10 Hacks Successful Writers Use on Upwork
New to Upwork? This article shows you how to avoid the traps on Upwork and make money writing
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Upwork is the largest freelance community in the world. Like any enormous community, it has its pitfalls. Why does Upwork get a bad rap among writers? One of the main reasons is that writers new to Upwork fail to navigate its hazards. This article hopes to help you avoid those hazards and earn more money.
1. Search Smartly
It might be obvious, but match your search to your goals. If you’re getting started, and looking to build a portfolio, then choose “Entry level” jobs. If you’re experienced, choose “Expert.” (In between? Choose “Intermediate.”)
2. (a) Look at when it was posted (and where)
The screen capture above was taken ten minutes after the job was posted. If you apply for this job, you might be the first. This “primacy” can give you an edge over the competition. (Read more about primacy.)
If you’re in the US, start with US only searches. You generally earn more and have less competition for US jobs.
3. (b) Consider Budget
It’s either fixed price or an hourly rate. If you exceed their budget, tell them why you’re asking for more.
4. (c) See a client new to upwork? Rejoice!
They might not be price shoppers who see writing as commodity products from the lowest bidder (especially if they’re looking for an “Expert”).
The biggest misconception about Upwork is that it is ONLY a price-shoppers’ paradise for commodity writing. There ARE plenty of price shoppers, but they’re easy to spot. I’ve made up to $150/hour on Upwork. And I’m not alone.
Red flag: If this client has a payment history (see #7 below) and is paying a low average rate (e.g., less than $10/hr.), skip them unless you’re a beginner.
5. (d) Review Activity On this Job
This was posted minutes before this screen capture, so it’s not surprising that there are “Less than 5” Proposals. If this was posted a few days ago, you could see how engaged the client is in how many freelancers they’re interviewing (along with “Invites sent”).
6. (e) Look at Bid Rates
Viewing bid rates requires a higher-paid subscription, but it’ll pay to know how much the competition is bidding.
7. Look at the reviews
Scroll down to the bottom of the page to the “Client’s Recent History” section (only listed if the client has had jobs completed). If there are two or more negative reviews from freelancers, I’d consider not applying, no matter how sweet the job looks. Either the client lacks judgment in who they’ve chosen, or the freelancers have found the client to be sorely lacking in some area.
8. Reconsider placeholder rates
Sometimes a low rate is a placeholder. Usually a client will write something like “Price is just a number because I haven’t determined number yet.” Sometimes the client forgets to add this note and they look like the greatest of the great price shoppers (“$10 for 300-page User Guide”).
These jobs can be GOLDEN when the price discourages freelancers from applying (only because the client forgot to add the explanation).
9. Don’t jump on every offer!
It’s cool to get an alert on your phone when you’re out on a date and you want to accept an offer that pops up from the mobile app. I’ve found it pays to scroll back to your bid and review the terms and decide. You may have applied to the job a month ago and it might not be a great move now.
10. Danny still rules
Sign up for Danny Margulies’ hacks via email on his site at:
He’s been at this for years and his tips helped me tremendously. His advice about proposals is especially good.
Danny recommends becoming a client and posting a job for a few dollars to see how the competition writes proposal. You can have them edit a few paragraphs. I’ve done it; it’s worth seeing real proposals so you learn what to avoid. This exercise will underline how important it is to empathize with the client’s situation and to frame it for them and their needs.
Use these 10 tips to navigate Upwork and avoid the hazards that so many unsuspecting writers encounter.