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Lucas Leon
Lucas Leon

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Locked-down? Try Upwork!

I have read many articles focusing on the negative aspects of Upwork, whilst I agree there are some negative factors about the platform, there are also many positive ones too. I have recorded over 8000 hours and have earnt $500,000 for 4 years. Can't complain at all.

What is Upwork?

Now, for those of you that didn’t know Upwork is the world’s largest freelancing website. This is what made me curious when I read other articles from people saying they were unsuccessful. Perhaps it is about how they are applying themselves and not a failure of the website.

You can create a profile, search and apply for jobs, and obviously earn money on Upwork. It works for both skilled and non-skilled professionals. If anything Upwork is extremely diverse in terms of what roles you can find on the site, this makes it useful to any freelancer.

How Does It Work

You start by creating a profile.

Proceed through the general steps that anyone would go through to create accounts and profiles. You will have to verify your profile via a video call and provide a valid I.D. This is a recent feature that has been introduced to eliminate scammers and people using multiple profiles. Once everything has been set up, you should enter your tax information, which will be different dependant on which country you reside in.
That’s it!

How to successfully land a job on work

Now to the important part. I read articles where too many people complain about scams and never being contacted when they apply for jobs. I believe that’s down to the individual, not the platform.

Step 1 | Your Profile Matters

Your profile is basically your resume/CV and that’s exactly how you should treat it. Take a professional headshot to use as your profile image. I’ve seen profile pictures that have a plant or a cat in them, that’s a no-no.

Step 2 | SEO It Up!
On Upwork clients can also invite you to apply for a job. When they do this, they will search on Upwork for the desired skill, therefore you need to maximize your profile so it shows up in the search.
Probably you will need to write the list of skills in your bio. A profile of bio only had 2 or 3 lines usually received one invitation every month. But updating it to add more skills, you would get between 5–10 invitations a month.

Step 3 | Don’t Waste Time With Anything After Page 2
There are hundreds of applicants from various countries that will apply for the roles that do not really require many skills, even if they can’t do it. So after around 15–30 minutes, jobs will have so many applicants it can be overwhelming for the hirer.
Once someone has posted a job, they will usually stick around for 10–15 minutes to check everything is working or if they want it done quickly, they will hire quickly. Therefore it’s vital to be one of the first to apply.

Step 4 | Utilize Extras on Your Profile
Your Upwork profile plays a huge part in your job applications and also when clients seek candidates for jobs (which is also why SEO is important here).
You can create a “specialized profile” which enables you to focus on specific skills separately rather than including everything into one. This means that when a client searches for freelancers, you will show up for that specialized profile.
This enables you to add a custom portfolio and specific details related to that skill so the client can evaluate your profile with ease. Be sure to fill in everything in detail and only focus on skills you are truly good at.

Step 5 | Write a Killer Cover Letter
If you think that because you have a profile, the hiring person will want a 2 sentence cover letter, you are wrong. This is where many people let themselves down. The cover letter is your chance to prove that you are better than the competition.
Whilst this may sound contradictory, you should also be to the point, avoiding fluff. This is especially applicable for short-term projects or one-offs. Employers don’t want to read about your history and why you would be a good addition to the team. They want to know that you can get the job done.

Step 6 | Don’t Do Free Trials
There are people that will message you before offering a contract asking you to complete a quick trial and they will hire you if your work is better than the rest.
Just don’t.
Unless you are getting paid for the trial, don’t do any work for free. Think about it, if the person hiring has 100 applicants and gets 70 of them to do free trials, they could pretty much get the job done without hiring anyone. No matter how legit the person seems, do not do anything for free, trust me.

Step 7 | Communication Is Key
Before being hired for a contract, you may need to have a conversation with the client whether it is through messages on Upwork or a video interview. You should treat this in a professional way and keep a business tone throughout. I have had employers call me “mate” and “buddy” I will still reply in a business manner to maintain a professional image.
Try to respond to messages in a timely manner. Employers on Upwork are looking to hire quickly and if you take a day to reply, that job will probably be gone.

Step 8 | Double Check The Contract
The contract can be changed from when you apply and when you are sent the offer. As with any contract in life, read through the offer thoroughly and make sure the rate you agreed on is the same. This one is a no brainer really.

Step 9 | Don’t Give Up
You might apply for 10 jobs before you hear back from 1. But the one you do hear back from could mean you are employed for the next year. This applies to anything in life and not just Upwork, never give up.

Step 10 | Hard Work Pays Off
You might think that because you are working from home you can take it easy and do things in your own time. Get that thought out of your mind. If you agree on a project completion date with a client, you get that project done a day early and send it to them. A successful project can always lead to more projects from that employer or a 5-star review which will look good when you apply for your next job.
Work hard at every task you do because you never know what opportunities it will lead to, this one isn’t a quote, I just made it up.

I know people may have had bad experiences on sites like Upwork but there are positives to take. I think with any bad experience there is 95% misunderstanding or lack of knowledge.

Feel free to ask any questions, I would like to personally guide you onto Upwork FOR FREE!


Top comments (19)

bloodgain profile image

So you worked the equivalent of full time with 2 weeks off per year -- a full year of work at 40 hours per week is 2080 hours including paid time off -- for about the same income you could have made with a full time position, with the added "benefit" of constantly having to find and compete for new work. And in some countries (like the USA) you also have to pay the employer side of payroll taxes since you were self-employed or a contractor/freelancer.

Sounds like Upwork's model is still broken (for workers) to me, unless you're working from a country where $125K/year before any taxes is more than you can make working full time on-site or remote. I guess if you only have a few years of experience but can do better work than your experience suggests, and can fight successfully for the jobs, it would be a good way to boost your income earlier in your career while still having experience to put on your resume. But for someone like you with lots of experience, you'd be better off finding a remote position or taking a tech/dev lead position.

karlredman profile image
Karl N. Redman • Edited

Nice advertising. Send me $100 and I'll tell you what I really think after 25 years in the biz. Either this is bullshit or it's real.

lucasleongit profile image
Lucas Leon

I am not advertising here. It's true fact and it will work for everyone if he/she works hard enough. Rules and guidelines are important too. I am thinking of opening a personal service personally working with hard-workers to guide them onto the platform.

steve50244 profile image
Steve Harris

Lucas Leon
Sorry, but i agree with the nay sayers. Work hard for someone who will pay you better. Fresh out of college with CS degree and no job. Sure, go ahead and spend some time on Upwork or similar platform. If you actually have Dev experience, get a job and make more, instead of supporting the cheapskates. Or get real about being in business for yourself!

Thread Thread
lucasleongit profile image
Lucas Leon

Thanks for your comment, and working hard on what you are doing - that works every time for me. Whether it's upwork or own business, working hard always pays off.

Thread Thread
karlredman profile image
Karl N. Redman

Tracked you: Still bullshit.

pratikthorat8 profile image

Nice Post. Loved the way you kept the details neat and to the point. But I have a question. I am fairly new and can build websites only using HTML5 and CSS3 (responsive websites). So should I still make a profile on Up-work or do I need to have more skills and better projects to make a profile ?

steve50244 profile image
Steve Harris • Edited

Good question, pratikthorat8
My opinion is, do not bother. The guy with many years of dev experience is only getting $125,000. per year, with no benefits. Front end jobs start for a little less but you get social security paid by the employer and health benefits paid by the employer. At least in the US. CSS and HTML only with no js you will spend way too much time looking and get only a few low paid jobs.

lucasleongit profile image
Lucas Leon

Need to consider there is a starting curve at beginning like for 6 months and getting hot in next 6 months etc. It won't be /4 to be exact ;)

tendtoread profile image

Great post, but I think some time free trial also work, if people interested then it also get chance to convert.

lucasleongit profile image
Lucas Leon

Actually, it might depends, but it's against the principle. I met a guy who asked me to do a trial test job. In the end, it turned out he was building his app changing devs taking advantage of a week each for trial.

mryurii profile image

I'd say it may work out outside the platform, but upwork is about on demand services so no regular job security and perks.

Also, Upwork's TOS explicitly prohibits it:

Fraudulent or misleading uses or content, including:

  • Requesting or demanding free services, including requesting Freelancers to submit work as part of the proposal process for very little or no money or posting contests in which Freelancers submit work with no or very little pay, and only the winning submission is paid the full amount;

Also it includes:

If you become aware of any violation of these Site Terms or Use, you must immediately report it to Customer Service.

steve50244 profile image
Steve Harris

no i agree with the author. Do Not Do Free Work. You hurt yourself and everyone else competing for work. Everyone loses, except, of course, the buyer who paid nothing.

hghulfg1 profile image

I tried to submitt my profile many times and they didnt accept it !

ramnikov profile image
Andrey Ramnikov

I had the same issue with 5 years devops experience.

lucasleongit profile image
Lucas Leon

It's up to you anyways, but I believe Upwork is the #1 freelancing market place in the world.

andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

Still not totally convinced by Upwork, job boards seem to have my activity.