Today we have a guest post from Rachel of This Crafty Home. Although Rachel typically blogs about frugal living and DIY, today she’s sharing her experience on the other side of the financial equation: how you can start making money online with Upwork!
I’ve used Upwork as both a freelancer and a client. Rachel shares a lot of actionable and insightful information on today’s post. If you’ve ever thought about freelancing as a side hustle – or possibly even as a full-time job – you’ll want to bookmark this guide as it walks you through the whole process!
Finding a side hustle that fits your lifestyle sometimes can feel like an impossible task. As a mom of two, family time is precious and finding downtime to do a side hustle seemed impossible!
Enter Upwork, a site for freelancers to browse thousands of job posts from individuals/businesses.
How much can you make on Upwork?
The first job I landed as a freelancer on Upwork paid $27 an hour! I was over the moon.
When my husband and I decided to take on the challenge of becoming debt free, he took on a couple of different side hustles. One was working on Saturdays at his former employer fixing computers, and another was refurbishing old computers and selling them.
His actions helped out our family immensely and I wanted to find a way to help out as well. I worked full time in marketing, and I knew there had to be plenty of businesses in need of assistance. But I wasn’t interested in cold calling/emailing businesses, so I started to search the web for jobs posted online.
This is when I found Upwork. It revolutionized the way I looked for work that I could do from home and not spend inordinate amounts of time looking for clients. What I have found in my time as an Upwork freelancer is there are three things that really set you up for success:
- Building your Upwork profile
- Finding the right jobs
- Writing a proposal that sells
But first, why should you consider freelancing on Upwork versus just doing it on your own?
Overall, my decision came down to security and ease of use. Upwork invoices the clients and procures payment from them, they provide you with reviews from other freelancers, and they even tell you if the client has already verified a payment method.
In the wild west of freelancing Upwork became a safe option for me to try to spread my wings and make a few extra bucks for my family.
Starting a profile with Upwork
The first thing you’ll need to do to be set up a killer profile. Setting up your profile is very much like putting your resume out there for thousands of people to see. You want to highlight your strengths, and really make your profile appealing to prospective clients.
There are a few ways you can really make your profile successful:
- Pick your niche. Upwork has many different categories that you can find work in: web development, writing, customer service, marketing, IT, blogging, and the list goes on. While it can sound appealing to say you are able to do a ton of things – and it may be true – you will see more interest (and higher pay) if you become the expert in one category versus simply competent in many.
- Get a good headshot. Don’t just settle for any picture of yourself! Things like good quality and looking put together will matter here. Make sure to smile… you want to look approachable.
- Create a portfolio. This is one of those things that if you have them great! If not, you can try to come up with things to replicate or showcase your past work. If that’s not possible, then you’ll need to create one as you gain new clients. Having some kind of proof of work here will really set you apart.
- Take Upwork tests. This is another way to make potential clients know you can actually do the job they are hiring for. Hiring someone you can’t see face to face is daunting, so any proof you can gather of your competency will be valuable.
- Set your rate. Do not start yourself out at a low rate on your profile to gain clients quicker. Inevitably you will end up just making less for your quality work! Discounting your rate is a tactic can definitely be used, but in a different way that I’ll address in the proposal writing portion of this post.
Finding the right jobs to apply for on Upwork
When you first join Upwork, your eyes will go wide at all the possibility. There are hundreds of new jobs posted every day. Upwork works on a credit system of “connects” for how many jobs you can apply for.
With a free account, you will get 60 connects per month and each job posting costs two connects to apply for. This helps posters get quality candidates versus just getting spammed. While you can pay for more connects, I think it far wiser to just be picky about which jobs you actually apply to.
Here are a few questions to help you make your decision:
- Is the job posted something you are absolutely confident you can do well? Your first few Upwork reviews will hold a lot of weight on your profile.
- Has the business hired on Upwork before? What are the reviews like? Also, how many jobs posted vs. actual hires have they made?
- Have they verified their payment method?
- Is the budget anywhere near what your desired pay is? A small difference is usually no big deal, a large one can be.
- How long has the job been up? I find that ones up longer than two days are too old to apply to unless they’ve gotten very few proposals.
As you look through each post and consider these questions, the ones that pass your test go ahead and save by hitting the heart button. Do not immediately apply for them! I would check postings each night and do this process.
After you have saved all the jobs you think you are interested in, go to your saved section and start weeding through them all. Start deleting jobs that no longer look as appealing to you and pick just a few to apply to each day.
How to write a proposal on Upwork that sells your skills
As a beginner on Upwork, it is going to be very hard for clients to trust you. They are going to be going off of two things: your profile and your proposal. Your profile should be top notch already if you’ve been applying the tips above.
Now for the proposal. This is where you get to directly talk to the client and give them a feel for your personality and what you can do for them.
Here are my best tips for writing the perfect Upwork proposal:
- Do not focus on yourself in the proposal. Your main objective is to tell the client what change their business will go through if they partner with you. Look at their listing and try to ascertain what their goal is. If it is to make more money with their e-commerce shop, make sure to say something like ‘I can’t wait to help grow your shop’s revenue!’
- Do not just use the same copy and paste proposal each time. Make sure there is personalization, they should not feel like one in a crowd. Take a few pieces of info out of their proposal and make references to it.
- End the proposal with a question. The big thing on Upwork is to start having a conversation with the client. Give them a reason to want to talk to you. They just need to experience how awesome you are.
- Be personable. This goes hand in hand with personalizing the proposal. Do not sound like a robot in a proposal. Put in your own personal style to it so that it stands out from the many other proposals they will inevitably start leaving.
- State what your experience has been with what they need done and talk about the outcome of the past projects if it was positive. If you have anything you can attach to your portfolio to support your claims, that’s great!
- Don’t be afraid to be blatantly honest. Tell them you are new to Upwork but not new to the world of X and state why. They will appreciate you being upfront with them and saving the time of them worrying about your nonexistent history on the platform.
- Offer a small discount in the beginning. I would not do this for very long, but sometimes in order to land your first gig you are going to have to give a tiny discount. I generally approached it as follows: “I’m still building my Upwork client list, so I’ve offered you a discount on my typical rate. You get the same great service as a more expensive freelancer and save a little money.”
Ready to make some money on Upwork?
As one last sage piece of advice for your new Upwork career I will leave you with this, do not give up! You will absolutely be denied 9 times out of 10. I probably got denied a lot more than that before I finally got my groove.
While I think Upwork is the perfect side hustle, there are freelancer’s making full salaries and some on the site. But just as a side hustle I was able to supplement my income and help my family pay off almost $32,000 in debt in one year!
Success on Upwork is all about what you put into it, just like any other side hustle. Do the work and you absolutely will land clients and make some awesome cash along the way.
Have you ever used Upwork to find freelance work? What strategies have you used to increase your income using the site?