You can still make a lot of money from Upwork in 2022 – I’ve done it myself.
What is Upwork?
Upwork is an American freelancing platform that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. The platform help freelancers and clients connect, communicate, and get paid.
When entering the platform one will see, that people offer services that range from writing and design to software development and market research. Others do voice-over and editing while some do non-academic tutoring. Almost every service is in demand, and it will be easy to find customers through Upwork.
Having no prior experience this platform is a great way to get paid while building your professional experience.
How to make money from Upwork?
Just like when you apply to a regular job, you must create your resume, then polish it, and finally send a cover letter. But there’s much more to it when you are a freelancer on Upwork.
1) Build Your Profile
It’s no surprise that an empty profile won’t convince any potential clients to work with you, thus building a solid profile is key.
This is my profile and the one that helped me earn above $1,000 in only one month.
From my experience on Upwork, I learned a few things, when it comes to profile building.
Make sure you have a 100% filled-out profile. That means having a profile picture, a great description, showcasing your job experience and education, adding your skills, linking to your LinkedIn, uploading a video, etc.
It can not be stressed enough how important a video is. Mike Volkin, wrote “Mastering Upwork“. In the book, he does statistical testing on how much more a profile with a video converts and ranks better than profiles without videos. 30%. Yup, 30%, that is how much more you will increase your chances of landing clients if you upload a video.
Here’s my video for any inspiration:
As you can see from the image, I ranked number one when people search for keywords related to PowerPoint or Presentation Design in Denmark.
I haven’t had any prior experience in keyword optimization myself; I just tested different methods along the way.
By implementing the three elements outlined below I believe it will improve your ranking on Upwork.
- Keywords are important when you write your freelancer profile text. Be aware that only the first two lines of your profile text and your headline appear to clients when they search for help. Therefore, keywords should be included and emphasized in those areas. In my case, the keywords “PowerPoint” and “Presentation” are seen two times in the two lines, while “Designer” and “Design” are seen one time in the second line.
- Common sense states that the headline has more weight when ranking an article’s SEO. That’s why you should align the profile text to the headline to make sense to the algorithm.
- A video next to your profile will also improve your ranking on Upwork, thus your overall SEO.
3) Cover Letter
As a new freelancer, you shouldn’t expect clients to contact you, but instead, you must contact the clients. When contacting clients it’s essential you know how to do it, or you’ll never land your first client.
Pro Tip: If you start your cover letter with ‘I’ then try again. Starting the cover letter with ‘I’ send a signal of “here’s what I need, and what I can do”, but the client wants to know what’s in it for him/her. Instead, start the cover letter with “you”.
Here’s a free template I made, and feel free to use it and adjust it as you want:
Cover letter template
“Hi xx, YOU need a pitch deck turned around with great visuals and a freelancer that is available now. I think we are a great fit. To help you with your decision:
- I have +5 years of experience with pitch decks
- Won multiple championships where a pitch deck was a must-have
- Created +100 pitch decks for clients within and without Upwork
- Creative, efficient and self-managed
- Punctuality is key for me
I will go out of my way to provide you with a well-executed pitch deck before the deadline. Attached you see some previous work I have done for clients.
Best regards, Benjamin“
Why does this cover letter work?
- First, the cover letter shows the client that I read the job description, and that I think we are a great fit for each other (the 2 first lines)
- Then to help the client with his/her decision I put up my skills and experience in bullet points. It makes it easy to get an overall impression, and the client can quickly determine if I’m what they need.
- I close the cover letter with a “deadline is key” phrase, and then I attach some of my work. Attaching work is essential, don’t expect the client to go through your profile themselves (make it as easy for them as possible)
- The cover letter is about 100 words (don’t go beyond the 100 to 150 words limit since clients only scan your cover letter)
4) Land your first client on Upwork
This step is the hardest one, but when you make it, everything becomes like a snowball in an avalanche. The snowball just gets larger and larger.
Sadly, our postmodern society is based a lot on trust, which means if you haven’t had any clients before, then it will be hard to land one. This is why I’ll share a small hack with you that you can use to get your first client.
Get one of your friends to sign up for the platform as a client, and then he/she should hire you on Upwork. After the “job” is complete make sure to give yourself a 5-star review. This review will be displayed on your profile for potential clients to see, thus building trust and credibility.
Finding the first real client
After you get the “fake” review, it’s time to find your first real client. When looking for the first one you must keep two things in mind: Be quick and cheap.
By this, I mean don’t apply to job descriptions that are more than 24 hours old, I personally don’t apply if they are more than 12 hours old. And also don’t apply to job descriptions that pay well, since it will be hard to land such a client as a newbie.
Finally, use the free cover letter template I provided or make a similar one on your own.
5) Be Active
The ultimate goal is to get an inbox filled with client proposals, but that won’t happen overnight. Until then you must stay active on the platform regularly, and apply for jobs. When you find the right job descriptions you can use your “connects” (a token on Upwork) to apply for the job.
6) Build relationships to increase earnings
Quickly I learned that building relationships with clients is key if you want to get paid a lot. By delivering more value than the client expect they will come back to you again. And as soon as you’ve earned $500 from one client Upwork will decrease their cut from that client. Once you hit $10,000 from one client Upwork will only take 5% of your earnings compared to the 20% in the startup phase , which means having the same clients can be extremely beneficial.
Another way relationships help is that if you proved yourself worthy, you could ask to help the client in other areas of their business. Maybe you write blog posts currently, but you also think you could optimize their website’s SEO, then try pitching the idea of you doing both for a higher price.
Finally the client may also recommend you to other clients resulting in expanding your customer base. The power of building relationships and the effects from it are almost endless.
7) What niche to enter?
Before starting on Upwork you must know what skills you have, and what skills are in demand.
Depending on your interests and skills here are some niches to consider:
- Video production/editing (Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects)
- Presentation design (PowerPoint, Canva, Keynote)
- Machine learning
- Search Engine Optimization
- Writing (Blogs posts, ghost writer)
- Thumbnail design
- Product management
- Ecommerce (Amazon FBA, Shopify, etc.)
- Website developing (WordPress)
- Data analytical skills
- Resume/cover letter writing and design
- Affiliate marketing
- Whatever you can think of
Be honest to yourself and reflect on how you could create value within one of those niches.
8) Extra Tips
Finally, here are some tips you should keep in mind as a freelancer on the platform.
- Remember to become payment verified
- Only apply to jobs where the client is payment verified
- A free/basic plan on Upwork is enough to get you started
- Landing hourly jobs can be more lucrative than fixed-price jobs
- Always over-deliver (we want that 5-star review)
- Be patient, consistent, and don’t give up – the clients will come
- Use Upwork’s project catalog to get more clients
Fiverr vs. Upwork: What is best?
There are many freelancing platforms out there, and another famous one is Fiverr. I’ve tried Fiverr myself without much luck. It took me about three months to get my first client, and I even rejected working on the project, since the payment was so low.
That doesn’t mean Fiverr isn’t a great platform, I just personally don’t like the platform, and I find it harder to get clients on the platform. But to say that Upwork is better than Fiverr is only true in my own specific case.
In conclusion, starting a freelance career on Upwork isn’t hard, but it takes careful planning and persistence. Take some time to think about what you’re looking to achieve, and decide whether you want to build a portfolio or just start working straight away. The choice is yours
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