Upwork Success guide: 3 methods to get your first freelance job on Upwork

Upwork Success guide: 3 methods to get your first freelance job on Upwork

The biggest fear for most aspiring freelancers is obvious – how to get your first freelance job? Where to find new projects and clients? How to build a freelance career and WHERE TO GET STARTED?! Let me share you 3 methods to get your first freelance job on Upwork!

When I started freelancing, I heard about Upwork by accident. I had no experience whatsoever. I opened Photoshop for the first time in my life around a week before I got into freelance graphic design. And, guess what, I got my first freelance job on Upwork within a day! It was unbelievable luck and although the job was pretty basic, it was the beginning of my Upwork career. Besides that, it definitely was an amazing kickstarter for my freelance career.

If you feel like starting your freelance career but you have no idea how to get your first freelance job, this article is the right one for you!


Upwork Success guide: 3 methods to get your first freelance job on Upwork

What you should know about Upwork

Times are changing and this platform has changed over the time as well. I won’t lie – right now it is crazy crowded! Upwork is the only really big and successful platform for freelancers. YES, there are many others, some of them way more popular than Upwork if we talk about numbers, but at the end of the day – Upwork still makes the most sense and offers the best jobs for aspiring freelancers. Believe me, when I get started, I literally tried out all I could!

[bctt tweet=”Upwork still makes the most sense and offers the best jobs for aspiring freelancers.” username=”ievalaicane”]

Here’s how Upwork works:

  • You build your profile, set your hourly rate and search through projects. Each month you’ll have 60 connects & you have to spend 2 connects per job proposal. You send out proposals and wait for answers.
  • Once you get the job, you’ll either track time for hourly projects or get fixed price milestones for others.
  • All money will have 2 week holding period where it goes through different phases. 20% of that is paid for Upwork (10% for projects where at least $500 are already spent) and the rest rolls in your bank account or PayPal. Voila!

You don’t have to spend ANY of your own money for the registration or anything similar. It’s FOR FREE! But it does take the previously mentioned commission which happens only AFTER you’ve done the job and you’ve got the money in your Upwork account.


Start freelancing on Upwork

  1.  Set up your profile
  2.  Write down your skills
  3.  Provide your experience
  4.  Set up your rate &
  5.  Start surfing through jobs

BUT here’s the trick. With more and more freelancers around it really can get hard to get started and find your first freelance job since you need reviews for others to trust. Also, it’s crucial to learn how to spot high-quality employers instead of some shitty offers.

[bctt tweet=”It’s crucial to learn how to spot high-quality employers.” username=”@ievalaicane”]

That’s why I’ve come up with “Upwork Success Guide” which is an online course that’ll lead you through ALL you might need to know before starting on Upwork. Scroll down to check out the insight in one of the lessons!

I’m sharing all my insider knowledge from 3 years of active work on Upwork. Including but not limited to:

  • How to build a powerful profile?
  • How to write the best proposals?
  • What tactics to use for finding your first gig?
  • How to grow your rates?
  • How to find the best clients you could fish for?

Right now I’m offering 4 modules & 11 lessons but very soon there are several updates coming up – available to everyone who has purchased course previously.


3 methods to get your first freelance job on Upwork

METHOD #1 Sell yourself cheap for 5* rating

Let me say you this. The easiest way to get your first gig on Upwork is either offer a quick & cheap service or search for a quick & cheap project. Many of you might be upset by my not so unique advice but hear me out. If you spend an hour for a $5 gig to get 5* rate, you can start getting decent projects as soon as the next day. As long as you DON’T sign up for this $5 kind of gig, you might be wasting several more weeks by trying someone prove that you’re a decent freelancer.

Steps to make it happen:

  • Reach out to your target audience in Facebook groups, Twitter, mailing list or any other more convenient way for you. Make the offer to work for $5 (or $10, or whatever else) for a quick project. It has to be ONE project, just make sure that you get 5* review afterward. Although you might have arguments like “I value myself way more!!”, “My time is not worth it!!” – if you want to get started on Upwork, you might have to live with this one. This is not a long-term deal, I promise!
  • Search for projects in your field that are fixed price, priced low + are open to new freelancers. Also, make sure that the number of proposals is low so you don’t have to compete with 50 other freelancers. Aim somewhere under 20.

These projects might take 5 or 60 minutes, it depends on the field you’re in. And it will pay off! Here are some real life examples of how it worked:

  • I started on Upwork with $4/h Quote design project. At that point, $3 was as low as one can go. I had no intention on getting paid more since even $4/h seemed a lot (it’s more than the minimum hourly rate in my country) and I didn’t know that it’s just the beginning. Anyhow, it was a great turning point for me! After the initial project & good review, I continued to search jobs for $7/h – $10/h (reminder, I really didn’t know I can ask more!). And, step by step, that’s how I got here. My first job was CRUCIAL. And I actually got it on the second day after signing up on Upwork.

Getting started with lower prices IS NOT something to be ashamed off, to feel bad for and think that you’d “stuck” at this rate. No, in this case, it’s all about getting a good review. Think of it as a signing up process!

[bctt tweet=”Getting started with lower prices IS NOT something to be ashamed of.” username=”ievalaicane”]

METHOD #2 Prove your experience

In case you’ve already been in your chosen field for a long time, for example, your 9-to-5 job is related to it, you’ve already had freelance projects outside the Upwork or you’ve participated in any other relevant projects, you can rock your Upwork by proving your experience and expertise.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Add your portfolio high-level samples of your work. Make sure to relate your portfolio samples to the job you want to keep doing. So if you’ve worked with design previously but now you want to be a social media manager, get back to the first method instead.
  • Send referral emails in your proposals. Be open about it! In your offer, you can write “Although I’m just starting on Upwork, I have a proven experience in the field. For example, I’ve worked on THIS project for THIS company. You can contact the project manager for referral: [email protected]”. Make sure to inform your previous work colleagues that someone might contact them!
  • Be descriptive. Inform what exactly and how you’ve done it. For example, “Several months ago I worked on THIS project, solving THIS problem. I not only used my existing knowledge of THIS and THIS but also learned and practiced more of THIS.
  • You might have already guessed it from the previous points but – show links & obvious proof! And don’t lie… If you have to lie, get back to the first method!

METHOD #3 Be patient and write pro-level applications

Sorry, I really can’t give you anything more than this! The third and the last method is to be patient and work on your application skills. So if you’re not ready to work on a low rate for your first project or you don’t have any proven experience to show (even though you might have at least several projects you’ve already created, even if it was for your own good) – be patient and go for this option!

A few things to note:

  • This period of “being patient” might change from a few days if you’re super lucky to several weeks or even months. Keep in mind that each month you have only 60 connections to spend which mean – 30 job applications. For someone with at least one review, 3-4 of these applications might work out. While for someone without any review, it’s either all or nothing. Up to your luck!
  • If you want to get the job without lowering your rates and having no proven experience, having an explicit application writing skills is A MUST. In the next lesson, I’ll be showing some samples on how to write a good application but it’s not only about writing it. You actually have to be a great person in general for someone to click with you. You should be nice, responsive, very creative and open-minded, flexible, able to adjust to your possible client before even knowing the person.

Sign up for the full course over here!

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