A Beginners Guide To Getting Started On Upwork

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In this article, I answer your top pain points of starting as a brand new freelancer on Upwork, plus I show you just how you can get started today for FREE. Find clients, work from anywhere and build a portfolio.

Did you know that Content Writing is one of the most popular freelancer occupations? In the US, 84% of freelancers say working online lets them live the lifestyle they want.

According to Upwork, the freelance workforce is getting younger. Research shows that over 50% of Gen Z workers and 44% of Millennials worked in the freelancing industry in the past year. Furthermore, over 58% have had more than 5 clients in the past 6 months on the platform.

Are you interested in getting started? Keep reading to find out more.

  • Learn what Upwork is all about

  • How much it will cost

  • What you can do with the platform

  • And how best to get set up for success

This is far from a comprehensive guide of everything you need to do to use Upwork to your freelancing advantage, but it is a starting point.

I hope that you will find this advice helpful and inspiring as you begin to build a brand all of your own.

Ready to see just how you start freelancing on Upwork?

Let's begin with finding out a little bit more about the platform.

#1 What Is Upwork?

According to Upwork - it is a platform that connects businesses with freelancers, independent talent, and agencies around the globe.

  • The largest talent marketplace

  • Sign up

  • Create a profile

  • Search and apply for jobs that you want

  • Work online from anywhere

  • Get paid

  • Network and gain repeat clients

  • Build a portfolio

  • Grow your online business

#2 Pros & Cons


  • Meet new clients and network

  • Discover the types of jobs you can do online as a freelancer

  • A great place for someone who is just getting started

  • Free to sign up

  • Support from the Upwork Help when needed

  • Ability to register a complaint or request payment


  • Upwork takes a commission from each job you complete

  • Upwork has a large number of applicants making it difficult to be 'seen'

  • It can be difficult to get accepted to the platform

By far, the biggest downside to this service is the service fees. That being said, many freelancers agree that the fees are worth it for the amount of potential the platform has for bringing you consistent work.

Upwork service fees are taken as a percentage of your earnings. Upwork charge you based on lifetime earnings with each client:

  • 20% for the first $500 you bill your client

  • 10% for total billings between $500.01 and $10,000

  • 5% for total billings exceed $10,000

On top of the fees, you also have a certain amount of FREE connects (what you need to apply to jobs), and after they run out, you need to either wait till next month or purchase a package for yourself.

Upwork is free to join - so to begin, it won't cost you anything to make a profile and browse jobs. If applicants come to you and send you an offer, it won't cost you anything, and you also get a few bonus connects as a reward.

The free account allows you to do everything when it comes to searching and applying for jobs. Overall, the free account does what you need it to do.

#2 How To Succeed On Upwork

Those who succeed with their freelancing gigs see this type of work as a business.

Even if this is just a side hustle, treat it like you are applying for any other job with a professional approach. It takes time and effort and is beneficial for those who are willing to do the background work.

When you send a proposal that you want to apply for, it is the same concept as sending a potential employer your resume.

If you are in a rush, provide minimal feedback, and have an empty profile that does not highlight your skillset quickly - it is doubtful that you will be taken seriously by a client.

Creating An Impressive Profile

This is the most important thing for anyone seeking to maximise Upwork. It would help if you created an impressive yet genuine reflection of who you are as a Freelander on your profile.

Many freelance writers and creatives don't have a portfolio or a digital platform. Your Upwork profile will act as your temporary online resume, and it is the place where clients will learn more about who you are and, more importantly, what you can offer them!

My Tip - search other freelancers, the top ranking in the same niche you want to find work, click on their profile and have a look at what they have done. This is a great way to find ideas and inspiration and see what makes them stand out professionally.

Be sure to do the following when you create your Upwork profile:

  • Fill out each section and leave nothing empty.

  • The top section of your bio is what will be visible to clients so make sure you use it to market yourself effectively. The rest of the bio can be viewed when a client expands the full profile page.

  • Use a professional photo (you can use a tripod and your smartphone to take a great photo and edit it with a free app like Lightroom).

  • Use keywords that target your ideal client.

  • Highlight what it is you will do for your client (write authentic professional copy, create digital media graphics, manage their social media accounts).

  • Add a testimonial or client feedback; this makes a difference.

  • Create multiple categories for your profile to highlight different services (see below).

  • Make sure the details are correct and continue to update the copy (make sure there are no errors).

  • Display your work availability (currently available).

Making Subcategories On Your Profile

Freelancing offers you a wide range of job options from the convenience of your digital device. A niche is important but offering a range of skills within your chosen field is also key to opening you up to available opportunities.

A recent study found that over 60% of freelancers specialise in 2 -3 talents. This is why you need to make sure you have a diverse portfolio that shows you are confident in more than just one skill.

Upwork has a general profile where you can create your overall personal hub of information. It also offers you the chance to create detailed subcategories such as "Copywriter" or Virtual Assistant" or "Photo Editor". Here you can show off a few skills that you want the clients to notice.

In each category, you can add the amount you charge per hour and a description. When you apply for a job, you can apply the category of your profile that you wish to highlight.

If you see a copywriting job - select your Copywriting profile - apply for the job with that profile. It is that easy and allows you to customise your job applications and draw attention to the skills and pay rates you want the client to see.


So, how can you add a testimonial if you are brand new to freelancing and don't have any reviews?

Start working. That's right. Start applying for jobs that you estimate will take a concise amount of time, do an excellent job, and gain client feedback and 5-star reviews.

Please do not work for free or provide excessive free samples of your work. Your time is reasonable, so don't forget to place value on your services.

If you are still lost on what to add - check out some of the highest-paid or most successful freelancers in the search section of your niche.

Take a moment to scroll through some of the portfolios and ask yourself why did they stand out?

Did they have a professional profile photo?

A catchy header?

An easy to read a bio that told you exactly what they can offer your brand?

A range of positive testimonials are great for gaining a clients trust, but it is not always the first thing they see.

Focus on what you have to offer right now and make sure it is grammatically correct, up-to-date, and relevant.

Digital Graphics

  • Create a media kit in Canva with a profile photo and a range of social media statistics, experience, feedback and a list of what it is you specialise in.

  • Create a digital graphic that has a recent review or client feedback.

  • Screenshot a page of your blog or website and create a graphic.

  • If you are applying for design jobs, you will want a range of graphics to send to clients.

  • If you are applying for writing jobs, take a screenshot of your copy, and create a graphic to attach this as a quick snapshot sample.

  • Screenshot your featured work create a graphic to add to your proposals.

Use my Canva Code to Sign Up Today

Sign up for Canva today; it's FREE, or create a Canva Pro account completely free for the first 30 days, then continue just $9.95 US a month. I instantly got hooked on how simple Canva is, and it has added great value to my branding.

Give it a try to help boost your Upwork proposals today.