How Upwork helped me recover from bankruptcy?

2 years ago   •   4 min read

By Zekeriya Mulbay

Today I'd like to tell you about how I acquired a job on Upwork and resurrected from the ashes. Upwork, for those who are unfamiliar, is a platform where you can find freelance jobs. It is the first point of contact for anyone looking to earn money to gain financial freedom.

Despite the existence of numerous freelancers platforms such as Fiverr and Toptal, Upwork appears to be the most popular for some reason.

I moved to the UK after hearing about COVID in Chinese media and settled down with my wife/daughter. The lockdown came exactly 10 days after we found a property, and they shut everything down. People were on the streets in China at the time, so the news was shocking.

I came here with my family, borrowing money from six people on top of what we had saved from working in Turkey for 7-8 years, but all business opportunities were closed to me due to the IR35 situation (a contract type) and the effect of COVID.

I had a contract with two companies before coming here, but even they had to postpone their decision because of the lockdown. I emailed hundreds of businesses but received no response.

Although we did not have any income, our expenses were constantly increasing. Due to the lack of financial background in the country, we have given down our first 6 months of rent. On top of it, we bought household items, had food and drink, etc., we had the same expense as someone who lived here every month.

In other words, by the fourth month, 90% of our money has already melted. Under these conditions, I created my Upwork account and started applying for jobs.

Upwork has been my salvation because it has not only helped me to hang on to life through these difficult times but has also given me confidence in myself. As a salaried employee for ten years, it was my first time standing on my own two feet, and it was incredible.


By the way, I'd like to highlight the mistakes I did on Upwork:

  • I applied for every position. It was a mistake, and I received no answer from any of them.
  • I was unconcerned about the client's ratings when I applied. But there has to be a reason for them to be there, right? Never apply for a job with fewer than four stars.
  • I also applied to the job listings that were posted a week ago. Customers only check on the first or second page unless you have a very strong profile.
  • To make things easier, I wrote a generic cover letter. This was another mistake.


So, what did I do correctly? First, let me tell you about the application process:

  • I divided my time into four categories: analytics, CRO, spreadsheets, and visualisation.
  • I used the proper filters, such as seeking 4+ stars, the job to be posted no more than 1 day ago, and the maximum number of applicants to be less than 10.
  • I think the most important thing is that I used the RSS app. At Upwork, you can save your search and get the RSS link. With the RSS app, I started seeing the job posting with a maximum delay of 5 minutes.
  • Then I did something that very few people do. I READ THE JOB POSTING. When I read it, I recognised that these folks are in pain and are looking for a cure.
  • I began sending solutions without regard for the possibility that they may steal my idea. I created a dashboard, document, and so on so that I wouldn't have to spend as much time on the application. I even built and delivered half of the dashboard they requested, complete with dummy data in the cover letter.
  • I demonstrated their solution with Loom and Vidyard.

Should it lower the price?

The only thing I didn't do was cut the price. Among the applicants, I was often the top bidder.

Interview process

If they like you, they want to talk to you by video or voice mostly. This is where you will get the job because clients want to work with freelancers who can communicate with.

Many times I have increased $100-200 job posting by $1000+ with just listening and without talking too much.

The golden rule of selling is to avoid using the phrase "I AM." Who will make the introduction then? Your career and references. What if you don't have any prior job history on Upwork? Then you must dedicate all of your energy to finding your first job.

My first job

I worked 10 hours a day for exactly two weeks and received the following comment.

For the first job, I applied 60 job postings and four weeks. Two weeks later, I received the second job. Within a week, I had landed the next two positions. People open the doors as soon as they know they can trust.

Freelance stages

If I split the Upwork experience into 4 steps, I think it would look like this:

  • The period when I worked a lot but did not earn.
  • The period when I worked a LOT but earned LESS.
  • The period when I worked a LOT but earned a LOT. (Now)
  • The period when I worked a little but earned a LOT. (Next step)

So how do I pass these steps:

  • My first and only focus is to produce quality work.
  • I always talk with clients about my availability and progress in their job.
  • I always deliver the job if there is a contract between me and the client even though I realised that I don't want to work with this client. I delivered the job with top quality and then talk about not working on the next project. Some clients came back with a 2-3x budget when I express my opinions.
  • After delivering the job, I always upsell new projects only if I want to work with this client. The best part of freelancing is having the option to choose the client.
    Whatever it is, deliver the job.

Client Types

Runaway after you do your first job:

  • Those who follow and try to involve in every detail.
  • Those who do not know how to give a brief.
  • The stingy ones. Those who see the job as an expense, not an investment.
  • Those who are very busy.

Don't miss out on these clients:

  • Those who give value to you and your consultancy.
  • Who is the leader in their team?
  • Have vission
  • Have money (the most important one)
  • Who trusts you and your outcomes

Spread the word

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