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5 Upwork Hacks For Next-Level Freelancing.

Over the last decade, Upwork has made a name for itself as the go-to freelancing platform with over 2.5 billion spent by clients on freelance projects per year. Although as an independent specialist, you should not rely on a single source of client work and no platform is perfect, Upwork is an excellent way to dip your toes in the water with freelancing and grow your skills in the beginning. I have been using Upwork for nearly a decade and over those years I have come up with a few hacks to make the most out of the platform.

1. For newcomers to Upwork.

The hardest part is gaining initial traction with those first 5-10 positive reviews and testimonials from clients. The way most people get through this obstacle is to ask for minimal rates and slowly get their first couple of projects over the course of a few months and up to a year.

The good news is that there is a shortcut and you don’t have to wait so long to get the ball rolling. Upwork offers the option to invite your own client and as long as this is their first project on the platform, you get zero fees when working with the client indefinitely (it is a bonus referral program). Chances are, as a freelancer you already have a few steady clients – simply ask them to join Upwork and leave a positive review after your next collaboration.

2. Send good proposals.

Proposals are everything as they are your first touchpoint with potential clients. Here are some next-level ideas:

  • Avoid generic proposals – clients like to know that they are talking to real people. Engage the client by reflecting back to them the core issues that they having and offer quick tips and insight. Explain why you think you are a good fit for the job. Keep it short and to the point.
  • Try a short video proposal – record a 1-2 min video for each job posting as a way to break the ice and make yourself stand out from the crowd. Take a few seconds to introduce yourself and then restate the core objective of the project. People buy people and if you are charismatic and a smooth talker, you can use this to your advantage.
  • Delegate writing proposals to a virtual assistant to save time and focus on client calls and actual client work. Again, make sure that the VA actually starts a conversation with the client instead of copy-pasting a template. Train them to do so.

Here is an example of a recent proposal that got me hired:

3. Take your client outside of the platform.
Yes, Upwork allows you to move a client relationship outside of the platform if you have been doing work for the client for over two years. This is an excellent way to avoid paying commission fees when working with regular clients – even the reduced 5% fee that you get to pay after reaching the $ 10k milestone with a client adds up over time, why not save the expense if you can?

4. Always ask for a 5.0-star rating and testimonial at the end.


Do this with finesse and don’t push too hard. If you have done all the right things during the course of the project and if you ask for positive feedback politely, chances are that most clients will accommodate. Clients often forget to leave feedback even if they are in love with your work so you have to ask. Don’t leave this part to chance as positive reviews are a crucial element for building your reputation and a few negative reviews in a row can give you a bad rep that you can’t shake off.

After or just before the final handover, you can ask something along these lines:

“I am happy that you like the final result – I put my best foot forward. If there is nothing else to be done here, I would really appreciate it if you could leave a 5.0-star rating for me and a short testimonial as this would help me secure future work and further develop my skills. And if any part of the delivery was not quite up to par, please let me know how I can fix that!”

Here is an example from an interaction with a happy client that got me an excellent review: 

5. Share Upwork testimonials on other platforms.

Yes, you can share the positive reviews you get from a client for a job well done on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Take advantage of this cool option to increase your social proof and status: 

You find this insightful? Spread the word!