Upwork Tips for Beginners

2 years ago   •   8 min read

By Zekeriya Mulbay
Table of contents

Don't invest in costly trial and error, grab the truth about your skills right now!

Upwork is a great place to start, but first, you need to optimize your profile and find great clients. From finding their sweet spot to taking on the right projects and charging the right rates, this guide will show you everything from A-Z.

This article will act as a guide to help you navigate through Upwork with some tips added for beginners to start working!

Grab these tips for beginners and get started on Upwork today!

What is Upwork?

Upwork is a virtual or online marketplace that connects businesses and clients with freelancers around the world for long term or short term jobs. It is tailored in a manner that is suitable for both clients and freelancers to meet their needs.


Clients post projects where freelancers bid. These projects or jobs have experience levels, stipends, hours needed and other requirements related to the projects for the freelancers to fulfil.

Upwork has garnered huge success as currently, it is the world's largest online marketplace with more than 3.5 million jobs posted annually with a gross worth of USD 1 billion. More than 10 million freelancers are presently registered with 4.5 million clients.

Step 1: Learn how does Upwork work

If you are looking for project-to-project, part-time or full-time jobs, Upwork has everything for you. It is probably the fastest and easiest way to connect with clients from across the globe.

Upwork has a real-time chat platform that makes it easy for both the clients and freelancers to hire and get hired. As the platform eliminates geographical and time barriers, it enhances the advantages of utilizing the website.

As you open Upwork, you will be able to see two options- Find Talent and Find Work. You can easily discover the jobs available for your skills through the tools integrated into the website. The entire website is designed to make it user-friendly and easy to surf.

The clients as well as the freelancers do not have to spend anything to post a project or apply for a job. However, 10 per cent of the income of an independent professional is deducted by the platform. In short, freelancers do not have to pay to commence working other than a nominal charge from the salary.

When it comes to acquiring the salary, it is usually transferred within 6 days through the escrow system of the website. You can use PayPal, credit or bank account and Upwork also extends the timesheet application to make the entire procedure transparent.

Step 2: Complete your Profile

Upload a proper profile picture

Just like we assess people form their first impression in real life, your profile picture plays a similar role. The more decent and realistic your profile picture will be, the more honest and convincing you will appear to potential clients.

Avoid using photographs from google because Upwork provides the facility of a video calls, chat, and phone calls.

Logos may look professional but establishing a connection with the client is essential, which becomes easy when they are able to see your face.

Select a picture that doesn't have a distracting background and as your profile picture will be minuscule in the profile, crop the image appropriately so that it is clear.

Do not forget to add a picture in which you are smiling!

Write a convincing description

Whether it is your first, second or third job on Upwork, you will need potential clients to discover your profile.

The clients will sift through the profile only once and you should put together a compelling job description. Write about your skills and strengthen them with keywords pertained to your job.

Moreover, try to add words that demonstrate the benefits you will provide. This will give you an edge over other competitors.

Consider an introductory video.

Most of the time, your client won't take the baggage of scheduling an interview. You will receive an assignment, complete it before the deadline and deliver it to the client. The procedure will be impersonal and formal.

To the client, you are not more than many of the profiles they see every day to pick a freelancer. You will have to stand out from the crowd and you can accomplish this through an introductory video.

Most freelancers do not use this option, however, it has a major impact on the success of your bid.

In the introductory video, explain the services and skills you are competent to offer and the experience you have gained till now. Mention the projects you wish to take and do not make it longer than a minute.

Step 3: Add your skills

Harmonize your Skills to the Projects you are seeking. Upwork allows you to add up to 10 skills from a list of skills given by the website. This means that you are limited to only ten skills at a time.

The majority of freelancers make the mistake of adding their top skills.

For instance, if you are interested in taking projects around Content Writing, you should add skills relevant to the domain and refrain from choosing the ones that are not related.

You may have worked in other fields, like Marketing, but adding it to the list will be meaningless as the clients won't be searching for these skills in a content writer.

Your motive here is to discover the characteristics a prospective client will be looking for. If you are confused about the skills, try browsing it and you might have one of these.

Step 4: Don't Reduce Your Rate

Your target client audience should be who are looking quality work rather than looking for a price cut. You don't have a history on the Upwork but, you have experience outside of the platform. So, search for clients who understand this gem.

We noticed that highly price focused clients tends to work with new comers so, they able to use extra time of freelancers in exchange of the review. This may be a good thing but, I belive that this is the huge threat because this kind of clients may thread you with extra jobs otherwise giving a low review.

Step 5: Build a Portfolio

Your portfolio is the only means through which clients will be able to discover the quality and professionalism you are qualified to deliver.

There is no need to add many, just five or six samples will be enough.

Mention that you specifically made these samples to help clients see your work. This will express enthusiasm and determination from your side.

For example, a job for writing would require you to showcase some of the articles you have written.

Although published articles are more promising, you can also upload unpublished ones as blog posts to represent them in a better way.

Step 6: Create unique proposal every time

  • Read the entire proejct content, then read it again.
  • If a question(s) is asked in the project, answer all of them completely.
  • Specify the reasons why you applied particularly for this job.
  • Be honest if you don't meet all the requirements for the project.
  • Perhaps you have a passion for the same field or an interest in the company, let the client know that you are committed to the job.
  • Make sure your cover letter is as long as the project description. You shouldn't apply with a cover letter of 1-2 sentences to the detailed job posting. Or it probably will be the waste of time to write 1-2 pages for the project description of a couple of sentences.
  • Be sure to include the most relevant work you've done as an example. They can check youyr profile  to further. Don't add 10 random examples.
  • Remember, the cover letter's target is not to get the job, but to get the first message from the customer. So, you can keep the conversation.
  • The cleanest cover letter. "I did a similar project. I am sending it as an attachment. If you have any questions, you can send a message." is to write.
  • The job posting shows the client's quality while the cover shows your. Be careful with each application.
  • Never use a ready-made cover letter and explain your personality. Focus on your job and prepare specific content for each job.
  • Apply and forget. The rest is not in your hands. Don't bother the client via LinkedIn profile etc. But, build a connection with clients by asking them for further information about the project in the cover letter, for example, the link to their website.
  • Divide the proposal into small paragraphs so it doesn't irritate the employer when he tries to read it. Add only appropriate information and do not reiterate it.
  • Clients will be reading the proposal with a motive to seek the reasons to hire you, so give it to them!
  • Address with the company's or client's name so the proposal feels more personal. Include past jobs and experiences that are connected with the job you are applying for. This will assure the employers that you are capable of doing what is required.

Step 7: Use Loom for further Analytics

Record Loom video as a bonus. So you can see if the cover letter has been opened by seeing whether the video has been watched or not. This leads you to optimize the process:

  • If the Loom video is not watched at all, your cover letter is not opening. Focus on your post, your photo, your profile header.
  • If the videos are open but you do not receive any messages, this time you do not trigger the other side with what you wrote in the cover letter. Criticize yourself harshly about it. Are you doing shoddy work? Are you bad at English? Can't understand the other party's requests?

Step 8: Do not apply for just one short-term job

Initially, you cannot apply for just one job and sit comfortably. You need to apply to as many jobs as possible but only the ones which are suitable for you.

As you apply for short-term jobs, you will be able to complete them in a small period of time. Consequently, you will gain reviews and experience with diverse clients in a relatively short time.

Moreover, positive feedback also increases the likelihood of the same client contacting you again.

Also, do not wait for the clients to respond. Keep applying for other short-term projects and do not look back until you get your first job!

Step 9: Give a change to the Projects

Showcase your Potential through the Projects. Even though this point does not need a reminder, nevertheless, deeming its importance we added it.

The previous tips highlighted the significance of reviews and experience on the platform, so it is vital that you must earn them.

Do the projects assigned before the deadline.

Answer promptly and make good use of your vocabulary.

Perform your best even in the small jobs that do not pay you enough. It will be easier for you to achieve this as you will be charging less than what is expected with your expertise.

The Step Ahead

Once you have completed enough short-term projects with lower rates, it is time to modify your strategies.

Upwork permits you to see the average hourly rate of clients. In other words, you will be able to see how much they are willing to pay for the work.

As you have secured a position among the various freelancers, work for clients who pay a respectable fee so that there is a probability of working with them in the future when you decide to raise your rates.

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