So you have decided to try Upwork, but maybe you are unsure of where to start, or if Upwork is good for beginners? Perhaps you have been freelancing on other platforms and just now decided that you wanted to give Upwork a try?
I have been using Upwork for 4 months. The platform has made my life simpler and a lot more complicated.
How to get started on Upwork as a Freelancer
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I had no idea where to begin when I started as a freelancer. So, I did what most of us do: googled freelancing websites.
Upwork was the first one that popped up and the first freelancing website I signed up for. I verified my email address, chose the freelancer option, and what country I was from. It took a couple of minutes, and then I was ready for the world of freelancing. Unfortunately, no one on Upwork knew I existed.
To create some awareness of my existence, I had to upload a profile picture and write an engaging profile text for potential clients to see. I hate writing these sales pitches about myself, so this took a couple of hours.
After creating a rudimentary profile, I began editing the ‘Education’ and ‘Employment history’-sections, as well as the “Other Experiences” section. I had a stellar curriculum vitae on my local drive, which I copied unto Upwork, so this went smoothly. Then, I added which languages I knew and my level of proficiency. Considering I work with languages that have been dead for thousands of years, this was not as good as I would have liked. I had no idea what my rate should be, so I set it to 18USD – which, I found out later, was a pretty good decision.
Getting my first clients on Upwork
Now that my profile was done, I decided to look for potential clients. I did manage to find some content writing jobs that paid well, but I never got any of them. Instead, I was approached by a lot of speech-recording-seeking clients. But that was fine, and I began doing a lot of speech recordings for these clients. They did not pay very much – only about USD 50. But it was a great way to start my freelancing career, and I got a couple of 5-star ratings, which put me in an excellent position for better gigs.
I was approached by clients who offered better gigs than the speech recordings because of my 5-star reviews. I also landed a gig as a ghostwriter for a Danish tech website and two gigs as a transcriptionist. These offered between USD 60 per 60minutes and USD 160 per 60minutes. As you might notice, the rates fluctuated a lot, but I had no idea how to rate my services…
How to earn on Upwork
When I began my new career path as a freelance content writer, I had no idea how Upwork worked or how to earn on Upwork. Luckily the actual process is relatively simple.
Assuming you are using the free version as I am, you simply browse jobs, bid, get an interview, do the job, and Upwork will take care of the payment. You can withdraw your payments directly to your bank or your PayPal or Payoneer account. You can also choose to set up a monthly payment cycle. If you choose this option, your funds will automatically be inserted into your bank or PayPal account.
Upwork does charge some fees, and this is widely debated online. Their fee looks like this:
- 20% for the first $500USD you receive from a client.
- 10% when you have received between $500.1USD and $10.000USD from a client
- 5% when you have received more than $10.000USD from a client.
The fees are widely debated online. However, Upwork does provide some services, which I think make up for the fees. For example, Upwork uses escrow as fixed-price protection. This ensures freelancers do not get scammed.
Upwork offers two ways of getting paid: Hourly or at a fixed price. Hourly projects get logged on the Upwork application, Work Diary. This application takes screenshots while you work to ensure that you are not scamming the client. You can switch off the Work Diary if you need to take breaks during your work. Fixed Price project is simply a fixed-priced project. Here, you get the full payment – minus Upwork fees – when you have completed the job.
How to promote Upwork Profile
Upwork profile for beginners
The most essential part of your Upwork account is your profile. Especially when you are starting out and wondering is Upwork good for beginners. You need a compelling profile that appeals to potential clients. Therefore, you need to verify your account as soon as possible. A verified profile shows clients that you are serious about your work.
Another great tip for creating an Upwork profile for beginners is your title. A great title helps potential clients figure out what areas you work with.
Skills for Upwork Profile
You will be asked about your skills for your Upwork profile when you create your profile. This is important as it enables clients to compare your skillset to their job requirements. It ensures that you do not get too many offers about website development if your skill is writing feature articles about dogs.
Upwork Profile Picture
Your Upwork profile picture is another way to verify your identity. Your Upwork profile picture is also one of the first things potential clients will see when viewing your profile. That is why you must have a serious and professional profile picture. As stated on Upwork: “humans make judgments based on rapid first impression”. Science simply tells us that a professional profile picture lands you more clients.
A great way to create a professional Upwork profile picture is to include part of your skillset in the photo. For example, if you are a content writer, take your Upwork profile picture sitting by your desk with a notepad open.
How do I get my profile to 100% on Upwork?
To get your profile to 100% completion on Upwork, you need to complete the required steps, which count for 50% completion and 50% optional steps.
- Profile picture
- Profile overview
- 1 former employment in the Employment History
- 1 Skill tag
The optional steps are:
- Portfolio item (5% per item)
- More than 1 Employment History item (10% per item)
- More Skill tags (10% total)
- Your education (10% per item)
- A Linked Account (10%)
- Certification (5%)
- Other Experience items (5%)
When I created my profile, I got my profile to 100% on Upwork by adding work experience, education, portfolio items, and skill tags.
How long does it take to get your first job on Upwork?
When wondering how long it takes to get your first job on Upwork, the answer is directly related to how many Upwork proposals you have sent. Just like any job proposal, an Upwork proposal is your way of contacting a potential client, who is offering a job you would like to do.
Your Upwork proposal needs to be to the point and directly aimed at the problem the client is facing. You may mention your experience. However, this is not necessarily advised, as clients get hundreds of proposals. You are much better off if you follow these steps:
- A short greeting. A simple “Hi (client’s name)” will often do.
- Explain in 30 words how you can help the client.
- Explain in 30 words how you are going to help the client.
- End the proposal with a CTA. For example: “Let me know if you would like more samples of my work”
- Thank the client for their time
- Your name
- Attach samples of your previous work.
Is it easy to get jobs on Upwork?
I ask myself this question every month. I still do not know the answer. It might be one of the most difficult elements to the question: is Upwork good for beginners. But if you are willing to accept any job offer, then, I suppose, it is easy to get jobs on Upwork. However, most of us want long-term clients rather than the short voice recording projects that there are plenty of on Upwork.
I got my first long-term client within the first week of working on Upwork. The client clearly took a chance when hiring me, as I only had one review on my profile, but as they were satisfied with my work, they kept sending me milestones.
The most important thing on Upwork is the reviews on your profile. If these are near 100% job satisfaction, it should become manageable with time to land those long-term clients within your niche that you want.
How to get clients on Upwork?
The easiest way to get clients on Upwork is through having a 100% completed profile with more than 90% job satisfaction.
To get 90% job satisfaction, you need more than 1 job. I took several smaller voice recording jobs, which gave me a few solid reviews and high job satisfaction. Of course, I did everything I could to ensure that the clients gave me a high rating, but most of the smaller voice recording jobs will give 5/5 stars if you complete the job.
After 5-10 of these smaller gigs, you may have even gotten the Rising Talent badge. At this point, clients can see that you are a valued worker. And that you add value to any company – and as a consequence, you will have better chances of landing that great long-term client that you want.
Is Upwork a good way to make money?
The short answer is: Yes. Upwork is a good way to make money. The longer answer, however…
Upwork has a lot of low-paying jobs. A lot. Similarly, most of the job offers you will receive in the beginning will be low-paying gigs, where the clients might offer $50USD for 4 hours of work.
Likewise, many freelancers place very low bids on attractive jobs because they think it will secure them a great long-term gig.
But while many jobs offer low wages and many of your competitors have low rates, it is possible to find gigs that pay well.
If a job is specific enough, the clients tend to look for freelancers who are specialized in that niche – and this is where you come in. If a client wants a feature article on “How modern running shoes are ruining our bodies”, and you happen to be a podiatrist, then clients are more likely to hire you – even if you charge more than your competitors.
But you will not get rich overnight. It will take some time before you build up a client base and some stellar reviews that enable you to be an expert in your niche.
Is Upwork good for beginners?
Since I began freelancing, I have made some decent money on Upwork. So, in my opinion, yes. Upwork is good for beginners.
However, there is no shortcut to success on Upwork. You need to build a proper portfolio and profile, get some long-term clients, and get some stellar reviews before your career takes off. But it is doable!
Have you tried Upwork? How was your experience? Let me know in the comments.