Today I wanted to share a bit about how to get your first job on Upwork. I see questions all the time in Facebook groups and elsewhere online about this and thought I would quickly address it!
Getting your first job (and review) on Upwork is crucial to finding further success on the platform. Without it, it is hard to prove to clients that you have experience and are a good, trustworthy candidate. Once you get your first job and review, it’s much easier to get more work and higher paying work.
Don’t want to read the whole post? Watch this video instead:
1. DON’T Sell Yourself Too Cheap
I felt like I needed to address this first just to get it out of the way. A lot of people out there that talk about Upwork recommend starting out by doing really cheap ($10/hr and lower) jobs to get your first few jobs and reviews under your belt. It may have worked for some people, but overall I would stray away from this method. If you are trying to establish yourself as a professional and as someone that is worth paying a decent rate, then charging ridiculously low rates isn’t going to do much for you short term. It makes your runway longer to being able to charge higher rates. If you’re wanting to make a living off of Upwork and quickly scale, I would recommend starting with a rate of at least $10USD or higher, depending on your skill. (As a designer, I start around $15-$20 per hour.)
The other thing to consider is that the types of projects you’ll get when you’re advertising yourself at a really low hourly rate usually aren’t very good. It’s often better to price yourself a little higher and get out of the range where low-quality clients are.
2. Advertise High, Bid Low
I love this tactic and still regularly use it! It’s great because you can use it no matter where you lie on the pricing scale. For people just starting out, you could list your profile rate at $20/hr and then bid for projects at $15/hr. Psychologically, I think this makes you still appear more like a professional because you’re establishing your worth at a high rate, but it also gives the impression that you’re giving them a good deal.
3. Do Quick Jobs
While I don’t recommend doing jobs at a super low rate, I do recommend doing jobs that are quick. If you’re a graphic designer, make some social media posts for someone, or a logo design. If you’re a writer, maybe a short blog post or something similar would be a good fit. Do something that you know you can do well and has a quick turnaround time.
4. Put In Good Ol’ Hard Work.
When I was just starting out, I scoured Upwork for jobs and sent out proposals for 2-3 hours (sometimes more) per day. I didn’t really know what I was doing and there weren’t many resources out there for how to really maximize your efforts. If you don’t put in much time or effort, you probably won’t get much out of it.
That being said, I didn’t apply to stuff for 2-3 hours straight. A lot of that was spent trying to find good jobs that fit my current skillset and skill level and then crafting a good proposal. Clients can tell when you’ve copied and pasted a proposal. Taking time to really address each specific job really pays off. If freelancing and being successful is important to you, then put in the time to do things well.
5. Be Open And Honest
Be open and honest about your situation in your proposals. It’s amazing how simple this is, but people often forget it. Just tell them straight up where you’re at. Whether you’re just starting out and are getting your feet wet with freelancing or maybe you’re transitioning to freelancing from a full time position, people appreciate the honesty.
You can really use this to your advantage if you also take my advice from earlier and list your profile rate as “high” ($20/hr) and then send a proposal for something slightly lower (say, $16/hr). Then tell them that you’re giving them a deal because you’re new to the platform and want to build up your reputation!
BONUS – Bring A Friend Or Client To Upwork
Find a friend or someone outside of Upwork and ask them to hire you or pay you within Upwork! This is an approach not many people think about, but is a really great option. Find someone that needs something simple done, and do it for them at a reasonable rate through Upwork. That way you’re sure to get a good review and it makes getting that first review really simple. No friends that need your help? Find someone in a Facebook group or something similar that is willing to hire you at a reasonable rate. Ask them to set up the job on Upwork and you’ll get your first job and review!
I really hope you find these tips helpful! If you want to know more about how to find success on the Upwork platform, check out my course about freelancing on Upwork over at www.upworksuccess.com.
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