How to Succeed on Upwork: Check Out These Winning Tips

Working as a freelancer or independent contractor is cool. You’re free to work from anywhere, anytime, and get to live the life of a digital nomad. But, how do you get started? First, you need to find a freelancing platform. One of the most popular ones is Upwork.

Upwork is, perhaps, the best job platform tailored to help freelancers connect with clients or businesses who need professional services. On top of this, Upwork is easily the fastest and easiest way to discover clients as a newbie in freelancing. So, succeeding on Upwork can skyrocket your career, even if you’re on a part-time, full-time, or project-to-project basis.

But what are some of the best Upwork tips for beginners in freelancing?

That’s why we’re here. Together, we will explore all of the secrets to win your first client. So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

The Best Upwork Tips for Beginners

Below you can find some of the best tips for Upwork newbies.

Have a Sleek Introductory Video

Confident elegant lady in eyeglasses hosting webinar

Not many people consider it, but introductory videos can showcase a freelancer’s personality and communication skills to prospective clients. If you don’t feel comfortable on camera, you can create an animation that presents your previous projects and any testimonials. Generally speaking, a one-minute video is usually more than enough.

A Great Profile Pic Can Make the Difference

A good profile photo makes you seem trustworthy to prospective clients. Like in real life, if we see a stranger’s face, it makes us trust them more. Hence, the more friendly and clear your profile picture is, the more likely prospects will find you convincing, reliable, and honest.

Use the following pointers when choosing a profile picture:

  • Don’t use logos. Clients want to see a human face. If they don’t, they won’t be able to connect with you. Sure, logos look professional, but there’s no point in putting a logo as a profile picture unless you’re an agency.
  • Don’t use stock photography. The reason is simple: Upwork will require you to pass a video call interview, so if they see that your profile picture is different from your actual face, they will ban your account and IP address, meaning you won’t be able to create another Upwork account in the near future.
  • Use a pic without a noisy/distracting background. Upwork’s profile pics are small, so remember to use a cropped image.
  • Most importantly: Smile! Don’t look serious. Instead, aim for a friendly and happy look!

Create a Killing Proposal Template

Creating a proposal template that suits your industry can be smart when applying to multiple jobs per day. So, copying and pasting the same proposal or pitch to each job application eliminates typos or errors. Some people suggest writing new proposals when you apply to different jobs, yet this seems counterintuitive, considering the amount of time you need to spend writing one.

As you spend more time with the platform, you’ll understand what kind of proposals bring better results or the areas where prospects ask for additional information. So, each time you apply to a new job listing, remember to update your template slightly to match clients’ requests.

Some tips to have in the back of your mind while composing a winning Upwork proposal template:

  • Use small and skimmable paragraphs. Avoid repeating information that’s already on your profile.
  • Clients don’t like to read countless proposals, so try to make yours short and to the point.

Customise Your Job Proposal to Each Job Application

person holding silver iphone 6

You might have a general proposal template, but this doesn’t mean you don’t have to tailor it to each application. In fact, this is the trick to succeeding in freelancing. When clients read it, they try to identify why they should hire you instead of other freelancers. So, do your best to offer them a good reason to do so.

At the same time, you can provide clients with a reason to hire you by supporting your proposal with proof. For example, if you’re a freelance writer, include articles relevant to your client’s niche. Similarly, if you’re a web designer, include several websites or plugins you’ve designed in your proposal.

Here are some additional tips for your Upwork proposal:

  • Begin your proposal with the client’s name. If you don’t know a name, a simple “Hello” is all that’s needed. Personalisation helps your text feel less templated.
  • Add examples of your previous work, as well as testimonials. If these are relevant, they will help the client decide if you’re the best fit for the job and in the position of completing the task successfully.
  • Ask for more information to encourage clients to keep the conversation going. This builds trust, showing your sincere interest in working with the client.
  • Let clients know why you applied for the job. For example, you might have work experience within their industry. This comforts the prospective customer that they’re cooperating with someone who knows how their business works and cares for its success.
  • Last but not least, outline how you will finish the task. Additionally, by giving a specific time frame, you show boldness and that you have the situation under control.

Also, Upwork clients usually include a secret phrase within their job descriptions. Then, they request freelancers to include it in their proposals to verify that freelancers read the job description through and through. This also happens to avoid spam and canned proposals.

Apply For Short-Term/Temporary Jobs

You can apply for long-term contracts from the get-go. That’s a fact. But, if you’re just starting on Upwork, applying for short-term positions might be more beneficial, at least initially.

The reason for applying for short-term jobs is that you finish them quickly, but you can also easily get five-star reviews. This way, you build your Upwork profile proving how great a freelancer you are. At the same time, if you’re getting lots of positive reviews from clients, some are bound to become repeaters, helping you build a solid clientele.

Once you’ve built a solid Upwork profile and client base, you can start tracking down long-term contracts, many of which turn into full-time jobs!

Always Exceed Client Expectations

Man Giving Thumbs Up

The above steps might have shown how you can grow your Upwork reputation; for example, by mapping excellent reviews, but if you don’t excel in your work, you won’t have any reviews to start with.

So, how do you exceed client expectations? Well, that’s pretty easy. All you have to do is be good at your work, always meet deadlines, be helpful, be open to feedback and available for revisions, etc. But you can underpromise and overdeliver, if you prefer, to impress customers.

In general, It’s far easier to satisfy clients that pay a lower fee. So, starting with a low rate can actually be beneficial in the long run, as it will enable you to get stellar reviews.

However, other freelancers suggest starting with very high, almost premium rates. This is because sometimes clients want to feel they work with freelancers who believe in themselves, understand how valuable their services are, and offer a premium experience.

In every case, everything depends on your niche, work expertise, dedication, and even… luck.

Check the Average Hourly-Rate of Clients

Supposing you’ve started with a low rate, you need to change your approach after scoring some contracts and reviews. What we mean is that you don’t have to complete cheap jobs anymore to prove yourself on the platform. In other words, it’s time to become selective with your work opportunities.

Now, you can start judging the profiles of your prospective clients. A cool thing about Upwork is that it lets freelancers see the average hourly rate of clients. So, thanks to the platform, you can judge whether a client is a cheapskate or they’re actually paying the right amount of money for the work they’re asking for.

Also, on Upwork, you can see reviews freelancers have left to clients. Therefore, if you can, avoid working with clients with many three or four-star reviews. Instead, aim for clients with a track record of five-star reviews.

Should You Take Your Clients Off the Platform?

selective-photography of stop signage

Whoever tells you that you can take clients off the platform is WRONG. It’s against Upwork’s Terms of Service and will get you banned from the platform.  It’s plain and simple. Yes, Upwork may not realise it immediately, but, believe it or not, they have their way of finding out who tries to cheat them from their fees.

Sure, Upwork fees are harsh (20% for contracts up to $500, 10% for contracts up to $10,000, and 5% for contracts more than $10,001), but, considering their high-end customer support, the security in payments, and the fact that they’re offering you the opportunity to start your own freelance business for free, the fees are totally worth it.

If you really want to find clients outside of Upwork, you can create a personal website and a LinkedIn profile and work your way from there. You can advertise your Upwork profile and invite prospective customers to visit it to see your awesome reviews.

So, Is Upwork Worth It?

‘Course it is. If you’ve just started out freelancing, Upwork is one of the best platforms to get a real feel of the freelancing world. So, we believe that Upwork is 100% worth it. After the rough beginning, and once you reach the Top-Rated Plus status by continuously completing contracts successfully, Upwork may send you to work on their own, which is a cool perk. And if you succeed in the platform, you can even become a real guru in your field!

So, aim for an appealing profile that showcases your expertise and willingness to help prospective clients succeed. If you need help building a winning Upwork profile, you’re more than welcome to reach out to a professional content writing solution. The people behind such agencies know how to express your unique skills and abilities in such a way as to make you irresistible to Upwork clients.

Author bio: Rebecca Hey is a master wordsmith and co-founder of Strategically Digital Marketing Ltd., an acclaimed UK-based writing agency. She can solve your content problems with a data-backed content strategy, expert writing, and meticulous editing. She also loves cats!