Whether you already do freelance work in some capacity or not, you probably know there are a number of tools available to connect freelancers with potential clients.
If you haven’t tapped into the platform Upwork, you might be missing out. Not only are there many jobs available, but working on Upwork also allows freelancers to offer a variety of services in the following categories:
- Web, Mobile & Software Dev
- IT & Networking
- Data Science & Analytics
- Engineering & Architecture
- Design & Creative
- Admin Support
- Customer Service
- Sales & Marketing
- Accounting & Consulting
While the platform is fairly intuitive, there are a few things that are unique to Upwork as you set up a profile and begin applying for opportunities.
1. Membership Plans
There are two membership offerings on Upwork.
The Basic membership plan is free, includes 60 connects per month (see below for more about connects), provides hourly protection to ensure you’re paid for each hour worked, and secures fixed-price payments through milestones.
However, a Plus membership offers many perks, including:
- 70 connects per month
- Your profile will never switch to private based on inactivity
- You can buy more connects for $1 per connect
- Unused connects rollover (up to 140)
- Setting to keep your earnings confidential
- View competitor bids for any job
2. Completing Your Profile
As you set up your profile, include as much information about yourself as possible so potential clients have a clear understanding of your experience and skills.
Make sure you add a thorough overview with a summary of your experience. You can even add a video talking about your skills or showcasing your work.
Your profile will also list your hourly rate, total money earned, and number of jobs you’ve worked. Other pieces of information include location, languages, number of hours you’re available, work history, and feedback from clients.
You can also add a portfolio, skills, tests, certifications, employment history, and education.
3. Getting Paid on Upwork
Upwork is flexible in that it offers a number of ways to receive payments. Common ways include connecting to your bank account or directing to a local bank. You can also opt to use a third-party payment vendor such as PayPal or Payoneer.
Earnings become available on different schedules, depending on the type of payment. For hourly contracts on Upwork, each weekly billing cycle ends on Sunday and your earnings will be available 10 days later, the following Wednesday.
For fixed-price contracts, freelancers will be paid based on milestones. Once the client approves your milestone, funds will be available after a five-day security period has passed.
Another aspect of getting paid on Upwork is the fee taken out of your earnings. While fees can be a downside of this platform, the advantages of using a site like Upwork can sometimes outweigh the disadvantages. For the first $500 you bill to a client, Upwork will take 20%. Once you reach $500 to $10,000, Upwork will take a 10% fee.
Finally, once you exceed $10,000, the fee will go down to 5%.
4. Understanding Connects
Once you set up your account, you’ll see a number of connects listed on your account as you search for jobs. Basically, these are tokens you can use to submit proposals each month. When submitting a proposal, most jobs require two connects, but this may vary. If a client initiates contact with you first, you won’t use a connect.
5. Searching for Jobs
As you search for jobs on Upwork, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Search for jobs that focus on your area of expertise.
- Look for clients who have a verified payment method – it’s nice to have that peace of mind.
- Take a look at reviews for past jobs the client has hired for; this will give you a good idea of how they work with freelancers.
- Filter jobs that are based in the U.S. or if you’d like to apply for international jobs, include those as well.
- Take notice of information such as whether or not jobs are hourly, estimated time to complete, hours required, and the level at which the client is paying – Entry-Level, Intermediate, or Expert.
6. Be Realistic About Your Experience
While someone with several years of experience might not want to take a low-paying job, you should be open to taking a slightly lower paying project to start.
This could lead to more jobs with this client.
If you find you’re not being offered higher paying jobs and you feel your experience qualifies you, try to showcase your experience on your profile and when you submit a proposal.
7. Submitting a Proposal
Applying for jobs on Upwork is fairly easy, but there are a few things you should be aware of. For example, when you click “Submit a Proposal,” the top of the page will tell you how many connects are required to apply.
Next, you’ll enter an hourly rate or milestone amount for that job. This section will also clearly display how much the service fee will be and how much you’ll earn.
Finally, you’ll want to include a cover letter that details your experience and why you would be the best fit for the job.
Note that Upwork advises freelancers not to upload their resume as an attachment when submitting a proposal, but rather, include work samples or other documents.
8. Take Tests to Prove Your Expertise
Upwork provides freelancers the opportunity to prove their expertise and impress potential clients by taking free Upwork tests. You can choose tests based on category and choose the best fit from there.
If you’re a writer, there are currently 20 tests available to prove your English language ability under English Language that may prove helpful as you submit proposals.
Ready to chase after your side hustle on Upwork? Get started here.