Let’s Talk About Upwork

about upwork

about upworkA little backstory first…I created a profile on Upwork more than 5 years ago. I had been laid off from my job, and my situation was nearing desperation. Now, if you’ve spent any time at all in Internet Marketing then you know that none of it falls in the category of “get rich quick”. It won’t even fit inside of “get a few bucks quick”. Pretty much all of it requires a ton of work, and that’s often the misconception potential marketers meet when they try. Things like affiliate marketing and selling products isn’t something you can set up over night.

I set up my profile, and played around a little with applying for jobs and the like. That was the end of it. I was able to make an okay amount of money churning out articles for Demand Studios. Rather than spending HOURS searching and applying for low-paying jobs on Upwork, I was getting $15 for an article it took me an hour to write. I went with the path of least resistance. This is one of my many faults.

At some point, I fleshed out my profile a little more and took some of the free tests available which actually make your profile look pretty good when you score well. Again, my profile just sat there for years while I moved on and finally found full-time work. The thing is that the path of least resistance is often one of misery, but it pays the bills.

Working From Home

So the other day, I told you that I began working from home in April of this year. I also explained the positive impact this had on all aspects of my life. I guess it’s not for everyone, but it’s PERFECT for me! Even so, just like in the world of “real” jobs, you can run into problems with the boss and it can still be unwanted drama. It seems this type of thing always finds me. I will attempt to summarize.

I was hired to manage and build a Social Media Marketing department for an established SEO company. A new experience all around for me and I was more than ready for the challenge. The first 4 months of the job were fantastic. I staffed my department. I wrote training. I had an excellent rapport with the CEO and we talked daily. I was told that my job was to build and manage the department and I’d be rich by the end of the year. The CEO lives the high life in an offshore resort town; a stark contrast to my situation. He told me many things, but it all boiled down to money and me having a lot of it. At that point in time, his goal was 1000 Social Media clients and I’d get a $10 kickback from each one every month. You do the math. My head swam for months. I thought I’d found my break. No, it’s not millions, but it’s just what I wanted.

In August, I was told to find a replacement for my position as they wanted to move me onward and upward namely into the Local SEO department. My replacement was established, trained, and ready to go in early September. It’s now the end of November, and NOTHING has happened. The raise I was promised at 6 months is nearly 2 months past due. My replacement has lost her home waiting for this thing to happen. It’s just a huge mess of limbo hell. I had to do something.

Enter Upwork – Site has since changed names

odesk profile

Something made me revisit Upwork. I don’t know if I saw a link somewhere or someone mentioned it, but I popped over there to see what’s up. My profile didn’t look too terrible. I updated my profile picture, took a few tests, fleshed out the portfolio section and applied for 6 jobs. I got a response on 3 of those and landed 2 of them. Boom. an extra $84 last week. One of them is ongoing, so I’ll continue making money from that venture. Now I have a couple reviews and work hours to add to my profile. Easy peasy.

So Why Didn’t Upwork Work For Me Before?

In 2008, my profile was quite a bit weaker. While I had high test scores to display there, I didn’t have the number of websites I’ve built since then. I didn’t have a writing portfolio of the hundreds of articles I wrote for Demand Studios, I wasn’t a published author, etc. I’ve fleshed out my skill set and added a lot of stuff to it in these years. Without realizing it, I was building a foundation. Hopefully a foundation for my own business that is free from the drama of working for a company. Well, at least one that isn’t my own.

Not Another Article About Upwork!

Right? I feel you. I’ve probably come across 100 articles about Upwork in the last 5 years about how to make money there, blah blah blah. None of them really helped me…just like this one is likely not to help you. So why are you wasting your time reading it? Because you’re hungry! You’re looking for that one things that will help you. You’re waiting for the one thing I can say that will be the key to unlock your success…or at least put you on the right path. That leaves me with a pretty high calling here. Let’s figure it out.

What Stopped Me On Upwork?

  • Limited chances to apply for jobs. Upwork starts you out with 2-5 applications a week. That’s nothing. It really requires that you spend a lot of time looking for things you really want to do. Not something a desperate person has time for.
  • It fit under the category of “bidding site”. I’ve never been one for competing with others for a job. It seems I always lose in those situations.
  • I just didn’t know how to get started.
  • Fear. I was scared that I wouldn’t get started. I was afraid of spending tons of time and not landing any of the jobs I wanted.

These things kind of remedied themselves for me. When they did, I got jobs. The more tests I took, the more applications I was awarded weekly. I’m currently up to 20 applications a week, and I really can’t use them all. I still work full-time, and now I have a part-time client, so I have to be choosy about what I apply for. I’m no longer overwhelmed by desperation or not having enough apps, time, money, etc.

The emphasis isn’t so much on bidding now. There’s still bidding, but it is secondary to applying. Once your profile is done, you start by applying for jobs. Duh. I got started, and suddenly I wasn’t scared anymore. Again, it came down to having enough time, apps, money, etc. that I felt I could get somewhere…and I did.

How to Land Jobs on Upwork

  1. First and foremost, fill out your profile completely. Include a picture, put all of your education and employment on there…this is important!
  2. Take tests. Upwork offers a TON of free tests that you can take on most any skill you can have online. A few examples are, grammar, SEO, Social Media Marketing, spelling, English, etc. Also, you are required to take and pass the Upwork Readiness Test before you can apply for anything. Needless to say, high scores on these tests look great on your profile and you can hide the ones you don’t score as high on.odesk tests
  3. Fill out the Portfolio section of your profile. I didn’t have a ton of articles or designs to add to this section. What I did was take a screen shot of websites I’ve created and use that as an entry. I put up an image of the cover of my books and included them as an entry. It looks good, and made a real difference.
  4. Finally, apply apply apply. You can’t get a job you don’t apply for.

However, once your profile is looking spiffy, you can get invitations to apply or interview for jobs from clients looking for freelancers. The problem here is that these jobs are rarely a good fit. At least this has been my experience. Once you land a job, give it your all. If you don’t, your reviews will reflect this and will be prominently displayed on your profile.

Last week, I applied for and landed a low-paying ebook project. 50 bucks for 5000 words. Usually, this would be something I could punch out in 5 hours tops, put it to rest, proofread it the next day, and be done with it. This project was for a long-term writer, but it took me 15 hours to complete. It just wasn’t an efficient use of my time. The client was very easy to work with. He gave me 5 stars just as I gave him (you are unable to view feedback until both parties have submitted).  However, this just wouldn’t work in the long term for me, but once I took on the contract, I was locked into doing the very best job I could. I had to produce work like the guy paid me $500 instead of $50.

Other Ways to Use Upwork

Maybe you’ve already run the gamut with Upwork. Maybe you’ve spent thousands of hours working there…or you’re at about the same spot as I am. There’s a few other ways to use Upwork. Let’s check them out.

  • Start a company and build your staff with Upwork. That’s right…flip the script. Start a company providing services and outsource the work to Upwork. That SEO company I work for…that’s where they get most of their labor.
  • Become a Kindle book tycoon. There are hundreds of talented writers on Upwork who are looking to ghostwrite your book for you. That project I talked about above? Yup, that book’s going on Amazon under that guy’s name even though I wrote it. He can list it for whatever price he wants and make his 50 bucks back in no time. All he has to do is come up with interesting topics. Sure, it helps if he knows how to market his books too, but he knows it’s a gold mine. I do too. I have 4 books on Amazon.
  • Get ideas for the services that are in demand. There’s thousands and thousands of jobs listed on Upwork. You can even see how many listings there are for each category. It is really simple to find out what’s in demand and specialize. You can corner the market. You can do a little research and then then run with the first bullet point above.
  • Find clients for your agency. Do you have a small staff that you need clients for? You can do this through oDesk, but you must follow their guidelines for agencies or risk getting banned.

As you can see…Upwork is a useful tool on multiple fronts. Five years ago, I hadn’t considered any of this. I have to wonder which piece of this might have been the key for me. Yeah, not so much. The last 5 years of learning were very valuable to me.

So, what are you going to do?

I hope you’ll comment with your advice or maybe a different way to use Upwork I haven’t thought of. I’d really love to hear from you.

In other news, Upwork isn’t the only site of it’s kind out there. Elance.com is very similar and maybe I’ll post about it one of these days. However, you can jump ahead of the game by using it now. Why not broaden your resources and your horizons. You have nothing to lose.



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  1. Pingback: Why Blogs Ads Are Lame and What To Do Instead for Monetization - StackingBenjis.com

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