“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 $80,000 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 $600,000 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.
Good Freelancers Can Easily Double Their Income on Upwork
In fact, I would wager that there is more demand for high-quality freelancers on Upwork than there is supply.
That means there is a great opportunity for you to double your income on Upwork IF you are a high-quality freelancer.
Does that mean you have to be the best freelancer there ever was in your field? Absolutely not.
But, it does mean you can’t just go in there and expect it to rain money. It’s going to take some effort ESPECIALLY in the beginning.
You’ll get frustrated. You’ll feel like quitting. BUT, if you stick with it it will be a source of clients for years to come.
Here are a few things I did early on that set me up to double my income in the course of a year mainly from the projects I won on Upwork.
1. Do the Work to Stand Out From Other Upwork Freelancers
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.
You’d actually be surprised how easy it just might be to stand out on Upwork.
I’ve posted jobs on Upwork AND I’ve had friends tell me of THEIR experience post jobs on Upwork.
It’s pretty clear that some freelancers didn’t even read the job description.
SO, just doing a little bit of work will make your job proposal rise to the top. BUT, don’t stop there. Go on to do more
Maybe it’s the quality of your work. Maybe it’s the mix of skills you provide or the specific experience you have.
Guaranteed you can’t phone it in. If you want to double your income on Upwork you have to think and be creative about what it is you do that will make you an obvious choice.
2. Polish Your Upwork 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.
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.
Also, make sure to think from your potential client’s perspective as you’re working on your profile.
If you were a client on Upwork, what would you want to know about the freelancer you’re going to hire?
Build your profile from that perspective.
Another thing you can do is look at what other successful freelancers in your field are putting on their profiles. I call this profile-hacking.
Upwork has pages dedicated to their best freelancers per category. Take web designers!
Visit a successful web design freelancer profile on Upwork and take notes about what they’re doing. Use that as inspiration for your own profile.
And, be sure to come back often to fine-tune your profile to be even more effective.
3. Learn How to Filter
Not every job is worth a bid. Not only do bids cost something 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.
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.
It’s a good exercise to try and think about who your ideal Upwork client would be.
You do this in 2 ways. You consider your hard skills like web design, development, UX research etc.
AND, you consider your soft skills. For instance, are you a relationship-driven person? OR are you SUPER detail-oriented?
Now take those mix of hard and soft skills and try to think of the type of client you would serve best.
Always have that person in mind when you’re filtering out jobs on Upwork.
One important note on hard skills: the more specific you can be the better. So, don’t call yourself a “web developer” and think you’re good. Get more specific.
What programming language are you best at? What type of projects do you work best on? Get into the weeds on this stuff so you can really know what types of clients you’d serve best.
4. Customize Your Upwork 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, and what their interests are. Then put that in your bid!
I was recently emailed by a company that I had signed up for a trial. 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.
BUT, don’t be creepy and don’t contact people outside of Upwork. That can be pretty annoying. This is like trying to get a second date.
You don’t want to seem needy BUT you do want to seem like you actually care enough to get to know the people you’re trying to work with.
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.
There are ways to get push notifications on your phone with the Upwork app. That way you know instantly when a client reaches out to you.
I got really good at replying to clients from my phone as well.
That way if I was away from my computer I could still interact with a client and show them that I was serious about working with them.
6. Under Promise and Over Deliver for Your Upwork Clients
It’s not enough to just win jobs if you want to double your income with Upwork. You actually need to have happy clients.
Upwork’s feedback system is pretty complicated AND it’s a huge part of whether or not you are able to get good clients.
I should know. I’ve been on the losing side of the Upwork Job Success Score and have had to crawl my way out.
But, one way to almost certainly get bad ratings from clients and lose your chance to make decent money on Upwork is to not follow through with what you say you’re going to do.
It’s easy to feel pressured to promise the world to clients in order to just get the project.
“Can you build me a site that makes me $1 million in 3 months?”
“Yes…let’s make it $2 million in 1.5 months!”
Resist the urge to do something like that!
The best way to make a client happy is to promise them less than what you think you can actually do.
So, if you conservatively think something will take you 2 weeks tell the client you can have it done in 4 weeks.
If you get it done in 2 then you’ve exceeded their expectations!
Will this result in you losing the job?
But, trust me, you don’t want to promise something you can’t be sure of just to win the client. That is a recipe for bad performance which leads to bad feedback which leads to not doubling your income on Upwork.
Most of the time, if you’re honest, clients appreciate it and end up hiring you anyways.
7. Specify Your Goal
The idea of “doubling your income on Upwork” sounds pretty good.
But, what does that mean specifically? How much money do you need to make? How much time will that take you?
You need to get real specific about what you need to accomplish and then track your progress.
I’m a big fan of S.M.A.R.T. goals.
S.M.A.R.T. goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Get it? It’s an acronym.
So, make your goal specific. Instead of saying I want to “double my income on Upwork.” Say, “I want to make $60k on Upwork.”
Make it measurable by creating a google sheet and tracking every time a client pays you.
Make it achievable by being realistic. Don’t say you’re going to double your income on Upwork in 2 months. That’s not realistic.
When you make unrealistic goals it ends up being demotivating. So, make sure that what you’re trying to accomplish is achievable for you.
In my opinion, the achievability of doubling your income on Upwork isn’t about the amount of money you’re trying to make as much as it is the time you’re trying to make it in. So, give yourself some cushion on how long it’s going to take you.
Make the goal relevant by tying it back to what’s really important to you. I don’t know about you but I’m not super motivated by money.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t refuse money if somebody said they wanted to give me some. BUT, it’s more about what the money does.
It has the ability to provide stability for my family. It can be a source of opportunity for my kid’s future. It has the potential to create moments of connection on summer vacations.
That’s what I’m really after.
So, figure out what you’re really after and then make the connection to what you’re trying to accomplish.
Finally, make the goal time-bound by giving it a specific deadline.
This might be difficult if you’re new to the platform. SO, the best thing to do is make an educated guess and then adjust the more data you get.
Bottom-line, if you do just 2 or 3 of these things you’re ahead of the game.
The point is don’t just think you can “speak a goal out to the universe” and actually expect anything to happen.
Get practical and put some intentionality into doubling your income on Upwork.
8. Keep At It
My history with Upwork has not been flawless.
It took me a long time to get my first project. I’ve had seasons where I’ve lost my top-rated status. I’ve had horrible clients. My Job Success Score has plummeted to 78%.
BUT, I kept going.
And, that’s the reason I was able to double my income with Upwork.
You will most likely come to a place where you feel frustrated. You will wonder if Upwork is really worth it.
But, if you stick with it you’ll find like I did and many others have that Upwork is a great place to find high-paying clients that you love to work with.
But, you won’t figure that out if you quit too soon. So, don’t give up easily.
This is the one place where it’s okay to be hard-headed.
The Truth About Doubling Your Income on Upwork
Tell me the truth.
Did you think of Upwork as a get-rich-quick type opportunity before reading this article?
It’s easy to do.
There’s a lot of opportunity on the platform. After all, it’s the biggest freelancing platform in the world.
But, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a piece of cake. It’s going to take work. It’s going to take effort.
You’ll have to overcome a lot of things to make it.
BUT, it’s possible.
Doubling your income with 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.
Approach your goal carefully and with eyes wide open and one day you’ll be telling people that talk smack about Upwork that they don’t know what they’re talking about.