How I Made $1,703 in My First Month on Upwork

With only two clients — here’s every step of the way.

Toni Koraza
Sep 18, 2020 · 5 min read
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Photo by Toni Koraza on Unsplash

made $1,702 in my first 3 weeks on Upwork. I’m adding another week because it takes a minute to set up the profile and get comfortable with the platform.

Upwork is not everyone's cup of tea. I judged the platform through the bad experiences of many freelancers that came before me. Medium is full of negative Upwork stories.

  • Cheap clients that always complain.
  • Revisions until your fingers bleed.
  • Bottom-feeding competition.
  • Upwork takes 20% from your first $500.

The downsides are immense, and looking at them might sway any sane person away from Upwork. I stayed away for almost two years. Then, I read Matt Lane’s post about the value-up-front proposal strategy and thought it might work.

Matt made $12,000 in five months on Upwork. He would complete a part of the job upfront and send it in with the proposal. If you haven’t read Matt’s story about Upwork, then go and read it after this post. He unpacks ultimate Upwork knowledge and cool tricks to score clients.

My Upwork story is different than Matt’s. But I still made a nice chunk of change with only 2 clients, writing what I love. Here’s every step of the way on how I made $1,702 in 3 weeks on Upwork.

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Author’s profile

Setting up the Upwork Account

After getting the green light from Upwork, I wrote a brief description of recent accomplishments, mainly focusing on my Medium work. I was looking to find a gig that complemented my Medium writing.

Then, I received a mail about the Rising Talent badge from a guy named Dom. If I was to complete a short questionnaire about Upwork and Freelancing, I could earn a special badge that is offered to only 5% of new freelancers on the platform.

I assume Dom offers the same benefit to most new freelancers. The Upwork Readiness test was easy, and it took less than 4 minutes to finish. I received 30 connect points (you need these to bid for jobs), and was ready to start looking for work.

I initially set my hourly price to $27/h, following Upwork’s suggestion. I’m unsure how to price my hourly work as a writer because I’m used to being paid per project and engagement. Many freelancers recommend staying away from hourly work, but I thought it would be a fresh experience. I enjoy it so far because the money comes in every week.

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Submitting Proposals That Get Good Clients

I submitted 10 proposals in total. Two proposals have landed me a job, 4 are still awaiting a response, and 4 clients have found someone else. Then, I’ve received two offers from people searching for my expertise. Clients can find you on Upwork too.

I had a 20% success rate pitching to potential clients on Upwork. I searched for work that was close to my general writing on Medium, and something I’d find interesting to work on. Clients notice when you’re passionate about the project. You’re not struggling to find motivation because it doesn’t feel like a dry exchange of hours for the money.

Each proposal was focused on the client. I minimized writing about myself and shared only the most relevant points. Clients don’t want to read journaling entries. Here’s the brief:

  • Punchy opening line
  • A possible solution to the client’s problem
  • How can you help deliver that solution
  • What can the client expect from your work
  • Example of a previous work that might be relevant to your proposal

Try to catch the freshest job listings, possibly within an hour from listing. Upwork is humongous and you can find new job entries with every passing minute.

Winning Projects

I wasn’t interviewed for the jobs, and I believe that sending a proposal in the first hour played a key role in getting both positions. I received contracts and the instructions within 12 hours of sending proposals.

The proposals that took the least time got me the clients. I felt drawn to both winning projects and I wrote a proposal from the heart. My first contract came at $15/h, and the second one at $27/h. The first job is almost half the asking price but reading that freelancers take $5 projects just to get positive reviews made this a stellar first deal.

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I clocked in 106 hours for $1,703 in my first month on Upwork. That comes down to an average part-time salary in Los Angeles.

I’m writing what I enjoy. Topics are similar to my Medium stories. The only downside with long-term clients is that I still don’t have a single review on Upwork. But as long as It doesn’t bother the people I’m working with, I’m fine working without extra praise on my profile.

Final Words

If you have experience in your field and looking to start on Upwork, you might actually enjoy the platform. But, stay away from worthless gigs, especially if you already have an audience somewhere else.

You can skip the bottom-feeding clients that want to pay your hard work with peanuts and start working on cool projects. I’m receiving weekly pay, which is cool as the money is constantly coming in and serves as extra money to deal with life.

The Upwork fees are manageable, especially if you’re working with good clients. Upwork fees drop to 10% after earning the first $500, and then to 5% later on. You can also expect to lose a few extra points on transaction fees and conversions.

Upwork is a good deal for some, even if you live in a developed country. Extra $1,703 a month might pay your rent, help with student and car loans, or go towards your next vacation. If you’re writing for money, checking up Upwork is not as bad as it sounds.

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness and fulfillment.

Toni Koraza

Written by

Curious Fellow | Founder at Mad Company | Koraza’s Letter: koraza.substack.com | Free Covers: unsplash.com/@tonikoraza

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment. Join 150,000+ others making the climb on one of the fastest-growing pubs on Medium.

Toni Koraza

Written by

Curious Fellow | Founder at Mad Company | Koraza’s Letter: koraza.substack.com | Free Covers: unsplash.com/@tonikoraza

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment. Join 150,000+ others making the climb on one of the fastest-growing pubs on Medium.

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