Getting your first job on Upwork can be an uphill battle. You are competing with many people for the same position, and you still haven’t built your credibility to make customers feel at ease with you to give you jobs easily.
You shouldn’t be discouraged. Instead, it should motivate you to work hard.
With the gig economy, Upwork has made it easy for people to launch their freelance careers and work from anywhere in the world. All you need is good internet, a skill, and a good work ethic.
Need help? Check out Walter Akolo’s Upwork Mastery Course.
Here are seven proven ways to help you land your first job in a few weeks.
1. Create a Killer Profile
The first impression is always critical to your success. A client will look at your Upwork profile before they engage with you. You want to ensure your profile is professional and as inviting as possible.
The right profile photo can quickly improve your chances with a client. Take the time to craft a friendly and professional profile that will make clients want to hire you.
2. Highlight your skills
Upwork understands that most freelancers have more than one skill. Create a specialized portfolio to showcase your additional skills or variations of your current skills.
The platform allows you to have two specialized profiles. For example, if you are a writer and can do transcription. You can create two specialized profiles, one about writing and the other one about transcription.
Highlight your skills as a writer in the writer profile. Here are some details you can include.
- How many words can you write in a day?
- Do you craft SEO-optimized articles?
- Are your articles plagiarism free?
- Do you have samples of your writing?
On the transcription profile, you can talk about things like:
- How long have you done transcription?
- How many words can you type per minute?
- Type of transcription — is it general, legal, medical, or any other?
- Sample file of your work.
- Social proof (feedback you got from a client within or outside the platform)
Use keywords associated with your profession to highlight your skills and make it easy for clients to find and hire you.
3. Create a project
Creating an Upwork project is another excellent way to ensure you get noticed by clients. It is like having a packaged service that clients can pick off the shelf.
It includes what you will do for the client. For example, I will write a blog article for you and then go further and break down what will be involved, the number of words, the time involved, if it’s SEO optimized, and the price.
Another cool thing with a project is it gives you an option to create three plans within the offer, something like a basic, pro, and pro max plan, and you decide what each plan entails.
The client can then view the offer and decide to contact you directly instead of you sending in a proposal. Upwork allows you to create up to 20 projects. So use this feature to create different offers for your services, increase your chances of being seen, and get clients to come to you.
4. Get to know your client
Before sending that proposal, first get to know your client. Go through their job offer and understand their needs. Get familiar with their pain, goal, and experience.
It’s hard to offer a service if you don’t understand your client’s needs. Put yourself in their shoes and offer a service that can improve their lives.
Practicing this from the start will enable you to land more jobs because you are taking the time to get to know your client and position yourself as an asset rather than just someone looking for a one-time job.
Go over the client’s feedback section and read reviews from other freelancers. If most reviews from other freelancers are good, then you are in excellent hands. Otherwise, if most say, “The client went quiet after I delivered,” you are better off not taking the chance.
Also, check if your client’s payment method is verified.
I have one rule: I only bid for a job if the client’s payment method is verified. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you have to wait for long before getting paid or a client ghosting you after submitting the job.
Part of being an online freelancer is also doing your due diligence when picking clients. You want to make sure the time you spend on a job is worth it, and one of the critical factors is choosing the right client.
5. Send Relevant Proposals
Now that you know more about your client, it’s time to send in the proposal. Craft a bid that is tailored to the client’s needs. Please don’t make the same mistake of sending the same proposal to all job openings on Upwork.
Most clients can tell when you use a generic proposal. You will notice some clients ask you to include keywords like SUPER in your bid to weed out those who don’t read job descriptions well and send generic proposals.
Always read the job description well and understand it to craft a winning proposal. You can also personalize it by including the client’s name in your proposal. You can get the client’s name from the client’s recent history section.
It’s easy for a client to give you a chance when you’ve addressed them by their name.
However, if no one has mentioned their name when giving feedback, don’t make a big fuss over it. You can still win using a proposal without the client’s name.
Include relevant samples and a call to action like “Book a call with me today to discuss the project in detail” at the end of the proposal. Let the client know what you want them to do, which is way better than leaving everything to fate.
6. Deliver Beyond Expectation
My mentor, Walter Akolo, likes to say, “Always deliver pure gold.” It doesn’t matter whether the job pays you $5 or $100. Always strive to do your best and deliver a good job.
Make sure you meet the deadline; better yet, deliver before the deadline. Don’t wait for the client to follow you.
Go the extra mile to communicate with the client in case of an issue. Request an extension early if you have to. Ask questions when unsure. And, most importantly, meet your deadlines.
Upwork has a Job Success Score (JSS) where a client can rate your job. You don’t want to get bad reviews, especially when starting. You want good reviews to help you land other customers.
The same way you review a client’s profile before applying for a job is the same way a client reviews your profile before taking a chance on you. If a client sees lousy feedback, you will not be hired, even if your proposal is convincing.
My first client asked me to write a 250-word article. I made sure I researched, included relevant keywords, and the article had no grammar mistakes.
The client was so happy with the article that she sent me a tip. She also gave me excellent feedback and gave me two jobs soon after. She now sends me direct invites to jobs, and I don’t have to bid.
Building a lasting relationship with a client is easy when you do a good job. You become their go-to person when they have work, and they can easily refer you to someone else.
7. Bid Wisely
When bidding for jobs on Upwork, exercise patience. Upwork usually gives you a limited number of connects to use when bidding. A free plan has ten free connects per month, while the paid plan has 80 connects per month for $14.99.
When you run out of connects, you need to buy more at $0.15 per connect. Take your time to learn how Upwork connects work when applying for jobs, showcasing your profile availability, boosting proposals, etc.
You don’t want to waste your connects on jobs that slim your chances of getting hired. One job can take between 2 to 6 connects, so use them wisely to last you for the month.
When starting, you don’t have client reviews on your profile, so opt for short-term jobs. These will allow you to work and finish quickly and then get client feedback.
Also, when starting, only bid for jobs you are sure you can do and deliver within the given time. Don’t be greedy to bid for everything and fail to deliver.
Jobs are plenty in Upwork. They get posted every few seconds, so be patient and bid for the right job. You don’t want to mess up your profile with a bad review because you got greedy and picked a job you couldn’t deliver.
Getting your first job at Upwork can seem impossible, but it’s achievable. I have personally used these tricks to get my first job, and I now have clients sending me direct invites to jobs.
You can also use these tricks to launch your freelance career on Upwork. It can look stressful initially, but when you bid wisely and deliver an exceptional job, you’ll make a lot of money from Upwork.
Need help? Check out Walter Akolo’s Upwork Mastery Course.
Hello Margaret…It has been my wish to join online writing but I really don’t know where to start from…I would really appreciate if you could mentor me into this
Hi Frank. My mentor Walter has a great affordable writing course you can take to get your writing journey going.
Hi,Magreth.thank you for these insights they have been helpful,Moreso in an area I have never realised what may be the cause. I have been bidding and not getting jobs however my profile is 100%.I’d request that you can be my mentor until I make it there successfully
Hey Verah, please reach out to me on LinkedIn, so I see how I can be of help.
This is what i have been looking for. For so long i have sought the upwork penetration key. I will practice your tips
Hey Onesmus, I’m glad you find the article useful. Wishing you all the success in your writing journey.
Thank you very much Magreth. I am burning the midnight oil to scale the writing career ladder.
This is so insightful! Can we be friends Ms. Njau? I need a mentor. I installed Upwork but starting & going all in is overwhelming. Thanks.
Hi Kariithi. I am glad you found the article useful. Please link with me on Linkedin so that I help you with your profile.
am greatful for this. i want to join training
You can check out the training details here http://freelancerkenya.com/article-writing-and-blogging-training/
Hi Phyllis, I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Thank you😊
Hi, Nduati! I’m glad you found the article insightful. Thank you!