If you’ve ever thought about freelancing, Upwork is one of the best places to start.
But, you need to learn how to get Upwork jobs.
Freelancers are often faced with the challenge of finding freelance work. This is where Upwork comes in handy.
Upwork is an excellent resource for freelancers to find projects and get paid for their services. In this blog post, we will explore how to get jobs on Upwork and use it as a tool for your business!
Freelancers are always looking for ways to make money online – especially when they’re just starting or need some extra cash flow.
Do you want to work from home and make more money?
If you’d like some help getting started, then this blog post is for you!
Ready? Let’s get started!
What is Upwork?
Upwork is an online freelancing and remote job board where clients post part-time, full-time, and fixed-price contracts for freelancers to bid on. What they call the “world’s work marketplace.”
As someone who’s made six figures through Upwork (See screenshot below), I feel that I have enough experience to talk intelligibly on this subject.
Upwork is a great way to earn money and make your own schedule.
Getting your first contract can be the most challenging part of starting on Upwork.
The goal of this post is the set you up for success.
So, where do we start?
Optimize Your Profile
The first thing you want to understand is what the client sees when reviewing you – your profile.
Here are a few tips on how to optimize each part of your profile:
Verify identity, phone, email, etc.
Potential clients want to know they are working with someone who is who they say they are.
Verifying your Upwork profile is the fastest way to do this. Upwork staff will conduct a video verification.
With the rapid adoption of remote work, many employers from older Generations are quickly adopting online Talent platforms, but they are still wary of scams, false impersonation, and generally getting ripped off.
As a consistent employer on Upwork myself now, I can tell you, I don’t even consider a freelancer unless their identity is verified on Upwork. So if a potential freelancer has impressive work, the first thing I ask them is why they’re not verified on Upwork.
I’d say probably half of the Freelancers on Upwork are not verified, which means the easiest thing you can do the set your up self apart from half of the talent pool is to simply verify your identity.
Take a good headshot. Smile and look friendly and inviting to potential clients. Don’t use old or outdated pics. If you have to do a video call with potential clients, they’ll be thrown off if you don’t look like the person in your picture.
Use the same style of picture you would use on a professional site like LinkedIn. Make sure your background is non-distracting.
While a client will not hire you simply because of your profile picture, I know many clients, including myself, who might mentally discard your profile based merely on an unprofessional profile picture. However, if this is genuinely your career/profession, you’ll take the time to get a professional headshot.
Setting your hourly rate is important because you need to charge what you’re worth.
Many clients also filter out candidates based on a range of hourly rates. Don’t short-change yourself trying to compete with other low-wage workers.
If you do quality work, you need to charge what you’re worth.
One thing to remember is that you can always set your profile’s hourly rate higher than what you agree to with a potential client.
However, I don’t think it’s prevalent to set a lower hourly rate on your profile and then find a client who wants to pay more than your lifted rate.
Set your bar high, and then you can always negotiate down.
Your upper profile title is the primary way clients will search and find your profile. Therefore, you want to make sure your title is directly relevant to the type of work you do.
Don’t use generic or off-topic titles. Clients will also skim your profile title when reviewing job post applications.
If your profile title doesn’t seem relevant to the job they posted, many clients will simply skip over your profile and not consider you for the role.
Tip: Look at other successful freelancers titles and use that as a guide to crafting your own.
Your profile description is the long-form version of your profile title.
This is where you want to add as many supporting details and keywords related to your niche as possible.
You want to include all of the industry terms and buzz words associated with the type of work you do. A detailed description will help clients find your profile when inviting Freelancers to apply to their job.
Tip: Look at other successful freelancers descriptions and use that as a guide to crafting your own.
Depending on the type of work, your portfolio section will be the next most important area on your profile. This can really showcase your skillset.
After applying to specific job types, your portfolio may show up on the left-hand side of your proposal in preview mode before a client even clicks on your profile.
For example, most design jobs utilize a very visual work product, which will usually show this.
Regardless of the type of work you do, having a solid portfolio is one of the top factors a client will consider when reviewing your profile. Therefore, you want to make sure this is recent and relevant work to the type of job you’re applying to.
One super relevant portfolio item can determine whether or not a client chooses you for a gig over another freelancer.
Sub profiles are like dedicated Niche profiles that are more specific to the specialties in your space. For example, if you are a designer, you might have multiple sub-profiles for website design, mobile app design, logo design, Etc.
Every industry will have multiple subfields, and this is an excellent place to differentiate your past work.
This is also an opportunity to rank much higher for specific talent searches is that clients might undertake. So, for example, your profile might not be strong enough to rank for a competitive industry, but if a client does a specific search on a dedicated topic within that space, and you have a sub-profile that speaks directly to what they’re looking for, you have a much higher chance of ranking and be seen by that potential client.
Project catalogs are a new feature added recently to operate.
This is a way for you to prepackage your service offering to clients for your comment types of services. For example, if your designer, you could create a project catalog for “logo design.”
You could also create a separate project catalog for a “Branding package.” the possibilities are Limitless here. Whatever type of services you offer, you can create compelling project catalogs here. These will give a client better ideas of what you have to offer.
I never did a video introduction on my profile. This feature didn’t exist when I first signed up, so I already had a firm profile and portfolio by the time they introduced it. There was never a real need for me to create one.
That being said, I think this is a great place to differentiate yourself if you can make a decent video introduction. It wouldn’t need to be complex, but if I could just see your face, hear the way you talk and communicate, and potentially see your workspace, that would go a long way to making me feel more confident in hiring you.
If I were just starting again, I would absolutely upload a video introduction from day one.
You can’t directly control any of the information in your work history. This is where all of your past projects will live with or without client feedback. However, there are a few critical things to keep in mind about your work history.
- You don’t want any negative reviews. That goes without saying. One negative review can be enough for a client to decide against hiring you.
- You want all of your past projects to have some sort of feedback provided by the client. Too many jobs with no feedback are seen as unfavorable by the Upwork algorithm.
- At the end of a successful project, make sure you ask your, directly, to leave a detailed review about your experience working together. If you did a good job, almost every single client will oblige and leave you a great review.
This is a section where you can add you’re irrelevant previous work history.
What jobs have you held that are relevant to the type of freelance work you’re looking to land?
What were your roles and responsibilities in those previous jobs that could help you successfully work with clients on your own?
I wouldn’t include irrelevant previous work history here. If you don’t have any prior work history directly related to the type of freelance work you’re after, I would just leave this section blank.
I left this section blank for a long time, and it didn’t negatively affect my ability to land clients.
If you have a college degree, you can add it here. In my experience, though, working with many clients, nobody ever asks you about your degree.
It’s pretty much a useless piece of paper in this type of work. The only thing a client cares about is “what can you produce?”
Your past projects are far more important than any formal education.
This is a section where you can request endorsements from past clients (outside of Upwork).
This is a relatively new feature that didn’t exist when I first started on Upwork.
If you have no experience, I would heavily leverage this section and build up your social proof. Hopefully, you have some experience outside of Upwork, even for low-paying jobs or pro bono work.
Do whatever you can to get some sort of third-party proof on your profile that you can do the work you’re looking to get contracted for.
If you have any related industry certificates, I would add them here. For example, if you’re a certified Adobe expert, you want to add that certificate here.
That’ll give you an added vote of confidence whenever a client reviews your profile for topical expertise.
Other experiences is an interesting section because you can add whatever you want here.
If you’ve created some interesting independent projects that showcase your work but don’t necessarily fit into your portfolio, I would add them here.
Like all the other sections on your profile, I would include keywords to help clients find you when searching.
Something to Keep In Mind
View this whole process as “Upwork SEO.”
(“SEO” stands for ‘Search Engine Optimization.’ It’s a process/methodology/philosophy to rank higher on google search results.)
Upwork essentially operates a search engine for gig workers. Optimize your profile to show up more prominently for job searches related to your skillset.
Once your Upwork profile is optimized, you’ll want to begin submitting job proposals.
New Freelancers can see this process as daunting. And it can be.
Applying to freelance gigs essentially turns into a perpetual job search cycle, where you’re constantly applying to jobs in perpetuity. Unfortunately, many people don’t think about this when they get into freelancing.
That’s why it’s so important to have systems and processes in place so that you can consistently and reliably apply to jobs and win them.
First things first, you need to read the job description.
So many Freelancers just copy and paste Mass applications with the same text, starting with, “Hello Sir/Madam….”
When I’m hiring Freelancers, I can’t delete those applications fast enough.
Absolutely nobody wants to consider an application from someone who didn’t even read their job description.
Always start your job Proposal with something that is topically relevant to the potential client’s job description.
If you want to learn more about how to write an Upwork proposal, check out my blog post on how to write an Upwork proposal.
The most important thing you can do is apply to a few jobs every day. Consistency is key.
You never know when a client is going to pull the trigger and hire somebody for their job.
Some clients are sitting there waiting for applications to roll in to immediately begin the review process, while others will post a job and not look at it for a few days or weeks.
That’s why it’s so important to apply for a new job post quickly. If you want to be the first person to apply for a job, you’ll at least always get viewed by a client when they initially screen their applications.
Once a client Begins the review process and starts messaging potential candidates, sometimes they’ll never go back and review new proposals. That’s why you got to get in early.
I would set aside a small amount of time every morning and evening to apply for jobs. And the morning, you can apply to all the jobs posted overnight and at the end of yesterday. And then, during your afternoon/evening application session, you can apply to all the new jobs posted throughout the day.
If a client decides to message you after reading your proposal and cover letter, you want to reply to them as quickly as possible.
In my experience, clients usually hire the most receptive and helpful person to answer their questions.
You have to view this as a freelance business, first and foremost. You expect a company to respond to you very quickly.
I can’t overstate this point—my success rate when immediately responding to clients skyrockets.
Simply put, you’ll get more clients by responding to job invitations quickly.
Invitations to Interview
After you build your reputation on Upwork and begin showing up in candidate search results, clients will invite you to apply to their job. Clients only get to send ~5-15 invitations on average, so if you get asked, there’s a good chance you can land the job.
As you can see above, I’ve been invited to 1,398 jobs on Upwork. So even if 9/10 of these jobs were not significant (not hiring, spam, etc.), that means I’ve had ~140 very realistic invitations.
Getting invited to an interview is the easiest way to land a job, in my experience. All of my best jobs came from invitations. This situation flips the dynamics of the typical job approach because these clients came to you, not the other way around.
These sales are already halfway closed. As long as you don’t mess up the interview, you have a very high chance of getting these gigs (50%+, in my experience).
Talk with clients over voice/video chat. Upwork now has a built-in Zoom call feature which works better than the Upwork call feature.
Questions to Ask Clients
What does success look like for this project?
The most important question you can ask a client is what their definition of success is.
Most projects fail because Freelancers and clients aren’t on the same page about what’s expected.
If you start every project by making sure you and a potential client are on the same page, you’re halfway to success already.
What’s your timeline for getting this project completed?
You want to know upfront what the client expectations are in terms of deadlines and deliverables. For example, if a client has two days to complete a project, that’s very different from two months.
You need to make sure you’re on the same page as your clients from the outset so that if unexpected things pop up or requirements change, you don’t get into a dispute about what was initially agreed upon.
What are your expectations of my availability?
If you’re in a different time zone or work non-traditional hours, you need to quickly find out what the client expects of you in terms of availability.
Do they want you to respond to all of their messages from 9 to 5 in their local time zone? Or do they not want to communicate and just want the work to be completed as expected.
This is a crucial question to ask early on so that the clients are not sending you communications and not hearing back.
The moment a client feels like they’re being left out to dry, most working relationships go downhill.
If you set clear expectations upfront about when you’ll respond and be available to the client, you can avoid all those headaches.
How often would you like to communicate?
Beyond availability, you should also ask how frequently the client wants to be updated on your progress.
Some projects necessitate a daily update, while others might be suited for weekly progress updates.
Before starting any project, get on the same page about how & where you’ll update the client on your progress.
Almost every client who’s posting jobs on Upwork is usually busy with other things (hence the need for 3rd party help).
Because of this, many clients need to be followed up with their job postings.
However, I’ve realized only maybe 10-20% of freelancers do this.
Maybe they don’tWant to annoy the client, but in my experience, it’s almost always beneficial to follow up with a client if they haven’t responded within a day or two.
Usually, life just gets in the way, and if a client hasn’t given you an exact timeline on when they plan on making their decision, it’s not a bad idea to follow up with them.
Many times I’ve been hired simply because I followed up with a client, and nobody else did.
This shows that you’re proactive with your work and gives clients a sign that you will most likely be aggressive with the task they give you.
Do good work
You need to do good work if you want to do well at anything in life. This is especially true of freelancing on Upwork.
An Upwork job is no different than any other self-employment gig.
Doing good work makes clients happy that they hired you.
Doing good work makes clients want to continue to work with you.
Doing good work makes clients want to recommend you to their friends.
Doing good work is what makes having a successful freelance career possible.
We touched on this earlier, but one of the most important things you can do at the end of each project is getting a testimonial from a happy client.
A glowing testimonial will speak volumes as to the type of person you are and the type of work you deliver.
A couple of fantastic reviews are all it takes to start getting job offers left and right on Upwork.
Job Success Score
Everything we’ve talked about so far in this article contributes to the number one most crucial indicator on your profile – your job success score.
Your job success score is the de facto indicator of how well you do with clients. A new profile starts off with no job success score, but once you get your first couple of clients you’ll start to build your score.
The score is on a scale of 1% to 100%.
The goal here is to keep your job success score at 100%. You’ll see a sharp drop-off in getting hired at your job success score drops below 90%.
Job success score is so important that if I had to choose between refunding a client on their job and keeping my score 100% or risk it dropping, I would almost always rather refund a client and settle the dispute without hurting my job success score.
The only Direct Control you have over the score is doing good work. If clients are satisfied and you’re living up to your end of the bargain, your job success where will take care of itself.
If you do everything we talked about in this article, you’ll be well on your way to getting the best Upwork jobs.
Your first job on Upwork is the hardest. Once you can start to Showcase successful projects, getting new clients gets a lot easier.
One successful job leads to more jobs. This leads to what I call an “upward spiral” and will really kick-start your Upwork career.
Upwork beginners have a massive advantage if they just follow the tips in this article. If you follow this guide, other freelancers really won’t stand a chance.
Your Upwork profile will become a valuable asset that you can use to always get work.
Avoiding Upwork Scams
Before we conclude this article, there is one negative thing I want to touch on.
Like any online platform, Upwork does have its fair share of scammers.
You need to be very vigilant about what information you share with a client before building a working relationship and trusting them.
Here are some common scams to avoid –
- If a client sends you a W-2 or 1099, do not send it back to them before being hired or paid. These forms usually ask for sensitive information like social security number, name, address, Etc. Somebody can easily steal your identity if you send it to them. So, in general, I would avoid filling out these items and simply work through Upwork and explain to the client that they can handle everything they need to tax-wise with Upwork.
- Another common Upwork scam is for a legitimate seeming client to ask you to purchase office equipment or supplies before starting. For example, a client may send you a bad check/payment, ask you to deposit it, then go by gift cards and ask you to send them the card numbers so they can forward you supplies. I know… it sounds fishy. I know multiple people who have been tricked by a scam somewhere this. Unfortunately, scammers are extremely good at Social Engineering and tricking you into thinking of legitimate.
- Also, watch out for when a potential client will ask you for remote access to your computer to set up some programs for you to start working. Once somebody has remote access to a computer, they can easily manipulate the HTML and data on your browser using developer tools and make you think you have a higher Upwork balance, bank balance, or something similar, and that’s how a scam begins. Don’t give anybody remote access to a computer.
All in all, just use common sense and don’t do anything that seems out of the ordinary for an online freelancing gig. Keep all of your work done through Upwork, only work with verified clients who have past project history, and you can avoid 99.9% of scams out there.
If you’re a new freelancer looking to get Upwork clients, this post will set you up for the greatest chance of success. These Upwork tips have been proven to work and allowed me to make over six figures through the platform.
As an Upwork freelancer, there are so many job opportunities that you could easily reap the self-employment rewards you’re looking for if you just put in a small amount of effort.
Only Freelancers who stick with the process will eventually land that one client who opens the doors to so many more. As long as you don’t give up, you could have a true online business faster than you think.
It’s this simple:
- Optimize Your Upwork Profile
- Submit Relevant Proposals
- Do Good Work & Get Testimonials
I hope this article has been helpful and will lead you to get more Upwork jobs.
If you have any questions, post a comment down below, and I’ll respond to any questions.