I didn’t quite realize how many people were interested in freelancing until I put that I was a freelancer on my LinkedIn profile. Many of the people that reached out to me had either tried to start freelancing, failed then gave up, or were actively looking for freelance gigs and were failing and slowly losing drive.

We all join freelance platforms, like Upwork, in hopes of landing jobs, so when we don’t it certainly makes us feel as though freelancing is not for us. Well, that may be the case but very often it’s not. There are usually a few simple tweaks that could be made to convert from someone not getting many opportunities on the platform to someone that gets too many. Here they are:

#1 Be Proactive

Eventually, the goal should be to have lots of clients knocking on our door for our services but until then you’ve got to be willing to knock on all of theirs until you get your opportunity.

This is why it’s rule number 1 in the 7 habits of highly effective people!

Knocking on client's doors on Upwork suggests that you would routinely be parsing the available jobs; You don’t want to waste your connections on jobs you can’t do or are not interested in, so only when you find a job posting that aligns with your skillset should you submit a proposal.

Note: Regular activity and proposal submissions would get you ranked on Upwork search results so clients can begin finding you!

#2 Complete Your Profile

Sometimes it’s difficult talking about ourselves in boastful ways. It comes across as arrogant and selfish. When it comes to your Upwork profile, all of that goes out the window. You’ve got to sell your skills to potential clients! Your Upwork profile would be the first point of contact for any clients you find on the platform so you’ve got to make sure it’s optimized — this means it’s 100% complete with details of what you’ve done, a description of what you can do, and all the achievements you’ve achieved demonstrating what you can do.

Take the opportunity to advertise yourself with a fully optimized profile that emphasizes your skillset and expertise. Don’t ever have clients guessing what you have to offer.

#3 Write Compelling Proposals

Take a look at the first-ever proposal I wrote on Upwork and tell me whether you think I got the job…

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If you said “No”, you are absolutely correct. Yes, this proposal explores my expertise in detail, but it’s very passive! It’s not moving enough for the client to decide to take action on my application.

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A good application is provocative and makes the client want to take action on your submission, but crafting it takes practice.

#4 Share Your Portfolio

Many of the people that follow my blogs are techies — mainly Data Scientists — so I assume you know the value of a portfolio in the professional world. However, for those who don’t know, YOU’RE GOING TO NEED A PORTFOLIO.

A portfolio is a great way to showcase your skills and expertise. I personally believe everyone should have a portfolio, no matter whether you have experience in a professional environment — You don’t a job to get Experience.

Things that make up your portfolio:

  • Personal Projects
  • Past professional projects
  • Case studies
  • Demonstrations
  • Public Speaking
  • Podcast Interviews
  • Blog post
  • Testimonials

Essentially, anything that backs-up the point that you can do what you say you can do, or you know what you say you know is enough to put on your portfolio.

#5 Specialize Your Skills

Specific skill sets set you apart from the pack. Yes, it may mean you can’t take up every service offer that comes your way, but you could decide to charge a premium for the specialized service you do offer.

“When you look and sound like everyone else, people will go to the cheapest, or closest, or most convenient that they can find” — Rob Brown, TEDx 2014

In a hypothetical scenario, imagine you are told you have a heart condition and surgery must be performed. Wouldn’t you much prefer a surgeon that is trained and very experienced in heart surgery than a doctor that conducts surgeries from time to time? If you said yes, then so would a business that needs financial surgery — even if their finances are already in good form but they just want it to be better (financial plastic surgery could be what it’s called).

#6 Focus on the Client

A great businessman once said, “Obsess about customers, not competitors.”. That man went on to become the richest man on the planet with a net worth of $193 billion. I think we can take advice from none other than Jeff Bezos when he talks business.

“Obsess about customers, not competitors” — Jeff Bezos

The clients on the platform are your customers, and they have a problem which they cannot solve by themselves hence they seek out someone that can solve their problem. Are you the right person? Well, if you believe that you are then you must ensure you focus on their situation. Detail to the T, how you would provide value to clients because that’s what they want help with!

#7 Be Patient and Never Give Up

If you haven’t landed your first customer, keep grinding, it will come. If you have landed your first customer, you know how difficult it was but you’ve learned the process it took to get there; In order to land more clients, it’s simply a matter of replicating that same process.

Patience is a skill, and with all the instant gratification we have in the world, it’s getting harder and harder to practice patience. But not for you.

Be patient. Remain optimistic. Put in the work.

Final Thoughts

Landing more jobs on Upwork means remaining patient whilst you seek out opportunities. There could be many reasons why a client may decide to go ahead with your application. Of course, if it’s a recurring theme to the point where you’re not even landing interviews then sure, you may want to review your strategy but other than that don’t dwell on your failures. They are all needed in the building process.