Using Upwork to Earn a Living as Freelance Writer: Part 1
Upwork is the biggest freelance platform on the web, but is it worth the hassle?
I've been an almost full-time, mostly part-time freelance writer for the last few years. I certainly wouldn't claim to be a seasoned veteran of the freelance world, hardened by the relentless proposal and query submission process and eager to tell you how difficult this thing is.
Quite the contrary; I'm just digging my toes into the vast and uncharted territory of a freelance life. The process of figuring out how to receive worthwhile, well-paying work is both daunting and exciting.
Freelancing for a living is not a straightforward, easy road to walk down. Starting out, you're spending most of your time fishing for a bite from anyone willing to take the chance on someone they've never worked with.
If you hate the process of applying to a job and find yourself tortured at the prospect of uncertainty, this probably isn't the path for you. If you crave security, need consistency and predictability, stop reading and apply for a 9-5 with benefits.
But if you're curious about freelancing for a living, allow me to break down my experience with Upwork, the largest freelance marketplace on the web.
On Upwork, Persistence is Key
Upwork provides businesses and individuals to seek qualified freelancers to complete whatever project they have on their plate that they'd rather outsource. It allows freelancers to bid on relevant jobs from the comfort of their couch or preferred remote office space.
Writing projects can range from copywriting jobs for startup ventures, to students in need of having their term paper polished (don't expect much loot from the latter). The proposal process includes a cover letter, a per hour/project monetary bid, and answers to any other questions posed by the potential client.
For someone who has never used Upwork and doesn't have a track record to showcase, the proposal submitting process will inevitably include a relentless stream of rejections, non-responses, and a looming sense of being in over your head.
And then, after sending out countless proposals without a single confirmation that your well-drafted cover letter was actually read by a human being, you receive your first response. Someone is actually interested in hiring you, and you begin to think this crazy idea of earning a living through freelance work isn't completely implausible.
Ten proposals for every job
My current proposal-to-job rate is about 10-1. I expect this to level out as my track record increases. There have been several jobs I've applied to where I believed myself to be a perfect fit, only to receive no response in return.
Sending out a generic proposal without any specific reference to the project is a sure-fire way to get overlooked. Sure, I use a template for many of my cover letters, but I always edit it with an eye towards what skills and experience are required by the client.
My first successful writing project was for a VPN blog. I am a big fan of using VPN's and mentioned that fact during my proposal, which I'm sure was a major selling point for the client.
Having a perfectly tailored proposal isn't a guarantee of success, but it will go a long way towards convincing the client that you're competent or, at the very least, actually read the listing and made the effort to respond to it.
Can Upwork become a full-time job?
In my experience, Upwork is a fantastic starting point for seeking potential clients and filling out a portfolio with a varied selection of work. Once you begin to gain momentum with proposal acceptance and job success rates, opportunities start to flow in easier.
The ideal scenario is to have an ample amount of repeat-clients seeking your services to the point where sending out endless proposals is no longer a necessity. A good percentage of clients on Upwork are seeking long-term freelance work, meaning a successful project could lead to sustainable workloads.
However, the promise of consistent, full-time work is often floated out merely as a lure, not as a realistic possibility. Clients may like your work but decide, on a whim, to go in a different direction, leaving your dreams of predictable income in the dust.
I'm still in the acquisition phase, sending out as many proposals as I can muster. But in the past week, I've gained a few repeat clients with consistent work in the pipeline, making me think that a full-time freelance life might actually be attainable in the near future.
In Part 2, I look at the downsides of Upwork and whether the platform is worth your time as a freelance writer.
All uncredited pictures from pixabay.com or my personal account
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