Upwork Freelancing: It’s Not For Everyone


I frequent Upwork groups on Facebook, and while browsing the other day, I saw Florence’s Facebook post. He said:

I think this Upwork platform is for those that have started working there already. Not for beginners!

How can a newbie get a job? Even after shuffling the requirements to entry-level, those hirers would still be asking for 90% JSS with past works, and it’s so annoying…

I don’t think the platform is well-organized, and it’s also full of scammers.

Please, I will be glad to know if you have any other Freelancing platforms that are better.

Niche: Accounting, Finance, Data entry.

The post piqued my interest, so I asked permission from Florence if I could get a screenshot of his post and write an article about it. Why? Because it’s loaded.

In this post, I will answer some of the points he raised in the hope of sharing my learning and experience with others who might also be frustrated with not finding clients on Upwork or any other platforms. 

Freelancing is not for everyone.

Florence is right with his first point that Upwork is a platform for those that already have experience, and it’s certainly not for beginners. 

As a freelancer, you have to be an expert or a master in the skill you are selling. 

You must have some skills or achievements to sell yourself. You should have an extensive portfolio showcasing your previous work. So, if you’re just starting or curious about freelancing, it’s not for you.

Clients always need something in their business that they don’t have the skill for, and the cost-effective solution is to hire an expert freelancer who will take care of it. That’s where you come in. 

I’ve been a writer for 20 years. I have tried many things, including small business ownership, business process outsourcing, radio broadcasting, and marketing and sales. However, when the pandemic hit, I was forced to close my retail business and go back to writing and editing. I knew I needed a portfolio, so I quickly went into blogging and published it. If a client asks for a sample of my work, I can provide them with one (the article you are reading now becomes a part of my portfolio).

Most clients are wary of first-time freelancers because they don’t want to waste time and money on an inexperienced freelancer. It’s expensive, time-consuming and frustrating! 

There are two kinds of first-time freelancers (there are more but let’s focus on two). 

1. A person who wants to try freelancing on their own without any knowledge, experience, or skill thinking they can be successful by faking the skill and learning as they go. 

What’s the best advice I can give you? 

Clients can tell if you’re faking it or not. Your profile, cover letter, choice of words and attitude show it all. You have to get the experience to become the master of the skill you want to sell. If you want to become a master, your best course of action is to find employment where you can get the skills you need. Once you have gathered more than enough experience, you can go back and try freelancing. 

 2. A person who has all the experience, knowledge, and skill but decided they want to go into freelancing (I happened to be one of them). 

What’s the best advice I can give you?

How you market yourself as an expert is what matters in freelancing.

Upwork and other platforms can help you sell yourself in the best way possible. The problem is that many people aren’t using it. They are not researching ways to use a profile section correctly and to their advantage.

The profile description, for instance, is one of the best ways to advertise yourself. However, when composing your profile description, it is not enough to talk about yourself from beginning to end; this is where the marketing and sales angle come in. 

When writing your profile description, it’s best to start with the client’s problem (the one you’re attempting to solve), so you can position yourself as the ideal solution; this means you don’t begin your profile with “I am” or “Hello, my name is ” (this is the fastest way to get ignored on Upwork). Then, you close your profile description with a solid call to action.

Watch this video for a detailed description of optimizing your profile.  

Client Prerogative

On his second point, Florence expressed what most of us feel – how can a newbie get a job? Even after shuffling the requirements to entry-level, those hirers still ask for 90% JSS with past works, which is annoying.

Frankly, it is not very pleasant, but don’t take it personally.

It’s their right to be selective because it’s their money and time you will be wasting if you do not meet their qualification as the service provider.

You need to understand that FREELANCING IS NOT EMPLOYMENT; it’s a business. You need to be able to satiate a client’s requirement before you can do business with them, and if you find that annoying, your success in this industry will be a tough nut to crack. 

There are many types of clients on Upwork, and each has a specific requirement of the kind of freelancer they want to hire. This is part of the strategy I mentioned in the video about evaluating a job ad and using your Connects smartly. You can watch it here

Even if you try, you will only get rejected. It’s a waste of your time, your efforts, and your Upwork Connects. If you do not meet the criteria, ignore the job and move on to the next. 

Remember, part of a freelancer’s skill is the ability to search for jobs effectively. To get started, first find the right type of job or client you can best serve by filtering your searches. You can narrow your search down to those with specific requirements like experience, salary, work location, hours required, or project types that you know you can ace. 

Your frustration is understandable if you aren’t getting any clients despite the effort. You need to remember that, at any given time, you compete with thousands of people for the same job post. In this case, your best strategy is to keep working on your skills and abilities and improve your profile description and proposal to increase your visibility to potential clients.

Finally, it takes a little luck to succeed in this industry. Don’t expect too much too fast. Take a step back and evaluate your effort and lack of results. Ask yourself, “What am I doing that other successful freelancers aren’t?” or the opposite “, What are others doing that I am not?”  The answer to this question should give you some idea of how to improve and make your Upwork career as successful as possible.

Regarding Upwork as a platform

“I don’t think the platform is well organized and full of scammers.”

My experience with Upwork is somewhat the opposite. I find the platform well-structured, and although it requires a learning curve, it’s pretty easy to navigate. 

The one thing that confused me with Upwork when I was new was how to track the hours rendered and the payment status, but a quick search on Google led me to a tab that showed me everything I needed.

As with anything in life, Upwork needs a little getting used to. If you know how to read (which I’m pretty sure you do), and you’re patient enough to learn about Upwork, you’ll have no problem at all navigating the platform. 

This is why, if you ask any tenured Upwork freelancer, they’ll tell you to spend an hour reading the terms and conditions. The problem is that most first-time freelancers have become so comfortable posting questions on Facebook groups instead of doing the research themselves. To these folks, asking the group members a question is “research.” It is, but it’s still a lazy way of going about things (no offence to some who love doing this). 

So, go ahead and read the terms and conditions. They will be of great help. Don’t worry about the fact that they change now and then. This is something that happens, and it’s completely normal. Ensure you follow the terms and conditions so you don’t get suspended or banned permanently.

If you struggle to use the platform, remember that practice breeds familiarity. So, keep using it every day, and your time spent on it will pay off. 

Regarding Scammers

Anywhere you go, there will be scammers. So long as you are taking advantage of the platform to earn extra cash, the scammers will come to hunt for prey. Be smart, and don’t fall into their trap.

Knowing their modus is the key to combatting scamming on Upwork, and do you know where you can find information on how to avoid getting scammed? Upwork’s Terms and Conditions. So, please read it. 

What are the telltale signs of a scam job on Upwork? 

There are several warning signs. However, you shouldn’t take anything at face value until you have verified it. So, here are the five red flags that should make you think twice before sending a proposal or agreeing to a job offer.

  1. The client’s account is relatively new and payment unverified, with no hiring activity, no projects paid, no freelancer reviews, etc. A scammer’s account is consistently reported by freelancers or caught and closed by Upwork, so their strategy is to keep creating new accounts.
  2. The job post offers a ridiculous amount of money for a mundane task (typing PDF into MS word for $1000), and the description is short and vague. 
  3. When you send them a proposal, they quickly reply to tell you to contact them outside Upwork (WhatsApp, Telegram). This move violates the terms and conditions of Upwork.
  4. They will not offer you an Upwork contract. Instead, they will give you a fake one. Contracts outside Upwork are useless. You wont be able to use it against them when you need to.
  5. When you are done with the task, they tell you that you must pay a fee before your payment is released. They have many names for this fee: deposit, ID card, membership, tax, premium, insurance, activation, and many more. The terms they use on these fees make it sound so necessary and obligatory to force the unsuspecting freelancer to pay. If you are gullible enough to send them money, they disappear.

As I mentioned, be wise, and arm yourself with information to avoid falling for these scams. 

Conclusion

Upwork is an excellent platform if you have more than enough experience and the right skill to market. If you want clients to hire you, invest in yourself by ensuring you are skilled and experienced. Finally, to be competitive on Upwork is to increase your visibility via an optimized profile and well-written cover letter. 

I sincerely thank Florence for allowing me to borrow his post and turn it into a blog.

I hope this helps you out. Good luck!


2 responses to “Upwork Freelancing: It’s Not For Everyone”

  1. Thank you for this, quite enlightening.
    As a beginner, the frustrating part for me is the proposal writing. It never always looks perfect to me and when you see the post, it’s at 5proposals and when you submit your 😳 boom 50+ proposals.
    How is one supposed to compete with that?

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