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5 Secrets to My Upwork Success

zcharlie
Active Member
Charles C Member Since: Dec 15, 2015
1 of 17

I wrote an article awhile back on my blog regarding 5 secrets to my success here on Upwork and wanted to share it with more of the community. Like many, I started out on low fixed-price contracts and even lower hourly rates. I've continually raised my rates over the past year + with no reduction in work. There was a lot of initial work upfront and applying to hundreds of job postings, but now most of my job offers come from private invites.  Here's how: 

 

Screen Shot 2016-09-03 at 10.40.37 AM.png

 

 

 

FIND A NICHE

Upwork offers a number of categories for freelancers to fall under, but finding your specific niche within one of these is crucial.  I'll use Ekspohz as an example:

We knew we would be targeting clients looking for web design and upon further research it was noted that the amount of designers focusing on Wordpress was saturated.  There were far fewer offering Squarespace expertise (but still a demand for it) so we decided to make that our sole focus. It also helped we felt Squarespace is far superior and more user friendly for our clients Additionally, we focused on our preferred design aesthetic of modern and minimalist.

 
CRAFT THE PERFECT PROPOSAL

One caveat before getting into the proposal is a necessity to have a complete profile, professional photo, and solid portfolio. 

Initially you'll be writing A LOT of proposals, but the secret is it doesn't need to be elaborate. I often see example proposals that start out by listing ALL of your qualifications and years of experience, followed by a detailed break down of every step in the process you'll follow. By the end it's close to a full page and 5 paragraphs.  With the amount of proposals that clients receive most simply won't have the desire to get through all of it. You also don't want to come across like you are simply copy and pasting the same words to every client. If you are...stop!
 

  • Introduce yourself.

    "Hi I'm Charlie"
     

  • Connect with them on a personal level. I always recommend that you should be working on projects that you have a passion and general interest in.  It makes it a much more enjoyable experience.  If you're writing a proposal for an athletic company and that's one of your hobbies you may state:

    "As an avid runner and crossfit trainer, this job falls right into my passion and skillset.

     
  • Quickly address their issue and how you'll solve it.  Don't make this part more complicated than it needs to be.  If they need a new website, that's the problem.  Your response might be:

    "I'd be glad to build you a modern, professional, and responsive website for your business."

     
  • Provide your contact information. This part is crucial. In order to continue to build the personal connection and truly understand what the client's vision is you need to get on a phone call, skype, google hangout, etc.

    "If you would like to discuss this project and your vision further I can be reached at xxx.xxx.xxxx.  Feel free to recommend a time that is convenient for you."

     
  • Conclude. Thank them for their consideration and sign your name.

    That it's.  Keep it simple and you'll begin to increase your conversions. My stats are below.
 
 
HAVE PASSION FOR YOUR PROJECTS

I touched on this in the proposal section above, but your work experience, quality of product, and design ideas all improve when you are working on projects that you are passionate about.  In the beginning it may be tempting or somewhat necessary to accept all jobs, but as you grow it is much more effective to focus on areas that are of interest to you.  Additionally, you'll begin to develop a profile and portfolio that shows you are a subject matter expert for those types of jobs.

 
ONLY ACCEPT JOBS WITHIN YOUR EXPERTISE

Each job you take should be the best experience your client has had.  Your job success score and overall rating depend upon it.  By only accepting jobs you that you can complete to the client's full desire is the only way to ensure that you will continue to be rated highly.  In the very least, express yourself early on any limitations or concerns you may have with the project.  Clear communication is key!

 
HAVE YOUR CLIENT CLOSE THE JOB

The easiest way to ensure you get feedback on a job is to ensure your client closes it first.  Once they do so it will immediately prompt them to provide feedback.  If you decide to close it first, they are still able to leave feedback, but it is more difficult to access and they may forget to do so.  Your final phone call with the client should close up all loose ends, conduct any necessary training, and then ask them to close the contract on their end.  Express that you appreciated working with them and that one of the most helpful things on the site is positive feedback.  Hopefully you have provided an excellent experience so there is no question and it's simply a reminder.

 

 

Regards,

 

Charles

Founder

**Edited for Community Guidelines**

iaabraham
Community Guru
Isabelle Anne A Member Since: May 19, 2014
2 of 17

These "secrets" are not really ground-breaking and have been posted before by many successful and not-so-successful freelancers.

 

On a side note, your portfolio is gorgeous!!

zcharlie
Active Member
Charles C Member Since: Dec 15, 2015
3 of 17

Thanks for the feedback and kudos on the profile Isabelle.  The word "secrets" is definitely an attention grabber, but they are what I have found to be the biggest difference makers in my success. To those who have followed a similar path and have not been successful, I would be interested in hearing more details as to why. Is it their quality of work? Are they not personable with clients? Or not putting in the extreme amount of effort at the start in order to build credibility.

tlsanders
Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
4 of 17

@Isabelle Anne A wrote:

These "secrets" are not really ground-breaking and have been posted before by many successful and not-so-successful freelancers.

 

On a side note, your portfolio is gorgeous!!


Agree that they seem obvious and old hat to many of us, but from the questions that arise here, the stories people tell of bidding on hundreds of jobs, the proposals posted here for review, it's clear that there are many people who need this guidance. 

lysis10
Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
5 of 17

Not a fan of the link droppers, but mannn I wish I had design skills. Smiley Sad  I like the really minimal site look you got there. I have to buy themes on themeforest for my sites and they are always so filled with stuff that a lot of them don't work for a single blogger person like myself. 

zcharlie
Active Member
Charles C Member Since: Dec 15, 2015
6 of 17

Thanks for the reply Jennifer. You mention themeforest so I imagine you're dealing with WordPress.  Have you tried Squarespace out?  It's much more user friendly and superior for a lot of projects in my eyes. I won't link drop again Smiley Tongue , but there is another article in my blog on why we choose Squarespace over Wordpress.

lysis10
Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
7 of 17

@Charles C wrote:

Thanks for the reply Jennifer. You mention themeforest so I imagine you're dealing with WordPress.  Have you tried Squarespace out?  It's much more user friendly and superior for a lot of projects in my eyes. I won't link drop again Smiley Tongue , but there is another article in my blog on why we choose Squarespace over Wordpress.


No, I will take a theme and then plug it into my C# projects. Not hard to do but themeforest doesn't have any true minimal themes for certain styles. 

 

eta: I'm super anti-WordPress. 

carlos-lobo
Community Guru
Carlos L Member Since: Apr 24, 2016
8 of 17

Thank Charles, I will be expecting for more advice the same quality as it is, very short and, at the same time, very strong. 

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9 of 17

I see a lot of advice on different blogs where freelancers explain how they earn much money on Upwork

**Edited for Community Guidelines**

 

The last one I have seen was a young girl who maintained that she earned 5,000 USD in a week on UW. Her profile on UW does not reflect this amount. We are told a lot of "secrets" and tips how we can be successful. Moreover, the community is flooded with good advice of self-declared experts trying linkbuilding for their blogs.

 

I tell you my "secret": I am tired of this and tired of the increasing number of fake profiles in the community who only intend to laugh at the freelancers on UW and UW itself. Maybe it is their own interest or they are paid by a competitor of UW.

 

The next one I want to show up here should earn at least 20,000 USD per month (without agency and without farming) and prove this by his/her bank statement and explain in detail how this could be achieved. Then I could be interested again.

zcharlie
Active Member
Charles C Member Since: Dec 15, 2015
10 of 17

Well Margarete I'm not sure if all of that was directed at me or you're simply letting out some frustration, but I certainly am not claiming to be making 5k-20k a month. You can see the stats on my profile, it's public...I'm unable to view yours. I do classify receiving all positive reviews, regularly being invited to private job postings, and continuously raising my rates over the past year as successful. Especially when starting from ground zero. The ideas listed in my article are what I attributed to that.

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