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zlokrme
Community Member

How to land that first job? :(

Hi guys!

 

I started using Upwork few weeks ago even though I signed up almost 2 years ago. So now, I really want to give it a chance, but it seems like a mission impossible to get the first job. Can anyone take a look at my profile? Should I change something?

 

When I write proposals, I really read through and ask meaningful questions. I do use a template I made, but not all the parts of it and certainly not in every proposal. Let's say that I do have few phrases I use, but all of my proposals are unique. I try to find  out the client's name, so I write them in a more  friendly way (but always very professionally). So, I really don't know what to do. I've been doing graphic design for so many years, working always for someone else (creative agencies) and this is the first time I want to work for myself and I can't because obviously I am doing something wrong. Please help, I know you can ๐Ÿ™‚

 

My profile: https://www.upwork.com/o/profiles/users/_~0125d33b7d6e6e752c/

19 REPLIES 19
aocumen
Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Tamara, 

Welcome to Upwork! You may want to check out these freelancer resources we have compiled for great tips and insights on how you can work successfully on the platform.

 

For more information about working safely through Upwork, please read these tips for avoiding questionable jobs.


~ Avery
Upwork
alphazomgy
Community Member

Hey Tamara

 

You sound like you're doing everything right as far as finding a clients name. As for the template, I would reccomend not using one. But if you insist, try to make it not seem like a template. If the client suspects that you're using a template they'll get turned off.

 

Your best bet is to bid for the jobs/gigs that you know you can get. For example, I'm a writer. When I see someone offering to pay $0.01 a word, that's a job I know I'll be able to get. Also, I'm not sure how it is in your field, but in the writing job categories (articles, copywriting) a lot of clients will put "beginners welcome" etc. Apply to those, that's how I got my first jobs.

 

PS: Don't ask clients questions in your proposals unless they tell you to ask questions in the job description.

 

 

Hi Alexander! Thank you for your response. I think the client can't really see that I use a template because I use just few phrases  and the rest is really applied to the job offer. But I think that it is immediate turn off when they see my "none" work experience on Upwork. If they just have looked my profile, I have a long experience and do really good work ๐Ÿ˜ž 

 

About the questions: I thought that I should ask questions about the job.. Interesting. Why do you think so?

 

P.S.  If I understood properly - I should apply for a low wage and small jobs at first? But those always have one million proposals..

I actually just recently hired a graphic designer. None of them asked me questions and I honestly didn't expect them to. (There were 30ish proposals.)

 

And then there's my own experience as a freelancer on here. The way I see it you should let your portfolio do all the talking for you.

m_acc_des
Community Member

Hi Tamara,

 

I have experienced your situation when I firstly tried to get my first job, lack of background for the client to trust me, no RT badge, and no JSS!. Also I am an accountant, our work is very accurate, and every client wants to deal with a trustworthy accountant not a one who is newbie if this is the correct word.

 

So here is what I did:-

 

1- I started to search for jobs that does not require RT badge or 90+ JSS.

2- I wrote Unique proposals.

3- I started to apply only for new published jobs so that my proposal gets a chance to be read.

 

I guess I landed my first " hourly long term " job because of this phrase I wrote to the client " Although You don`t have any professional reason to trust me, I assure you all the commitment, accuracy, and professionalism required for this job to be perfectly done ".

 

Hope this helps.

Thank you, Mohammed. I will try that. Although I do have a rising talent badge, so at least something..

 

One more question: did anybody of you actually tried the video presentation in ther profiles?


@Tamara K wrote:

Thank you, Mohammed. I will try that. Although I do have a rising talent badge, so at least something..

 

One more question: did anybody of you actually tried the video presentation in ther profiles?


 It is a blessing that you already have the RT badge actually, I guess you will land your first job sooner than what you think.

As an accountant I don`t need the video presentation, as my work doesn`t require a high presentation quality that the video can prove, but for some types of work like " personal assistants, or customer service " it will be a + if you make one.

Always welcome.

With such education, experience and portfolio your hourly rate seems a bit low.

____________
Don't correct my grammar!

It is, but I litterally don't know what to put. My initial hourly rate was 45 (I charge that here in Vienna), but I was thinking without experience I can't put 45 at the very beginning..

tlbp
Community Member

If you are capable of providing premium work, then don't offer to work for a low price or apply to jobs posted by non-premium clients. You may not get that first job for a while. But you have to decide what type of jobs you really want. As a business owner, you can compete on price or quality. 

 

Freelancing is a unique industry. You have to be good at your core skill and good at marketing. So if you already have skill invest your time in studying personal branding and marketing. Set yourself apart and choose your prospective clients wisely. This is particularly important in the graphics niche which is very competitive yet saturated with low-bid (and *low-skilled) freelancers. 

 

*I am not implying that all the freelancers in this niche are low-skilled, many are incredibly talented. Those who truly know what they are doing are going to have to somehow demonstrate this fact to clients who are bombarded with bids from those who don't. 

I would say just to be aware that there are different opinions about what is most effective. The advice you've gotten so far is worth considering, but know that some (not all) of it contradicts what some of the most experienced and successful Upwork freelancers recommend.

 

For example, in the early going, should you apply for the jobs that may be easiest to land, even if they pay very low, just so you can at least have some successful jobs on your profile? Actually the answer--at least the answer you'll see most often from veterans in this forum--is absolutely not, that when you do that you get stuck down at that level, as no one willing to pay more will take you seriously once they see you have been working for pennies.

 

My own opinion is that this is quite believable, that I could see clients reacting that way to someone willing to work so cheap, and that therefore it's going to be really tough for you to land decent jobs once you take a few crap jobs. On the other hand, I think it's also really tough to land decent jobs if your profile shows few or no successfully completed jobs. That is, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. As evidenced by the fact that--at least based on what I've read in these forums--the majority of people who sign up here as freelancers never land even one job.

 

Should you ask questions when you send a proposal for a job? Actually I think the majority opinion in these forums that I've read has been yes. But I would say only if they come across as natural and relevant to the specific job. If they come across to a client like, "I've been told I should ask questions in my proposal, so here are some questions" then I would think that would be a turn off. But good questions show that you're already thinking through how you'll approach the job. If the job involves calculating the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow, and you ask whether that's an African or European swallow, that's a relevant fact you'll need to know in order to complete the job, and I would think that asking about that is more likely to make a positive than negative impression on the client.

 

Should you skip jobs that have a requirement that you lack (like JSS of 90% or more, a certain minimum number of hours worked, etc.)? Not necessarily. For most clients these are preferences rather than dealbreakers. Sure, some clients might use them to narrow the field--scanning through the applicants and disposing of those who lack a requirement to save themselves the time of reading them--but some won't, and you won't know which is which. Furthermore, some of those, like the JSS 90% minimum, are defaults that the clients don't have to actively choose, and in some cases, especially with new clients, probably don't even know are there.

 

So, bottom line, you're at a disadvantage if a job calls for something you lack, but how big a disadvantage, if any, will vary from client to client and job to job, so if it's a job you're confident you can do well, you might as well take your best shot at it. Unless you're really low on connects, it can't hurt.

 

Another piece of advice I've seen that I'll pass along is to keep in mind that clients initially see just the very top--the first few lines--of your profile and of your cover letter unless they choose to click through and explore more. So ask yourself if those first few lines say enough to at least get you to the "maybe" pile where clients will then want to dig deeper. Don't waste them on a salutation, small talk, etc.

Dear Craig, 

This is a very good answer. I do like you said - I never waste the first few lines because I want to show how professional and good I am, but also I start with "you", so I can address the client and his/her needs. 

 

The thing that is actually makes me nervous is that I saw people with 6$/h rate. I know I don't want to do the job for that little money and I also know how much I was paid earlier in my career as a designer. So in the sea of cheap designers, how can I stand out. I mean, I do apply for jobs I know I can do well and really take my time to impress the client, but eventually it's not enough.

 

You wrote:

"Another piece of advice I've seen that I'll pass along is to keep in mind that clients initially see just the very top--the first few lines--of your profile and of your cover letter unless they choose to click through and explore more. So ask yourself if those first few lines say enough to at least get you to the "maybe" pile where clients will then want to dig deeper. Don't waste them on a salutation, small talk, etc."

 

I can't agree more! And also I am frightened that I won't land any job and that makes me really sad.

 


@Tamara K wrote:

I mean, I do apply for jobs I know I can do well and really take my time to impress the client, but eventually [evidently?] it's not enough.

 


Ah, but is there really enough evidence to say that yet? Maybe as a newbie, asking for a legitimate professional rate, writing strong cover letters, etc. you're destined to get 1 out of 10 jobs you apply for. Or maybe 1 out of 50. Or 1 out of 100. Or 1 out of 500. Or zero. We don't know that yet. A string of early failures is consistent with any of these long term probabilities. It's simply too small a sample from which to draw a conclusion.

 

You'll need to hang in there quite a bit longer and keep doing your best, and only after a much longer run with no success might you want to drastically change your approach, or conclude that you're not a good fit for Upwork and should pursue other options.

Yes, evidently - I have an autocorrect on my computer ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks.

 

I'll try everything now because I am really persistant to get a job. But if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. I'll continue working for others. I wanted to have this experience among my other experiences so here we go.. ๐Ÿ™‚

tommy_f
Community Member

Use this to decide on how much your rate should be:

 

https://www.upwork.com/hiring/design/cost-to-hire-graphic-designer/

 

I would suggest that you start off with the average rate and then ratchet upward when you get clients.

 

Also, in your proposal try to whet their appetite, by showing value. For instance,

 

"Did you know that the first thing visitors notice about a site is the design and that it can have a major effect in whether they want to engage in the site and become customers or look elsewhere?  Well, I have been a graphic designer for 10 years has helped my clients generate leads and increase sales conversion.

 

This article lists the values a graphic designer can bring:

 

http://www.howdesign.com/design-business/small-businesses-graphic-design-priority/ 

 

Just my 2 cents.

 

"To be, or not to be- that is the question: ..." Shakespeare


@Craig G wrote:

Should you skip jobs that have a requirement that you lack (like JSS of 90% or more, a certain minimum number of hours worked, etc.)? Not necessarily. 


 But very probable she'll end up beneath "show more" - "freelancers who didn't meet requirements", on a client's dashboard, which makes her application hard to notice.

Before someone pops up saying s/he gets jobs regularly by applying without filling all requirements, I guess you are just lucky. 

The fact is Upwork has such feature and you'll waste your connects.

____________
Don't correct my grammar!

That might help; thanks.

barada00
Community Member

Hello Tamara, I checked your profile. I don't see any problems other than small number of portfolio items. However they are very nice "items" so it's not a big problem. Sometime after my Elance profile was migrated to Upwork I started to work on the site again. First job I took was "replicate this guy's signature in Illustrator." To apply I signed mine, took a photo of it, traced in Illustrator, made some adjustments, made a before and after image on Photoshop and sent it as a sample very similar I made very recently. The budget was $5 I think but it was a 5 minute job.

 

You have very nice illustrations. If I were you, I would apply to fixed price jobs with a "similar" sample (not what they want, similar) How much time did you spend doing your similar sample? Let's say 30 minutes, bid half of your hourly price with that sample. When applying don't write anything that is not relevant to the job. I won jobs with one or two liners. This is not a job interview, you don't need to impress the boss with your personality. You won't see each other every day 9 to 5 for the foreseeable future. If you want rubble moved you look at the muscles not the faces. Show them you can do the job. That's all that's needed. "See attached sample I made very recently, I can deliver in a couple of hours. Please contact me for further details." The client will be refreshed after reading pages and pages of things other freelancers wrote about themselves.

 

After you get 100% JSS with 4 or 5 completed jobs under your belt, you can apply to hourly jobs with whatever price you see fit. Also, while applying to fixed price jobs having higher hourly rate makes you and your work valuable in the eyes of the clients.

silw
Community Member

Hi Tamara,
you could use some better mockups to present your work. Actually, some of them downgrade your work instead of increasing its visuals since the mockups look very fake.

Reading your profile text I am wondering if that is really what you are convinced of? It reads more like something you think a client might want to read.
You mention 10 years of experience, the ability to create compelling designs and quick tournarounds. Are those the projects you want to be involved?

A client who thinks years of experience equal skill and quality of work, a client that needs to be "compelled" and wants stuff to be done quickly?
I would prefer a client who seeks top quality work, knows how business works and plans his projects far ahead to have a relaxing timeline.
Don't attract the clients you don't want to have with the wording you use.

 

For the very first job, I suppose it's okay to just do "some" job in order to get that initial 100% rating.

 

Tripple/Quadrupple your rates.
Right now you are in the pool with the other millions of low paying freelancers.
Get your feet out of that swamp by positioning yourself in the high-payment sector.
You will hear a lot of "no, too expensive" along that road, but those aren't the clients you want to work with anyways, and preferably you work on one good paying project a month, than on 10 bad paying ones.

 

About the proposal:
I  read a lot of tipps on how to write a good proposal. I tried all of them and none made me feel like it's actually working.
I made the best results with my "own" version of proposals.
All of them are 3-4 sentences and take about 2 minutes to write.

Be different to get noticed, without being different for the sake of being different.


I hope this helped you a bit, in case you want to dive in deeper,

feel free to leave me a message.
Aron

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