In the previous article, I mentioned about why I declined 24 out of 28 new job invitations I received from Upwork in two months.
Few hours after that post was published, I started receiving a lot of Facebook requests and notifications from people asking the “how” part.
The strategy that have implemented is not a magic pill that will immediately land you to your dream. But with constant effort, and a full commitment to do your share, you will eventually find your way out of the maze.
I have started implementing the said strategy last March 2015 and it was only after 5 months when I started getting invitations.
Those were just 2 invitations per month at the start. But as time went by, the numbers increase until September 2016 when the numbers started to overwhelm me. Refer to the previous post to see screenshots.
Also, I can see that there is a huge difference the moment Upwork bought this freelancing platform. I understand that this platform that we have today is more inclined to more freelancers with a lot of experiences, thus making it more difficult to newbies. But do not be discouraged if you are a newbie. The strategies that I have shared here are exactly just for you.
Being top rated on Upwork doesn’t guarantee that clients will discover your profile more often. Like I said, I became top rated January 0f 2014 but I barely received invitations from clients during those times.
It was only out of my curiosity that I explored the details and I discovered that there is a pattern and by putting up all these pieces together, I made up my mind to implement the plan.
In this post, I will be documenting what I have done right from the start.
1. Do Something When Rejected
I am an inquisitive person. Whenever a certain thing happened, I always ask myself ‘why’ and I will exhaust all means to find the answer.
So it all started when I received rejection emails. In the former oDesk platform, there was that notification icon (similar to Facebook) with numbers displayed on it. Being a newbie, I was so excited to open it to find out what it was all about. To my dismay, these were all rejection notices.
But my inquisitiveness has pushed me to go beyond.
With oDesk, there is a specific reason as to why your proposal was declined. Whenever the reason was, “Chose another Freelancer”, I always went to the job post and there was the name of the Freelancer that was hired.
So why look at the hired freelancer’s profile? The answer is very obvious. By studying how did that freelancer managed to win the job, I was able to learn valuable insights on what information he placed on his Overview, what was his rate and the price he bid for that project, his experiences, portfolio items, tests he passed, and all other significant information.
And by putting all these information together, I was able to perform better on my next application.
Success leaves clues, and by following these clues we can find our own way out of the maze.
However, this is a lot more tricky with Upwork’s platform at present. Some projects won’t allow us to view some information. This one is an example that is already on Upwork’s profile.
I scrolled down to the bottom to see the client’s feedback history and you can find all his in progress and ended contracts. You need to find that contract of the job you have applied.
And click more, we can find the contract we are looking for.
And by following the link to the freelancer’s profile, I realized that the client was in need of an IT guy, and this is not my thing.
Looking at his profile, he is top rated and has a wide range of experience on the field. He had 6 portfolio items that were relevant to the job and also his work experiences and test results confirmed that he’s the right guy.
Right from the start since I was still on oDesk’s platform, I noticed that most sought-after guys really have really spent time building their profile. The same is true in today’s Upwork platform.
This was the first thing I implemented.
If you are really serious, you need to spend time working on your profile. This is imperative to every freelancer who wanted to be successful.
Do this and you are to a good start.
2. Create an Upwork Client account
You might be asking me why? Here’s my logic to this strategy (and I can still consider that this is one of the smartest strategies I have ever implemented).
Here’s a guide on how to create a client account.
If you want to understand how Upwork’s platform works for clients, you need to get a client account. Clients are the ones making the hire, that’s why you need to understand how the platform works for them. By understanding how this works, you can align your freelancing goals and practices to leverage it for you.
For example, I have just posted a job with a title “I need an email marketer who is skilled in WordPress and in creating a content strategy.” After the job was posted, there is that list of suggested freelancers.
After browsing at their profiles, I noticed the following are common to all of them:
- All of their profiles were all optimized for the exact or similar keywords to “email marketer.”
- They were all top rated
- They have relevant work experience in email marketing and have worked for a significant number of hours.
- They have uploaded relevant portfolio items, have taken relevant tests, and has a completed work experience record.
- They all have a good rating and job success rate.
So how can a newbie find the opportunity to leverage this feature? Don’t worry, just read on. You can find the answer in the next 2 strategies.
But here’s the good news!
When a client views his job posting and finds applicants, there are certain criteria that he can choose. First in line is the “best match” option. This may not be friendly to newbies, but the second one is where a newbie has the edge. It’s based on “newest applicants.” This means that those newbies who have just started and have relevant skills and experiences based on their uploaded portfolio, test results, work experiences will be favored.
3. Narrow down to one specific skill and focus
Things change, and so with Upwork’s platform. Here’s an interesting thread on Upwork Community.
Needless to say, as Upwork becomes more and more popular, the marketplace today has become overcrowded and more inclined to those freelancers who are on the top. For instance, when a client search using the keyword “virtual assistant,” this will be the result.
Obviously, the ones on the top are all top rated freelancers who have excellent job success rate and have spent thousand of hours working and have a terrific profile.
There’s no way for a newbie freelancer to outrank these guys.
But think about this, if you want to establish a fast food for example in the city, your chance of success may be very slim. Why?
There’s Jollibee, McDonalds, Chowking, and others. While it’s possible for you to create better menus than theirs, but who cares? They’re already established.
But if you go smaller towns where these fast food chains are nowhere to be found and establish there, you will be king!
The same is true in freelancing. If you just rely on being a “Virtual Assistant”, you are bound to despair. For there are always thousands of freelancers above you. And worse if you just opted to data entry jobs.
So narrow down your skill. The more specific, the better. And if you have found that skill, build your profile around it and dominate.
In doing that, it is very important to understand what keywords clients were using to find you. That brought me to the next strategy that I have done.
4. Find Specific Long-Tail Keywords
Before, I was just relying on being a “Virtual Assistant.” But that was a miserable idea for a newbie. But realizing that I need to narrow down my focus, I made up my mind to think outside the box. I have learned to leverage the power of Upwork keyword searches.
On Upwork homepage where there’s a field to search for freelancers, or using your client account, you can search using keywords. And by using important keywords and mixing them up with letter combinations, you can come up with several suggestions.
In my case, I started with “virtual assistant” and “marketing” keywords because those are very related to my skills. These terms were so broad so broad so I narrowed it down to “inbound marketing.” And by mixing it up with “sales” and with the correct letter combination, I was able to find the long tail keyword “virtual assistant inbound marketing sales writer.”
This keyword ranked me on the first page on Upwork’s search results. Upon checking it this time, I am holding the 2nd spot!
5. Create an Upwork Agency Account
You noticed that it was my profile that is tied up to my Agency account that is showing up on on the search result. This is what I have noticed. When oDesk was bought by Upwork in May 2015, I noticed that from that point forward, it has become friendly to agencies.
For instance, if you search using the keyword “graphic design”, you will find that 2 agencies were on the top 10. See screenshot below.
Creating an agency account is indeed very effective to my end. In fact, 80% of the job invitations I received were all tied up to my Agency.
6. Test, test, and learn
Learning is a continuous process. And one way to learn is through trial and error.
In this case, testing is very important. I have done a lot of testing. And by conscientiously recording all the tests that made, noting the variable that was changed and comparing it to my statistics, I was able to make significant improvements to my profile.
(Note that for your tests to be really effective and measurable, you need to change one variable at a time. This is very important).
For example, last April of this year I tried increasing my profile rate to $15/hour. But I noticed that my numbers were declining. So by June, I decided to decrease it to $8 and here’s the result.
I have created a template that you can use to record your tests and the variables that you are going to test. Enter your email address below and I’ll send it straight to your inbox after you confirm subscription. If you are not able to receive it after an hour, shoot me an email.