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How to Double Your Income with Upwork

Chris Misterek

“You’ll never make real money on Upwork. People only go there for cheap, poor quality work.”

Those are the things I was told when I first started building a portfolio on Upwork. And, here we are now I’ve made over $70,000 from Upwork alone.

Oh, and don’t forget about all the projects that came as a result of happy Upwork clients. When people are happy, they keep coming back and they talk to their friends.

Take Morgan Overhault for example. She’s made over $200,000 through Upwork.

Here’s the truth: good clients go to Upwork looking for quality freelancers every day, and they’re willing to pay for expertise.

So, the question isn’t if you should do it. The question is how. Here are a few things I did early on that set me up to double my income in the course of a year.

  1. Do the Work to Stand Out

    That may seem obvious but it’s harder than you think. There are thousands of other freelancers competing with you.

    I know of people whose applications were denied because they couldn’t set themselves apart from the growing pool of freelancers already available.

    So, do what you can to tell people why what you offer is different.

    Maybe it’s the quality of your work. Maybe it’s the mix of skills you provide or the specific experience you have.

    But, guaranteed you can’t phone it in. You have to think and be creative about what it is you can do that will make you an obvious choice.

  2. Stroke Your Profile

    The only place potential clients can interact with who you are outside of messages is through your profile.

    So, deck it out. Fill out every field possible, even the video!

    I actually got an $8,000 project from the video alone! A company in the UK saw my video and wanted me to build a basic HTML and CSS course as a result.

    So, don’t leave that part out.

    Also, be sure to have a  really good headshot. This isn’t essential to be successful BUT a quality headshot legitimizes you as a freelancer.

    If you take a selfie with your phone with your bathroom in the background it’s likely that clients won’t take you seriously.

  3. Learn How to Filter

    Not every job is worth a bid. Not only do bids cost something now BUT more importantly bad bids take time away from the jobs that are actually a good fit for you.

    So, there is a way to filter out the less relevant jobs.

    To do this well you’ve got to think about what job fits you best. When I first got started I filtered out all of the clients who had already done multiple projects through Upwork.

    My thinking was that clients who had already hired a lot of freelancers through Upwork would probably not want to hire a freelancer with little experience on Upwork.

    So, rather than waste a bid, I filtered them out right away.

    Then after you filter once you can save the search and it’s available anytime you access your job feed. 

    You can see here I’m pretty successful at getting interviews.

    Upwork Marketing Tools Screenshot

    A few things to note about this. My profile was viewed less often and I was hired less often but I was interviewed much more often than most freelancers.

    Here’s the reason: I figured out a way to apply to jobs that were the best fit for me.

    I don’t need to be viewed most often. I just need to be viewed by the right client. I don’t need to be hired more often. I just need to be hired by the right clients at the right price.

  4. Customize Your Bid

    If you’re copying and pasting some stale bid then the chances of you standing out are pretty low.

    Think of this as a job interview. Find out as much as you can about the potential client as possible.

    This might be tough if they haven’t given many details in their profile. But, even if you can find a name, you’ve got something.

    Take that and search on LinkedIn. Figure out who they’re connected to, what their interests are and put that in your bid!

    I was recently emailed by a company that I had signed up for a trial with. The salesperson reached out and congratulated me on my new job.

    This was personal information that they only would have known if they actually cared and researched.

    Do the work and become a potential client private investigator.

  5. Follow Up Quickly

    If you get any type of personal interaction from a potential client you have to respond instantly.

    I don’t get the interviews that I wait to reply to. I only get the ones that I reply to instantly.

    The potential client will be impressed with your quick response and it will say something about how you will interact with them in the future. 

Getting good clients on Upwork is possible. If I’ve done it I know you can do it. A little bit of intentionality and a lot of grit will get you there.

What about you? What’s your proven method for getting projects on Upwork? What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced there?

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