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Tips for Getting Started on Upwork in 2022 & Beyond...

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Anything considered a "hustle" and not necessarily a CENTS-based Fastlane

Lex DeVille

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It's been a while since I wrote about Upwork. Many new faces want to freelance, so this is just an update on the landscape for those of you who want to do it but aren't sure where to start.

Is Upwork Still Worth It in 2022?
Yes. Not only is Upwork still worth it, but it has become the single biggest freelance platform, the biggest source of easily accessible clients, and the best way for a brand new freelancer to start earning money even as soon as their first week. Upwork has spent countless millions expanding its reach, especially within U.S. markets. They are attracting more enterprise clients than ever, and all of those clients need quality freelancers.

What Does it Take to Earn Your First Client?
There are more people freelancing now than at any previous point, but what it takes to earn your first client hasn't changed. Most freelancers suck. They barely fill out their profiles. When they do, it's some copy/paste spam, or worse, it's stolen from somebody else. Most freelancers still talk about themselves too much in both their profile and their proposals.

Tips that will help you EARN your first client fast:
  • Start now. Don't be a pussy.
  • Target ONE niche. Not more than one. Just ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Build your entire profile around one problem that clients in that niche want solved.
  • Add at least eight portfolio pieces demonstrating your skill.
  • If you don't have portfolio pieces, get some.
  • If you can't come up with a creative way to get portfolio pieces from scratch, then quit, because you aren't cut out for this.
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving are the MOST important skills.
  • Only apply to gigs when you are reasonably confident that you are the BEST person to do the job.
  • Being the best person for the job doesn't always mean being the most experienced.
  • If you are not the best person for the job, you will waste your time and connects.
  • Send no more than 3 high-quality proposals per day. This isn't a numbers game. It isn't cold calling.
  • Stop yapping about your education and experience. Nobody cares.
  • Talk about the client and keep all of your messaging focused on the problem they want solved.
  • Leverage relevant credibility. That means only bring up credibility (like college degrees) if they are closely related to your skill.
  • When sending proposals, make an offer too good for the client to refuse.
  • Start at $5/hr. Get over your pathetic ego. You aren't worth $10/hr, $25/hr, $100/hr unless clients are willing to pay that much to hire you, and since they already have a lot of better choices than you who have way more feedback and proof of earnings and results, you have to go through this Rite of Passage if you want to make it.
  • The only exception to the $5/hr rule is if you are highly skilled in persuasion or if you bring a lot to the table (i.e. proof of past results from working with clients beyond Upwork).
  • Never lie.
  • Always over-deliver.
  • Be willing to get on a live call during interviews.
  • Be available.
  • Be responsive.
  • Be professional.
  • Be willing to take risks and step outside of your comfort zone.
  • Be willing to learn on the fly.
  • Be willing to do what other freelancers won't.
  • Test any theories you have.

Success on Upwork today is not about being a good employee. If you want fast success on Upwork, you need to become what this forum is all about becoming... an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs create value in the world, and until you learn how to create value (largely by doing the things I described above) you will struggle to find clients who want to work with you.

Do NOT Approach Upwork Like a Job or Else...
It will trap you. Upwork clients will suck the life energy out of you. Approach Upwork like an entrepreneur and like someone who is there to create value while learning to become self-reliant. If you treat it like a job or a career where you plan to cover your bills with freelance money, you will meet a harsh reality. You'll quickly discover that clients are unreliable. Pay is unsteady. Consistently earning enough to pay your bills on time is challenging until you have a strong process for client attraction. As a result, you will find yourself in a state of desperation.

Becoming more desperate by the day, you will turn to low-quality clients with bottom-feeder rates just to keep money coming in. Those clients will have high expectations and a chip on their shoulders and when you make even the slightest error, they will close the contract and leave negative feedback. Now it will be 10X harder to get your next client because this will affect your JSS score and client perceptions of you, which will force you to lower your rates even further and to spend more time applying to gigs. All of this leads into a cycle of desperation instead of into the place of high-profit freelancing that you originally intended to enter.

Approach Upwork like an entrepreneur. It's a side-hustle. Get in. Get paid. Get out. Move on. You can come back to Upwork and freelancing anytime you want, but don't get caught up in it like it's some kind of Fastlane business (unless you grow your freelance operation into a specialized agency with other freelancers doing the work for you).

Is it Still Possible to Earn $1,000/week Freelancing?
Yes.

How to Solve ALL of Your Bad Client Problems.
Virtually all bad client experiences can be solved through a combination of two things:

1. Client Filtering
Choose clients carefully. Only work with clients who:
  • Have paid freelancers on Upwork previously
  • Have received good feedback from other freelancers
  • Have an operational business that is already profitable
  • Are NOT looking for an employee
  • Care about who they hire
  • Put time, effort, and energy into writing their job post
  • Do not ask you to get paid outside of Upwork (initially)
  • Are willing to pay for ALL work, even trial projects
  • Have problems that you can help them solve
  • Are not communists who think production magically manifests from the wind
  • Are not micro-managers
  • Are located in your country
  • Can clearly communicate in your language
  • Respond in a timely manner
  • Treat you like a professional
In short, if you don't work with clients who suck or who aren't a fit for you, then you can avoid a lot of problems.

2. Clearly Communicate Expectations
Communication breakdowns are the NUMBER 1 REASON why projects turn sour, clients go bad, and contracts end in negative feedback and skipped payments. It is ALWAYS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to lead communications and set expectations. If you fail to clearly communicate your expectations of the client, and your processes as a freelancer, then it does not mean that a communication breakdown caused the gig to go bad. It means that your failure to clearly communicate expectations resulted in the gig going bad.

When you fail to communicate expectations before you start a project, then the client is left to form their own expectations based on their personal experiences. The problem with this is that when those expectations are different from your expectations (and they almost always are) then it creates a misalignment of expectations which results in disappointment for everyone.

For instance:

Client's Non-Communicated Expectation: Work will be delivered within 4 hours.
Your Non-Communicated Expectation: Work will be delivered in one week.

In this scenario, both the client and yourself are disappointed and probably pissed off at each other because of the other's "impossibly unreasonable" turnaround times.

Freelancer expects to be paid for their work, but client doesn't pay = disappointment

Client expects a 2,000-word article and receives 500 words = disappointment

Freelancer expects autonomy and the client is constantly breathing down their neck = disappointment

It is always your responsibility because that is the only thing you have control over. This needs to happen before the contract starts.
  • "Here is what you can expect from me..."
  • "Here is my process..."
  • "Here is my turnaround time..."
  • "Here are my rates..."
  • "Here is how I price my work..."
  • "Here is when you can contact me..."
  • "Here is when I will deliver a draft by ..."

How to Price Yourself & Ensure You Get Paid
All pricing has pros and cons.

Hourly Pricing Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Payment is guaranteed when using Upwork's time-tracking app
  • Puts some clients at ease about total costs
  • Can add up sometimes to MORE than what you would have earned on fixed-rates
  • Can be particularly useful when a client allows you to enter time manually
  • Payment is faster and more regular
Cons
  • You are limited in pay by the number of hours you can work
  • You cannot easily bill over $100 per hour because most clients simply won't pay that much (on hourly)
  • For time-tracking, Upwork will record your screen and potentially audio, video etc.
  • Hourly is much more likely to turn you into a freelance employee
  • Some clients don't like that it is harder to determine how much they will spend
  • Manually input hours can be rejected by the client

To ensure you get paid with hourly, always use Upwork's time-tracking app.

Fixed Rates Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Easier to justify higher prices and set expectations
  • Upwork does not track you at all
  • Separates your time from your income
  • Allows you to bill for things like consultations
  • Easier to escape problem clients
Cons
  • Payment tends to take longer
  • Upwork does not guarantee payment
  • Higher upfront costs may scare some clients away
  • It's more effort for clients to fund each milestone
  • Requires you to overcome limiting beliefs about self-worth
To ensure you get paid on fixed-rates, always submit anything you deliver through Upwork's official submission system. Even drafts should be submitted as if you are delivering the work for pay. NEVER send drafts directly through the messenger system because some clients will inevitably take your work and skip town. For really big projects, require the client to fund AND release some portion of the total amount upfront.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Q - I'm not getting responses to my proposals, what should I do?
A - Try a different approach.

Q - Clients respond to my proposals, waste my time, then disappear.
A - Stop sending proposals when you aren't the best fit for the job. Stop approaching clients who aren't a good fit for you.

Q - Do I have to get on live calls?
A - No. But you also don't have to earn much money either.

Q - Isn't Upwork saturated?
A - No.

Q - How important is it to be the first to apply to a gig?
A - Not important because Upwork no longer displays freelancers to clients based on when they applied.

Q - A freelancer who earned $100k on Upwork told me to ignore your advice.
A - That freelancer probably earned $100k across the last 10 years or more. Context matters.
 
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Mathuin

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Great post, thanks Lex :smile2:
 

Phikey

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Awesome post Lex. I started my current business on Upwork and it's now grown so much that I don't use it anymore but I know it's still very valuable, especially if you have the time to dedicate to it.

What advice would you have about proposals? I do a lot of hiring through Upwork and find that pretty much everyone is posting a copy and paste template. What's currently working? Would you go more personalized? Create a custom video with loom (this worked very well for me when I was using it for getting work)?
 

Lex DeVille

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Awesome post Lex. I started my current business on Upwork and it's now grown so much that I don't use it anymore but I know it's still very valuable, especially if you have the time to dedicate to it.

What advice would you have about proposals? I do a lot of hiring through Upwork and find that pretty much everyone is posting a copy and paste template. What's currently working? Would you go more personalized? Create a custom video with loom (this worked very well for me when I was using it for getting work)?

Things that seem to work in my proposals now:
  • Headline
  • Emojis
  • Not talking about myself in the first sentence
  • Authenticity over salesy
  • Mirroring the client's own words
  • Personalization every time
  • Attention to detail
  • 3 paragraphs or less
  • Sharing credibility that is relevant to the job
  • Using industry-specific jargon (their industry, not mine)
  • Linking out to a dropbox portfolio rather than attaching portfolio items
  • Linking to portfolio items that are relevant to the client's needs
  • Closing with a call-to-action
I haven't tried videos. Don't think it's worth it for the niches I operate in (writing).
 
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Lex DeVille

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Upwork has started recommending almost YOU Focused proposal examples on the proposal submission page.

Proposal Example.PNG

In the past, I've recommended writing proposals very similar to this. Here's where Upwork's example fails:

  • Starts with "I"
  • Uses "I" way too much
  • Second paragraph is mostly full of irrelevant credibility and ME Focus
  • No Call to Action
  • Nothing stands out
In short, writing your proposal like this will make you look like 10,000 other freelancers who will copy and paste this exact proposal. Even though it is almost YOU Focused, ultimately, it's not.

However, now that Upwork is recommending this, it's time to change your approach. Thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of proposals spamming this exact message will be sent to clients.

What should you change:
  • Avoid starting with "I"
  • Use a headline to grab attention
  • Use relevant emojis
  • Use your second paragraph to talk about successful jobs with past clients
  • Use your second paragraph to share relevant credibility
  • Give clients a call-to-action at the end
  • Come up with something different or unique to say to clients
  • Use metaphors to explain concepts
In addition, since so many freelancers are going to spam this proposal example, it means clients will need to sort through freelancer profiles to figure out who is worth interviewing. That means it will be more important than ever to build a really strong profile.

Lastly, it is worth using the Projects feature to attract clients without going through proposals at all.
 

Andy Black

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Upwork has started recommending almost YOU Focused proposal examples on the proposal submission page.

View attachment 41956

In the past, I've recommended writing proposals very similar to this. Here's where Upwork's example fails:

  • Starts with "I"
  • Uses "I" way too much
  • Second paragraph is mostly full of irrelevant credibility and ME Focus
  • No Call to Action
  • Nothing stands out
In short, writing your proposal like this will make you look like 10,000 other freelancers who will copy and paste this exact proposal. Even though it is almost YOU Focused, ultimately, it's not.

However, now that Upwork is recommending this, it's time to change your approach. Thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of proposals spamming this exact message will be sent to clients.

What should you change:
  • Avoid starting with "I"
  • Use a headline to grab attention
  • Use relevant emojis
  • Use your second paragraph to talk about successful jobs with past clients
  • Use your second paragraph to share relevant credibility
  • Give clients a call-to-action at the end
  • Come up with something different or unique to say to clients
  • Use metaphors to explain concepts
In addition, since so many freelancers are going to spam this proposal example, it means clients will need to sort through freelancer profiles to figure out who is worth interviewing. That means it will be more important than ever to build a really strong profile.

Lastly, it is worth using the Projects feature to attract clients without going through proposals at all.
Yikes. I’m not on Upwork at all and this wouldn’t encourage me to be.

If I was an employer on Upwork I’d hate to get those sort of messages. They’re similar to the inbox junk that makes me hate logging into LinkedIn.

Starting with “Hello” is a red flag already.

It’s interesting to find out what platforms recommend their users do, often so you know what not to do. I even recommend people listen to what the Google Reps say so they can potentially do the opposite (knowing millions of people are getting the exact same advice).

If I was a freelancer on Upwork I’d focus on inbound rather than outbound. Is that what you meant by the last paragraph about using the Projects feature to attract clients?
 
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Andy Black

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Can you elaborate on this a bit more? TY!
My email inbox is full of spam. My LinkedIn inbox is full of spam. And I get spammy messages via Facebook messenger.

Many of the spammy messages start with “Hello.” … or some sort of long winded warmup sentence.

On Facebook messenger in particular I might get “Hello” as the first and only message, waiting for a response from me. They’ve invariably been from (what looks like) some attractive young lady who wants to connect. I insta-block anyone who sends a solitary “Hello” message now.

My friends don’t start messages or conversations with me like that.

People with a genuine business proposal have never started a message or email like that.

I wouldn’t start a message with someone I didn’t know with “Hello.” either.
 

silent

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Makes sense though I'm still wondering how to approach this. "Hello" seems like a polite way to start a conversation instead of something like "Wazzup!?" :D
 
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Lex DeVille

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If I was a freelancer on Upwork I’d focus on inbound rather than outbound. Is that what you meant by the last paragraph about using the Projects feature to attract clients?

Yes, and regarding freelancer profiles too.

Upwork Projects function similarly to Fiverr. You make a specific offer, "I will do X for $XX by X date" and clients can purchase immediately even without speaking with the freelancer first. I just finished a $750 brand naming project where the client paid first before I even spoke with them. Easy money.

How freelancers craft their profile is very important too. Having a targeted profile that is fully built, optimized for Upwork's search results, and that targets a specific niche will be important since clients have to open and read freelancer bios to find out if they are any better than the other candidates.

That said, crafting an awesome, custom-tailored proposal will still dominate since everyone else's proposal is going to look very similar from now on.

"Hello" seems like a polite way to start a conversation instead of something like "Wazzup!?"

That depends on the type of client you're applying to.

If you're applying as a copywriter for this commercial...

Wazzzup.gif

...then starting with "Wazzup!?" is the exact right way to start.

If you approach that client with "Hello," then you'll sound like every other freelancer who clearly doesn't understand the type of client you're dealing with or the details of the job.
 

Andy Black

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Makes sense though I'm still wondering how to approach this. "Hello" seems like a polite way to start a conversation instead of something like "Wazzup!?" :D
I haven’t applied for contracts since 2009.

I don’t have an Upwork account. Can you find a few Google Ads jobs and post here and I’ll see what I’d write if I was applying.
 

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Lex's write up is spot on, really great content. I'll add my $0.02 here about my experience on upwork.

A little background for relevance, to date we have done nearly a million dollars of work on upwork directly. We have done many additional follow up projects and referral projects outside of upwork, but this work is an indirect result of us being on upwork. Now days most of our projects are not new projects from upwork since we are usually too busy with other stuff, but we get constant ongoing requests through upwork - so our formula is still working.

There are several different ways to write profiles, our profile that has converted well for us is a based on "you" centered copy, and we explicitly try and address peoples concerns and questions. Yes we use "we" some but try to use it in the context of what you will get. Here is a sample from our profile...

If you're like most people - your #1 greatest fear using UpWork is project failure. Failure that will cost you precious money.

But, just as costly is the critical time you'll lose which can give your competition an unfair advantage. Let us show you the steps we take to ensure your project won't fail.

- JAVASCRIPT SPECIALISTS

Look at profiles for most developers and you'll see people listing experience in dozens of languages and frameworks - is this even possible or a recipe for disaster?

Javascript is the most flexible language today powering successful Web, Mobile, and Desktop apps. Products you use every day! We focus on Javascript (HTML & CSS) so you can rest easy knowing your team is experienced and capable.


- GREAT COMMUNICATION

Great communication is the key to your projects success. Great communication is not just talking. Great communication is understanding each other and what is needed to keep your project moving forward on schedule. Our native language is Vietnamese. So how do we overcome this language barrier? With the best English education in Vietnam - Wall Street English - For people that want to go further. Then we practice constantly to improve our skills.

- THE RIGHT PROJECTS

How do we solve this problem for you? Simple! We are upfront with you. We won't accept your project unless we have the right experience to succeed.
...........
...........


I wrote this over 5 years ago, and reviewing it again now there is quite a bit that I would change. And...I Would love to split copy this against some other copy ideas to see what works best, but if there is a way to do this, I don't know how. But since we are busy as it is I haven't really paid much attention to upwork in a while, but it could use some additional work.

This copy is specific to our company, how we operate, and what value we can bring to a specific type of client. You need to figure out who your ideal clients are, and then write your copy to speak to their pain points, fears, and anticipate their objections to contracting with you and address them.

I think it is prudent for anyone that wants to be in business to study copywriting. The great ones that I studied extensively were Gary Halpert ( The Gary Halbert Letter ), David Ogilvy, and Robert Collier.

If you are not doing work as a copywriter, and if you never write a line of copy, you will know what better copy looks like compared to crap, and you can find copywriters on upwork that can produce that type of copy...and if you write your own copy it will be light years ahead of what you will produce without some education.

Then, start searching and reading through other peoples profiles (in your industry) on UpWork looking for good profiles. Pay attention to how many jobs they have and how much they have earned, but also put yourself in the position of someone who was looking to hire someone...see which copy appeals to you...try to figure out why it does. This will help you write your profile. Don't copy someone else's, but you can use their profiles for inspirations and little phrases you like.

The next challenge is experience. When people hire someone off of UpWork they often are looking for people with reviews and ratings. When we started our company I was actually a producing software through my own company (paying by direct payment) and I also had friends that wanted work done. Instead of paying directly, I as well as clients off of upwork contracted and paid through upwork. Yes this cost us some money, but it gave us our initial injection of reviews and ratings into upwork to compel other people to hire us as well.

If you really wanted to take it one step further, you could always create a sham hire where a friend of yours hires you, you log work, and then they pay you on upwork and you refund them the money back...make sure to drag out the project for weeks to months before you end it...then write the review. Even before the review is completed new clients will see the contract and so you aren't a pure zero for work. We did not do this, but it is an avenue someone could take to get that initial traction. Obviously this creates an initial loss because upwork takes their fee so you won't get back all you spend. This is a similar model to people that have friends buy and review new products on amazon for them....that initial injection of social proof can make or break you initially. Of course you have to be capable of actually delivering otherwise your next hire will trash you in reviews and ratings.

Some people will try to start off at a lower rate than their goal rate to try and entice more business. It is often hard to negotiate a greater price for future clients than what they are seeing from your recent projects. You can use a similar method to increase your pay rate in the future after you get some traction at a lower rate on UpWork.

If you have a trusted client, or you could use the friend method detailed above, create a project where you are charging the new rate you want to get...if you do this with an existing client, recontract with them at the higher rate but maybe offer to do extra hours of work that are not billed, which evens out the price for them. With a friend you are reimbursing you can just pay them the new rate. Once you have a project at this higher rate it is SOOOO much easier to charge this higher rate to your next client.

We only bill by the hour, we do not take fixed rate projects. From our experience client relations are easier with hourly work. But we also do not use UpWorks tracking feature, we do manual billing. The problem we have with fixed rate projects is scope creep. Once a price is set, it creates tension when clients expect something different than you understood from their spec. They think it should have been clear...or they try and creep additional features in...fixed rate just didn't work for us because the projects we take on are typically in the $10,000's to $100,000's over long periods of time. Depending on what you are doing, fixed rate might actually be better because you don't have to disclose your hourly rate...for us this just was not feasible.

But again, you will attract more of what you have done in the past, and so decide which model you want and try and stick with it.

Also we do 100% inbound and zero outbound on UpWork.

Hope this offers some additional insight from our experience....
 
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I thought @GIlman ’s write up was great. Normally I’d reply in public saying so but I’d spotted a wee typo in his Upwork bio and didn’t want to point it out in public.

So I PM’d Gilman saying “Great write up” and then pointed out the typo.

Gilman said thanks, mentioned he might be coming to Ireland soon, and we’ve agreed to meet up when he does.

Simple right?

If you’re not making friends, building relationships, and creating win-wins then you’re doing it wrong.
 

Lex DeVille

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I thought @GIlman ’s write up was great. Normally I’d reply in public saying so but I’d spotted a wee typo in his Upwork bio and didn’t want to point it out in public.

So I PM’d Gilman saying “Great write up” and then pointing out the typo.

Gilman said thanks, mentioned he might be coming to Ireland soon, and we’ve agreed to meet up when he does.

Simple right?

I think I'm going to start purposely putting typos in my bio for all the hack copywriters who copy/past my words into their own bio. :)
 
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I think I'm going to start purposely putting typos in my bio for all the hack copywriters who copy/past my words into their own bio. :)
You started already!
 

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I hired a new bookkeeper the other day. Thought I'd share some insights from the client-side since this was my first hire of 2022.

Insight 1: Nobody Applied in the First Hour

Even though I wrote a high-value job post, and even though I have 5-star ratings as a client and average hourly pay of like $27/hr, nobody applied until the end of the first hour. After that, I saw maybe 3-5 proposals within the next three hours.

Takeaway: If you want to be found, show up early. This means you might need to keep Upwork open so you can see new jobs that come available throughout the day.


Insight 2: Clients Don't Wait Until They Have 30-50 Proposals to View Them...

Like I said above, freelancers trickled in. I didn't wait until I had 30-50 proposals before viewing them. I looked at each proposal as it came in, so I saw every single one of them. So even if you aren't the first person to apply, you will still be seen.

Takeaway: Being the first to apply doesn't matter.


Insight 3: Boosted Proposals Are a Waste of Money

Upwork's boost feature is a scam to extract money from people who don't earn much on the platform. When you boost your proposal it MAY get you to the top of the pile. Problem is, clients don't interview people just because they're at the top of the pile. They interview (and hire) whoever seems like the best fit for the job.

Takeaway: Don't boost proposals. It won't help you win the job.

Insight 4: Boosted Proposals Weaken Your Earning Leverage

Upwork displays "Boosted" on your proposal if you boost it. The client sees this and it tells them that you need this job. If you didn't, you wouldn't boost. So even if you land the interview, you've weakened your earning power from the start. Why should a client pay you top rates when you're desperate enough to use the boost feature?

Takeaway: Don't boost proposals.

Insight 5: Say Something Different...

The job I posted was for a QuickBooks Accountant/Bookkeeper. Virtually every person who applied started with, "I'm a QuickBooks Pro Advisor with X years of experience." This made them all look exactly the same. Nothing stood out from one to the next. The person I hired did not do this. She talked about things I care about... things I mentioned right in my job post.

Takeaway: Before you send a proposal, STOP and ask yourself, "what can I say differently?" or "What can I say that nobody else has said?" or "What would actually make this stand out in a good way?"

Insight 6: Read the Damn Job Post!!

Not just for important details, but because it tells you what the client is like. My job post had a casual tone. Most of the people who applied used a corporate professional tone. They wore suits and ties in their photo and approached me like employees and/or mid-level managers. One guy even claimed to be a former CFO/VP of Finance for some huge company... The result was these people never stood a chance.

Takeaway: Either transform yourself into what the client wants/needs or don't bother applying.

Insight 7: There is Almost Always a Clear Winner

Almost every time I post a job, there's a clear winner. There is one person who shines bright like a diamond above all of the others and as soon as I see their proposal, we move forward to an interview and then to a call and then they get hired.

The clear winner almost always:
  • Shows strong attention to detail
  • Has good spelling and grammar
  • Offers appropriate rates
  • Has good reviews
  • Says something that stands out
  • Says something that proves they understand my problem
  • Says something that proves they've solved that problem before
  • Understands my general tone and style
  • Seems like they would be cool to work with
Takeaway: There's almost always 1-3 clear winners who will get interviewed. You need to figure out how to become a clear winner for each client based on their individual needs.

Quick Facts About the Freelancer I Hired

  1. She had a friendly, semi-casual photo
  2. Good spelling and grammar
  3. Wrote in a similar tone and style to my own
  4. Addressed my needs/pains from the start
  5. Talked about herself only at the end
  6. Offered rates that were $100 per month lower than my offer (based on what I described needing help with)
  7. Sent a PDF guide describing how to work with her
  8. Had a website and pulled-together branding (colors/fonts etc)
  9. Described relevant experience
  10. Used relevant cheat code words (like "reconcile" and "transactions" and "P&L Reports"
  11. Did NOT use boost
  12. Was NOT a "Best Match"
  13. I had to click "Load More" to see her proposal after my initial read-through
Once I gave her the interview, she had me give her view-only access to my books so she could review them before our call (for free). It got me moving in the right direction. On our call, she did a screen share and walked me through how she would clean up my books.

After that she told me it would be double my proposed rate just for the cleanup. Then it would be the amount she offered in her proposal. I said okay, paid her, and now we work together. The end.
 

ZF Lee

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Insight 1: Nobody Applied in the First Hour

Even though I wrote a high-value job post, and even though I have 5-star ratings as a client and average hourly pay of like $27/hr, nobody applied until the end of the first hour. After that, I saw maybe 3-5 proposals within the next three hours.

Takeaway: If you want to be found, show up early. This means you might need to keep Upwork open so you can see new jobs that come available throughout the day.
Wait...not even the copy-paste template folks showed up first? :happy:

Upwork's boost feature is a scam to extract money from people who don't earn much on the platform. When you boost your proposal it MAY get you to the top of the pile. Problem is, clients don't interview people just because they're at the top of the pile. They interview (and hire) whoever seems like the best fit for the job.

Takeaway: Don't boost proposals. It won't help you win the job.
I'm in Daniel Throsell's group...and he suggested using the boosts tactically.
Probably for high-ticket jobs with more competition...and we needn't use a bazillion Connects as well.
Test around with 10 connects or so across similar jobs to get a feel of the 'general pricing'.

That being said, I have not landed a five-fig project for some time...mostly smaller projects. So I have not found the need to use the Connects for boosts.

Sent a PDF guide describing how to work with her
I need to finish this part for copywriting. :clench:
Otherwise the interview process gets muddy and long-drawn.

Onboarding is real, real vital.
 
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Lex DeVille

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I need to finish this part for copywriting. :clench:
Otherwise the interview process gets muddy and long-drawn.

Onboarding is real, real vital.

The bookkeeper sent the first deliverables today. P&L, balance sheet etc. I was completely surprised to find it was ALL branded! It came as a PDF report that looked every bit as good as her guide. Who knew that a bunch of numbers on pages could look good?!

When I break it down, it's really just a branded title page (meaning the colors and font match the rest of her website) followed by a simple table of contents and then the last page has a touch of branded elements (more matching colors/fonts). It's weird how it pulls the whole thing together.

The actual reports pages look almost identical to my CPA's reports, but this document is way more professional because of the extra elements.
 

NikNye

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Thank for this @Lex DeVille! Lots of awesome information here.

I've gone back and forth between trying to find work on UpWork. I've always gone after software jobs since that is what I have experience in but I usually get discouraged when I see someone doing it for 5$/hr, massive jobs for a few hundred dollars, or wanting years of experience with a specific framework. I think this would probably fit under your advice for vetting decent clients.

Do you (or others) have perspective you could share for hiring software developers on UpWork?

I can also see this falling under the common forum advice that software is a PITA and you're better off learning copy. I'm also considering going for this type of work on UpWork instead.
 

Lex DeVille

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Thank for this @Lex DeVille! Lots of awesome information here.

I've gone back and forth between trying to find work on UpWork. I've always gone after software jobs since that is what I have experience in but I usually get discouraged when I see someone doing it for 5$/hr, massive jobs for a few hundred dollars, or wanting years of experience with a specific framework. I think this would probably fit under your advice for vetting decent clients.

Do you (or others) have perspective you could share for hiring software developers on UpWork?

I can also see this falling under the common forum advice that software is a PITA and you're better off learning copy. I'm also considering going for this type of work on UpWork instead.

When I hire someone to create software, I don't want the cheapest option. I've tried the cheapest... They almost never communicate well, so the end result is the software sucks. Businesses that want good results hire good developers and they pay top prices. Developers are way more valued than copywriters.

Copywriters are undervalued because clients think all writing is the same. They confuse content with copy, and they confuse the ability to write at all with the ability to write well and to write persuasively.

Personally, I think most freelancers would be out of their minds to offer copywriting over coding. Coding is simple problem-solving that anyone can learn. It's always in demand at top prices even for beginners.
 
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