A job search can be tiresome when you don’t know what to write in your cover letter. It gets more challenging when you are applying for a remote position. Unlike your resume, which you may tailor to a specific skill, a cover letter must be unique for each job application.
Cover letters are important because they set you apart from other applicants for the same job. Writing new cover letters can get tiresome, especially when you apply for multiple jobs per day! In this article, you will learn how to write a cover letter that attracts quality clients step by step.
Steps to write a cover letter for remote jobs
Perform research on the company and role
To help write a better cover letter, you must perform research on the company and the role you are applying for. This will help you structure your cover letter, showing recruiters that you are genuinely passionate about the company.
You can find more information about the company in the about us section of the company’s website. Highlight how you support the company’s mission, goals and how you support all they stand for.
Introduce yourself in detail
In this paragraph, briefly introduce yourself and cite the job you are applying for. If a worker in the company recommended you, you could mention it here. Explain explicitly how you have the skills needed for the job post.
Remember that the client on the other side is human. You can add brief information about your personality and how you chose your current career path. You don’t need to sound too perfect. Maybe you start with something amusing about you. Or, you can add why you chose the organisation. This way, you’ll set yourself apart from other applicants.
Highlight relevant skills and experience
You might have lots of digital and soft skills, but it’s preferable to tailor your skills to what is needed for the role you are applying for. Show proofs using examples of your achievements with other clients.
You can also highlight how you’ve worked successfully in a remote establishment. This proves to the recruiter that you can handle the activities without much supervision. If this is your first time working remotely, you can go ahead and highlight skills that are relevant to remote work.
Skills like this include:
Keen attention to details
Time management skills
Use your unique selling preposition
To keep in mind, recruiters and clients only care if you can finish the job properly. This is why it’s necessary to cite how your skills can help the company rather than focusing on yourself alone.
Spend more time sharing you can bring value to the organisation and speak less of the benefits the job offer has for you. Avoid being too sale-sy. Rather, be convincing. If you have made significant achievements in your former workplace, you can also share them in this section.
On the other hand, if you have no previous experience, there’s no need to worry. As earlier highlighted, clients are more interested in people who can get the job done well. You can focus on your top skills and how they can be of great importance to the company.
Finish strong with a CTA
For the final paragraph, give a summary of all you’ve highlighted in your cover letter. Go further to state how excited about the job role. You can also appreciate the recruiter for taking the time to read through your cover letter.
Add a CTA that you hope to get a favourable response from them soon, and you are willing to answer any additional questions.
Tips to writing a superb cover letter that gets opened
Be concise and straight to the point. Due to the number of applications recruiters receive daily, they might not read tons of text. Stand out by making your cover letter short, concise and scannable.
Use action words like confident, certain, positive rather than think, feel and believe in demonstrating your abilities.
Use bullet points and short paragraphs to make your cover letter easier to read.
Personalise your cover letter. Personalised cover letters get more open rates than those without. You can address it to the recruiter or HR. Go the extra mile to source for the recruiter’s nameresearch via sites like LinkedIn or the company’s website.
Use industry-related keywords when writing your cover letter.
Lastly, proofread your cover letter and ensure its free from grammatical errors. Use tools like Grammarly to check grammatical errors.
Here’s the truth about hiring: the people who say the things you want to hear have never been on the other side of the table. That’s why you should never believe what they are saying.
I earned my first dollar from Upwork 10 years ago. This is for you if you’re just starting now or already using Upwork but struggling to get interviews and clients.
A lot has changed since then, and you can expect more changes as they adapt to the market. Some advise that you don’t use Upwork, while others say it’s a good place for beginners. My take is it’s a perfect place to get started. Businesses are actively looking for help, so there’s a market for your skills. But I recommend you only use Upwork as a channel for your freelancing business. Don’t rely on it solely.
Here’s what I’m not going to cover:
Optimising, your profile
Determining your niche
Creating an account
Setting up your portfolio
Determining your rate
There are tons of articles on those already. Feel free to check them out here.
What I’m going to cover is how you can get interviewed more often. The moment you get interviewed, you’re already one foot in. It’s easier to close a client when you’re already talking to the client.
Let’s get started.
Absolute Truths of the Hiring Process
I’ve worked on both sides of the hiring process when working in corporate and Upwork. So I know how it works. Here’s a quick overview of what really happens. Everything you think “should” happen, throw it away.
Hiring managers are busy. Don’t expect them to read through everything in your resume or profile or application letter. Yes, it’s not fair. But that’s how life works.
You have dozens or hundreds of competitors. Continuing from above, hiring managers are responsible for something else ASIDE from hiring. The entire interview process is a necessary evil. The easier you can make yourself stand out, the better chances you’d be interviewed.
The interview process starts the moment you submit your application. Here are the stages of the interview process: application, initial message, exchange or calls, offer, acceptance.
People get eliminated at each stage. If you didn’t get a message back from the client, you didn’t pass that stage. Don’t lament that this company didn’t give you a chance. They did, and you failed. Deal with it.
You need to keep in mind a specific goal at every step: move to the next one. When you apply, your goal is not to get the job but to get the client to respond. When you hop on a phone interview, your goal is to get to an offer.
Re-read this entire section over and over so you understand what’s happening. When you hear yourself saying, “well, this company should…” — STOP. It’s nice if they should do those things, trust me. But like I said, that’s now how it works.
How to Get More Interviews in Upwork
The generic advice you read on Upwork is to do two things. First, they tell you to optimise your profile by adding a good summary and adding your portfolio. The other one is to apply for a lot of jobs.
While there is some truth behind it, I wouldn’t take them at face value. You’ll see more why below. Instead, follow these steps if you want to get more interviews and succeed in Upwork.
1. Advanced filters are your friend
When you apply for a job, don’t rely on what’s on your feed. Use advanced search features. First, type in any term you’re good at. It can be a skill or job title or a result of the work you do.
The advanced search settings will show up. Here’s where you can filter those jobs you want to work on. The reason for this is twofold:
Sending proposals in Upwork now comes at a price: Back then, it was free with no limits. Eventually, they introduced connections where free accounts are limited and renewed every month. Only if you want more will you have to pay.
Your feed is a combination of a lot of job ads: It gets messy, and you can’t find the jobs you want. It also includes both shady clients and legitimate ones.
Save yourself the headache and do an advanced search.
The filters will depend on your preferences and stage in your freelancing career, but here are some of the things I recommend starting with:
Job type — beginners, I suggest going for hourly. When you understand how to say “no” to clients, go for a fixed price and weekly retainer contracts.
Client history — I typically choose 10+ hires, so my risk of getting bad clients go lower.
Client info — I toggle between previous clients to see if there are projects I can help them with. If you did a good job with them before, there’s a high chance of getting hired again. But if you’re starting, I strongly recommend ticking the Payment Verified box. Combined with the hourly payment, you’ll be guaranteed you get paid for your work.
Number of proposals — The lower, the better, but I use this as prioritization only. Meaning, I apply to those first, then I increase it later. I don’t use it to disqualify opportunities.
The rest is self-explanatory and depends on your situation. Feel free to play around with these settings or change your search term to what you think is better.
For example, for my recent job applications, instead of using SEO or search engine optimization in the search term, I used “organic traffic” instead. I don’t want to work for clients who don’t know the result they want. The purpose of SEO is to grow your organic traffic and get new leads and business from it. If they only entered SEO or keywords in their job ad, I want to disqualify those immediately because there’s a high chance that they only want to add keywords to their pages and expect to grow.
Homework: think about the terms that describe the outcome of what you want to work on. Another way is to list down what you don’t want to work on. For writers, do you only want to do blog posts, or will you also work on website copy? What about sales pages? Scripts?
2. Focus on more recent job ads
From my experience, the longer time the job is posted, the less likely the client will hire anybody. That’s why you have to qualify for the recency of the post.
For every job ad, you’ll see when it was last posted. As a general rule, if it’s within 48 hours, go for it. If it’s longer than that, add a few more criteria.
3. Check when the client last viewed it
If you’re applying for a job that’s more than 48 hours old, one thing you have to check is when the client last viewed it. You can find it under the job ad itself.
The example above is a job ad posted a month ago, but the last viewed by the client is one day ago. Meaning, the client is active, and the role might be something they need some help with.
4. Look for special instructions in the job ad
After picking the jobs you want, it’s time to apply. Read the job description and see if it matches what you want.
Some things to note are special instructions like these examples:
If you read the hiring process I mentioned earlier, there are dozens of applicants for a single job post. These are used as a filter to weed out applicants who can’t read or follow simple instructions.
5. Your first sentence matters
After reading the job post, it’s now time to apply. If they indicated some instructions to follow, please do so. Here’s why: that’s what the hiring manager sees. It’s what’s on the other side of the table.
If they ask you to include the word “bananas” at the top, this is why.
That’s the first thing they see on every application. Hiring managers get to immediately disqualify who adds those and decline people who didn’t follow the instructions.
Is that fair? No. Necessary? Absolutely.
6. Focus on results and how you can help them
After your first sentence and introduction, focus on results and how you can help them. If you want to increase your chances of getting interviewed, you’ve got to make it easier for the hiring manager.
Here’s what every hiring manager thinks when they look at your application:
How can this person help me achieve XYZ?
For our content writer example, how can Ariel help me with writing blog posts? How can he help me grow my organic traffic and rank on search engines? How can he help me build my brand?
How can Stephanie help me increase engagement in my Facebook and Instagram channels for a social media marketer? Will I get new leads from this? Can I build a community?
Then, remember this principle in interviewing (or in life, for that matter)
It doesn’t matter how good you are. What matters is how they think how good you are.
That’s why your communication skills matter. Communicate your results, so they know and realise how good you are. Using the same examples above:
Content writer: I grew company XYZ’s organic traffic by 40% in 6 months by writing SEO-optimized articles. I did that by getting to know the company’s ideal buyer persona, their needs and then researching which topics they are interested in.
Social media marketer: I improved the engagement of the brand’s social channels from virtually zero to X% by mixing up social media posts. Before, the company was only posting links about its products. When I took over the social channels, I mixed this up with helpful content, curated posts, coming up with themes per day, and included surveys/asking questions. This brought together the community where every post now gets a lot of comments and shares.
Sidenote: This is where many applicants complain about the interview process, saying the interviewer didn’t ask the right questions or didn’t give them a chance. Nope. The burden falls on how you communicate how you can help the company.
7. Include an ideal time for an interview
Towards the end of your initial application, I always include a sentence that looks like this. Feel free to copy it and modify it to your situation:
I look forward to hearing from you. Your Upwork profile says you are from New York. I’m available for an interview daily on Skype or here from 8 AM to 1 PM your local time, but I’m flexible on that once we agree on a schedule.
Again, make it easier for the hiring manager to do their job. Let’s take a look at the same job post I shared above. At the right, you’d see the country/location of the client. This is often a good indicator of their current timezone. Upwork is a global marketplace, so it’s a good idea always to specify exact dates and timezones..
After checking, go to https://www.worldtimebuddy.com/, then enter your timezones there to see how the schedule lines up. If you’re from London and dedicate mornings to your writing and the afternoons for client work, that’s what you indicate in your application, just like the example I used above.
Over to You
Follow these steps if you want to increase your chances of getting an interview.
Don’t blindly apply for every job post
Prioritise more recent ones
Focus on results and communicate that
Make it easy for the hiring manager to do their jobs
Are you having trouble with getting companies to reply to your applications? Follow those principles and soon you’d get more replies. And if you’re really good, you’d realize that you don’t have to apply for jobs anymore. Companies will start inviting to directly to their job posts.
The year seems to be running so fast, and now we have crossed the first half of the year. As independent contractors, the second half of the year provides a massive opportunity to earn more money.
In fact, a lot of freelancers are already making the most of the new month by hitting old clients and sending cold emails to prospective clients for a new contract.
Yes, you too can become a high-flying freelancer in the next six months, earn in dollars or any other foreign currencies of your choice. However, whether you are a Pyjama CEO or a Chief Enjoyment Officer, you must be ready to put in the work.
I have listed five surefire ways to help you get started. Let’s get right to it.
1. Have a high-income Skill:
The goal of freelancing is to convert your skills and expertise to income. So you need high-income skills to get the big bucks.
High-income skills ensure you are paid highly for your efforts. It provides you get QUALITY JOBS. If you want to earn the big bucks, you must ensure you have valuable skills.
Example of high-income skills includes (and not limited to):
Yes, you have the skills; you need to master how to convert them to income. There are lots of platforms nowadays where you can convert your skills to income. Anyone you choose to use, ensure you learn anything and everything about the platform.
If you don’t know how to navigate these platforms, you will struggle and become frustrated. So take time to understand the platform you use to convert your skills and expertise, whether Fiverr, Upwork, Guru, LinkedIn, etc.
Although earning online with your skills is not limited to freelance platforms alone, there are different ways you can leverage your skills:
Via job marketplace
Using Social Media
Via a Portfolio website
Referrals from friends and family (outsourced jobs)
Learn about each Vehicle you can use to earn with your skills
3. Have Quality Profiles:
Your profile is the first impression prospective clients get of who you are. It speaks for you when you are not there. Ensure you fill your skills, expertise, and experience there. A quality profile should have:
A professional and high-quality image.
A short description that best describes your skills. For instance, if you’re a copywriter, you can use a description: Direct Response Copywriter Expert that drives massive sales.
A bio that describes all you do and how you do it.
A full list of all your skillset, experience, education, and major certifications.
Everything that suggests you should be hired right away. Top-notch profiles get you invites/requests for gigs.
4. Search for the Right jobs and write job-winning Proposals:
You need to be proactive to land jobs. You need to search for the right ones and also ensure you apply for them. There’s a strategic approach to this that you must learn for yourself, whether submitting proposals on Upwork, gig requests on Fiverr, or cold email on LinkedIn.
A scattergun approach won’t do; you must master the different ways to go about it. Even if you have the right skills, you must show clients that you can get the job done. Explain your understanding of the job, show your skills and experience in your proposals
5. Get 5-star Reviews and build your reputation:
Give clients the “WOW” factor, make them come back to reuse your services. To earn the big bucks, you need to retain clients, give them reasons to refer you to other clients. Build a fantastic reputation and push on to be the best you can be. Earning the top $$$ along the way
These are some of the things you should get right in your journey to becoming a high-flying freelancer in the second half of 2021.
I hope you are ready to count the dollars by the end of the year. See you at the Top.
There are over 1 billion freelancers in the world right now. This means as the year goes by, more and more people are embracing the new normal of working remotely.
Freelance writing is one of the commonest skills offered by freelancers worldwide. This is no surprise, as many businesses are taking their business online. A minimum of 7 billion blogs is published on the internet daily. So freelance writers will always remain in demand.
Alexandra Fasulo, a famous freelance writer on Fiverr, makes over $36,000 every month as a ghostwriter. As a writer, you can make an average of $1247 every week.
In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about becoming a freelance writer. I also included tools and other helpful resources to aid your freelance career. Let,s get started.
Who is a freelance writer?
A freelance writer is someone whose job is to write contents that clients need.
While content writing is the process of writing, editing, and publishing content in a digital format.
People pay freelance writers to create everything from books and novels to articles, website pages, news articles, social media posts, in-depth reports, white papers, etc.
How to become a freelance writer
Before I start sharing the tips, For those who are not WRITERS, Writing is not the only Freelance skill or niche. There are other niches, writing is just the highest in Quantity
I talked about this in one of my articles explaining why Freelance writing is common. You can read it here. Also the barrier of Entry to Freelance Writing is low compared to other skills
Almost everyone did one form of writing or the other while studying for different degrees, but not professionally. This makes it easy to transition. Here are 7 tips you need to know before starting your career as a freelance writer.
#TIP 1: Start with a NICHE
Writing is very vast and wide, and you can’t be a Top writer in all categories. You need to have a Niche or Topic you are best at. For example here are some subcategories under WRITING:
Transcription and Captioning
Research and Summaries
Business Proposal & Grant writing
Web Content writing
Greeting Card writing
Resume and Cover Letter writing
LinkedIn profile writing
Professional Press Releases & Newswire Services etc
You can also be a writer by Topics. There are different writing Topics you can specialize in
Each of them needs in depth knowledge, and You can’t be the best at everything. You can focus on one, two or more different categories. This is because when clients are looking for writers, they prefer Specialists over generalists.
#TIP 2:You need writing tools
There are also materials for you to learn and improve your writing. Use them. There are lots of tools/apps to help you as a writer. Most of the popular ones are:.
WPS (if you are writing with your smartphone)
Google keyword planner for SEO
Atlas for graphs
There are also different platforms where you can learn and improve your Freelance writing skills
For example here are 100+ FREE courses to improve your writing skills. There are a variety of free online courses (MOOCs) available for all types of writers and aspiring writers to improve their writing skills
#TIP NO 3: Keep your work error-free and plagiarism free
This is the barest minimum criteria you should meet as a writer. Your write up must be error free and plagiarism free.
Grammarly and Copyscape (and similar platforms) can help you with this. They can help you proofread your work or check for plagiarism. Nobody likes a write up full of errors or a copy and paste (plagiarized) final work.
#TIP 4: Be reliable:
You need to read instructions, and ask questions. You should also know your audience. There are a lot of unreliable writers, who don’t read job descriptions, respect a client’s time, and don’t meet deadlines. You don’t want to be that kind of writer. So ensure you read the job descriptions and ask questions. Don’t just make assumptions, confirm with your client.
Also, you need to know your Audience. Know who you are writing for, your readers. Know your demographics, tone and approach that works best for your audience.
For example, don’t mix up US English for UK English audiences (they are different).
#TIP 5: Be a reader
READ! READ!! READ!!!
To be a better writer you must be a better reader. You will read materials to improve your writing. You will also read other people’s work. This will improve your skill, style and also expand your vocabulary.
As a copywriter, you should be reading the best copies. As a Travel writer, you should be reading the best travel blogs. As a resume writer you should be studying resumes.
You have websites like HubSpot and Copyblogger where you can consume different articles. Look for the best websites or blogs in your niche, consume their work. Read as much as you can. Read because you’re interested in a topic, read with an eye for the intricacies of writing. You need to answer questions like:
What perspective does the writer use?
What tone have they adopted?
How long are their sentences, their paragraphs, and their posts?
You can learn a lot just from reading.
#TIP 6: WRITE! WRITE!! WRITE!!!
Build your portfolio. To improve as a writer, You must WRITE. The more you write the more you get better at Writing. Your 100th article would be better than your 1st. Your 1000th would be better than your 100th.
Part of successful content writing is just practice. The more time you spend writing, the more familiar you’ll be with the process. The more details you’ll be able to stick in your mind as you write. The better you’ll be able to formulate posts as you go along
Also, build your Portfolio. As you write, you can save your work as samples for prospective clients (best to save in PDF). There are different ways to build and display your portfolio, the best options are:
1. Google Drive
2. Create a Blog
6. Clippings etc
#TIP 7: Monetize your writing skills
Make money with your writing skills, via freelancing, outsourced jobs remote jobs, social media, blogs etc. There are ways to make money with your writing skills:
You can earn with your writing skills via Freelancing websites like Upwork, Fiverr, Flexjobs, Peopleperhour, Guru, etc. Your blog can be a money generating source for you. You can write for major websites etc.
Join my mailing list and learn more about monetizing your skills.
Imagine being able to confidently go after any project that catches your eye, knowing you’ll have an excellent chance of landing a new client.
Understanding the tactics that work for other freelancers can be the confidence boost you need to quickly and consistently crank out amazing, winning proposals.
Through my experience as a six-figure freelancer, as well as a client on Upwork and the founder of Freelance To Win, I’ve seen and written the good, the bad, and the really ugly when it comes to proposals.
Based on my own experience and that of other successful freelancers, here’s a look at the “invisible questions” your proposal should address, tips to give your pitch and your presence a more polished look, and common mistakes that even experienced freelancers can make.
Your next project may be closer to your reach than you think!
Before you start: 3 “invisible questions” your proposal must answer
To write a winning proposal, you need first to understand what’s happening inside the client’s head.
Through years of carefully reviewing and analyzing tens of thousands of Upwork proposals (not to mention writing a few thousand myself), I’ve discovered three key questions virtually all clients want to be answered in your proposals.
But here’s the strange part: even though clients are intensely interested in these answers, they virtually never ask for them!
At least, not directly.
This is why I call them the “Invisible Questions”.
Invisible Question 1: “Are you capable of doing my project?”
Clients want to know without a shred of doubt that you can complete not just any similar project, but their specific one.
Most “web design” or “article writing” projects might appear similar to us as freelancers, but their project is unique from the client’s perspective!
It’s a bit like the way parents think of their kids: They may act and play like other kids, but they are totally unique and require their own special care and attention to the parents.
Understanding, respecting, and acknowledging this aspect of the client’s psychology goes a long way in winning them over.
Invisible Question 2: “Will you make my life easier?”
Clients are busy people with a lot on their plate.
They’re looking for clues that working with you won’t be yet another item on their to-do list—that you’ll be easy to work with and proactive.
A good way to look at this is to view your proposal as not just another “pitch” but a preview of what it’s like to work with you.
For example, a logo designer might curate a few relevant samples of their work to show directly in their proposal instead of dumping a link to their entire portfolio (which can be overwhelming and time-consuming for the client to sift through—more on this later). This kind of extra attention is easy to do. And it’s not lost on clients, who appreciate your going out of your way to saving them time and energy.
Invisible Question 3: “Do you care about helping me succeed?”
This is often a difficult one for freelancers to adjust to because, on the surface, it can seem as though your skills and price are all that matters.
But all of the best clients I know make hiring decisions based at least as much on how they feel about you as anything else.
Clients on Upwork want to know you’re going to be in their corner. They want to know you’re not just technically skilled, but that you’ve got their back and are ready to go the extra mile to help them succeed, and even help them look good and impress the other people in their world (e.g., their customers, associates, etc.).
In a conversation on the Freelance to Win website, one reader shared how a repeat client chose her more for her attitude than her technical skills:
“I’m a graphic designer on Upwork… I recently had a “failed job” experience – my client had hired two designers on Upwork for the project. They liked her designs better (they really were better), but because I cared more about the project and was willing to go back and figure out what was different, his team went with me, and he’s now a repeat client.”
Four proposal tips to instantly improve your success rate
Tip 1: Avoid “hybrid” proposals
In a previous post on how to write winning proposals, I highlighted the risks of copy-and-pasting the same canned or pre-written proposals for every project you’re interested in.
Since then, many people have asked:
“But Danny, what if I come up with a solid proposal template, then modify it a bit for each project?”
In theory, it might seem that such a “hybrid” proposal strategy could save you time and energy while avoiding the traps of a canned proposal.
But when you examine the risk/reward ratio, I don’t believe the justification is there. At best, you may save a few minutes here and there — at worst, you can cost yourself tens of thousands of dollars a year in income (or more). Better to take a couple of extra minutes and do it right. If you follow the advice in this post, you’ll see it isn’t even that hard to do.
Tip 2: Show off a relevant example of your work
There may be no better way to prove to clients that you can succeed at their project than showing them an example of something similar you’ve already done.
Before all the “non-creatives” out there sigh and say, “Oh, that only works for writers and designers!” I assure you absolutely anyone — in any Upwork work category — can include an example of their work in a proposal.
All it takes is a little imagination and out-of-the-box thinking.
If you’re new to freelancing, you can even create a relevant sample of work from scratch — a strategy I refer to as my Crystal Ball Technique.
It worksout-of-the-box simple: You create a sample piece of work that’s similar — though not identical — to what a client needs. This shows clients you’re capable of succeeding at their project without crossing the line into inadvertently doing “free work” for them (which is never a good idea).
Think of a new TV show: If they fail to hook you with that opening episode, it won’t matter what comes after because there’s a good chance you’ll be tuned out by then.
The same principle applies to your proposals. You do not need to be a talented TV writer to get clients interested in you, you just need to get to the point — quickly.
From the client’s perspective, the point of your proposal is the stuff that helps them.
That’s all of the good stuff where you say, “Hey, I worked on a project that I think has some relevance to this. Here’s some more information about that…” Or, “Hey, you mentioned you’re concerned about X, Y, and Z, and here are some ways I think we could address that.” Or, “Hey Ms. Client, here are a few common pitfalls I’d like to help you avoid on this project….. You”
When you get to the points the client really cares about, and you do it quickly, they start to think, “Wow, this person totally gets it. She’s super helpful!” or “He really seems to know what he’s doing.”
It’s okay to start with a friendly warm-up sentence to break the ice. But if you meander on, you’ll lose their attention fast.
Tip 4: Don’t limit yourself to the client’s specified budget
When a client’s project posting specifies a budget, it can be a good guideline or starting point, but it doesn’t have to be set in stone.
Maybe a client chose an amount you think is too low given what they’re asking for. That’s okay — freelancers often have a better sense than the client about what their services should cost. Maybe you’re confident you can add enough value to their project to justify a higher fee.
The critical thing to understand is that it is certainly possible to charge more than the client’s budget — and still get hired.
Common Upwork proposal mistakes (that even experienced freelancers make
Mistake #1: Taking “Preferred Qualifications” too literally
Before you skip over a new opportunity because you feel you don’t fit a client’s preferred qualifications, remember there is only one question you should be asking yourself:
“Can I add value to this project?”
If the answer is yes, you should consider submitting a proposal regardless of the client’s Preferred Qualifications.
If you aren’t sure, simply go back to the three “invisible questions”:
Can you do the project well?
Can you make the client’s life easier?
Do you care enough to help them win?
If the answer to all three is yes, do you really think the client wouldn’t want to hear from you? As an active client myself, I know I would love to receive a proposal from anyone who can honestly answer yes to all of these. (And no, your proposal won’t be hidden from clients if you don’t meet the preferred qualifications. Go for it!)
Mistake #2: Writing your proposal “upside down.”
Perhaps you’ve noticed that a significant number of Upwork project postings require you to answer one or more “Additional Questions” after you write your cover letter.
What you may not know is that your answers to these “Additional Questions” are actually the first thing clients see when your proposal pops up on their screen.
This is what clients see when they review your proposal.
This is vital intel, not only because it means you should focus at least as much of your energy on “Additional Questions” as you should on your cover letter but also because the reason the questions are there in the first place is that the client chose to add them as “Screening Questions.”You may not know Meaning that if you don’t do a great job answering them, the client may not move on to your cover letter (let alone check out your profile, portfolio, etc.).
Now that you know this, you can tackle your cover letter accordingly. Instead of treating it as the “main course” — while thinking of the additional questions as an afterthought — flip it around!
Fill out the additional questions first, using some of the tactics from this post. For example, you can use a question about your experience level as an opportunity to show off a relevant piece of work; a question about which part of the project you think will be most challenging can be turned into a chance to offer a strategic idea or suggestion.
Mistake #3: Selling too hard
No one likes being sold to.
The approach I prefer is more natural, more fun, and more effective. Instead of asking myself, “How can I sell this client?” I ask, “How can I help this client?”
This leads to better proposals and a higher response rate from clients. And it’s easier because I can simply be myself instead of putting on a facade in the name of “selling.”
The first project Chris hired me for.
I want to share something special with you. It’s a two-minute segment of an audio interview I did with Chris Davis, a premium Upwork client. In it, you’ll hear him explain, in his own words, why he decided to hire me for $135/hr.
Pay close attention to the types of words Chris uses:
“Being a human being.”
“Getting to know you.”
“You weren’t trying to sell me.”
“You respected me.”
“You talked to me like a person.”
“People crave connection.”
See examples of real winning proposals: Feast your eyes on three proposals that won $3,000+ projects through Upwork.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the strategies and tactics I’ve shared with you in this post. It took me a long time to figure them out, and I always promised myself that I’d eventually show others (like you) how to do it much faster.
That’s why I’ve carefully selected three real winning proposals to share with you now, so you can see exactly what a successful proposal can look like. You can pick them up here.
Freelancing offers an incredible opportunity to control the way that you work. As a freelancer, you have the freedom to work from anywhere, at any time.
Appealing perks like these are leading to the growth of the freelancing industry. More than one-third of the U.S. workforce is currently freelancing in some capacity, according to Upwork’s recent freelancing research study.
But how do you get started as a freelancer? If you want to take the first step towards becoming a freelancer but aren’t sure how to begin, you’re in the right place.
This article will discuss seven steps to becoming a freelancer in 2021.
Popular freelancing occupations
Clients are looking for successful freelancers to solve their problems across almost every industry, job, and skill set.
Regardless of your occupation, a client is looking for a freelancer like you to solve their problem. Below are some of the most popular freelancing jobs in 2021:
Millions of businesses use Upwork’s work marketplace to find talented freelancers based on over 5,000 skills and 100+ categories of work. Over 10,000 freelance opportunities are posted on Upwork each day.
Becoming a freelancer in 7 easy steps
Why do you want to become a freelancer? Is freelancing an additional income stream, a chance to expand your work experience, or a replacement for your full-time employment?
Freelancing offers the freedom of choice. There are many different paths to success for freelancers in 2021.
You can begin your journey in your spare time or approach it as a full-time career. Regardless of your approach, the seven steps listed below will guide you past many of the common hurdles that new freelancers face.
1) Define your service & offering
Turning your skills into service is the first step to becoming a freelancer. To do this, you’ll need to understand how your skills can help a prospective client.
Try to put yourself in the shoes of your ideal client. What problems do they have, and how can your skills be used to resolve the issue?
It’s essential to recognize that clients are looking for a solution to a problem. To be a successful freelancer, you need to understand the client’s situation and use your service to address their issue.
The answer to these questions will be the foundation of how you package your skills as a service. Now it’s time to develop a brief description of the service that helps you sell your freelance service to companies.
Try to concisely explain what you can do, how you do it, and for what type of business/client. Don’t worry about the price yet; we’ll get to that in the later steps.
2) Find your target audience
Now that you have a freelance service to offer, you’ll need to find a target audience. Start by identifying the type of clients that will be a good fit for your service.
Do these clients have a shared problem and common characteristics? Are they in a specific industry?
As a new freelancer, merely being great at what you do is not enough to automatically have clients seeking you out. It’s crucial to position yourself in front of your potential clients so they can learn about your services.
You’ll need to take an active role in finding potential clients. For most freelancers, there are three ways to acquire clients:
Freelance job posting platforms
Leverage existing connections and networking
Marketing, advertising, and outreach
Understanding which of these options works best for you is key to finding relevant clients for your services.
“I started my freelance business on Upwork in 2020 and found my first freelance client through Upwork’s platform. Over the last year, I have grown my business exclusively through Upwork and client referrals without paying for advertising or having to attend a networking event.”
Upwork is a work marketplace that helps freelancers and clients connect and engage in meaningful work projects.
On Upwork, clients actively post available projects across multiple categories and pay top price for quality work. You can search here to find projects that match your skills.
3) Develop a pricing structure
Once you have clearly defined your service and your target market, it’s time to set your price. The goal is to maximize the amount you’re paid without losing out on potential jobs.
So, start by looking at your competitors in the market. What are they charging for similar freelancing services?
In reality, there is no perfect formula for pricing your freelancer services. Many variables can impact the amount that clients will be willing to pay:
Do not let uncertainty about your pricing structure keep you from getting started. Your rates are not permanent. You can change them in the future.
Start with a price you feel comfortable with and try not to overthink it.
4) Create your portfolio with past jobs
Creating a compelling portfolio is an integral step to becoming a successful freelancer. As a freelancer, your portfolio establishes your work quality by showcasing your accomplishments and past projects.
This is your opportunity to show—not just tell—clients what you are capable of doing and the value of your expertise.
Your portfolio should highlight your best work related to your service offering. Each piece in your portfolio should paint a clear picture of your contributions and how that project benefited the client.
Some of the things that a strong portfolio could include are case studies, testimonials, data-driven results, images, charts, work samples, and mock-ups. It’s important to receive permission from your past clients before incorporating their project materials into your portfolio.
5) Write a great proposal
To ensure a successful start as a freelancer, your first project should closely match your work experience and capabilities. When you find a project that you’re confident that you can provide excellent service, it’s time to submit a proposal.
The right proposal can mean the difference between securing a job or not, so it’s critical to have a proposal that works for you.
On Upwork, submitting a project proposal is easy and straightforward. Using sites or platforms other than Upwork, you can still utilize this proposal structure to demonstrate your value to potential clients.
For best practices, see freelance copywriter Andreea-Lucia Mihalache’s article on how to build a winning proposal. In short, a proper proposal should be a strong selling point for your abilities. It needs to outline the company’s needs, how you can help, and provide your credentials and qualifications.
Finally, remaining professional and friendly is vital, so try to use professional language to help you stand out.
Creating a template can help you organize your proposal, but the most successful freelancers tailor it to the specific client and project. Taking that extra up-front time and effort demonstrates your sincerity, enthusiasm, and professionalism.
6) Create a relationship with your client
As a freelancer, your clients are your business. While it may seem obvious, it’s essential to develop a positive working relationship with your clients. Successful freelancers establish relationships with clients rather than thinking of the work as a one-and-done deal.
Building a long-term partnership can lead to repeat business and new client referrals. Here are some key points to keep in mind when creating a relationship with your clients:
Do excellent work: High-quality work is necessary for client satisfaction. You need to provide value and solve the client’s problem to have a chance to build a long-term relationship with the client.
Communicate with the client: Effective client communication creates a more substantial business relationship and encourages clients to continue to work with you for future projects.
Build trust through consistency: By consistently completing your work on time and providing accurate deliverables, you can build trust and show that your client can depend on you in the future.
Find opportunities to provide more value: By taking the initiative, identifying new solutions, and taking on additional responsibilities, you demonstrate your potential value to the client and open up new ways to work together.
7) Continue developing your skills
Freelancers are hired for the service and skills that they offer to their clients. As a result, it’s crucial for freelancers to consistently improve their skills, adapt to changes, and expand their knowledge.
Keeping up with current trends is also essential to providing your clients the highest service level. Online learning resources such as Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, and even YouTube are great starting points for ensuring that your skills are always up to date.
Start your freelance career.
Are you ready to begin freelancing in 2021? It’s up to you. As a freelancer, you’re in control, and you get to make the decisions for your business. Clients are actively looking for new ways to address their problems, and your freelancing services could be the solution.
By following the seven steps in this article, you can get started on the path to becoming a successful freelancer in 2021. Don’t get stuck in the planning phase.
Freelancers working in web/mobile development, marketing, legal, accounting, and other skilled services earn an even higher $28/hour average wage. At $28/hour, these freelancers are making more than 70% of all workers in the United States.
Whether you’re a new or experienced freelancer, 2021 holds much potential for talented professionals in the freelance economy. Millions of people worldwide are putting skills like yours to work and are making money as freelancers. As more companies work with freelancers to solve their problems, freelancers will have more options for work, flexibility in choosing their clients, and how much they charge.
Five freelance pricing factors to keep in mind
With that said, the rates that freelancers charge fluctuate based on many variables. Below are five of the most common factors that impact freelancers’ rates.
Years of experience: Experience is a valuable resource in any field. A freelancer’s pay rate typically increases with the years of experience they have in their service area.
Specific skill set: A freelancer’s skill set also plays a vital role in their pricing. Freelancers can charge a higher price if a job requires a solid underlying technical skillset such as programming, mobile app development, or legal writing.
Education and training: Education and certified training can significantly boost a freelancer’s pay scale. Although this will vary from profession to profession, certified training and formal education usually allow a freelancer to leverage pricing negotiations.
Reviews and proven deliverables: Past project reviews provide an easy way for a company to verify a freelancer’s performance. Many positive reviews establish a freelancer’s credibility, which allows them to set higher rates.
Location: While a freelancer can work anywhere globally, the client’s location can dramatically impact the pay for a project. For example, a customer in Venezuela will typically not pay the same rate as a client in the United States.
How much do the most popular freelancing professions make?
When it comes to freelancing, there are many different types of work. Generally, the more technical a profession is, the more freelancers in that field can earn. According to CNBC and additional research data, the average hourly rate and annual salary for the most popular freelancing opportunities are listed below.
Writers: On average, a freelance writer has a rate between $30-40/hr, with an annual salary of around $42,000.
Editors: On average, freelance editors earn between $25-35/hr, with a yearly salary of approximately $40,000.
Programmers: Across multiple programming languages, the average freelance programmer makes $60-70/hr, with an annual salary of around $120,000.
General developers: A freelance developer looks to earn anywhere between $50-60/hr with a yearly salary of approximately $100,000.
Mobile developers: On average, mobile app developers make an hourly freelancer rate of $55-65 with an annual salary of $100,000.
Web developers: Freelance web developers design and create websites at an hourly rate of $50-60 with a yearly income of approximately $90,000.
Graphic designers: A freelance visual or graphic designer’s hourly rate is about $40-45, with an annual salary of around $90,000.
Transcribers: Freelance transcriptionists typically earn around $20-25/hr, with a yearly salary of about $32,000.
Bookkeepers: A freelance bookkeeper makes $30-35/hr with an annual salary of around $40,000.
Online marketers: Freelance digital marketers earn around $50/hr, with a yearly salary of approximately $100,000.
Photographers: A freelance photographer has an hourly rate between $35-45/hr, with an annual salary of around $42,000.
CRM managers: A customer relations manager (CRM) looks to earn $50-60/hr, with an annual salary of around $120,000.
Data analysts: A freelance data analyst averages $55-65/hr, with a yearly salary of $100,000.
Signs that freelancers will have more access to earning opportunities in 2021
In a recent study, Upwork reported a staggering 59 million Americans freelanced in the past year. This number will likely continue to increase in 2021 based on the following indicators of growth in the freelancing economy.
Freelancers have increased access to the global work marketplace through Upwork and other freelance job platforms. A decade ago, some people may have been interested in freelancing, but pairing freelancers with interested clients was difficult without an established online marketplace. Today, Upwork helps millions of freelancers find rewarding and fulfilling work with increased access to various types of jobs.
Technology is making it easier to communicate and collaborate on work projects. With the rise of work collaboration tools such as Zoom, Google Drive, and Slack, people can work together without being together. This change has led many businesses to realize that it is possible to work with talented individuals worldwide, not just within their city.
As new technology breaks collaboration barriers, the status quo around remote work is also changing. The mindset amongst companies changed throughout 2020 as many workers were forced to work from home during the pandemic. During this time, businesses recognized the untapped efficiency and productivity of a remote workforce. Armed with this recent remote working experience, more companies will have the confidence to hire freelancers from around the globe to help handle their project needs in 2021.
Freelance payment schedules
It is essential to understand that with the increased earning potential and flexibility comes an inconsistent payment schedule for freelancers. Freelancers get paid for the work they complete, and if they don’t work, there is no paycheck coming at the end of the week. Below are the three most common payment schedules for freelancers.
Hourly: A freelancer is paid per hour for their work at an agreed-upon rate.
Monthly retainer: A monthly retainer is a recurring payment that a freelancer receives based on an estimated amount of work for a project’s duration or a predetermined amount of time.
2021 freelance outlook and freelancer earning potential
Although being a full-time freelancer comes with a unique set of challenges, the economic data shows a large influx of new freelancers over the last few years. In 2021, freelancers expect even more opportunities as businesses look to the freelance marketplace to help them meet their business needs. As the demand grows, skilled freelancers’ average hourly wages are also likely to increase.
Whether it is to earn extra income or replace a full-time job, more skilled professionals turn many to freelance work. Many of these freelancers also see freelance work as an opportunity to improve their work-life balance. According to Upwork’s research, 71% of freelancers appreciate the opportunity to work from anywhere without commuting to work each day. Freelancers also commonly reported the following benefits:
Freedom in dictating their schedule
More employment opportunities
Work that is rewarding and diverse
Increased or similar productivity compared to an on-site job
Plus, 93% of full-time freelancers say that they have the flexibility to determine their income, and freelancing offers the possibility for them to earn more money when they choose to.
It’s no surprise that Upwork is the largest online marketplace in the world right now.
Unlike other freelance platforms, Upwork makes it easier for anyone to work and get paid by clients from around the globe.
When you use Upwork’s work marketplace for your freelance business, you plant your business in an environment that’s purpose-built to connect you with potential long-term clients.
In other words, we’re committed to helping you succeed! We’ve designed Upwork, so it’s easier for you to promote your most in-demand services, showcase your best work, embrace new client relationships with confidence, and watch your consistent efforts pay off.
How can you leverage all of this to your advantage? In this article, we’ll share best practices and resources to give you a solid foundation.
We’ve also turned to two experienced business owners to get their insights for independent professionals that are just starting:
Peggy P., an editor, and proofreader who had more than two decades of experience running her own business to draw on when she joined Upwork in 2019.
Ready to learn more about getting started on Upwork? Let’s begin by walking through each step of the sign-up process.
1. Go to Upwork.com and click on “Sign Up.”
Start on Upwork by clicking on the “Sign Up” button in the top right corner.
2. Sign up using your work email address, Apple, or your Google Account
You have a few options for your free account:
If you continue with Google or Apple, you’ll use your existing account to login to the site. This means one less username and password to remember, and it extends any notifications you’ve turned on—like suspicious event detection—to your Upwork account.
You can also use your preferred email address to create a unique login that isn’t directly connected to other services.
3. Add your personal information
Finish this first part of setting up your account by adding a few more details:
Your first and last name
A password for your account
We know: This information can be a lot to process. But it’s also critically important to your business and your success on Upwork. Get to know some of the highlights here.
Once you’re ready, click on “Create My Account” to move on to the next part: Creating your Upwork profile.
There are two ways to connect with clients on Upwork:
They find you through your profile or in Project Catalog (a marketplace for projects you’ve predefined)
You approach them by submitting a proposal for their job posting
In either situation, you need to have a freelancer profile that introduces your business, highlights your expertise, and captures their attention. We’ll dig deeper into your profile later—you can always come back to edit and refine it.
For now, let’s review the essential information you’ll want to include.
4. Start your Upwork profile by telling us about the work you do:
Before you can start applying for job posts on Upwork, you need to complete at least 60% of your profile:
A photo of yourself
At least one skill tag
Of course, we recommend completing 100% of your profile! But you don’t need to do it all today. In fact, you’ll probably refine it regularly.
“I’ve redone my profile probably 75 times,” Peggy said. “Within your own specialty, you need to position yourself according to what your market wants and cares about. That’s why I keep editing my profile, even if I only change a sentence—it needs to be relevant to my prospective clients.”
The first two sections prompt you for information about the services you offer:
Your overall category of work
The particular skills you specialize in
The level of experience you have
You can choose up to four work categories. We suggest picking the strongest, most specialized, and/or most in-demand. While the categories you select will impact how clients find your profile, you can apply to job postings in any category.
Highlight as many as ten skills from Upwork’s extensive list. As you start to type in a skill, Upwork will offer suggestions from a standardized checklist. These skills will show up on your profile—you can drag-and-drop them into the order you want—and help prospects understand whether you have the skillset their project needs.
On the next screen, click on the option that most accurately describes your level of expertise: Entry-level, intermediate, or expert.
5. Highlight your educational background
This section summarizes your formal education. If you choose to add entries here, all the details are optional except the institution.
We suggest including:
The degree earned, even if you haven’t completed it
The area of study
Additional details, such as awards or recognitions received, or extracurricular activities (i.e., teams, clubs) you were involved in.
6. Highlight your past work experience
Your past work experience can help build credibility with a potential client—particularly when you’re new to Upwork. It can emphasize not just your level of expertise but industries or subject areas you may already be familiar with.
You may want to include:
Companies you’ve worked within the past
Projects completed before joining Upwork
Projects you can share from other freelancing sites
7. Add your language proficiency
Upwork operates in English, and you’re required to indicate your English proficiency in your profile. But businesses on Upwork come from all over the world and often do business in other languages, so be sure to indicate any other languages you might speak.
While language skills are self-assessed, try to be as accurate as possible, so you set the right expectation with potential clients.
8. Set your hourly rate
If the question about setting your rates sparks anxiety, keep these two things in mind:
You can adjust your overall rate at any time
You can customize your rate every time you submit a proposal
New freelancers on Upwork often mistake new freelancers to base their rate on their salary as an employee. While that may be a starting point, it doesn’t account for costs you’re now responsible for, such as equipment you rely on, your home office setup, taxes, professional fees, or ongoing skills training.
You may find it helpful to start at one rate, adjust it as you build your reputation through completed projects and client feedback, improve your understanding of the value you offer to long-term clients, and get a better sense of the effort each client project requires.
Learn more about mistakes independent talent make when setting their rates—and ideas to fix them.
9. Indicate your title and overview
A great title and overview can make a difference to the responses you get from clients since they’re among the first things they will see. Let’s start by thinking about what clients will see in search results: It’s basically an ad for your services.
What can you do to help entice potential clients to click through and look at your full freelancer profile? Here are a few ideas:
Keep your title short. Get essential information across as quickly as possible. Keep in mind that, on mobile search results, your title will trail off with a “…” after 35 characters or so.
Be specific and include keywords that potential clients may search for.
Make your first sentence count. Your whole bio can be a critical tool to convert new clients, but the very beginning will be the most visible.
In fact, while your overview can be up to 5000 characters, Overholt suggested keeping it to a few short paragraphs: “If the ‘read more’ option pops up, you’ve got too much,” she said.
Overholt has extensive experience not just as a freelancer but as a client who’s engaged other freelancers to bring her ideas to life. “I’ve hired freelancers with zero experience on the platform just because I was impressed by their portfolio and their bio,” she explained.
“Your overview should be one or two short paragraphs: This is my profession, this is how much experience I have, these are the kinds of projects I want to take on, this is what I can do for you. Short, sweet, and done.”
10. Add profile photo
Businesses want to work with professionals they can trust with critical work. Does your profile photo inspire confidence?
It can’t be blank
Your face must be clearly visible
You can’t use a logo or caricature
Your photo doesn’t need to be professionally taken. But how can you ensure you have a high-quality image? Check out our how-to guide for your perfect profile picture for professional tips and examples.
11. Add your contact details
You shared your location earlier in the sign-up process, but now we need a bit more detail to help verify your identity, including your address and phone number.
And if you’re traveling or are otherwise not currently at home? Enter the address you use for tax purposes.
12. Preview your profile before submitting
You’re just about finished! Review your freelancer profile information one more time before submitting it.
A very important note: You won’t be able to start submitting proposals right away.
Trust is essential on Upwork, and people must be who they say they are. Before you can apply to any projects, you’ll need to verify your identity using:
Valid government-issued ID
An online visual verification
In most cases, this process takes about 10 minutes—just follow the prompts in your account. Click here to learn more about the verification process.
13. Become a freelancer on Upwork
Ta-da! With your Upwork account set up, you’re ready to start working toward your first project.
In the next section, we’ll share best practices to help you make a first impression that wins new projects.
Top tips when getting started as a freelancer on Upwork
Right now, your focus is getting your first job on Upwork—so let’s start there. In the following few sections, we’ll consider profiles, proposals, and interview preparation.
Then we’ll have a quick look at the long view: How to keep your skills sharp as your business grows.
Create a profile that stands out
As mentioned earlier, at least 60% of your profile needs to be completed before you can start submitting proposals for job posts on Upwork.
Not only does a fully completed profile help clients get a full picture of your experience, but it also helps Upwork match you with more relevant projects.
And a completed profile is required if you want to achieve Rising Talent status or become a Top-Rated freelancer—both of which can help you build a stronger reputation on Upwork.
From the work category, you choose the overview section you write, use every part to emphasize your skills and position yourself as a professional. And don’t overlook the importance of your online portfolio.
One of the first things Overholt said she looks at is a portfolio, particularly when it comes to creative skills, such as writing and design. Too often, she said, freelancer portfolios include just a couple of work samples—and it isn’t enough.
“I think I have something like 30 to 40 different examples available in my portfolio,” she said. This variety serves two purposes:
Clients want to see if you have experience in their industry or have worked on projects that are similar to theirs. More examples mean more opportunities for them to see this overlap.
It gives clients a better understanding of the variety of work you do. You may understand that logos and brochures take the same skill set—but a potential client may not.
“We all start somewhere, and you may need to fake it until you make it,” she said. “I started with no portfolio: I did work for family and friends, I did work for myself. Those are the projects I used until I became a more seasoned freelancer.”
Want to learn more?
Get more ideas on how to create a more successful freelancer portfolio
Push your profile to the next level with an intro video—60 seconds (or less) to show prospects who you are and what you do.
Find more in-depth suggestions about creating a freelancer profile that stands out.
Create winning proposals
Getting new clients starts with your proposal and cover letter—and that means figuring out what it takes for you to get their attention.
“When I post a new project as a client, I can get anywhere from 10 to 50 submissions,” said Overholt. “Clients don’t have time to read through every proposal, they fly through them. You’re trying to quickly stand out in a pool of 50 other professionals and that can be intimidating!”
Be brief. Freelance writer Andreea-Lucia Mihalache found that she got the best results when she kept her proposal to the point.
In How to Create a Proposal That Wins Jobs
Mihalache explained how she created a short proposal template and why she customizes it every time. “You have just a few seconds to win your client’s attention,” she said.
Focus on the client. Peggy said it’s important to keep your focus on the client rather than on you. “One piece of advice I took to heart is to use the word ‘you more than the word ‘I’, and remembering that stops me,” she said. “In a cover letter, I’ll tell a prospective client that ‘your job caught my eye,’ rather than ‘I am this and I am that.”
Be strategic with your efforts. Danny Margulies, a freelance copywriter, and client on Upwork recommend taking what he calls the “upside-down proposal” approach.
This refers to the proposal process on Upwork: If a client asks additional questions as part of their job post, your responses will actually be shown at the top of your submission.
“Answer the additional questions [first], put a lot of good, juicy nuggets in there, demonstrate your knowledge, demonstrate your caring to clients in those additional questions, and then move on to your cover letter,” he suggested in Power Proposal Tips to Help You Get Noticed.
Be careful not to overpromise. To help protect your reputation on Upwork, Peggy said, it’s important to set the right expectations.
“You might read a proposal and think, ‘I can probably do that.’ Then you oversell yourself to the client to get the project,” she said. “If you can’t deliver, you could end up in a mess with a negative rating.”
Get prepared for interviews
To ace your next client interview, there are a few key suggestions to think about:
Be as professional as you would be in person, such as showing up on time and dressing appropriately
Study the job post and be prepared to ask thoughtful questions
Learn as much as possible about the client ahead of time
Researching the client can be tricky if they haven’t provided any information in their job post—but don’t give up too easily:
Look at the feedback from other freelancers they’ve worked with. Do they include names or mention anything about the business?
Does the job post mention the client’s industry or customer? Even if you don’t know who the client is, getting more context about the project can be advantageous.
The reality is, if you get your proposal, profile, and online portfolio right—or if you offer a packaged service on Project Catalog—you may not do an interview.
“My specialty is somewhat unique, and I’ve been hired many more times than I’ve been interviewed,” Peggy said. “From my experience, if a client has reached the point of sending me a message, I often get the job.”
Stay patient when trying to land your first client
When you’re new to Upwork, one of the most important things you can do is get to know the rules of Upwork—so you don’t inadvertently break them and figure out how the work marketplace can work for you.
“When I first joined Upwork, I had a few people contact me with what was likely a scam—those are the kinds of things you avoid by following the rules and understanding why they’re in place,” Peggy said.
“It’s tempting just to jump in,” she added. “But even with my previous experience, I had to build my business on Upwork brick by brick. If you’re new to Upwork and new to having your own business, there’s a whole world of information to learn, from marketing yourself to getting paid to pay taxes.”
And there are a lot of resources available through Upwork:
The Talent Resource Center, where you’ll find articles, videos, ebooks, and more to provide you with insights, information, and inspiration.
Upwork Help, where you’ll find hundreds of how-to articles so you can navigate different features and functionalities.
The Upwork Community, where you can connect directly with other freelancers.
“The thing that I did right when I first started? I paid attention to people who’d been in my shoes and succeeded, not the ones who tried and failed,” said Overholt.
“I found top-rated freelancers who’d earned $100k or $200k on Upwork and read their blogs and followed their advice,” she said. “There are so many people succeeding who are happy to share what they know. You just need to talk to us!”
Find more tips to help you grow your business in How to Get More Jobs on Upwork in 2021.
Continue updating and improving your skills
One thing you’ll quickly learn about running a business is that being proactive pays off, whether that’s thinking about your next project, following trends in your industry, or keeping your expertise sharp.
Independent talent may enjoy an edge over employees regarding up-to-date skills: They’re nearly twice as likely to have completed skills training in the last six months.
So, as you start to carve out your new routine as a business owner, consider including time for regular research and learning. Check out top tools independent talent can use to keep their skills fresh for ideas.
That’s a lot of information to take in! We hope it brings you more confidence as you get started freelancing on Upwork and your new independent life. If you’re not yet a freelancer on Upwork, sign up for an account today.
Do you want to get quality jobs on Upwork in 2021? Start by revamping your Upwork profile.
Creating a winning profile is the first step to becoming a successful freelancer on Upwork. A strong profile can increase your profile views, get you the “rising talent” badge, and lead to higher-quality invites from potential clients. Even if you’re relatively new to Upwork, your profile is an opportunity to create a positive first impression.
Every part of your Upwork profile matters. 100% complete profiles will utilize most, if not all, of these different sections:
Completing your profile doesn’t just give clients the info they need, it also helps Upwork match you with more relevant projects. Plus, if you want a trusted Rising Talent or Top-Rated status badge, you’ll need a 100% complete profile.
Need inspiration before you get started? Consider how these 10 successful Upwork freelancers utilize their portfolio to showcase their experience and expertise in the best light.
Top web developer profile:
The first profile example comes from Michael, a web developer. Instead of writing a lengthy overview, this freelancer lets the other sections of his profile do the talking. He even included a short video to explain his services. This profile shows that you don’t need to write a book to describe how you can help prospective clients.
On the left-hand side, you’ll see a professional profile picture and a video introduction. Most profiles don’t have a video introduction—this is a chance for you to stand out from the crowd and offer a preview of what it’ll be like to work with you.
Michael has a great portfolio with visual representations of his past web and mobile development projects. Another interesting feature is that his education section lists self-taught learning rather than traditional college/university education. It gives you an edge if you don’t have a college education.
Top customer service consultant profile:
This profile does a great job of demonstrating Chloe’s value as an Upwork freelancer. If you have won prestigious awards or been recognized in your industry, it can be beneficial to include it in your overview.
Almost the entire left side of Chloe’s profile is filled with private talent clouds. A Talent Cloud network is an Upwork Enterprise client’s private group of professional freelancers and agencies. Working with an Upwork Enterprise client adds you to their Talent Cloud network, which means you’ll be at the top of the list when that client’s hiring managers search for freelancers and agencies with your skills.
Top web designer profile:
Upwork profiles for creative roles are organized to highlight the portfolio at the top of the page. Petro does an excellent job of using detailed, colorful, and stylized images for his portfolio. The portfolio flows well into his overview text that focuses on UI/UX web design. It’s structured to be easily read and uses a mix of customized bullet points, short paragraphs, and an ordered list. Petro also includes a date in the overview that notes when it was last updated. This date tells potential clients that the freelancer is active and available on the platform.
Top mobile app developer profile:
Scott’s profile stands out because there’s a section in his overview that describes how he helps clients. This section of the overview is valuable because it shifts the focus to addressing the prospective client’s needs. Scott added certifications to speak about his qualifications. When a client is looking to hire someone, they want a freelancer who understands their problem and can help them solve it. Writing a profile focused on solving a client’s situation and not on yourself will give you a unique advantage over other freelancers.
Top virtual assistant profile:
Upwork lets freelancers link their portfolio pieces to recent Upwork project reviews. Jasmine takes advantage of this feature. By linking these elements together, potential clients can quickly identify how their portfolio lines up with past projects and ratings. Jasmine also does a great job of incorporating testimonials from outside of Upwork in the testimonials section. This profile example provides social proof to potential clients that Jasmine can be successful with their projects.
Top e-commerce profile:
Nick’s profile does a great job of focusing on a specific niche. Rather than talking about all e-commerce platforms, he chooses to emphasize his Shopify experience. His well-written overview blends paragraphs and bulleted lists to make it easy for prospective clients to read. Nick closes his overview by encouraging potential clients to look through his portfolio and provides a next step for scheduling a meeting to discuss all of the client’s needs. A call-to-action at the end of your profile is an effective way to get more invitations to interview.
Top digital marketer profile:
A unique title can catch attention and make potential clients want to learn more about a freelancer. Evan’s title does an excellent job of highlighting his experience as a digital marketer by mentioning his 15 years of experience and being Google certified.
Once you click and scroll through Evan’s profile, you can also see that he has six verified Google certifications listed. These certifications validate the experience mentioned in his title and make him a more desirable candidate.
Top social media manager profile:
Gabrielle’s profile showcases that clients often use different words and phrases when looking for a freelancer. In her Upwork Work History section, there are projects described using the following different phrases:
Social media marketing
Social media strategy session
Social media strategist
Instagram and marketing strategy
Social media manager
Social media content
Facebook ads script
While all of these are uniquely titled, they cover the same skills and have large overlaps in project expectations.
Gabrielle was able to get these jobs because her listed skills cover a wide range related to social media. Consider all of the ways that potential clients may describe their problem, and make sure your profile and skills address those phrases in your profile.
Top lead generation specialist profile:
Richard’s profile is an excellent example of taking a general activity, “lead gen,” and making it more specific by focusing on ways that he can help clients. Starting with his title and reinforced throughout the entire profile, Richard shows how he creates more business leads. His professional video introduction provides a personal connection that encourages taking the next step.
Top graphic designer profile:
Rachel’s Upwork profile utilizes the designer layout to showcase her portfolio at the top of the page. In her portfolio, you can see three real examples of her product design and graphic design projects.
The layout smoothly transitions into a detailed overview highlighting her experience and describes a specific niche she serves, start-up e-commerce. In her well-organized overview, Rachel lists out the graphic design services she offers and her graphic design program proficiencies.
Now that you’ve reviewed these 10 profiles, you have some excellent examples of ways to make your profile stand out and get more clients. Before publishing your updated title, overview, and other features on your profile, make sure to proofread for spelling errors, typos, or grammatical errors.
Upwork is one of the largest online marketplaces on the internet. Asides from being an excellent platform for freelancers to meet good clients, it’s also a platform to work with different freelancers worldwide.
Upwork is designed to solve all the problems freelancers might face in their freelance business. They have a smooth user interface, a protected payment system, to mention a few.
As a freelancer on Upwork, all you need to do is to submit a proposal when bidding for jobs. And a lot of jobs are posted every day. But one of the many challenges freelancers face on Upwork is getting gigs.
Not landing jobs on Upwork is a combination of 4 factors; it’s not just about your profile or your proposals alone.
In this article, we listed four factors that hinder freelancers on Upwork from getting jobs.
Four factors that hinder freelancers from getting jobs
1. Your Niche
3. Jobs you apply for
4. Proposals you submit
Let’s talk about them, see what happens if you miss just one of the four.
Missing No. 1 (Your Niche):
If you have a great Profile, send quality proposals and job search on lockdown but lack a good niche (your niche is competitive or limited), You will struggle with the number of competitors. Or most likely have a scarcity of gigs to apply for.
[This is why you see a lot of jobs with 20 to 50 proposals submitted in your niche EVERY TIME]
Missing no. 2 (Profile):
In this case, you might have a good niche, submit solid proposals and Search for the right jobs, but if you have a poor profile, you won’t get jobs on Upwork.
This is why when clients get to your profile (after liking your proposals), they go back to hire someone else.
Missing no. 3 (jobs you apply for):
On Upwork, if you are applying for the wrong jobs or dealing with bad clients, You are wasting your time (and connects) even if you submit great proposals. This is why it is strongly advisable to read the job description before sending your proposals.
Missing no. 4 (proposals):
If you apply for the right jobs with a great profile but submit poor proposals, you don’t even get to scale the first stage as clients will ignore you.
As you can see, it’s not just one factor limiting you from landing gigs.
You must have high-income skills (a good niche to be in), ensure your profile is excellent, apply for the right jobs and submit rock-solid proposals. It’s a combination of FOUR factors, and you must ace all.