How Upwork Can Revolutionize Your Freelance Career

It was a scene straight out of the hit show The Office, but without the jokes, laughs or humor. But just like that famous comedy series, it was full of awkward moments.

“Today’s your last day on the job,” my boss told me in a matter-of-fact tone.

The great company I had worked for was downsizing, and I was being booted off the Island of Full-Time Employment. For the next hour, I was in a fear-filled daze of regret. Those emotions soon turned to panic (about the future), excitement (about the possibilities), and confusion (about what to do next).

A series of questions raced through my mind: Should I dive back into the full-time work world—the island I had always called home? Or should I give freelancing a shot, and boldly cross the employment ocean to live on the Island of Freelance Work? Heck, I didn’t even know if there was life on that island.

I chose the latter option, but then faced an even bigger question: How do I find potential employers? And how do they find me?

What I desperately needed was an eHarmony-type website that matched employers with potential employees. You know: a website that lets employers list a job and lets me list my profile. And if we “like” one another, then they’ll hire me.

Thankfully, several websites like that do exist, and—the one I used—remains one of the more popular ones.

Formerly known as Elance-oDesk, Upwork calls itself the largest freelancing website, with millions of jobs posted on the platform each year. I don’t doubt it. That’s because Upwork was designed for freelancers in dozens of computer-related fields, including marketing, computer programming and graphic design. And, of course, in writing and editing.

With millions of jobs and more than 1 million users, you must be patient (you likely won’t be hired the first week or even month) and wise (you have to use the proper keywords to find what you want).

My keywords were “Christian,” “Christian editor,” and “Christian writer,” and I searched for them multiple times each day. Unfortunately, Upwork does not have an email notification function, although the platform does have a useful app.

Upwork is like the construction world. You bid on jobs.

It offers a free plan and a “Freelancer Plus” arrangement that costs $14.99 per month. That’s more than they charged when I began using it, but the Plus plan does include several useful perks (among them: You can see the high and low bids before you place your own bid).

The goal with Upwork is to find your niche and to build your profile and score (100 percent is the highest). To do that, you might have to do a few small jobs for less-than-desirable rates. (For example, I wrote a 150-word ad for a friendly client thanks to a $20 bid, and he gave me high marks.) That rating helped get the attention of a client a few weeks later who had a more enjoyable and better-paying job.

For most freelancers, Upwork jobs won’t be the only source of revenue. But Upwork can be a path to finding work you didn’t know existed—and perhaps to connect you with clients that will have even more jobs down the road.

Perhaps you will find that perfect match. And pretty soon, you will discover there is life on the Island of Freelance Work.

Michael Foust

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