Getting freelance work on upwork

Upwork is a great website to find freelance remote jobs. I personally use it to find bookkeeping jobs, but there are plenty of other types of jobs such as virtual assistant, IT, marketing, etc.

To get a job on the website, first you need to set up a profile. Your profile is basically your resume to show off your experience and education. I strongly recommend placing a good picture of yourself on your profile. You can add an introductory paragraph about yourself, your educational background, your experience, and any certifications you have. There is a “Portfolio” section where you can add samples of your work, certificates, etc. At the top of your profile you have to add your expected hourly rate, although when you bid on specific jobs you can put any rate you desire in the proposal.

Upwork offers “tests” you can take to further boost your profile. There are industry specific tests, computer tests, and even basic english tests. If you attempt a test and get a low score, don’t worry! You can hide it from your profile and retake it later. I work in accounting, so I’ve taken the following tests:

Bookkeeping Test
QuickBooks Pro 2008
Accounting Principles Test
U.S. English Basic Skills Test

I’ve taken an Excel test and even though I’m great at using it and use it often, I didn’t get a very high score on the test. That score isn’t in my profile and I plan on retaking the test at a later time. Do you remember in college when you would take a test and the wording was completely different than the textbook material? That’s because test banks are usually written by someone different than the person who wrote the textbook. Upwork tests feel like test bank tests. I think that’s why I did well on the accounting tests. I taught accounting at the college level for many years and was familiar with crazy test bank wording in regards to accounting questions.

Once you have your profile set up, you can start bidding for jobs. The website gives you 60 connects each month. When you submit a proposal to a job posting, you are using 2 of those connects. You can’t use more than 60 connects per month unless you pay money. Each month your “connects” balance will automatically replenish to 60 again. I try to use my connects wisely and only bid on jobs that I think will be a good fit for my skills and background and schedule.

When you bid for a job, you can send a short message to the potential employer. This is where you also send your proposed rate. Keep in mind that if you do get the job, that hourly rate will show up on your profile as your work history. Bidding too far below your level of competence may work against you. In the beginning you might bid for a lot of jobs and not get a response. Getting that first job may take some time. Don’t give up. If you find that you aren’t getting a response from your proposals, try different strategies in the way you write your proposals.

If you get the job, you will receive a notice when the employer has started the contract. As you work, you will be putting an Upwork timer on your computer to track your hours worked. This timer will randomly take pictures of your computer screen while you work so that the employer can verify that you were in fact working on the project. If you have a second monitor like I do, it will capture a picture of both screens. You can pause the timer any time you need to and upwork will keep track of your time. You will need to go into Settings and set up your bank account in the “Get Paid” link. You can choose your pay schedule as well.

You may be wondering what the catch is. There has to be a catch, right? There always is! The website takes 20% of any earnings up to $500 for each employer that you work for. After you have earned $500 for an employer, the fee lowers to 10% of your earnings. If you surpass $10,000 in earnings from that employer, the fee that the website withholds lowers to 5%. Keep in mind that these numbers are based on each individual employer, not total earnings from all employers combined. The website will track your total earnings for each employer and adjust the percentage accordingly. I usually work something out with the potential employer to work through upwork in the first month or two and eventually move towards a direct employment agreement as a sub-contractor. You however may want to keep it all on upwork forever to maximize your “upwork hours” since some job postings require a minimum number of upwork work hours.

Please comment below if you have used upwork and give us your best tips and tricks to getting jobs!

2 thoughts on “Getting freelance work on upwork”

  1. Hi there, thanks for the great tips by the way.
    However, I do have a question that I think you could answer for me.
    I was wondering what are some of the best account / bookkeeping software packages for the web or desktop?
    If you could give me some insight I would greatly appreciate it!

    1. Most of the companies I work for use QuickBooks Desktop or QuickBooks Online. I think it’s a great program to use for general bookkeeping and very popular. Xero is fairly popular too.

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