Far too many freelancers seem intimidated by Upwork. Whether it’s the stiff competition, or the constant price dumping that we see on the surface (or a combination of both), freelancers often shy away from using the platform. Reddit and Twitter are full of freelancers claiming that they simply can’t find a good client there, and even if they find a decent offer and apply, they never hear back from them.
It’s not me, it’s you
After four years of regular Upwork use I can tell you, with utmost certainty – it’s your fault. Upwork is a tremendous resource. There are hundreds of new jobs that get listed daily, many of which are more than worth your time, and which you can score, with a little effort!
But many misuse the platform and can’t spot the essentials they need to work on. However, the mistakes of the past don’t have to shape your future. Hopefully, after reading this blog, you’ll learn how to improve your game on Upwork, dig under the surface to find those well-paying, respectful businesspeople that you’re so eager to find. So, without further ado, here are the three things you can do now to find better Upwork clients:
- Optimize your profile page
The first and biggest mistake freelance writers make is how they organize their profile description. What they don’t understand is that potential clients won’t spend a lot of time going through freelancers’ profiles. You only have a few seconds to tickle their interest. They will only read the first few sentences of your profile description, so you need to make those sentences count.
And what you do with those first few sentences? You waste them on things they already know. Most freelancers start this part with their name, age and occupation. Clients already know your name, and they know what you do. All of this is listed at the very top of your profile (or at least, should be). Age doesn’t matter, it’s a waste of space so get rid of it. Many freelancers end up with a bland, uninspiring profile description that does them no good. Yet it’s a shopping window for their store and as such, an extremely important element.
What you’ll want to put here is a short description of what you’re good at.
Here are a few examples of how your title should look like:
„Travel freelance writer with five years of experience and a successful blog“
„Expert sports journalist, with experience writing news, blogs, interviews“
Pay extra attention to the words in bold. These are actually keywords. That’s another hugely important thing that freelance writers often forget in their profile. It’s ironic how much time and effort writers spend optimizing content for other clients, but when it comes to optimizing their own pages, they completely overlook this aspect.
Search engine optimization, you’ve heard of it, right? Of course you did, it’s one of the essential skills of any self-respecting content writer. If you want your content to be found online, you need to incorporate the right keywords so that people can find it.
So why aren’t you doing the same with your profile page? Upwork has a search engine. That search engine is used to find profiles of various freelancers. Ask yourself, what are you doing to differentiate yourself and rank better on Upwork’s search engine? You’re probably not doing enough. First things first, think about what you want to write about. Is it real-estate? Finance? Travel? Sports? Whatever it is, that’s what you need to put at the very top.
Just be careful not to turn your profile description into an incoherent mass of keywords. Make sure the description has some sense to it.
If you did this right, you’ve gotten the clients’ attention. Now – show them proof of your quality. The best way to do it, through your profile description, is listing positive testimonials from your previous clients. If you’re any good (and I’m guessing you are), you’ll have a positive review from a former client listed under a completed project. Copy the review and paste it in your profile description. This should drastically improve your chances of getting invited to a job.
And that should be it, when it comes to your profile description. Keep it short and to the point!
2. Respond immediately
One thing I’ve noticed during my years using Upwork is that whenever I’d respond quickly to a job request, I’d get an offer. If I fail to respond quickly, my answers get ignored. My guess is simple – the client had reached out to multiple freelancers and someone good enough has already responded. Remember, Upwork is a highly competitive place, with clients that have a problem to solve, and very little time to do so.
Set up notifications so that you get notified of a job invitation as soon as it happens. Upwork sends me an email whenever I’m invited to a job, and those emails reach me at my mobile phone. Here’s how you can set this up yourself:
Open your profile, and click on the little downwards-pointing arrow next to your profile. Click Settings. Look for “An offer or interview invitation is received”. Make sure the box is checked. Now you’re set, just make sure you respond immediately, when someone reaches out to you.
3. Respect yourself
Increase those rates. I’m serious!
Here’s the thing with rates. Freelancers from third-world countries lower their rates to the absolute limits, out of fear that they won’t be competitive enough on the overall market. What they don’t seem to understand is that lowering rates makes them look like amateurs. These will fight with other amateurs over amateur clients and over a few bucks. Definitely not worth your time.
Seriously, if you don’t value your own work, time, experience and expertise, how do you expect anyone else to do it? Serious businesses want serious partners, and serious partners know their place in the market and know the value of their own work. If you want to be taken seriously, start digging on how much value your work really brings to your client, and base your prices off that.
Also keep in mind all the expenses you may have:
- Unbillable hours (You’ll need to spend a few hours every day communicating with clients, answering emails, stuff like that. Unbillable hours need to be taken into account).
- Taxes (These include taxes towards the state, but also bank and other transaction fees that may occur when the client wires you the cash).
- Expenses (Internet bills, electricity, heating, all of the things you need to spend while working. Remember, this is the type of stuff that a company usually pays for).
- Healthcare, social security, etc.
Sure, there will be potential clients that are going to turn you down because of your prices, but that’s normal! You don’t see Breitling fretting over people that don’t buy their €10,000 watch. I don’t think Versace ever broke a sweat over some lady that thought paying €500 for a t-shirt was a bit overpriced. They survived and thrived, and so will you.
The truth is – there’s a market for everyone, you just need to find your way into it. And these three steps can help you find that way. The only prerequisite? You actually need to be good at what you do.