I’ve been working this week to put the final touches on my Upwork course. Since I firmly believe in testing and data to back up claims (I guess that’s the PhD candidate in me coming out), I went ahead and did some old-school style research and marketing on Upwork.

When I started on Elance in 2012, I had no idea what I was doing. I was engaging in the scattershot approach, applying to anything and everything. It worked for awhile, but it also made a lot more work for me, since I was a little too all over the place. Learning trial by fire since then, I have refined and exercised my freelance search process on sites just like Upwork. Since I’ve honestly been so booked with clients for the last three months that I haven’t been actively bidding on the site, I decided to jump back in and make sure my techniques still worked.  I’ve had several coaching clients get the same results, but there’s nothing like the magic of seeing that your own advice still applies!

I started last Thursday, using my search tactics and a newly-written “cover letter”.

Within four days, I had booked $2000+ in additional income. I should also add that $1500 of that is in the form of recurring monthly work, meaning the clients will order work each and every month. I was beyond excited to realize that I still “had it” and that there are plenty of amazing clients out there! I’ll also share that my marketing took about two hours total. That’s to say nothing of the two clients still thinking things over, which would represent $1500 more in revenue.

This is probably my favorite thing about sites like Upwork. When things are a little slow, or when you’re looking to expand your workload into a new type of writing, putting a little elbow grease in your marketing there can pay off tremendously.

As I shared above, when I got started, I had no clue what I was doing. It was impossible to find resources that helped me- most were outdated. It seemed to be hit or miss whether I’d land jobs at first, meaning that I probably missed out on some amazing opportunities while I was applying to anything and everything.

Over time, though, my process refined. There are really just a few steps to success on Upwork, and here they are:

  • A great profile
  • A killer pitch and work samples
  • Feedback (if you have it)

You don’t even need feedback if you’re brand new- you just have to put a little more work into those other two aspects to make you stand head and shoulders above the competition. So many new freelancers I speak with say “Of course it’s easy for you, you’re an established writer on the site.” Two things on that:

  • When I started in 2012, I had no experience. I had never been paid to write ANYTHING before. I was competing against companies doing $100k/year and $400k/year on Elance and soon I was winning bids over them! It’s because I figured out the system and I studied my competition so I could position myself directly against them.
  • When Elance merged over to Upwork, it was like starting all over. Due to a buggy transition, I only had four pieces of feedback on my profile for the first month. Four. I had to combat my claims that I was this experienced writer with only four pieces of feedback in every job I applied for there. Even with that barrier, I landed three new and high-paying clients in my first ten days on the site. You can absolutely start from nothing and work your way up!

Listen, if you’re new to Upwork, whether you’re an established freelancer looking to use the site or a brand new freelancer, I get it. I’ve been there. I made $150 my first couple of weeks on the site and I was thrilled. That grew into a six-figure enterprise faster than I expected.

It’s really easy to give up, especially if you’re submitting dozens of bids but not getting any bites. I encourage you, though, to stick it out and refine your own systems. If you can prove talent and value, you can snag jobs off of this site, including those that pay you monthly for recurring work.

How are you using Upwork to support your freelance career?