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Newbie challenges

Active Member
Ellen B Member Since: Dec 2, 2019
1 of 14

Hello everybody,

I joined upwork by the end of last week and spent the last days building my portfolio and writing proposals to 6 potential clients. I put a lot of time and effort in it and now I'm quite discouraged for several reasons:


1. Clients do not reply

Not one of the six I sent proposals to replied. I do understand they don't have to by terms and conditions but this is simply disrespectful and not inspiring positive relations. There should be at least a button clients are required to click within one or two days that signals 'I have received your proposal. Thanks I will get back to you.'


2. Preferred qualifications

I've sent proposals to different kinds of jobs with varying 'preferred qualifications' which I don't match all alike because as a newbie I cannot meet expectations like 'Job Success Score: At least 80%' and 'Earnings: 1000+'? I don't know how your algorithm works but this is simply not intelligent since it excludes well-educated people with lots of experience before hand. Judging from my experience I don't think potential clients even read proposals not matching their specifications by 100%.


So what can I do to attract clients? Cutting the price to get my foot in the door, for 5 bucks or less per hour, competiting with people from Asia? Sorry, I've worked hard for my education, I still further educate myself and do a very good job and this has to be compensated.  If you want to make money out of my work (and your fees are not modest) you will have to do something about it or I'm gone. How about – for example – dropping connects for newbies until they've completed their first job on upwork? I'd consider this a first step in the right direction to encourage me an others in the same situation to keep on going.

Community Guru
Louisa J Member Since: Apr 12, 2017
2 of 14

Welcome to Upwork, don't give up, it can take a while. It took me a few months to land my first job, for just $10, but I took it and completed it and then 3 weeks later another job came in. Then they came in at a few a month and now I have completed over 350 jobs. 


I understand where you are coming from with the rates so low from some areas of the world, but they too may be university educated, and many are, but it's just cheaper in their country to live. $5 would buy food for a week, where it may be the cost of a cup of coffee in your country. 


I see it as this. You may have loads of qualifications and experience, but everyone starts fresh here, proving themselves as a freelancer. 


As for connects, it is a shame that they cost money now, but as someone wise once said to me, you have to speculate to accumulate. 


Good luck and keep at it. 

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Active Member
Ellen B Member Since: Dec 2, 2019
3 of 14

Hi Louisa, thank you for welcoming me and sharing your experiences. At the moment I'm not sure if I will keep going because compared to the efforts I put in it is simply not economic. After all, I'm working for a living and not to spend my spare-time and I could just go on as before. I joined to broaden my horizon in the first place and work with people from other areas of the world.


Ace Contributor
Sarah C Member Since: May 12, 2019
4 of 14

I hate to break it to you, but you're going to have a lot more challenges. No matter how big or fancy your education is. 


1. Nobody's ever going to reply. Just accept it and move along. Or, they'll reply 3 months later. A button would be nice, but just by the nature of you sending it and clicking the submit button, they've received it. 


2. I never paid attention to requirements. I got plenty of little jobs before I had a JSS. 


You don't *have* to be compensated for your education. This is a place for clients to find people to do their work. If the work is too cheap for you, you don't have to choose it. 


However, if you can prove to clients that you are valuable and worth more than $5/hr, then they WILL hire you for more. Clients get sick of dealing with bottom-feeders too (or, they don't, but you DO NOT want to work for them anyway). 


Landing that first job can be difficult. Really difficult. But, if your proposals and your profile reflect your expertise and your experience in an attractive way to clients, you will likely get hired. Especially if you pick the projects that are perfect for you. 



Community Guru
Robin H Member Since: May 28, 2019
5 of 14

Starting out is never easy.  You will apply to many jobs and some clients respond, but most do not.  You can't take it personally.  


Some suggestions:


* Make your profile public - this helps when clients are searching for freelancers in your field and want to send you an invitation to apply to their job (invitations to apply will not cost you connects).  You may receive invitations that are not a fit, do not accept and move on.


* Make your profile stand out - Your title, description and even what you've done in the real world are important factors to a client considering you.


* Send customized proposals - Make sure you address how you can solve their needs.  Attach relevant examples of previous work (if you have any).


With an MBA in marketing and a BBA in marketing and 15+ years experience it took me some time to land my first job and then the next few jobs.  Be persistant and optimistic. 

Active Member
Ellen B Member Since: Dec 2, 2019
6 of 14

Hi Robin, thank you for sharing your thoughts on it, I appreciate it. Perhaps I should have posted earlier ;-) I will sleep over it and then re-consider. I have several projects going on in the real world which perform much more and business life also includes dropping projects that are not developing.

Community Guru
Mark F Member Since: Jul 10, 2018
7 of 14

So first thing I would suggest is posting an actual picture of yourself, it's a requirement and if you end up finding work you will probably end up getting your account suspended when you go through verification and your identification photo does not match the stock photo you are using.


To point #1, clients are not going to reply unless they find your proposal interesting. I don't think Upwork is going to add your button because it would be annoying for clients to have to do this for proposals that receive a signifcant number of proposals.  Annoyed clients are not a good thing for any of us really.  On another note, people have asked this before and I am not entirely sure they have thought it all the way through.  Would you really want a random person reviewing your proposal and telling you what is wrong with it.  I am not sure my ego could take the hit.   I think I am better off just trying to write the best proposal I can each time and always striving to improve that.


One of the big mistakes I think newbees make is they try to strike gold on every proposal and so they put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into each one.  Instead may I suggest that you are succinct but engaging.  Try to say something interesting quickly that informs the client that you understand their problem and know how to solve it.  The first two lines of your proposal may be all that they ever see so I would make them  great and would never do much more than hello as a salutation.


To point #2, if you see a project that is a great match for what you do then I wouldn't worry about these things at all.  It could be that your proposal will not be shown as a best match to a client and it maybe down on their list but my experience has told me that 90% of those proposals aren't that great in the first place.  When I first started I would address that in my proposal but then I quickly realized I am bringing up something they may not have noticed in the first place.


Your profile is private so we cannot see what it is that you do or how  you have written it but it is important not to include any information there or on a proposal that doesn't help you.  You would be amazed how often people do this sub-consciously without even realizing it, they let their doubts and fears leak out in what they are saying.  For example, the fact that you lead with your education makes me wonder how much practical real world experience you have.  This is sales and marketing so you want to always present yourself in the best light.


Competing on price is always one option, but it is not a very good one in my opinion.  Your rate and what you charge should be commensurate with the value you provide, it is up to you to make a case for that value with the client.  You have to find a way to stand out from the crowd and prove your worth.


I am sorry but Upwork doesn't care about you.  But I don't think they care about me so we have that in common.  The reason connects are not given freely anymore is about newbees so I wouldn't expect them to change that anytime soon.

Active Member
Ellen B Member Since: Dec 2, 2019
8 of 14

Hello Mark F,


"Would you really want a random person reviewing your proposal and telling you what is wrong with it."


No. I only suggested the client could click a button that notifies me he has received and read my proposal. Nothing more.


You don't need to point out that upwork doesn't care about me. I know that. Yet I think that a certain amount of respect and appreciation is indespensable for all of us. I try to live this with my clients offline/in the real world and would like to continue it online simply because I feel it is right.

Community Guru
Mark F Member Since: Jul 10, 2018
9 of 14

I guess if that is what you want to choose to focus on what I said then so be it.


Good luck.

Community Guru
Rene K Member Since: Jul 10, 2014
10 of 14

Ellen B wrote:

Yet I think that a certain amount of respect and appreciation is indespensable 

Don't forget trust. Trust is of importance on online platforms. This means that every piece of information freelancers put on their profile must represent the truth. Every piece.


Happy Thanksbanning!



"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless