The day I was laid off from my job as an apprentice electrician I decided to really crack the code on how to get freelance writing jobs for beginners. I had time on my hands so I started with how to get work on upwork.
Why Upwork? If there is low hanging fruit, I’ll eat it. I’m only going to tell you what works for getting writing jobs. Right now, the only thing that works for me is repeat clients on Upwork and a resume on Indeed.
I’ve been copywriting for my own fitness products since 2002 but this loss of the day job has put a dent into my income. I don’t like it, but it allows me to do more writing than I was able before.
I like making money with words. So at 40, I’ve applied myself more to what I do like doing, than what I don’t.
The goal is to make a minimum of $40,000 this year from copywriting.
First thing my brain did was go into damage control. I had been doing research on how to get work on Upwork for the last month so I thought, “Well, it’s now or never.”
I purchased two books from Bob Bly that I will be using to increase my offline copywriting clients. These book are:
- The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Copy That Sells
- Secrets of a Freelance Writer: How to Make $100,000 a Year or More
Setting Rates As A Beginner Writer
I decided right from the beginning that since I’ve been blogging for 15 years that I have writing experience. It just wasn’t specific to freelance writing and getting paid.
I decided with a little specific study into copywriting and writing white papers that I could be a third as good as Bob Bly.
So I copied out his rate sheet (price schedule) and then divided everything by three. Those were my rates.
This helps immensely when you bid on a project or someone offers you a job. Just stick to your guns and turn down any freelance writing jobs if they don’t match or exceed your rates. Unless you don’t have a single job yet. If that’s the case, you need to get at least a few.
Freelance Writing Jobs For Beginners On Upwork
I will be keeping a mini journal of how everything goes as I work on Upwork. If all goes according to plan, you will be able to read it and take a shorter path.
I was on the verge of buying a $475 Upwork course taught by someone because I thought it would show me how to get work on Upwork faster. I held back on pulling the trigger because they never responded to my email or tweet question. Both were a response to a question they asked. It must have been an automated tweet and autoresponder.
I also noticed after the initial launch of their Upwork course, they stopped doing podcasts and new articles on their blog. It’s a good thing I didn’t buy the Upwork course right away. I’d be mourning the loss of cash right now after getting laid off.
Because of this, everything I will share with you will be from free things I learned online and I will provide it to you for free as well.
I’m Sharing This How To Get Work On Upwork Journal For A Couple Of Reasons:
- I need to keep track of what works and what doesn’t as I try different things. I can forget sometimes that I’ve already cracked a code… only to realize later that I already knew it.
- I’m pretty pissed about all the people that say they know how to get work on Upwork and I can’t separate the fact from the fiction so I really want to find out the truth about how to make money on Upwork
- You may be in the same situation. If so I hope this helps you short cut the process so you can feed your family.
- I consider it my #1 task/mission to write my way out of debt as a freelanceer and leave the 9-5 grind. Then show others how to live free as well.
Where I’m At On Upwork Right Now
My first client was right after I opened an account. I had my friend hire me through Upwork to do a simple email opt in form on their anti-aging spa website. I did this instead of having them pay me personally. It was worth the hassle just to get on the Upwork client radar and get a review in the system.
Next thing I knew, I was invited to a job by a non-profit organization to design a landing page, lead magnet and series of follow up emails. I did the work and then the client went silent and wouldn’t respond to any communication. After enough time, the Upwork default payment protection kicked in and I was paid out by Upwork automatically. (Coincidently as I write this over a month later from getting the initial job, the client messaged and wants to talk. There was a family emergency on their end.)
I was over the moon and couldn’t figure out why everyone thought this Upwork thing was so hard. I decided to tweak my profile and see if I could attract even more clients… and I heard crickets. I didn’t get a new job until a month later.
Getting More Freelance Writing Jobs For Beginners: The Action Plan
I was doing a couple proposals a day and wasn’t hearing back from anyone. So I tweaked my profile again and kept submitting proposals. Finally, I heard back from someone to edit and smooth out their “About Page” for them. I completed the work on Upwork, did some edits in response to their messages and returned the final work. I waited on them to read over my completed work and release the payment.
- 1 friend hired me.
- A client to be determined of status after a phone call today.
- An up in the air job from a client that hasn’t finished reading my completed work yet.
Seeing where I was so far, I did this:
- Have conversation with absent client at 10AM
- Hope the second client reads my work, approves and releases funds.
- Tweak my profile again until I feel it’s good.
- Fire out as many proposals as I can. (End of day update: Total Upwork proposals done over 8 hours. TWO. That shows you how long I took on each and the quality I put into them. Looking around at other posts, this is not nearly enough. If that is the case, then proposals take a lot of time that may be better off spent doing other forms of marketing for offline clients.)
What You Should Do To Get Freelance Writing Jobs On Upwork:
- Make sure you fill out your profile 100% with examples of your best work
- Have 3-4 examples of what you do best in your portfolio
- Have a half decent head shot. You can have people rate your picture for professionalism and competence at https://www.photofeeler.com (Everyone hated mine but I still use it)
- Make sure you include the keywords of what you are good at in your title and profile. The Upwork search engine will display this in a list of “specific freelancers” to clients searching for what they need.
- This is all I’ve done so far to get jobs. It’s all been the strength of my profile. I will update this post as comments come in below with suggestions. When I figure out how to get my proposals to work, I’ll add them here as well.
Update: 30 proposals completed and all contracts have still come from invites and continued work with the same clients.
How about you? Do you have any tips for how to get work on Upwork? Specifically, did you start getting more work from invites like I did or from doing a ton of proposals?
Freelance Writing Jobs For Beginners While On Unemployment
Temporary Pause:I’ve stopped looking for freelance jobs for beginners online. I’m not working as an electrician and am collecting unemployment insurance. Upwork money gets deducted off unemployment insurance. There’s negligible difference in my income if I pursue more freelance writing jobs for beginners. With the exception of the huge amount of time I spend doing interviews that do not get jobs. When I land a job, it is very low paying. Less than my EI. I may do some on Upwork again if a client proposes a respectable rate and isn’t lowballing. I am still getting automatic invitations to interview on Upwork.
Upwork Update January 31 2017 I believe I started looking for freelance writing jobs in September of 2016. That’s when I set up my Upwork profile. Writing this four months later. I just received Top Rated Status as a freelance writer on Upwork. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t proud of this. I also received an email from a past client that has more work for me again. Looks like Upwork is one side hustle that is paying off for me.
Setting Rates On Freelance Writing Jobs For Beginners
One important note here on setting your rates on freelance writing jobs for beginners. I took a second look at my rates when this client came back because of the excellent job I did. Instead of blindly using a third of Bob Bly’s rates I looked at my time carefully. I make $27/hour as an electrician. When I get an electrician job again there would be no point in writing if it didn’t make the same amount. If writing made less, I’d be better off taking electrician overtime work if I wanted to get out of debt.
The clients job was a very technical white paper. I needed at least 4-7 days to research and then write. Multiplying 4 days x 8 hours x $27/hour I came up with $864. Holding my breath I quoted $750. The first white paper freelance writing job I did was $450.
I gave myself my first raise.
Choosing Freelance Writing Jobs For Beginners: Be Picky
I don’t take low paying freelance jobs anymore at 4 months in. If I get a weird vibe from a job invitation I simply decline it. This has allowed me to work less but make the same money. I’ve also been able to work with high quality clientele instead of bargain shoppers. The thing about bargain shoppers on Upwork is that they usually offer no concrete parameters to work with, pay a low rate, then expect a lot of revisions.
How does that differ from a good quality copywriting client?
A good copywriting client on Upwork has a specific job for you, and a result they want from it. As in, “I need a health and fitness sales page to sell *this* product to *this* audience. I need it by Tuesday. Can you do that for $1200?” That’s an easy client.
Freelance writing jobs for beginners off of Upwork are a different matter. Pick up all the work you can outside of Upwork to get the experience. The thing about getting experience on Upwork is that you could get a bad client right off the bat who gives you a low star rating. This will affect you for a long time. It pays to be choosey about what jobs you take on there.