How do I work on Upwork with little to no experience working online or as a freelancer just starting a freelancing career is a question every freelancer has asked at a certain point.
One of the most difficult challenges freelancers often face is getting their first client when starting a freelancing business.
This can be very frustrating on sites like Upwork, where clients mostly prefer to go for the highly-rated or 5- star freelancers.
I remember spending more than 3 weeks looking for my first client or job, and sometimes, all a freelancer needs is that first job; that first client willing to take a chance on you can make all the difference or serve as a turning point in your career.
How do I get jobs on Upwork with no experience?
Another question is How can I get that first client willing to take a chance on a freelancer just starting with little to no experience working online?
These questions will be answered, and other related techniques for getting your first job will be our topic of discussion in this article.
What is Upwork All About?
Just in case you haven’t heard of Upwork or are not familiar with its usage, Upwork is a freelancing platform that connects clients with freelancers who want to work online and make money.
It has become so popular due to its flexibility, support system, and many other features that make the life of a freelancer very easy.
You can work as a client, freelancer, or even on Upwork.
Once you have successfully created a profile and approved it afterward, the next thing to do is submit proposals to the client’s job posting using the required connect.
If a client sees you as capable of delivering the job, you will be called for an interview, after which you will be given the job. I’ve already done some detailed write-ups explaining all you need to know about Upwork. For example, you can check out Upwork Freelancing 101 to learn more.
Is Upwork good for beginners?
The answer to this question may vary from one individual to another.
For example, some freelancers might recommend Fiverr for beginners, while others would recommend Upwork.
Still, judging from personal experience, I would recommend Fiverr for beginners willing to make quick money by selling gigs and Upwork for freelancers interested in building working relationships with their clients.
What Jobs Can I Do On Upwork with little to know experience?
Before answering the question of how do I work on Upwork with no experience, it’s best to know the kind of jobs and services that require little to no experience on Upwork.
If you are a freelancer with no experience working for a client or one who is just starting in the world of freelancing, focusing more on your background skills, talents, and the academic qualification would be an excellent place to begin after building a portfolio.
You should at least have a portfolio of some projects you’ve done that relates to the service you wish to offer.
You might ask: But I have never worked for any client in the past, so where do I get the portfolio of projects from?
My answer would be: if you have learned a new skill from Udemy, Coursera, or any other place, you must have built some projects while learning the scraft, either as quizzes or assignments.
These projects can be used to build a portfolio to show your clients what you are capable of.
And If you don’t have any projects from the past, start building one with the skill you want to offer.
Having a portfolio would make life easier when you are just beginning freelancing.
It will convince your clients that you can do the said job.
So why should a client hire a freelancer who has nothing to show for the services he wants to offer?
I mean, why should you be hired if you cannot show anything to convince me that you can do the job?
Am not willing to risk my money, most importantly my time. Go and start building that portfolio of your now!
Services related to your background or academic degree such as writing, proofreading, editing, tutoring, online coaching and others can be offered.
It’s now time to answer the big question of how you can work on Upwork with no experience
How do I work for Upwork with no experience?
Go for the small jobs
My first strategy for you is to go for those jobs offering peanuts for pay.
When I say peanuts, I mean jobs were paying $2, $5, $7, or $10.
You may consider these amounts too small for pay, but they are not, at least for a starter.
Going after small jobs is to build a good reputation and high market rating.
Don’t worry, and when you finally become a top-rated freelancer, you can charge any amount deemed fit for you but for now, keep going after the pieces of food left on the food.
Please don’t get me wrong.
Am not saying you shouldn’t shoot your shot on the first try. Besides, there is no harm in trying, and nothing to lose on platforms like Fiverr but Upwork; you lose your limited connects.
You may be lucky to get a $1,000 job for a start, but the chances are slim. I believe you are not the luckiest freelancer in the world.
Go for the small-paying jobs at the beginning to increase your chances of getting that first job, which will, in turn, help build a good rating if you do an excellent job.
The client may likely come back to request your service some other time.
Target positive feedback
I once had a client who wanted to pay for a job offer far lower than the minimum.
Guess what! I agreed on the condition that they give feedback after the job is done.
I received excellent feedback because I exceeded the expectation, and since then, this particular client has returned to my services when needed.
The goal at the beginning is to have a good rating, which will quickly give you more jobs.
Don’t allow ego to get in the way when applying for smaller jobs.
Always remember that it is just a way (the more straightforward way) of building up your profile and portfolio, which is crucial to getting a top-rated status.
I love small-paying jobs, not just because they allow me to build my reputation and portfolio, but because they are effortless to get done. So I wouldn’t say I like spending several days on a single project.
I end up getting bored, most especially when the job is a little bit complicated.
You can complete jobs like proofreading and editing in a few hours. Remember, your target is building a good profile and portfolio.
Optimization of profile is key
Your profile should be as complete as possible.
Don’t leave any section blank.
A complete profile will get more views and jobs than one that barely meets the required standard, and the way to profile optimization is to fill out all the necessary details in your profile.
In case you get stuck when filling your profile, going to check other highly rated freelancers’ profiles is always at your disposal.
You can easily navigate their profile to see what they are doing, which you can implement afterward.
Some elements can generate more views; you should always have this at the back of your mind when filling your profile for optimization.
Details like profile title and hourly rate have given me more views at some point, so you can tweak between the two to find what works best for you.
A low hourly rate might bring in more jobs, but there is a high possibility of ending up with clients that might fail to appreciate your work, and a high hourly rate may allow you to work with more prominent clients that can change your life.
Either way, having a low hourly rate is recommended to get more jobs since that’s what a new freelancer with no work experience is after.
Try to write down any changes made in the profile title and hourly rate so you don’t forget what you changed if things go south.
You can always go back to glance through what you wrote down if you don’t like the changes you are seeing
Start sending proposals on Upwork
Sending out proposals is a huge part of being a freelancer on Upwork.
Job invitations are not easy, especially when you are just starting, so you must send proposals to clients based on the job description.
Job invitations mostly come from previous clients with whom you did some satisfactory jobs in the past.
Such people will definitely come looking for your services knowing fully well that you can deliver
One colossal mistake mostly found with freelancers submitting job proposals is using the same scripted cover letter for different jobs.
They see a web design job and use the same cover letter when applying for an SEO consultancy or content writing job.
This is a total blunder. Every job has its descriptions peculiar to it.
If you find it hard to write a cover letter unique to the job you are applying for, then you have to make adjustments.
A freelancer should get acquainted with writing a cover letter, or you can pay some other freelancer to write it if you have a few dollars to spare
You can put in some effort to make the cover letter as personal as possible.
For example, do some digging to find the client’s name and some of the previous projects they have engaged other freelancers. For example, imagine receiving a cover letter from a freelancer with your name well scripted.
This will certainly amaze you as a client because you will know that the freelancer cares about you by doing some digging to know your name.
You don’t need to know the client’s name when submitting a proposal, but it would be a plus if you do.
You must ensure that you tailor every cover letter you are offering to the job you are applying for.
This means you will always have to draft different cover letters for various job proposals
To know more about cover letters and submission of job proposals on Upwork, check out my cover letter sample proposals.
Try to make the most out of job invitations.
Job invitations will make life very easy for you on Upwork, not just because it saves you the stress of drafting and fine-tuning a cover letter, but it also means you are growing in your freelancing career.
When you receive job invitations, there are higher chances of getting the job, so always respond on time.
The moment you start getting invitations for jobs, it would do you good always to review the job invitations to check if the said job is relevant to the services you offer to avoid wasting your time and that of the client.
You can receive a job invitation only to find out later that you don’t have the relevant skill needed for the job or that the client cannot afford to pay for your services.
And this mostly happens after you’ve invested your time or even gone as far as doing some interview. So it is better to check the job descriptions to avoid wasting both parties’ time.
Dust up for the interview
Going for an interview means you are halfway to closing the deal, but things can still go south when you don’t prepare.
Preparations can take the form of getting a good microphone, ensuring that your Webcam is functional and the other necessary hardware components used during interviews.
Interviews shouldn’t be boring. I don’t see it as just answering questions from a potential client.
It would be best if you also tried to interview the client by asking them about their goals, business, and what they aim to achieve soon.
Finally, try to develop the necessary rapport with your potential client.
The interview should be a two-way format to increase the chances of closing the deal.
After asking about their goals, try to see if they are realistic and achievable.
I’m sure you wouldn’t want to start something only to end up stopping halfway, which will result in negative feedback.
So do your due diligence to ascertain if you can deliver their goals.
Another tip you can use during the interview is to create some scarcity. For example, some clients can have several interviews to conduct, and yours is just one among several.
For example, they might want to interview other freelancers before giving out the job.
Still, you can create some scarcity by letting them know you have limited availability but can keep a space open for them for a few days.
Please be careful.
Don’t jeopardize your chances by taking the scarcity too far.
Clients can sense when freelancers are using the trick of scarcity to close a deal.
Additional tips you can use to get jobs on Upwork
Vet the client
Before going ahead to work for a client, you can dig to know what they say or have said about other freelancers. Also, check if they have feedback from freelancers.
A client that gives bad feedback regularly should be avoided. Run away from them before they damage your profile.
I prefer working with a client who has positive feedback from freelancers to one with none. Having none can signify a red-flag
Keep good communication and try to meet deadlines
The one thing I’ve learned in my years of freelancing is that communicating with your clients and giving updates on work progress put them at ease.
When clients don’t hear from you, they panic, especially if the job is crucial to the success of their company. Never leave a client blank.
Update them regularly as you proceed and ensure you deliver the Job on time.
Clients hate delay and may never hire a late delivery freelancer again.
Some clients can even get fired by their boss if the job they are hired for is delivered late.
Maybe the Job given to you is crucial to closing a multi-million dollar deal of the company, and you screwed up with late delivery.
Only go for jobs with detailed description
When applying for jobs, only consider those with a detailed description.
For example, some clients can be very funny because they expect you to know what needs to be done without giving much information about the job.
However, I won’t apply for a job with descriptions of one or two lines, especially if the client has no past rating.
There is always so much uncertainty when starting as a beginner.
These uncertainties can demotivate new freelancers, which leads to questions like: will I succeed in this freelancing career I am venturing into; how can I become a top-rated freelancer; how long would it take to make my first $100.
The one thing about the future is that it’s always uncertain.
It wouldn’t be called the future if everything were known about it, but the one thing you have control over is the present, and having control over the present can shape the future.
Knowing how to work on Upwork with no experience can shape the future of your freelancing career for the better.
Consistency in doing certain things such
- As going for small-paying jobs
- Targeting positive feedback
- Optimization of the profile
- Sending job proposals
- Making the most out of job invitations
- Preparing for job interviews
- Do some research about your potential client
- Maintaining a good communication network between you and your client and going for jobs with detailed descriptions will reduce these uncertainties that arise in the form of questions and shape the future of your freelancing career for the better.
Have faith but most importantly, keep doing the needful.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is most difficult thing about getting clients on Upwork
There is massive competition in Upwork and life in general.
There are over 10 million registered freelancers, and there is a high possibility that an excellent percentage would be offering the same services as you do.
You will be competing for jobs with thousands or even millions of other freelancers out there, and guess what?
Some freelancers who live in countries with a lower cost of living are willing to charge far lower than the required price to get a client.
This further increases the competition, thus making it much more challenging to get jobs.
The biggest obstacle to getting jobs on Upwork is the competition.
What skills are high in demand on Upwork?
Base on a post from their blog, we know that skills like:
- Web development
- 3D rigging
- Forex trading
- Computer vision
- Media buying
- Augmented reality
- Video editing
- Machine learning
are in high demand.
Does Upwork have better freelancers than other platforms?
The truth is, some freelancers are better than others, no matter their platform.
But, of course, those that are good at a specific task will always be good regardless of the platform they find themselves in, and most of these freelancers on Upwork are registered on other platforms like freelancer.com and Fiverr.
So there is a wide range of talent across these platforms, so you can’t tell if Upwork has better freelancers than others.
There is a lot of post about making it big on Upwork by doing certain tricks. Is this an exaggeration or a reality?
So many people will want to share their success stories when they become successful in their endeavors, and they mainly emphasize the need to work hard and do certain things right.
The reality is that success on Upwork or anywhere isn’t guaranteed.
The best you can do is work hard, be consistent with what you do and keep improving your skills with each passing day; and hope you will one day achieve your goal.
Unfortunately, even this doesn’t guarantee you will succeed.
So have faith in yourself after putting in the work.
I prefer to work on a pay-per-hour basis as a new freelancer on Upwork. So how does the client know how many hours I’ve worked?
The Upwork team app has a timer you can start to track time when you begin working.
For example, if you want to track time outside of Upwork, alternative freelance time tracking software with automatic invoicing can use, so time tracking or getting paid per hour is not a problem.