I can tell you who’s going to get further in life. Who’s going to have more success as a freelancer. Who’s going to actually create the life they imagine for themselves. The funny thing about this is if you look at Miro…
He very easily could’ve devolved into the same piss-poor attitude as Terry. He tried Upwork. And, his first attempt didn’t work out.
He could have very easily just given up and became a troll who hunted down every Upwork video he could find so he could leave a negative comment.
And, crack snarky jokes that make him feel better about himself…
But, do nothing to help him actually get anywhere in life.
But, instead, he chose to keep fighting.
And, it led to him to get his first break. From there, it’s about doing good work, being honest, reliable, etc. I don’t know what’ll happen… But, I have a hunch that Miro’s attitude will carry him through.
Anyway, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…
I’m not bullsh!@#ing you.
I know this stuff works, because I was in exactly the same spot as Miro. And, exactly the same thing happened to me. You make the changes I show you and things just start happening.
I’ve seen it over and over and over gain with my students.
Anyway, if you wanna learn what the trick is, I teach it to you in my Freelancing on Upwork course. You can start taking the course on my free tutorial site at: https://johnsfreetuts.com/upwork101
“Sir, I am new on upwork. I’m submitting proposals from 6 months, but no one is accepting my proposal.”
And, I gotta be straight up with you…
I get this a lot.
And, it never makes sense to me.
If you try ANYTHING for 6 months and it’s not working… it’s way beyond time to re-think and re-strategize. Whatever you’re doing isn’t working. And, it’s not Upwork… it’s you. Which, nobody wants to hear…
But, it’s true.
In any case, what I wanna do today is give 3 big things to check…
If you’ve been on Upwork and aren’t getting the results you want.
First thing I’d do is get a client account.
It’s such a good research tool, because you can search the keywords for your niche and see exactly who you’re competing against. What’s in their portfolio? How’d they write their profile overview? What’s their job history.
In any battle, “knowing your enemy” is paramount.
Same with competition in a marketplace.
Plus, you can get ideas for what to put in your profile.
Next, the “big three” to check on your own profile are: 1) your portfolio, 2) your profile picture and 3) your profile overview. Whenever I’m asked to look at profiles from struggling Upworkers…
It’s always a problem with 1 or more of these.
I think the portfolio is obvious.
It needs to be great.
Key thing here is don’t just put everything you have in there. Only put your best stuff because you never know what someone will click on. So, you want to ensure it’s your best work no matter what they look at.
I think the profile picture gets overlooked quite a bit.
Remember, when a client does a search, they’re going to see your profile listed next to everyone you’re competing against. And, your profile pictures is likely to be the first thing they look at. So, it’s your first impression.
Make it count!
The final check is your bidding strategy.
Too often, I see freelancers bid on anything and everything on Upwork. Like a kid in a candy store, they want EVERYTHING. You need to be disciplined. Focus on a particular service you’re offering.
Build your profile around that service alone.
And, ONLY bid on those jobs.
Your success rate should go up from just that alone.
Anyway, those are the big three to check. Get those in line and you should start seeing results on Upwork. That said, if you want me to walk you through exactly what to do… from building your profile to bidding on jobs…
To hear the trolls tell it, these people don’t exist:
“I have wasted 10 years of my life on a Master’s degree. And guess what? I am happy to realize that I don’t need it at all. Currently I make 100k+ yearly from my freelance business on Upwork/Freelancer, I am absolutely debt free, and going to become financially independent soon.”
Nothing to see here.
“These freelance sites are scams!”
“La la la la, can’t hear you!”
There’s plenty of this out there. AND, there’s plenty of people who’ve got on Upwork and never made a penny. With a platform that big, it’s inevitable. There will be winners and there will be losers.
Just how the cookie crumbles.
The difference I’ve noticed, though, is a couple things.
The people who tend to lose on Upwork and other freelance sites tend to think of them as “get out of jail free” card. That they’ll put up a profile, do ZERO marketing themselves and good ol’ Upwork will take care of everything.
It no workey that way.
Successful Upwork freelancers…
Treat their freelancing services like a real business.
And, they market on their own like any other business would.
And, simply use Upwork to amplify their efforts.
The people who are successful on Upwork have one. They take some time to think about how the platform works, what ITS goals are and they adjust their approach to give them the best chance of success.
They don’t just throw up a profile and “hope”.
And, what they find is the effort is worth it.
When the largest freelancing site on the planet suddenly starts seeing you as one of it top freelancers… well, you can imagine just how many projects start coming your way. It’s a bit crazy.
Anyway, I spent a bunch of time figuring Upwork out when I first started.
And, got to a point I was getting invited to so many projects…
I had to turn off my availability because I was getting overrun.
And, it’s simple stuff.
Sounds backwards, at first.
But, once you do it… you see.
Anyway, I teach you what I learned in my Freelancing on Upwork course (the #2 ranked freelancing course on SkillShare). How to build your profile, how to bid on jobs, how to market outside of Upwork and build a real freelancing business, etc.
You’ll need to re-think some of what you “think” you know about freelancing and Upwork. If you go in, thinking you already have all the answers and know what will work, you’ll get nothing out of this course.
You ever heard the saying: “success leaves clues”.
And, sometimes, success slaps you in the face on a daily basis and implores you to pay attention. To quit using “being skeptical” as an excuse to really just stay comfortable. To get serious about your life and your career.
There’s plenty of complicated things in life.
Kids (oh boy!)
But, this isn’t one of those things. The people who take the time to learn how systems like Upwork operate and put in the effort to take advantage of those systems tend to have success… and have success quickly.
And, just imagine what happens…
When the #1 freelancing platform on the planet turns in YOUR favor.
Or, don’t imagine… and instead see it for yourself.
It’s the most common refrain from the “Upwork is a SCAAAAAAM!” folks that troll my YouTube channel. But, there’s also some well-meaning folks who just haven’t learned how to do this, yet.
Anyway, there’s a simple way to weed out all the junk projects on Upwork and get to the good, high-paying jobs… with clients that are easy to work with.
First, log into your Upwork account and run a search for your niche:
Then, click the “Filters” button. A list of filters you can apply will drop down:
At a minimum, I recommend setting the “Client History”, “Client Info” and “Budget” filters. You want clients who’ve hired other freelancers and have their payment method verified.
NOTE: before a client can pay you, they HAVE to have their payment method verified. So, clients who don’t have that… can’t pay you.
I then, also, look for projects in my desired budget range:
Notice that the number of projects went from 1,644 to 669.
That’s still a massive amount of jobs.
And, for what I do, I only need maybe 1-2 per month.
So, I have a hard time when people tell me there are no “good jobs” on Upwork. In MY niche, there’s more than I could ever hope to even BID on, let alone get hired for.
Of course, FINDING these jobs is one thing… now, you need to get hired for them. I see a lot of people who have their opinions on this…
But, I see very few who will tell you THE most important thing…
Which is, your opinion doesn’t mean jack.
That it’s not about some sales tactic or how you write your proposals or what “order” a client sees your proposal in. I mean yeah… pay attention to those things.
But, they don’t mean squat if you don’t know what the CLIENT wants.
You can be the smoothest talker in the world, but if you’re not speaking the client’s language, it won’t matter and you’ll struggle to get hired.
The good thing is clients will TELL you exactly what they want. You just gotta know how to look for it AND prioritize what matters to them most, second most, etc.
Anyway, I show you how to do that in Lesson 6 of Module 3 in my Freelancing on Upwork course. I truly believe it’s the single most important thing you can learn about writing proposals on Upwork (or anywhere for that matter)… because it removes all the guesswork.
You’ll know exactly what to say and your proposals will have much greater impact.
In any case, you can get access to the course for nothing on SkillShare.
When I first started on Upwork, they didn’t do this.
At least, not that I remember.
But, apparently, it’s becoming more and more of an issue because I’ve been getting asked this a lot more lately. And, the thing here is… when you understand what Upwork’s goals are and how it’s technology works to support those goals, the answers here start to become obvious.
Take this, for example:
In case it’s not clear…
This is an Upwork employee stating that WHO performs a search and WHEN they perform it affects Upwork’s search results. So, if you’ve been thinking that Upwork is 100% rank, this is probably a big eye-opener.
It should tell you two things:
Relevance is a MAJOR factor in how Upwork operates. Search results and suggested freelancer lists don’t just come down to Rank.
Upwork’s algorithms are HIGHLY sophisticated… down to the time of day affecting search results.
So, this goes back to the point I continually try to hammer home about Upwork:
RELEVANCE, RELEVANCE, RELEVANCE!
Upwork’s stated to goal is to match clients with the best freelancers for their project. That last bit can’t be overstated.
What does that have to do with getting your profile approved?
Well, it should tell you a lot about how Upwork thinks about its ecosystem and who they let in. And, when you first apply, you have ZERO rank in their system. So, it is 100% about relevance. Specifically, Upwork looks at what kind of projects clients are actually posting for, how many quality freelancers it has for those projects and where the holes are.
Categories where there’s a lot of job postings but few quality freelancers.
Those are the freelancers they want.
And, who will breeze through their approval process.
Wouldn’t it be nice if they just told you what those categories are?
Well, they kind of do.
Every quarter, Upwork releases a Quarterly Skills Index. Just go to: https://www.upwork.com/press/ and scroll down to the “Upwork Skills Index” link. Scroll down and you’ll see a list of what Upwork has determined to be the 20 fastest growing skills for freelancers in that quarter:
You think maybe they’d be dying to find freelancers in these categories for their platform?
Now, I don’t work at Upwork and I don’t know exactly how their application process works, but I’d bet if you were to include a couple of these skills in your application, there’s a good chance you’re going to get approved.
But, John, I don’t know any of this stuff!
Are you sure?
“Google Cloud Platform”.
Some of these are vague enough and enough apart of a developer’s day-to-day activities that you could probably get away with listing it. Down the list there’s also “eLearning” and “Customer retention”. I think almost anybody could list those as a skill you’re, at least, familiar with.
Now, of course, this isn’t foolproof.
It’s possible to list one or more of these skills and still get rejected. Which is why I constantly tell freelancers to stack as many of the cards in your favor as you can. This is just one. In fact, there’s 10 more things you can do when applying to Upwork to help get your profile approved. And, I outline all 10 in my Freelancing on Upwork course on SkillShare.
Seriously, though… average pay rates are maybe the least useful metric ON Upwork. Clients hire all sorts of freelancers… they could be paying some dude 5/hour to walk their dog for all we know.
Anyway, Danny Margulies said it best:
Here’s a great example.
This client’s average hourly rate is 15.28/hour:
Yet, they just dropped over 5k… 70/hr for 82 hours on a freelancer:
Imagine if you wrote this client off because of their average hourly rate!
That and finding these clients isn’t that hard. Took me about 10 seconds to set up my search filters and BOOM… a whole list of projects where the client is payment verified, has hired over 10 freelancers and is willing to pay more for good work.
People who say this s!@#…
Probably never actually used Upwork.
Because, they’d know how epicly stupid this comment is.
Anyway, don’t mind lil’ ol’ me. Do what you want. But, if you wanna learn how to turn the largest freelancer platform in the world, Upwork, into your personal client-delivering machine, give my Freelancing on Upwork course a look.
You can get access to it for nothing over on SkillShare…
The most dominant player in the industry, but the one everybody loves to hate for some reason. I guess when you get big enough, it’s inevitable.
But, because of that…
I get asked a lot:
“Is Upwork worth it?”
Rather than me answer (again), why not hear from someone who has had massive success on Upwork… over 400k earned, in fact.
This is Adam:
“Before getting involved with Upwork, I was in a significant amount of debt from several failed businesses, from restaurants to apps, and the company I was currently working for, recently failed too, leaving me stuck between a rock and a hard space.”
Then, he joined Upwork:
“It wasn’t more than a couple days into my pursuit for paying projects, that I came across my first client that hired me to do a small 40 task on Infusionsoft. It took me about 30 minutes to complete, but I went above and beyond. My man was ecstatic!Not only did he write me an amazing review, but he basically offered to hire me for unlimited hours at 40/hour, which to me at the time sounded amazing!”
Well, a picture’s worth 1000 words, right?
So yeah… definitely worth it.
But, his biggest insight on succeeding on Upwork…
Might sound a bit familiar:
“I quickly figured out that the above skills are pretty common and the competition was fierce. What was different about me, was my motivation to help the client achieve their desired goals. In a word… “Competency”. For some reason, many freelancers on the site were/are unreliable. Not only did I experience this when I was hiring people, but also when I spoke with potential clients when I was interviewing for gigs. There wasn’t a lot of trust at all.”
Think I know someone who has been hammering this point home for years now. Trust is the #1, most essential part of ALL freelancing… including Upwork.
And, knowing how to demonstrate you’re trustworthy.
Or your portfolio.
Everybody does that.
But, doing it simply in the words you say.
And, how you say them.
So, everything you write, every phone call with a potential client, every ounce of messaging they get from you just oozes with trustworthiness.
That’s when this freelance thing gets easy.
And, you can charge 295/hour.
And, make 400k or more.
Anyway, that’s the main thrust of my freelancing on Upwork course over on SkillShare… showing you how to demonstrate your trustworthiness.
Even if you don’t have a big client history…
Or tons of reviews…
Or, a perfect portfolio.
You can still have success from day one there.
Anyway, you can get access to that course for nothing on SkillShare. As a teacher, I can give you a 2-month, no-cost trial of SkillShare.
I mentioned this before, but freelancing is exploding. 36% of the U.S. population already freelances. In the next 10 years, that will jump to over 50%.
Plus, tech is also on the rise.
Hitting its highest workforce rate since the dotcom bubble.
So, all those freelancers ain’t gonna be walking dogs.
They’ll be developers and designers just like you.
That’s, in part, why Upwork decided to begin “curating” its freelancers and not just letting any swinging… ahem… in the front door.
So, now, you have “apply” and get accepted.
All this DOES make it more work.
But, I’m reminded of the Pareto principle.
80% of the revenue often goes to 20% of the freelancers.
The freelancers who DO get in on Upwork, who figure out how it works and how to get steady job invites, who learn how to deliver and make clients happy…
Those who put in the work.
They tend to get all the reward.
While everyone else fights for the scraps.
So, the question becomes… how do YOU get into that 20%? Well, in this kind of hyper-competitive environment, every little advantage counts.
Stacking those advantages is how you win.
So, imagine for a second if you had insight on exactly how Upwork’s algorithms for matching and listing freelancers worked… and, all your competitors didn’t.
If a little advantage, can give you a leg up…
What will a big advantage give you?
How much easier could you get work?
How much more could you charge?
Anyway, that’s why I always try to illustrate to Upwork freelancers how important understanding their algorithms is. It’s crucial to winning consistently there.
To getting into that 20%.
I happened to stumbled on the keys to those algorithms…
By pure dumb luck…
Back before they became a closely-guarded secret.
And, it changed everything for me.
I went from “crickets” on Upwork to my first 2K job in a matter of days. And, eventually, more job invites than I could handle.
I’ve seen the same happen to students of mine…
Who learn this.
In fact, I just got this comment from one this morning:
“This is Julia again. I have made changes you suggested on my upwork profile and I am glad to say I received my FIRST invitation this morning (11am eastern time). It definitely put a smile on my face, I accepted the invitation and been going back and forth in regards to the job description.”
I’m still always amazed at how quickly this happens.
I get these “sudden change” messages all the time.
And, that’s the big thing I’m trying to hammer home.
You change your behavior, you change your results. Hell, that’s with anything, but especially on Upwork. And, I’ve seen it happen time after time after time.
Anyway, if you want to learn what I learned…
And, what I’ve taught all this people.
It’s in my Freelancing on Upwork course on SkillShare.
“UpWork is a joke… Clients on there are awful, getting paid is in no way guaranteed. I mean, you can’t even gain valuable experience, let alone earn a living. UpWork might not be a scam, but it is a joke.”
“Yes! I get almost all of my work through Upwork. Great clients, long-term relationships, well-paying jobs. Upwork is only going to be as good as you are.”
“Upwork is definitely not a scam. I started out with with Freelancing as a WordPress professional on Fiverr, started taking on projects there and also at the same time bidding on projects on Upwork. Fast forward one year now I am Top Rated on Upwork, 100% job success score. Also on Fiverr I have 140 five-star reviews.”
“If it is such a ‘scam’ as people say it is, then how come I’ve made $3000 or so off of clients there just by writing really meh blog posts for them? I work like 10 hours a week AT MOST on my upwork projects.”
To me, there’s three things:
What’s the truth?
What’s the intent?
Where does it lead?
Know-it-alls like the above try to get you focused on their narrow version of truth. Based almost completely on some bad experience they had.
Okay. I get it.
But, what’s the full truth?
I’ve always said this about Upwork. You can find whatever you want over there. You can find awful clients. You can find great ones.
It comes down to how you position yourself.
But, beyond that, it’s about intent.
Do these know-it-alls who constantly scream about the horrors of Upwork care more about you or care more about being right?
I think the answer is obvious.
And then, there’s the question of where this all leads. These guys are telling you to NOT take a crack at the largest freelancing site on the planet…
Where 1000s of new jobs roll in every day…
With freelancers who’ve made 300, 400, 500k…
No, no… eff all that…
Listen to me.
My opinion is right.
Don’t even try it.
To me, it’s pure arrogance.
And, classic know-it-all-ism.
But, like I said… I can’t talk about this all day. But, I’ve already been on Upwork. Did my thing. I know that it is. It’s YOU who have to decide.
Who you wanna believe.
And, what you’re gonna do.
I’ve said all along… Upwork is not perfect. It’s not some “work magically falls in your lap” utopia. It takes work. It takes understanding how the system works.
And, you shouldn’t only ever get work from it.
You shouldn’t base your entire freelancing career on it.
But, it’s a great stepping stone.
And, full of opportunity.
But, again, you have to decide that… not me.
Anyway, if you want some help, my Freelancing on Upwork course will show you how to build your profile to take advantage of Upwork’s algorithms.
To help you show up higher in searches…
And, suggested freelancers lists.
And, to be more compelling and persuasive to clients.
Plus, how to find the best jobs and best clients. How break down their job description to find the key hiring criteria. And, how to write compelling proposals that get the job.
All to help you have more success on Upwork.
So, you actually take advantage of the opportunity it is.
I’ve said this before. But, lemme rap a little more on it, because if you watch trends, it’s becoming more and more obvious, in my 1000% biased mind, that…
Soon, the standard tech job will be mostly obsolete.
Every year, Upwork puts out a “state of freelancing” report where they break down the raw data related to freelancing and independent contracting work.
In 2017, 36% of the U.S. workforce was freelancing.
By 2027, the majority of the U.S. workforce will freelance.
More than that, 54% of the U.S. workforce said they’re not very confident that the work they do will exist 20 years from now. But only 30% are retraining themselves now.
Among those who do freelance…
63% believe a diversified portfolio of clients…
Is more secure than one employer.
And, they’re right.
If you look at Fortune 500 companies, the trends are abysmal. In 1955, the average life expectancy of a Fortune 500 company was 75 years.
Today… it’s 15 years.
90% of startups fail.
Most within the first year.
If you’re banking on getting a “good job” with a “big company” or a startup and that being your meal ticket for the next 20-30 years.
That security you feel… is an illusion.
Truth is, those companies go out of business all the time. Startups are even more fleeting. To me, building your OWN thing that YOU control…
Is the only real security you can get.
Yes, it takes a lot of work.
Yes, there are ups and downs.
Yes, clients can be… ahem… “fun”, at times.
But, in my mind, that’s a helluva lot better than fooling yourself into believing you’re set only to have the rug pulled out from underneath you when you least expect it.
Plus, you set your own hours.
Only work on the things YOU want to.
Charge what YOU want.
Take time off when you want.
Instead of being beholden to some “tech-brooo” CEO.
At least, that’s how it is when you master the art of “client-getting”. But, so many developers and freelancers, in general, struggle with this.
I’ve noticed it’s kind of a desperate mindset.
Almost begging for work.
Like the weird guy at the bar…
Just standing there…
Hoping some hot girl just falls in his lap.
You compare that with the people who understand attraction and how to get clients to chase them… and it’s a totally different mindset.
They’re the picky ones.
They qualify the client…
Not the other way around.
There’s ZERO desperation.
Anyway, I was fortunate enough to get thrown into the fire of face-to-face sales when I was 20. And, had a mentor who taught me everything he knew.
And then, apply that to my own freelancing.
And, the big secret is…
Sales is a process.
It’s not some magical thing that you’re either “born with” or you’re not. Sure, some people are more naturally outgoing than others and that can help.
But, I’m 100% an introvert…
And, I kicked the pants off some of those guys…
When, I did face-to-face sales.
All because I was dogged about the process.
And, the best part for developers… is we’re naturally linear, process-oriented thinkers. So, when we “get” a process… boy can we run that s!@#.
So, you can get damn good at it.
In any case, this is what I teach you in my Freelancing on Upwork course. It’s more than just Upwork. It’s fundamental sales skills applied to freelancing.
And yes, it’s working for people right now, like this:
“John’s class is fantastic! It’s a thorough look into what’s required to build a strong profile in Upwork. It also covers making pitches, asking for the sale, and building trust with your potential clients. If you’re serious about building a freelancing career with Upwork and are willing to put in the work to put together a quality profile, John will give you what you need. Thank you John!” — Daegan Stuart
“A must for those who want to embark on home based jobs.” — Ma. Rosella N Remigio
“I got immediate results… from a client the first day i changed a few things applying the tips he gives.” — Lona t.
So, obviously, this stuff works.
And, you can get started with the course for nothing on SkillShare. As a teacher, I can give you a 2-month, no-cost trial. You can take the FULL course in that time.
Cancel any time before the 2 months is up.
And, never pay a penny.
I don’t know, seems like it’s worth a shot.
But, up to you. Just beware…
This isn’t some magic “trick” that suddenly makes everything better. It takes work. It takes some thinking and researching. It takes “want-to”.
It’s the one with The Ro… I mean Dwayne John– I mean The Rock… or whatever the hell he wants to be called now. And the super serum that turns his monkey friend into King Kong.
Anyway, there’s this stretch in the movie.
Ol’ DJ’s trying to tell all these govt people what they should do.
And, they keep ignoring him.
And, of course, everything blows up in their face.
And, he keeps looking at ’em like, “Damn, would you just fuggin’ listen to me already”. I couldn’t help but having a bit of deja vu. All those times I tried to warn clients about some stupid thing they were about to do…
And, they just wouldn’t freakin’ listen!
And, of course, stuff blew up.
And, they’re looking at me like “WTF?”
And, I’m like: “Dude, I tried to tell you!”
Now, in the movie, the problem with the Rockinator is he’s a bit of an a-hole. He’s not really into “persuading” people… except with a quick 1-2 to the temple. Not much of a communicator. So, of course, nobody listens.
That was my problem, too.
In fact, I see a lot of devs who struggle with this.
You get the code thing down.
But, now it’s time to get work. And, you try to rely on your technical skill. You talk about the languages you know or where you went to school. And, think that’ll do it. Or, it’s the other way, and you really don’t know what to say.
And, you find out quickly… there’s more to this “getting work” thing.
Well, the truth is, it doesn’t matter how good you are technically.
There’s so many good developers out there, now.
You can’t get by on just skill alone.
You’ve gotta be able to present yourself…
And your work in a compelling way.
And, persuade people to hire you.
Build rapport, gain people’s trust and give them compelling reasons to want to hire you. What I discovered is there are systematic ways you can do this. Processes you can follow that’ll accomplish all this for you.
It’s not magic…
Or rocket surgery.
It’s just a matter of learning the processes.
Anyway, I teach you the 3-step process I learned in Lesson 8 of Module 3 in my Upwork 101 course. I’ve used this over and over again throughout my career to get clients, to get jobs…
Hell, I’m doing it right now, in fact.
(Let’s see if you can spot it once you learn the process ;).)
Once you learn it, it’s dead simple…
And, you’ll start using it any time you need to persuade someone.
And, have a helluva lot more success than just “winging” it.
Anyway, you can get started with that Upwork 101 course for nothing over on SkillShare. This is the link: https://skl.sh/2hfGS0s. Jump on that 2-month no-cost trial. Take the course (and all my others).
Cancel any time before the 2 months is up…
And, never pay a cent.
Why not give it a try?
Who knows… it might just be a revelation for you like it was me.
Was watching this video from Clever Programmer called, “Why Are the Best Coders Broke?” It’s about these coders he knows who’ve been coding for 20-30 years and only charge 30/hr.
Then, this other guy he knows…
Who’s been at it for just a couple years…
And, charges 150/hr.
So, what gives?
It’s what I always tell you. The freelance world is 100% different than the “tech job” world. That’s why you really shouldn’t take freelance advice from developers who’ve never actually freelanced (shocker, I know).
They just don’t get it.
At the end of day, clients don’t care.
You could’ve been coding 1000 years…
Can you deliver?
That’s the bottom line.
NOW… it works the other way, too. Clients also don’t really care if you’ve been coding for 30 days. Again, can you deliver? If you can… and you can demonstrate that in your marketing… Bob’s your uncle!
That should get you excited.
Because, you can get rolling with this as fast as you want to.
Just gotta buckle down, learn the tech…
And then, GO FOR IT!
Anyway, that’s where your favorite ranty uncle (that’s me) can help. I’ve got the coding training you need. But, also, the Upwork course that’ll show you how to turn those coding skills into a paycheck.
And, teach you how to demonstrate your skills in your marketing.
I get a lot of pushback when I talk about Upwork. A lot of developers think it’s anywhere between a flat-out scam or just completely worthless because all the jobs and clients suck and it’s impossible to get work…
And clients only hire 5/hour developers…
And, on and on.
I’ve heard it all.
Here’s the truth.
If you’re new to Upwork, the deck IS stacked against you. It’s true. The whole point of Upwork is to identify and surface the best freelancers to match with clients who need their services.
Now, here’s the thing…
Upwork doesn’t talk about how they do this anymore (that I can find).
But, they used to.
Back when it was Elance.
And, daddy figured that ish out…
And, I’m gonna give you the 411 on it.
Of course, things will have evolved, but the basic fundamentals of what they look at CAN’T change all that much. Because, what they’re attempting to do is the same… the best freelancer for an individual client’s project or search.
So, let’s talk about how it works.
Upwork looks at two things when matching clients with freelancer:
Rank is what freelancers tend to think about most. Upwork uses your job history, Job Success Score, ratings, etc… a series of different factors to determine how “good” of a freelancer you are and what your Rank is.
The better you deliver…
The more satisfied your clients…
The higher your Rank…
The higher you’ll tend to show up in searches made by clients.
The problem for new freelancers is you don’t have ANY of this. You have no job history, no job success score, no ratings, no testimonials… none of it. Upwork’s entire machine for surfacing freelancers based on Rank is stacked against you.
Burying your profile 1000 pages deep.
So, clients never see you.
No job invites.
No dolla dolla bills y’all.
And, it feels like… no way out.
But, there is.
The secret is in the 2nd part of how Upwork surfaces freelancers: Relevance. Because, so many (even good) freelancers on Upwork screw this up… it leaves a crack in the door for you to sneak your way in.
And, rank higher than you normally would in searches.
Higher than you really *should* based solely on Rank.
So, you DO show up in searches.
You DO get invites.
You DO get work.
Anyway, this is the “Master Strategy” I cover in Lesson 1 of my new Upwork 101 course on SkillShare. And, you can get it for FREE with the 2-month no-cost trial I can give you as a teacher there.
“Why I have to sell myself each time I apply to job? I have top rated status with 96% so called bullshit. Clients come upwork on their last resort if they didn’t find anywhere and they don’t believe they will find. And that’s why they don’t bother to respond.”
Being a top rated freelancer with a good job success rate doesn’t somehow magically absolve you of needing to compete for work. You’re always gonna have to sell yourself and compete. Even outside freelance sites. You’re still competing… you just don’t see it so directly.
Let me make this more clear.
If I go on Upwork, into my client account…
And, search freelancers for the term: “wordpress”.
Probably a pretty common thing a client would do if they need somebody to work on their WordPress site. If I filter for freelancers who have a 90% job success rate or higher, guess what? 27 of the first 50 freelancers all have the “Top Rated” badge.
That’s just over 50%
If I remove that filter…
It’s still 19 of 50… so, 38%
Lots of freelancers on there have those designations.
You’re still gonna have to compete with them.
But, beyond that even…
Look, clients don’t undergo some sort of uber-logical decision-making process when hiring a freelancer. Buying decisions are emotional. So, they’re not gonna do a search and just pick the freelancers with the highest job success rate and the pretty little “Top Rated” badge.
They’re gonna look at your picture…
Skim your bio…
Read a few reviews…
Look at your portfolio…
All very quickly and just try to “get a feel” for you.
And, like it or not… they’ll make their decision to invite you based on that.
I’m simply trying to get you to give them a “good feel”…
(Ok, not like that, you perv!)
As for Upwork just being full of desperate clients…
That’s just so obviously false.
If I do the same “wordpress” search from my freelancer account, one of the first projects is from a client who has hired 92 times before. They’ve spent 30k+ on the site and have a 5-star rating from the freelancers they’ve worked with.
Sounds like Upwork is their FIRST resort, not their last.
A client that’s spent 100k+ and has 4.98 rating.
Another that’s spend 80k+ and a 5-star rating..
None of these clients seem desperate or to be using Upwork as a “last resort”. And, imagine if you landed a project with one of these clients and really impressed them. How much would work might you get in the future from just that one client?
So, I’m the one calling “BS” here.
These clients are there.
You just need to get over yourself…
And your “Top Rated” status…
And realize you gotta compete.
If not here, then out on the open web.
Nobody is going to give you the work.
You gotta go get it.
That said, there are ways you can stack the chips in your favor. Subtle tweaks you can make to your profile, your bids, your entire approach on Upwork… that will tip the scales in your favor and make it much easier to get hired and paid more for your work.
Not to mention be more appreciated and valued.
I show you all this in my Upwork 101 course which you can get FREE on SkillShare. Just sign up for the 2-month FREE trial… that’ll give you plenty of time to get through the course and then if you want, cancel before the trial is up. And VOILA… you got my course free.
“But do you think this is a good profile? I don’t want to bump my profile here just like that, but if you could check, perhaps you could use me as an example 😀 But this is what you mean following your advice, right?”
I took a look and…
Sometimes, I hate being the bad guy…
Not even close.
But, I feel like it’s my job to be ruthlessly honest so you can get better, because me filling you full of hot air and telling you it’s great (when it’s not) won’t help you get more IT work… it won’t put food on the table.
Anyway, he said use him as an example…
So, I did.
I made a video tearing his profile apart…
And, how he should change it.
If you wanna watch the whole gory mess, it’s here:
“How do I create a client base outside of freelance networks?”
Actually, I get this question a lot. And, usually, it comes from someone who’s about to send letters full of anthrax to the owners of Upwork (or Freelancer, Guru, etc) because they’ve tried everything and can’t get clients.
Let me tell you a story…
I often talk about what happened to me after I changed my approach on Elance and how I started sucking in clients like kids to a candy store. But, I talk less about what happened before.
That’s because it kind of sucked.
When I very very first got on Elance… I bombed.
I made all the mistakes I always tell you not to. I marketed myself as a “do-everything” web guy. I practically begged people to hire me. I had a terrible picture. My bio was about two sentences. I talked only about the languages I knew. And, I just sat there waiting for clients to land in my lap.
I’ll give you eight guesses what happened.
But, then I got lucky.
Several years before that, I’d uploaded a couple tutorials on YouTube and pretty much forgot about them. They got like 30 views initially… and since they didn’t instantly go viral, I had just moved on.
But, now several years later they were gaining traction.
I started noticing I was getting notifications from YouTube about comments… every other day or so. So, I decided to login and see what was up. To my shock, one of the videos now had over 10K views.
And, my channel was getting several thousand views per month.
Seemingly, out of nowhere.
So being the opportunistic little devil I am, I immediately started trying to figure out how I could use it. Eventually, I figured out how to push people through my website to my Elance profile. And, I never looked back.
Eventually, I went off Elance altogether.
And, just got all my clients through my website.
And, that’s the answer…
It doesn’t have to be YouTube, but you should absolutely be building up your audience outside of the freelance sites. Every serious business in the world is realizing this and starting to create content and build their audience.
Freelancers are no different.
It’s the cost of doing business.
Before the internet, the cost of doing business included buying a building, getting a big sign and advertising on the radio, newspaper, billboards, yada yada. Today, the cost of doing business is creating content.
As Gary Vaynerchuck says:
“If you’re not creating content online, you basically don’t exist.”
And be glad that’s all it is. You don’t need to go into debt 100K to start a business.
So, you should absolutely, never ever, not in a million years… rely solely on a freelance site to bring you all your clients.
That’s asking to go broke.
Thing is… leveraging your audience for your freelance business is simple:
Figure out who your target audience is and what content they want
Create the content and promote it like crazy on social media
At the end of each piece of content, point them to your profile
(Pro tip: Don’t point them straight to your Upwork profile. Point them to a page on your site. At first, it can just be a redirect to your Upwork profile. But later when you want to “exit” Upwork, you can turn that page into a sales page. Mine, for example, is johnmorrisonline.com/hire. That was a redirect initially but now is a sales page. Now all those links from the initial content are still valid.)
Now, I think a lot of freelancers know this.
They know they need to be creating content.
But, they’re scared to put themselves out there.
Thing is… you don’t have to do YouTube videos like I do. You can do written tutorials, answer questions on StackOverflow or Quora. Then, find someone you trust and have them look your stuff over before you post it.
What you’ll find is the web isn’t the big scary monster you imagined.
And when you do get some jack!@# who “know-it-alls” one of your posts… just block ’em. Hell… even if they’re right. You don’t have to entertain them. Just block them and move on. I do it all the time.
But, when you build a content-to-profile funnel like this…
Beating the algorithms on Upwork or whatever site is easy. You’re building your own job history, testimonials, rankings… without relying on the network. And then eventually, you’ll rank high enough that the network starts sending you clients…
And then it’s all over.
You ride off into the sunset… tell bossy boy to shove it and your life is yours.
You’re free… and because you built it… it’s secure.
Anyway, I know you might want a more detailed walkthrough of how to set all this up… because details do matter. That’s why I created Module 3 in my Lightning Responsive course which you can get as a supporter over on Patreon.
I always have to hold myself back because I know I’ll lose them.
But, it’s just in my DNA. 🙂
This actually happened just the other day. I was at one of the local business meetup groups I belong to and was approached (again) about working on a website for one of the members.
And my gut “nerd” instinct is to go full geek on them.
But, you never go full geek.
I got about two sentences into my verbal nerd-bomb and saw their eyes starting to glaze over. And, I caught myself… reigned it in and got back to sprekin ze English.
I’ve said this probably 100 times.
Clients do not understand or care about our nerd-speak. Saying HTML, CSS, PHP, etc… to them is like saying “zaploot”, “waawaaru” and “eeepoof”…
They don’t get it… they don’t care.
What they do care about is the end result they’re after.
The membership site. The contact form. The sales page. The opt-in form. The business website. The e-commerce site.
That is how they think.
That’s not the question to ask.
The question to ask is…
Can you deliver a specific end result people want?
If yes, then yes you can take clients for that specific end result?
And you should market yourself appropriately.
Now, here’s the crazier thing…
Clients don’t even care how you deliver that end result. Not really. I said a few podcast episodes ago that I believe the future of site-building for people like you and me will be less about code and more about tools.
There will always be a place for coders. And, there will always be value in knowing how to code. But, I think more and more the pure coders will migrate toward tool-building and site builders like you and I will migrate toward tool-using.
So, it’s likely you don’t even need to know HTML and CSS to get clients!
You just need to know how to use certain tools to deliver the end result.
Matter of fact, I know really successful “developers” who do just that. Now, I’m not encouraging to not learn how to code. What I’m saying is in almost every case you can start taking clients sooner than you think.
Speaking of tools, yesterday I just released another “epic” freelance template over on Patreon. This one is for YOU. It’s based on my 12-Step Freelance Profile Template and uses WordPress and the Layers theme.
No coding required.
And, it’s all pre-built for you. You just fill in the blanks.