guru, PeoplePerHour, Fiverr, or better yet, start your own blog. You can also come up with a list of potential clients that you’d like to contact and send emails to them, informing them about your freelancing services (also called cold pitching).
Find some ways to make passive online income too.
That way, you’ll be cushioning the ground in the event of an unplanned fall.
Over to you. Has your Upwork account ever been suspended? What would you do if it was?