Is Upwork, an internet service that connects clients to freelancers all over the world, worth the effort and money required to start an account? In the beginning of 2019 I decided to try Upwork as a way to find new clients for my video services. This required me to set up a free account so there was very little financial effort needed on my part.
Even though there was very little financial investment involved, there was a small amount of effort involved in creating an account that would look attractive to potential clients. You have to remember there are plenty of other freelancers out there also vying for an opportunity to get more work from the same clients you will be pursuing. Think of it like Tinder, Bumble, Match, or any of those other online dating sites that are so great to be on (sarcasm, thankfully I don’t have to go through that nightmare anymore). Except instead of trying to attract the optimal partner in a sea full of other fish, you’re looking to attract the best clients. So that means you’ve got to bring your A-game just like you would on a dating app profile.
Now, just because I’ve dropped a plethora of dating app analogies, I don’t want you to think you should catfish your potential clients. You want to present your best work, but you also need to make sure you’re not giving your clients unrealistic expectations. So don’t lie about anything and don’t present any material that isn’t yours on your profile. Do, however, fill out your profile completely. A lot of clients are looking for the “rising talent” qualification that requires you to fill out your profile completely.
That’s not the end of your time and effort required to get new clients. You now need to apply to the jobs that are listed by clients. This used to be free earlier in 2019, but now every job you apply to requires you to pay a small fee in order to apply. This is good because it doesn’t allow people to mass apply to jobs without it costing them anything and it also brings in money to the Upwork company. The bad thing is you have to choose which jobs you apply to carefully, as you don’t want to waste time and money on a job you’re not going to get hired to.
So, the real question is, how do you choose which jobs to apply for? Well that really depends on your strategy but I’ll share what I learned. I found that the best chance I had of getting a job on Upwork was to apply to beginner to medium experience jobs. Even if you’re an expert, if you’re new on Upwork, clients might be hesitant to hire you. So build up a reputation and work portfolio on Upwork first. Get great reviews from your Upwork clients and you should be able to apply to higher experience jobs with greater success. Also make sure you are applying to jobs that you would actually want if you were to actually get the job. If the job sounds boring or not like something you would be interested in then don’t apply for it. It will save both yourself and your client from a bad experience.
Now that you’ve decided which jobs you want to apply for, you now need to seal the deal and get the jobs you want. Including testimonials and previous work samples will go a long way to help getting you hired, as you have to remember you’re a stranger to them. You have to show them why you’re better than the competition. Putting the extra work in your application to the job will help to get you the job and ensures you’re not wasting your time on a half hearted application. Don’t use a copy and paste application for each job, make sure you mention why you would be the best freelancer for this specific job.
What worked well for me when applying for jobs? I made sure to mention previous work that was similar to the job I was applying for. I also made sure I told the clients why I was excited to work on their project. For example, one of the jobs I got was a music video and I told them about my passion for music and involvement in a local music festival where I’ve made music videos for local bands. Another example was a YouTuber whom I edited a Marvel Rap video for. I told them about my love of the Marvel films and which movies I thought were the best. I also talked about how excited I was for Marvel Endgame (which hadn’t come out yet at the time).
You’ve sealed the deal, you’ve gotten some jobs, now what? Now you have to prove that you’re as great as you said you were. Make sure you work with your client to provide them with a high quality end product. In my case I was making videos so I made sure to send them versions of the video and get their feedback until they were satisfied with the final video.
Why is it so important to make sure your clients are happy? Well it’s just good business practice but you also want to get 5 star reviews as other clients can see the reviews left by those who have hired you in the past. So, having good reviews will help you get more Upwork jobs. While having bad reviews will help ensure you don’t get future Upwork jobs.
The ultimate question though is, was Upwork worth the time and effort I put into it? I honestly didn’t feel like it. I didn’t get a lot of work from it, but I was only using Upwork for about 6 months. I also didn’t make nearly as much money on Upwork as I have locally. This may be due to the fact that I was applying mostly to beginner level jobs, but I also feel like there are a lot of other cheap freelancers who will do editing work for a small amount of money.
I still have an account and I’m sure I will go back to it if I get really slow with local work. But for me, having that in person interaction and networking with a local business is more rewarding for me. That being said it was pretty fun being able to work with people all over the world. And I can always go back and apply to more jobs if work gets slow locally. So while my experience wasn’t the best on Upwork, I still think it’s a great option for finding freelance work. I know some people who get most of their freelance jobs from Upwork so it really is up to the individual. My advice is try it for yourself if you’re looking for a new way to find freelance jobs and even help build a portfolio.
Not as lucrative as local work for me, however, you should give it a try if you’re looking for more ways to find freelance work.