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How long did it take before you landed your first client?

Community Guru
Andrei T Member Since: Aug 30, 2016
11 of 20

Start with fixed price projects, and make sure you receive stellar feedback. Whether you bid high or low it won't show on your profile, as it's not evident how much time you actually spent on the task. Any bonuses you receive from the client even after the contract is closed will increase the value of the project. 

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
12 of 20

If I am a serious client, then the last thing I want is low-ball bidding or an offer of free work.


I am too busy and too thrifty to waste my time and money with that kind of nonsense.


I LIKE saving money. I don't mind working with freelancers who are very affordable. But I don't want people on my team who are working for free or who are low-balling because they are incompetent.

Community Guru
Filip K Member Since: May 22, 2017
13 of 20

In my niche hourly wages are from 10 to 150$ (more then 80$ per hour is really rare, but exists).

I started with 20$ per hour. I thought it will make me stand up as a guy who is just starting, but values his work and time. I wouldn't recommend working for free or the lowest bid approach. That way you only attract peanuts clients and scammers.

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.
All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.
Community Guru
John B Member Since: Aug 20, 2015
14 of 20

Preston has a history of hiring more than 100 times, if memory serves correctly.  Apologies if I have missed the metric.  His advice from the hiring side is among the most valuable on Upwork.

I have hired far less than he has, yet have substantive experience.  My counsel to those I hire.  Do not embarrass themselves by trying to win work by drastic rate reductions or low-balling.  That demonstrates a lack of confidence in one's self as need this crutch.  More importantly, it attracts people who are price shopping and those clients begin with problems for that very reason.

1. Build your portfolio up by referencing work in your portfolio that is not specifically Upwork project-driven.  There is no 'rule' that indicates portfolio work has to be specifically driven through Upwork projects.

2. Ensure your profile is bullet-proof. If you are an ESL professioal (English as a Second Language), engage a ally or friend or colleague -- or whomever you can find -- to make sure your work is well-written.

3. Reference the new-to-platform circumstances directly in your letter.  "Though I am new to Upwork, I have experience in delivery of XYZ services.  For example, (example A), and (example B) demonstrate my expertise in the areas of work you are focused on.

just words... you get the idea.



It took me a month to win my first job.  It was a hard month. I still remember it 7 years later.  It is just a memory now.

Active Member
John D Member Since: Jan 22, 2020
15 of 20

I recently just landed my first hourly contract. I placed the bid much lower than I normally would have, given that I have 25 years of experience and work professionally for a typically higher rate by ~125%.


Once the client contacted me, they requested that I go even lower. Additionally, they have the ability to go in and change how time is logged AFTER the contract is started. I prefer manual time entry - I work many proprietary projects for a plethora of clients and DO NOT like 3rd party screenshot capabilities on my workstation. I believe in the tenets of client confidentiality and integrity.


Since I've only been on Upwork for a short period, I have already noticed the following, the model is drastically in favor of those that already have an "Upwork Success Rate" next to their name, despite whatever experience the freelancer may have outside of Upwork. Secondly, the pass-thru rate (i.e. the Upwork "cut," is exorbitantly high). Lastly, clients are looking for elite-level services at rock-bottom rates.


Aside from those issues, the Upwork interface and UX are aesthetically pleasing and intuitive. Kudos to the dev team! I really like the operating environment. If we could somehow iron out the virtual monopolies by the Carnegie and Rockefeller freelancers that got in early on to the Upwork Industrial Revolution, maybe then we could have more merit/expertise based proposal/bid winning.


Just my thoughts -

Community Guru
Amanda L Member Since: Jan 23, 2018
16 of 20

I got my first job within a couple of weeks of signing up; however, I'm in a specific niche  and  came in as an expert. I did start at a lower rate, $25/hr, but that wasn't an attempt to underbid, I just hadn't done a lot of thinking about what my rate should be. After I completed my first job, I increased my rate. I've increased my rate a number of times since I started in late 2017 because I'm at capacity and getting new offers.  I'm expecting to increase my rates again later this year. 


I do think there is something to slightly discounting your rate to win the first gig and get a good review, since we all know how much having even just one UW job on your profile looks to clients. But subjecting yourself to less than a livable wage is shooting yourself in the foot. 

Ace Contributor
Aziz U Member Since: Oct 30, 2018
17 of 20

About 3 weeks after I signed up. I did low-bid, although in hindsight i think it wouldn't have mattered. I was hired because the client was looking for someone nearby.


Since then I've never left a low-bid.You want clients that don't question or haggle with your hourly rate. Even if I got my hourly rate after arguing and haggling with a client, that's not the type of client I want.

Community Guru
Isabelle Anne A Member Since: May 19, 2014
18 of 20

A few days after I signed up on Upwork. I kid you not. I think I bid averagely, and just got lucky. Also, this was back when the site was oDesk --- a time when we had many connects / proposal attempts available to us.

Community Guru
Nichola L Member Since: Mar 13, 2015
19 of 20

Isabelle Anne A wrote:

A few days after I signed up on Upwork. I kid you not. I think I bid averagely, and just got lucky. Also, this was back when the site was oDesk --- a time when we had many connects / proposal attempts available to us.


Happened to me too. But I think I would now ask the question: "How long do you have to wait before you land your next job"! 

Ace Contributor
Cat L Member Since: Dec 13, 2019
20 of 20

I believe both of those questions, a) How long before you got your first job and b) how long before you got your next one --  depend on a few factors.


New to Upwork is a given. But are you fairly good at what you do? Do you - most importantly - have samples to show clients that you ARE good at what you do? The answer to these will have great weight towards answering the original questions. This, and did you read how to make a professional profile to show clients exactly what you know?


There are a number of steps to take prior to hunting your first gig here, no matter what you do. I've been around since well before Elance closed (some of you know JUST how long that is - keep the beak closed ROFL!) Here are some tips from an ole faht who tech-writes:


1) Work on your profile like it's the end of days and you know who is gonna read it.

2) Get some samples together. You need at least three.

3) Bid wisely. If the gig indicates that the rate is low BUT guarantees 5 stars, do it. I did.

4) Immediately up your rate - a bit. Continue this until your rate is where you know it should be. I'm still in this process.

5) Be totally honest with clients. If there's something you don't know, advise them. They'll appreciate you the more for it. If you're hourly, make sure you're really working those hours - delete a few if Fido had a stroke or whatever. Again, BE HONEST. 


And that's it.