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SinisterLex's - 2018 Upwork $100k Challenge

Discussion in 'Hustles, Freelancing, Bootstrapping' started by SinisterLex, Nov 1, 2017.

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  1. SinisterLex
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    SinisterLex The moments that define you have already happened. Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    In the free chat in my marketplace ad we just declared November "Clean Up Your Upwork Profile" month. It's time to clean up now because we're running a 2018 $100k Upwork Challenge. Details below:

    Entry Price: Free - costs only your time.
    Dates: Jan. 1st, 2018 - Dec. 31st, 2018
    Goal: Earn $100k in one year or less
    Rules: Earnings must be from 2018 on Upwork (past earnings aren't counted).
    Skills: All skills welcome

    You can do this on your own, or you're welcome to join the chat. We'll probably have a leaderboard or something, but you don't have to be on it unless you want to. You can do the work yourself, or outsource it. You can ask me for help anytime in the chat.

    Newbies and veterans welcome.

    If you don't have an Upwork account, and you want to participate, you should set up your account now. Upwork is rejecting a lot of people, so you need to start now. On my YouTube channel I just published a video about how to get approved, and there's other threads around here, like this one.

    Upwork may not be the most Fastlane idea, but there's plenty of money for those who choose to take it. If you want to start the new year off with a bang, or you just need a side hustle while you figure out what you really want to do, then I hope you'll consider participating.

    Will post updates in here as we go.
    Any questions let me know.
    Just fun.


    P.S. This may seem like a daunting task for some of you. But you just need three $3,000 retainer clients per month. 3 clients worth $3,000 total per month = $108k per year. Any takers?
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2017
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  2. Nicoknowsbest
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    Nicoknowsbest "Next time, there will be no next time" - Eminem Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Awesome challenge Lex.

    I'm in.

    While not fastlane per se, I bet the learnings from one year will help you kick-start whatever you do next, no matter if beginner or veteran.

    You could spend $100k on business school or earn $100k in business reality.
     
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  3. SinisterLex
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    SinisterLex The moments that define you have already happened. Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Preparing for the 2018 Upwork $100k Challenge

    To make the most of this challenge, you should begin preparing now. There are some matters you should attend to if you haven't already done so to set yourself up for success. None of this guarantees you'll hit $100k in a year on Upwork. All of this will help you have a better, easier, smoother freelance experience moving forward.


    MENTAL CHECKLIST
    You need to prepare yourself mentally. This challenge won't be easy. Not for me, you, or anyone. You should read the GOLD thread in my signature if you're not familiar with the term YOU Focus.
    • Begin to care deeply about helping other people
    • Start to think like an entrepreneur (how do I solve X problem? what else can I try?)
    • Become an optimist and stop being a Debby Downer (I can do this..not woe is me)
    • Begin to take responsibility, no more victimism (this is my problem to solve, not theirs)
    • Begin to clear your head and get your priorities straight


    PHYSICAL CHECKLIST
    Get physically active and clean up your diet. It helps you think faster and more clearly.
    • Begin some kind of daily/weekly physical exercise routine
    • Review your substance use (if any) and consider cutting back (substances dull the mind)
    • Review your diet habits and consider healthier choices over fast-food bandaids
    • Set up your workspace in a way that makes working their comfortable and easy

    UPWORK PROFILE CHECKLIST
    To help you have the best chance at making this happen, you should prepare your Upwork profile now. Right now is the time to review your profile, update it, and overhaul it as needed.

    Title
    • What skill will you use to solve problems in this challenge?
    • How can you clearly define that skill in 3 words or less for your title?

    Tags
    • What 3-6 tags most closely relate to the skill you chose?

    Rates
    • Are your rates something you feel makes sense for you, or could they be higher?

    Photo
    • Does your profile pic reflect the expectations of your potential client?

    Availability
    • Have you set your availability to 30 hours or more (you won't be working hourly)

    JSS & Top Rated Status
    • Achieved Top Rated status?
    • If not, are you taking steps to obtain Top Rated?
    • Is your Job Success Score over 90%?
    • If not, are you taking steps to obtain 90%?
    Video
    • Have you added a video to your profile if you think you need one?

    Bio
    • Does your bio start with ANYTHING other than “I” ???
    • Does your bio target your specific audience in 15 words or less?
    • Does your bio have an effective hook so people want to read more?
    • Does your bio look like a generalist piece of crap or is it niche-specific?
    • Does your bio mention the skill in your title for SEO?
    • Is your bio YOU Focused and targets your audience’s pains?
    • Does your bio clearly show how you solve those pains?
    • Does your bio have a call to action (CTA) that gives a next step?

    Work History & Feedback
    • Have you earned your first gig yet? (If not, you might want to do that now)
    • Have you earned your first 5-Star Feedback? (if not, you might want to do that now)

    Badges
    • Are you a member of any relevant groups or talent clouds that might help you get a profile badge?

    Portfolio
    • Do you have at least 3 full pages of relevant portfolio pieces?
    • Do your portfolio pieces have a full description?
    • Do your portfolio pieces have the right tags for your skill?
    • Do your portfolio pieces have an image?

    Certifications
    • Do you have any relevant certifications listed?

    Tests
    • Have you taken at least 5 Upwork tests?
    • Have you hidden all tests that show “Below Average” score?
    • Have you taken relevant tests for your specific skillset?
    • Have you taken the Upwork Readiness open book test?

    Employment History
    • Do you have at least one position listed under employment history?
    • If no past employment, do you have your business listed?
    • Does your employment show a relevant title for your skillset?
    • Does your description reflect relevant skills and expertise?

    Education
    • Have you listed any college degrees you have?
    • Have you listed any certifications you have that weren’t on the certifications list?

    Other Experiences
    • Have you listed any other applicable experiences that might beef up your profile?


    SALES CHECKLIST
    Your sales process is extremely important if you don’t want low rates and shitty clients. You need to get this part figured out. Know what’s going to happen before it happens.

    Proposals
    • Do you know how to send YOU Focused proposals?
    • Are you carefully reading each job post and paying attention to detail?
    • Are you feeding the clients needs back to him to show you paid attention?
    • Are you clearly showing a clear understanding of the client’s problem?
    • Are you showing a clear solution to the client’s problem?
    • Are you adding a good CTA at the end of each proposal?

    Interviews
    • Are you inviting clients to a face to face or ear to ear phone call?
    • Are you asking clients questions throughout the call?
    • Do you already have any software you need to take calls?
    • Do you have a general idea of what questions you’ll ask on the call?
    • Do you already know how you’ll pitch your services on the call?
    • Do you already know exactly what rates you’ll pitch for those services?
    • Do you already know how you’ll explain how the client should pay on the call?
    • Do you already know what “next steps” you’ll give the client at the end of the call?


    CLIENT MANAGEMENT CHECKLIST

    Invoicing
    • Will you send some kind of invoice to the client during or after the call?

    Discovery
    • Do you have a client questionnaire prepared so they can tell you what they want?

    Service Agreement
    • Do you have an up-to-date service agreement?
    • Does it detail your exact deliverables?
    • Does it describe work hours and communications?
    • Does it cover things like non-disclosure?
    • Does it cover everything you need to feel confident in it?

    Organization
    • Do you need any software like Trello to manage workflow?
    • Do you need to set up your software?


    FOLLOW UP CHECKLIST

    This checklist is to help you deliver good work, get 5-Star Feedback and referrals so you can get more work as quickly as possible.

    Awesome Experience
    • Do you know how you’ll ensure the client had a great experience?
    • Do you have a process in place for ensuring they get what they want?
    • Do you have a process in place for ensuring they get what they need?
    • Do you know how you’ll handle situations where they don’t approve of your work?

    5-Star Feedback
    • Do you already know how you’ll ask clients for feedback?
    • Do you know how you’ll handle clients who don’t respond?
    • Do you know how you’ll handle damage control for sub-5-star feedback?

    Referrals
    • Do you know how to ask for referrals?
    • Will you offer any kind of referral bonus?

    If you'd like a PDF version with checkboxes for printing, there's one attached. :)
     

    Attached Files:

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  4. lowtek
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    lowtek Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    Damn dude, great depth on that checklist. I've been on Upwork a while and think I can't check off all those boxes.
     
  5. Ninjakid
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    Ninjakid Gold Contributor Speedway Pass

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    I'm totally not capable of turning down this challenge.

    I'M SO FUCKING IN!!!
    [​IMG]
     
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  6. SinisterLex
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    SinisterLex The moments that define you have already happened. Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Don't think I added it to the document because it was breaking my internet but..
    ..add these to the list of things you might want to consider:

    Hire a VA to help you manage clients
    Hire an accountant to manage the numbers

    If you plan to outsource any work, be thinking about who you can outsource it to.

    Should you be testing freelancers now with small projects?
    Do you already know people who might be interested in working with you?
    What other preparations might you need in place to operate as an agency?
     
  7. Master K. Stone
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    Master K. Stone New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    I'm in,

    Just hoping my country isn't Upwork blacklisted.
     
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  8. Dark Water
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    Dark Water Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    I'm in. I'm currently getting by with a 2-day a week part time job as well as taking a few gigs per month on Upwork. Skating by. I think I've made around $1100 on it since this summer. Started with super simple gigs for 5 star feedback (clients even listed they'd give 5 star feedback) for things like mystery phone calls, transcription for audio files, and writing a book review (even if it was a 600 page book I never ended up reading...). After that, started writing weekly blog posts for a guy for $12 every 1k words. They are product reviews for an Amazon niche. Gave me a lot of insights on how to do it for my own site which I've been slowly in the process of building. Finally, I've been picking up bigger gigs worth a few hundred dollars for web design which was my end goal. I'll look to increase that to around the $1,000 range or more once I complete all my current gigs. Have gotten 5-star feedback for everything which is important. Its key to perform your work in a timely manner and clearly communicate with the client at all times. For my longer term clients I am on a more flexible schedule and they frankly don't care if I'm a week or two late, because we have a good working relationship and they know I will come through.

    Overall though I just haven't been disciplined enough to earn anymore than that from Upwork this year. Some months would go by and I wouldn't even use a single Connect. Still though, its an eye opening experience being able to earn money on your own time while leisurely sitting in a Starbucks or even in bed. Like Lex says, start now. You need early 5 star feedback which you will likely earn from small, boring gigs. And then once the excitement of "oh man I just made $50 while in Starbucks for an hour's worth of work" subsides, you need to learn to step on the pedal and keep applying to new gigs everyday. Upwork gives you 30 proposals per month, I think its a reasonable goal to send out 1 solid proposal per day once you're in the hang of things, but when you're starting out, you should be sending out at least 5 per day until you get 2 or 3.

    For me, it hasn't really even been about the money at all yet. It doesn't feel like work. There's just been a joy to performing great work and seeing people thoroughly appreciative of what you do. With that said, I'm glad this challenge is out there. Its time for me to start treating this more like a business and less like a side hobby.
     
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  9. Ninjakid
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    Ninjakid Gold Contributor Speedway Pass

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    This is something I really need to do. Too many times I've had a client who doesn't understand how I work, and that I don't feel like answering messages constantly

    Do you have an example of what a good service agreement should look like? How long it should be and how many points it should include?
     
  10. SinisterLex
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    SinisterLex The moments that define you have already happened. Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    I have agreements, but it's not something I'm open to sharing publicly. I paid too much for custom agreements to give them away for free. Google should have template examples to give you a start, or you could hire a freelance attorney to draft something up pretty quick.

    What's important is to think about how you want to work with clients and make sure you cover exactly what you will and won't do. Your schedule, delivery times, payment, how you handle legal issues, how you handle non-disclosure etc. This can be as long and complex as you want it to be or as simple as an email you send to clients letting them know what you expect.

    Pretty sure my service agreement is 4 or 5 pages total including signature blocks.
     
  11. SinisterLex
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    SinisterLex The moments that define you have already happened. Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Here are the sections in my current service agreement. Each of these is broken into several subsections to cover a variety of different areas. The subsections is where you'll define everything about how you'll work with the client for your specific business. You may need more or less sections than what I have. It's kind of like a website's terms of service. Just covering all your bases as much as possible, while still being valuable for the client too.

    • Scope of Services
    • Agreement Term
    • Client Obligations
    • Termination
    • Cancellation
    • Non Guarantee / Warranty
    • Transfer of Intellectual Property Rights
    • Confidentiality
    • Working Relationship
    • Indemnity
    • Limitation of Liability
    • Entire Agreement
    • Governing Law
    • Recovery of Litigation Expenses
    • Severability
     
  12. mtnman
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    mtnman Bronze Contributor FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    As someone who hires a shit ton of content creators on Upwork, one of the number one things you can do that almost no one else does, is list your specialties in detail in your profile. (like down to the sub niches, with bullet points, and the more you expound on them, the more you'll get found by people like me... I'll explain below)

    See hiring people on Upwork is a bitch. There are so many fake profiles, it's so time consuming to manage 20-50 open offers it's almost like a full time job, and their project matching system flat out sucks. So the way to find quality people on the hiring side, is to do detailed searches that filter out the garbage. Think "USA, writer, +$1k, dogs" for someone looking to have a video produced/article/whatever for their pet ecommerce store... They're going to search for some relevant phrase when looking for a specialist (or at least someone who has produced something similar before).

    You might think this is stupid, but I throw money at people that are a direct match for what I need without asking any questions. I don't want to see a resume, I don't want to chat, I don't want to do anything but throw the first couple hundred dollars at you and see how you perform as fast as possible. Time is money, and the faster I get rid of the shit producers, the easier it is to hit my targets and stop wasting time on bullshit.

    That said, Upwork's 20% take on the gravy train is total bullshit. If you ask, it's actually preferred to get you off of the upwork system and pay you directly. You make more money, the client doesn't have to keep creating new offers with ridiculous milestones (that are NOT!!! templated btw... so for you fuckers that are asking for the more detailed milestone offers, that shit is tedious as fuck and a huge pain in the ass, even for rehires), but the downside is you don't get build your "profile." (what I do is usually agree to hire 10% of the job through upwork so they can get reviews for the first 5 projects, then ditch it altogether)

    If you want to find out if you're dealing with a real player or not, offer to call them on their cell phone if they'd prefer. (you know how much I love texting a writer with project specs and having it in my inbox in 72 hours? $$$$)
     
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  13. focusedlife
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    focusedlife Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED

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    @SinisterLex That studio setup you have is official!

    Very cool challenge and I very much agree, people have mindset issues with Upwork as a useful client getting resource.

    I probably average a client a month from that place (clients finding me...thank goodness).

    Thanks for being an awesome resource and leading the way.
     
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  14. SinisterLex
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    SinisterLex The moments that define you have already happened. Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    Let's talk about why you should NOT accept every client even when they're happy to pay ANY rate..

    This challenge is going to push you. You'll feel pressure to perform. To win gigs. To make money. It won't be easy. There will be times when you aren't sure how you'll get more work. You'll feel frustrated. Worried. Anxious. You'll wonder if you're cut out for this at all.

    Then, out of nowhere, a client will appear. Like a unicorn washed in sunlight bursting through the clouds. They'll love your examples. They'll be excited to work with you. They can't wait to get started. They'll pay ANY rate you choose. Everything they say will make them seem perfect. A dream client. One of those once-in-a-lifetime kinda gigs.

    You'll probably mention a call. They'll ignore it. But no worries. You can work around that, or so you think..because hey, everything else is perfect, so it'll probably be alright.

    But it won't.

    Just this morning I had one of those clients. Been talking for about a week. I asked for a call last week but the client was too busy. So I let our interview continue by text for now. Yesterday the client was ready to move forward. He let me take the wheel. Set my rates. Explain how we'd work together.

    Last night I wrote out a scope of work proposal. Told him my rates and how I work with clients. Explained in DEPTH how this would go if he wanted to work with me, and the next steps to take. He agreed, and this morning when I woke, I had a brand new shiny Upwork offer. Just one problem..

    He didn't follow my instructions.

    This set off a red alert. A STRONG indicator that, as suspected, the client was barely scanning my messages. So I declined the offer and went to messenger to explain why. That's when I saw the next red alert -- the client wanted me to work through Slack which isn't how I work.

    So I explained why I declined, and reminded him I work via email and why (because if I worked through 10 different third party apps for each client, I'd never get anything done). His response to that was as follows:

    ---------------------
    "OK - my entire team operates on Slack - I guess that means we are at an impasse - respect your approach - won't work for me."
    ---------------------

    Now the truth comes out. A single sentence tells everything about the client and his mindset. He doesn't value you as a business owner. He doesn't value your worth or your approach. He doesn't give a flipping shit about the other 10 clients you have or the fact it would be chaos to step outside of your established process for one single person. His entire team operates on Slack..

    The thing is..

    • I am NOT on his team.
    • I am NOT his employee.
    • I am NOT working with one person.
    • I am a BUSINESS OWNER.
    • I am an INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR.
    • I have ESTABLISHED PROCESSES
    • I ONLY work with clients who value me

    Those ^ "I's" aren't because I'm conceded. They're for YOU. I want you to use them. Say those words. Start to recognize that you are NOT an employee, and you will NOT work with clients who don't value you for the solution you have for their business that they need.

    Do NOT work with people who won't play ball your way.

    Consider this..

    Would you ask the laundromat to bring machines to your house so you could wash your clothes? After all, you're happy to triple your spend..

    If you work with clients who don't value you, this challenge is gonna be rough.
     
  15. Ninjakid
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    Ninjakid Gold Contributor Speedway Pass

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    May this be etched in stone walls.

    Anyone who's new to this, copy-paste this on a word doc, print it out and put it in your room. In fact I think I will do it as a constant reminder.

    You're your own boss, you're your own business. You're not subject to anyone else's whims, and anyone who disagrees doesn't get to work with you.
     
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  16. Ika
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    Ika Too slow Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Turning down big clients or big payments has been one of the hardest challenges for me.
    This is really important - Rep+


    While reading this post I realised why it is so hard for me:

    There are objective reasons to decline a job. Where you can't do the job:
    - I don't have the time
    - I don't have the skills

    And there are "made up" reasons to decline a job. Where you actually can do the job, but don't want to:
    - He is not in my targeted niche (even though I have enough experiences in his niche)
    - He is not the type of business I want to work with (even though I could still help him)

    (I hate to use "made up" because it sounds negative - it is actually a positive thing to set boundaries, just did not find a better word)


    I'm having a hard time using a "made up" reason to turn down a job.
    Because I'm seeing myself as an employee, not as a business.
    Webdesigner vs Business that creates websites for Dentists
    Technical skill
    vs Business operation

    A Webdesigner does not care about his client not beeing in the right market or treating him as an employee. A Business creating websites does.

    The answers in this thread might help you work on that issue:
    Thread: I act like an employee, my client acts like an employer


    Additionally to looking if you can do the job, you also have to look if you should do the job.


    I just came up with this process to help me decide - Let's see if it works out in reality.

    First you have to be really clear about who your business should be working with.
    Write all of the important criteria down:
    - Service Business
    - Dentist
    - Sees me as a business
    - Sees my work as an investment
    - [...]

    Go as deep and detailed as you want - and only write down what really is important for your business. Maybe you don't care about their business model, but about their revenue model.

    In Theory, this makes it easy.

    Once you talk to a potential client, go through the list.
    If you check every criteria, go for it!
    If you don't, analyse if that is enough to break the deal.
    Maybe you are having a cashflow issue right now, and the client could resolve that. Does that justify him not beeing a your targeted business model?
    Maybe he is your ideal client, but is in a different market. Is this market interesting for your business?

    Ideally, your business is running smooth and there is no justification to take on that suboptimal client.


    I don't know if that works out, but putting my spinning thoughts from my head onto paper helps me to tackle the decision from a business perspective.
     
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    I'm itching to sign up for this. I'm a complete beginner in webdesign, and so far I'm learning HTML and CSS. I literally started how to code last week. I've been following Fox's thread and atm I'm taking the Udemy course on how to build a website.

    What would be the best possible way to get started at Upwork with very little coding experience?

    Also, how much should you be charging (as a beginner)? Is there any golden rule?

    Thanks!
     
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  18. SinisterLex
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    SinisterLex The moments that define you have already happened. Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    See the links in my signature for getting started with Upwork. Also for what to charge. There's also a free video course in the chat that's linked in my signature. It's all about getting started on Upwork.
     
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  19. theresgot2bemore
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    theresgot2bemore New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER

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    Glad to have come across this thread. I'm in!!! I want to be able to buy a Macbook Pro and the benefit of also breaking mental barriers will help ALOT!
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2017
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  20. SinisterLex
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    SinisterLex The moments that define you have already happened. Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR

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    HOW TO OPTIMIZE YOUR UPWORK PROFILE FOR HIGHER SEARCH RANKING

    With so many freelancers entering Upwork's platform, it's more important than ever to rank high in search results. If you aren't on that first page, you probably won't get found, and therefore won't get invited to gigs. But how do you get on the first page? How do you optimize your Upwork profile so you get found?

    Over the past few weeks I tested several different niches. During that time I was able to rank my profile multiple times in the #1 or #2 position in the search results for each niche. It took a bit of trial and error to figure out what worked, but eventually I formed some conclusions...

    1) Your Title
    It needs to be something simple that people would search for. It should be 3 words or less. If possible, it should match a skill tag, but it's not a big deal if it doesn't.

    2) Your Tags
    Your tags need to be related to your primary niche skill. If you're a copywriter, you should use other writing tags, NOT design or development or illustration tags etc. Those other tags fall under different categories and I believe that ranks you lower because it suggests you're a generalist.

    3) Your Bio
    In your bio you'll want to use SEO best practices by using your title keyword (the one you want to rank for) in the text a couple of times. For instance, when I was targeting SaaS companies, I used SaaS in my bio in different areas.

    4) Your Education, Experience, & Other Experience
    If possible use your title keyword in all of these in the title and description.

    5) Your Tests
    Take tests that are related to your field as closely as possible. For instance, if you're an email copywriter, take the email etiquette test.

    6) Your Portfolio
    All of your portfolio pieces should have tags relating to your title keyword, and you should also use the keyword in the portfolio piece description. If you have attachments in your portfolio, they should have the title keyword in the name if possible.

    7) Your Profile Picture
    I don't know if this matters or not, but I named my profile picture according to my title keyword.

    8) Your Work History
    You don't have much control over this, but if you can get clients to give you jobs where the title of the job lists your specific title keyword, you'll rank much higher.

    That's pretty much it. I have no way to confirm what actually works, but I know that by doing my profile like this I was able to rank in the #1 and #2 positions on the first page of search results for my specific niche each time. As we go into this challenge, it makes sense to do what you can to get ahead of the game and this is one more part of that.
     
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  21. ZF Lee
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    ZF Lee Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Thanks @SinisterLex !
    I wanted to put things on a clean slate on upwork, and out of the blue you come by with some knowledge bombs!
    Reps!
     
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