With everything from writing to design and accounting, what skills do you offer clients on Upwork?
There are a few techniques depending on whether your goal is to earn money or learn a new skill and earn some money in the process.
I’ve found that we’ll get better results by picking something we know is attractive to clients rather than what we like. I’m not saying it should be something you hate but the reality is that if clients don’t want to pay for that skill, we can’t earn any money.
That doesn’t mean you have to do something you hate. As a result of this article, you’ll probably have a few ideas as to what you could offer clients on Upwork.
From there you could for example pick something that you reasonably like. If you find something you honestly love doing and clients want to pay you for, that’s terrific.
But remember that especially in the beginning, you’ll spend more time working to land clients than using the skill you picked, and as human nature dictates it, you might find that what you enjoy working now with changes over time.
Let’s first dive in to see what the most competitive skills are on Upwork.
The most and least competitive skills on Upwork
I first looked up how many freelancers would be available for each of the twelve main skills Upwork sorts it by like marketing, writing, and programming, etc.
If you are looking to find a suitable skill to earn money with, this should do the job just fine. Next, I thought I was able to gather a basic estimate of how many jobs would be available for each price range, and skill.
This is how Upwork displays projects created within a skill category (e.g. accounting) and by different hourly rates, when you create a new project.
Upwork doesn’t display the number of jobs but I was able to find a number for each bar in the website source code. Thought, it is unclear if that is the absolute number or an index number that only works because of the relationships with the other number of jobs they show. It also depends on which level of expertise I selected; entry level, intermediate, or expert. And they likely change every day.
Luckily, I found a way around it. When you look for projects using the search filters, you’ll see how many open jobs exist in each category depending on how you use the filters.
And if we narrow it down, it changes:
Now, the challenge is that Upwork offers us four price ranges when we look at how much freelancers charge. Looking at the projects, we can only filter them by budget or experience level.
Budget doesn’t seem to be a good fit because when I enter e.g. $10-$30/h:
It shows us both projects without an added hourly rate and some with an overlap between different ranges.
The other alternative is to regroup Upwork’s four price ranges into the three categories: entry-level, intermediate and expert.
Upwork’s four freelancer price ranges:
- $10 and below
- $10 – $30
- $30 – $60
- $60 and above
The challenge with this approach is that it’s anyone’s guess when someone is at each level. For example, an expert to some might charge $50 with customer service skills, while an expert in marketing might charge $200.
Another challenge is that clients on Upwork tend to want a higher level of skill than they are willing to pay for, at least when they create the project. Let’s use the previous example again:
I searched for projects with a budget between $10-$30/h and as we can see, of those that showed up 237 of them expected or wanted the freelancer to be an expert while 572 wanted it to be an intermediate at that price.
I’m no expert accountant but I would be surprised if skilled accounting experts would say the same – and then it’s probably different depending on where you are in the world.
Ultimately, I decided on neither and kept it at to the main skill categories so it’s more dependable. When you decided on your skill and pricing, I recommend you to search on Upwork for similar freelancers, so you can get a better understanding of if they do exactly the same as want you’d like to do.
Let’s look at what the competition is, shall we 😉
If the ratio is less than one, it means that there is less than one freelancer per job in that category but it doesn’t say anything about the quality of those projects or clients, or if anyone will ever be hired.
I’m surprised to discover that there are more projects than freelancers in design, marketing, and development because those categories appear to be the most competitive and popular in general. That just goes to show that they are popular for a reason and they are more popular among clients than freelancers.
The graph also tells us that translation and customer service appear to be overcrowded categories but if you are in one of those, you might still be able to find another way to stand out.
What skills do you offer clients on Upwork? Here’s how to pick one quickly
One approach to pick your skill on Upwork is to look at your resume and your hobbies or interests. The more experience you have, the more money you can command but it also depends on how close to the money you are.
A freelancer helping a client increase their profit, revenue or sales will be able to ask for a higher fee than someone ironing clothes for example. Consider where you can deliver results – that’s what clients want to pay for.
You could also pick something you’d like to learn but don’t expect to earn much for a while. If you choose this approach, you’ll have to put in twice the work because you’ll be learning how to land clients and other freelance-related skills while also learning the skill you are selling. It’s not impossible but it requires a lot more attention.
You’ll make your future-self happy by considering the trajectory for your service: can you earn good money in the future?
If you have no skills and experience
A great approach to thinking about which skill you might want to use on Upwork is that it’s leverage for you until you figure out something even better.
So many of us get paralyzed wanting to find the perfect idea. Just like most other people in this world, our interests will change throughout our lives and what we enjoy right now might not be what we enjoy in the future.
You might know how to do marketing and throughout freelancing discover that you actually enjoy sales more. Or you might be a print designer and discover that you enjoy building projects. There is no way to tell.
Freelancing is a good way to sample skills and clients but you don’t have to work with the skill you pick now forever unless you want to. You might also discover that your perception of fun changes over time from e.g. “writing is cool” to “I like winning”.
- Some skills on Upwork are more crowded than others but you’ll still be able to stand out and win clients even if you have competition – it means there is money to be earned
- Whichever skill you pick now doesn’t have to be something you’ll love forever — we all change with time
- If you are interested in finding a profitable freelance idea, check out this guide on finding a profitable freelance idea