Whether you're hoping to be a freelancer part time or full time, I've seen the same mistakes made dozens of times by freelancers who are confused as to why they are not landing business on the world's most popular freelance job site. If you've never had the opportunity to hear about Upwork before, I'm excited to introduce it to you. I've been working on the Upwork and Elance platforms since 2012. That platform has been critical for sending me hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of leads in freelance writing jobs.
Even though saying the name "Upwork" can be extremely controversial in freelance circles (because it has a reputation for providing far too many low-quality jobs), I have found that if you are willing to sift through those low-quality job opportunities, you can really build a part time or full time freelance career doing what you love on Upwork.
That being said, you have to work within the bounds of Upwork and ensure that you are applying a consistent strategy when it comes to pitching jobs.
Mistake #1: Giving Up Too Soon
Every so often I will have somebody email me and say that they have been bidding on dozens of jobs on Upwork but have had no response. If they ultimately hire me as their freelance coach to review their marketing materials, I'll take a look and find out that they've made one of the five mistakes below.
However, the biggest mistake that I see people making on the freelance job platform, Upwork, is that they are not consistent in their marketing strategy. You simply cannot drop into Upwork and hope that you'll land a couple of jobs after bidding on 10. This is especially true if you do not have any background.
Watch this YouTube video to learn more about why it pays to be consistent and why it might take some time for you to land your first couple of jobs. Trust me, after you land those first few jobs it's much easier to grow a freelance career and land jobs on Upwork. But you have to have a consistent marketing strategy applied over the long run. Bear in mind that you're going to have to be patient.
Now, I can help you increase your chances of success in landing jobs on Upwork so long as you're not making any of the four mistakes below. These four mistakes can cost you significant money and opportunity. The worst part is that they may be encouraging clients to never get in touch with you at all, so you don't know what you're doing wrong. In fact, this is the case with more than 90% of people whose Upwork profiles and pitches I have helped to correct. Often people don't realize that they're making a catastrophic mistake in sending out their marketing materials and that it's leading people to just ignore their proposal altogether. So, let's get that Upwork proposal fixed.
Mistake #2: No or Bad Work Samples
I cannot believe that in 2017, when the freelance and gig revolution is at its peak, that so many people send work samples that are simply low quality. I've seen this hundreds of times with freelance writers.
Since I've had the opportunity to hire dozens of writers on Upwork and on other platforms, I've seen far too many people who submit materials that are just not up to par. Spelling and grammar mistakes should obviously be excluded from anything you submit on Upwork.
If you position yourself as a writer, editor or a freelancer who is detail oriented, these mistakes will be spotted by your client. I don't care if you are the greatest writer in the world if you submit a writing sample that has five spelling errors in it because you were too careless to look at it.
The client is going to ignore your proposal and move on. He or she probably won't even let you know about those mistakes and you'll continue making the same mistakes over and over again using those materials to pitch yourself to other jobs, all the while not even realizing it. Make sure that your work samples have been edited not just by you but by another person. Run them through a tool like Grammarly and then verify that they are original on Copyscape.
Mistake #3: Passive Closing
Far too many people are very passive in their closing when submitting for jobs on Upwork. You need to be passionate about what you do and the results that you can bring to your client. Don't close with sentences such as:
- I hope I'll be able to help you.
- Please consider me.
- I hope you will take my proposal seriously.
All of these show that you are passive and are meek in your approach towards landing freelance business. You must come from a position of confidence in order to encourage clients to get in touch with you.
They unlikely won't even send you a message back if they feel that you are too timid. Coming from a place of desperation is also a big no-no when it comes to a closing in your pitch.
Don't include statements like "I can complete your project today and I would be thrilled to do it" because it indicates to the client that you have a great deal of free time and that you are desperate for the work.
This never helps you land business. You can say the same thing in more powerful words such as "I'd love to get started on this right away. When would be a good time to schedule a phone call so we could hammer out the details?" That puts you in a position of confidence because you are willing to get on the phone with them and understand that you need particular instructions to get started.
They don't need to know whether or not you're fully booked with business or whether you're just hoping to land your next client because your schedule is wide open. Don't give them that information. There’s no need for them to have it.
Mistake #4: Poor Follow Up
This is one of the most frustrating from any time that I have been in the client's situation. I've hired freelancers for True Car, Microsoft and many other companies over the years and I have found far too many people do not have professional follow up.
In fact, I've even received messages that went too far with me or the client by stating "I guess you haven't had time to look at my proposal. I thought you would have had the decency to get back to me."
It doesn't matter if you are extremely professional, you need to watch your tone when you send messages like this in Upwork or in any other scenario. if someone has reached out to you to ask further information, and has not responded to you, reach out to them gently but professionally.
You run the risk of turning somebody off and thinking that you are difficult to work with. Being difficult to work with is one of the things that will turn a client off immediately. Remember, you need to come from a position of confidence but you also don't want to convince the client that you are rude or unprofessional.
A lot of different things can be interpreted from the tone of an Upwork message or an email. Keep things professional.
When you reach out for follow up, do so in a manner that shows that you are still interested in the job but never do so in an accusatory manner. Many freelance clients on sites like Upwork are reviewing dozens or even hundreds of proposals.
Following up in an accusatory manner or acting like they have ignored you indicates to the client that you're already too much of a problem to work with and they'll probably ignore your proposal altogether.
I've been in the position of hiring writers where I wanted to recommend somebody because of their writing reliability and quality, but the client felt that they were too pushy or rude in their follow up and we've had to decline working with them altogether.
Mistake #5: Being You-Focused
This is perhaps one of the most common mistakes made bidding for jobs on Upwork. When you focus completely on yourself, you're not telling the client anything original about why they should choose to work with you.
In fact, they are probably getting dozens of proposals that say the same thing "I'm a great writer and you should hire me". This means you're not differentiating yourself from your competition at all and you're not giving the client any reason to choose to work with you specifically.
Given the choice between 8 different people who appear to offer the same quality, the client is probably going to be at a loss and search for a higher elsewhere or just hire the first person who got in touch with them. You must be able to differentiate yourself from your competition and do so in a way that focuses on a client, not on you. Think about the results you have gotten for your clients, the ways you have made their life easier or the testimonials they have shared directly after working with you.
If you do have some feedback on Upwork already, you can quote some of that directly but don't provide too much information. Being you-focused tells the client that there is nothing special or distinctive about you because they don't really care about you. They care about what you can do for them. Make sure that your proposal is tailored towards this information in particular.