The Best Upwork Freelancing Tips to Guarantee Your Success

Upwork is a great place for beginners to start their freelancing careers. It connects businesses with independent professionals and agencies around the globe. 

It also offers beginner-friendly features that make it easy for newbies to get started and find work and even advanced options for experienced freelancers who want to stay on top of their game.

Nonetheless, beginner and pro freelancers face increasingly difficult challenges on Upwork, from finding jobs to submitting proposals to getting hired.

In this edition, Good Freelancing set out to interview a few freelancers to share some Upwork freelancing best practices.

Here are their responses:

Lower your rates and specialize

“Since the toughest part can be getting started, I’d suggest at first offering an affordable rate and being upfront with your potential clients by informing them you’re just getting started and are willing to offer this discounted rate for high-quality work if they’re willing to give you a glowing review. Once you start amassing good reviews, Upwork puts you in the “Rising Talent” category, and then you can really take off,” says Siobhan Brier, a full-time freelance SEO writer who admits that Upwork can be one of the hardest freelancing sites to break into, but once you are established on the site, it has some of the best work. “If you’re a new freelancer, don’t cast a wide net by offering voice acting, writing, translation, and every other skill you’ve ever tried because it makes you look like you just want to be paid but won’t necessarily offer quality services. Instead, choose a specialty. This can be based on something you’re passionate about, something that people are offering money for, or both! Be responsive; save every job they’ve ever done so you can use it to build your portfolio, as well as dedicate a power hour every day to applying for new work and looking at job postings, especially when you want to grow, Siobhan advises.

Nail your pitch, buy Connects, and personalize proposals

“The best tip for freelancing on Upwork is to nail your pitch and reserve money to buy Connects so that you can increase the bid on your pitch, making an employer see your pitch above others with lower Connects,” explains Bryan Nweke, a content writer, email marketer, and virtual assistant. “Connects are like points that can be bought with money. The higher your Connects, the more you can boost your proposals so that employers will find them before the pitches by other freelancers. You should personalize your proposals by providing custom-tailored help to the employer’s business based on the job description. These are the Upwork freelancing tips I use to get gigs.”

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Search with keywords

“Pick a relevant tool you have experience with to search for jobs,” says Joshua Gibbs, an ad and email marketer. “I have experience with an e-commerce email marketing service provider called Omnisend. It’s not as popular as some of its competitors, like Klayvio or MailChimp. I searched Omnisend when I was looking for jobs, found a recently posted job, and put a high bid on the work with a relevant pitch to get the attention of the job poster. They reached out and were impressed with my specific knowledge and experience. Then they hired me for a one-time project, and we are now doing ongoing projects together for email marketing.” 

Focus on the client

“My best tip for succeeding on Upwork is to focus on the client. That might sound obvious, but a lot of freelancers write their profiles and proposals as a list of their skills—’here’s how great I am’—while the best strategy is always the reverse. Focus on the client and the benefits your work provides to them. Talk about the time they’ll get back, the leads they’ll get, the ROI—whatever it is—and paint as clear of a picture of that as you can,” advises Sílvia Pinho, a social media manager and content creator.  “Also, video is powerful in building trust, standing out, and getting clients. So don’t be shy, and don’t sleep on it!”

Create a detailed and personalized profile, be selective, and customize your proposals

“Create a detailed and personalized profile: Invest time in creating a thorough and engaging profile. Highlight your skills, experience, and showcase relevant samples of your work. A personalized profile picture and a video introduction can also help you stand out. Be selective with job applications by focusing on applying to jobs that align with your skills and interests and avoiding applying to every job posting you come across. This will help you maintain a high job success rate, which is critical for securing more projects. Customize your proposals when applying for jobs by tailoring your proposals tailored to the specific needs of the client, addressing their requirements, and explaining how your skills and experience make you the best fit for the job,” reveals Zlatan Maric, a German copywriter, virtual assistant, and customer support specialist. “Communicate effectively by maintaining a clear and professional communication with clients, both before and during the project. Regular updates and prompt responses to questions can help build trust and lead to better reviews. Manage your time wisely by keeping track of your deadlines, and always deliver your work on time. If you encounter any issues, inform your client as soon as possible and work together to find a solution. Request feedback and testimonials because positive reviews and testimonials can significantly improve your reputation on Upwork. Don’t hesitate to ask satisfied clients for their feedback and recommendations. Continually improve your skills by staying up-to-date with industry trends and regularly updating your skills to remain competitive in the freelance marketplace.”

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Be specific and tailor your proposal based on the job’s description

“Firstly, be as specific as you can and tailor your proposal based on the job’s description and location. Check the job posting’s location and mention it if you worked for a client in the same area. The goal is to have something in common with the person posting the job,” according to SEO freelancer Filip Silobod. “Secondly, mention a job you did or some knowledge about the industry based on their description. If the description is short, try to figure it out based on their job history. Most people posting on Upwork want to hire someone quickly and someone who has past experience that is almost similar to the project they posted.”

Create an impressive profile

“To become successful on Upwork, you should create an impressive profile, maintain a stellar portfolio, and be active,” says content writer Keren Dinkin, who believes that freelancing may seem like a gamble, but when done right, can fetch you great returns. “Learn the art of bidding, because as freelancers, especially new ones without much experience, we tend to undersell ourselves. Don’t go down that path. Learn how to bid right; if you want to start off on a small scale, choose a small project and bid low. But don’t be afraid to bid high for projects that can pay you well. Then understand your niche because we all excel at certain things. Instead of providing a wide range of services that you’re average at, focus on your strengths and restrict yourself to projects that allow you to excel. Once you upskill yourself or feel more confident, you can always add to the services you offer.” 

Be consistent, dedicated, and check a client’s profile before applying

“I think for any beginner, consistency is key. When you have a profile for several years and long-term clients that come back to you, you can set your own terms. But in the beginning, consider it a full-time job, and never stop applying and replying,” WordPress developer Stefan Ristic tells fellow Upwork freelancers. “Check the client profile before submitting; check their feedback, and try finding their name inside, so you can greet them properly. Review their requirements and spend quality time writing a proposal that sets you apart. Again, do your job well. This goes without saying, but with strong competition, your work and dedication are what can set you apart the most. Spend even more time than needed and agreed upon to satisfy the clients and turn them into long-term prospects, and make them want to leave you a five-star review.”

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Tailor and update your portfolio

“For me, Upwork is like a social media platform that works based on forming your brand and connections with your clients because positive feedback from clients in turn results in your getting more reach,” content writer Bhavik Sarkhedi believes. “Don’t forget to constantly update your portfolio with recent accomplishments and be up to date with evolving trends. To stay above the competition, make a neatly tailored portfolio that makes you appear reliable to your upcoming clients, keep applying for projects, and try to reach out as much as you can. After your career takes off at Upwork, you need to provide high-quality work to your clients with punctuality to keep that momentum going. If you follow these simple tips, your career at Upwork would be flying in no time.” 

Be fast and craft a good cover letter

“Upwork is one of the biggest and most reliable freelance platforms to start a freelancing career. It’s effortless and quick to set up a profile and start looking for a job. However, the toughest thing about Upwork is finding the very first job. Many freelancers are competing for the same job that just came out, and you have to differentiate yourself to win your first job. However, that is not enough yet. You have to be quick because even if you submit the most attractive cover letter, it might never get opened by the employer as they get dozens of cover letters. So, you have to be quick as well,” SEO content writer Davit Hayrapetyan advises. “I watched tons of YouTube videos and online materials to craft the best cover letter and nail my first job, but it took me two months to finally get a job. And if you manage to stay above water and consistently apply for new jobs, you will definitely succeed. Thereafter, finding a job becomes easier and easier.”

Note, however, that these Upwork freelancing tips are by no means exhaustive, and what works for you might not work for another.

What are the best tips for freelancing on Upwork? Tell us in the comment section below. We’d love to hear from you.

Good Freelancing is published by Dan Agbo, a freelance journalist, writer and editor. I’m available for hire on Fiverr and Upwork.

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