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How to Start Freelancing on Upwork (2020)

If you haven’t been caught up on the latest buzz, Upwork is a pretty awesome way to find jobs and get paid for freelance services. If you have skills such as administration, producing music, building websites, writing, content creation, or graphic designing, and you’re looking for a way to use that skill and get paid for it, then look no further.

Upwork is a good starting point ( or even an ending point), for people who would like to work remotely and add some creative side gigs to the mix. Not only does Upwork get you jobs, but it gives you so much experience. I have worked as a Virtual Assistant, Social Media Content Creator, Blog Writer, and Human Resources all through Upwork.

Sometimes the gigs are short term, but I have had other gigs that have lasted well over a year. Although the competition has grown since COVID, there are still endless opportunities out there. I’ve been steadily working for a Social Media Agency for the past 3 months through an interview offer I had through Upwork.

The main problem that I hear when I tell people about Upwork, is that they can’t get a job. Sadly my friends, getting a job on Upwork is going to take a little extra work on your part. There are some key factors to keep in mind to make sure that you get the interviews and jobs you desire on the platform. Read along for tips below.

Create a Full Profile

Just like social media, presentation is everything on Upwork. Imagine being a potential client who has gotten 10 applicants. As you skim through the applicants, you notice a few who have well lit professional photos, a fully detailed profile, great reviews, and portfolio examples.

Of course, you would want to find out more about this detailed oriented person. From my experience, you can get jobs on Upwork with a mediocre profile, but you won't get the well-paid ones. Therefore, it's best to put in the extra work.

List all your relatable experiences, your achievements, and as soon as you get your first job make sure they have no choice but to leave a shining review because these are the things that will stand out.

Check out this video that I referred to when I created my Upwork profile.

Create a Meaty Cover Letter

Yes, you should cater your cover letter to the job, but create a template as a starting point. You can even create a few different templates for different situations, because like I said, you can wear many hats on Upwork. Having a template helps you to apply to jobs faster without forgetting the small details that make you stand out.

Some details you may want to include in your template:

  • Your experience

  • Your personality (show it through how you write).

  • Links to your work

  • References to your profile (reviews, portfolio, jobs).

Some blanks you may want to add to your template:

  • Job title

  • Space for the client's name if you have it.

  • Why you’re interested in the job.

  • Why you’re a good fit.

Having edited and revised cover letter templates will set you up for success when applying for positions.

Set Your Pricing Low at First

Many of us have been told that we should set our prices high in order to show that we value ourselves. This is completely true, BUT when you first start out in Upwork it may not be the best option.

When using the platform, potential clients can see how many jobs you have completed, how much money you’ve made on and your rating from previous jobs. Without being able to show any of this, your profile is not as valuable as others, which is why you need to build your status first before charging your top-notch fee.

You definitely have a chance to make big dollars, but first, it’s better to start small. Set your rate low, apply to small quick jobs, get paid, and get come shining reviews. Once you have a few bucks on your profile and have some great reviews, then you can start to raise your price.

Pricing low is only temporary, you’ll be able to get what you deserve soon enough.

Apply Apply Apply

It will usually take a few tries before landing your first Upwork job. The key is to apply to jobs with a low number of applicants, nothing over 10 applicants is my general rule. You can also see when the client posted the job. I like to strike the iron while it’s hot and only apply to jobs that have been posted within the last few hours. This will increase your chances of getting an interview.

If you apply to multiple jobs with this in mind, you’re sure to get a chance to prove yourself in an interview and hopefully get the job.

Upwork now requires you to buy connects in order to apply. Luckily the connects cost very little and make you think twice about what you're applying for.


Sometimes a formal interview isn’t required for the job. For example, my boyfriend produces music, and often his interview will be presenting a sample track. On the other hand, most of my jobs on Upwork have required an interview in order to ensure a good fit.

Usually, these interviews are held via video call through Upwork or another preferred video conference app. Make sure to do the following when interviewed.

  • Not only tell them why you’re a good fit, but make sure they are a good fit for you.

  • Get clarity on if the job is hourly, or paid by project/ milestone.

  • Offer a trial month if either of you feels like you’re on the fence.

  • Make sure the hours advertised on the job post are the actual hours that they offer.

  • Of course, look your best, and come with plenty of examples and stories of why you’re a great fit according to the job description.

  • Offer a little preview of all the new and fresh ideas that you would be able to offer while working as a freelancer for the client.

What has been your biggest complication when applying on Upwork and what demotivates you from trying again? Leave your comments below!!

I hope this helps you to get the jobs that you are searching for as a freelancer. If you have any other tips or success stories, please share them below.

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