Beginner’s Guide: How To Get More Freelance Jobs At Upwork

Upwork is the largest online marketplace in the world. According to Wikipedia, it has over 9 million registered freelancers and 4 Million registered clients. The majority of Upwork’s freelancers are from developing countries like Bangladesh, Philippines, Nigeria, Kenya, and India, while the clients are mostly from tier-1 nations like US and UK.

With the Future Of Freelancing looking bright and still a considerable difference in pay scales of developed and developing nations, Upwork is likely to grow exponentially in next 10 years. This makes it an ideal platform for people looking to make a career in freelancing.

However, with the growing demand, also comes a lot of competition. A vast majority of talented individuals often find it hard to get a single job at Upwork. This is mainly because, unlike regular Jobs, where a client spends a considerable amount of time interviewing a candidate to judge his skills, at Upwork, it is all about the first impression that a client may have about a freelancer. This is because a client may not be able to spend enough time reading each and every cover letters because of the number of freelancers applying for the same Job.

So to be a successful freelancer, apart from relevant skills, one must also know how to present themselves in front of the client.

Tips To Get More Jobs At Upwork

In this article am going to tell you the exact steps you need to follow to boost your chances of getting more jobs at Upwork. Please note this article is specifically written for Upwork. If you are looking out for generalized solution, do check out my article about How To Be Successful Freelancer


This guide is primarily intended for Beginners. However, the points included are useful for

  1. People who are totally new to the freelancing world.
  2. People who are currently working with other freelancer websites and want to start with Upwork.
  3. A freelancer who have worked for Upwork but could not taste success.
  4. For successful freelancers to enhance their skills.

For better understanding let us divide the entire Upwork process into different 4 stages

Stage 1: Before Getting Started

1. Build An Awesome Profile And Portfolio

As I said, at Upwork it’s all about self-presentation and self-promotion. You must know how to build a solid and catchy profile that is very unique.  Your profile should describe in detail about your qualification, experience, and certifications if any. You should also make sure to highlight special achievements which you find worth mentioning.

If applicable, build a portfolio of your work. This will help the client judge your work and, therefore, will help you stand out of the lesser skilled freshers.

Also, check out profiles of top freelancers in your niche. This will give you an idea of how you should structure you profile.

2. Research For Pay Rates

Get More Jobs At UpwokBefore you start bidding, you must decide your pay rate. If you bid too high, the client may filter you out. If you bid too low, the client may still filter you out thinking you to be a spammer.

To avoid this problem, you can first check out few jobs relevant to your niche to know how much clients are willing to pay for a particular job.

Each job at Upwork is marked with “$” sign which indicates the how much a client is willing to pay for a skilled freelancer. A single dollar sign means the client is looking for cheap and hence beginner level freelancers, and three $ signs will indicate he is looking out for highly skilled people with lots of Upwork experience. This will further help you to know how much clients are willing to pay to beginners.

Next, check out profiles of freelancers with total working hours less than 10. They are more or considered to be beginners. However, since they have completed few jobs, you can check the pay rates they have charged to their previous clients.

Upwork Freelancer Pay Rates

The above pic shows the project name, the total number of hours the freelancer worked, pay rate and total payment earned for a particular project.

3. It’s All About Ratings

5 Star Rating UpworkWhen you apply for a regular Job, your past experience and performance are always considered. In the freelance world too, it matters a lot.

At Upwork, your past experience is judged on the basis of your rating given by your previous employer. A good rating with positive recommendations from your ex-clients can boost your chances of getting more jobs at Upwork. You must target 5-star rating for every job and should maintain your job score above 90% at any stage.

So beginners must keep in mind that your first few jobs are not at all about money. Rather, it’s about getting a good rating from your clients. So drop money from your mind and start thinking about the ratings.

Bid on the lower side, but not too low to be filtered out. Also, if you are bidding low, make sure to let the client know through the cover letter that you are much more talented than what your bid rate suggests and that you are bidding low as you are new to the platform.

4. Use your Connects Wisely

Connects are virtual tokens you need to bid for jobs at Upwork. Each Job may require anywhere between 1-5 connects, however, most of them need 2 connects. As a free Upwork user, you get 60 connects per month. That means you can only bid for around 30 jobs per month or 1 job per day.

So use your connects wisely. Do not bid for jobs you are not sure about completing. If you are a beginner, do not bid for jobs wherein clients are looking for intermediate or expert level freelancer.

Stage 2: While Searching And Applying For Jobs

5. Read The Job Description Carefully

A lot of jobs may require you to work at odd timings depending upon which part of the world client is from. Most clients would mention it in the job description. If you cannot work at the said time, better not to waste your connects by bidding on such jobs

Also since a lot of spammer freelancers bid for the jobs without even reading description, a few clients post a code in the middle or at the end of the job description which they ask you to submit along with cover letter. This is done to filter out unwanted applications. So unless you read the job description carefully, you too may be filtered out.

6. Check Your Client’s Credibility

Like freelancers, there are spammers among clients too. You will not want to bid for a job which the client may never award to anyone. Upwork allows you to check the credibility of a client by displaying the total amount spent by the client, average rate/hour that he paid and his feedback rating.

Upwork Client Reputation

A new client may not always be the spammer, but be vary of new clients. They should, at least, have verified their payment methods for your to consider bidding.

7. Write An Awesome Cover Letter

Your cover letter should be no less than mind-blowing. A cover letter is the first thing that the client sees when you bid for a job. A badly written cover letter may simply be discarded and the client may not even have a look at your profile and portfolio to know more about you.

Through your cover letter, you must let your client know why do you consider yourself fit for the job and why he should select you over dozens of other freelancers. Make sure to include a link to your portfolio in the cover letter. This will help the client to judge your skills better.

Keep your covert letter short and to the point. A client who has dozens of cover letters to read, may not bother reading long ones until the end and so may skip some important points you mentioned at the end.

8. Managing The Interview

If you have covered the above steps perfectly than there are every chances that your profile will be shortlisted. Most clients will set up a Skype interview for the shortlisted freelancers. This is a great opportunity for you to leave a positive impression.

Make sure you prepare yourself for all the possible questions that the client is likely to ask you. At the same time prepare your own list of questions that you would want to ask the client. There are two main reasons you must ask questions to the client,

  1. You must make sure that you clear all your doubts so as to be sure that you can complete the job. You simply cannot afford to take up a job you cannot complete even if the pay scale is higher.
  2. By asking relevant questions, you are also showing off your knowledge to the client. This will leave a positive impact on the client. But do remember, too many unnecessary question may turn out to be annoying to the client

9. Kick Off Meeting

After you are shortlisted, this is the final meeting before you work on the project. The primary purpose of this meeting is to decide the payment structure, work timings and other technical things related to the work. Make sure you are able to fulfill all the conditions put by the client including work timings and deadline for completing the project.

Stage 3: While Working On Upwork Project

10. Communicate Regularly With Client

You must regularly communicate with the client and keep him updated about the status of the project. You must also ask him for his feedback and inform him that if there is any scope for improvement you are more than willing to do it at no extra cost. Proper communication shows your professionalism and it is taken into account for your overall rating.

11. Clarify Doubts With Client

You must clarify your doubts with the client rather than doing it the wrong way. Remember, in most cases, a client will pay you on hourly basis. By doing things wrongly, you will be wasting his time and money. Though it can be settled personally, that is something you should avoid.

12. Be Responsive With Your Replies

If a client reaches out to you for some query, be sure to reply to him within 24 hours. Not responding for couple of days may leave a negative impact.

13. Keep Track Of Your Deadline

You should always respect the deadline mutually agreed while taking up the project. Some clients may even cancel contract if they do not get the project delivered within the stipulated time.

Stage 4: After Completion Of Project

14. Review Your Work

You must review your work before you submit to the client to check for any errors. A project full of errors will be fresh in the mind of the client while rating.

15. Offer Special Perks

If you are a beginner, you may offer a special discount of 5-10% to your client. This will make the client super happy and he may even write few lines recommending you apart from the 5-star ratings you are targeting.

16. Ask For Feedback

You must always ask your client to leave a feedback. Few clients may just skip this step unless you remind them. As I stated earlier, for a beginner, a positive feedback is more important than money.

17. Including Project In Your Portfolio

Unless the project is confidential, you should request the client to allow you to include the project in your portfolio. A project completed at Upwork is certainly going to be very important

18. Apply For New Job

While applying for a new Job, always mention in your cover letter about the ratings and recommendation of your previous employer. With a good rating, you are now more likely to get a job.

19. Quality Over Quantity

It is better to get fewer complex and high paying projects than many smaller projects. This will let you manage your time effectively and at the same time make your profile more impressive.

20. Have patience

Though above points will significantly improve your chances of getting more jobs, you need to be patient. A lot of freelancers put in lots of effort and quit when they do not see results immediately. The key here is to continue trying for your breakthrough. Once you get that, you will come off with flying colors. Remember,

Final Words

With increased competition, getting your initial breakthrough at Upwork is not very easy. However if you are talented and if you make sure to strictly follow these points, there are immense opportunities to grow.

Got any queries? Or have any suggestions? Do use the comment form below to let us know.

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 22 comments
Prasanna - November 2, 2017

Thanks for the post, it is very informative.

Hope you can answer my query, I am trying to take up writing part time (since it has been my interest) but my experience is in a totally different field (operations and inventory management). I’m guessing this is why my profile wasn’t approved on UpWork. I haven’t done any professional writing so far, though I have developed content for a friend’s website and brochure. Could I put these up in the portfolio and try again or is UpWork suitable for only those who want to take up projects relevant to their fields of expertise. Any insight will be appreciated. Thanks!

    Aquif Shaikh - November 2, 2017

    A different profile should not be the reason for disapproving of your Upwork profile. These days Upwork is very strict with regards to quality of freelancers registered with them. This is primarily because for long, Freelancers with least knowledge in their FoW, have been misusing the platform to bid on jobs which they are apparently unable to complete.

    This is especially the case with people from the Indian subcontinent. I am sure, there must be something in your profile which is triggering the red flag with UpWork. I suggest that you recreate a profile and make sure to complete the profile with all the relevant information relevant to your content writing niche and also include the writing gigs you discussed above in your Portfolio.

    If you still don’t get approved, you can try to contact Upwork customer support and see if they can help you out.

Fatima - September 25, 2017

Just what I need.


Hassan - July 9, 2017

It’s really an amazing article, keep up the good work. It clear my all points regarding upwork.

Kulavardana Thalapula - May 2, 2017

Very useful. Thanks:)

Sagar - April 16, 2017

Thank you Aquif. I really enjoyed reading your article. From quite some time now, Upwork has started rejecting profiles. This may be because of overflow of freelance applicants. Please let us know your thoughts on this and how to deal with this problem.

    Aquif Shaikh - April 17, 2017

    I guess that’s a great move by Upwork. Filtering applications would make sure spammers don’t flock the website.

Alok Kumar - March 23, 2017

Excellent information for a new aspiring freelancer on upwork.

Marija - March 11, 2017

Very useful tips. Thank you!

Bilal Ahmed - February 18, 2017


Really appreciated your work. it was really helpful keep sharing useful ideas. Thanks & Regards

Verna - February 4, 2017

Do companies ask freelancers for a refundable security? they emailed me something like this:

Refundable Security $ 47 USD(Refundable after one month)
Total pages 75
Time Limit 10 days
Payment $4 USD per page
Total payment $300 USD

this is scam right?

    Aquif Shaikh - April 17, 2017

    Of course, that is a scam. If someone asked you for payment at Upwork you must immediately report the same to Upwork customer support before others are scammed.

Jason Gomez - October 23, 2016

Very useful 👍

Bhanu Prakash - October 13, 2016

Very useful and motivated , will follow and keeping writing , thank you so much


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