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How to Make Money on Freelancing Websites

A Freelancer and Digital Nomad’s Guide to Working Online

Let me first start by saying — there are a few different sites you can choose when looking to become an online freelancer. But one of the best and the one I consistently use is Upwork.

Finding work on Upwork is actually extremely easy. What’s difficult is finding jobs that pay well with high quality clients. Whichever site you choose, you’ll most often find that each freelance marketplace seems like a race to the bottom — meaning cheap labor from India and Pakistan offer the same services as you but for far less money.

This is why most people fail to be successful on Upwork. You simply cannot compete on PRICE with these freelancers. However, what you can do is create a strategy to ensure you get the best-paying, high-quality projects.

So what type of work does this apply to?

Well — really whatever you’re skilled in. Designer, developer, writer, sales & marketing, accountant, virtual assistant, etc. All you need is some tech savvy skills and you can find work on Upwork.

Note: When a lot of people first think about making money online they think of blogging. While it’s a great way to document your travels, more often than not, you won’t make a substantial amount of money while blogging. It’s more of a long-term hobby that COULD potentially turn out into a money-maker.

So Why Should You Use Upwork?

Before you start working on Upwork you should actually try to hire out some labor for yourself. It will give you a good sense of what type of people are on the platform and how clients (yourself in this instance) choose freelancers. What you’ll find is there are a lot of lazy, dishonest workers and a lot of customers hoping to score on a hidden gem of cheap labor.

To start on Upwork you need a good rating. So you’re going to have to start with some super cheap labor — just make sure they’re quick tasks with a VERY SPECIFIC SCOPE OF WORK. You don’t want a client to hold you hostage for a good review.

Once you get a few good reviews (about 5) — you want to create your strategy.

  1. Price High — You want high quality, good paying jobs. Clients expect good quality performance out of higher requesting freelancers.
  2. Spend Time on Your Profile — Use a professional photograph. Take time to really curate your biography and try to impress the client with your work and personality.
  3. Top 3 Portfolio Projects — Once you rope in potential clients with your profile, they’ll look through your portfolio to see if your worth an interview. Remember — quality is important here not quantity, so just choose your top 3–5 most impressive pieces of work to showcase. Take the time to write a little bit about the project and, if you can, share the feedback you received.
  4. Use Credits on Jobs You Know You’d Love to Do — I know you want to make money quickly, but you can go through all of your credits within the first few days of the month if you don’t pay attention to jobs that are a good match for both yourself and the client.
  5. Deliver Ahead of Schedule — Always err on the side of caution here. Give yourself plenty of time for each project and always finish them early. Your client will love you and it will also leave some time for any edits the client may want done.
  6. Get Feedback — Sometimes clients forget to leave feedback. All you need to do is send them a kind, little reminder. If you did great work, they’ll be happy to give you feedback.
  7. Stay Active — If you don’t take at least 1 job a month your profile will be hidden in Upwork searches. Throw in a quick, easy task to stay active if you have other obligations.
  8. Constant Communication — Often clients will be most inclined to like the freelancer who is always first with a well-written, grammatical error free reply.

Tips About Working on Upwork

Fees — When setting your project price, keep in mind Upwork takes 20% on projects less than $500. Also, if you choose to get paid out by PayPal, you’ll be paying some fees on receiving that money. While this may seem like a lot coming out of your paycheck — just add these fees into your initial project cost so you’re always bringing home the amount you want.

A+ Clients — Good clients are rare to find. When you do find one — keep them close and never let go! A nice, well-paying client will want to stick with a hard-working, fair-valued freelancer.

Connects — Each month Upwork allocates you a certain amount of ‘Connects’. Basically these are bids for the jobs you apply to. It’s there way to ensure some people aren’t just spamming everyone with proposals. Use these wisely and only for jobs that you think you can get as well as would 100% if they accepted your proposal.

Search — The search tool in Upwork is super powerful in helping you find the clients and work you’d want to inquire about. The one thing I’ve found to be key is to ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS work with clients that have prior experience on Upwork. If they haven’t yet worked on Upwork you’ll be sure to run into some issues…even if they’re a good client they’ll probably be unfamiliar with the way Upwork works and will be wasting your time.

Tests — You have the option to take specific tests on Upwork to showcase your knowledge in a certain area. My advice — don’t take the Upwork tests. I’ve noticed that they only hurt you more than help. Clients want to see your portfolio. No one ever asks for test results, but they do want to see what you’ve built before.

So now that you’re familiar with Upwork how should you start getting clients? Well obviously use your connects to submit proposals to jobs online, but I even suggest adding Upwork to your business card! Using Upwork as your online business portal can be one of the easiest and legal ways to work while traveling around the world.

Call To Action

If you want to learn how to become a digital nomad and escape the rat race, check out my free guide called: “Digital Nomad Guide to Working Anywhere in the World (2017 Edition)”.

Click here to get the guide right now!

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Phil Manning

Phil Manning

Surf | Design | Develop — https://pjmanning.dev

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