Among many platforms to find a freelance job, Upwork is undeniably the most popular. If you are a freelancer seeking for your first client, the platform can assure you the safe and secure applications and transactions with potential clients. If you want to find out more about making money on Upwork, here’s a guide curated just for you.
What is Upwork?
Upwork is an online marketplace for freelance gigs in writing, graphic design, and web development. However, the niches are not limited to the creatives. The platform expanded its reach with a more variety of industries that allow remote work.
It is a platform that allows both freelancers and employers to meet to find and offer projects, respectively. The site is pretty much straightforward for applicants. You need to sign up for an account, create your online portfolio, and wait for the site acceptance before sending out applications.
Now, here’s the deal with Upwork. Many get rejected on their first attempt to sign up for an account. Due to the platform’s strict demands for professional qualifications, you need to up your game in listing down your skills. But you don’t have to worry about it, as we’ll get down to the secrets in acing it the first time.
Why choose Upwork?
Upwork is by far the biggest online freelancing platform there is. Its popularity is even more expected to grow in the next coming years due to most workers’ transition into the work from home setup. You may learn how to score freelance jobs at Upwork on this Skill Success online course: How to Win Jobs Freelancing on Upwork. Many choose to source jobs on Upwork due to its promising benefits, which include the following:
Variety of niche
While Upwork was initially known for writing, web development, and graphic design gigs, it has since started to grow its niche categories. You can get a job of all sorts as long as it is a remote opportunity.
It isn’t easy to get scammed in Upwork as a freelancer when all payments are made within the platform. Upwork handles these payments and ensures that freelancers get paid on time and heftily. You don’t have to worry about a client running away once you complete tasks since the platform watches out for you.
Incentives with long term contractors
Upwork takes a 20% cut on your payment for the first $500 made for a contractor. When you reach $501 – $9,999, they take a 10% commission. And once you hit the $10,000 mark with a contractor, only 5% will be taken.
Some may see this as a downside since no one wants a deduction from their payments received. However, this is the fee incurred for using Upwork and its secure service.
Steps on how to make money on Upwork
Here’s a detailed breakdown of how you can start making money through Upwork.
1. Get your account ready.
Upon creating an account, you will need to enlist your personal details, credentials, and experiences. You need to ensure that you fill out all the necessary information before hitting the submit button for a profile review.
As mentioned, Upwork has a strict approval review that takes up to 24 hours. You need to be accurate and detailed on your qualifications. A good rule of thumb to live by is avoiding generic skills. Be as specific as possible, and insert as many skills that relate to your niche.
2. Create 1-2 work profiles.
When you receive your approval email, you can now start positioning your profile on the platform. Upwork allows you to create multiple types of profiles that can cater to various industries.
Now, this is where Upwork will work wonders in marketing your profile. The platform asks you to create a general profile and specialized profiles. The presence of these two makes it easier to segregate any specialty you have.
In cases that you just want to be out there, a general profile will be enough. But if you want to expand your chance of getting noticed by employers, a specialized profile is highly recommended. A specialized profile allows you to be as detailed as ever in one particular work that you do. Having one leaves your profile an impressive credential since your qualifications are extensively highlighted here.
3. State your rate.
Upwork lets you place how much you want to earn on an hourly basis. You just have to provide an exact amount, and you will see how much Upwork will deduct from it. Seeing the deduction, you need to increase your rate beyond expected.
However, if it’s your first time to get clients, it’s advisable to have your first rate at a lower side to get a contractor quickly. And when you complete contracts and receive 5-star reviews, you can start raising your rates. Getting contracts becomes easier once you have earned your stars, so work for them, and they will work for you as you go on.
4. Pick a membership plan.
Upwork isn’t exactly free to use for everyone. It has the Basic and Plus plans that users can choose from. The Basic is free, but you will need to purchase “connects” to apply for contractors. Each connect amount for $0.15. These are primary tokens used in submitting a proposal, and the number of connects needed varies per job posting.
On the other hand, the Freelancer Plus plan costs $14.99 a month and includes features of the Basic and some added perks, like:
- 70 connects every month
- Customize profile URL
- Hide total earnings
- View competitors’ bid for projects
- Keep profile up even when inactive
5. Submit proposals to contractors and start working.
You need to write a compelling cover letter to leave a good impression for every submission you do. It doesn’t have to be tediously long, but it needs to be relevant and substantial. You don’t want to waste any of your connections by submitting a botched cover letter.
Some pointers to live by include:
- Avoid templated cover letters.
- Personalize your statements according to projects.
- State why you are the right person to hire.
- Add links to portfolios for them to view.
- Ask genuine questions about job responsibilities.
- Offer what you can do to them.
- Relate past projects to this one.
Once a client accepts your proposal, you will undergo an interview until you make it.
6. Get paid and earn your stars.
When you complete projects, you will start earning payments via PayPal, bank deposit, or wire transfer. Hourly projects are billed weekly, and you will be paid after reviewing the work or ten days after the billing period ends. On the other hand, fixed-price projects get paid upon completion of the required milestones.
If projects get dropped before completion or an employer fails to pay you, you can file a dispute on Upwork. The platform will help you throughout the process to ensure just compensation.
As you earn milestones and complete projects, you subsequently receive reviews from former clients. These then will dictate how your profile comes off to future contractors since ratings are a basis of good employment history.
7. Start small.
When you are only beginning to apply, you won’t have reviews yet, making you a less prospective candidate for some employers. To increase your chance of getting invited for proposals and having your application entertained, you might want to start with a lower rate first. Lower means slightly less than what your ideal rate would be. While this might seem like a wrong move,
It’s ideal to get small projects that you can finish in a couple of days. Having this strategy will help you earn those good reviews.
8. Build your 5-star ratings and set a higher rate.
The better looking your profile is, the more entitled you are at a higher rate. Employers in Upwork highly rely on your previous employers’ feedback. So you can set your ideal rate as long as you have testimonials that can back it up. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that newbies don’t get to up their rates—those with reviews just have relative evidence of their work ethic, which increases their job success rates.
So, mind your stars and demand more when you can prove your worth with your impressive portfolio.
9. Don’t work for free.
Some employers like to get a trial test before you onboard their company. Never entertain the idea of free work. Instead, ask to be paid for the hours you’ll work, even when you are not formally hired yet. This is to prevent you from being scammed by some pesky employers who populate the platform.
If a promising employer offers a trial that consumes a chunk of your time, negotiate with them if you can have it paid. This way, they won’t take you for granted. Even more, this emphasizes your worth as a freelancer.
10. Be quick.
The secret to having more responses from your applications is being one of the first people to apply. When employers post job openings in Upwork, expect that they need urgent assistance. So it’s best to shoot your shot as soon as you read the job description.
Besides, you have several competitors who are vying for the same role. That said, there’s this need to be among the first to apply as most job openings fill up fast.
11. Read client reviews.
Before sending an application, it counts to assess how fitting you are to the employer’s standards. You can do this by reading client feedback from previous freelancers they worked with. This allows you to know any employer’s red flags, which is essential before working for them.
Reading reviews help you avoid clients that exhibit toxic work practices. You should also avoid applying for clients who don’t have their payment verified. This entails that they’re looking to scam some freelancers.
12. Use the ‘filter’ search.
If you want to narrow down the job postings according to your preference, you can save time by using the filter feature on Upwork. You can tailor the results by tinkering with the client info, number of proposals, client history, and experience level.
Ensure that you pick clients with payment verified, less than five proposals, 1-9 or 10+ hires, and pick your preferred experience level.
Choosing these will eliminate the jobs that do not suit your expertise level and find clients with good-paying history.
13. Personalize cover letters every time.
It’s easy to tell when you use a generic cover letter to send out to multiple clients. Avoid this universal no-no and start tailoring each cover letter you send out. This shows the potential employers that you took the time to read the job requirements, which is a crucial and necessary step.
When you tailor your cover letter, you should align your write-up to the mentioned skill requirements. This way, they’ll know right away how fitting you are to the job. Remember, you have to stand out by appearing to be the perfect candidate for your proposal. Also, take the time to answer the additional questions they require. Your responses should reflect your genuine interest in working with them. To learn more about personalizing an impressive cover letter, here’s an online class to teach you.
14. Go beyond the expectations.
Once you have booked a client, ensure that you deliver your 100%–or more. While it’s expected to perform your job, you have to be extra cautious now that you work for Upwork. Clients may leave bad feedback if you do otherwise, ruining your freelancer reputation.
Having bad reviews negatively impacts your succeeding job success. After all, who would work with someone with a horrible working history? No one. Thus, you are responsible for ensuring you receive only good reviews by going beyond your tasks.
15. Avoid taking the conversation off Upwork.
If a client offers to pay outside the platform, mark this as a red flag. This is against Upwork’s terms of service, which you agreed to upon signing up. Clients who want to give you a contract outside the platform are more likely to fool you. Never deal with them outside the platform unless you’ve accepted a proposal within Upwork.
Upwork protects you from fraud clients by having a contract for every project you handle. Whether it is an hourly or fixed rate, client payment is secure so long as a contract is signed. This is why you should never deal with clients who want to go outside the platform without securing a contract.
And that’s how you make money on Upwork. It only takes a couple of steps from earning thousands of earnings as a freelancer working from home.
Need more secrets in successfully acing your job on Upwork? Here are some highly recommended courses to take with you:
Ready to kick-start your freelancing career on Upwork? Click here to get started.