Freelancing has become one of the most popular ways to make money in the modern age. Building on the ‘side hustle,’ a full-fledged freelancing career can be your sole source of income and a career with endless potential for growth, if you know how to market yourself, that is. Upwork is one of the most widely used sites for freelancers and those seeking their services.
Whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been in the game for years, it’s a great place to get found and be seen.
Like any other field of work, freelancing is competitive! You may be a writer, editor, virtual assistant, or web designer, but whatever your specialty is, you’re sure to find a large population offering the same services as you. To earn a higher rate on Upwork, you will need to be able to prove your worth to potential clients.
It’s easier said than done, but if you follow these 5 helpful steps, you’ll be on your way to higher earnings:
Step 1: Complete Your Profile
Upwork is a network of freelancing professionals, which means if you want to be taken seriously and get paid at a higher rate, you need to treat your profile as a marketing opportunity. Potential clients will discover you and form their first impression of you from your profile, so it’s important to use keywords and make it stand out!
A solid, professional Upwork profile consists of the following elements:
- Overview: This is your opportunity to plug keywords relevant to the services you offer and give potential clients a glimpse into who you are, as you would in an interview or on a resume. There’s no need to list every project you’ve worked on, but sharing highlights of your skills and achievements is important. Make sure to learn more about what your target clients are looking for and tailor your overview to match their needs, within the scope of your abilities.
- Skills: You are able to display 10 top skills on your Upwork profile. The skills you choose to list should be true to your actual competencies and relevant to your target client audience.
- Photo: Remember that Upwork is a professional network and use an appropriate photo. Think along the lines of the photo you use for LinkedIn.
- Tests: Upwork gives you the opportunity to take tests to showcase your skills. There are tests for a wide range of skills and displaying them on your profile can add credibility. Don’t worry if you get a low score on a test, you can hide the results of one of them.
- Portfolio: Displaying pieces of your work on your portfolio will help set you apart from other freelancers and ultimately help you get hired more. If you’re a beginner, start adding work as soon as possible.
- Rate: Remember, your rate makes a statement about your experience and how you value yourself, so make sure to pick the right starting amount. Do some research of others in your field to see what they’re charging (more on this below!). Ultimately, what you charge should reflect what you need to make to cover your expenses.
- Resume: If you’re a new freelancer, the best thing to do is highlight the strongest points from your resume relevant to your target freelance area. Add any education and certifications as they may spark a potential client’s interest.
- Availability: Think about the time you will be able to devote to freelancing and list it realistically. You don’t want to appear unavailable and be passed over, but at the same time, you don’t want to be overwhelmed with more work offers than you can handle.
Step 2: Get Great Reviews
As you spend more time as a freelancer on Upwork, you will learn that an important aspect of growing your earning potential is your reviews. If you’re just starting out, focus on making sure that you put a lot of effort into completing all of your jobs to the highest standard. This will produce great reviews from clients, which will be visible on your profile.
Besides helping you land more clients, having great reviews justifies your decision to raise your rate. If you find yourself with a review that’s less than stellar, don’t panic. Reflect on the reason you received the review and prepare to answer honestly and sufficiently if future clients ask about the negative review.
Step 3: Don’t Accept Every Job
When you first start out on Upwork, it can be tempting to accept any and every job offer you receive or apply to any job that seems to fit your skillset. While it is important to establish your profile by completing jobs, it’s equally important to craft a clear working niche.
Focus on accepting and applying to jobs that fit your skillset, are worth your time, and lead you in the direction you want to grow in. If you find yourself with a job offer for a ‘fixed-price’ job and you’re not sure if it’s worth your working hours, do some quick math. Look over the project, estimate the number of hours it will take you to complete, multiply that by your hourly rate, and see what you get. If the proposal offers much less than what your hourly rate dictates, consider passing and focusing your time and energy on another project.
Continually choosing jobs that fit your skills and goals and are worth your time will positively impact your profile and reflect in your reviews.
Step 4: Do Your Research
One of the easiest ways to get an idea of what your rate should be on Upwork is to check around to see what other freelancers with your skill set are charging. As you examine the profiles of fellow freelancers, pay attention to how your skills and experience stack up and make an accurate and fair conclusion about your rate.
Be careful not to sell yourself short because you’re a beginner or still building your skills and portfolio. At the end of the day, you know your abilities and the value of your time. Know your worth as a professional and assert yourself by asking for what you deserve.
Step 5: Raise Your Rate
Yes, this one seems obvious. But, raising your hourly rate on Upwork will help your mission and entice clients. While it may seem like the right idea to offer the lowest hourly rate and try to negotiate from case to case, the number that appears on your profile makes a statement about what you believe your worth to be. The message that you want to send to potential clients is that you value your time and the quality of work you produce, so you charge a reasonable rate.
Keep in mind, that like any type of work, experience yields the ability to command a higher rate. If you’re just starting out as a freelancer, the most important thing will be to land your first few jobs. Without experience, one of the best ways to do that is by offering a lower rate. This is just a starting point, however. As you accumulate experience, you can raise your rate accordingly.
To make a higher rate on Upwork, you need to focus on building your holistic characterization as a freelancer. Spend your time completing your Upwork profile to reflect your strengths and goals, choose to work on projects that will further your cause and get you great reviews, explore your competition, and above all, know your worth and stick to it!