If you’ve read my previous post on Upwork, I’m sure you’re now convinced that it is one of the best freelancing websites in the world. It is more professional, pays better and has fewer cons.
In that post, I discuss how I was once scared of using the site but recently decided to go hard on it, and I’ve no regrets for making this decision. In fact, I only became serious with Elance (which later merged with oDesk to become Upwork) in April, 2013 after being a member for almost a year. Below is a bold statement that I totally agree with.
If you were to choose only one freelancing site that will sort out all your needs, then choose Upwork.
Here is a screenshot of some of my Upwork reviews.
…but note that it may take you a while before you get your first job so don’t quit whatever you’re doing till you get a reasonable job on Upwork. If you follow the tips in this post, you may get there faster. Some have used these very tips to get a client in a matter of days.
Also read on for bonus tips on whether you should use only one freelancing site.
I am personally very active on multiple platforms. After squeezing in Upwork, I realized that I’m now making something decent over there. In short, if I was to dedicate more time there, I’d multiply this figure a couple of times.
That said; let me share some of the simple tips I use to succeed on Upwork.
1. Complete Your Upwork profile
Yes, go through everything; including the skill tests (which are free anyway :)), the phone verification and even identity verification when prompted to do so.
Being that it is a professional site, the best clients value freelancers who have a complete profile and a good portfolio, even if you’re a new freelancer so make sure you take this painful, one-time step and you won’t regret it.
Note that Upwork support is usually awesome, equipped even with a live chat option. If you get stuck anywhere, just contact them and you’ll have a quick answer to get you going.
2. Take at Least 3 Skill Tests
I know I’ve already mentioned this point…but one funny thing I’ve realized is that sometimes people take a point more seriously when it is put in its own sub-heading ;). So, go ahead and take those skill tests :).
3. Add a Portfolio Item
This is another important part of your profile. Make sure you have a great portfolio item.
For example, if you are a writer, no matter how confident you are in yourself, allow someone else to check out some of your favorite articles and let them inform you which ones would best fit into your portfolio. In short, put a lot of thought into what you add to your portfolio.
4. Don’t Quit Your Job First
Whether you do a day job or are a freelancer in other platforms, don’t quit first. This is because you don’t want to get into Upwork totally hungry and desperate. It is better to join this site when you already have something else running but want to up your game.
Those who have no jobs or other sources of income are still free to join, though. You can still succeed fast if you play the cards right. See how Martha performed here.
5. Send Proposals Consistently
Upwork gives you 60 free Connects per month. Most proposals will cost you 2 Connects. Therefore, make sure you use all your 60 Connects each month. I advise you do 3 proposals a day there but give careful thought of what you put in your proposal.
Make sure you each proposal is persuasive and professional. Upwork bans people who send too many proposals without getting hired.
6. Don’t Bid Too Low (Even if You’re a Beginner)
Once upon a time when Freelancer used to be great, I would advise people to start by bidding low there. That’s because it’s one of those sites where most clients are up for the lowest bidders.
Upwork is different. You’ll be dealing with many professionals who will also expect you to be professional.
A very low bid may show desperation and some people may not choose your proposal, fearing you are not serious, you give low quality work, you don’t respect deadlines or just have some hidden flaw that is making you bid so low.
7. Ask for Escrow or Use the Upwork Team App
This is self-explanatory. To protect your payments, make sure you ask your clients to fund an escrow for fixed price jobs.
For hourly jobs, make sure the client has a verified payment method. Also use their Upwork Team App so that you stay protected by the site.
I always warn freelancers not to work outside Upwork or any other site for that matter since working outside will get you less protected and make it easy for you to get conned (take it from me, I was conned off a lot of cash this way when I was still green in online business). Upwork will also ban you if you’re found working outside with a client you found from its site.
If you want private clients, consider reaching out to them through other means, not from Upwork and other restricted freelancing sites.
Back to the point, stay safe by using their escrow system or hourly protection (using Upwork Team App).
8. Have a Brilliant Proposal
Don’t just wake up and do a proposal.
Make sure your proposal is well thought out. Feel free to bounce it off someone else to make sure its convincing enough to the clients. Note that this is one of the most important parts that will enable you to get good jobs.
Let’s look at a possible scenario:
Let’s say you’re good at product descriptions. Yes, you’re new, but you’ve mastered the art and have amazing samples. Some even published in easy-to-post sites like LinkedIn and Medium.
You also know how to pitch like a pro (lots of free information on how to do that).
Someone posts that they’re looking for someone who will create amazing product descriptions.
You know how to do them like the back of your hand. You have samples. You’ve been practicing.
With all the above in place, you go ahead and pitch! Don’t be like:
“Hey, I’m a new writer, no one hires me, please let me do your product descriptions, I’ll take any payment.”
Instead, be like:
I create stunning descriptions that give readers a powerful mental picture of the product I’m describing. This increases their probability of making a purchase decision.
Check out my Samsung S9+ description on Medium [Link].
I’m looking forward to writing for you.
Thank you so much,
Here, you’ve not told them you’re new and that no one’s ever hired you. You’ve told them you can do it and showed your worth by giving a stunning sample.
I’ve made it this vivid so that you can see that your success depends a lot on the preparation phase.
Therefore, as a new writer, make sure you have the following:
– Know how to write
– Have samples that prove you can write
– Pitch like a pro (don’t just say “interested” or use any other amateur method)
– Once hired, deliver PURE GOLD
[Note that there are many who have used the exact proposal template I’ve shared above to get jobs. They just tweaked it to fit their profile.]
9. Always Use a Sample
This is sort of an unwritten rule in all freelancing websites; Upwork is no exception.
Make sure you use your best samples when you send out proposals. For example, if you are a graphic designer, use 2 or 3 of your favorite graphics.
A little secret that always works for me is I choose a sample that fits the client’s niche. If the client wants a writer to do weight loss articles, I pick 1-3 of my best weight loss articles and use them as my samples.
10. Be Patient
Patience is a virtue that many people don’t possess. Many love low paying sites like iWriter where you get in, write a quick article and get paid.
Unfortunately, all quick things have their flaws e.g. iWriter pays new members ridiculously low and has the highest rejection rate compared to other freelancing sites. Additionally, there are many times when there are no articles in the queue for you to write, therefore wasting your time and potential earnings.
On the other hand, if you land an Upwork job like the ones I have, you have a guaranteed number of articles that you can write per day and ALL of them get accepted depending on how much your clients believe in your work
In short, be very patient in Upwork. Note that even experts sometimes send proposals for days before they get their first jobs. The good thing is that when you start getting jobs there, you can easily forget about other sites.
$1,000 Per Month Plan for Freelancers in Upwork
I’ll use the example of writers.
From my personal experience, there are many clients in Upwork who are willing to pay between $5 and $50 per article. Therefore, you can use $5-$50 as your minimum proposal amount. Aim to get to at least $10 soonest. If you’re a pro, go for a figure that suits you!
Once you get your $10 per 500 words job, make sure you write 5 articles a day. Assuming you work 5 days a week, that will give you $50 per day, meaning $250 per week and $1,000 per month.
And that is how you can make $1,000 per month on Upwork.
Of course you should strive to get clients who pay you way above $10 per 500 words. Additionally, always deliver quality work, otherwise, none of the above will work.
Once you get the hang of the site, strive to keep increasing your income.
You can link your Payoneer account to Upwork and use it to withdraw Upwork cash for negligible fees. Since Payoneer is one the best withdrawal methods from online sites, make sure you take advantage of this.
Some clients may ask you to print and sign some Non-Disclosure Agreements or other contracts then upload them. These are awesome clients there so don’t hesitate to do this. Click here for more on how to succeed in Upwork.
Unlike Freelancer, you can withdraw your cash any day via MPESA, Payoneer, PayPal or Direct to Local Bank Transfer. If you use Payoneer, go for their ACH option, where you add the US Bank details in your Payoneer Global Payment Service to Upwork. You’ll then be withdrawing from Upwork at zero fees then the cash gets loaded to your Payoneer account within 1 business day.
Never leave your day job or other freelancing jobs till you’ve secured one or two good clients on Upwork.
In freelancing, never depend on one site only; make sure you still work on other sites such as Fiverr and PeoplePerHour, just to make sure you have backup earnings.
Of course the very best option is to have a list of awesome, high paying private clients (not gotten through any “middleman” site). In the Kenyan social scene, we refer to these as direct clients or DCs. Here’s how to get them.
Avoid writing unpaid samples. For example, if a client asks you to write a sample on “5 Foods That Kill Fat”, turn it down since they may use it and never pay you for it. But if they say, “Give me samples of your past work I see your writing prowess”, feel free to give them those past samples.
Still on samples, note that links trump attachments. Therefore, consider publishing on your blog, LinkedIn Pulse, Medium or other top publications and give clients links to your best published works.
$1,000 per month is less than average pay on Upwork. If you follow these 10 tips, you can start earning this amount through your freelancing efforts. So go ahead and sign in to Upwork and apply the above tips. Make sure you also do your own research to get more tips on how you can increase your Upwork earnings.
Did I miss a tip? Are you having challenges with Upwork? Feel free to drop a comment below to share your thoughts on this post. Also, before you leave this page, use the social sharing buttons to share this post.
If you need an in-depth course on article writing, I’ll be happy to train you. Check out my course details here.