12 things you should know about Upwork
Upwork is one of my main income sources and I feel lucky that I found this platform when I felt like there were no options for me. To give you an idea, I live on a small island in Canada and there are not many design jobs around and those that are they might not be well paid. If you are starting to look into freelancing on Upwork but you are not sure what it is right for you, here are a few things I like and one thing I dislike about it.
1 YOUR REGISTRATION COULD BE REJECTED.
When I made my account on Upwork, in 2014, it seemed so simple, and all I had to do was to register and send my id. I didn't even think about my profile being rejected. Well, things have changed and many people are getting rejected. I am not sure what is the reason for the rejections, but I am sure there are some. One reason might be because the freelancer didn't respect the platform rules and regulations or the freelancer is not transparent enough or well prepared. Just a few weeks ago, I was contacted by Upwork, to verify my account. I was a bit panicky although I had nothing to be worried about. They wanted me to jump on a call and ask me a few questions. I jumped on the call as soon as possible, but I first checked to see if it was a scam. Long story short, my account got verified, and it is all good.
So, I suspect Upwork is trying to make the platform better for everybody.
2 YOUR ACCOUNT CAN BE DEACTIVATED DUE TO INACTIVITY.
So, maybe you registered for Upwork a while ago and you kind of forgot about it. Chances are that your account is not available anymore. If you are not bringing any money in, if you do not apply for jobs and your profile is not completed, you might wanna take some actions to fix that if you want your profile to stay active. Once disabled, you might be able to get it back by contacting customer support.
3 IT TAKES TIME AND PATIENCE TO BUILD UP YOUR PROFILE
It took me five years to figure out how to create a great profile. I found some little things that really worked out for me. See my article about how to set up your profile here. I think it is safe to say that I updated my Upwork profile 100 times or more. I keep changing it every six months to reflect my work and portfolio.
4 YOUR JOB SCORE CAN CHANGE DEPENDING ON YOUR ACTIVITY ON UPWORK
The job score is a measure of your client's satisfaction with your work and success on Upwork. The higher the score, the better. Mine is usually 100%. Of course, there are times, like this week when my score went down a tiny bit. It is currently at 98% because I received a 4 stars review. But that's ok- the review was a bit unfair because the client hired me to work on a PowerPoint presentation but ended up not doing that. He asked me to think of a better way to represent a graphic he already had and he didn't like my ideas... Oh well...
5 THERE IS A MONTHLY FEE, A PROJECT FEE AND A TRANSACTION FEE
There are many fees. If you ask me, this would be the only thing that bothered me about this platform, but I am comforted by the exchange rate from US dollars to Canadian dollars. Here are the fees I have to cover and they are all in USD dollars:
Monthly fee: 1$0
20% off a project under $500
10% of a project paid more than $500
5% of a project that is $10 000
Transaction fee: $30 ( only for the Wire Transfer)
6 YOU GET A LIMITED AMOUNT OF CONNECTS EVERY MONTH
The $10 a month I talked about gives me 70 connects every month. I should specify that there are different types of memberships, I currently use Freelancer Plus membership. It gives me 70 connects every month with the possibility of unused connects rollover. I never use them all because I only apply for jobs that I know for sure I am a great fit and there are not that many in a month. To apply for a job it only costs 2 connects. If I run out of connects, I can buy 1 "connect" for $1.
7 IT TAKES TIME AND PATIENCE TO GET CLIENTS
This seems to be the big sore for new freelancers on Upwork. It was mine as well but it will happen over time. You will have to work on your profile, apply for jobs that you can actually do, and be there every day, applying, answering messages and tweaking your profile. It will happen eventually if you do good work and you are consistent.
8 IT DOESN'T GUARANTEE THAT YOU WILL GET THE JOBS YOU ARE APPLYING FOR
A big misconception is that once you applied for a job, it is all yours. Nope. You send in a proposal, just like many other designers and the client will have the option to choose the best fit. Again, I would suggest to write personalized proposals and apply only for jobs that fit your experience.
9 YOU CAN BECOME A TOP-RATED FREELANCER
I don't remember when this happened to me, but once it happened, I had a few more perks than the other freelancer. I liked my "Top Freelancer" badge, the 0% fees for all jobs with new clients I bring to Upwork and the reduced fees (10%) on Featured Jobs, compared to the fees I mentioned above. There are a few more perks but these three are my favourite. I will write an article about how you can become a top-rated freelancer on Upwork in the following weeks.
10 YOU WILL GET FEEDBACK, BUT YOU CAN ALSO LEAVE FEEDBACK FOR YOUR CLIENTS
This part is my favourite. This is your chance to improve your job score and let another freelancer about your experience with that client. You have to be honest and you must leave a review. No matter what.
11 YOU CAN HAVE DIFFERENT PROFILES BASED ON DIFFERENT SPECIALIZATIONS
This feature is fairly new and I just started working on my specialized profiles. I always say specialize in something first. For instance, I specialize in infographics and data visualization so for most of my career on Upwork, I applied for jobs in this field. However, I now create layout design and marketing assets so I can create a profile just for that. I can also create a profile for my UI/UX projects as I just started working on such projects.
You would have to create different profiles for each of these specializations and you can set up different hourly rates.
12 YOU CAN EVENTUALLY OPEN YOUR AGENCY
For a while, I was debating on opening my own agency on Upwork. It doesn't make sense for me at this point plus I noticed many of the jobs I applied for mentions that they do not want agencies. You can have your own team (they must have an Upwork account) and there is a totally different game. My main worry is that something goes wrong my agency profile would take the hit. As a freelancer, I feel more comfortable working on things myself because I know how well I can handle things in case it goes wrong.
Is there anything else you would like to know about Upwork before you start your freelancing career? Let me know in the comments.