Close

upwork

On Upwork’s Pricing Change

Subscribe to the Podcast

[saf]

Nobody owes you anything.

Period.

If you haven’t heard, Upwork just changed the fees it charges to freelancers. It moved from a flat fee of 10% to a “sliding fee structure” like this:

  1. First $500 of lifetime client earnings – 20%
  2. $500+ up to $10,000 – 10%
  3. $10,000+ – 5%

And boy oh boy did the kids get angry!

Check out some of these comments:

“go hang yourself. I hope all your people leave and you are dead.”

“U evil. Stahp.”

“This is the worst policy any market place have ever taken.”

“Moderate your greed. (Even God has commented on this move)”

“Stop this greed.”

The most sane comment of them all (even though this person probably doesn’t quite realize what they’re saying) was this one:

“Time to collect personal clients!”

Ya think?

Funny thing is… everybody who has asked me about this only told me Upwork raised their fee to 20%. They conveniently forgot to mention the rest of the fee structure. Hmmmm. Should tell you something about their approach.

Like I said, nobody owes you anything.

Upwork offers a service for freelancers and clients and they’re absolutely within their right to change their pricing… even if it were terrible.

You don’t like it… don’t use it. No sympathy from me.

Thing is, though… it’s not terrible. At least not for me.

When I was on Upwork if this had been in place… the majority of my revenue would have quickly crossed into the 10% range. So, they got an extra 50 bucks per project. Meh. If that’s what they need to stay in business… so be it.

You should actually be excited about this.

If you’ve been listening to anything I’ve been saying… this should be welcome news. Why?

Because, it seems clearly aimed at the lowballers.

The developers that go around just lowballing project after project, giving terrible service (so the lifetime earnings with that client never break $500) and moving on to the next sucker they can lure in with their low price.

Bye Felicia!

If those people are angry and “vow” to leave Upwork… GOOD! Hell, I might even jump back on there if they really do.

But they won’t.

That’s because they don’t have anywhere else to go. They don’t have a long-term mindset, so they’re not building a real freelance business. And, they’ll find life “off” the freelance site is even less forgiving.

I tell you this all the time…

Go get your own clients. Do NOT rely on Upwork or whatever other site to bring you all your business. Because when they make changes… it hits you hard. You are at their mercy. Why do that?

Anyway, there’s a way out of all of this. I teach it in Module 3 of my course, Lightning  Responsive. I show you how to build an actual freelance business… not a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, whine-when-Upwork-changes wannabe business. Get that way out as a supporting listener on Patreon here:

https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/patreon

P.S. If you liked the show, give it a like and share with the communities and people you think will benefit. And, you can always find all my tutorials, podcast episodes and more on johnmorrisonline.com, @jpmorris on Twitter and youtube.com/johnmorrisvideo.

May 23, 2016

Cheap SOBs. Twitter Troll Gets Owned On Why Freelance Clients Lowball

Subscribe to the Podcast

[saf]

Ah the interwebs…

They have a way of bringing the know-it-alls out of their mom’s basements and into the light for everyone to see (or point and laugh at). This guy, though… as far as trolls go, he takes the cake. Here’s a snapshot:

Normally, I’d let this twitty-bird fly off without a word from the J-meister… but I see a lot of freelancers who deep down believe this same non-sense.

Be honest, a lot of you reading this right now believe this:

“Cheap SOBs”.

That’s the crux of it, isn’t it?

It’s just way too easy to believe, “It’s not MY fault. It’s that cheap SOB client!” That line of thinking is alluring… seductive. And WAY too many freelancers fall for it hook, line and sinker.

And that’s why they HATE me when I say, “au contraire!”

I got some statistical-ese for you here in a second, but I want you to just think about this on its face. Put your anger and your bias aside and just imagine it was YOU about to spend a few hundred or a few thousand dollars to hire someone.

To build your baby…

The website or application you’ve dreamed of getting up and running… you’ve spent months… maybe even YEARS… planning, tweaking, adjusting, re-configuring… to get just right.

Would you really only be concerned with finding the lowest bidder?

I mean yes… budgets matter. You have the money you have. You can spend what you can spend. But, I’m telling you right now… most clients don’t lowball because of their budget. Some do… but not most.

They lowball because it’s less money they’re risking. Period.

Now, as far as I know nobody has done a comprehensive study and statistical analysis of freelance clients to determine WHY they lowball. So, to Stevey-poo’s point about not having “quantifiable evidence”…

No s!@# Sherlock!

But, let’s see if we can not be nit-picking twits and take a look at some related data that might help us figure this out.

For example…

According to research done by Defaqto, 55% of customers would pay extra to guarantee better service.

Those cheapskates!

89% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service. (RightNow Customer Experience Impact Report)

Ugh with them only caring about cost!

A customer is 4 times more likely to buy from a competitor if the problem is service related vs. price or product related. (Bain & Co.)

Wait… I’m starting to sense a pattern here.

In 2011, 7 in 10 Americans said they were willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service (American Express Survey).

Hmmm… I’m starting to think Stevey-boy might be confused.

Look, I could do this all day.

Fact is… clients WILL PAY if they believe it’s worth it.

YOU have to make them believe it’s worth it. That’s all there is to it. If you don’t, then yeah… you’ll be stuck competing on price. And, when you get kicked off Upwork like poor little Stephanopolous you’ll find someone on Twitter to harass to try and make yourself feel better.

Of course, you could avoid all the heartache. You could take the J-meister’s advice. You could join the inner circle of web developers fast-forwarding their careers. You could start actually living the life you dreamed of when you first got into coding. You could get my step-by-step freelancing blueprint, The Upwork Checklist, as a supporting listener on Patreon… right cheer:

https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/patreon

Or… you could go hang with Stevey-boy.

Up to you! 🙂

P.S. If you liked the show, give it a like and share with the communities and people you think will benefit. And, you can always find all my tutorials, podcast episodes and more on johnmorrisonline.com, @jpmorris on Twitter and youtube.com/johnmorrisvideo.

May 12, 2016

Weekly Web Developer Q&A (5/6/2016)

Subscribe to the Podcast

[saf]

If you sent me a question via email, Twitter, YouTube, etc this week… then look below because there’s a good chance I’m going to answer it.

Crazy1985 via YouTube asked:

I am just going through the same thing and failed it, but I have learned that I need to learn more about specialising in something rather than being a Jack of all trades.

Not 100% a question, but something I wanted to dive into. The single most important thing you can do to have more success as a freelancer is to stop being a “jack-of-all-trades” and be a specialist.

As the saying goes: “It’s better to do one thing well than ten things poorly.”

1000 million trillion percent true. All your effort get focused and yields much more results than it would spread out among ten different things.

If you’ve never heard me say this… if you’re struggling with freelancing, this is the thing to go change right now.

Edward via YouTube asked:

Hello I am on my way out of the Army for medical reasons but I am going to school for web design and development  any advise on what I need to learn first that would help me freelance while still going to school.

I’m going to point you to this first: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1LnG2pXu5Y

That’s my definitive answer to the “what should I learn first” question.

Thing is, it really goes back to the first question. There’s 1000 things you couldlearn… but only a handful that are necessary for the niche you go into. So, what you should learn first is what is absolutely necessary for you to deliver on projects for clients. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Dave via YouTube asked:

Hi John! So, I’m totally new to the world of PHP, Tables, Coding, etc. At this point, I am totally lost in this world, but starting to make sense of it all. I was wondering what a config.php file is, and is there a video that explains how to use these different types of files? Thanks so much!

It can be anything really.

It’s just a file where you put application data you’ll likely use in multiple places in your code… across files and classes etc. Then you can easily include and use that data. Database credentials are the common one you see but it could be anything.

That’ll do it for this week.

If YOU have a question, you can send it via email to john@johnmorrisonline.com, tweet me @jpmorris on Twitter or leave me a comment on YouTube.

(Keep in mind, I might not respond to these directly in those places because I collect them up for this Q&A. Also Patreon supporters get priority access so if you want to make sure you get your question answered, consider becoming a supporting listener.)

P.S. If you liked the show, give it a like and share with the communities and people you think will benefit. And, you can always find all my tutorials, podcast episodes and more on johnmorrisonline.com, @jpmorris on Twitter and youtube.com/johnmorrisvideo.

May 8, 2016

JMS081: Stop Freelance Clients From Lowballing You On Upwork

Subscribe to the Podcast

[saf]

Do you judge a suit by the tailor’s bill or the fit and finish of the clothes themselves?

Do you judge a car by the MSRP or how it feels when you hit the gas?

Do you judge a dinner by the cost or the taste and tenderness of the steak?

I get this all the time…

Freelancers who complain about freelancing sites like Upwork because clients always go with the lowest bidder.

And, so-and-so from XYZ country can afford to low-ball me… yada, yada.

Look, price is as big of a problem as you allow it to be. Clients aren’t focused on cost… they’re focused on risk.

If all the reviews of a particular movie say it’s terrible… you’re probably not going to drop 13 bucks on it. If your friend tells you the steak is bland, you probably won’t let go of 20 dineros for it.

If you’re on a freelance site and have no job history, no testimonials and no portfolio, a client probably isn’t going to risk a few grand on you.

They see you as a risk.

BUT…

Once you can lower your perceived risk, price becomes less and less of an issue. You become the “safe” option even though you might cost more.

How do you lower your risk?

Lots of ways:

  • A killer portfolio
  • A sound job history
  • Raving testimonials

But, those are the ones you already know…

Here’s an even simpler one for the noobs:

Help them.

Let them actually experience working with you. Provide advice IN your bid. Create content on outside sites like YouTube and StackOverflow and push them to your profile page on Upwork.

Anyway, I get into all this in the video I just released on Patreon called: The Upwork Checklist. Step-by-step instructions on starting from scratch on Upwork.

Get that sucker as a supporting listener on Patreon:

https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/patreon

And in case, you’re doubting… you can do this. I’m no genius and am able to do it… heavens know you can too because you’re likely much smarter than I am. Just go for it.

P.S. If you liked the show, give it a like and share with the communities and people you think will benefit. And, you can always find all my tutorials, podcast episodes and more on johnmorrisonline.com, @jpmorris on Twitter and youtube.com/johnmorrisvideo.

May 5, 2016

Quitting Your Day Job

Subscribe to the Podcast

[saf]

I came across this story the other day about a woman who was arrested for defecating on her boss’ desk after she found out she won the lottery.

Don’t lie… you’ve thought about it! 🙂

I had to look this up to see if it was true. Turns out, it wasn’t… dangit! I’m actually shocked it wasn’t. I mean… who hasn’t thought of making an “epic” exit to their day job. I know I used to.

Thing is…

You don’t need to win the lottery.

Or put another way, you already have the winning lottery ticket. Yeah, yeah… sounds cliche but it’s true in this case.

Think about it…

What do you think the world will look like ten years from now? 20? 30? Consider what it looked like just ten years AGO. Or 20. Or 30.

Nobody then could have fathomed the world we live in now.

Technology, whether we like it or not, is the future. The internet, whether we like it or not, is the future. YOU, whether you like it or not, are the future.

The skillset you’re chasing is the bedrock of what’s to come.

You shouldn’t forget that.

And, you shouldn’t sell yourself short. I’m not going to tell you what to do with your life but I do think it’d be a bit of a waste for you to spend your time and talent making some else wealthy and successful.

That’s why I’m such a big proponent of freelancing.

Because YOU control your own destiny.

YOU decide what you make.

YOU decide when you work and on what.

And, you make yourself wealthy.

And look… it doesn’t matter if you’ve tried it and didn’t have success. Just like learning how to code, it takes a minute. And, there’s plenty of non-developer “gurus” out there giving bunk advice.

Advice that doesn’t work for developers.

And, they wouldn’t know because they’re not developers.

It’s not your fault if you’ve listened to them and struggled. They make a good case… until you actually try what they advise. Then, it all comes crashing down.

Anyway, I want to help.

That’s why I recorded a full 40-minute (ish) video on what to do to get started AND have success as a freelance developer.

It’s how you can start building your own little empire.

And, you can get it as supporting listener of the John Morris Show on Patreon. I’m putting the final touches on the editing and will be uploading it soon so be sure to jump in right away.

Go here: http://www.JohnMorrisOnline.com/patreon

P.S. When you get over there be sure to select the “Exclusive Courses” option to get access to the video when it’s released.

P.P.S. If you liked the show, give it a like and share with the communities and people you think will benefit. And, you can always find all my tutorials, podcast episodes and more on johnmorrisonline.com, @jpmorris on Twitter and youtube.com/johnmorrisvideo.

April 28, 2016

Grizzly Bear Rips Freelancer to Shreds. You Take His Job

Subscribe to the Podcast

[saf]

Here’s the big thing to get to succeed as a freelance web developer:

If you and your buddy are hiking in the forest and are suddenly attacked by a grizzly bear… you don’t need to be the fastest guy in the world. You just need to be faster than your buddy.

There’s your uber-secret, stop-the-presses secret to success.

Freelancing is a competition. To win, you don’t need to be perfect… you just need to be better than the next guy. And, let me tell you… most of your competition is epicly bad at this.

The grizzly would be five bites into a thigh bone before they took two steps.

You just need to do some simple things that others aren’t willing to do. Here’s my 5-point “dominate freelance sites” checklist. Don’t overlook this. It’s nothing earth-shattering… the gold is in the doing:

1. Pick a Niche

Ohmahgawd John! Quit talking about this niche thing. It’s all you ever talk about… blah, blah, blah… I get it.

Do you?

I get that response all the time. THEN, I check their profile:

“I’m a highly motivated web developer with experience in HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL, Javascript and NodeJS”.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Everybody says that… and it means NOTHING to a client. They don’t even know what half that stuff is. They do not “understand the words that are comin’ out of yo mouth!”

What is the end result you deliver?

“A profit-generating membership site your members will love.”

“A smooth registration form that’s a dream to complete.”

“A dead simple blog you’ll crank out quality content on.”

NOW you’re speaking my language.

Pick a niche, specialize in it and best the best at it. This is the 2nd most important thing you can do to be a wealthy freelancer (#1 is coming).

2. Build a Compelling Profile

You can’t make people hire you. There’s no magic secret to make every client hire you every time. Instead, it’s about making your best case… and, believe me, most freelancers do NOT.

Here’s some obvious stuff most aren’t doing:

  1. Fill out the whole profile.
  2. Use a professional-looking picture
  3. Write more than two sentences in your description
  4. Have a portfolio
  5. Take relevant tests

Brain-busting stuff I know… but you’d be shocked how many freelancers just don’t do it. Then, of course, come to me bewildered about why they’re not getting clients.

Here’s a hint…

If you’re not willing to spend more than 10 minutes on your own profile… chances are you’re not going to put much effort into my project. True or not… that’s what a client thinks when they see it.

Now, I have a video (I’ll tell you about in a moment) where I give you my 3-step formula for writing my service description that I’ve found works like gangbusters… but simply being complete is yuuuuuuuuuge!

3. Bid Intelligently

Here’s another head-scratcher…

I get a lot of freelancers who complain to me about all the “junk projects” on Upwork or Freelancer.com, etc.

Ya know…

You can filter all that junk out right? In fact, there’s a filter right on Upwork when you search for projects… that lets you only see projects from clients who actually hired someone before.

And you can toggle it between:

  • No hires
  • 1-9 hires
  • 10+ hires

IMAGE

So start off by only toggling the 10+ hires option.

Those are presumably the cream of the crop in terms of clients… and avoid all that junk. Plus, there’s filters for client Experience Level, project Budget, Job Type and a lot more.

Finding the right projects to bid on is the “dirty secret” to winning at bidding.

Of course, writing your bid is a whole other animal. But, I recently made a video for you where I go into that. I’ll get to that in a minute.

4. Do Good Work

The #1 most important thing you will do to have success as a freelancer is to do make your clients over the moon about working with you.

It’s about the code you write…

It’s about how fast you get stuff done…

It’s about how well you communicate…

It’s about how easy you are to work with…

It’s about how reliable you are…

It’s the WHOLE thing. You can’t use one to Trump the other. All of them combined will ensure clients love you, hire you again and again and tell everyone they know about you.

But, you’ve likely heard a lot about that… so let’s move onto:

5. Build a Funnel

This is the thing almost every developer balks at:

I just want to put up my profile and get work.

I don’t want to do all this marketing stuff.

Selling is evil.

(Said in my whiniest Gilbert Gottfried voice)

But, it’s THE fastest way to start getting clients.

Let’s say you build those dream-like AJAX forms…

Put a video on YouTube showing how you built. The exact code. Point people to your profile at the end of it if they just want it done for them. Throw a $1/day in YouTube advertising at it for a month or two until it gains traction.

Just don’t give away the source code like I do.

And, that’s it.

You’ll start getting viewers, subscribers and eventually clients. And it’s cheap and easy as hell.

Don’t be afraid of this.

You don’t need to be Tom Cruise. You just need to have something that actually works and be able to explain it fairly well. And, clients will see you can do exactly what they need and want to hire.

I get multiple quote requests every single month doing this.

So, that’s all simple stuff… but the trick is in DOING it.

Now I mentioned a video where I get into more detail about this. It’s a 30-minute whopper where I go into a lot more detail about these five steps, including:

  • My 3-part formula for writing my service description
  • How to write your bids to get hired
  • The critical part of your profile everybody gets wrong

And a bunch more.

It’s this month’s Patreon-Only e-course. If you want to keep going with this and get access to the video, just become a supporting listener of $10 or more per month over on Patreon… and you’ll get it.

I’m finishing editing it and it’ll be up on Patreon in the next few days.

So, be sure to jump in right away.

Here’s where to go:

http://www.JohnMorrisOnline.com/Patreon

You’ll also get access to all my other Patreon-only courses, all my source code and priority Q&A access.

No reason not to:

http://www.JohnMorrisOnline.com/Patreon

See ya over there!

P.P.S. If you liked the show, give it a like and share with the communities and people you think will benefit. And, you can always find all my tutorials, podcast episodes and more on johnmorrisonline.com, @jpmorris on Twitter and youtube.com/johnmorrisvideo.

April 21, 2016

How to Get a Web Design Job When You Don’t Have a Portfolio

This is the catch-22 every new web developer faces.

You’re not coding for your health. You desperately want to do this for a living. The freedom, the peace of mind, the control.

Feels like it’s right at your fingertips.

But, how do you get people to hire you (whether freelance or regular ‘ol corporate gig) when you’re just starting and don’t have a portfolio?

Pull a Da Vinci.

When you think of Leonardo Da Vinci, what do you think of? There’s a good chance one of the things you think of is what’s called the Vitruvian Man. It’s that anatomical sketch of a man with two poses superimposed over each other:

Da_Vinci_Vitruve_Luc_Viatour
Do you know what that is?

It was a sketch in his notebook. It now sits in a museum in Italy and is known as one of his iconic works.

Renaissance painters did this all the time.

It’s called a “study”… and many of these studies now sit in museums all over the world and are some of their more well-known works.

It’s also part of how they got work in their time.

Imagine some 15th century king or queen who wanted a painting of themselves and is out looking for the best artist. And, they see something like this and the depth of understanding Da Vinci or one of the others had about proportions and all that.

Think they might be convinced?

Do you know that despite the fact Da Vinci is known for being one of the most active artists of his time… he only painted about 20 paintings in his lifetime?

Much of what he’s known for are his studies and sketches.

So, how does this help you?

You do NOT need a portfolio filled with projects you did for clients!

Say this over and over until it clicks.

In fact, when you’re first starting how the hell would you have that? Sure, you could do free work for people.

But, fair warning: that’s dangerous.

When people don’t have to pay for your time, they’re much more likely to use it like it’s going out of style.

Avoid that hell and just do a few studies.

Create websites for nobody.

Just to put in your portfolio.

Of course, make them relevant to the services you’ll be offering… but nothing says your portfolio has to be only filled with projects for clients.

Those are better…

But, it’s not necessary.

Show people what you can do. Give them a taste of your skillset. And you can do this starting right now. You don’t have to wait on anybody.

If you’re starting out and struggling with this, there’s literally ZERO reason not to do this. Having a portfolio of “studies” is 100 times better than have no portfolio at all. Then, over time, replace your studies with actual client projects.

And you’re off to the races.

Now, if you’re wondering…

This is one of the things I’m going to be covering in-depth this month inside an exclusive course I’m releasing on Patreon.

It’s all about getting hired on Upwork.

And you can only get access to it when you become a supporting listener of the John Morris Show on Patreon.

Plus access to all my source code, priority access to our weekly Q&A and more.

Become supporting listener here to make sure you don’t miss it:

http://www.JohnMorrisOnline.com/Patreon

April 14, 2016

JMS054: PHP 7, MVC, Writing Your Upwork Bio, Weekly Q&A and More

In this episode of the John Morris Show we dive into the new features in PHP 7, using the MVC design pattern, writing your bio on Upwork to get more clients, our weekly Q&A and more:

Here’s the line-up:

  • Opening and Managing Negativity in the Web Developer Community [00:37]
  • The New Features in PHP 7 [13:40]
  • The Thinking Trap That Stops Most Developers From Being Successful [24:28]
  • MVC: What You Need to Know [35:08]
  • Writing Your Upwork Service Description [48:27]
  • Weekly WebDev Q&A [1:03:34]

Links mentioned in this episode:

If you liked the show, give it a like and share with the communities and people you think will benefit.

Finally, you can always find all my tutorials, podcast episodes and more on johnmorrisonline.com, @jpmorris on Twitter and youtube.com/johnmorrisvideo.

December 15, 2015

7 Steps to Make Money on Upwork

My first few months on Upwork (Elance) were a disaster. I wasted a lot of time bidding on dead-end or low-payout jobs, working with horrible clients and making much less than I wanted (read: needed).

About a year later, I was doing well enough to leave Upwork forever and get all my clients through repeat business, referrals and my own website… charging what I wanted and clients seeking me out.

I’m not special or overly smart. I just figured out how Upwork works and changed some simple things about my approach and it made all the difference.

Anybody can do this. If you’re struggling on Upwork or would simply like more from your effort, then study this page closely. I’m going to share what I learned.

Step #1: De-Mystify Upwork

Upwork seems to confuse a lot of freelancers. They think it’s this overtly complex system with convoluted goals and impossible for newbies to break into.

Not true.

Upwork’s goals are simple: connect the best clients with the best freelancers (for their project)… profit.

Trust is the most important currency on Upwork and every feature, algorithm and best practice is designed to increase the trust potential clients have in a) the freelancer they hire and b) as a result Upwork itself.

They want to be the go-to network for hiring the best freelancers.

So, the two most important things for you to focus on with Upwork is:

  1. Building your credibility
  2. Being relevant

You build your credibility by having a killer portfolio, looking professional in your photo, communicating fully and clearly in your bios and descriptions, taking relevant tests, having a long, successful job history, getting 5-star ratings, good client testimonials, etc.

There’s no trick or gimmick to get around this. You have to put in the work, wow your clients and do a good job.

You stay relevant by being a specialist instead of a jack-of-all-trades. This is the biggest mistake new freelancers make. They say, “I know HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP and MySQL”.

No kidding?

So, does every other freelance developer on Upwork. And frankly, most clients don’t even know what those languages really are or what they mean.

The words you use are critical. You should be saying things like…

“I specialize in building membership sites.”

“I’m a user-friendly forms expert”.

“I build the best e-commerce sites on the web.”

Those phrases are specific to the end result a client is after… and clients actually understand what they mean.

Once you get this about Upwork, you can start to see how you need to rework your profile and your entire strategy to maximize your opportunity to get hired. But, we’ll get more specific…

Step #2: Research and Craft Your Brand

Now that you know how Upwork operates, it should be obvious that the first thing you need to do is hone your pitch to attract and convince your most ideal clients.

That is, you need to know:

  1. What end result can I give my clients?
  2. Who wants that end result the most?
  3. What do they need to see to believe I can do it for them?

This takes research and a little bit of soul-searching. First you need to uncover your niche. Your niche is that perfect space in the market where you can do what you do best and others will pay you handsomely to do it for them.

You uncover that niche by accurately answering these questions:

  1. What do I love to do?
  2. That I’m great (or willing to work to be great) at?
  3. That others will pay me for?

If you’re honest with those questions, you will get a much clearer picture of the value you have to offer and exactly what you should be doing.

From there, you need to research your ideal client. Who are they? What is their life like? What are their hopes and dreams? What’s their ideal scenario? Where to they hang out online?

Everything you can uncover about them to know them intimately…. better than they know themselves.

So, you can accurately implement the last part which is to craft a brand that naturally appeals to your most ideal clients and messaging you know speaks to them and will convince them you are the man/woman for their job.

Step #3: Build Your Profile

Now armed with an attractive brand and loads of intel on your ideal clients, building your profile is a cinch.

  • You know how to get their attention.
  • You know exactly what your ideal clients want to hear.
  • You know exactly what matters to them.
  • You know exaclty how to speak to them.
  • You know exactly what portfolio items will appeal to them.
  • You know exactly what testimonials will influence them.
  • You know exactly what tests they’ll check for.

The keys here are simple:

  1. Fill out your entire profile in fine detail
  2. Make your entire profile relevant to the specific niche you’re targeting

You’d be surprised how many freelancers who contact me asking what’s wrong with their profile… and when I check it’s only half or three-quarters filled out.

Look at that from the client’s perspective. If you’ll half-ass your own profile what makes me think you won’t half-ass my project?

Also, be relevant. Everything on your profile should speak to the specific niche you’re targeting. If you’re a forms-builder… then the only items in your portfolio should be forms you’ve built.

Nothing less. Nothing more.

Step #4: Win Job Bids

A great profile will help you to show up in the search results when clients search for freelancers related to their project. And, you’ll get invites to bid on jobs as a result.

Also (especially at first) you’ll want to search for jobs pro-actively and bid on the ones relevant to what you do.

To win the bid, you need to do these things (in this order):

  1. Verify it’s a real job (unfortunately, there’s a lot of riff-raff)
  2. Get the attention of the job poster
  3. Get them to trust you
  4. Get them to decide for themselves you’re their best bet
  5. Get them to act now using scarcity
  6. Blow them away and make them never want to hire anyone else and say all kinds of great things about you

Before I get into the details of this… know this… the way you succeed on Upwork (or anywhere else) is through repeat business and referrals. So, 100x more important than the other 5… #6 is above is where 99.9% of your focus should be.

Everything else is pointless unless you’re doing #6.

That said, clients do need to go through a fairly standard emotional process in order to hire you.

First, you need their attention. The key phrase here is: “stick out in a good way”. I’ve found the most fail-safe way to do that is to simply be overly helpful.

In my job bids… instead of telling them all the reasons I’m awesome and why they should hire me, I would just try and help them a little bit.

Give them info, point out anything I saw could be a problem with their bid (in a nice way), answer questions and so forth.

Yes… some clients would take advantage of me. But, the overwhelming majority ended up hiring me and I know I got more work than I would have had I not taken this approach.

This also happens to be how you get them to trust you and convince them you’re the best option as a freelancer. And, it’s simple. Just be helpful.

You have to think about clients beyond the one job they’re posting right this second. Don’t worry about getting that one job. Worry about winning the client over and establishing a relationship with them.

Then, you get all their jobs. I’d gladly give up the one job they’re posting right now for the 10 they’ll need help with down the road.

Take that mindset and it gets easy.

In order to get them to act now… simply “always be walking away”.  Always seem like you have one foot toward the door. The more you seem like you don’t care if you get the job… the more they’ll want you to take it.

It sounds backwards I know… but it’s true.

Of course, don’t overtly say you don’t want it or offend them… just don’t be overly eager. Of course, the best way to do that is to simply have a lots of work already so you’re genuinely not concerned if you get that one job or not… but you’ll get there.

Step #5: Make Your Clients Happy

I’ve mentioned this several times now. It’s that important. But, how?

Here’s the un-sexy dead simple way to ensure your clients are always happy:

  1. Do what you say you’re going to
  2. Talk to them

Brilliant stuff there, eh?

You’d be surprised how many freelancers (especially web developers) don’t do a great job of either one of these.

Here’s the secret to knocking these out of the park:

  1. Build things you’re really great at
  2. Have a step-by-step plan for how you build stuff
  3. Have a day-by-day schedule for how you’ll talk to the client

That is… pick a niche and ONLY build things related to that niche. So, if you identified your niche as “form-building”… don’t take on membership site projects.

If you do that, you’ll be building really similar things project after project. You’ll get really good at doing it AND you’ll be able to create a…

Delivery schedule. You’ll know exactly how long it takes you to build the project and what you’ll have done on what days. Write that down and give it to your clients when they hire you.

Then, since you know the key points in your delivery…  you’ll know the key points at which you need to communicate with the client. So you can build a…

Communication schedule. Write down exactly what days you’re going to communicate with your client about key points in the delivery. Give that to your clients AND actually communicate with them on those days.

Trust me… you do this and your clients will LOVE you.

Step #6: Get Traffic to Your Profile

This is my secret weapon. I have an emal list of over 24,000 subscribers, a YouTube channel that gets ~100,000 video views a month and has over 20,000 subscribers and a website that gets roughly 20,000+ visitors/month.

Any time I choose I can point all the traffic to my profile in order to get freelance work. And, it has nothing to do with Upwork’s “algorithms”.

I’ve worked hard to build that audience.

Point is… don’t rely on Upwork to bring you all your freelance work! Get out in your market and build your own audience and then leverage that audience to win on Upwork.

After a few months on Upwork, most of the work I got came from my own website… and I’d simply tell those people to hire me over on Upwork.

Those jobs still count toward my job history. Those 5-star ratings still counted. Those testimonials still showed on my profile. And, the more of all those I got… the better I ranked on Upwork.

So, bust your butt outside of Upwork to build an audience that then helps rank better inside Upwork.

Post YouTube videos, answer questions on Quora or StackOverflow, write articles on your blog, etc.

It’s the simplest way to outflank the Upwork algorithms that do reward higher rated freelancers. Just become a high rated freelancer without them.

Don’t have a blog yet? Yikes! You need to fix that first! But, don’t worry… click here to take my free tutorial on how to start a blog in 15 minutes or less and let’s get that fixed right now.

Step #7: Your Exit Strategy

All of this culminates with your exit from the wild world of Upwork. Look, Upwork is great and all but you’ll be miserable if you try to only get jobs from Upwork the rest of your career.

The competitive nature of freelance sites dictates that you’ll make less doing more.

Ultimately, you want to get off of Upwork and get all your clients through your own website.

You do this in two ways:

  1. Transfer clients from Upwork to working with you directly
  2. Get enough clients directly you don’t need Upwork

I know Upwork has terms that say you can’t encourage clients you acquired on their site to work with you directly. But I also know that clients don’t care what Upwork wants and usually move to working with you directly anyway.

Also, if you’re following step #6 like you should… eventually, you’ll get enough clients through your own website that you won’t need Upwork. That’s what happened to me. It took about a year but after that I never looked back.

Moving Forward From Here…

There’s a lot in those seven steps… no doubt. So, where do you start? Here’s the first three things I recommend you do:

  1. Know yourself (what you love to do, what you’re great at)
  2. Know your client (what they want, how to find them)
  3. Start a blog (it takes time to get going so get started now)

If you do just those three things, you’ll be way ahead of 99% of freelancers out there and well on your way to a full-time income on (and off) Upwork.

November 18, 2015

[Quora] Do you have to take the skill tests on Upwork.com?

I was recently asked to answer this question on Quora and it’s something I get asked quite a bit:

Do you have to take the skill tests on Upwork.com?

You don’t have to but I highly recommend you do. My answer below explains why. Upvote if you get value from it:

You have to take the “Upwork Readiness Test for Independent Contractors and Company Managers” test (as of when I joined).

Beyond that, you don’t have to take any of the other tests. And, while some of the other commenters are right that you can have success without taking any of the others, I recommend you do.

Here’s three reasons why…

1. Stack all the odds in your favor. All else equal… passing a test could be the difference between you and another freelancer. Sites like Upwork are very competitive so you want to make sure you have every advantage.

The key is to make sure the tests you take are…

Read the full answer here

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, you can invite me to answer it over on Quora, tweet it to me, or join me LIVE on Periscope every Tuesday for my WebDev Q&A.

November 13, 2015

[Quora] How Do I Get Clients on Upwork Like I Used to On Elance?

I was recently asked to answer this question on Quora and it’s something I get asked quite a bit:

I used to be very successful on Elance, but the same profile/strategy is performing poorly on Upwork. What are the possible reasons for this?

Here’s what I think you can do to win on any freelance site, including Upwork. Upvote if you get value from it:

First, I’d want to know what your strategy was. It’s possible that it was something that exploited how Elance worked that’s now been shored up with the migration to Upwork. If that’s the case, then it’s just important to understand that is the limitation of gimmicks.

That said, I’m assuming that’s NOT the case so let’s dive into some of the reasons why it might be different and what you can do.

1. Competition. The stats I can find show that Elance was around 2 million freelancers in 2013 and oDesk was about 3.1 million. Even when they became Elance-oDesk, you still had two separate sites and so on Elance were competing with roughly 2 million other freelancers.

Those numbers have grown and the sites have now combined and Elance-oDesk (now Upwork) reported 9.3 million registered freelancers in 2014. So now you’re competing with roughly 7.3 million more freelancers.

So, it’s just a lot more competitive now.

2. Rich Get Richer. It’s always difficult to get inside the inner workings of sites like these but if you try to sift through the public statements they do make, I believe it’s pretty clear that Upwork is focused on helping the “cream rise to the top”. That is, surfacing what they consider the best freelancers on their platform and displaying their profiles much more prominently on more searches even if they’re not 100% relevant.

Of course, relevance is always important and I’ll cover that but Upwork seems to be less concerned with it and more concerned with surfacing high quality freelancers. This is quite a bit different from Elance. I found on Elance that I could rank for searches even if I wasn’t always the highest rated developer based on how I targeted my profile with keywords, skills, etc. Upwork still has that a bit, but it seems to be less effective.

So, what can you do?

Read the full answer here

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, you can invite me to answer it over on Quora, tweet it to me, or join me LIVE on Periscope every Tuesday for my WebDev Q&A.

November 6, 2015

Why Can’t I Get Work at Upwork But Others Can?

It boils down to how freelance sites work. They are designed to surface the best freelancers on their platforms.

That doesn’t meant you’re not good if you’re struggling to get any traction. It means if you’re new to Upwork you’re at a big disadvantage.

But, it’s also not hopeless. With the strategy I’m about to show you, you can quickly gain momentum and rise to the top where getting work is a whole lot easier.

Think of this like an “Upwork Fast-Start Guide”.

The benefit of following this formula is you virtually eliminate the advantage veteran Upwork developers have so you can:

  • Rank higher for relevant freelancer searches and get in front of more potential clients…
  • Eliminate the natural skepticism a potential client will have about your profile not being as “robust” as other developers…
  • Strategically grow your presence on the platform until you end up ranking high on the list for the biggest search terms…

Here’s why this formula works…

Imagine you’re shopping for a new computer. Let’s say you’re looking for a fast computer that can handle a lot of HD video editing.

You’ve narrowed your search down to two options.

The sales page for computer 1 reads like this:

“High powered computer that can handle the most resource-intensive tasks with ease.”

And, the sales page for computer 2 reads like this:

“A 3.2GHz Quad-Core Intel I-7 process with 16MB RAM designed specifically for editing massive HD videos with ease.”

Almost universally, people will instinctively choose the second computer because it’s messaging is aimed right at what they’re after.

This is the advantage you have as a new developer on Upwork.

Most of the well-established developers on Upwork market themselves as “generalists” and have generic profiles. They’re marketing themselves as the “high-powered computer”.

You can out-maneuveur them by marketing yourself as a specialist which will accomplish two things on Upwork:

  1. Cause you to rank higher for specific keywords because your profile is more relevant to that search
  2. Appeal to potential client’s instinct to choose the more targeted option

This is critical when you first start because you simply cannot compete with those developers based on the authority algorithms Upwork uses.

They have a longer job history, more reviews, ratings and so on.

And, they’ll continue to suck up all the work and leave none for you unless you implement this fast-start formula.

So, here’s what to do:

1. Choose Your Target

Pick a very specific niche to go after. Don’t market yourself as a “web designer”. It’s too broad and dominated by established developers.

Instead market yourself in specific terms…

  • “ajax developer”
  • “jquery developer”
  • “html and css guru”
  • “mobile website specialist”

I marketed myself as a “WishList Member Developer” who built (only) membership sites using WordPress and WishList Member.

I was able to rank in the top 3 consistently for the keywords “wishlist member” and won most of the jobs that came through for that term.

The way to do this is to think of 3-5 aspects of web development that you enjoy.

For example: jQuery, WordPress themes and AJAX forms.

Then, go on Upwork and search the job posting for related terms. I’ve found that a new job posting once every 24 hours is usually plenty of potential work to sustain what I want to make each month.

Look at the different terms and decide on the one that is the best combination of what you enjoy, volume of jobs, and potential revenue.

2. Market Yourself as a Specialist

Relevance is how you’re going to win in the beginning. So, now that you’ve chosen a targeted niche to go after you’ll want to build your profile around that niche:

  • Your title should include your main keyword (WordPress Theme Developer instead of Web Designer)
  • Your keywords should all be related to your niche
  • You should naturally sprinkle relevant keywords throughout your description
  • Your portfolio items should all be projects related to this niche
  • Any test, certifications, skills, etc… should all be relevant to the niche

Everything should point to you being an expert in this very specific area of web development.

Not only will you rank higher in searches but you’ll be more appealing to clients looking for specifically what you offer.

3. Build Your Job History

With your niche targeted and your profile set up, don’t sit back and wait for jobs to come to you. You need to start building your job history so you can gain authority like the more-established Upwork developers.

Search for job postings related to your niche and bid aggressively. At this stage, it’s not about making money… it’s about building your profile.

Here’s a quick tip…

When you bid on a job you can bid whatever price you like while keeping the price on your profile the same.

So, keep the your profile price at your ideal rate. But, in the beginning don’t be afraid to discount your rated in order to get the job when bidding on individual projects.

Just be sure to say in your proposal something like: “I’m new to Upwork and wanting to establish my credibility here so I’m willing to take this job at a 50% discount on my regular rate. Any future jobs will be at my regular rate.”

That way, if a client is really impressed with your work they know that they’ll be paying your regular rate going forward and it’s easy to transition them over.

No… not all clients will hire you again because of that.

But, many will… and regardless getting the job will help you build your authority on Upwork so eventually you no longer need to discount your fee.

As you get more work, you’ll begin to notice your profile ranking higher for relevant searches and more job invites flowing in.

At that point, you can then consider reworking your profile to target larger, more general niche if you wish.

Although, I never did because I liked working the projects I was getting.

If you follow this formula, you’ll be much more likely to have success on Upwork and get clients instead of wondering why everyone else is getting them and you aren’t.

First Steps…

We’ve covered a lot… what do you need to do to get started with this formula quickly?

I like to think up a few niches I want to target and do the searches on Upwork to see how many jobs are there.

It gives me a good indicator of the kind of volume I can expect and whether a particular niche is viable or not.

So, write down 3-5 web development niches you’re interested in, head over to Upwork and search the available jobs to see what’s available.

(Photo by: flickr.com/photos/sybrenstuvel)

August 4, 2015