How to land your first job on Upwork

About Upwork

A friend of mine recently came to me complaining that despite having made several applications, he was yet to land his first job on Upwork. To those who are not in the know, Upwork is one of the world’s premier freelancing website. It is the place where “clients,” people who have jobs that need to be done, and the planet’s horde of desperate and disparate job-seekers meet. If, like my friend, you have begun to despair about ever landing your first job on Upwork, here is a brief list of what you need to do in order to get going;

Upwork has over 12 million registered freelancers

About Upwork

If you think Upwork is one of those online ventures that are going nowhere, then you need to think again. Freelancing is a huge business, and, as it turns out, it is one of the least appreciated ways of making money online.

That’s probably because, unlike most of the money making ventures that are floating out there, you actually have to do real work in order to survive on Upwork. Freelancing is, as I have discovered, not get rich quick scheme!

Upwork boasts of having over 12 million registered freelancers. 3 million jobs are posted on the site each year. There are over 5 million clients and, most importantly, the site facilitates over $1 billion of work annually.

Getting started as a Freelancer is not easy task

As my advice-seeking friend found, getting started on Upwork is not an easy task. Not because it is difficult to get registered and set up. That, as it turns out, is actually the easiest part. Much more difficult is trying to land your first job.

Too many desperate Job Seekers

There are more freelancers than clients on upwork
There are more freelancers than clients on Upwork

The number of clients (potential employers), is surpassed by the number of desperate job seekers on Upwork by at least 2 to 1. In fact, as I have discovered myself, each job that is posted attracts an average of 50 freelancers.

Of course, that is dependent upon the profession for which you are looking to sell your services, but for me, as a writer, things did appear to be rather bleak at the beginning. So, how do you land your first job on Upwork? To answer this question, I shall draw on my own experience;

  1. Only apply for jobs that you are actually good at

This is a point that is often missed by newbie freelancer in the rush to start earning money. Due to the excitement of the moment, people who have just signed up tend to apply for a wide range of jobs, without consideration to whether or not they can actually do them. I am a pretty versatile person, and when I first joined Upwork, I had the idea that I was going to apply for all manners of jobs, including transcribing, writing, editing and Joomla and WordPress web developments.

As already mentioned, I am versatile and can actually do all of these jobs perfectly well. However, I soon discovered that in order to get going, I needed to narrow my focus to something that I was exceptional at.

The choice was relatively easy. While I could transcribe video and audio files relatively easily, I soon discovered that that field is so flooded that there are desperate freelancers who are offering to work on hour long files for free! I am not making this stuff up. In fact, working for no pay at all is one of the pieces of advice that you will constantly get across the internet concerning the subject of how to land your first job.

I believe it’s pretty miserable for anyone to work for nothing, and I am not going to give you that piece of advice. Anyone who has ever sat down with earphones plugged to the ears while listening to barely audible audio files will tell you that it is criminal for anyone to offer to pay a dollar or two dollars, as happens on Upwork, to have the work done.

The whole point here is, whatever you do, only apply for those jobs that you can do perfectly. Making applications for jobs that you are only half good at is going to cost you, both in terms of time and reputation.

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  1. Apply for jobs as soon as they appear on Upwork

As mentioned earlier, there are millions of people across the globe, including in India, with its population of over 1.3 billion. All of these people are desperately looking for ways through which they can make a living. That is why you should be quick in applying for any job that catches your eye.

The day that I started as a freelancer, I applied for some jobs that were over two weeks old, because I didn’t know any better. The truth though is that if a job is that old, it has probably been assigned to someone else, or the client never really bothered to hire anyone.

What then, is the best way of applying for a first job on Upwork? Well, the answer is simple enough.

Stay glued to your screen and as soon as a job that you can do appears, be one of the first to make an application. This is the one place where being good is not going to help you get started, because there are millions of others out there who are probably as good, if not better than you are.

  1. Check out your time zone and apply only when India and Pakistan are asleep

If, like me, you are not in India, then this is the best piece of advice that you are going to get. As mentioned earlier, there are so many people looking for jobs on Upwork that your application is usually lost in a sea of frantic job-seekers. That could be one of the reasons why you may be finding ti difficult to get your first job on Upwork.

The one way that I have found of beating the system is by timing my applications for times when people in India,Pakistan and Bangladesh are asleep. That way, there won’t be so many of us vying for the same job.

Of course, this piece of advice will be of little use to my readers in India, unless of course if they are willing to wake up in the proverbial dead of the night in order to make their applications.

  1. Don’t throw all you connects away at once

Upwork assigns each Freelancer 60 connects every month; two of which are used to apply for a single job. What this means is that you can only apply for 30 jobs in a single month. Should you fail to get your first job on Upwork using those connects, then you need to either buy some more or wait for the end of the month.

Most beginners are oblivious to this fact, and waste connects on, as I was guilty of myself, applications for jobs that are a month old.

Connects on Upwork are a finite resource. You should, therefore, use them wisely. Don’t waste yours on jobs that you are not going to get because you are not qualified to do them. When I started out, I would make a couple of applications every single day, knowing I would need my connects in the long run.

  1. I never apply for jobs where payment is unverified

This point is based on personal preferences and should not be taken as a solid rule. What I have discovered is that for all the applications that I have made for work on Upwork, not once have I gotten a job from a client whose payment information has not been verified.

I know that having an unverified payment method does not mean that a client is not genuine. In some cases, all that it means is that the client’s payment method is still yet to be verified. However, whatever the arguments, I have discovered that most of these people never really follow through on their job listings.

  1. Landing your first job on Upwork: Its all about perseverance

The final bit of advice that I am going to give to the beginner freelancer who is struggling to land his or her first job on Upwork is that, as with everything else, they should just be persistent. You are probably not going to land your first job with your first application, unless you are extremely lucky.

What you need to understand is that clients on Upwork are not there for your pleasure and benefit. They are there to get certain things done. Moreover, they are paying their hard earned money to freelancers to have these tasks done.

As such, you need to ask yourself, if you were in their shoes, were you going to hire an individual who is just looking to land their first job on Upwork? And would you take the risk, knowing that there are thousands of freelancers who actually have the necessary experience, who would be willing to work for them. As you can see, Upwork is brutal on beginner freelancers.

How did I land my first job? Do a good job

I was lucky to find, for my first job on Upwork, a client who was willing to hire me to carry out some internet research project. As you can see, this had nothing to do with content writing, which is my area of expertise. I did such a good job that the client in question gave me a $5 bonus, on top of the $10 on which we had agreed. From there, I started getting content writing jobs, albeit at very low rates.

Today, I no longer even need to use a single connect to apply for jobs in any given month. I have regular clients, and my rate has steadily risen to where it is today. It’s still hard work carrying out research and producing the articles, but what work is not hard work?

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