Are you still struggling to get hired on Upwork after weeks and months of trying? Or are you still stuck with a rejected Upwork profile?
If so, you’re probably making the same mistake (or mistakes) that thousands of freelancers around the world make each day.
And this hurts your chance of finding your first online job and succeeding in Upwork.
My Experience in the Past Five Years
While working with Upwork clients and fellow freelancers in my Upwork team, I’ve enjoyed observing freelancers and their actions as a side hobby. 😀
I’ve now personally helped hundreds of freelancers (I’ve been giving personal advice to workers on a daily basis, for more than a year) and I still continued with my “observation hobby” until today.
With this hobby, I’ve been able to notice recurring themes in terms of mistakes that new and current freelancers make, and I’m sharing these mistakes with you below.
If you want to take a shortcut to your Upwork success, I suggest that you…
Avoid These Mistakes So You Can Succeed Faster in Upwork
1. Not taking Upwork (and online jobs, in general) seriously
A lot of workers complain about not getting hired, or getting Upwork profile rejections many times. But the hard truth is that they’re not taking it seriously.
I’ve seen people who treat their Upwork profile or account like it’s one of their social media accounts. They put basic details, add a social media-worthy and unprofessional picture, and leave their profile alone for a few weeks or months (and yet they expect to get hired!).
You have to put in time and commitment and take it seriously.
Serious results need serious actions.
2. Not fixing and improving the Upwork profile
This is a very common mistake. Even experienced freelancers are guilty of this!
Related to #1 above, you need to continuously improve your Upwork profile to keep it accurate and relevant.
3. Not reading and following instructions
This is another extremely common Upwork mistake to avoid. I see workers commit this almost daily! You must read and follow instructions so you can improve your Upwork profile, write your Upwork proposal, and do your online jobs well.
This also applies to those who are following tips and tutorials found online, including my Upwork profile approval checklist.
4. Not applying to Upwork jobs enough
If you’re a new Upwork freelancer, don’t forget to maximize the submitted proposals allowed on a monthly basis.
You get 60 free Connects monthly, which means you can submit a total of 30 proposals for free each month (2 Connects are spent for every Upwork proposal or cover letter you submit).
Find 30 jobs that fit your skills and you can apply for during the first few months of your Upwork career. But be sure to read #5 below…
5. Applying too much too soon and randomly
Gone are the days when you can submit around 15-30 free Upwork proposals on a weekly basis. Now, you only have 30 free proposals a month.
(Dec.2019 update: Note that Upwork has introduced paid Connects/proposals this year)
Upwork has become strict in the past few years, and is currently suspending erring Upwork accounts left and right.
To reduce the risk of getting an Upwork suspension, you must apply only to Upwork jobs that fit your skills and spread your proposal submissions throughout the month.
Space it out. Don’t submit 30 proposals or cover letters in a span of a few days or one week!
6. Putting fake or copied details on the profile and cover letter
I’ve observed and helped local and foreign Upwork freelancers, and I’ve seen several of them use fake or copied details on their profile or cover letters. Some admitted doing so, while some didn’t!
Using fake details hurts you as a freelancer, and it’s also illegal to do so in Upwork (you risk getting suspended!).
7. Accepting random jobs just to get hired
I bet many of you are in the same situation as other workers who’ve asked for my advice: You’re new to Upwork and wanted to get hired quickly for some reason (maybe you quit your job just last week, or you need more money for an emergency).
While I completely understand your reasons for accepting random jobs, this is one of the worst things you can do when you start your freelancing career.
By accepting random jobs, you’re starting on the wrong foot, and you run the risk of getting a bad client feedback, or worse, an Upwork suspension.
Focus on the jobs that fit your skills first. You can always learn new skills and find other jobs later on.
The next mistake is related to this one.
8. Underestimating the work involved
This applies to freelancers who got their first few jobs in Upwork, particularly those who accepted an Upwork job that is not a good fit for their skills.
The reason #7 is relevant and very important is because it can snowball into something much worse.
Here are several possible scenarios: you will get underpaid, overworked, and/or not get paid at all.
Let me explain.
When you underestimate the work involved, you almost always would underestimate the time and pay involved.
In other words, you’d end up getting underpaid and overworked (for example, you get paid only $100 for 15 hours of work which should’ve been worth $250 considering all factors and requirements including Upwork fees) because you did not foresee the ample amount of time needed to complete the task.
Not only that. If you have a deadline and miss it, the client might decide not to pay you at all. That means all your hard work goes down the drain, worthless and unused!
Eventually, you’d also likely get bad client feedback which in turn would reduce your chance of getting a second and third Upwork client.
9. Not doing research and not thinking of solutions
As an online freelancer, it’s very important to know how to do research and find solutions by yourself. Because most people are not reliable or too busy to help you at the exact time you need help.
The next mistake is related to this one.
10. Not asking clients relevant questions (and asking random freelancers instead)
Often, there are questions relevant to your job that only your clients can answer. In this particular case, it’s important that you ask your client first before asking someone else.
And before you ask someone else, I suggest you find the answer yourself by researching online.
Be careful when asking for help on forums and Facebook groups. The majority of group members are new freelancers like you, so you are at risk of getting bad or poor advice or answers. Always countercheck their advice by doing your own research.
11. Not considering the Upwork fees
For Upwork contracts totaling $500 and under (per client), you’re supposed to pay a 20% fee to Upwork. That is huge!
When you forget to add the Upwork fees to the total amount you bill your client, it’s like putting salt to your wound! Always consider the fees when you bid or charge your Upwork clients!
12. Quitting early on Upwork and online jobs as a whole
This is the “nail in the coffin” that you should avoid early in your Upwork or online jobs career.
Some freelancers who’ve asked for my help told me that they’d closed their account immediately after getting a profile rejection. This makes no sense to me. Opening an account and then immediately closing it defeats the purpose of finding a job or extra source for you to make money online. And it’s too premature to quit!
Others quit after sending “many proposals”. When I asked them how many is “many”, they’d say 5, 10, or 20 proposals — in a span of several weeks or months! Quitting at this point is also premature.
I’ve submitted thousands of Upwork proposals in my first three years. It’s a numbers game. Success likely won’t come if you quit after sending only 20 proposals. 😉
If you’re the type of early quitter, I encourage you to seriously reconsider, and review the previous mistakes listed here. There are many opportunities inside and outside Upwork, you just need to persevere in finding the right opportunity for you.
13. Relying on others fully or more than one’s self
As a freelancer, you have to be self-reliant, whether it’s about finding a job, doing research about your job, learning a new skill, and other activities. The more self-reliant you are, the higher the chance that you will succeed in the freelancing world.
14. Being lazy and not being proactive in finding jobs
I’ve seen countless new freelancers who rely on others for their job search. Many of them join Facebook groups and ask for jobs to come to them. The best way to find a job is to be proactive in your job search; seek them and don’t wait for them to fall on your lap.
15. Looking for jobs at the wrong or less optimal places
This is tied to #14 above. Many new freelancers focus on finding jobs in places such as Facebook groups. While you can certainly find jobs in these places, most of the jobs can be found on online job platforms themselves. So they should prioritize finding jobs in job platforms and then supplement the job search by looking for potential online work in Facebook groups and others (not the other way around).
16. Not learning new skills
This mistake is applicable to most of us, particularly single moms and dads who have stayed home for years taking care of their kids full time, older workers who are coming out of retirement, and employees who’ve been stuck in the same day job for years or decades.
It’s critical to continue upgrading your skills or “upskill” to compete and survive in this blazing-fast digital world.
Every few months or years, new technology emerges, and new apps are created. As freelancers, we must always adapt and be open to learning new things.
Not only will upskilling make your hiring chances increase dramatically, but it will also keep your brain active and healthy.
17. Wanting to try online freelancing but not taking action fast enough or at all
I’ve seen dozens make this mistake: they are interested in online jobs but they never started. Many stay on the sidelines, and many still regret starting late. The COVID19 pandemic has highlighted this and many have decided to only start now — 5 to 10 years after they first heard about/were interested in online jobs!
If you’re really interested to try online freelancing, you should learn about it, “dip your toes”, and try even a part-time job. Many have tried online freelancing and many have proclaimed that it was a great decision or the best career move they’ve ever made!
Readers have found these helpful too:
- Improve your profile: Upwork Profile Approval: Simple 10-Point Checklist That Works (+ 8 Bonus Tips)
- Avoid Scammers and Time-wasters: Filter Upwork Clients Like a Boss
- Discover The Secret to Getting Your First Upwork Client
- Fill out the OnlineJobsPlus Freelancer Directory form
Comments? Please Share Far and Wide!
I hope you’ll learn from these mistakes and avoid making them yourself from now on.
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“Digging” Image: Credit to the owner
Thank you for these tips, i’ve i understand well on how to encourage myself to improve and not to give up easily
Hi Joan, I’m happy you learned something from my article!
Make sure to read the others and fill out my directory form here and share it with your skilled friends (for job seekers):
Very informative. Got new tips from this Jeff. Thank you.
You’re welcome, Fatima! Don’t forget to fill out my jobseeker form and share it with your friends/family.
Thank you for the tips. Late ko na nabasa after I submitted my Upwork profile. Hopefully, I will be accepted as I really need a home-based job asap due to our situation right now. Keep up the good works and I saved your link para ulit-ulitin kong basahin for moral support and inspiration. Stay safe😷
Hello Angelita, fill out mo rin yung directory form here and share it with your skilled friends/family (for job seekers):
Tyagaan lang. Stay safe din!
You’re welcome Eden!
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