Zoe Ashbridge

April 21, 2021

Three years in sales gave me all the skills I needed to secure work within six days of applying for my first job on Upwork. Within 12 weeks, I was able to quit my job and work full time as a freelance writer and SEO consultant.

Here are six simple, yet often overlooked tips to getting hired on Upwork fast:

1. Fill out your entire profile

Reviews are everything on freelancing platforms, but of course, when you start out, you don’t have any. So how can you stand out?

You dig deep and you enrich your profile with everything you’ve got to offer:

Be smart about the information you share. Provided there’s no contract stipulating otherwise, you can include work that took place off the platform. If you worked in agency or for a company, you can use that work in your portfolio too. If you did the work, then you can own what you contributed to the project.

I sent my first proposal on 29th February and won my second proposal, sent 4th March 2020.

2. Start with a low rate and build it up

In my experience, starting with a low rate on Upwork and building it up is the way to go. I started working on Upwork writing 500-word blogs for $15 – and I’m a published writer!

Within a month, I’d doubled my rate, and this was because my 5-star reviews and in-depth profile gave higher-ticket clients all they needed to hit the hire button.

Although you might be earning more than $15 outside of the platform, you need reviews and social proof of your skills. Freelancing is like starting again, but don’t worry. You can build your hourly rate fast – assuming your work’s good enough.

I secured my first job on 9th March 2020 paid at $15/hour. By 7th April, in less than a month, I was earning $30/hour.

3. Evaluate your prospective client

There’s a valid argument that low rates attract low-value clients, but this doesn’t have to be the case. I’ve completed 22 jobs and have three in progress, plus, I’ve worked for clients on Fiverr too. I can report one bad experience in over a year of freelancing. Not bad, right?

The reason for this is that I always evaluate the client before I send a proposal. When you find a job you like, click to view the entire job description and scroll down. Here you will find the client’s previous work history, including their feedback to and from freelancers.

If the feedback is consistently good both ways, then the client is most likely great to work for.

Low budget jobs with excellent feedback to and from the client.

4. Apply to relevant jobs only

This might be my most useful tip.

Upwork is incredibly competitive. You’re competing for work in a global marketplace. Instead of applying for jobs haphazardly and writing multiple proposals each day, just pause. Ask yourself: can I write a proposal that will set me apart from all the other applicants?

This means that you can:

Working this way requires patience. You won’t apply to as many jobs, but it gives you the best possible chance of standing out, whilst protecting your finances and morale.

By applying to fewer jobs, you can save money on connects (connects allow you to apply for jobs and they cost $0.15 each). Plus, you’ll find the proposal process pleasurable, instead of demoralising and draining. Which leads nicely onto my next tip…

5. Write a full proposal

When you’ve found a job you know you can do with confidence, it’s time to write a proposal.

If you’ve taken my advice and applied only to relevant jobs, then I’m guessing you’re feeling mentally resilient. You’re at your laptop, coffee in hand, sleeves rolled up and ready to make an impact.

Take your time, read the job description carefully and make sure you refer to key elements in the proposal. Include evidence of your proven track record and a testimonial. Go into detail and give the client enough information that they feel obliged to give you an interview. An interview on Upwork is simply a message following your proposal. A well-thought-out, considerate and well-written proposal deserves a chance – who could say no to someone who is already serving them so well?

6. Relax

If it doesn’t all fall into your lap as quickly as you’d like it to, don’t give up. I had three years of sales experience behind me, and I’ve always been a natural!

Take your time and enjoy the process. If you’re feeling relaxed and happy, you’ll come across better in your proposals too. Weirdly enough, clients can sense desperation, so let it go and enjoy the journey.

Hopefully, you’ll land a job in six days, hand in your notice within 12 weeks and start your freelancing career, just like I did!

Good luck!


Zoe Ashbridge is a freelance writer and SEO consultant. She started freelancing in 2019 as she cycled 13,000 miles from England to Vietnam. Her freelancing business grew through 2020, and she hasn’t looked back.