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Oct 20, 2022
Tips to Get to a Flying Start on Upwork

Perhaps you’re the brightest talent in your workplace and know you have the potential to make a big difference to the world with your craft. So, you browsed through jobs on Upwork and found many that match your profile which really excited you. You applied for projects until you exhausted your Connects. Then came the long-dreaded wait where you were checking your email and Upwork messages over and over to see if a client had chosen you over another freelancer in the sea of talent. But no responses came. 

I see a lot of discussion around how to land your first job in Upwork. So, I thought I would curate some of the items that helped me. This is not "that one formula" but these suggestions can add value to your profile and help you land the first job that gives you a feeling of "Yeah, I can do it too!"

Upwork has given us a lot of tools to help us land that first gig. However, many of us (including me) procrastinate on completing some of the essentials.

100% Complete Profile

First and foremost, make sure to have a 100% complete profile. Make sure to include complete information such as professional experience and skills. Your profile will be one of the first impressions you make on clients. Think of it as the big advertisement boards you see on the roads; that's what brings new clients. Make it complete and interesting.

Video Introduction

This is one of the areas where many of us are lacking (including me). Adding a video introduction gives you a chance to showcase your domain and communication skills to potential clients. 99% of people do not read beyond the first few lines of your profile information, but they may be more likely to watch a video. Keep it short and simple. Do not wait for that perfect video, make a decent one as soon as possible and attach it to your profile. 

It’s Not About Money (Initially)

A freelance career is not like a job where your focus is to get through the day and then at the end of the month you get a salary. Think long-term. Whatever small action you take today may benefit you in the future. So initially think about showcasing your talent. Don’t worry about "keeping profile rate with your peers". To get attention keep it slightly low. Your focus should be to do some extraordinary job with some ordinary payment. Remember great feedback from a low-paying project could lead to high-paying jobs in the future.

Show Them What You Got

Do not wait for a contract to showcase your talent. Build out your portfolio with examples of your work. Even if you’ve never had a client, you can create sample examples of what you can do. Depending on your field, this could be writing a short article, creating a small application, etc. Clients should be able to see what you have done before. A profile with some real work samples is going to get more eyeballs on it than one with just text.

Project Catalog

Consider creating a project for Project Catalog. These projects provide an opportunity for clients to quickly purchase your services. Learn more here.

Apply to jobs (100s of them)  

This is most important. It's not about just looking for those perfect high-paying jobs. Initially, go all out on applying to jobs in the marketplace that fit your skills. Just as you are looking for new work, there are new clients that are looking for some good talent. When you can not see the target, just shoot more arrows. You don’t have any idea what could hit the right target. It's okay to buy some Connects and apply. After all, looking for work is our job until we win a project. 

Improve Visibility

Upwork is a sea of talent. You are your own brand and you have to do your own marketing. Do everything it takes to improve your visibility. Apply to jobs, indulge in community discussions, help peers in technical forums, and create free reusable tools. If you are technical, add certifications to your profile (they really add value).

This is not a complete list, but I hope this helps talent who are new to Upwork. Happy Upworking!

What tips would you share for finding success on Upwork?