How to land your first job at Upwork [Beginner's Guide] (2023)

How to land your first job at Upwork [Beginner's Guide] (1)

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You may have heard that Upwork is a great place to startsecond job, or even become a full-time freelancer.

You heard me right!

The platform offers thousands of new freelance jobs with good pay every dayWork from home opportunitiesin almost every imaginable niche.

I know this because before I started The Ways To Wealth, I was an upwork freelancer myself, taking on a variety of jobs and ultimately charging over $100 an hour for my services.

Many newcomers to the platform are wondering how to get started and get their first client on the site.

This guide aims to answer the question "How do I get a job at Upwork with no experience?". and provides a step-by-step guide to getting started and winning your first contract.

Let's go deeper into...

Table of contents

This is how Upwork works for freelancers

Upwork is a collaborative business platform that connects freelancers with people and businesses that need to work. After registering on the site, freelancers create a profile that includes a photo, a list of skills, and a portfolio of work samples.

Users then search among the tens of thousands of job openings listed and organized into the siteseveral categories.

How to land your first job at Upwork [Beginner's Guide] (2)

When you find a job that interests you, submit an offer, which usually includes your desired price, a short cover letter, and brief answers to a few questions about your skills, experience, and suitability for the project.

Clients (i.e. people looking for freelancers) can also search for freelancers who might be a good fit for their project. After the invitation to apply, the process is as above; You review the details and submit a proposal.

Freelancers and clients communicate on Upwork using an integrated messaging platform that includes chat, voice, and video calling capabilities. Interestingly, unlike other independent platforms, off-site communication (e.g. email) is not specifically prohibited.

Billing and payments are handled by Upwork, which provides a degree of protection for both parties. In most cases, customers are required to deposit funds for the project into an Upwork-managed escrow account in order to initiate a contract.

Upwork charges freelancers 20% for the first $500 a client is billed, but that fee drops to 10% once you've billed your client at least $500.

Some jobs are paid on an hourly basis, while others are paid on a flat-rate basis. You usually have the opportunity to negotiate the price and terms during the bidding process.

When people think of freelancing, they often think of things likeWrite,Graphical design,create a WordPress siteand edition can be founda lotthis type of work at Upwork, but there are jobs at Upwork that fall into hundreds of other categories including web design, mobile app development, data entry,text, remote customer service and virtual assistant.

Case in point: These are the job categories that only start with the letter "D"...

How to land your first job at Upwork [Beginner's Guide] (3)

You'll even find listings for occupations that might qualify as "professional" careers, like architecture, chemical engineering, and law.

So while you can find unique writing jobs to supplement your existing income, you can also find legitimate careers at Upwork!

And that's exactly what a lot of people do: Fees on the platform tend to be relatively high, allowing freelancers to often make a full-time income with just a handful of clients.

Sounds interesting, but also a bit intimidating?

Don't worry if you are a newbie and don't have much experience. There are many potential clients interested in hiring new freelancers.

You just need to know a few tips and best practices.

How to get your first job at Upwork

Upwork offers legitimate clients, good pay rates, lots of flexible ways to work from anywhere across dozens of categories, and payment protection.

Sounds great right?

Many new freelancers find out about the Upwork opportunity and experience a surge of excitement that gradually gives way to frustration and disappointment at not being truly successful.receivea job on site.

So let's face it, getting your first job on Upwork is the number one barrier to success on the platform.

Why is it so difficult to win your first contract?

There are a couple of reasons. But first and foremost is your lack of feedback.

Upwork is based on a five-star rating and feedback system. These comments take center stage when you apply for a job, as you can see in the image below, which shows what it looks like on your profile.

How to land your first job at Upwork [Beginner's Guide] (4)

When a project is complete, freelancers and clients rate each other and have the option to leave a publicly displayed comment.

These reviews serve as social proof: they show that you've successfully completed projects and that you won't be wasting a client's time and money.

(Video) How To Get Your First Job On Upwork in 2023 - Tutorial For Beginners

They also contribute to yoursJob Success Score(JSS), a publicly displayed metric that Upwork uses to determine how satisfied their customers are with their work.

When clients are looking for freelancers to invite to projects, they have the option to filter potential applicants by JSS (often choosing to only consider those with a 100% score). Also, your JSS will be prominently displayed when you submit a proposal (as you can see in the image below).

How to land your first job at Upwork [Beginner's Guide] (5)

As a new freelancer, you have no feedback or job success rating.

So you see the problem: customers have no way of knowing if you're a trusted person who can actually deliver the skills you say you can. This makes you much less likely to be hired.

Fortunately, there are some measures you can take to counteract this.

Learn more about how to win jobs as an Upwork beginner in the video below, which includes four tips for writing better offers (and the strategy explains why these tips work).

Upwork Sample Profile and Best Practices (with a step-by-step guide to creating your own profile)

Step #1: Create a Knockout Profile

If you don't have any comments or JSS, your profile will be subject to an additional check.

As an Upwork beginner, it's your primary vehicle for selling yourself to potential clients. But many newcomers make the mistake of rushing the profiling process, making them significantly less competitive.

Here are the keys to creating a great Upwork profile that will make customers want to know more about you.

1. Use a business-friendly photo

First impressions matter, and a proper photo is an important part of your Upwork profile.

Since the photos on the site are small, you'll want a cropped image that shows your head and neck (and possibly the top of your shoulders).

How to land your first job at Upwork [Beginner's Guide] (6)

Being a freelancer is very different from a traditional job, so while a suit is appropriate for a traditional interview, it's too formal for your Upwork profile. If any of your clothing is visible in your photo, stick to business casual.

You also want your photo to be friendly. You're not posing for your passport, you're trying to attract potential clients.

Research on what makes a profile photo effective has shown thatA smile and a confident posture can make a big difference in how customers perceive you.

Here is an Upwork article that describessome recommended best practices.

2. Write an engaging, keyword-rich job title and general description

Whether you're trying to land your first Upwork job or your 100th job, you want to make it easy for potential clients to find you. This means you create a detailed description of your skills, filled with keywords relevant to the type of job you would like to be hired for, as well as an overview of your experience.

You also want to focus on highlightingAdvantagesin these sections.

What do I mean by "benefits"?

Here's a screenshot of my own Upwork headline and synopsis from when I was a freelancer on the platform.

How to land your first job at Upwork [Beginner's Guide] (7)

In the title I didn't just describe whatAgain. It would have looked something like this:

Landing page writing and design.

Instead, I've added two important bits of information to help potential customers better understand what's involved:in niche(Unbounce, a specific type of landing page software)j an advantage(increased return on investment).

I then reinforced the benefit I offer by talking about it in the overview.

If you're just starting out, you might not have a niche yet. However, you can absolutely underscore the benefits customers would get from hiring you. Don't just say what you're good at; Think about how your skills translate into concrete, tangible returns.

That means you should always think of yoursFutureniche(s). Because there is so much competition on Upwork, targeting a specific niche within your broader area of ​​expertise can help you attract more clients and fetch better prices.

For example, if you are a social media guru who has worked with many restaurants, highlight that fact.

3. Consider adding an introductory video

Most jobs on Upwork are remote. You're unlikely to ever meet a customer in person, and you might not even speak to them on the phone. Most of the time it's fairly impersonal and transactional: you get a task, complete it, and send the results.

It's one of the reasons feedback is so important: to a customer, you're just an anonymous face among thousands.

But if you can change that dynamic (even just a little), you can get ahead of your competition.

One way to stand out and be less anonymous is to add an introductory video to your Upwork profile. This is a rarely used option, but it can have a big impact on the success of your suggestions.

In your video, tell potential clients who you are, the services you offer, and how long you've been in the business. Consider the types of projects you want to undertake and the types of clients you enjoy working with.

You don't need to cover much ground here - 30-60 seconds is ideal. The goal is simply to show your face that you are a real and sane person.

4. Match your "skills" to the type of job you are looking for

Your Upwork profile allows you to add up to 10 "skills" from a predefined database of options. Here are the skills outlined in the profile of a freelance SEO writer I work with here at The Ways To Wealth:

How to land your first job at Upwork [Beginner's Guide] (8)

As you can see, his skills are directly related to the job of an SEO editor.

But here's the thing: Before starting his own business, he worked as a journalist and music critic for more than a decade. If you ask her, she'll tell you that part of her core experience is interviewing sources, researching stories, and writing creative first-person content.

(Video) Get Your FIRST JOB on Upwork (With This ONE Thing)

But none of that is relevant to working as an SEO editor, so he didn't include it.

The skills you select will help potential clients find you on the site and will also affect where your suggestions are placed on job applications. Freelancers whose skills best match the “desired” skills (which the client specified when the job was created) appear higher in the client's candidate list.

Many new freelancers to Upwork make the mistake of listing their top 10 skills, regardless of what they are. However, since you can only add 10, you must carefully consider which of your skills match exactly the type of job you are looking for.

Suppose you spent five yearsworking as a virtual assistantbut you want to start as a freelance video editor. The skills you have developed as a virtual assistant are most likely among your top skills in terms of experience level. But these skills are probably not relevant to a client looking for a video editor, so don't include them.

Your goal here is to think about the traits that potential clients will appreciate and choose your skills based on that. If you're not sure, browse some listings in your target category and see what's in demand. Chances are you've mastered at least some of these areas.

To update: Upwork recently introduced the ability to create specialized profiles, allowing you to highlight specific skills and experience based on job category. In other words, you can have a profile for video editing jobs and a profile for text editing jobs (each with different skills). Here it isa guide on how it works.

5. Upload relevant work samples

Your portfolio is arguably the most important part of your Upwork profile, as it provides an opportunity to show clients what you can do through samples of work. You don't have to add dozens of items to your portfolio; four to six is ​​perfect.

What if you don't have a wallet?Create one! There is no rule that only paid work can be part of a portfolio. If you are hoping to get writing jobs but you don't have any published work, write a few articles on the niche topic you're most familiar with.

Of course, a published work is always better. In the example above, consider writing a few articles and guest posting them on blogs. You get free content and you get a valuable byline to help you attract customers.

I would even go so far as to say that you should mention the fact that you have created patterns specifically for your portfolio. This shows initiative on your part, and as someone who has hired their share of freelancers at Upwork, initiative is something you rarely see in a job posting!

6. Add your work experience and education

Just like a standard application, clients want to see your work experience. So it's a good idea for all freelancers at Upwork to include this information.

but it iscentralto include it when starting on the platform because it helps to legitimize your profile.

If you have been employed for many years, you do not have to state all the activities that you have carried out in your occupation. It is enough to list the last three or four jobs.

If you don't have a lot of work experience, you might want to include all your previous jobs (even if they're not relevant to the freelance career you're building).

The same applies to your education. Not all jobs at Upwork require a college degree, but a degree can help you differentiate yourself from competing freelancers who don't have one.

7. Consider adding a project

In late 2020, Upwork introduced a feature called Project Catalog. This allows freelancers to create fixed-price jobs with predefined scopes that customers can “buy” as needed.

For example, if you have a specific skill that you would like to offer on Upwork, e.g. B. Unbounce logo design or landing page design, you can add them as a fixed price service (which will then be displayed on your profile).

This takes a page out of Fiverr's book, where almost all jobs are fixed-price, on-demand jobs.

Step #2: Find the right types of work

Many new Upwork freelancers get sidetracked by looking for (and applying for) the wrong type of job.

Not sure what skills you have to offer?Many freelancers at Upwork start with a specific service in mind, such as B. Freelance writing. If you're not sure what to offer, don't worry, there are many options. When it comes to the best Upwork jobs for beginners, data entry, product testing, transcription, and customer service are great places to start. A good tip for finding the variety of jobs available is to search Upwork for the phrase "no experience required," which lists companies looking to hire beginners.

Here are some ways to avoid this common pitfall.

1. Be patient and choosy

Heua lotJobs are on Upwork, and new ones are posted literally every minute. If this is your first time browsing the site for jobs in your niche, you will likely be surprised by the number of opportunities.

But when it comes to getting your first job, be a little strategic and resist the temptation to submit an offer for the first job you find that suits your skills.

Yes, there are plenty of options on the site. But there are also many freelancers, most of whom have feedback and many billed hours, leading to strong job success scores.

These freelancers have a built-in advantage. Therefore, you must be realistic when deciding which jobs to apply for.

Why not apply to everything?

As a freelancer, your time is your money. You could spend hours applying for jobs that are out of your league, but that's a waste of time (and a good way to burn yourself out).

There's also a costly element at play: Upwork requires you to spend tokens (called "connections") when submitting a proposal. They cost 15 cents each, and most jobs require two connections to send. That's not a lot, but it adds up quickly when you're applying for dozens of jobs a day.

So what jobsshouldyour aim?

See below…

2. Focus on small, one-off projects

Your goal is to get a few quick wins to build a feedback profile. This will likely require you to bid less on projects than your time is worth.

Making your services cheaper compared to other freelancers is a good strategy to entice clients to try you. Yes, it might be a risky stance, but your potential savings might be worth the risk.

But like I said, your time is your money. You don't want to take a 30-hour job for half the price. Instead, look for small, one-off projects that you can finish relatively quickly.

This approach has some advantages:

  1. Limit your exposure to exploitation rates. It sucks to work for less than you're worth, but it can help you get a foothold on these platforms relatively quickly.
  2. It's better to work on several small projects than on one big project., because a five-star rating carries the same weight whether the work took 30 minutes or three days. A listing with excellent ratings from five customers is more competitive than a listing with an excellent rating from just one customer.

Remember that you only need to use this strategy a few times. Once you have two or three successful projects under your belt, you can increase your fee and apply for better jobs.

3. Look for customers who can give you theirssecondplace of work

It's much easier to keep a good customer than it is to find a new one.

And the same is true from the customer's perspective: they'd rather work with the same search engine optimization expert, the copywriter. or editor in each project. Posting a job ad, reviewing applications, and onboarding someone new is time-consuming.

The beauty of Upwork is that when you view a job ad, you can see the other (previous) jobs that that particular client has been hired for.

So when you're starting out, a good strategy is to target clients who regularly hire on the platform. For example, if you're a graphic designer, try to find a client who has hired people for graphic design projects in the past.

If a client has never hired with Upwork before, or typically hires outside of your area or niche, the chances of building a lasting relationship are much lower.

Step #3: Submit a must-have proposal

Your proposal is your chance to "impress" the customer. Take the opportunity to showcase your talent and tell them exactly why you're the best person to hire.

(Video) Get Your FIRST JOB on Upwork in 2023 - How to Apply & Find Jobs on Upwork

1. Read the job description completely

Some of the job postings on Upwork are pretty basic, just a few lines long. Others are much more involved. Be sure to read the entire job description. You don't want to take a job that you're not qualified for or that involves something you just don't want to do.

More importantly, you want to make sure you create a custom offering that specifically addresses the needs of the customer.

Also, they sometimes contain keywords.

Yes, that's right - many clients will place a keyword somewhere in the job posting and ask you to mention it in your offer. If you don't do this, you will be automatically disqualified.

2. Provide social proof

Comments and ratings are a form of social proof. But if you're new to Upwork, you don't have one. Therefore, it is important that you include another form of social security evidence that shows you are qualified for the position you are applying for.

Ideally you have posted examples to reference. While these can be part of your Upwork portfolio, they should also be specifically mentioned in your cover letter.

Also remember that customers can see your last name once you start messaging them. That means they will almost certainly check your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. Therefore, make sure you have an active and professional social media presence that inspires confidence in your ability to do the job they are looking for.

Keep in mind that any job you create specifically for your portfolio may showcase your skills, but this is not the case.NOThey represent social proof. In the eyes of the customer, there is a big difference between an article published with your signature and the same article uploaded as a Word document.

And the same goes for submitting a resume: it is better to post this information on your LinkedIn profile than to submit a PDF resume as posting it online makes it more credible.

If you're reading this and are concerned about not having enough social proof, it's a sign that you need to focus on maintaining an active and professional online presence that supports and drives your success.

3. Add links to similar jobs you have completed

A shocking number of applicants don't follow the above advice; they submit proposals unrelated to their previous work. But also those whoAgainThey often make another common mistake: they send samples unrelated to the project.

When I search for personal finance writers, I want to see examples that demonstrate the ability to write about personal finance, not history or literature.

Your samples don't have to match perfectly. Continuing with the previous example, an article about business, economics, the stock market, world trade, or something similar would make perfect sense.

But a college essay you wrote on "The American Dream" wouldn't.

The more you can tailor your samples to the customer's needs, the more likely they are to hire you.

4. Suggest an actionable next step

By closing your proposal with an actionable next step, you take some of the burden of decision-making off your customers' shoulders by making it easier for them to say “yes” to continuing the conversation.

Next isNOAn example of an actionable next step:

  • Thank you, and please contact me with any questions!

What if the customer has no questions? Or what if they liked your suggestion but weren't 100% sold? this closure is notworkablebecause it doesn't say clearly and directly what should happen.

On the other hand, try the following:

  • Let's arrange a call or video chat to discuss the project!

Here you specifically outline what should happen next and give the customer a clear yes/no choice. If they're interested, just say "yes" to a quick call.

But here's an ever-better tone:

  • Let's arrange a call or video chat to discuss the project! I can be reached between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. M. and 10:30 a.m. M. EST every day this week, or I can schedule something at my convenience.

In the example above, you not only define the next step, you also take control of the time frame and pace.

This limits the back-and-forth potential (“if it works for you”, etc.). Because you've specified a specific availability time, the client can commit to the call in the next message, making it much more likely that you'll actually get the interview.

Use: If you're a freelance writer, we've written a special guide that explains thishow to apply for upwork writing jobs.

5. Prepare to answer additional questions

You're not necessarily done when you write and submit your proposal.

Some companies hiring on Upwork require additional questions and answers. These can be custom questions based on the project, or Upwork has a list of suggested questions for customers to answer.

Here's an example of what it looks like on the client side:

How to land your first job at Upwork [Beginner's Guide] (9)

On Upwork, customers often use them to test their attention to detail.

It's common for freelancers to apply for job after job with a very similar workforce (common practice, but not good). These questions and answers help filter who has actually read the job posting and who hasn't.

While you want to get the most value from your actual offering, it's worth giving some thought to when you have screening questions. Two or three sentences should be sufficient in most cases.

Few freelancers take the time to answer these additional questions. Or, in my experience, they just say "N/A" or "see vacancy" instead of filling them out.

Like it or not, when customers see something like this, it's an instant red flag. And that's good news for you, because it really is another place where you can stand out.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about getting started with Upwork.

Is it difficult to get hired at Upwork?

Getting your first customers on the platform can be difficult, but putting the steps in this guide into practice will make the process easiera loteasier and faster.

When new freelancers are having a hard time getting hired, it's almost always because there's an issue with their profile or they're applying for the wrong jobs. Once you've got a few projects under your belt, you won't have a problem getting hired for more.

How much money can you make with Upwork?

I ended up making $150 an hour designing landing pages on Upwork. But paying on the platform is diverse. Writers and editors typically make between $40 and $80 an hour, and certain types of highly skilled freelancers, like web developers and designers, can make even more.

On the other hand, pay for menial, tedious, and low-skilled jobs like data entry can be relatively low. As with any remote work platform, there is competition for these jobs from people in developing countries who can afford to work for less than the average American.

(Video) How to Quickly Land Your First Job on Upwork as a Kenyan Freelancer

What Types of Freelancers Make the Most Money with Upwork?

Skilled workers usually get the best prices. Customers are willing to pay top dollar for in-demand skills like software engineers (especially if you're good at AI and machine learning) and data scientists.

But it is possible to earn above average in almost every category. The key is to build a world-class reputation with a proven track record of ROI for your customers. As mentioned in the article, one of the best ways to do this is by developing your reputation with one or more companiesniches.

How do you qualify for Upwork?

Anyone can join Upwork, create a free profile and apply for jobs. However, there are some programs and features that you must qualify for.

First, remember that clients have the option to restrict projects to only freelancers who are located in the United States, and many do.

Second, you will want to strive to “Most Valuable', which requires a job success rating of 90% or higher, a 100% complete profile, and a minimum of $1,000 in earnings over a 12-month period.

Top sellers get a badge on their profile, reduced prices for featured work, exclusive invitations to submit Upwork suggestions, and are generally more likely to be hired.

Finally, Upwork requires some freelancers to verify their identity through a video call. In order to work on the platform, you must be able to prove your identity and location. Usually after a few months you will be asked to verify your identity.

Are there other sites like Upwork?

There are a number of other legitimate freelance websites out there.FlexJobsIt's a great job board for those looking for remote work as most of the jobs on the site are online work-from-home jobs.

GuruIt's similar to Upwork but usually has fewer entries. ANDcincoIt can be great for those just starting out as a remote worker/freelancer, as many of the clients looking to hire on the site have less stringent requirements than Upwork.

Fiver is slightly different in that freelancers post specific jobs (e.g. "I edit 1000 words for $150") and clients browse the marketplace for the services they need.

Which is Better: Fiverr or Upwork?

Upwork clients tend to be more professional. This includes entrepreneurs, small business owners, well-funded startups, and even corporations and government agencies.

They are looking for freelancers, which means the pay is usually relatively good and the projects they assign you are of relatively high quality. It also means it can be harder to get your first few contracts.

On the other hand,cincois aimed more at people (like freelance bloggers who need proofreading, Etsy sellers who need to design a logo, or students looking for editing help). That means it might be easier to get started, but the pay tends to be lower, and often these are clients who are new to hiring remote workers.

Introducing Upwork: Overview

If you've been wondering how to get a job at Upwork, we hope you now have all the information you need and an action plan to get you started.

The site is a great resource for those just starting out in the freelance world, those looking to expand their skillset, and those looking to transition from a traditional job to a full-time freelance career.

It will be worth taking the time to set up your profile properly and take on a few jobs at comparatively low rates while you keep busy with side hustles such as B. can earn a decent extra incomedoor boardUpwork offers a realistic opportunity to use your skills and talents for a long-term freelance career at or above the average salary you would earn in a traditional work environment.

If you're looking for ways to improve your work-life balance and embrace the digital nomad lifestyle, this is a great place to start.

Read below:7 Upwork Tips From The Experts (+ 10 Mistakes To Avoid).

How to land your first job at Upwork [Beginner's Guide] (10)

R. J. Weiss

R.J. Weiss is the founder and editor of The Ways To Wealth, Certified Financial Planner™, husband and father of three. He has spent the last 10 years or more writing about personal finance and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, MSN Money and other publications.


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