Tips to get freelancer work in UpWork

With over 9 million registered freelancers and 4 Million registered clients, UpWork is probably the largest online marketplace in the world . The majority of Upwork’s freelancers are from developing countries like Bangladesh, Philippines, Nigeria, Kenya, and India, while the clients are mostly from US and Europe. In this case, several factors can contribute for this country association phenomena, including:

  • currency exchange market
  • cost of living higher or lower
  • population

But essentially, if you have decent English communication skills, you have good chances to earn a living in UpWork. Freelancing (and Upwork) are likely to grow exponentially in next years. Not just that, globalization is happening at blazing speed with companies constant looking for lower expenditure with workforce, by hiring workers who do not fall within “working regulation laws” (and all costs related), and also cost much less.. This makes UpWork and other sites alike, ideal platforms for people looking to make a career in freelancing.

Example, a small company might need to hire a software developer. If the company hires someone to be “present” in the office everyday, the company will need to spend on:

  • salary, which also cover for sick days, holidays, etc
  • employee’s pension
  • office space
  • furniture
  • utilities like electricity, water, phone and internet

On the other hand, if the company hires a “remote freelancer”, the company will end paying only:

  • the hour rate agreed with the freelancer,
  • or a fixed price for each project.

Certainly the freelancer will not have some of the perks of “employee status”, like a fixed salary, sick cover, pension, etc, but it will benefit from:

  • being able to have multiple customers,
  • work from anywhere in the work,
  • have flexible hours to work and
  • not have a boss slashing the freelancer back every minute he(she) does something that’s not work related!

But, although there is a good demand from companies, there is also a fierce competition between freelancers. A vast majority of talented individuals often find it hard to get a single job at Upwork. This is mainly because, unlike regular Jobs, where a client spends a considerable amount of time interviewing a candidate to judge his skills, at Upwork, it is all about the first impression that a client may have about a freelancer. This is because a client may not be able to spend enough time reading each and every cover letters because of the number of freelancers applying for the same Job.

So to be a successful freelancer, apart from relevant skills, one must also know how to present themselves in front of the client. Here are some tips for you to ensure you can land some

Build a decent profile

Again: Upwork it’s all about self-presentation and self-promotion. You must know how to build a solid profile that demonstrate your expertise. Your profile should describe in detail about your qualification, experience, and certifications if any. You should also make sure to highlight special achievements which you find worth mentioning.

If you are clueless on writing about your experience, try to look on other freelancer profiles to get an idea. Try to choose the ones who have earned a substantial amount of money in UpWork already. But don’t lie in your profile, just use others as example.

Have a portfolio

Clients tend to give more preference to people who has done similar work, so make sure you talk about this. It doesn’t need to be work done in UpWork. You can talk about the work you’ve done as employee, work done in school/university, etc. And if you don’t have any work to talk about, just create your own projects! Example: If you are a graphic designer with zero experience, you can start by creating a web site to show off designs you’ve created on themes that you enjoy.

When bidding for work, think about a ladder

Many freelancers (if not thousands) might never get a customer in UpWork, even with a great profile and experience in the “outside” world. And that happens because they don’t price their work correctly!

Before you start bidding for work, you must decide your pay rate. Obviously, your chances to get work are higher if your rates are close to what clients usually pay. To have an idea, you can first check out few jobs relevant to your niche to know how much clients are willing to pay for a particular job.

Each job at Upwork is marked with “$” sign which indicates the how much a client is willing to pay for a skilled freelancer. A single dollar sign means the client is looking for cheap and hence beginner level freelancers, and three $ signs will indicate he is looking out for highly skilled people with lots of Upwork experience. This will further help you to know how much clients are willing to pay to beginners.

Next, check out profiles of freelancers with total working hours less than 10. They are more or considered to be beginners. However, since they have completed few jobs, you can check the pay rates they have charged to their previous clients. Clients in UpWork give great importance to Freelancer ratings, and they are unlikely to pick freelancers who are charging substantially higher than others, while not having any rating in UpWork. Therefore, a possible strategy is:

  • Choose a rate that you consider “low” for some of your first projects, so increases the chances of you getting hired and gives you important rating.
  • Increase the rate slowly as you bid for new projects.

The first bid sometimes win

Some freelancers reply to bids in minutes after proposals are posted by clients. This make them much more likely to be chosen. Sometimes it is a race!

One or two days after posting a job, the client might have over 50 freelancer proposals to look at. In this case, the client will certainly filter out most candidates without even reading their proposals.

If you reply to a job immediately after advertised, there is a possibility that for 2 or 3 hours not many people have sent their proposals yet. This gives you an edge. The client (if the work is not urgent) will probably wait some more time to see other proposals, but you have a good chance as the client went through your profile, portfolio, etc.

Always make sure communication is good

This is valid for before and during any work. Each client might like to communicate in a different ways with you. Client might want to talk to you via UpWork, Skype, WhatsApp, email, etc. It is important that you:

  • make sure you have access to good internet connectivity. If your home internet is poor, you might want to ask someone to help you, or work from a coffee shop sometimes (as long as their link is good). As you earn some money, upgrade your link. This is very important during interviews and meetings with clients. You might be refused right in the interview, if the the client cannot talk with you!
  • be generally available, with replies not taking longer than a day (preferably less than 6 hours). If needs a long answer and you need more time, just tell the client you are working on the reply.
  • make your own policy about communication: you might agree with the client that you will be available for communication only in certain hours of the day and only in certain days of the week. As long as you stick to your schedule, the client will be happy and you won’t need to worry all the time if there is a problem.
  • respect the client’s policy in regards to communication. There aren’t many things more annoying than someone constantly calling you at 3am from the other side of the world. Remember there are timezones differences between you and client.

Please use the comment’s section below to talk about your recent experiences in UpWork!

Entrepreneur, real estate investor and occasional trader.

“If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.” -Warren Buffett

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