Let’s start with the basics, then. What exactly is Upwork for those of you who don’t know? Well, Upwork is a freelancing platform. They are a third-party between freelancers and clients who are looking for mainly digital services, and they offer a variety of different things you can do. In terms of volume, there are 3 million annual jobs on Upwork amounting to around $1 billion in revenue. So, it is very much is seen as the largest freelancing platform alongside Fiverr, but in terms of its market position, whereas Fiverr is more about the price and about the speed, Upwork is definitely seen more as somewhere where you get more specialist services.
Okay, so how can you make money? Well, we’re going to break this down into three different steps. The first is we’re going to look at best practice. This is making sure that your profile is as legible and as clear as possible for the search engines and filling everything in, then the second phase of this is to look at the marketplace, look at the in-demand technologies and skills that will lead to work, and then finally then, using these two to play it to your own creative skills.
So, let’s go into the first part of this: what is best practice on Upwork? So, firstly, completing your profile 100%. I’ve got an example here of Alex who is an expert landing page designer. When you create a profile on Upwork, there are a number of different things that the platform requires you to fill in, and if I come on to the next page here, this is kind everything from your user profile, images, right the way through to portfolios, previous jobs you’ve done in the past, and it’s very important that you use the tracking meter which will show you how complete your profile is to get to 100% because this is going to make you more visible in search, it’s also going to allow potential clients to trust you a lot more than someone that’s just throwning something up very quickly.
The second thing I want to talk about is taking the tests. You will have a far greater ranking in organic search, so in particular, take the English-speaking test, then the relevant software tests. So, I have shown you here Jake Jacobson who is a Squarespace specialist, and the tests are something that you can do when you sign up to basically prove that you have the skill set that you say you do. They are relatively straightforward and if you do a handful of them, it will probably take around a day of your time, so it’s definitely worth putting the investment into, particularly on Upwork because a lot of clients are looking for native English speakers. For example, here, you see Jake has taken the After Effects, the Photoshop test, and the Contractors and Staffing Managers, and even though he hasn’t got a perfect score in them, he’s been enough to pass and show that he is competent.
C, then, is utilizing your cover letter when applying. Now, a lot of people will just a blank-it apply, will send the same message to a number of different jobs, and inevitably, these people don’t get much work because they are not putting the time and effort into specific jobs. With your cover letter, what you want to do is you want to write specifically for that job; don’t send a generic application. So, yes, obviously, within the jobs you apply for, you will have things that you repeat a lot about yourself, but make sure, show the potential client that you have read about the job, that you care about it, and specifically mention certain aspects of that job in the letter.
Secondly then is include portfolio links that are relevant. If you’re going, say for web design within Squarespace, show websites that you have already done in Squarespace, don’t show just random websites. Make it as easy as possible for the clients to select you when they look at you and go, oh, this person has already done something similar. That makes complete sense to me, I would pick this person. Try and include a client testimonial if you have one. This is very easy to get if you’ve been a good work for previous clients. Let them know you are a native/fluent English speaker. Show intrigue in the project and asked questions about the next steps, show that you are eager and willing to get involved in this project – again, not just kind of generically applying for whatever comes your way. But, you get 60 connects on the free plan, so be sure to use them wisely. If you apply for 1 to 2 jobs a day and put your time in and put the effort into making sure that you really want to get involved with this job, it will come back to you rather than just blank if applying to 30 jobs within an hour.
D is to never set a fixed rate. Now, you may initially have to start a lower rate and increase purely because these platforms work on a review basis, but try and have a ballpark figure in mind for projects as clients do not want to do the math. They want absolutes, and then finally then, reviews or gospel, so although it’s not as imperative as the likes of Fiverr, used to really need the credibility of Upwork, just like anything online. So, good reviews will enforce your reputation and allow you then to charge higher rates. As with all of these platforms, your first 6 to 12 months are going to be difficult, you do need to get those reviews and this means you might have to take jobs at a lower rate to get a better ranking to that propel you to the highest status says, and I will talk a little bit about Upwork in the long-term later on.
So, I will show you hear an example, this is Alex who does expert landing pages in Unbounce, Instapage, and Clickfunnels. You can see, you scroll through his page as I showed earlier, he’s got everything in order, this profile is 100% complete, he has taken some of the tests, and then when you go to his review sections, you see an array of five-star reviews. Already, that instills trust within the clients or the potential clients, and they’re going to look at this guy and think, yup, this guy has the credentials, he’s very clearly explained what he does, I think this could be a good fit.
Okay, so let’s move on to the second place, then, so once you’ve created your profile, you have implemented all best practices, we need to start now looking at the marketplace. I just want to go through with you the importance of looking at what is trending on Upwork. Like anything, supply and demand is key, really, to the people who did the best on Upwork. Every quarter, Upwork release their top 20 kind of most desirable skills. Now, this is the latest 20 that was released. These are mainly web development and software engineering skills, right? This is because these things are really in demand, and Upwork will actually even give you examples of courses you could take to get clued up within these softwares.
I’m using as an example that you have to be specific in what you offer on Upwork. You don’t want to go on and say, “I am a generic graphic designer.” You’re just going to get lost in a sea of thousands of other graphic designers that are not offering anything specific. Something better would be to say you are a sports team logo designer and a vector illustrator. All of a sudden then, you’re narrowing down your field of interest to something very specific that you can offer the client. Things like “I’m a graphic designer,” “I’m a web developer,” “I’m a copywriter,” it’s just way too broad. You have to kind of leash down and focus on something in particular. Put a digital skill on a specific platform, and even if you can do this, you add a specific outcome.
So, for example, let’s use Alex here. Alex is an expert landing page designer in Unbounce/Instapage, and Clickfunnels, so he has named specific softwares, and then he’s going to give a very brief overview of I help businesses get better conversion rates and more leads by optimizing their AdWords campaigns. Now, to someone who doesn’t understand what those things are, that does not matter because the people who are looking for Alex understand the basics of marketing, basic principles of landing pages, and they are looking for something very specific. Again, Jake Jacobson is another good example. He wrote a great article online about how when he started out as a web developer, he didn’t get much work, but as soon as he leashed into Squarespace specifically, he actually ranked as the top Squarespace web developer on Upwork which meant that he didn’t even need to apply for jobs anymore. Everything was coming to him. It pays so much to be niche. You really have to bear this in mind before you enter platform.
Okay, so let’s give this a creative twist them. How do you make money as an artist? Well, I’m going to kind of be blunt to you: traditional skills are not in demand on Upwork. If you are an artist, you really need to delve into digital and think about a digital offering that you can give. So, here’s a good example here, Carolina, she is a 3-D product visualizer, renderer, modeler, fashion and jewelry. So, she’s in the fashion and jewelry space, but as you can see from her list of software, she’s given a specific thing that she does. She has named the software she does it in, and then she has given a brief idea of what she can deliver for you, and the thing that we talked about in stage 2 which is being very specific and looking at the trends, we need to now apply that same logic to the creative field.
So, let’s look at some examples in 2018, design for social media is very popular. Why is this? Well, everyone has Facebook, everyone as YouTube, Twitter, all the emerging platforms, and all those things need design elements. They need content, they need profile pics, they need header images. If you do conceptual art in Photoshop and ProCreate, this is imperative because gaming is now very mainstream on mobile and Particular. So, a lot of people are looking for gaming graphics.
Photo retouching and editing is very popular. Why is this? Well, there’s a huge increase in photos stored digitally. No longer do people go and print photos. They have them online, a lot of people now are taking old photos, scanning them in, and they want images Photoshop, for lack of a better word, retouched, reedited. 3-D modeling is very popular right now. Why is this? The rise in popularity of 3-D printing. UX/UI design is very popular, particularly in the app Sketch. Why is this? Because app design is so prevalent right now. So many people, particularly web developers are going into the app and mobile space, and they need designers to help them visualize their apps and web products.
Finally then, e-book cover art and book formatting. This would use skills like Photoshop and InDesign. Why is this popular? Because e-books mean the entry-level for indie writers is now incredibly lower. Before, if you wrote a book, you needed to have a publisher. Now, so many writers can do it themselves, but they don’t know how to format a book in InDesign. They don’t know how to create a cover, and these are just a few examples that I put down. There are so many out there, and my best advice to you is to just look at the market. What are people doing? What platforms are they using? There was a phase in my life where I was doing SnapChat Filters because SnapChat was so prevalent and everyone wanted to be on SnapChat. Every year, there is a new thing, there’s a new platform that everyone is trying to get involved in. So, observe the markets, see what’s going on, and think about how can I apply in the digital creative skills to help people in that, and the work will come your way.
Digital skill plus specific platform gives a specific outcome. Try and tailor your offering to that formula, and you should be in enough of a niche that people will pick you up.
My last piece of advice then is to do not quit your job. There is so much online about, yeah, quit your job, go freelance, do your own thing. Few make their sole income from Upwork. Upwork is a great place to start and get clients, and kind of get on the roster, but it takes of a lot of time and patience to for achieving consistent income. So, you want to be using this as one income source to supplement a main income source. Eventually, you could get to a point where all your work comes from Upwork, but at that point, if you had enough of a social following and enough of an identity online, you would find the work would also come from other avenues, so don’t see these platforms as a way to make money solely from one revenue stream.
Use them, try them, see if they work for you, and if you start to gain traction, use them on the side for a few months while you build up your portfolio, while you build up your reviews, but don’t buy into this whole quit your job and just start freelancing; you need to be very particular of when you make that position and you need to have the foundations in place before you do that.
So, that was making money on Upwork in 2018 for creatives. Thank you so much for watching this video. I have three things left for you to do. One, if you could subscribe down below, I do two new videos every week for artists and creatives. Two then, if you want to download this PDF, you can check the comments below this video, and the finally then, please comment. Let me know what you thought of the video, let me know if you want to do any other specific videos in the future and I will happily take them into consideration. Thanks for listening, everyone, and I will see you in the next tutorial.