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The Beginners Guide to Getting Started on Upwork

Is freelancing better than a full-time job?

The answer is YES if you don’t want to stick on a small amount of money that you get each month.

The first luxury that freelance provides is the freedom to work without limits. That’s why Generation Z now prefers freelancing over formal office jobs. Watch this video to clear your misconceptions about freelancing.

Freelancing in America 2019 shows that 53% of Generation Z are more likely to choose freelance as their career.

Consider the ongoing trends in the digital economy and you will also find yourself attracted to freelancing. Freelancing is becoming the best option for corporations and companies to get their work done.

By 2025, the estimations are that more than half of the global workforce will work as freelancers.

Where should beginners start from?

With plenty of online freelancing websites, newcomers get confused about where to start their freelance careers. They may waste their energy on useless platforms and end up for nothing. So, beginners should clear their confusion about their jumpstart.

Is Upwork good for beginners?

WHY NOT! Upwork is the most suitable choice for beginners. It’s because it provides wider opportunities than any other freelancing platform.

As Upwork’s CEO Stephanie Kasriel speaks, ‘Our dream is to build a workplace for the world.’

Here are some of the facts that make it a better option for newbies.

The largest freelance platform: 

Upwork is the largest platform for the freelancing community. The strength is increasing day by day.

Better Payment Protection:

Payment refusal and delay are common problems freelancers face. If we review Upwork with other platforms, it has an effective system to ensure the payment.

Superior UX Design: 

Have you ever visited the Upwork website or mobile app?

If yes, you will find that you Upwork has designed its web, desktop and mobile versions with a great UX design. That design makes it comfortable for both freelancers and clients to get their work done easily.

No Extra Service fee: 

Upwork charges its fee according to its fee schedule. For each category, it has clear and defined charges. This means no extra deduction from your payment. This clarity also makes it a choice for freelancers.

Enough of the benefits talk about Upwork. 

Now let’s work for you to land you as a good freelancer on Upwork.

A Freelancer’s Guide to Upwork

This guide will help beginners at every step right from creating the account to getting the first job. It will keep helping you to be yourself successful in the freelancing community.

Step#1 Know Your Skills

Before kick-starting your career, it is better to think about your skills. Think and find out what can you do at best? Are you good enough in that domain?

Research the Upwork categories. Read the description of all categories. Choose the category that matches your skills. That category is your future work domain.

Step2# Create Upwork Profile 

Signing up the platform is your second step towards freelancing. Create your account on Upwork.

During the process, Upwork gives you the option to choose any of its two membership plans. You should choose a Free Membership plan if you want to start your career with zero investment. If you can afford some investment to establish your career, the Freelancer Plus Membership plan is suitable for you.

Building a great Upwork profile

These professional tips will help you build a great profile.

  • Add the introduction video.
  • Add a professional image. Don’t use casual style pictures.
  • Add accurate job title e.g. Professional Graphic Designer.
  • Write your overview in complete sentences. Highlight your best skills and experience.
  • Set your hourly rate not too low.
  • Add 3-5 skills that you have.
  • Add TWO payment methods so in case you face an issue at one method, you get the payment through another way.

How to get your Upwork profile approved?

Your profile is your resume at Upwork. Profile approval is a barrier set up by Upwork to stop non-serious persons in its community. So, you must be careful while completing your profile otherwise you may get rejected.

Follow these guidelines to get your profile approved.

  • Tell EVERYTHING they ask.
  • Give all of your credentials correct. NO FAKE information always!
  • Describe any work experience in a clear sense.
  • Add more than one subcategories that match your skills.
  • Prove your abilities with Upwork’s skill tests.
  • Mention your education thoroughly.
  • Add genuine reviews from your industry professionals if you have any.

Step#3: Build Your Upwork Portfolio

A portfolio is what the client looks while reviewing your proposal. Young freelancers can enhance their growth at the start by showcasing a good portfolio.

This guide also gives you some proven tips from experienced freelancers to build a portfolio.

Separate Portfolio for each Skill: Most freelancers create a combined portfolio that includes all of their skills. It created troublesome for clients as they have to look deeply to search for their desired skills. 

Create a separate portfolio for each of your skills. No need to create lengthy portfolios. Just be simple and clear.

Add External Professional Accounts: Professional accounts like LinkedIn show your professional behavior. Add them to your portfolio.

Add Certifications: Mention your professional certification if you have achieved any such. 

Add the latest links: Update your portfolio with the latest information about your work. Include the latest links and screenshots of your published work (website, app, design, writing or whatever). 

Don’t add projects that don’t match your skills.

Most of the freelancers add every project that they have done before. Don’t do that.

Only add those projects that are relevant to your skills. Clients are only interested in relevant projects. They are not here to review your profiles for yourself. They do that to match your skills with their requirements.

Step#4 Finding your first project

Now, it’s time to put your portfolio in practice. Be ready to get your first project!

Upwork post two types of projects.

Hourly-based: Freelancers get paid by the hourly rate that they negotiate with the client.

Fixed-Rate: Client and freelancer agree to a fixed payment for the project with a deadline.

Finding the right project is not so difficult but choosing from them is a tough decision.

First, pick your skill in the search bar. Then use filters to get your specific projects. Add it to your job feed. You will see the list of latest projects in your domain.

Which Project You Should Choose?

Showing many projects on your job feed doesn’t mean that you should approach every project.

Only a few of them are beneficial for your career start. Brainstorm your options while choosing the project for sending the proposal.

Run the following checks:

  • Review client reputation. Check their work history.
  • Ensure that the client has a secure payment system.
  • Read the project description and understand the scope.
  • Evaluate if you can meet the client’s requirements or not.
  • Check if the project delivery time is reasonable or not.

Step#5 Submitting the Proposal

Bit worried that how will you get your first job. Before reading the rest, learn the expert tips in this video to get your first job on Upwork.

A proposal for your desired project is the first document that the client will see. So don’t take it lightly. Your proposal can win the project or even lose it.

Writing a winning proposal

To write according to the client’s expectations, you must remember these points.

No Copy Paste Proposal: Don’t use any generic copy-paste proposals for every project. Write custom proposals according to the project scope.

Be Clear: The client doesn’t have time to read long paragraphs. Write short and clear sentences. Write about your skills and experience.

Show your understanding: Write what you have understood about the project scope. It will help the client to evaluate your expertise.

Ask questions about the project: Don’t afraid to ask questions about the project to get clarity. It will also give a message to the client that you have interests in the project professionally.

Add Cost estimation: Your proposal should also include a brief estimation of the project cost that you will charge.

Mention Delivery Time: Show your client how much time you will take to complete the project. 

Proofread it: Proofread your proposal before sending the project. Edit and clear any kind of typing error or incorrect information.

Step#6 Negotiating the client

You have submitted the proposal and the client is willing to negotiate with you about the project.

Now is the time to show your communication skills. Your client will talk to you through messages, voice call or even video links. So be ready to face the client through all mediums.

Negotiation is an art. Follow these artistic skills while negotiating with the client.

Show You’re a good listener: Don’t always talk. First, listen to your clients. What are they saying? What are their requirements? Understand their expectation. Show them that you are a good listener.

Be Positive: Don’t show negative or rude behavior at all. Talk to them positively and politely.

Negotiate every detail: Communicate with the client on every aspect of the project.

Negotiating the price: Price negotiation is a tricky stage during communication. While negotiating the price, make sure to do the following:

  • Break the project in phases.
  • Tell the required time to complete each phase.
  • Show a sum up the amount of all phases of the project.
  • Mention the risks against the profit you would get.

Make a contract: Always make a contract after you and the client have agreed upon to work.

Step#7 Working on the Project

Now you have gained the project bid. It’s your time to prove your expertise.

Don’t take freelancing as your second passion. You have to give your energies to be a successful freelancer.

Your first Upwork project is your TEST CASE.  

Show to the clients they have chosen the right person. Follow these guidelines while working on the project.

Plan a work schedule: Treat your project as your business. Put all your efforts into it. Plan a proper schedule to carry on the project.

Don’t only plan the schedule. WORK with the schedule also!

Keep your client engaged: Don’t work on the project on your behalf. Engage with your client daily. Show your work to them so they know what exactly you are working on. Miscommunication with the client can give you trouble a lot.

Ask questions during the project: If you face some changes during the project, don’t hesitate to ask the client. Negotiate on these changes. It will avoid any confusion ahead.

Deliver the first phase of the project: Once you have completed the first phase of the project, deliver it to your clients. Let them review your work.

Before working further, get their feedback so you can exactly know their satisfaction level.

Be Aware of change: If something happens to you due to a physical emergency around you, make sure that your client knows about it. It will enhance your credibility.

Deliver the final product: Make sure that the final version matches the project scope. Ask the client to take a detailed overview of the delivered project. Ensure the client’s satisfaction.

Step#8 Getting Paid

Now it’s time to get your project reward. Get paid for the excellent work you have done.

Payment fraud is a major issue in the freelancing community. So newbie freelancers must take care of this aspect.

Run this checklist to get you paid securely.

  • Ask the client to pay through the Upwork payment system.
  • NEVER accept any alternate option.
  • Don’t accept any delay in the payment.
  • Make sure that you received payment as agreed upon in the contract.

Step#9 Completing the contract

It’s time to complete the contract. Communicate with the client to finish the project.

Before the clients complete the project, ask them to:

  • Review your profile from the client.
  • Rate your project work.
  • Get a video testimonial.
  • Private recommendation note for you.

Final Step: Maintain your reputation

You have completed your project. Now, improve yourself to keep your reputation maintained.

Here are some ways through which you can maintain a well-reputed Upwork profile.

  • Keep an eye on industry trends.
  • Increase the expertise level of your skills.
  • Enhance your professional networking.
  • Engage with your industry thought leaders i.e. CEOs and PMs.
  • Participate in professional events and meetups.

You can also read our other blog on fatal freelancer mistakes and learn the expert’s opinion on common mistakes that freelancers make.


With the burden on economic resources, freelancing is the future of our work. Upwork will remain the leader of the freelancing community. Every professional can grow in freelancing with dedication and guide. They must learn through the beginner’s guide to getting started on Upwork.

Not learned enough? Join our Complete Upwork Training Course to give you a customized strategy for a successful career on Upwork.

Listen to this success story to make you believe in yourself!

You are welcome to ask anything about freelancing in the comments below.

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