Hey there friend, I have fantastic news for you. Getting a job on Upwork is much easier than people would have you believe. Like, way easier.
In fact, I was able to get my first job on Upwork in only 2 days using the method i’m about to share with you right now – and I had no portfolio to my name.
So grab your favorite drank, buckle your proverbial seat belt, and hold on tight. Cuz we gettin PAAAIIDDD’ up in here.
Step 1: Get A Professional Profile Picture
This is BY FAR the most underrated step in getting your first Upwork job.
Take a second and put yourself in the position of the person who’s hiring you.
If they looked at two people with the same qualifications, same reviews, and same writing style….
But one of them had a snazzy professional photo while the other had a blurry picture of them wearing a bro tank…
Who’s gonna win the job?
Although a professional headshot may seem expensive, it’s one of many small details that separate the successful freelancers from the unsuccessful ones.
And chances are, there’s a lot of freelance photographers (and college students) who would be willing to give you a FREE headshot if you made the effort to reach out to them and compliment their work.
And if you’re REALLY lazy (or savvy, as I like to call it) you can just find a location with great natural lighting and snap a quick pic with your Iphone.
But remember to wear your favorite shirt (the one that brings out your beautiful eyes), look the lens dead in the lens, and smile like nobody’s watchin, baby.
STEP 2: NICHE DOWN
Aside from having the world’s most ghetto profile picture, not choosing a niche is one of the biggest reasons freelancers don’t land jobs on Upwork in their first 5 days.
Now before you say “Grant you’re ridiculous, why would I niche down? I’ll take any job under the sun right now!”
hear me out.
Because I get it.
When you’re just starting out, it seems like ‘picking a lane’ and narrowing your options is giving you a WORSE chance of landing a job…
But it’s actually doing the complete opposite.
One of the human biases that doesn’t yet have a name, which i’ll call the “Internet scarcity bias”, makes us believe that there’s only a few people hiring writers in the world of the internet. And that we have to bite and claw our way to get a job with them.
I mean, that’s exactly what I believed when I first started out…
But the truth is…
IT’S COMPLETELY FALSE!
The fact of the matter is, there’s MORE COMPANIES HIRING GOOD WRITERS than there are good writers out there. And they all want something SPECIFIC.
So choosing a niche that you enjoy is going to be essential in standing out from the sea of “I do everything writers”.
Because if someone’s looking for an article written on fitness, are they going to hire the email marketing guy or the fitness article guy?
You guessed it!
STEP 3: Optimize Your Profile (Bio)
Optimizing your bio to match your niche is essential in getting your first job on Upwork
Your bio (along with your profile picture) is the first thing someone sees when they come across your profile. Your bio gives your prospect a taste of what it’s like working with you before they click the hire button.
But what should be included in a good bio?
Thank god you asked.
Here’s a couple things i’ve found that make up a good bio:
- Build rapport – you want to throw a little “human” into your writing. Make them feel like they’re reading something from a person and not from a machine. Unless that’s your niche, bro.
- State exactly what you do. And say it simply – let them know exactly what you do and don’t do. Make your services extremely clear and package them into a “done-for-you” type deal. Let the client know indirectly that you’re an adviser to their business and not just an employee waiting to take orders. And when hired, you will gladly take the reins and prescribe them a solution you will both be happy about.
- List any extra relevant skills you have – When it comes to freelance writing, writers that have graphic design, web page building, or SEO experience are usually more in-demand than writers who only write. But if you DO only write, don’t worry. You will not have a problem landing your first job if you niche yourself down properly.
- State what the CLIENT wants. Not you. When someone comes to you for a job, what do you think they want in terms of work-to-be-done & client experience? (And by client experience, I mean how fun and easy it is to work with you. Not how many years you’ve been doing it). How do you think they would IDEALLY want hiring you to go? Think about these things and state them in your bio so your client doesn’t have to guess. If you’re doing email sequences, you could mention something like “I’ll deliver to you a completely ready-to-go email sequence that will outsource all of your lead generation.” And then follow that up with a question like “With no more lead-generation worries, what are you going to do with all of your untainted free time?”
- CTA (Call To Action) – you’re going to want to ask the client to send you a message or do something specific if they want to work with you. Ask confidently, but don’t come across as cocky or picky. Cocky or picky is a huge turn off for potential clients. Do you like cocky people? Probably not. And neither do they!
- (Advanced) – SEO optimize your profile. Down the road, you’ll be able to keyword optimize your profile so you’ll get about 5-10 inbound requests a week. And after it’s optimized, you won’t need to do ANY work! Just wait! (Article coming on that soon).
Step 4: Optimize your profile: Tests
Tests will not only make you look more competent, but increase the likelihood that you’re found when clients search for your niche. Although not absolutely necessary, definitely helpful.
One easy test you can take is the English spelling test. If you’re competent at spelling words like bureaucracy, necessary, and twelfth, then you should do fine on the test.
Note: Before you take the test, Upwork will force you to agree to a no-cheating policy… so definitely don’t cheat.
Although, in theory, you could google all the answers.
Here’s where to find the tests:
Step 5: Optimize Your Profile (Portfolio)
If you do have previous writing pieces, throw them up. But make sure they’re relevant to the services you’re currently offering.
If you don’t have portfolio pieces, then don’t worry. Because in another post, i’ll show you exactly how to create a portfolio piece that basically reads the clients mind.
Step 6: Sending The Proposal
The proposal is the do-or-die of landing your first job on Upwork. Because the reality is, you could have a terrible profile and still be offered a job if your proposal was EXACTLY what the client was looking for.
But how do you create an amazing proposal?
The quick answer is tell them what they want to hear. Or, MAjOr KeY AlErT, create something similar to what they’re already asking for (on the spot, and then attach it to the proposal saying something like you’ve already done it before.
The first time I got hired on Upwork, it was writing five 500-word articles for $25. Sound great? Definitely not. But I needed to get my ball rolling somehow.
The cool thing is, I got that Upwork job without having a single piece of writing to my name. But how did I do it?
I simply wrote what I think the client wanted, and then attached it to the proposal.
I didn’t have anything to attach to the proposal before I began writing it. But once I realized he wanted 5 painting articles, I knew I needed at least 1 painting article.
So what I did was write a 300-word painting article – on the spot – and attached it to the proposal while telling him I’ve done a bunch of stuff like this before. And highlighted how important it was for him to hire a writer that was familiar with painting – and not a complete newbie. (Hey, I painted for a couple months in high school too!)
Now before you say “Grant, why would I spend time writing an article if I don’t even know if I’m going to get hired? What if I waste my time?”
And the answer to that is because it will be your BEST BET for actually getting the Upwork Job. Because again, we need to put ourselves into the minds of the person hiring us…
Would they want to hire someone who has no reviews and no writing samples? Or no reviews and a writing example that’s exactly what we’re looking for?
Worst case, you don’t get the job. But you now have a real, tangible writing sample AND you’ve just practiced your craft and got a little bit better. Which is a WAY better use of your time than watching Kendal Jenner duckface all over Insta, Bro.
“Errybody’s worried about wasting their time when their time ain’t worth shit” – GaryVee
“Creating” The Testimonial Before you do the Upwork job:
Testimonials and social proof is what’s going to drive your Upwork business once you get up and running. The more social proof you have, the more jobs you’ll get.
So, knowing that, you’re going to want to get a great testimonial from your first client. And the best way to do that is by creating an expectation and then exceeding it.
So, when you’re selected for the job, you’re going to discuss details with the client.
And although what i’m about to tell you is ALWAYS IMPORTANT, it’s especially important when doing your first few jobs on Upwork. Because gathering testimonials that have people going crazy for you are going to be the easiest way to snowball the amount of jobs you get on Upwork.
What you want to do is promise the client a delivery date that is behind the date you know can complete it by.
Or in other words, finish the work and send it to them a couple days before it’s due. And if you’re really crazy, you can add in some type of “extra” like a bigger word count, extra email in the sequence, etc.
Meaning, if they say it’s due in a week, deliver it to them in 4 days (3 days early) and say “hey X, I wanted to go above and beyond for you so I finished it up a little early. Hope that’s okay. I also added about 300 words because I was feelin’ it. Let me know if you need any changes”.
The easiest way to generate the feeling of “This person is going above and beyond” is by creating an expectation you know you can exceed. The truth is, everything is about perspective. And giving the client expectations that you know you can BLAST INTO OBLIVION will allow you to pleasantly surprise them, and therefore, earn yourself fantastic reviews.
Woop! GO GET YOUR FIRST JOB ON UPWORK!
You now have everything you need to get your first job on Upwork.
With a little focused effort, you can begin your freelance writing career quicker than you ever thought possible.
Thousands of writers are making a full-time income from writing, and the only difference between them and you is…
So fly my freelance writing warrior.
Also, what other questions do you have?
Let me know 🙂