How to get first job on Upwork?

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There will be no secrets here, just a checklist of what is worth doing to increase your chances of taking the first job on Upwork.

More information about freelance on Upwork you can find in free eBook “Upwork Tips & Tricks“.


Registration on websites is a trivial action for almost all freelancers. But not on Upwork. You should add some information about your freelancer profile during the registration step. If you just skipped this step, your profile will be no approved. So I suggest read article about registration on Upwork.

Upwork Registration: Additional information

Choose specialization

A lot of freelancers (even with extensive experience on Upwork) do not think about the importance of a niche in freelancing. Clients who are willing to pay a lot do not need employees, who can do different things, they need a professional who can very well perform his current task.

It is not necessary to write in your profile that you can both program and draw, it will put you in a bad light.

Upwork professions & skills

Useful article: big list of professions on Upwork with niche examples and average hourly rates.

Fill your profile

If you have already decided which niche to choose, then it’s time to fill in the profile. Spending connections with a bad profile is a bad idea.

Upwork Profile

A profile consists of several items:

  • Title
  • Photo
  • Overview
  • Skills
  • Hourly rate
  • Video
  • Work History and Feedback
  • Portfolio
  • Tests
  • Education
  • Employment history
  • Certifications
  • Other experience

It is subject for another big article, but I want to highlight some points:

  • Spend a lot of time to fill in the profile. In my opinion, 30 hours of work is the optimal amount of time to fill the entire profile;
  • Make a profile video. Many people forget about it, but you can stand out;
  • If you have such an opportunity, create a specialized profile on Upwork.

If you have a good profile with a popular niche, then there is a big chance that clients will invite you to work (interview).

Search for projects


The most important aspects of the search for projects on Upwork:

  • Upwork has a very convenient Advanced Search, which helps you not to miss projects in which a client has not indicated popular keywords for your niche or made it with an error;
  • Try to respond as quickly as possible. Set up a notification about new projects;
  • Do not write a cover letter for all projects in a row. A lot of projects are bad, for example, if the client’s hire rate is less than 50%;
  • Do not miss projects with a small budget; very often this is only the budget for the first part of the project;
  • Fixed-price or Hourly? There is no difference, in both cases, you can earn good money.

Upwork Job Search

Write good cover letters

There are many tips on how to write Cover Letter on Upwork:

  • write one or two sentences and if client answers, then waste time on him;
  • create a template response and send it to everyone. If client will be interested in it, then spend time on him;
  • study the project, write a detailed cover letter, spend at least 15 minutes on each job offer, try to sell yourself in the first letter.

Despite the fact that this advice is controversial, you will find freelancers who successfully work on each of the approaches.

In my opinion, the most correct approach is when you write the most detailed cover letter. For beginners, it is especially important to have a high response rate in job to avoid a ban for a low response rate from clients.

Job description example

Job Description example on Upwork

Cover Letter example

Cover Letter example on Upwork

Working on the project stage

Prepare for project start

If a client responds to your cover letter, then you can rejoice that you have gone through the most difficult part of the way to the first job on Upwork. But before finally accepting the invitation to work (offer) I advise the following:

  • Discuss project details before accepting the offer. After accepting the offer, client can complement a task (more work or something impossible at all) that was not previously discussed. Of course, you can open a dispute, but it is better to make maximum efforts to avoid it;
  • Canceled work has a bad effect on your reputation;
  • If after first messages it seems to you that the client is strange or greedy, and this is confirmed in further communication, it is better to abandon such client than to get problems with him when working and as a result to have a bad review.

During the work

If you have already accepted the offer, the most important thing is to work well, but there are still some nuances:

  • If you find out that your budget estimation was wrong, it’s better not to talk about it and do the work for a predetermined amount of money, it will not spoil your reputation. But if the error was very big, then it is worth saying about it as early as possible, clients are humans too, and often you can find a consensus;
  • If you make a mistake in terms estimation, then the situation is very serious. Hide it from the client in no case, it is better to say about your mistake as soon as possible, since the client has his own plans for your work, which you do not know about. I personally work overtime in such situations to fulfill my duties, but the client is always aware of the risks;
  • If you have a dispute with a client, it is better to solve it without Upwork support. But if a client becomes bad guy, then at first it is worthwhile to threaten him with a request for Upwork support (it often helps to resolve the conflict). If this does not help, then open a dispute on Upwork.

Finish project

If the work is done, then you need to properly complete the project to receive a good effect on your reputation:

  • One job is one Upwork project. If the client offers you to continue working on the platform, then invite him to do it in a new contract;
  • Do not ask for a good review as Upwork can ban your account for this;
  • There are public and private reviews. In some cultures, it is not comfortable to talk publicly about a bad attitude, so your public review could be good and a private one could be bad, so it will have a bad effect on JSS and your overall reputation on Upwork.

Will it be easier to work on Upwork after completing the first job?

Of course, it will, but in my opinion, this is a more psychological barrier than a real promotion on the platform. The most important step for successful work on Upwork is to get a Job Success Score.

Rising Talent badge

Even before receiving the first job, you can get the Rising Talent badge, which is issued to almost all beginners who have at least somehow filled in their profiles and started sending cover letters.

In my opinion, he doesn’t give huge bonuses, but of course, it’s better to have it than not.


More information about freelance on Upwork you can find in free eBook “Upwork Tips & Tricks“. For example:

  • How to fill a profile?
  • How to write Cover Letter?
  • How to achieve Top Rated?
  • Much more.

If you have questions you can join our freelancers Facebook community.

If you like the article, you can support the author:

Mobile developer from Ukraine. Work on Upwork from 2013. Share experience about freelance from 2014 (jff.name blog in Russian). Wrote book about remote work "How to freelance on Upwork" and free eBook "Upwork Tips & Tricks"

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