Component 7: How To Thrive On Upwork

There’s fairly a little bit of distinction between having a full-time job as a freelancer and approaching it as a profession. When somebody sees freelancing as a job, they are usually passive, reactive and drift. There’s nothing unsuitable with this, notably if you realize freelancing is performing as a filler place between jobs, and also you’re actively looking for one thing completely different. 

Nonetheless, when you’re going to spend any size of time on this enviornment, you need to deal with it as a profession transfer, even when you don’t plan on being an unbiased contractor perpetually.

Having a freelancing profession can contain points of undertaking administration, accounting, advertising and marketing & promoting, human assets, and gross sales, along with your precise line of labor. Even the tasks themselves might be a superb alternative to discover varied areas which might be new and intriguing. 

A 12 months in the past, I used to be having a dialog with James, a freelancing buddy of mine. He requested me a query that, in every other space of life, might need appeared odd. “If you inform individuals you’re a freelancer,” he mentioned, “what do you inform them that you simply do??”

In Module 1, I point out how I began freelancing by writing resumes, then moved on to proofreading, then copywriting, weblog writing, analysis articles, analysis tasks, varied areas of educational writing modifying, ghostwriting, and eventually ended up as a undertaking supervisor. 

If you happen to divided my work into major roles, you’d discover at the very least three fully completely different jobs: writing, researching, and undertaking administration. Let’s say I had a ardour for graphic design. I may educate myself how to do that, then create a specialised profile as a graphic designer. 

Whereas I bid for jobs to pay my payments as an knowledgeable author, I may concurrently bid for work as an entry-level designer, then discover a doable profession renovation.

Viewing what you do as a profession merely signifies that you’re intentional about each side of it. Even when you’re not attempting to get to the purpose the place you begin an company, make use of different freelancers, or considerably enhance your pay fee, you possibly can pursue self-development. The teachings you study right here can place you to re-enter the “regular” workforce in just about any place and capability you select.

Getting Paid

That is essentially the most gratifying a part of being a freelancer. The timelines for getting paid fluctuate barely relying on whether or not it’s an hourly or fixed-price contract.

For hourly work, the billing cycle runs from Monday at 00:00 midnight UTC via Sunday at 23:59 UTC. As soon as the interval ends, freelancers have twelve hours to make changes; then, purchasers have via the next Friday to evaluation the work and request any modifications. These hours are routinely invoiced to the shopper and paid out by Upwork ten days after the billing cycle ends.

Fastened-price contracts and handbook pay changes (e.g., a shopper can select to provide you a bonus) develop into accessible 5 calendar days after the shopper approves fee.

You’ll arrange at the very least one fee mechanism with Upwork once you get began. The positioning at the moment provides 4 choices:

Immediate Pay, the place funds are instantly despatched to your checking account once you request a withdrawal. This prices $2 per transaction.

Direct Deposit/ACH, the place the funds are routinely forwarded to your US checking account totally free. It might probably take 3-5 enterprise days to obtain the funds. PayPal, the place Upwork costs $1 per withdrawal, and PayPal could cost extra charges.

Wire switch, which prices $30 per wire and takes as much as 7 enterprise days for the funds to course of.

I like to recommend setting a direct deposit up as your default methodology, then being conscious of the opposite mechanisms, and utilizing them on an as-needed foundation. You possibly can arrange a fee schedule for quarterly, month-to-month, twice monthly, or weekly.

It’s a must to earn a minimal stability of $100 for funds to switch out by way of direct deposit. Earlier than any funds might be withdrawn, it’s important to full a W-9 and submit it to Upwork.

Sustaining a Constant, Secure Workflow

Consider contract work as a prepare with a collection of related vehicles. There’s a little bit of separation between every of the vehicles, and if the engine is pulling at a constant velocity (no matter whether or not that’s quick or sluggish), the vehicles transfer alongside easily.

If the locomotive is constantly stopping and beginning, although, the vehicles jerk forwards and backwards, inflicting injury to the products and passengers along with the vehicles themselves. An amazing quantity of gas is burned to get the place the prepare must go as a result of the beginning/cease movement is extremely wasteful.

One of many largest struggles I’ve as a freelancer is sustaining a constant, steady workflow. It’s a relentless balancing act that I get proper typically and unsuitable often. The extra I attempt to excellent it, the nearer I get to persistently predicting how busy my week might be, how a lot work I must bid for subsequent week, and the way to stability short-term and long-term contracts.

The essential time period right here is stability. Lengthy-term work entails extra stability however on the sacrifice of flexibility. In some unspecified time in the future, you primarily develop into a distant worker with out the paid trip, medical insurance, and 401k. 

Quick time period work is thrilling, difficult, and recent, but it surely’s additionally much less constant. Having a mixture of the 2 is important to make sure that you’re balancing stability with flexibility and pleasure with consistency.

The advantages of diversifying

One strategy to emphasize long run stability as a freelancer is to keep away from placing all your eggs in a single basket. I like to recommend having a minimal of three long-term contracts at any given level; you possibly can by no means inform when an organization’s priorities or funds will shift, and your contract involves a sudden finish. 

This isn’t a nasty factor; it’s the character of freelancing. If you happen to’re utilizing a rope with three main strands and one will get lower, you’re not going to fall very far; the opposite two will help you whereas looking for a alternative. 

Nonetheless, when you’re depending on one shopper for all, and even the bulk, of your revenue, you’re creating an worker dynamic with out the perks.

I like to recommend growing a baseline of long-term contracts that comprise the vast majority of your revenue. This maximizes the period of time you spend working and minimizes the time it’s important to decide to bidding, which is unpaid.

Nonetheless, you should preserve a constant stream of short-term jobs. Even when you solely have separately, then search for one other when the primary is full, maintaining your self within the bidding and job-finding mindset is essential to long-term success. 

After I keep out of the bidding recreation too lengthy, I discover that I’m reticent to leap again in. I lose confidence in my bidding, interview, and negotiation expertise and subconsciously keep away from doing it, which results in unused hours that might be full of billable work if I’d deliberate forward.

Upkeep bidding 

One of many issues I make myself do is bid for one job per day, even when my plate is 100% full. There are two causes for this. The primary is that I’m maintaining my expertise sharp and sustaining a finger on the heart beat of the market, so I can immediately pivot and bid at a excessive stage once I want work. 

The second is slowly pushing the envelope on my pay fee. After I bid for brand spanking new work however have a full plate, I can set costs as excessive as I’d prefer to–the worst that may occur is I don’t get the job. After I do get a job, nevertheless, it’s at an especially aggressive wage. 

I’ve settled on $85 an hour as my baseline; that’s the place I can persistently decide up a full workload with my talent set. I’ll submit full-load bids at $95 to $125 an hour, and I lose these the overwhelming majority of the time. 

After I win them, nevertheless, it’s like getting a mid-month bonus. Realizing how a lot work you want is straightforward when you’ve forty hours of hourly-rate contracts. Nonetheless, if this isn’t the case, it’s important to estimate the period of time it takes to carry out every process. 

That is the place monitoring your work provides you a bonus. I hold a whiteboard on my wall that serves as a dwelling tracker of how a lot work I’ve and when it’s due. My objective is all the time to dwell within the strategy planning stage for subsequent week; if I’m bidding for work I’ll accomplish this week, I’m behind the curve. 

If I’m bidding for jobs two weeks out, I’m trying too far out for what most purchasers can be glad with and setting myself as much as disappoint them. Even when we agree on a deadline two weeks out, most employers aren’t contract work that far out, and by the point that day comes, they’ve subconsciously gotten impatient and really feel that you simply’re late, even when you aren’t. If you’re working at a strong tempo, you’re dwelling subsequent week.

Mixing contract varieties 

Leveraging contract varieties towards one another additionally comes into play with pay fashions. I discover that if I combine fixed-price jobs and hourly work, the mixture makes me higher at every. Getting paid at a hard and fast worth makes me watch my time extra rigorously as a result of whether or not a process is worthwhile or not depends upon me. 

It makes me extra environment friendly. Nonetheless, I do a few of my greatest artistic work once I’m getting paid on an hourly foundation as a result of I can calm down my focus and suppose. This pay mannequin makes me more practical at my job. Combining mechanisms that bolster my effectivity and effectiveness work frequently with one another to lift the bar on my efficiency.

Having fun with Contract Perks

Contracts provide varied perks you could ethically benefit from, and so they fall into two major classes: tangible and intangible. 

Tangible advantages

One in every of my present contracts is for an IT firm that focuses on certification examination preparation. I don’t have an curiosity in an IT profession, however I do undertaking administration professionals, and one of many cert prep programs they provide is for a extremely valued PM certification. 

I requested my supervisor if he would authorize a free trial subscription whereas I labored for them; my pitch was primarily based on the truth that the extra I discovered about their product choices firsthand, the higher my writing can be. It didn’t price them a factor, and he approved it, offering me with a number of hundred {dollars} price of schooling.

A previous shopper ran a number of profitable keto websites and repeatedly printed recipes and varied weight loss plan assets. I began the weight loss plan and requested if I may get copies of their paid meal plans and cookbooks, which he fortunately forwarded to me. 

Since all I wanted had been the PDFs, it didn’t price him a factor, higher geared up me for the work he wished me to do, and gave me one thing I wished totally free.

Intangible advantages

A few of the extra intangible advantages revolve round gaining data and making profession contacts. Firstly of my profession, I had a shopper who wished to place collectively a weblog on all the methods you would save on airfare. 

She despatched me a bunch of assets with interviews from airline personnel that talked concerning the ins and outs of billing fashions, how and the place airways printed last-minute cut-rate fares to fill seats, and the way to maximize on pricing errors brought on by pc glitches. 

Though I signed an NDA and might’t share that data with anybody, you possibly can wager your butt that I’ve leveraged it for my very own use.

My LinkedIn community has swelled because of freelancing. Each time I’ve a profitable encounter with a shopper, I add her or him on LinkedIn. Sustaining this thread of contact has resulted in repeat work from the identical prospects and word-of-mouth suggestions that developed into future contracts. 

I held a considerable position with a big firm for a 12 months and a half, and I do know that if I ever want a job, I can shoot out three or 4 emails and have a job at that company inside the month.

Don’t hesitate to consider how a contract can profit you past the fast fee. In truth, this could all the time be in your thoughts. Early in my profession, I wished to get my title on bylines to advertise my skillset. I discovered a job posting for ghostwriting the quilt article for the inaugural version of a brand-new journal in a quickly rising trade. 

The opposite bids ranged from $300 to $500–mine was $5. My cowl letter’s opening line started with: “My bid is an precise quantity, and right here’s why I’ll execute for that quantity…” I instructed him that, in alternate for writing the article almost totally free, I wished to be named because the creator or co-author of the article. We had nice chemistry, he employed me, and my title was printed on-line and in print. I’ve since used that have and publication to drag in 1000’s of {dollars} of labor. 

At all times act ethically 

Though there are methods you possibly can unethically leverage insider data and contract advantages, that is all the time a brief time period alternative that cuts your legs out from underneath you. By no means act unethically. 

There are innumerable advantages to be gained which might be fully above-board, and purchasers will typically actively encourage you to make use of them.

Incomes the High-Rated Badge

If you happen to’re going to spend a number of months or extra as a freelancer on Upwork, gaining the High-Rated badge (and subsequent, increased badges) ought to be a precedence. It might probably’t be bought and have to be earned. The badge unlocks a number of advantages that may improve what you are able to do on the platform and speed up your profession when you use it appropriately.

Incomes a High-Rated standing requires assembly seven standards: 

  • A present Job Success Rating of 90% or increased (see Module Three) 
  • Maintained Rising Expertise standing or a Job Success Rating of at the very least 90% for at the very least 13 of the final 16 weeks
  • A 100% full profile (see Module Three)
  • 12-month earnings of at the very least $1,000 (which implies you don’t need to be a full-time freelancer to earn this; you simply need to be lively)
  • Up-to-date availability (see Module Three)
  • An account in good standing with no current account holds
  • Exercise on the platform (proposal, accepted invitation, or earnings) previously 90 days

Upwork has performed a superb job of selecting metrics which might be simple to realize when you’re even barely lively (e.g., pulling in $1,000 a 12 months and submitting a job bid as soon as each three months), whereas tying them into efficiency metrics that really matter. 

Upwork does an exceptional job supporting its higher-level contractors however doesn’t provide an amazing quantity of help when you’re new. When you’ve reached High-Rated standing, you’ll have entry to premier buyer help over the telephone and by way of chat, which might be tremendously helpful.

One of many advantages I lined in Chapter Six was the flexibility to take away unfavorable suggestions out of your profile periodically. Now, you don’t get to High-Rated standing by receiving a whole lot of unfavorable evaluations, however when you’re round for lengthy sufficient, you’re inevitably going to butt heads with a shopper. 

Being able to take away a one-off piece of shopper suggestions is invaluable. It’s simpler to search out work as a High-Rated freelancer, and it’s extra tangible than the nifty little icon in your profile that highlights your storied historical past of grandeur.

Shoppers can make use of a filter when looking for freelancers to ask to a job that narrows the record to contractors who’ve reached this standing. Being High-Rated consists of you in additional filter choices, providing you with a better probability of being found, invited, and discovering work.

Creating Symbiotic Relationships with Different Freelancers

Though working as an unbiased contractor does contain fairly a little bit of independence, it doesn’t need to imply being alone. In truth, the extra intently you community with different contractors, the higher off you’ll be.

There are three varieties of individuals with whom you need to community. I already talked about how doing a superb job for purchasers may end up in word-of-mouth suggestions and extra work, but it surely’s additionally vital to attach with different freelancers–each those that might be seen as rivals and those that work in basically completely different industries.

Working with “rivals ” 

It’s tempting to take a look at different contractors who’ve comparable talent units and see them as competitors. To a point, they’re, after all, however additionally they assist create a more healthy neighborhood and might be allies in lots of respects. 

Think about it from this angle: I’m a author, however the extra high quality writers which might be a part of the Upwork neighborhood, the extra purchasers will see Upwork because the place to go once you want a top quality author. That creates extra work for everybody, permitting for elevated choice and specialization. 

As writers specialize, they fan out among the many a whole lot of various distinctive types, subject material, and niches that writing has to supply, which truly decreases the competitors for my explicit talent set concurrently with extra work being introduced in. It’s a win for everybody.

That’s only a wholesome neighborhood, however symbiosis can be achieved via direct connections with friends in the identical trade. I can’t let you know the variety of instances I’ve had purchasers ask if I can care for a selected writing process, and I knew somebody who was a greater match, so I pointed the shopper to them. 

This creates two benefits for me: first, I develop a fame with prospects as somebody who’s a useful resource they need to hold round, resulting in extra work. Second, these different writers return the favour, which additionally results in extra work.

Emphasizing variety 

An analogous dynamic is at play once you develop extra connections with freelancers in fully distinct fields with no inherent relationship to yours. In certainly one of my contracts, I labored intently with a graphic designer, and we turned good mates. 

I’ve leveraged his experience in at the very least three different contracts the place the shopper wished a author with accompanying graphic design. As a result of I knew somebody with whom I may work intently and

I used to be acquainted sufficient together with his charges to incorporate an approximate quote with my very own. I beat out different writers who didn’t have this type of connection.

I’ve been contacted to interview for jobs out of the blue, solely to find later that the invitation wasn’t so random in any case. I’ve made mates who’re administrative assistants, and when their supervisors found a necessity for a author, their fast response was, “I do know a man…”

One of many companies I provide after you’ve learn this ebook is the chance to affix a small group of different freelancers. I put everybody collectively in teams of 5 to eight, and every member of the group has a unique talent set and is at an identical level of their freelancing journey. 

That is your first direct introduction to networking; collectively, you possibly can share classes discovered, ideas and methods, after which leverage one another’s experience to construct a basis for a profitable profession.

Utilizing the Upwork Group

Upwork offers an amazing stage of help to established freelancers with excessive JSS. Nonetheless, they supply considerably much less help for brand-new freelancers. That is intentional: the platform hosts 12 million contractors. 

If you happen to’ve ever labored in a buyer help position, you realize that many questions might be answered if somebody is prepared to discover the assets that the corporate provides. Upwork is an intuitive platform and has many assets to reply questions you might need, notably if it’s one thing that begins with “How.”

You probably have a query that begins with “Why,” you’ll must go to the Upwork Group ( In some ways, this features as a platform-specific Reddit dialogue board the place you will discover solutions to quite a few questions. 

Past the peer assets accessible, Upwork specialists additionally frequent the boards. In the event that they see inaccurate data being handed round or discover that somebody has requested a query nobody can reply, you’ll typically see them chiming in.

I do know, it will be good if we had our personal concierge on name to provide us all the data accessible, however Upwork Group is a detailed second. I’ve truly by no means requested a query there, however I take advantage of it often to browse what different persons are asking and the solutions being posted.

Upwork additionally makes use of this as a discussion board to publish bulletins about new platform options or insurance policies. You’ll wish to test this on a weekly foundation, at the very least, to ensure you’re on top of things on something which may have an effect on you. 

There’s additionally a bunch of reference materials that may get you on top of things on varied platform options.

Lastly, you’ll discover a Group Bot named “Information” which is an automatic textual content function. This can assist information you to the fitting reply shortly and effectively. If you happen to can’t discover at the very least a basic clarification with this function, you would possibly wish to create a brand new publish and ask your query there.

Working with Businesses

The subject of businesses is a ebook unto itself, however I’ll introduce the general idea right here. Primarily, an company is a web based enterprise composed of a number of freelancers and hosted fully on Upwork. Businesses provide quite a lot of talent units in a single location, which might be helpful for purchasers who’ve wants throughout completely different areas or are continuously altering.

The company is awarded the contract after which assigns the work to its freelancers. The shopper pays the company instantly, after which the company pays the freelancers off-platform.

Some purchasers want freelancers to businesses, and there are numerous filters purchasers can leverage to give attention to people. Different purchasers want the simplicity of handing off any process to an company undertaking supervisor and never having to fret about it. 

There are professionals and cons to every. If you happen to’re superior sufficient on the Upwork platform to handle a number of freelancers, contemplate beginning your personal enterprise and bidding for extra advanced tasks.