Wondering how to get started writing on Upwork as a freelancer?
If you are not aware of the top freelance platforms and websites, please check out our complete guide as we rank Upwork #1 on our list.
Upwork is among the most popular freelance websites in 2020, and $1 Billion worth of jobs are posted annually. Yes, Billion with a B. Want a slice of that pie? Well, read up on our complete guide below.
Are you a grammar nut or just generally like the idea of writing, then you can become a paid writer.
- Be your own boss
- Choose new or exciting niches you always wanted to try
- Work from anywhere
- Upwork snatches 20% of contracts
- No benefits
- The occasional crazy client
Note: I am an Upwork Top Rated freelancer and have a 100% Job Success Score. Look for “Top Rated Tips” scattered throughout this article for personal tips from someone who has grown their own writing business through Upwork.
1. Sign up for an Upwork account
Sounds easy enough, right? Upwork has been blasted with scammer and spammers over the years and now has a robust account approval process. Upwork may ask you to upload a photo of your driver’s license and even do a video call with an Upwork employee to verify your identity. Typically, people under 18 may not be approved. However, people 15-18 might be approved in certain circumstances with impressive backgrounds.
Be prepared to pay taxes from income earned on Upwork as you are required to state if you are a “US Person” and provide your social security number.
But you already report all money you earn to the federal government, right? So, this isn’t a big deal.
2. Build your writing profile
Don’t have a broad, full-blown portfolio to start with, that’s okay! Everyone has to start somewhere. You can start with writing samples from school, college, work, volunteer work, really anything that shows you can put together coherent copy.
If you do have a plethora of portfolio items, then you’re in luck! Add many work samples and job outcomes to your profile. This will ensure clients can trust you know what you’re doing.
Here are all the items you will need to provide to have a complete Upwork Profile:
- Education and employment history
- Hourly Rate
- Availability and location
- Payment options such as a bank account
Upwork only allows a person to have one single freelancer profile and account.
But what if you have multiple areas of expertise?
Within the last couple of years, Upwork has released a feature named Specialized Profiles, which allows you to have separate sections or pages on your profile based on your areas of expertise. For instance, I have one for Content Writing on Upwork and another for Web Design. When applying for jobs, you can choose which profile the client will see first, so your profile is targeted towards that specific type of role.
Top Rated Tip: It may be tempting to put a link in your profile to either your website, portfolio or LinkedIn. Don’t do this. It is against Upwork’s TOS. Upwork wants all communication to occur on its platform to keep you safe and to capture that 20% fee.
3. Increase your chances of getting hired
To quote Jon Acuff, in this book Start- You can punch fear in the face by simply starting! The hardest step in any journey is often the first; getting going is the most challenging, obstacle and that is no different on Upwork. Upwork is heavily reliant on Job Success Scores and other qualitative and quantitative metrics such as review; if you don’t have any on the platform, it’s hard to land a job.
For your first gig, I recommend lowering your rates to make up for the fact that you don’t have any work on the platform. When I first started, I was asking $50 per hour, moved up to $64 per hour, then $75 and $85. You can increase your rate over time, and potential clients will be willing to pay more to a seasoned Upwork veteran with slews of positive reviews because it lowers their risk of their contractor being a total dud- which I am sure you are not.
Starting in April 2019, Upwork rolled out a new feature of Connects, which are credits freelancers need to use to bid on jobs. So, you’ll need a pack of those, 80 connects will run you $12. Jobs can range from 1 connect up to 6 depending on parameters that the client inputs, such as the proposed length of time for the gig.
4. Test different proposals
A good proposal should be personalized and be around 300 words, not too long but doesn’t lack the needed detail.
You can test many different aspects that are including in your proposal including:
- Length of the proposal
- Your profile image
- How many and which samples
- Different Specialized profiles
- And general proposal style or candor
A more professional proposal might start like this:
“To whom it may concern, please consider me for the role of copywriter. I have multiple work samples in this arena.”
A more lighthearted proposal might start like this:
“Hi There, I would love to help you with this project. I am a master copywriter and here are relevant work samples.”
Different types of clients might respond to different types of proposals. You might enjoy the more lighthearted proposal, and I might enjoy the professional proposal.
Top Rated Tip: Most things are worth testing to see what can be improved. Including copy!
5. Getting the gig
Just like applying for any other type of job, be prepared to face rejection, especially near the start of your journey.
But eventually, a client will reply to your proposal. Typically, there may be some conversation back and forth to work out the details. Upwork claims that clients usually take about three days to make a hire on the platform.
Items you will want to confirm with the client:
- Working styles (phone calls, messages, etc.)
- Understand you have a firm foundation of what is being asked of you
When the stars align, you will have your first offer in your inbox. Accept that bad boy and get to work!
Top Rated Tip: I still only land around 10% of my proposals. There may be many reasons why someone doesn’t want to hire you as you may be:
- Have experience but not in their particular niche
- Timing may not be right
- You may be too expensive
- You may be in the wrong location or time zone
Keep these in mind and do not be discouraged when success doesn’t come your way immediately. Like all good things, this takes time.
6. Deliver a high-quality product
Top Rated Tip: If you have landed an hourly contract, it is highly advantageous to utilize the Upwork time tracker app. The app allows for guaranteed payment if a client has an issue such as not wanting to pay you for your work or if their stored payment method fails.
Once you have completed your work, it’s time to turn it into your client.
I often include my thoughts or details of the work I performed. Typically, I will state how I felt about the strength of the piece, and I will provide quantitative metrics around my writing performance. Popular grammar checking apps and websites exist that can impartially offer this feedback, such as Hemmingway and Grammarly.
Give your client the freedom and flexibility to ask questions and suggest edits or rework.
Hopefully, you will deliver such a kick-butt product that the client will say something along the lines of-
“This is amazing!! Great work! I have no edits and want to hire you again for another piece!”
Top Rated Tip: Be careful of clients who may take advantage of your hard work. In fixed-rate contracts, a client does not pay more for extra rework or extra time you may put into a piece. Be sure to stand your ground if a client is unreasonable with rework or additional work demands.
7. It’s all about the reviews!
As mentioned throughout this article, reviews and ratings are the lifeblood of a freelancer on Upwork.
If a client does not leave you feedback, kindly ask them and remind them to give you feedback. Feedback closes within 14 days after the end of a contract. Feedback can be opened back up after the fact by the freelancer if needed.
Always have clients close the contract and not you. If a client closes a deal, they are forced to give feedback in the form of a review. If a freelancer closes a contract, a client may choose not to provide feedback, which will damage your Job Success Score.
Top Rated Tip: If a client has not provided feedback, a freelancer can contact Upwork’s support team will contact the client in an attempt to leave feedback for the freelancer.
8. Get more work
Now that you’ve successfully navigated and completed your first project, it’s time to look for other projects. It is often a good idea to ask previous clients if they have more work for you to do, and if they do not have an immediate need, check-in with them from time to time, maybe every three months or so just to upkeep the relationship.
Repeat steps three through six as often as you like, and you will have cash, reviews, and good vibes flowing in as you have always dreamed.
Top Rated Tip: Become a salesperson.
You have the advantage over everyone else on Upwork. There might be the best UX designer in the world, but their written sales process is not up to par, they may never land a job on Upwork. You are a professional wordsmith, and you can portray yourself as such when applying for jobs.
Don’t Give Up
Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team and then went on to become one of the best athletes of all time.
Don’t give up. Be patient. Be positive.
Upwork takes a lot of time, effort, and perseverance to land your first role and ongoing projects.
Continue to be optimistic and improve your skills and your sales skills.
You can do this!