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My experience and tips for Upwork. How to become a freelancer on this platform?

Almost 2 years have passed. Some of us still adapt to the new situation, but i think everyone who reads this had the opportunity to work remotely.

While you may miss a relaxed conversation or socialize after work with colleagues, i think we all have to admit that we enjoyed working from home. The ability to organize your time as you see fit and the freedom to work from anywhere has surely made you think at least once if you can work this way forever.

If you are one of those people, you will find out what are the three ways to work remotely without having limitations on time and space:

  1. Find a company where all or most people work remotely.
  2. Offer to work remotely a few days a week or when you wish, as employees now do in the biggest tech giants like Twitter and Netflix.  
  3. The third way and the way we will focus is to become a Freelancer. Either with the help of platforms like Upwork or looking for clients solo who have a problem that you can solve.

The other day we discussed this topic with Milan,  a young graphic designer who wants to be a successful freelancer. After many hours spent researching the topic, but also discussions with more successful and experienced people than me i gave him some tips that I have applied to myself and on my profile that can also help you.

What are the basics of filling out my Upwork profile?

When you sign up for Upwork, you first need to optimize your profile. 

Here you need to present yourself in a way that best reflects your knowledge and experience in a particular area.

This means:

  • Upload a professional photograph. Smile. Leave group pictures and selfies for another occasion.
  • A personal description that best expresses your knowledge and experience and how you can solve the problem. Use very relevant terms for your field (keywords) as the name of the software or technology you use.
  • List your top 4 – 5 skills, education, certifications you have obtained, etc. 

What is the hourly rate of the profile? What if, for example, the 500$ logo is made in 1 hour? Quite often I get questions of this nature, my advice is:

Research on the competition. When you search for the type of designs that you specialize in, you can see the people that do this work. Do not compare yourself with people who have a lot of experience on the platform but with people who have similar experience and skills as you. The hourly rate, or per hour is set so that customers know how much you charge. This is especially important if clients decide to hire you for a large project.

You need customers who will see the value in what you do, not people who will bargain with you. 

Where to focus at the beginning, With which clients do i have more chances?

Again, you need to constantly research. That will complete 80 percent of the work. First, research the demand in your area or the area in which you want to work. Be careful not to do anything at any cost just because it is in demand. It happened to me as a digital marketer to realize that working with Google Ads does not suit me, even though i had a good job offer. Apply only on the latest job requests that have between 5 and 20 offers. In the offer, focus on what the client’s problems are and why you are the one who should solve them. That way you will have the best chance of obtaining them.

The message you will send with your offer should look like this:

  • A brief introduction, your expertise, and the value you offer.
  • A few tips from your experience that could help the client solve his problem.
  • You invite the client for a short call in order to discuss your proposal in details.

Does it help to have 2 specializations?

Specialization always helps. No one can be the best at everything. Specialization helps you to be recognizable to customers, but also easier to find if a customer is looking for something specific. Choose what you know best, and find your niche in the field.

Where can I add a portfolio like Linkedin on Upwork, or does it just happen in a proposal? 

You have a section on the profile where you can attach the projects you have worked on before. If you have worked outside of Upwork, you can additionally request a recommendation from past clients. Those recommendations will be displayed on your profile and will be additional proof of your knowledge and experience. Furthermore, recommend to your clients how you bring value and how you are adept at solving them.

I have certificates and diplomas from academies? Is it worth scanning and uploading them?

Yes! You can put them into the certificate section. Unlike previous years when Upwork recognized only certain certificates, now you can add certificates that are not part of their catalog of recognized certificates. This will help you stand out.

What is a Project Catalog and can customers buy it?

In the Project Catalog, you offer your services. For example, if you are a graphic designer, you can list all the services you offer. This will help potential customers to buy your services right away when they visit your account.

Regarding connects, I wanted to apply for a job and it cost me 4. So what about them? Does Upwork refill them every month? 

You receive a certain number of connects each month. Each project application costs you several connects. When they run out you can not apply unless you pay extra for Upwork Plus or the connects themselves. So it’s a kind of currency on the platform.

As a final experience, I can tell you, all these tips will be useless if we don’t roll up our sleeves for at least one to two hours a day and apply all the tips we have learned in this blog 

Take the first step! If you have additional questions or suggestions you can add me on my LinkedIn profile where I regularly share interesting facts and tips.

Author: Bojan Ristovski

Filip Dzhambazoski

Filip Dzambazoski works as Marketing & Communications Assistant at Impact Foundation. Filip's completed his branch of studies in Law but is passionate about exploring new fields and expanding his knowledge. For him, "Realizing your passion by helping others find theirs" directly correlates to the way we should shape today's leaders into the future decision-makers.