How To Become a Freelancer on Upwork in 2023

Wondering if freelance life is right for you? Here’s how to become a freelancer on Upwork so you can start getting your first paying clients.

If you’re thinking of becoming a freelancer or if you’re a freelancer looking for new opportunities, you’ve likely come across Upwork.

Upwork is similar to the other top freelancer platform known as Fiverr – and it can be a good place to find jobs, especially if you’re new to freelancing. You can earn a substantial income, but you’ll need to set yourself up the right way to be successful.

Read on to learn how to become a freelancer on Upwork.

how to become a freelancer on Upwork

What Is Upwork?

Upwork is a platform that connects freelancers with individuals and businesses who need their services. Buyers post jobs, and freelancers apply for them. Upwork takes a percentage commission from both freelancers and buyers for their services.

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Why Freelance on Upwork?

There are many avenues freelancers can take to find work. Upwork is one of many. In 2020, Upwork freelancers earned over $2.3 billion, making it one of the largest freelancing platforms in the world.

Upwork has gained the trust of many people who need freelancers, so there is always plenty of work available. Some people make a full income on Upwork, while others use it to generate side income.

What Types of Freelancers Can Join Upwork?

Upwork offers work for a variety of freelancers. Chances are, you can freelance just about any sort of skillset. Some of the most popular freelancing fields on Upwork include:

  • Writing
  • Video production and editing
  • Website development
  • App development
  • Voiceover acting
  • Consulting 
  • Marketing
  • Data entry
  • Graphic design
  • Virtual assistant

This list is just a small portion of the types of freelancing jobs you can find on Upwork. 

how to become a freelancer on upwork

Signing Up for an Account

If you have decided to join the millions of freelancers on Upwork, it’s time to create an account. We’ll walk you through how to become a freelancer on Upwork.

To begin, you’ll go to the “Sign Up” page and enter basic information like your email address, name, and location. You’ll need to verify your email before you can go on.

Finally, Upwork will take you through a few basic questions about the type of work you do and your experience level. You’ll create a profile (you can update it later) and then enter your bank information so that you can receive payments.

Choosing a Plan

Upwork offers two different plans for freelancers: Basic and Plus.

The Basic plan is free and offers standard features like ten Connects each month and payment protection. The Plus plan is $14.99 per month. It includes 80 connects each month, a customized URL, access to competitor bids, and more analytics.

In most cases, especially if you’re just getting started, the Basic plan is more than sufficient. Many of Upwork’s top freelancers use the Basic plan.

how to become a freelancer on upwork

Purchasing Connects

Connects are a form of currency used on Upwork to bid on jobs. Freelancers purchase connects (a nominal fee) and receive at least ten per month. As you find jobs you want to apply for, you’ll be required to use a certain number of connects to bid. Upwork sets the Connects for each job.

You may find using connects frustrating, as it doesn’t seem like it would make sense to pay for a job. However, Upwork uses his method to prevent freelancers from applying for an excessive amount of jobs.

Clients won’t be inundated with unqualified freelancers. As a freelancer, you can bid on the jobs that are right for you and spend your time crafting a stellar proposal. Once you start earning, you can leave a small amount of money in your account to replenish your Connects.

Creating an Impactful Profile

Your profile is one of the keys to being successful on Upwork. Clients can access your profile, and it’s often one of the deciding factors as to whether they hire you. You should think of it as a resume or CV.

You’ll include your relevant education and experience along with any other credentials or certifications. There’s an area to upload samples of your work. You’ll also need to add a profile picture. Go with a headshot and make sure you look professional – but don’t forget to smile.

When writing your profile, remember that you’re marketing yourself. While you want to write about why someone should hire you, you should also not forget the principles of marketing. The client cares about their brand. They don’t care about you – only what you can do for them. Structure your profile so that it highlights the benefits of hiring you.

how to become a freelancer on Upwork

Finding Jobs

Now that you know how to become a freelancer on Upwork, you’re ready to search for your first job. There are two main ways to find a job: through Upwork search or by creating jobs in your project catalog. You should use a combination of both if you want to find steady work.

Method 1: Search

Upwork’s job search page will display the latest posted jobs that are related to your field. You’ll see job descriptions, preferred qualifications, and how much the job will pay. Some jobs pay by project or milestones, while others pay by the hour. You can sometimes see other freelancers’ reviews of clients.

Once you find a job that would be a good fit, you can apply for it. You’ll have to pay the required Connects. Next, you’ll write a proposal (more on that below). The client may have additional questions for you to answer.

If the client likes your proposal, they might offer you the job. They may also choose to interview you. Upwork has a video chat service so you and the client can determine if you work well together and solidify job details.

how to become a freelancer on Upwork

Method 2: Project Catalog

You can also create projects that clients can search for when they’re looking for a specific project. You’ll write a description of what you’ll do, how much it will cost, and how long it will take you to deliver. Clients will contact you if they’re interested.

Just as with your profile, focus on the benefits of your project. What will it do for the client? You can also include an image. Choose something eye-catching to help you stand out.

Writing a Proposal

Your proposal can play a pivotal role in whether the client decides to interview you when you bid on a job. Many freelancers create a form proposal or template that they send, using the same text for every job or only modifying it a little.

However, if you want to stand out and impress a client, a personalized proposal is the best option. Read over their job description and then write an original proposal explaining the value and benefits of hiring you. 

Clients who see dozens of generic proposals every day will appreciate someone who takes the time to craft a custom proposal. You’ll demonstrate from the outset that you’ll show dedication to the job.

Completing a Job

Once you’ve secured a job, it’s time to do the work. Be sure that you are always submitting high-quality work. Ask questions if anything is confusing. You don’t want to have a redo something because you didn’t understand what was wanted.

It’s also essential to turn the work in on the agreed-upon time. You’ll be able to turn in work on your orders page. The client then has 14 days to either accept your work or request revisions. If the client does nothing, you’ll receive payment after 14 days.

Getting Paid

After completing a job, money gets deposited into your Upwork account, but not before Upwork takes its cut. They hold out 20% up until you make $500 with a client. After $500, they withhold 10% up to $10,000. Once you go over $10,000, they hold out 5%.

If you’re working by the hour, you’ll log your time or use Upwork’s time tracker. The money will go into your account the following week.

Once you have at least $10 in your account, you can make a withdrawal. You can choose how much to withdraw. Some freelancers choose to save some money in their accounts to purchase connects or hire their own freelancers.

Parting Thoughts – How to Become a Freelancer on Upwork

Now that you understand how to become a freelancer on Upwork, it’s time to decide if it’s the right platform for you. Many freelancers worry that Upwork isn’t worth it in 2022 and that there are better ways to find work.

However, it can be pretty profitable if you’re discerning about the clients you work with and avoid clients who want you to work for nothing. Upwork works with some large companies and clients who can pay you what you’re worth.

The main thing to remember is – don’t rely on one platform for your entire income. By finding clients in a multitude of places, you’ll be able to ensure that you always have work.

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