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How to start in UpWork

Learn how you can get started in UpWork and gain momentum by landing your first few questions.

UpWork is widely known, and among contractors, sparks mixed emotions. I personally, think UpWork is great if used properly. The principles I will share in this article, I've seen work in various "niches", not just Webflow Development. And on a personal note, UpWork for me was the beginning of a massive domino affect, and lead to some of my largest projects and longest running relationships (outside of UpWork).

Because, UpWork at the end of the day, is a networking platform just as much as a freelancing platform.

My steps in this article will be brief, as I plan on going more in-depth on a potential course, but wanted to gauge the appetite for it before spending the next month behind my screen typing away.

Anyways, let's get into good stuff.

Step 1: Create an UpWork account

This sounds obvious, but there's a lot to unpack here. And as I mentioned in the intro, I want to be brief here but so treat the following as a To Do checklist:

Build a portfolio

You need to have a portfolio to link to when you apply for "gigs" on UpWork. Build an online portfolio highlighting the skill you wish to convert to work on UpWork. If you don't have anything to show for your skill, and create things. If you're a photographer, just take a variety of photos showcasing your skills. If you're a Webflow Developer, build sites for free. And so on...


Get an appropriate headshot

I use the word "appropriate" as opposed to "professional" because the term "professional headshot" has some connotations, and depending on your niche, you may not need a "professional" headshot. If you're an accountant, you need a professional headshot. If you're an advertiser or designer, you can likely opt in for something with a bit more personality.

However, in no case should you use a 480p bathroom selfie from when you were on vacation.

You can to look like you know what you're doing, and as a contractor, you're business is you — so crack a smile!

Prepare a dynamic proposal script

So when you apply for "gigs" on UpWork, you'd want to have a script(s) prepared. I use the term "dynamic script" because the script should be your base, but you should add some custom touches to it, so that it perfectly suits the Job Posting. Scripts are great so that you don't have to keep writing you social links, or your "skills" and "tools". You'd have to play around with different scripts, and stick with it for a while to see how it plays out.

Pay for UpWork Freelancer Plus

This is a great tool as you'd be able to see not only how many people are bidding, but then also the average, highest, and lowest bid to every posting! This will be needed later on.

Step 2: Start applying for UpWork gigs!

Ok! So now you have your UpWork account ready, your scripts ready, now you have to start applying to everything. Navigate to "Find Work", search for a relevant "keyword" (in my case, I'd just search "Webflow"), and then apply to every relevant post, and give a "thumbs down" to posts that don't apply to you (that way you can keep track of everything).

On average, when you start off, for every 20 good proposals, you should get 1 response. And then for every 4 responses, you should get a contract!

This starting ratio differs from person to person, but I've seen this to be pretty consistent across multiple niches.

Underbid on everything

When applying, and you're starting out, I would be the second or third lowest bid on every post! You don't want to be the lowest, but you want to be below the average. On UpWork you are competing on a global market, and your main focus when starting out is building your "UpWork Cred", so you have to start off by taking work for practically nothing. But UpWork snowballs, and slowly you start to raise your price, and viola! You're a Top Freelancer.

Bonus Step: Add to your tech stack

This is more of a bonus, but if your really want to set yourself apart when starting off, I would recommend investing in Calendly and setting up a personal Calendar to add to your Proposal Script.

Another tool worth setting up is GA4 to your portfolio site to track sessions and see what pages are gauging interest. May even shed some insight as to how to amend your Proposal Script.

By Jorge Manzo

Webflow Expert

Jorge's a Webflow Expert with over 500 projects completed. In having experience in growing a successful freelancing agency, as well as having in-house experience from joining a Webflow Enterprise partner, Jorge has vast knowledge in Webflow, growth paths, and broad entrepreneurship.

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