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Are you growing tired of Upwork? If so, you probably aren’t alone.

Scroll through any Facebook group where Upwork is being discussed by freelancers, and a few common themes will emerge.

  • “It’s too saturated.”
  • “The pay is too low.”
  • “I can’t get any clients.”

The problem which many people have is that they’re approaching Upwork in completely the wrong way. Yes, it can be off-putting when you find a listing and you see that an army of people has applied to that killer gig.

But, let me give you some hope. 95% of the people are playing a numbers game, and it is a losing strategy.

1 copy and pasted proposal, 60 connects used per month, 0 responses.

Obviously them numbers put you in the fast lane to the poor house. So people tend to give up and label Upwork as awful. No matter what industry you are in, once you start following these simple steps you will pick up clients almost overnight.

1) No One Cares About YOU

Many people start freelancing having worked in an office environment. Unfortunately, they advertise themselves in the same way they would on their resume.

“I have 20 years of experience in graphic design. I graduated from uni with a first in design.”

That won’t cut it now. You’re in the wild west and only the most adaptable gunslingers will survive. No longer are you trying to grab the attention of HR departments that are trying to tick boxes before they hire an employee? You’re mainly trying to attract business owners with a unique problem that they need to fulfill.

So instead, focus your profile on your customers, the problems they face and how you and your awesome ability will solve that problem for them. You’ll soon have people coming to you.

2) Being Different Isn’t Just Ok… It’s Required

A common gripe is that the pay on Upwork is awful.

Well, I’m not denying that sometimes it is awful. But it’s only awful for the freelancers who decide to partake in the speed of light race to the bottom on the Upwork economy.

A completely honest audit of yourself is required here. What are you good at? What makes your service better than the rest? Who does your unique set of skills best serve?

Get clear on that, and you can prosper.

Many people are too scared to niche down, and instead, try to focus their efforts on being a jack of all trades. But as 95% of people are doing the same, you are left fighting over scraps like a savage.

Let your personality show, be specific about who you’re targeting and watch your pay increase.

3) Get Used To Saying No

It seems counter intuitive when you want to be successful. There is pressure to keep money coming in, so freelancers may jump at the chance to take on any gig they can with open arms.

But then the problems come. You work with people you can’t really help, or your personalities clash. The poor reviews stack up and your Upwork profile with a low rating is as useful as a chocolate teapot.

Saying no to a potential client is one of the most empowering things you can do. You need to carefully select the clients you work with. Not only will it help you gain more clients in the future, but it’ll stop you from hitting that wall where you just cannot take any more.

Plus, remember why you become a freelancer. I think I’ll be right in assuming that the word ‘freedom’ figured among the thoughts of most.

4) First impressions count

Remember that time you stepped into the doughnut shop, the smell flooding your brain with dopamine. You then stand to look at the hundreds of delicious doughnuts deciding which one to choose.

At first, it’s a bit overwhelming as your eyes scan over all of the options. So then you pick 1 based on the unique characteristics that stand out to you.

Well, that’s what it is like for someone hiring on Upwork. They are overwhelmed by choice. So, when they search for freelancers, it’s your headline and the first line of your bio that needs to grab them – just like the sprinkles on top of a doughnut.

A few tips to help you stand out are:

  1. Be specific about what you do. If you have ‘Copywriter’ as your title, well good luck because so do 5000 other people. But if you have “Pet Niche Copywriter” as your title, and someone in that niche is searching, you go right to the top of the list.
  2. The first 10 words in your profile need to be killer. Try to engage the reader from the off. Make them NEED to click and find out what the rest of the sentence says.
  3. A striking picture, with colors that stand out helps make you pop out of the screen and capture the reader’s attention. 

5) Proposals that make a difference

Again, the key is to stand out from the crowd, and there are many little tricks you can test to help you do this.

Things to consider:

  • Start your proposal with a relevant testimonial. Social proof is powerful, and the client may not be inclined to scour your Upwork profile to find it. Tell them why it is relevant and why it shows you are the person they should hire.
  • Start with a headline that is going to grab their attention. Make it specific.
  • Create a piece of work that is similar to what the client needs, but not exactly the same. When other people send samples they probably don’t have something similar.
  • Ask questions that show you know what you’re talking about. Use words and phrases that they can connect with and show them you’re knowledgeable about their industry.
  • You’re talking to a human. Be friendly, perhaps even funny. Who said business has to be serious and boring?

Most importantly, focus on their current problem and how you can help. Show them you can help. This isn’t another opportunity to tell them about the degree you got 4 years ago. The bottom line is, the proposals shouldn’t be about you, it should be about them.

Once you figure it out, Upwork is easy. It’s never good to become reliant on one platform, but it’s a great place to win new clients.

Written By
John Robery is a freelancer copywriter. He has written copy for a range of online businesses, from ambitious start-ups to a FTSE100 listed giant. You can find out more at CopyStar.

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