Create a tagline for your profile and live up to it. My tagline is, “Your last stop for integrity.” I saw so many clients getting burned over and over by hiring someone for the lowest bid and getting just what they paid for. Then they would come back to me, pleading with me to do something with the mess they had on their hands. Not everyone is looking for integrity, but those that are usually have integrity themselves, and you will find them much easier to deal with in the long run.
Vetting your clients. In the beginning you can always vet clients by limiting yourself to those who have a proven track record (job fulfillment and feedback); then once you get a feel for the industry, you can branch out. I have gotten a lot of decent contracts from first time clients, but first timers have to show me in their ad that they are sincere and have some integrity. I always look to see that they have at least verified their payment method. Then I know they’re serious.
How not to be intimidated by the bidding process. It’s a good idea, at least in the beginning, to pay the $10 a month for membership. This gives you more tokens with which to apply for jobs, plus it shows you what the average bids are for the job. When you know what the average bids + the high and low bids are, briefly look at the competition you’re up against. If you think you can blow these people out of the water, then bid whatever you like. If you think you’re probably on par with the others, bid at or just slightly below the average bid. Just remember that Elance is going to take 10% of what you get paid, so make sure that you use the proposal form to indicate what you want and Elance will figure their fee and charge it to the client. Where you need to be cautious is in having an email conversation and saying you’ll do something for $50. If you want $50, make sure your bid is for $55, or tell your client, $50 plus Elance fees.
Apply for more positions than you can handle. About 80% of the positions for which you apply will not even follow through on hiring someone. That’s why you have to apply for a lot, and why you need the extra tokens that you get through your membership. If you get booked up and still have more applications out there, you can withdraw them. Easier to apply for a lot and withdraw applications when you’re full up than not applying for enough and ending up with nothing.
Update for 1/23/16
Spend time creating a complete profile. If you want to get noticed both by Upwork and by prospective clients, take the time to create a complete profile including work history, portfolio pieces, photo, and verifying your ID and financial information.
Take tests. There are nearly 200 tests you can take which will vet you in specific areas. If you don’t like your score, you can hide it from public view and retake it in 30 days. I recently retook a test where my new score took me from the top 20% to the top 10% of test results.
Then all it takes is 10 or 12 successful jobs to begin to get Upwork to take notice. When they do, they will start promoting you. They already have an automatic program which starts popping your profile up to prospective clients once you’ve reached a certain success level and are in the talent pool the client is looking in. But that’s not all.
As of this month, they have created a new position where they have Upwork assistants who help first-time clients find the contractor most likely to give them a great first-time experience. I recently garnered a $3000 contract in that way because I am now a “Top-Rated” contractor.
There are so many ways to be successful on Upwork. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions.
If you already have expertise, possibly publishing credits you can list or something to add to your portfolio, it gets easier. I rarely have to apply for contracts any more; they usually come to me. Instead of detailing all my background and expertise for them, unless there is something specific that makes you stand out for their contract, I usually just add a line that says, “A brief perusal of my Upwork profile and portfolio should show you that I have the expertise you seek.”
Once you create your account on Upwork, feel free to go here to look at my profile.