Landing your first Upwork contract opens the door to a steady stream of remote freelance income. But how do you get that crucial first job with no reviews yet? Follow this guide to standing out to clients and kickstarting your Upwork success.

Complete a Polished Freelancer Profile

Your profile is a client’s first impression. Ensure yours looks professional by:

  • Having a clear, friendly profile photo
  • Writing a strong overview summarizing your background
  • Showcasing past work samples and portfolio pieces
  • Highlighting specialties, skills, and qualifications

A complete profile builds trust and credibility for new freelancers.

Take Assessments to Prove Skills

Earn badges by passing tests in your specialties like Design, Writing, Programming, Project Management, etc. Verified skills give clients confidence in your abilities.

Bid for Small Entry Level Jobs Initially

Applying for lower budget projects in the $50-$500 range reduces competition from top freelancers. While the pay is lower, completing first jobs grows your experience and reviews.

Send Targeted Proposals

Personalize each proposal to the client’s needs instead of sending generic templates. Demonstrate you read their full job post and can deliver on expectations.

Offer a Money Back Guarantee

Consider offering unsatisfied clients their money back within a short window, like 24-48 hours. This lowers risk for clients trying you as a new freelancer. Just be sure you can quickly deliver quality work.

Highlight Flexibility and Responsiveness

As a new freelancer with fewer current obligations, emphasize your extremely flexible schedule and ability to respond to clients instantly as key perks hiring you.

Competitively Price Your Services

Initially keep rates on the affordable side within range of similar freelancers to attract clients giving you a shot. Once you build reviews, you can raise rates gradually.

Be Willing to Begin Small

Taking on bite-sized microtasks like one-off graphic design requests or short blog posts gets your first positive feedback faster, even if paid minimally. Completing small asks builds toward more lucrative work.

Focus on Excellent and Prompt Work

Go above and beyond on your first few contracts to impress clients with quick turnarounds and excellent work. This motivates happy clients to leave 5-star reviews.

Leverage Existing Relationships

Reach out to previous colleagues, employers, or contacts who could use your services and make an introduction to connect you with clients on Upwork.

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of first jobs should I avoid on Upwork?

Avoid ambiguous or unrealistic projects likely to result in disputes, excessive unpaid work, or bad reviews.

Should I lower my rates drastically to win first jobs?

Only discount moderately – drastically dropping rates can inadvertently signal inferior quality. Focus instead on selling your expertise.

What if my first Upwork clients seem unsatisfied?

Openly communicate to clarify any issues early. Offer reasonable compromises and provide great service to get the job done right.

When should I raise my rates after my first contracts?

After 4-5 completed jobs with all 5-star reviews, you can justifiably start incrementally raising rates for new clients.

Should I accept every job offer when first starting on Upwork?

No, carefully review details first and only accept projects you can complete successfully within your expertise. Avoid overcommitting.

Gaining that crucial first satisfied customer on Upwork opens the floodgates to a pipeline of long term clients. Deliver exceptional work upfront to build your reputation.


  • 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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