If you’ve been searching around for how to get more clients on Upwork, you’ve probably noticed other articles saying:
- “Keep a good job success score”
- “Get good reviews”
- “Go niche”
But you already know that. So, why aren’t you getting more clients?
Maybe there is something more at play here… something behind the scenes.
Why are some people raking it in while others are struggling? By getting more job invites? Maybe, but you can’t control how many jobs invites you to get, so how did someone get those in the first place?
Sure, they might be better or more experienced and how did they get that experience?
By trying more.
It’s like Lars and Sally. Lars works as a freelance copywriter and Sally helps her clients with marketing. They’ve had the same freelance training and their level of expertise in their respective fields is about the same.
They are working with the same type of clients, their fees and the strategies they use to get clients and retain them are pretty much the same too.
They are very much alike, these two freelancers. Yet, Sally earns 5-10x more than Lars. Why?
If we strip top performers of their skills and training, we are left with their mindset. The way they deal with stuff. We all face challenges but some people think and attack them differently than others.
If you tried different tactics to get more clients on Upwork but things just aren’t working, that might be your answer. Let’s look at different techniques that can help you.
Sending proposals consistently
The biggest improvement most of us will see when we work to earn more from freelancing is to become more consistent with our work.
For most of us, it’s easy to work when we wake up and feel great but not as easy on the days where we don’t.
The reality is that great days don’t come that often – that’s why they are great and not average. So most of us will gain a lot from being able to get some work done no matter how we feel. Notice I say ‘some’ and not that you have to be a robot.
Adapting from relying on motivation to relying on habits, is one of the most effective ways I know of to get more clients on Upwork. It helps ensure that you are sending new proposals out consistently instead of every now and then and that each one has the same quality.
For example, create space in your calendar to spend an hour sending one proposal each day.
As you can see in this article, I landed about 25% of my proposals on Upwork and by sending just a few proposals but going in-depth, you can land a client every week. If each client is worth $250, that’s an extra $1000 per month.
Action step: what could you do to create one hour of free time every day to send a proposal? Could you wake up an hour earlier? Or do it in your lunch break?
Could you create a calendar reminder each day, so you’ll get used to it?
If you want to take this one step further, could you create a backup plan for the days where you feel bad or know that you’ll be busy, so you won’t feel bad for skipping that day?
When that day comes it’ll be much easier to skip it if you haven’t planned what to do. On those days, instead of sending an entire proposal, perhaps you could find the job, do research, prepare a shitty first draft, and schedule extra time the following day to finish it up?
Another technique that Bear Grylls, a survival expert, mentions in his book is that if he doesn’t feel like going running one day, he agreed with himself that he can skip IF he goes running for five minutes first. Just five minutes!
He knows that when he does that he is more likely to finish the run when he is already out there but even if he doesn’t, he doesn’t have to beat himself up about it because he followed through on the agreement he made with himself.
If you want to take this one step further, you can also log the hours you work and set a calendar notification weekly to give yourself feedback. Here is a template you can steal (click file > make a copy).
That way, you can examine if you got the work done like you wanted to or if something is stopping you. For this to work, you have to be uncomfortably honest with yourself.
Did you get it done? Why? Why not? Which tweaks could you make next week to try again?
How to get more clients on Upwork: Working on what bothers you
More often than not, we have a pretty good idea about what it takes to land a client because we’ve already done it.
Yet, somehow we still can’t seem to get it done. Often that is because we have some unresolved emotions holding us back somewhere in the process.
Keeping your mind, your command center, in check becomes more and more important, the more time you spend freelancing.
I’ve listed six examples that I’ve noticed in the wild. See if you can recognize them and share your own in the comments.
Example 1: If you feel bad every time you send a proposal and don’t hear back.
People are polite. Often you won’t hear a “no” but rather no message at all or something like “we are going in a different direction”.
The easiest way to approach that is to treat everything that isn’t a “yes” as a “no”. If you know you won’t feel good when sending a proposal and not hearing back, don’t check if clients responded until you’ve sent one that day.
That way you can remind yourself that you might get another reply tomorrow from the one you sent today.
When I learned how to create ad campaigns on Facebook, I would always feel bad if the campaign didn’t do well. It would be a vicious circle where I would refresh the stats all the time in the hopes that it performed better.
To solve it, I began only checking the stats once I had created a new campaign that I would launch the following day. That way, I didn’t feel as bad because I knew that I had already prepared a new shot for the next day and all I had to do was press “play”.
It’s normal to feel that way but you can change it – this shouldn’t bother you in the long-term. It’s hard to worry about things we can’t control and you’ll benefit more from focusing your energy on what you can control (like sending out more proposals).
Many clients don’t hire on Upwork. Based on my personal experience for the niches that I’ve worked with, about half of the projects I applied for on Upwork didn’t hire anyone.
Some clients are just not that serious about their project and that’s just the way the game is.
Another way to look at it is as a test instead of a failure. We are working to understand what works and to know that we also need to understand what doesn’t work.
Example 2: when you can’t find any good jobs.
Sometimes we browse and browse and every project we look at sucks. Granted, with Upwork we can only see projects clients have created there, so in theory, it could be that there just isn’t anything good at the moment.
With 5 million clients, it sounds unlikely. In reality, we might have a day where we look at projects through glasses where everything just sucks.
Most of the time I’ve looked for projects, 90% of it has been bad – I found that there are just a few great projects per day.
Think about whether those projects are actually bad or if you feel overly negative today. Another option is to try new job searches/filters, try other types of projects, or look for work outside Upwork.
Example 3: resenting your price or worrying that it’s too high.
Some of us struggle with our price thinking either “this fee will never earn me enough money” while others think “I can’t charge that much – no one’s going to pay that” or “they’ll always pick the cheaper freelancer”.
Think about all the products and services you pay money for. Are there some of them where you don’t buy the cheapest option available?
In my article about freedom with freelancing, I shared how I was often hired even though I wasn’t the cheapest option. Sometimes clients value other things more than money like saving time or the convenience of a premium service that gives peace of mind.
If you feel like your fee is too low, explore what is holding you back from raising it? Is it a fear that you can’t land any new clients if you raise it? Can you find other freelancers charger more for the same service to disprove your theory?
If others can charge more, you might be able to as well. Is it because you feel like you need more experience? Maybe that is the case or maybe you are just telling yourself that.
Could you test it by getting more experience? How? Or is it rather that no one else is charging more for this service and you might be better off offering a different service to clients that allows you to charge more?
Do you have more experience in another field that would allow you to charge more?
Example 4: I don’t like offering this particular service but I have a lot of experience and I know I can help companies do a good job.
Remember that your identity doesn’t have to follow how you earn your money. Just because you write articles for your clients, doesn’t mean you have to be “a writer”, unless you want to.
Freelancing is just a tool for you to earn money doing what you’re good at. If you are anything like a normal person, what you are good at will naturally change over time as you learn new skills and your interests change. That’s normal!
Example 5: do you really want this? Are you being honest with yourself?
Sometimes we think we want something but we can’t seem to get it done or stick with it. Everyone chases something sexy at some point only to realize that it wasn’t really important to them.
If none of the other techniques work, are you sure you really want to earn money on the side and freelance right now? Maybe it’s just not a priority for you and that’s totally fine, too.
Example 6: “if I get more clients I’ll be more stressed”
Could you be holding yourself back from getting more clients by thinking that if you get more clients you’ll be more stressed?
It’s a common assumption and you can work to put processes and systems into place, so you don’t have to feel more stressed by earning more. Could you create templates for some of your work, so you don’t have to create it from scratch every time?
Or could you plan some of it in advance, so when you begin you’ll know exactly what to do and you can dive right in?
Another approach is to increase your hourly rate so you earn more by working less.
How to get more clients on Upwork: Examine your proposals
Sometimes, we just need to practice more. To figure out if your proposals are doing well, you might benefit from logging your proposals, their performance and systematically test different ideas over time.
That way, you can see if there is a dip in how well your proposals are converting into clients and you’ll be able to compare the performance the proposals against other freelancers’ proposals.
You can steal my spreadsheet here to log your proposals. I recommend also logging who they hired for each project after two weeks (by then they have often have hired someone) and noting if the fee was higher or lower than yours.
If you are not converting one per week (out of seven), here are some tactical tips you can use to improve your proposals.
- This is the hard stuff most people don’t talk about. Landing a client here and there requires you to know how to offer your services. To land clients consistently requires a systematic approach and recognizing that sometimes, we believe things are supposed to be a certain way when the real world might be different
- Learning the skills to get clients is the easy part. Getting yourself into a groove requires hard work and time