If you’ve already landed your first Upwork client and have been working steadily on the platform for some time, you might be starting to think about how to increase your income.
Continuing to increase my revenue is still something I think about and work toward regularly even though I’ve been on Upwork for years. Whether you’re like me, and do the bulk of your work on Upwork, or are running a weekend side hustle for a little extra cash, you don’t have to double your workload to get more money.
Earning extra money on Upwork is a strategic process—and it is absolutely doable, no intense grinding or questionable “hacks” required. It’s all a matter of investing a bit more time up front in order to generate more revenue in the long term.
Table of Contents:
- How to increase your income on Upwork
- Double the number of proposals you send every day
- Be responsive to messages
- Create different income streams on Upwork
- Try proposing retainer-based projects
- Use search filters to find long-term jobs with consistent revenue
- Save your most profitable search results
- Apply for Enterprise jobs to get access to Talent Clouds
- Give yourself a raise
How to increase your income on Upwork
While the process isn’t an exact science, I’ve found a few strategies to be particularly effective at increasing my income on Upwork, and I want to share them with you.
Whether you write online course lessons, work as a virtual assistant for rental property managers, develop social media strategy, provide personal finance consulting, edit podcasts, or work as another kind of service provider, you can make more money on Upwork—beginners and seasoned pros alike.
If you devote time to each suggestion I’ve provided in this article, I’m confident that you’ll be able to double your income on Upwork within the next 12 months.
A quick tip: Before starting to work on any of the strategies I lay out, make sure your profile is up to date. This includes any specialized profiles, certifications, your location, and portfolio items. Having a strong profile will support your income-boosting efforts.
It’s also a good idea to begin working toward achieving Talent Badges if you haven’t done so yet. I have an Expert-Vetted talent badge, for example. They’ll show up on your profile like this:
Alright—got the profile squared away? Let’s get started doubling your revenue.
Double the number of proposals you send every day
Sending more proposals is one of the most effective ways to gain extra income on Upwork. It’s simple: The more proposals I send, the more interviews I get. The more interviews I get, the more jobs I land. The more jobs I land, the closer I am to achieving my financial goals.
Let’s say I submit proposals for 10 jobs on Upwork. Out of those 10, I get two interviews with potential clients. One of those interviews leads to a job.
Had I only bid on five jobs, I may not have sent a proposal to the client I wound up signing. Increasing the number of proposals I sent created more opportunities for client exposure and new work.
There’s another benefit to doubling the number of proposals you send, too. The more practice you have writing and sending proposals, the better you get at them—and the same goes for chatting to potential clients. As you get more experience with sending proposals and interviewing, you’ll find that you can land more and more of the jobs you seek out.
And one last note (this is important)—be sure to read the job descriptions closely and make sure they align with your work and income goals. This way you’re spending your Connects on jobs that are most likely to be a good fit.
Be responsive to messages
When you begin sending more proposals to clients, you’ll start getting more responses—so be sure to keep an eye on your Upwork Messages inbox. It’s important that you respond in a timely fashion.
Check your inbox throughout the day. If you work non-standard hours, keep an eye on your inbox when your potential clients might be in the office—or respond to them as soon as you’re able to. There’s no need to respond in the middle of the night, but you may need to be engaged a little earlier or later than your typical working hours.
I work with clients all around the world, in many different time zones. I use Upwork’s desktop and mobile apps to help me make sure I’m responding to everyone and getting my proposals accepted.
Don’t forget to check for and respond to invitations to interview, too! These invitations will appear in your Upwork notifications. I periodically take a look at my invitation response statistics, too, in order to make sure that I’m responding to all invites within 24 hours.
You can see your own report by clicking on “Find Work” in the upper left-hand corner when logged into your Upwork account. Click on “My Stats” in the drop-down menu to see data about your invitation response times.
Create different income streams on Upwork
You’ll have to actively work at cultivating new opportunities in order to double the amount of money you can earn in the next year. Luckily, Upwork’s rolled out a few different ways to create income streams—and I use all of them. Not only do I send proposals through Talent Marketplace™, I also offer paid consultations and list services for sale in Project Catalog™.
I find paid consultations to be a really smart idea, as they can help everyone make more money on Upwork in two ways. First off, you can get paid for one-time meetings with clients who want to pick your brain for some knowledge. But you can also get paid to sell yourself as a long-term partner on bigger projects.
There are clients out there who want to pay you for your time while they learn more about you and your services. These clients can find you through search filters—if you have consultations turned on and available on your profile. It’s a quick change that can help you land extra money in your bank account every month.
Now, to be perfectly honest, I still make most of my money by sending proposals and accepting interview invites from clients. But I’m starting to generate more and more income from Project Catalog, too.
These projects aren’t passive income—I’m still working with clients on the resulting projects—but clients can find me and purchase a project at any time. I’ve got to say, it’s pretty exciting to go to bed and wake up in the morning to find new project requests in my inbox, all without sending a single proposal!
If you’d like to double your income on Upwork, definitely try your hand at creating projects. It won’t be enough to list a few services and then log off—you’ll still need to actively engage with clients, send proposals, and get more testimonials and talent badges for your profile. But, over time, these projects can begin to make up a greater portion of your income.
Try proposing retainer-based projects
It’s obviously no secret that I’m a big fan of working independently on Upwork, and I believe that everyone can make a great income this way. But I also know that a lot of folks making the leap into independent work might be a bit nervous about having fluctuating income, especially in the beginning. Contracts structured with weekly payments can help.
When a client and I set up a contract, we may agree that they’ll pay me $500 per week and I’ll be available for five hours of work. I’m paid this amount every week, even if the client doesn’t need me to complete five hours of work.
And, on the occasional week where a client needs me to do more than five hours of work, I’ll start billing them hourly once we’ve passed our weekly payment threshold. For example, if I work eight hours one week, I’ll bill the client for three hours through my work diary and get my usual $500 weekly payment as well.
While Upwork proposals typically ask you to bid a specific hourly rate or project amount, you can bring up the idea of a weekly payment agreement to potential clients during the interview process.
Use search filters to find long-term jobs with consistent revenue
True Upwork masters know how to leverage search filters to find the right jobs—and I’m going to tell you how.
First, sort out how long you’d like to work with a client, and how much work you’d like to do with them.
Only have a few hours a week to dedicate to a project, but you’d like to add a new client into the mix? You’ll want to click the project length filter that says “less than one month.”
Looking for a long-term source of dependable income? Tick the project length filter that says “more than 6 months.”
Interested in working with one client at a time? Select “more than 30 hrs/week.”
Then, mix these filters along with others, like job type, to find curated lists of projects that meet the length and payment criteria you want.
I’ve worked with a bunch of great clients on short-term projects, but having one or more steady, long-term client relationships can give you a solid base in your revenue. You can then continue to build additional income on top of this base by taking on additional one-off projects, shorter-term contracts, and booking paid consultations.
Save your most profitable search results
Landed some great clients after tweaking your search filters? Brilliant—now you just need to save that search so you can come back to it.
For example, you might search for “YouTube channel video editing” jobs with an intermediate skill level, paying at least $50 per hour. If this search leads to job results that you like, you can click “save search” in the upper right-hand corner and revisit it at any time.
As you begin to save more profitable searches, you’ll get more relevant jobs delivered to your inbox via Upwork Job Digests. (You do need to be Rising Talent, Top Rated, Top Rated Plus, or Expert Vetted to get the Digests—another reason to work toward those badges!)
Apply for Enterprise jobs to get access to Talent Clouds
Another revenue-building approach you can take is to apply to Enterprise jobs.
If you get hired for an Enterprise client job, then you may be added into that company’s Talent Cloud. This is a special subset of the marketplace specifically for one Enterprise client’s jobs, and the talent they know and trust.
These jobs can be of any duration; Talent Cloud jobs aren’t necessarily long-term work. A lot of Enterprise clients post jobs directly in their Talent Clouds, though, so getting access to these clouds gives you first dibs at additional work that may not reach the standard Talent Marketplace.
If you don’t come across any Enterprise jobs in Talent Marketplace, don’t worry. Just keep an eye out for invites from Enterprise clients in your inbox. As you build up your profile and expertise on Upwork, they may seek you out in the marketplace!
Give yourself a raise
This last one may seem a bit obvious, but it’s often overlooked! The cost of living tends to go up every year—do you raise your rates to keep pace?
Giving yourself regular raises is an important part of growing your revenue. There are lots of factors that go into how much of a rate increase you can implement, too.
Have you recently invested more time or money in developing your skills and expertise? This can allow you to command a higher rate.
Did you take on new clients and projects over the past year? As your portfolio grows, so can your hourly rate.
Let’s say your rate is $80 per hour. After evaluating cost of living, your experience, and your portfolio, you decide to bump it up to $100 per hour. That’s a 25% increase to your revenue right there, even if you didn’t increase your hours worked.
Upwork’s rate calculator can help you figure out what you could be charging your clients. If you haven’t raised your rates in a while—or you aren’t sure if your latest rate increase was enough—check it out!
Start earning more on Upwork today
If you’d like to increase your income, start by making one change mentioned in this guide and evaluate the impact. Keep thinking strategically about how you can continue to build your revenue, and always remember to make decisions that align with your goals—income, professional path, client load, and work-life balance alike.
Ready to get started? Check out the Upwork Academy for more resources to help you set up your profile and grow your business—all you need to do is create or log into your Upwork account to get started.