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The cheapest freelancers do not win projects all the time, but the best freelancers succeed most of the time. People are willing to pay for quality. So, you have to be the best freelancer, not the cheapest.
In here, I’m going to expose how I became one of the best freelancers on Upwork. I’m a TOP RATED freelancer with 3500+ hours and a 100% job success rate on my profile.
Yes, I agree, I was cheap in the beginning because of a few years back,
- I did very primary tasks like copy-paste and simple web research.
- The competition was unbearably high for that kind of job.
- Freelancers are applying for almost every job on the list because they have enough applications for one week (25 applications per week). Now they think twice before applying for a job because we have only 30 for one month.
- Could apply for any rate even 0.1$/hr. No limits. Now you can’t go lower than 3$/hr.
How can I survive with that? I had to go cheaper to compete with them as a newbie with no specialized knowledge of anything.
Believe me! When I started my freelance career, I didn’t even know how to create an email account. My best friend created an email account for me (that account is still my personal one).
But, now I have a very long list of email addresses that I have created for my clients.
If your best friend is a geek like mine, you are so damn lucky. Don’t laugh at me. I mean it because you’ll have to face some problems and take some serious decisions while you are dealing with clients.
You wouldn’t find answers to every question only by Googling. You should have someone experienced one to talk to.
Don’t worry. You have me. Don’t hesitate to contact me anytime.
You are reading this article, that means you want to be the best freelancer. I hope you guys have already set up your profile on Upwork.
If not, don’t wait until you learn everything about freelancing. It is not going to work. So, please just read these related posts we have published earlier and start right away.
This article was originally published in Jan 2017, but with the last 2 years, Upwork has been becoming the worst place to start. Especially for people who lack any high demanding skills such as web designing, graphics designing, App developing, etc.
From May 2019, Upwork wants to take some more money from you just applying for jobs (20% cut was not enough for them). That means, no free applications/ free connects anymore. Even if you couldn’t win the project, you still have to pay for the job application.
It is like gambling right? I think it is the worst decision they have ever taken. They are getting greedier every day and it is time to find an alternative.
However, the tips I shared here, and the strategy is still valid for any freelancing website out there. You should follow these if you want to become the best freelancer, not the cheapest.
I am going to share some great Upwork alternatives soon. Stay in touch.
Be Honest (The most important of all)
I have created few Upwork profiles for my friends. Some of them think that clients do not know anything. That is why they are hiring us to do that.
That is the WORST MISTAKE you can ever do as a freelancer.
Sometimes, your client knows much more than you do. They are hiring us because they just don’t have time to work on that.
They are seeking an honest person to access their accounts or handle their personal details.
Don’t say YES to everything and anything. Even if you have read the job post from A to Z before you send an application, clients may ask utterly different services in the interview.
That is why I told you not to say YES to anything.
As a beginner, you are eager to get anything. I know that but, if you want to be the best freelancer in your category, you should have confidence that you can do the task.
If you are not capable of doing that or doesn’t match with your skills, you should definitely tell the client.
Ask the client to find something to align with your skills. They may find something for you as a reward for your honesty.
And you have to respect the deadlines.
You should do what you have promised on time. If for some reason, you won’t be able to meet the deadline, you have to let the client know immediately and discuss it with him.
That is how honest people work, and It makes you a professional/the best freelancer.
Freelancing is not just working on a project, and you get paid in the end. You have to see the bigger picture.
Networking is the best way to find future projects. Happy clients will recommend you to their business partners. Being an honest person is how you win clients.
I got some of my most significant projects through recommendations from my happy clients.
Once, I worked for a client on Upwork. He gave me his credit card details and even full access to the back end of his million dollars online business website.
Now you know how far those honest relationships can fly.
Skill Tests To Show You Are The Best Freelancer
You know your skills but, understanding is not enough to be the best freelancer. You have to convince your clients that you are the right fit.
There are different ways to do that on Upwork but, proving your knowledge on the specific subject with skill tests is the best way.
Upwork has Skill Tests in almost all the categories such as .net, Electronics, Graphic Designing, Networking, Sales, and Marketing, etc.
You can see the complete list of categories below and be specific as much as possible when you select a skill test.
Don’t go for “Social Media Marketing.” It is a vast area. Go for Twitter Marketing or Facebook Marketing like that.
Being a special one in a small niche is the best way to be the best freelancer in that niche.
I have never been afraid to fail. That is why I’m here today. You should not too. If you have failed a test, nobody sees your results but you. You can hide your failed tests from clients.
However, my advice is, never take those tests if you do not want to pass. Those tests are not to play with.
You know why? Even if the failed tests are hidden, results are there forever. We never know what changes will happen on Upwork in the future.
Professional And Polished Cover Letter
Don’t try to sell yourself too much from your cover letters. You should write a polished and professional one. Not very long or very short.
Let your clients see your skills with proof. I usually ask them to go through my personal social media profiles (because I’m a social media marketer) and see how I grow my personal profiles.
Then they’ll know that I can give the same service to them too.
When I posted a job on Upwork, even the best freelancers are sending generic cover letters. They have their pre-written cover letter and just paste it into the application form.
It is an awful practice. You have to write a specific one for each and every job you apply. At least make few changes before sending it out.
You are doing business. Keep that in mind from the very first day. Business needs promotion. People won’t find you until you promote yourself.
Social media profiles are the best place for newbies. LinkedIn and Twitter are compelling platforms. Make sure you keep your social profiles up to date.
Create your own website.
It is one of the best decisions I have ever taken in my career.
You might think that you don’t know web designing or how to code. I don’t know anything about coding or web design but, I could set up this blog on my own.
I did not hire anyone for this (but, YouTube and my geek friend have my back all the time).
You can set up your personal website using these FREE platforms such as WordPress, Weebly, Wix, and Drupal.
However, I recommend WordPress. It is the best maybe it is not the easiest. If you are planning for the long-term, definitely go for a WordPress website.
Trust me. No coding knowledge required to start.
Read this complete step by step guide from Jon Morrow, the founder of SmartBlogger. You won’t have to touch anything other than this.
Spend a few bucks (less than 20$ per year) for a good domain name and hosting because free domain names are not suitable for a professional.
Try yourself. You’ll be able to create a fantastic portfolio website for less than 24 hours.
You Pick Your Client
Be selective. Before applying for a job, go through the client’s profile and read previous feedbacks. Some clients do not satisfy with anything and always give bad comments for their freelancers.
You’ll see this, especially in SEO related jobs
Don’t apply for their jobs.
I consider only the clients with,
- a verified payment method (So many spam job posts out there)
- some experience on the Upwork (hired/paid earlier)
- at least 4.5 stars out of 5
You can interview your client while he/she is interviewing you.
Ask questions and get to know your client. If you feel like very harsh or uncomfortable, don’t say yes.
Money is not the most important thing for a beginner. If you want to be the best freelancer, you should focus on building up an excellent profile with good feedback at first.
One More Thing
Don’t ask for an upfront payment if you want to be the best freelancer. You have to trust people and focus on having positive feedback with five stars in the end.
Yes, I know some clients will cheat on you. There are some bad apples on Upwork too but, most of the clients are still have good qualities.
If you carefully picked your client, no harm would come.
Consider how you give the best quality service and pricing up. Go cheap is not the right business plan.
I have learned those things by working on Upwork for years and a lot more things to tell you. But, this article is long enough. So, I will write a series of articles about Freelancing with my own experiences.
Do you have anything for newbies? Please share your success stories and failures here. We all have so many things to learn from each other on the way to be the best freelancer.