The #1 Way To Land Your First Freelance Job on Upwork

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If you've been thinking about starting your freelance business on Upwork, this post has been crafted with you in mind. It offers you the same tips and strategies that I pass on to others who are just starting out on Upwork and who subsequently land their first clients. I am going to share the number one way I recommend blowing up your Upwork profile and landing your first client. And it highlights the mistake I see almost every new freelancer make going in.

Upwork has this reputation for being filled with low paying jobs but let set the record straight; it’s not all low paying jobs. There are a lot of people who get great jobs on Upwork - I am one of them and I know a lot of other freelancers who do it too.

In this post, I am going to go against the grain and tell you exactly what you are doing wrong when you are trying to land your first gig on Upwork.

You are bidding on jobs that you are not qualified for.

If you are bidding on a $1000 per month copywriting retainer and you have never been paid to write one word in your life, you are not going to get hired for that job. I am sorry you are not there, yet. You are competing against experienced freelancers and when someone is throwing their money on the table to hire a freelancer, they want to know that the person has done it before. So, you don’t want to throw yourself in the ring with people who are much more prepared to handle the job than you are. Don’t bid on those high dollar jobs. Don’t bid on the 6-month virtual assistant contract. Don’t go for those because they are not the right fit for you when you are new on Upwork.

Introducing the fast, cheap and simple Marketing method

Next, I'm going to explain what I call the fast, cheap and simple marketing method. Now, it’s probably going to piss some people off because it won't sounds like a great way to approach freelance marketing - and on the whole, I agree - don’t do this every day or you will get into a cycle where you can’t break out, you can’t raise your rates, and you have terrible clients.

However, we are looking to land one job on Upwork. That is all we care about when we're starting out - one job. We want it to be fast, cheap and simple because you don’t even know if you like doing this yet. You don’t know if you want to be a VA. You don’t know if you are that great of a graphic designer. You don’t know if you want to be a writer and build this part time or full-time business. So, we are looking for a job that can be completed quickly. I am talking about one simple blog post; one hour of research for a VA candidate; maybe one tweak to somebody's banner or their brochure, if you are a graphic designer. Something that can be done in not a lot of time, that is going to be an obvious win for you. So, something you are perfect at.

Great example for writers and editors; look for somebody who needs one page of copy tweaked. It's not going to take you very long, it's low risk and it's fast, it may also be cheap because we are not going for that $500, $1000, $5000 job. We don’t care about that for this first job. We care about getting a good rating on the first job. So, it makes a lot more sense to go with fast, cheap and simple on that very first job on Upwork, and then build it from there.

So, we are going to pick a job that you can knock out of the park; something that is inexpensive for the client, so they feel a little less scared about paying a total stranger who has never done this before.

And we are going to keep it simple because you don’t want to get involved in a project where you are not being paid enough to do a ton of work.

We are looking for something you can do quickly; a fast job, something really easy that you are going to knock out of the park, deliver early, and do an amazing job at.

Why? Because your first job is about getting five-star feedback.

I don’t care about how much you are getting paid, who the client is, whether they are a really well-known brand. None of that matters.

We just need to build a foundation, so that you have positive reviews on your Upwork profile when you first get started. That's why it doesn’t matter, what job you had first on your Upwork profile, it matters that you do it well.

So, pick something fast, cheap and simple. You are going to blow the client's mind. You are going to turn it in early. You are going to triple check your work for mistakes. You are going to deliver it. You are going to make everything so easy for the client that they are like, "Oh my God, I am so happy I got this person." And honestly it doesn’t matter whether you continue to work with this client or not. Maybe if they agree to raise your rates and you are a good fit for each other, but honestly, we are not looking for that with your first job. We are looking a quick gig that is going to take you may be one to two hours tops. You do a great job with it. You turn it in. The client is thrilled. You get paid. You get a five-star review. You move on with your life.

You then use that five-star review that you got and you start bidding on slightly bigger jobs - and you are still not ready for those big thousand dollar retainers - but now you can get out of the realm of doing these quick and small jobs.

Eliminate Most of the Competition 

Another reason why FCS jobs make way more sense for your first job, is that you are not competing against me. You are not competing against experienced freelancers because we are not bidding on little jobs. I am not going to go out there and pitch myself to do a one hour PowerPoint edit. It doesn’t make sense for my business or my time.

So, yes, you are still going to have competition from other people on Upwork who are trying to land their first job, but it’s not going to be the people with five-star reviews. It’s not going to be the people with a track record of working with dozens or hundreds of clients. So, by choosing this route to land your first job, you have eliminated all of your major competition.

Plus, you have picked a job that's going to be fast and simple to do. Guess what? If you hate it, you only invested one or two hours of your life. Move on and you never have to worry about it again.

So, it’s a win-win for you to pick a job that is small, simple and easy to complete because all we care about is a happy client. All you care about on this first job especially, is a five-star rating from the client. So, deliver early. Do an amazing job. Have it be something you can wrap up quickly.

Prompt the client for five-start feedback

When you finish this first job on Upwork, you are going to thank the client for the opportunity to work together. Depending on what they paid, and whether you liked it or not, you can try to build a relationship from there, but you don’t have to. When you are finished you are going to say something along the lines of, "I strive for five-star feedback as it is really important to the way I build my business. I intend to leave you five-star feedback because you were great to work with," because both the client and the freelancer leave feedback.

So, yes, you need to go the extra mile to tell the client how important it is that they leave you feedback - otherwise they don’t have an incentive to sign back in and fill out a little survey even if it only takes 30 seconds. Tell them that it matters to you. Tell them that it’s important for how you get future clients and then you can choose whether or not you want to expand this one job into a future job, but please prompt them to leave feedback and leave them with great feedback, if they were a great to work with.

So, for everybody out there who is bidding on these month-long jobs; they are bidding on retainers, they are bidding on thousand-dollar packages. If you are completely new, the chances of you landing that when there are probably 20 qualified freelancers on Upwork who have a 98% approval rating also applying, it’s nil. I am not saying it’s impossible, but it’s very very slim - and you don’t even know if you like this or you are good at it yet. So, why not do something low risk. Throw your hat in the ring for a job that's fast, simple, where none of those experienced freelancers are competing. Turn it around, get amazing feedback and go from there.

This works. Trust me. It works. Stop wasting time. Please stop spinning your wheels. Just go and get a fast, cheap and simple job that you can turn around and blow the client's mind with how fast and how well you did it and then close it out and move on. You just need that first one and trust me, it snowballs from there. 


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