Here’s the Thing…
I know for some people, Upwork, and similar sites, have negative connotations associated with them such as service charges, low paying jobs & high competition. However, despite all of that, I have had very good “luck” with landing jobs on Upwork.
Really though, luck had nothing to do with it. Instead, I have refined my strategy in the last couple of years that has led to gaining many clients (including repeat clients), consistent jobs & even some higher paying jobs.
Keep in mind that nobody taught me any of these tips. I just kept trying and trying again (and trying again…..) until I actually started landing clients, which took a LONG time. But I want you to jumpstart your Upwork success *today*, so here are 9 tried and true methods I have used to land clients and make a living!
#1 Optimize Your Profile
I know you probably want to dive straight into applying for jobs, but there is some legwork you need to complete to ensure you have a shot at landing the jobs you apply for.
It can be tempting to just fill in the blanks for your Upwork profile, but taking a little extra time to include well-thought-out answers will actually go a long way.
Here are a few key aspects to keep an eye out for when it comes to optimizing your profile:
- Fill out ALL aspects of your profile: the more you show the person behind the work, the more likely you are to get selected over those who don’t optimize their profile and you will be able to build a stronger client relationship.
- Create a captivating bio: when there are 50+ freelancers applying for jobs, you need to have something that sets you apart. In your bio, don’t just say who you are, but share why you are the person you are and what you have to offer clients. Anyone can complete a job, but clients are more likely to want to work with someone who can offer personalized value.
- Upload work samples: this is an initial as well as an ongoing step. When setting up your account, include as many quality work samples as you can. The same goes for once you complete a job that gives you a portfolio sample; add it to your work samples! Again, when a client is looking for the ideal freelancer, they are going to want to see evidence that you can deliver what they are asking for. The best way to prove this is through real-life samples!
- Include your resume: this seems simple, but make sure you list relevant past work experience. In the same way you would apply for a traditional job, you want to show potential clients how you perform and what you can deliver. This is your time to shine!
- Choose a professional profile photo: Upwork is all about first impressions and including a professional profile photo is an easy way to show potential clients that you mean business. If you’ve had headshots done, that’s perfect, but you can also just have someone take a cell phone picture for you or even take a selfie! Just make sure you are putting your best foot forward and making a great first impression.
Trust me: optimizing your profile is very important for increasing your Upwork success. I have been offered jobs just from clients looking at my profile; I didn’t even apply! Putting together a great profile is low-hanging fruit & can make the difference between securing a job or not.
#2. Give Yourself the Appropriate Credit, But Know Your Limitations
There is a huge variety of jobs on Upwork, everything from graphic design to social media management to market research and everything in between. Therefore, you are doing yourself a huge disservice if you only apply to jobs that you are 100% qualified for. On the flipside, don’t overestimate the skills you possess.
For example, I would consider writing and customer service to be my strongest skills, but I am also capable of doing transcriptions and editing AND I make sure that I don’t set myself up for failure by applying for jobs that I am clearly not qualified for.
To sum it up: know your strengths, know what you can do, and be aware of what you can’t do.
#3. Only Apply to Quality Jobs
When you’re first starting out on Upwork, it can be tempting to apply to every single job you are qualified for. But in reality, you don’t want to land every single job!
Instead, take the time to find jobs that align with your skills as well as your rate of pay. I promise you, if you comb through the pages on Upwork, you WILL find jobs that are interesting to you AND will pay according to your rate.
Trust me, it is much better to have less, higher quality & higher paying jobs than just a bunch of little jobs that aren’t relevant to your skills and don’t pay well.
#4. Check the Job Postings Daily
There are some days when I apply to zero jobs, and there are other days where I apply to a ton. The number of quality jobs will fluctuate, and the only way to catch it on a high day is to make sure you are checking the postings daily.
It really doesn’t take a long time to skim through the postings if you set aside 15 – 20 minutes each day. It will be well worth it when you stumble upon your dream job!
#5. Have Cover Letters Written Out for Different Types of Jobs…
To ensure I am not rewriting cover letters everytime I apply for a new job, I have an ongoing Google doc where I store all the cover letters I’ve written. When applying to a job, I’ll pull from my already written cover letters, tweak it a little (more on that below!) and send it on its way.
Applying for jobs on Upwork can be time-consuming, but if you create systems that allow for a smooth and effective flow, you will free up time by utilizing the materials you have already created. Work smarter, not harder!
#6 …BUT Don’t Just Copy & Paste
I have 100% fallen victim to this one.
As tempting as it is to just copy & paste cover letters from job to job, take the extra time to personalize each one. It’s okay to have a previously written cover letter as the baseline, but take the extra step to include relevant details to the job you are applying for.
Clients will appreciate it and it will also set you apart from the dozens of freelancers who are competing for the same jobs.
#7. Use the Clients Name in the Cover Letter
This is a super simple way to show a potential client that you have done your research.
When you click onto the job posting, scroll down to the client’s review. More times than not, a previous freelancer will have left a review that includes the client’s name and BINGO! You can now address the cover letter to a specific person.
I cannot emphasize how much this easy gesture can set you apart. People love being addressed by name AND since Upwork doesn’t easily display names, you clearly would have had to do extra (although simple) work to obtain that information.
#8. Always Make Sure to Deliver Top Quality Work
On Upwork, your reviews are everything. Clients are not going to hire someone who blew off a job and delivered poor work. More than likely, the work you are completing will be submitted to your client’s boss, and they want to hire freelancers that will complete the job well and on-time.
If you submit work that is not of the utmost of quality, you are risking receiving a bad review, which could ultimately lead to missing out on jobs in the future.
To ensure you’re always delivering the best work, make sure you have the bandwidth to complete each job.
Of course, unforeseen complications can occur. If something comes up that may hinder the job’s outcome, communicate with your client. They are human too and will appreciate your honesty.
Through every job and client interaction, make sure you are putting your best foot forward and leaving no option but to receive a five-star review.
#9. Know (and Stick To) Your Worth
This is one of the most important aspects to ensuring your Upwork success.
Before you even look at one job on Upwork, set your rates & don’t be vague! If you’re a writer, set rates per word, per hour and per project. If you do transcriptions, set your rate per minute. If you are offer VA services, set your hourly rate.
Next, make a contract with yourself that you will stick to those rates.
As soon as you start taking jobs that are below your pay rate, you are saying that you do not believe in your worth.
I know that when you are embarking on the freelance journey, every penny matters. But in the long-run, your worth is more important than a slew of low-paying jobs. If you can’t adhere to your worth, how do you expect clients to?
So That’s the Thing…
Upwork truly has the potential to open the door to a variety of opportunities; you just need to master the methods for navigating the platform.
It can definitely be overwhelming / discouraging when you’re first starting out, but I truly believe that if you implement these 9 simple methods, you will drastically increase your Upwork success.
As with anything in life, it will not immediately come easily. BUT if you stick with it, you will be introduced to a world of possibilities that will hopefully supercharge your freelance journey.