How to Get Gigs on Upwork

Sorry, I don’t post on Creative Juicer anymore.

If you like what you see & want more, join my author email list for updates on my writing, posts about sci-fi and fantasy pop culture, and other readerly fun by clicking here.


Bidding sites like Upwork and Elance are not how to get gigs on upworkknown for being great atmospheres for writers. By their nature they create a flooded market, and the kind of clients seeking freelancers on these sites tend to be price-oriented. There is always, always someone willing to bid lower than you.

That said, there are very successful individuals who take exception to this stereotype.

I’ve used Upwork a lot in my first few months of freelancing, and I find myself somewhere in the middle, leaning to the positive.

Upwork got me rolling with some freelance gigs very quickly, and I’ve steadily increased my pay per post since I joined. Compared to other ways to get gigs I’ve tried so far, I’ve found Upwork to be a much lower time investment per bid with a significantly higher hire rate.

As we’re exploring ways to get gigs this month, I’m sharing the approach I’ve used on Upwork to land this success:

1. Make full use of your profile

Your profile is an important tool on Upwork, as it is submitted with your application for every gig you apply to, so it’s worth the time to complete every section.

Using keywords in your tagline and overview that will help you get found and stand out. Likewise, be thorough in listing your skill tags.

It’s also worth the time to take a few of the tests—they’re pretty easy, and they’ll show you have a basic threshold of competence. In other words, it’s a way to help establish trust with potential clients who have no idea who you are.

And perhaps most importantly, the portfolio. I used mine to showcase three projects that reflect the wide range of my writing abilities and treated the summaries as mini case studies to demonstrate not just the quality of my work but also its impact.

2. Searching for opportunities

At first, you need to put in some hours and get some client reviews. For this, you’re probably best off searching for Entry Level positions and bidding low (I started at $12/hour) for just a few projects.

But don’t worry, you won’t be doing this long. You should start raising that rate quickly any time you have enough work to keep you busy. Three months in, I’m now at $30/hour. To raise your rate, start looking for higher-budget gigs in the Intermediate and Expert gig listings.

3. Applying

I always write a quick cover letter that outlines my background and addresses that specific project—for blog gigs, I usually include a few potential topics. And I always include a writing sample either as an attachment or a link. When clients include additional questions, I address them with a few full sentences.

4. Rates

The negative stereotypes about bidding sites aren’t all wrong. Since I’ve raised my rates, I’ve had a couple of clients ask me to lower my rate because someone else underbid me.

The first time I made a compromise and, quite frankly, resented it later. The second time, I offered three compromise options I knew I’d be okay with—instead of offering the same work for lower pay, I offered shorter articles, or articles with added value such as an image for each post. And then I never heard from that client again.

Oh well. There’s plenty of other opportunities out there for you, too. Don’t let the nature of bidding sites drag you into the writing-for-pennies trap. Know your value and stick to it.

Where Bidding Sites Fit

I don’t plan to make a career solely off Upwork, but it’s certainly outperformed my expectations when I started. I find it a useful site for finding your footing, getting clips and (if you don’t get caught in the bidding aspect of it) getting decent pay quickly.

I’ve heard that Elance clients tend to have larger budgets than those on Upwork, so as I continue to increase my rate, I’m working on shifting my bidding focus accordingly.

That said, I’d never advise bidding sites to be your only plan of attack in building a freelance career—the pool is too overcrowded and the clients are too fickle. In the next few weeks, we’ll take a look at additional ways to get gigs to round out the rest of your portfolio.

How do you get your gigs?


Sorry, I don’t post on Creative Juicer anymore.

If you like what you see & want more, join my author email list for updates on my writing, posts about sci-fi and fantasy pop culture, and other readerly fun by clicking here.

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One thought on “How to Get Gigs on Upwork

  1. Pingback: Cold Pitching to Get New Freelance Clients | Creative Juicer

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