Upwork is a highly competitive freelance marketplace. Standing out and winning great clients takes strategy and effort. Follow these tips to maximize your success and earnings potential on Upwork.

Build a Polished Freelancer Profile

Your Upwork profile is your resume and sales pitch combined. A complete, professional profile signals credibility to clients and helps you get hired faster.

  • Include a friendly yet professional photo and overview summarizing your background.
  • Showcase samples of past work and portfolio projects.
  • Highlight specific skills, specialties, education, and relevant certifications.
  • Pass skills tests to earn badges that verify your expertise in different categories.
  • Review examples of successful profiles for inspiration on how to structure yours.

Specialize in a Profitable Niche

Generalists struggle to stand out on Upwork. Specializing makes you uniquely valuable. Become known as a leading expert in a high demand niche like:

  • Mobile app development
  • Technical writing
  • Growth marketing
  • SEO audits
  • 3D design

Target clients specifically needing your specialized skill set.

Provide Immaculate Work Samples

Great work samples sell clients on your capabilities. Include 3-5 samples in your profile that showcase your absolute best work meeting client objectives.

  • For writing, design samples, etc. provide the complete finished pieces.
  • For technical work, use screenshots and brief explanations outlining your contributions to a project.
  • Update your profile with new pieces as you complete high quality projects.
  • Only display your proudest portfolio samples, don’t just bulk upload average work.

Craft Targeted Proposals

Writing tailored proposals aligned to each project is crucial for standing out. Avoid sending generic templates. Demonstrate you read the full job posting and can deliver exactly what the client seeks.

Actively Bid on Jobs Daily

Consistently bidding each day is critical, especially when first starting out on Upwork. The more proposals you submit, the faster you’ll land jobs and build momentum.

  • Set aside dedicated time to search for and bid on promising new projects every day.
  • Leverage Upwork’s tracking tools to monitor proposal status and follow up professionally.
  • Apply filters to identify well-matched jobs within your specialty.

Provide 5-Star Service

The key to long term success on Upwork is exceeding expectations on every single contract. This earns you glowing 5-star reviews, satisfied repeat clients, and more referrals.

  • Maintain constant communication with clients to proactively manage expectations.
  • Deliver work early or on-time whenever possible.
  • Go above-and-beyond on service – do more than the minimum.
  • Request feedback to keep improving client satisfaction.

Gradually Raise Your Rates

Once you build reviews and repeat business, slowly start raising your rates for new clients. Refresh your profile to justify higher pricing based on expanded expertise gained from recent projects.

Withdraw Earnings Swiftly

Withdraw earnings as soon as available rather than letting them accumulate in your Upwork account. This minimizes potential losses from disputes, refunds or disabled accounts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I receive a bad review on Upwork?

Respond professionally, apologizing for any issues while noting lessons learned for improvement. Then redouble your efforts on future jobs to rebuild your score.

How many jobs should I apply to per day when starting out?

Aim to submit at least 5-10 proposals daily until you begin landing regular work. Then focus on excelling for current clients rather than overwhelming yourself with too many new contracts.

Should I specialize in the highest paying skills like programming?

Only specialize in higher paying fields if you have prior experience. Otherwise focus on intermediate price point skills you can sell convincingly based on your expertise.

Is it better to charge hourly or fixed price contracts?

When starting out, fixed price jobs allow you to set income expectations more accurately. Shift toward hourly pricing as you gain experience bidding projects.

What metrics should I track to gauge Upwork success?

Earnings over time, job star ratings, profile views, repeat clients, percent of jobs landed versus bids, and Upwork activity metrics.

Applying these best practices from the very start of your Upwork journey gains you top seller status faster. Deliver happiness to clients and success will follow.


  • Gio Watts

    Gio Watts brings over 10 years of digital marketing experience to his role as marketing manager at Walletminded. In his current position, Gio oversees brand marketing, campaign management, and audience growth initiatives. Prior to joining Walletminded, Gio held marketing roles at several ecommerce and SaaS startups, most recently serving as senior marketing manager at CloudTable Inc. There, he specialized in paid social advertising and content marketing. Gio holds a bachelor’s degree in business marketing from the University of Oregon. He is a certified content marketing specialist and frequently guest lectures at his alma mater. When he's not devising omni-channel marketing campaigns, you can find Gio coaching youth basketball and indulging his passion for live music.

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