Are you looking to land your first Upwork jobs for beginners but you have no experience? There’s a gold mine of opportunity in the digital space, but finding them can take a while if you barely know where to look. On Upwork, you can connect with clients, use your skills to provide the value they seek, and get paid at the end of the task.
This platform has created opportunities for thousands of freelancers; trust me, there is still space for you on there because companies all around the world are starting to hire freelancers more than even on-site employees for more flexibility.
I remember how long I had to wait to land my first client on Upwork, let’s just say that I learned the hard way. My account was dormant for months because nobody was sending me an invite for an interview despite all the Upwork connects I wasted per month sending proposals. Well, you don’t have to go through what I did and that’s why I’ve put this guide together to help you get it right and land Upwork jobs for beginners.
What is Upwork?
Cold pitching to clients face-to-face is good but where and how do you find these clients? Now, that’s where freelancing platforms like Upwork come to play. Upwork is an online marketplace where freelancers connect with clients and vice versa for mutual benefits.
On Upwork, you either find clients and pitch your skill or service to them, or they find you through your eye-catchy profile and send you an invite. The latter is only possible if you create a killer profile or have a good rating and reviews from clients you’ve worked with in the past. Either way, once you get hired for a gig or project, you are expected to deliver a remarkable result and in the end, you get paid.
So, what skills or services can I sell to land Upwork jobs for beginners?
From data analysts to virtual assistants, architects, content strategists, etc., you’ll get Upwork jobs for beginners as long as your skill doesn’t involve you being on-site to get a job done. There are 9 job categories on Upwork under which you will have over 50 skills. These categories include;
- Writing and translation
- Development and IT
- Design and Creative
- HR and Training
- Finance and Accounting
- Sales and Marketing
- Admin and Customer Support
- Engineering and Architecture
How do I start making money on Upwork as a beginner?
Upwork is a place for creatives and those who are willing to go over and above to deliver remarkable results. If you have an issue with putting your best into any project, Upwork isn’t the place for you because there are lots of freelancers (newbies and experts), offering the same services as you, who will give their all to ensure the success of a project or gig that they are assigned. As such, they will remain valuable to clients and make money in the process as well. I understood this after almost a year of signing up on the platform and don’t want you to make the same mistakes I made.
So, here are some tips to help you make good money on Upwork
Identify the skill or service you want to offer
The fact that we can’t all offer in-demand skills doesn’t mean that we can sell services on Upwork. What skills do you have that others need to help get their job done? Can you organize data or create content? Can you design a building or build a website? Do you have the knack for writing articles, essays, novels, or even sales copies that will influence the emotions of your readers? If you are waiting to be perfect before you sell your skill, you will cheat yourself out of opportunities.
One of the many mistakes I see a lot of beginners make on Upwork and other freelancing platforms is selling more than two skills on their profile. If you have say four skills you think you can market effectively, choose the strongest and start from there. After you have worked with several clients and built a portfolio and reputation, only then should you introduce the other skills and services.
Also, focus on a niche rather than the generalized industry. For instance, if you are a writer who has a knack for telling stories, it’ll be ideal if you focus your services on ghostwriting or copywriting because your potential clients are looking for talents to solve specific problems.
Create a killer profile
This was where I shot myself on the foot. Imagine being excited to highlight all the good you think that you can do and forgetting to effectively tell your clients why you are the solution they need for their problems. Once you have signed up on Upwork, you will be expected to give an overview of your skill, which will be displayed on your profile so that every time a client clicks on your profile, they see what services you are offering.
So what does it take to create a marketable profile?
#1 Strategically place keywords
When a client comes to find talents on Upwork, they search with keywords of the skills they are looking to find. Your profile should contain keywords that are relevant to the skill you are offering. Also, avoid keyword stuffing; instead, make it look natural and blend with every sentence on your profile overview.
#2 Use a professional picture
Now, this is a serious issue because I’ve seen beginners on Upwork use filtered pictures or ‘unprofessional’ pictures because they want to look cool or appealable to their potential clients. If you’ve made this mistake already, go take it down now! Your profile picture must not be a studio picture, it should be a high-resolution, high-quality, professional-looking picture. Dress properly and ensure that your face is fully displayed so that your potential clients can have a mental picture of who they are working with.
PS: You don’t have to wear a suit.
#3 Research the top-rated talents in your niche
Being top-rated on Upwork means that you are doing something right and that’s the best place to draw inspiration from.
Go to the search icon on Upwork and type in the service or skill you are offering.
Filter the result by selecting freelancers as the talent type, 90% and up for job success score, and 10k+ for the total amount earned.
This will show you the top talents in your field.
Study the flow of how they introduce themselves and offer their skills, and use it as a guideline to create yours. No matter how impressive their profile may seem, DON’T EVER copy them word-for-word; instead, think about how you would sell yourself and your skills to a client face-to-face and say it that way on your profile.
#4 Concentrate on how you want to help your clients
Your profile isn’t all about you. Your potential client wants to know how you can help them and just a single line on your profile can answer their question and land you the gig.
#5 Add an introductory video (If possible)
This is optional but will go a long way to build trust in your potential client because it makes you less anonymous since there’s barely any chance that you’ll ever get to meet your client in real-life or speak with them on the phone. The video doesn’t have to be you behind the camera; you can use animation or a simple slide show, which shouldn’t be more than 30-60 seconds. Also, it should tell your clients who you are, what you do how much experience you have on the job, and if possible, add reviews from some of the jobs you’ve completed or even a sneak peek of your portfolio.
#6 Maintain professionalism
There’s nothing wrong with letting your potential clients know that you will put in your best to get the job done, but don’t be arrogant in communicating this because they can easily detect arrogance. I know that some clients can be a handful but being polite isn’t an option. If you land a gig, be sure to do your best to deliver high-quality results, meet deadlines, and ask for a review politely. Some clients may refuse to give you a review but that’s okay because you’ll land another that will happily give a review without you asking. Further, if the deadline a client sets seem unrealistic to you, discuss it with them before accepting the Upwork jobs for beginners because it’s unprofessional to oversell yourself and under-deliver.
#7 Draft and send tailor-made proposals
Yes, I know you are tempted to sit and wait for a notification on your device that signifies a client is impressed with your profile and wants to work with you. Unfortunately, you have to ‘hustle’ for gigs as a beginner by constantly checking for job listings. If you don’t have your competition shoes on, now’s the best time to wear them because you are going to be competing with different levels of talent to get a single gig.
You are wondering, how do I compete to land a project or gig? By sending in proposals.
If a client posts a job listing relating to your skill and you feel you can handle it, go ahead to apply for the gig by writing a proposal of 150 words or more to let them know why you are the best talent for the job. Here’s how I land my Upwork jobs for beginners by sending the ideal proposal.
- Before drafting or submitting any proposal, ensure that Upwork has verified payment for the job to avoid getting scammed.
- Submit proposals to jobs with about 5 to 10 submitted proposals to increase your chance.
- Go through the job description thoroughly to understand what is expected of you and use the information as a guideline to create a proposal specific to the job.
- Personalize every proposal with the client’s name. For example, Hello Mr. Amos…
- Do not copy and paste from one proposal you’ve sent before to another.
- Sell your service with samples of related work you’ve done before
- Stir up a conversation by asking questions related to the job, their company, etc.
- You may not receive an interview invite when you send in your first proposal and that’s ok. Keep applying for different gigs and you’ll get better at drafting proposals
- Don’t be in a hurry to submit your proposal; instead, go through and use tools like Grammarly to edit and ensure there are no typos.
- Use your Upwork connects wisely by not submitting more than one proposal to a particular job listing.
#8 Add your portfolio
It’s easier for a client to trust you if they see proof of related work you have completed in the past for yourself or other clients. Add a link to these projects on your profile but if you don’t have a website or an online portfolio, you can work towards getting one now.
#9 Improve your skill
I know that waiting to get an invite for an interview on Upwork can be unexciting and frustrating, but now’s not the time to sulk or give up because no one’s indicating interest in your services. Yes, once you start getting gigs, your skill will improve as you get the Upwork jobs for beginners done but while you wait, find resources that will improve your skill, take online courses, take on pro bono projects, and do whatever will improve your skill.
#10 Be ready for an interview
Once you submit a proposal, begin to find out what there is to know about the client and the project. Prepare questions that you will ask the client. Ensure that your devices are working fine. Always be available so that when they reach out to you, you’ll respond quickly. Keep in mind that being confident and honest can help you win the client over.
Getting paid on Upwork
I understand how confident you feel about your skills and the need to set your pricing accordingly; nevertheless, remember that you are starting as a beginner on Upwork (even if you are already an expert elsewhere), so, you may have to drop your rates for now and increase them after you have built a reputation for yourself on the platform.
When you are hired for a gig or project, you get paid in any of these three ways; hourly, fixed, or per milestone. If you complete a task with an hourly or milestone payment agreement between you and a client and they refuse to compensate you fairly, Upwork has payment protection for such cases.
When a client hires you for a project, they pay into Upwork’s escrow where the money is held until you have completed the job and the client is satisfied with it. Afterward, Upwork takes their commission fee (20% for $500 or less, 10% for $500 to $10,000, and 5% for over $10,000) and sends you the rest.
Once the money reflects in your Upwork account, you can transfer it directly to your bank account if you live in the U.S or use other payment options like PayPal, Wise, and Payoneer.
Upwork readiness program
Like with most freelance platforms where you write a proficiency test or otherwise, Upwork’s Readiness Test reveals how informed you are of Upwork’s best practices and safety tips that are necessary for every freelancer’s success on the platform. There are 10 questions in the test, which you have to answer in less than 2 minutes for each. Your clients will not be able to see your test result because it is not displayed on your profile; instead, you will receive a one-time only bonus of 40 free Upwork connects that you can use to send proposals to potential clients. You may also be eligible for the Upwork rising talent badge. You can read more about this here.
About Upwork Connects
Upwork connects are like a ticket or currency with which you can send proposals for a job. As a beginner, you get 80 free connects when you register on Upwork, 40 when you pass the Upwork readiness test, 10 when you win and complete an interview, and 10 free connects per month. You can also buy more connections at $0.15
Being a freelancer doesn’t have to be tough, especially with this guide that I have provided to help you land gigs and make money on Upwork as a beginner. Your Upwork jobs for beginners aren’t only to get gigs and make money. Focus on providing high-quality services that provide value to EVERY CLIENT you work with. Once you can achieve that, making money becomes easy because you won’t have to go running after jobs anymore; instead, they’ll come knocking in your inbox because your reputation will speak for you.