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How to Find Great Freelance Jobs on Upwork at Any Experience Level

There are many great jobs on Upwork that pay well…but how do you find them?

When I joined Upwork, I had no idea how it actually worked. I had a little bit of experience and a few samples to my name. That was it. But, by taking the time to learn the platform, I was able to find some of my best clients on Upwork, despite some people saying it wasn’t possible. 

Here’s what I know about the platform, why being on it is an opportunity for freelancers, and how to find and land gigs on Upwork that you’re excited about.

The state of Upwork today

There’s a common misconception that only low-budget clients are on Upwork. But, that isn’t the case. According to Upwork’s Annual Impact Report, over 30% of Fortune 100 companies hired freelancers on Upwork in 2020.

Upwork has been a driving force in the world of freelance work for years, and that isn’t likely to change any time soon. It’s the largest global freelancing website. Businesses of all sizes use it, and that includes freelance business owners at all stages of their careers. 

So, why does it get such a bad rap?

One reason many freelancers choose to stay away from Upwork is that when you find a client on their job board, you aren’t in control of the relationship. You have to take note of Upwork’s terms and conditions to ensure you aren’t breaking any rules. There’s also a fee that the platform takes out of what the client pays you. 

Another reason is that many people find that there are a lot of low-paying clients on the platform, and all Upwork has to offer is jobs for beginners. Bigger budget jobs, with big-name clients, are on Upwork but, it isn’t always as easy to see them. It can be even more difficult to pitch and win them. That’s why it’s so important to approach finding jobs out of work the right way, so you can win those opportunities.

While these, and other drawbacks are ones you shouldn’t ignore, there are plenty of reasons to get on and use Upwork. If you’re able to start landing gigs and secure clients on the platform, that’s a positive thing. 

Everyone could use more cash, right?

How do I find a job on Upwork?

After learning that you can find good clients on Upwork, the next thing you wonder might be…how do you make that a reality? The easiest way to find a job on Upwork is to search the platform itself and use the filters that they provide to uncover the potential clients you actually want. 

  1. First, go to the “Find Work” page to access your job feed. Then, you can choose to sort by “best matches” or “most recent.”

Best matches: Browse jobs that match your experience to a client’s hiring preferences.  These appear in order, by most relevant.

Most recent: Allows you to browse the most recent jobs that match your skills and profile description to the skills clients are looking for.

2. You can also go to the “my categories” section of the page, and select the categories of services that you offer clients.

Just click the pencil icon. Then, you can select your categories and gain the ability to filter by them.

That covers the common ways people search from the job feed page, but you’ll be even more successful when you move beyond your feed and use the search function

3. Do a keyword search that relates to the gigs you want to get in the search bar. In this example, I entered writing in the search bar. 

From here, you can narrow things down even further to uncover gigs that could be a good fit for you.

4. You will again have the option to filter by category if you choose to. You can also check off an experience level, entry, intermediate, or expert. 

Unfortunately, Upwork doesn’t provide much guidance here. They only state to “be truthful in selecting your experience level. Setting inappropriate expectations may make it difficult to satisfy your client(s) and could adversely impact your reputation.” 

So, what should you select if you want to ensure that you’ll have a successful relationship with each client?

This is a simple way to approach it.

When you’re just starting out as a freelancer, go with entry level.

If you have a specialized skill and/or a few years of experience, choose intermediate.

If you have several years of experience or have been able to get great results with several clients, choose expert.

Keep in mind that clients make a selection for the skill level they want for their gig. That’s typically tied to the amount they’re willing to pay.

6. Next, you can filter by job type, hourly, or fixed price. There’s no right or wrong here, it just comes down to how you prefer to work.

However, no matter which one you choose, it is a good idea to filter by budget.

If you select hourly, you can set a minimum and maximum hourly rate. Entering values here will ensure you only see jobs in the range you want. 

If you select fixed price, you can check off a range from less than $100 a project to $5K+. Low-budget projects will usually be a shorter-term commitment, and higher-budget projects often take more time to complete. 

6. Next, you can filter by the number of proposals that have been submitted for jobs on Upwork. You’ll find more details about why that matters and how you can use this information to your advantage in a few moments. 

7. Another section to pay attention to is client history, which refers to the number of hires a client had made on Upwork.

A higher number of hires means a client has experience working with freelancers. No hires mean they don’t have experience with Upwork and could mean that this potential client is trying to work with a freelancer for the first time.

8. The next two filters to consider using are project length and hours per week. 

Project length: Select options from less than 1 month to more than 6 months.

Hours per week: Choose less than 30 hours per week or more than 30 hours per week.

Again, there’s no right or wrong answer with these two filters. Choose the option that best fits the way you want to work.

Do you have to use every filter?

No, but the more specific you can be in your search criteria, the more likely it is that you’ll find jobs on Upwork that suit you. Try out the different filters and see what jobs come up as a result. Once you’re happy with your search, you can save it which will make it easy to reaccess it in the future. 

Is it hard to get hired on Upwork?

It isn’t necessarily difficult to get hired on Upwork. However, it’s more challenging to find gigs that you are fit for and ones that are worth your time. You need to find gigs that are a match for your experience or interests. you also need to make sure that you have a portfolio that can back up the skills you’re saying that you have.  beyond that, though there are things you need to be looking at on Upwork’s website to find gigs that are truly a perfect fit.

Which jobs should you apply for on Upwork?

Every freelancer is different,  but there are some things that you should keep in mind when you’re applying for gigs on Upwork if you want to use the platform and find success. 

Number of proposals submitted

 If there have already been 50 proposals submitted before you get to a job, a client may not even see your proposal.  You should always pitch gigs that you feel like you’re a good fit for even if they do already have a number of proposals submitted. However, it’s a good idea to prioritize gigs that don’t have a lot of proposals yet because there’s a better chance that your proposals to clients will actually be seen.

Client reviews

On Upwork, freelancers can leave reviews for their clients. This is a goldmine of information for you. Before you even apply for a gig, check and see if the clients have any reviews on what it’s like to work with them. If they have a lot of bad ratings, you can steer clear and move on to a different gig. 

Amount and rate paid

Now, take a look at the amount that a client has paid out on up work as well as their average rate per hour. If a client is new to up work and hasn’t paid out a lot of money yet, it doesn’t mean that they need to be completely avoided but it’s definitely a good sign if they’ve paid out money on the platform, and paid out an average rate that similar to or higher than your rate.

What do I do if I can’t get jobs on Upwork?

If you can’t get a gig on Upwork, it’s time to take a closer look at your profile. Make sure it’s completely filled out and take a look at seasoned freelancers and doing the same type of work as you that are currently active on the platform.

What are they doing? How is that different from what you’re currently doing? Make some adjustments based on what you discover, and then try pitching more gigs to see if it makes a difference. 

This may take some trial and error, however, the most important thing is to showcase your relevant experience and interest. Start with your profile, and carry this over into every job proposal that you send. You want to make it clear to prospective clients that you are the right person to choose for their gig.

How to perfect your profile and land jobs on Upwork

Ready to make the most of the world’s largest freelance platform? Perfecting your profile will help you accomplish that. I put together a cheat sheet of my top six Upwork profile tips to help you. Grab it for free below.

Do you have additional questions about getting jobs on Upwork? Leave a comment below or reach out on Twitter. Or, read more about my personal experience on Upwork.

Header image from RawPixel

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