Upwork has recently changed their policy and it seemed like they’re accepting more jobs than they are freelancers at the moment and it’s getting on everyone’s nerves. It’s incredibly frustrating for those who are looking to get a job on Upwork or as a freelancer in general. Here’s how I got to top rated in a year!
DISCLAIMER: I’m not sponsored by Upwork and there will be a rant coming about the platform in the future. Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of things I absolutely despise about it, but hey, that’s how it is with any job you’ll ever have. Pick your battles. 🙂
Regardless of what you hear about the site that takes away 20% of your money for their own fees, Upwork is a good starting point in your freelance career – it’ll help you build your portfolio, drive traffic to your website, and you’ll be able to make connections outside of it.
Here’s how I became a top-rated freelancer on Upwork in less than a year.
Your profile isn’t that important later on (trust me, rare few people will actually check it), but it’s important when you’re just starting out. Check out the top-rated freelancers in your niche and copy what they’re doing. Not word-by-word, of course, but adapt it to your own services.
Upwork optimized profile action plan:
- Search for top-rated freelancers in your niche
- Adapt their profile to yours
- Organize your portfolio
A note on the starting rate:
I got yelled at before because I advised people to stick to jobs that pay low for a while (you need to have a steady income outside of Upwork at this point) so you can gain good feedback score and more jobs later. I still believe in this, but, of course, this is just one way of doing it.
If you’re a writer, you’ll find tons of offers that will be more than happy to pay super low rates in exchange for good feedback. Start there. Work. Get good feedback. Get more good feedback. Raise your rates.
In the words of Gary Vaynerchuk – eat sh*t for the first few months and work to get where you want to go. I do think it’s important to “charge higher because you’re worth more” but it’ll take for FOREVER to find that one client – you could find hundreds of clients for a lower rate in the meantime, but of course, this choice is yours.
If you have a developed portfolio and have been in the business long enough, you might have a shot at finding clients that will pay a higher rate, but mind you, it could take a few weeks of sending out thousand of proposals before you do – if you can afford that, go for it. But those ‘Upwork business coaches’ that are telling you ‘you don’t have to lower your rates to get your first job on Upwork’ are 90% lying to you. Sorry – this doesn’t work on this platform.
Sending out proposals
Just like any other job, you’ll have to send a bunch of proposals before getting your first client.
Here’s why it’s good to do that, regardless if you’re actually interested in that job:
- It’ll help get you traffic to your portfolio / website (always include it in your cover letter. ALWAYS)
- You’ll practice nailing that cover letter for future jobs.
- You’ll learn to write cover letters faster (always cater them to the job you’re applying for) and get noticed quicker.
The best thing to do is subscribe to the job keywords you’re after and just apply apply apply. If you’re in the writing niche, you’ll find out there are a couple of clients out there that will be open to hiring brand new freelancers. Their offered wage probably sucks, but the rate shouldn’t be your main concern at this point.
Sending out proposals action plan:
- ALWAYS include your portfolio (and if you don’t have it, make it).
- Send out 20 proposals.
- Send out 20 more.
- Ask for a Skype interview ASAP.
On that note, you’ll have to work. Hard. Especially if you want Upwork to be your main source of income (which I wouldn’t recommend, but hey, I’m not the one to judge).
Working hard and working for our clients instead of the money (cause let’s be honest, the money sucks) will help you get future referrals.
One of my very first feedbacks was a super negative one and I really wanted to cancel my profile and start a new one. I’m so happy I stuck to it!
Working hard action plan:
- Just do it.
- Don’t complain for a year.
- Keep working hard and better things will come.
A few more tips on how to start out:
- Focus on short projects to get quick feedback.
- Forget about rates for at least a few months (if you’re a brand new freelancer).
- Arrange a Skype call as soon as possible.
- Respect your client’s deadlines.
- Don’t be scared to negotiate your fee (new clients don’t understand that Upwork takes 20% of a freelancer’s fee).
- Don’t talk about receiving a payment outside of the platform – you and your client will get banned.
What I personally learned about Upwork:
- Your feedback score means everything.
- Never, ever, rely JUST on Upwork for your freelance career -> subscribe to my freelance jobs newsletter and start receiving weekly emails in your inbox!
- Your clients will want to overwork you.
- Don’t get angry – rates will be ridiculously low. Remember you’re also in the same pond as people from countries where they can actually make a living from these rates. They weren’t meant for you so let them go.
- Upwork tends to put the clients first. You’ll lose a lot of battles because of dishonesty.
The bottom line is to not give up. If I stopped using Upwork after that first initial bad review I received, I’d never get to where I am today. I love being paid weekly, I love knowing exactly how much money I’m getting and I love working on a variety of things. I guess there’s a plus side to the platform that everyone seems to hate.
Upwork action plan:
- Do everything above.
- Don’t complain – hustle.
- Low rates aren’t meant for you.
- Work hard for a year and watch as you’ll never have to apply for any job again – I get 10 invitations every single day!