Friends and acquaintances have been asking me about finding success on Upwork.
Since the pandemic, it’s getting more competitive on Upwork as more people flocked to the platform.
Even in my niche, which isn’t as big as others, (people know me as Mr. SharePoint), I am seeing more and more freelancers sending proposals to job posts.
When it comes to finding work on the platform, let me tell you the same truth that I told my friends:
You do not have to offer everything to everyone. I became successful on Upwork because I found a niche and focused on doing work with the right clients.
How to find your superpower
It’s easy to complicate matters when it comes to freelancing. For myself, the steps I took are more straightforward than you might think.
I simply chose a niche that I enjoy. Since I enjoy what I do, it often doesn’t feel like I am working at all.
Here’s how I found my superpower and how you can too:
Step #1: Figure out what you love
As a freelancer on Upwork, there are so many things you can do. But if you want to find success, you need to be focused.
How do you do this?
Ask yourself what you love doing. It might be something that comes easy to you (which can be challenging for other people).
Think of your natural strengths and abilities. What do you often get complimented on?
It could be anything from creative writing to web development or even teaching online courses. It doesn’t have to be something complicated.
Step #2: Focus on it
Once you’ve found your niche, focus on it.
It was easy for me when I started on Upwork since I already had the experience and all I had to do was focus on it.
From there, I learned new skills. But those that I learned are all relevant or connected to Microsoft, SharePoint, and digital process automation, my original skill sets.
There’s no need to try and cover everything you have to offer in your profile. Doing so will often make clients think you’re not an expert in any field.
Instead, select what you love doing the most and focus on it.
Step #3: Narrow down what you offer
Once you’ve sorted out what you love doing, make a list of the specific projects or tasks you would like to offer.
It could be writing a book, creating an online course, doing web development, or filling out forms.
Once you’re done with that, narrow down the list to three (3) things you want to do. This helps in creating your proposal template and cover letter.
Step #4: Make a list of past projects (optional)
This step is optional since it depends on whether or not you already have experience with the three things you’ve decided to offer.
Since Upwork is now more competitive than ever, it’s important to promote yourself on the platform so potential clients can see who you are and what you can do.
If you have worked with a client before, make a list of your best project experiences with them.
This can make all the difference in helping them choose you instead of someone else.
Step #5: Create a proposal template and cover letter
Your template can save you time as you won’t have to create your proposal and cover letter from scratch.
Now, a good proposal not only tells them what you do but why you are worth the price. This is where your past experiences come in handy.
Take note that although you will create a template, you still have to customize it for the job and make it more personalized.
Some tips for creating a great proposal and cover letter:
- Do more than answer the client’s questions —provide recommendations for what the client needs
- Use the word “investment” when referring to payments or rates
- Find a way to make your results measurable — and tell your client how to measure the results
How to tap your superpower to the max
Now that you have found your superpower and the related skills you will offer, let’s talk about what you can do to maximize it:
1. Remember: Reputation = Everything
As a freelancer, our reputation means everything. One cannot be successful on Upwork with a poor reputation.
Doing your best and delivering high-quality service will help you build a solid reputation over time.
I have read plenty of horror stories online about freelancers losing their careers due to their worsening reputations.
I can’t stress this enough:
If you want to become a successful freelancer, you need to take good care of your reputation. It’s everything.
2. Recurring revenue > One-off projects
Recurring revenue beats one-off projects most of the time.
This one is important if you want more sustainability in your freelancer career. It takes the stress away from constantly having to find work.
It’s also time-consuming to look for one-off projects continually, especially now that almost everyone is on Upwork.
This makes managing work much easier as you won’t have to worry about looking for new clients constantly.
It’s also hard to predict revenue with one-off projects.
Meanwhile, you can easily predict your revenue with recurring projects because you’re going to be paid for them month after month.
For me, the security I needed to live the lifestyle I wanted happened because of recurring revenue contracts.
3. Look for revenue opportunities
Which is easier —looking for new clients or finding a way to earn more from your current projects?
The answer is obvious. You’ve got to strike the iron while it’s hot, right? My tip is to expand revenue opportunities with your strongest and best clients.
If a freelancer already has a good rapport with a client, there may be opportunities to grow revenue as opposed to looking for new client work.
There are two ways to do this:
- Increase your rate (risky)
- Upsell on additional work (better)
Personally, I believe that upselling is the better option especially when you bring a new solution to the table. This gives you more points with the client.
Don’t hesitate to contact existing clients and ask if they need any additional services. You will earn more while they get the value they need — a win-win situation.
In the end, if a freelancer already has a good rapport with a client, there may be opportunities to grow revenue as opposed to looking for new client work.
4. Be likable and personable
People tend to buy services from people they like.
Get to know your prospects and clients and do your research. At the same time, be the best in your field at what you do.
This first happens in the cover letter that you send to your client. This is why you can’t just send canned cover letters.
You need to specialize the cover letter and make it feel like you’re really talking to your client and telling him/her how you can solve the problem.
Having a great personality will go a long way. You just can’t fake it till you make it, so be genuine and honest in your interactions with clients.
Being likable and personable is essential for any freelancer who wants to succeed on Upwork. Take the time to build these relationships.
5. Consistency is the key
Remember the rabbit and the tortoise.
You might be new, or might be lagging behind other freelancers. What’s important is that you’re consistent.
My tip here is simple: Offer a great service, every time, to your clients, and be consistent in doing so.
Upwork has a JSS (Job Success Score) that practically tells clients how satisfied your other clients are according to feedback and outcomes.
It’s a great feature since having a high JSS could help you stand out among other freelancers when applying for a job.
When you offer great service to your clients consistently, it gets shown in the JSS, which can get you even more opportunities.
6. Mind your workload
Do not take on more work than you can handle.
The key here is to limit your project work so your schedule is always manageable. This will prevent you from overworking to the point that it affects your health and work quality.
It’s tempting to immediately score a client. But don’t take on too many projects at once. If you’re still starting out, I suggest taking only one or two jobs at a time.
Do that until you’re able to master your schedule and you can gauge accurately how much time your work takes.
Work smart and not too hard. This alone can get you to the level of success you want.
If you want to increase your income smartly, you can also open up an agency (if your business is growing beyond a rate that you can handle).
7. Learn new skills
Always strive to be better. There is always something new to be learned.
Improving your skills and expanding your knowledge are essential to becoming a more successful freelancer.
There is always room for improvement, so be open to new approaches and strategies. Learning new things will help you earn more in the long run too.
Many of my clients appreciate how I am still a student and am constantly learning.
It has made me a better consultant and has also helped me gain trust by being an evolving expert in my niche.
8. Keep track of your finances
If you’re going to be serious about earning more on Upwork, I suggest you keep an up-to-date record of your income and expenses.
You have to know how much money goes in, and what comes out – especially if you’re running an agency or paying other people.
If you’re taking on more work, it also means that you need to think about how much time you’re spending and what your monthly income is.
To make this easier, you can use tools or software. There are a ton of them that automate your finances — including invoices to your clients.
What happens when you tap your power
Good things happen to those who consistently do their best in their work. Let’s now talk about the benefits of tapping your superpower.
When you start gaining success, you will also start seeing an abundance of time, wealth, and opportunity coming your way.
Money won’t be much of a problem either. With your own business and being able to scale up or down anytime, wealth comes somewhat easier.
I also notice that opportunities come to you, and not the other way around. This can be attributed to a lot of things:
- Clients seeing high JSS on your profile
- Clients seeing good feedback on your work history
- More confidence on your part (which shows in your profile and feedback)
Besides saving time when you need more work, it also gives you a sense of security knowing the clients come to you.
When you’re able to help more people and earn a significant income at the same time, you get this sense of value:
- Sense of feeling valued by your clients
- Sense of giving value to your clients in solving their problems
- Finding life value in the process
If you spent time working in a regular job, you may have noticed that feeling of hollowness — that despite working, it’s like you’re not contributing anything at all.
It could be because you were not in direct contact with your client and not seeing how much your work helped your client.
As a freelancer, you are in direct contact with your client and they can provide you with direct feedback for your work.
This sense of accomplishment could lead you to find life value in the process and lead you to more, better things.
3. Giving back
In connection to feeling a sense of value, you will also have the tendency and the opportunity to give back.
This relates to how you handle your success — which often leads you to mentor others and bring them up with you.
I don’t know if you’re a natural mentor or not. But I can tell you that when you see people succeed because of what you taught them, it feels good.
You find yourself excited to teach others and help them grow as well.
This is why companies invest in training their employees — the end result is people giving back to the company.
It can be a team or an individual that you help grow – you only have to begin and start somewhere.
Even if it’s just encouraging them to make their profile more attractive, every little thing counts.
4. More freedom and independence
Naturally, you will have more freedom and independence when you start using your superpower and gaining success.
This basically gives you the freedom and independence to determine:
- What to work on
- When to work
- Who to work with
You’re not just a contractor who has to do what your boss says and wait for the next project — you can now take on as many projects as you can and work at any time.
More importantly, you’re not dependent on a single client for your business and can keep going even if one client leaves.
You also won’t have to work with people who are dragging you down because of how they act or what they expect.
Using Upwork in the process
Finding my superpower and offering my talents through Upwork has helped me to live the lifestyle I’ve always wanted — to travel anywhere in the world, on my own terms while earning as much income as I care to earn.
The possibilities are limitless. This is why I continue to work on the Upwork platform.
In my opinion, there is no better platform to find freelance work and build wealth and the lifestyle desired.
Check out my profile for ideas or if you want to learn more about how I could help and what I do.