Launching Your Freelance Career on Upwork: A Beginner’s POV

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A strong foundation is crucial not just for relationships, but also when starting a freelance career. In my previous post, I shared how I began my freelance journey. After two years of working as a link builder, I decided to explore Upwork in 2013.

If you’re serious about online work, starting on Upwork requires you to re-evaluate your skills and choose the right job category. You’ll need to read job postings and decide your starting rate. This is exactly what I did.

The entire process was challenging, but I persevered. It took months and countless bids before I secured my first contract. As a newcomer, it was difficult to land a job, especially on an hourly basis.

So, how did I succeed?

To get started on Upwork, you need perseverance, enthusiasm, and focus. I landed my first job as a data entry specialist, which involved a copy-and-paste task at a rate of $0.04 per entry. Yes, it was a low rate, but I was a newbie trying to get 5-star feedback.

Everyone has to start somewhere, and this was my starting point. I then landed my second contract, which involved data entry and data mining tasks. I remember I was tasked to collect or copy and paste data from Lead411.com. The pay was reasonable. My fifth client paid me well and even hired me 22 times for data entry and research tasks. Their business was in the real estate and internet industries.

These completed contracts were my turning point. I decided to pursue freelancing with more intention. I was able to support my school finances and daily allowance. I quit my SEO job in the same year to have more time in my final year of college for my thesis and internship.

However, ups and downs are common in any career, especially when you’re just starting on Upwork. Was there a time when I almost gave up before hitting the turning point? Absolutely. It was even before I got my second contract. I was trying hard to bid and win a project. So, one time, I applied for a job posting that required basic SEO knowledge, extensive Google search skills, Skype with cam, a reliable internet connection, and a newcomer with a low rate.

I was confident that I had all the requirements, and I was even one of the first 5-10 people to send an application letter. I was lucky enough to be chosen to proceed to the next process, a Skype interview with a camera. But it turned out to be unpleasant. And by undesirable, I think you know what I meant. The moment I knew that it was something unrelated to any work interview, I didn’t hesitate to end the conversation and withdraw my application for the reason of “Applied by Mistake.” Yes, it happened.

However, I did not give up. I persevered and set foot in the freelancing world, with the right attitude and determination. After receiving 5-star feedback from clients 1 to 5, I successfully secured my first hourly contract with my sixth client. It was a data entry job at a rate of $0.67, including the Upwork fee. Although it sounds simple, every data input had to be checked thoroughly, as accuracy is crucial in the EdTech industry.

From then on, I was able to find well-paid data entry and internet research contracts, even though competition among freelancers was getting tougher. So, from time to time, I had to look for another project to work on.

Freelancing may not be suitable for everyone, and it may take time to succeed, but once you’re into it, there’s no doubt it will work for you. Just get started. Keep in mind that communication, quality of work, and quick turnaround are the factors that maintain good feedback on ended contracts.

Updated article on September 8, 2023.


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