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How to Succeed On Upwork as a Freelancer: 5 Steps

Updated: May 7, 2021

It's a tough world out there for freelancers. With the rise of freelancing websites like Upwork, more and more people are choosing to work remotely from their homes or wherever they have an internet connection.

But then, Freelancing is fantastic. -- It's the simplest and relatively easier start to digital entrepreneurship.

It's the fastest way to make money online. It's one of the most recommended ways to get started (if you haven't).

If you already did, you can always improve.

The problem is that this means it can be hard to get noticed by clients who might not know you exist in the first place.

This blog post will teach you how to succeed on Upwork as a beginner freelancer so that you can earn a steady income no matter where life takes you.

Type of freelancing projects: Think, Prepare

Freelancing is a great way to earn money and be your own boss. There are many different types of freelancing, but for this post, I want to focus on a few main types:

You may be interested in freelancing as a way to make money on the side. Or, you might have your sights set on quitting your day job and going solo.

Either way, it can help to know what types of freelancing are out there for you.

Typically, any service you might think of offering is probably an actual service category on Upwork. From engineering to accounting; from data science to analytics; from content writing to marketing automation -- Upwork has it all.

Freelance Categories on Upwork
Upwork Categories

There are also other forms of freelancing like graphic design, social media manager, or SEO (specialist) that you can explore if the above don't sound appealing.

There’s nothing on Upwork that says that you have to stick only to the category you originally applied (and got inside Upwork) for.

  • You could first start off providing freelance content writing services and then move on to being a freelance sales funnels and landing page specialist.

  • Or you could start off by being a web developer and then move on to only managing projects as a tech lead.

You can start with anything, stay with it, or move on to something else.

So, you do have a certain degree of freedom with freelancing on Upwork, that way.

Create a profile on Upwork and fill out all your information

Ashwin's Upwork profile
Ash on Upwork

If you're looking to find freelance work, or just make some extra money on the side, then Upwork is a great place to start.

As one of the world's largest freelancing websites, they have opportunities in every field and for every skill level; from writing articles and designing logos to programming and data entry.

No one, however, knows that you just arrived on the platform. Your profile on Upwork is your home. There are largely two different sets of elements that show up on your profile:

  • Information that you can add and edit for yourself on your Upwork profile (such as name, portfolio, a profile description, photos, visibility status, etc.). You might also add certifications, work history, feedback from clients outside Upwork, and more to your profile.

  • Information that Upwork automatically starts populating your profile with (things like your feedback, ratings, amount of money earned on Upwork, etc,). Upwork also shows other things like badges you earn (rising talent, top-rated, top-rated plus, etc.) and agencies on Upwork that you must be associated with.

Your profile should be a breathing, living, poster of who you are and what you do. While you still have to be professional, you can also be a little unique and add a tinge of flavor to it.

Make sure your portfolio is updated with examples of past work

How do I update my portfolio?

What If I am a beginner on Upwork and I don’t have a portfolio to showcase?

What If I am not proud of my portfolio?

These are questions that many of us have asked ourselves at one point or another.

And it's also something we should ask ourselves on a regular basis because the answer will change depending on what stage of our career we're in.

No one wants to work with someone who doesn't have a portfolio of any kind, because it shows that they don't have enough experience or knowledge of what they're doing.

If you want to get more clients on Upwork and make more money, then you should update their portfolios on a rolling basis.

Create Portfolio on Upwork
Portfolio on Upwork

Just completed a project? Show it off.

Just created something new or launched something? Show it off.

  • Some pieces of work (portfolio) are better than nothing at all. Don’t sit there and judge your own work (be proud of it instead).

  • Regardless of what you think about your portfolio, just put it out there. Showcase it. Let your clients (and the world) judge your work for you. Over time, you’ll do well enough to let your work speak for itself.

  • If you are feeling ambitious, you can show both your portfolio (work you’ve done for clients in the past) and your live projects (little things you do on the side -- such as websites you created for yourself, your own blog, or other projects you are working on.

I have a separate video on whether you should use a Portfolio, show live projects, or both in my freelancing course if you want to check it out.

Start (& Keep) bidding on projects

This point alone will need several blog posts to do justice to it. For now, let’s just stick to the basics.

Don’t sit there and think that clients will come to you (I’ve 18 years of proof to tell you that it won’t work and no, they won’t come).

It’s your job (even more important than what you do) to get your clients. That means that you’ll have to bid every, single day.

If you place bids on X proposals, you’ll get Y projects. It’s as simple as that. Yet, I know many freelancers who just don’t do it. They don’t bid on Upwork. They go on to Quora or other forums to complain that Upwork doesn’t work or that Upwork is shit.

Upwork just works. You are losing time and opportunity costs if you don’t do what you are supposed to.

Subscribe to my freelancing course to get detailed information on the Pyramid approach to freelancing, my 10x 10 rule for bidding on projects, how to search for projects on Upwork, How to Bid For Projects on Upwork(the Right Way), and more.

Tweak. Adapt. Rinse. Repeat

Once you are a part of the Upwork marketplace and once your profile is complete and set up properly (see above), the only thing left for you to do is the following:

-- Bid on projects

-- Work with clients (it’s certainly going to be multiple clients)

-- Deliver work on time

-- Repeat

Along the way, you’ll always adapt, change, tweak, make corrections, learn from your mistakes (you are certain to make some), and continue.

Rinse and repeat.

Learn how to get clients, how to keep clients for long, the details about bidding on projects, the 10X10 rule on bidding for projects, and more in my freelancing course.

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