UpWork (previously known as oDesk) is an extremely popular name in the freelance market. Though they have made a few changes in their commission now but initially they were charging merely 10% which is very less as compared to their competitors.
(Image Courtesy: https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/upwork-roadmap-better-collaboration/ )
Last year they joined up with another freelance giant Elance to take their business to the next level, by increased clients as well as freelancers. (I guess that is when they decided to change the name as well.)
Very unfortunate for the freelance market is that the job seekers are always more than the actual jobs, thus the price and demand thingy pulls the cost per project down to its lowest.
Even then there are good paying projects and bad paying projects. Some good freelancers are very affordable rates, some unbelievably expensive!
Every year many freelancers join the market to compete and for them getting the first job is the toughest.
UpWork has its own blogs and guides on how to find your first job. But I wanted to share my story too.
Try try again ..
This phrase is the key phrase, don’t give up. Try, try again! You have about 60 points per week initially (depending on the tests etc.). A normal job requires 2 points only. So, utilize your all your points every week!
Read the job posts properly
Some of the clients are clever now they know that everyone keeps applying for the jobs without reading the complete job post. So they include lines like “Start your applications by mentioning the work “XYZ” in the beginning.” So be very careful!
Personalize your cover letter
Once you have read the job post completely, make sure that your cover letter written for that specific job. If you keep one general cover letter for all the jobs. It does not stand out. Furthermore, UpWork people might just block your account for some time as they hate copy pasting!
Don’t apply for all jobs
Be choosy, use your points intelligently. Don’t waste your time or energy on the jobs that you are not sure of.
Know what you are talking about
Just keep in mind that the clients are not dumb. If you have the exact idea of what you are talking about, go ahead. Otherwise it’s a waste!
Its related to my earlier comment, if you don’t know, don’t lie! It’s a sin! Be honest about your work!
Suggest improvements or ideas
If you have any ideas of how to improve the project, state so in the cover letter. Its like if I would do it this would be my way of saving time and money. Naturally that is what the client wants right! For example, once I told the client that I can come up with an initial list for something for free. If he/she likes it he can hire me. So they did!
Don’t sound disparate
Don’t be stupid by telling a client that you can do the job in half the rate or for free. A respectable freelancer who knows the meaning of quality will never work for free!
Mention if you have taken any relevant tests
If you have taken any UpWork tests that relate to the job post, mention it in your cover letter!
Attach your sample portfolio items
Sample work always helps; client would be comfortable in working with you if they know that you have worked on something similar.
Your cover letter should NOT contain spelling mistakes or casual words! Make it as formal as possible with proper capital letters and ending statements. It represents attention to detail!
Give your hundred percent!
Once you get your first client. Go out of the way to get your first 5-star rating! Check your email gazillion times a day if you must!
Retake the tests!
Passing a test is not the only criteria. If you know the test, retake it unless you are in the top 30% at least.
In the end all I can say is best of luck! And do let me know if I missed something;)