Can You Earn $100 Per Hour as an Upwork Freelancer? This Writer Does

Editor

How to Earn $100 per Hour on Upwork.I manage to find long-term, higher-paying freelance writing clients as an Upwork freelancer. Crazy, right?

Upwork.com (the new combined brand that’s the result of the oDesk-Elance merger) really is one of the best places to go if you want to be severely underpaid as a writer (it’s usually the first place people go when learning how to make money writing). But it also can be a great location for finding good prospects who are lost and confused in the never-ending search for quality writers — if you know how.

I’ve pulled clients who pay $100 per hour (and up) from this bidding site, and regularly use it to find strong new prospects. That’s despite the fact that I only check in once or twice a week, for a few minutes at a time.

You can find great pay on UpWork, too, by changing the way you approach a few elements of the site. These elements can help you avoid cheapskates and save you the time and frustration that usually goes along with navigating bid sites.

Here’s how I became a successful Upwork freelancer:

Shift your perspective

Put yourself in the shoes of a company that’s probably new to hiring freelancers online. They don’t know where to go, so they Google “hire freelancers” and bam … there’s UpWork. They create an account, post a job, and wait.

Your job as a successful Upwork freelancer is to find these prospects — the higher-paying, focused organizations that know they need to hire someone, but don’t know where to look.

To be clear, don’t even entertain low- or mid-range clients on UpWork. You don’t want to waste your time and energy on anyone who isn’t willing to offer higher levels of compensation.

Set your standards

The key to finding these companies (and scaring away the ones that will waste your time) is setting standards on your profile.

Be explicit in your Upwork freelancer profile. If you won’t work for less than $150 per hour, then list that as your rate. This alone wards off a lot of the lower-end companies looking for someone to write a 10,000-word white paper for $7.35.

Second, limit who you communicate with. Do NOT communicate with any job poster that has fewer than three dollar signs next to the description.

Yes, this eliminates the project-based listings (I tend to steer clear of those) and most of the jobs on the site. But that’s OK, because you’re looking to connect with potential clients with a specific mindset: “I am willing to pay higher rates for the most experienced freelancers.”

I primarily work with B2B healthcare companies, so I only look at offers from businesses in that niche. This is a higher-paying field, so that effectively cuts out a lot of the bargain basement companies.

This standard keeps you from wasting time sifting through low-paying jobs.

Vet the prospect

Once you zero in on a prospect that has potential, you still want to be selective.

Good clients usually know what they want done and who they want to do it. The higher-quality posts read more like full job listings, explicitly stating the desire for someone experienced in either their industry, the type of work they need completed, or both.

When it comes time to apply, keep things short and let your work speak for itself. I don’t write long letters of intent for these jobs — usually just a few sentences demonstrating that I actually read their full description. I’ve found that what gets the most attention is my asking to discuss their company goals (not just project specs) right out of the gate. Believe me, this will set you apart from lower-end Upwork freelancers.

I also include links to my portfolio and credentials, along with a phone number after my signature. Many of these clients are medium-sized businesses looking to connect quickly, and the back-and-forth of UpWork’s messaging system can put them off.

Here’s a sample I’ve used:

I’d love to talk with you more to find out what XXX’s goals are. As a healthcare B2B content strategy consultant and freelance writer, I can meet your needs in this job, but can also recommend other, possibly more effective methods for growing your business. I am a Copyblogger certified content marketer, so I have been trained in the proper use of headings, story-telling, language, and problem-solving in the online content creation process.

You can read some of my writing on different healthcare topics here (http://www.bsminfo.com/author/megan-williams) and also view my work and portfolio at LocutusHealth.com. Below is information on my practical experience in B2B health, my current work, and my overall outlook.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give me a call at XXX-XXX-XXXX. Have a great week.

Megan Williams
Content Strategy Consultant, MBA

My Experience
I have 10 years experience in revenue cycle/IT consulting for hospitals, an MBA, and I run Locutus Health Communications, a content strategy company dedicated to the B2B healthcare space. I’ve also been certified in online content marketing by Copyblogger Media and have been creating online content for over a decade.

My Work
I write on healthcare IT (EHR, data analytics, security, cloud storage, MU/HIPPA, etc.) at BSM Info. I also create in-depth content for my clients ranging from blogs and articles, to website content and white papers.

My understanding of the culture of the industry and constant contact with advancements and trends allows me to create work that is connected, in-depth, and engaging. I specialize in revenue cycle, healthcare IT, and startup content.

My Outlook
Most importantly though, I believe B2B content in healthcare will benefit from a shift in tone…a shift to one that is rooted in the seriousness and formality of the industry, but that still understands the need for humanity and a more editorial feel.

Suggest further projects

Each job started as a small piece, a blog post here and some web content there. But by targeting the right companies, positioning myself as a highly skilled and strategic freelancer, and starting the discussion about bigger projects from the get-go, I’ve used those initial projects as a springboard to bigger projects that earn me $100 to $175 per hour.

For instance, one company asked me to rewrite their About page. I agreed, and made sure to mention case studies in our early conversations about goals. And guess what I just finished earlier this week? A case study for that company.

So if you’ve completely abandoned bidding sites, consider reconsidering. The high search rankings of these sites can work in your favor, if you’re willing to be selective and specific in the types of opportunities you entertain. You, too, can earn $100 per hour as an Upwork freelancer.

Need help getting out of the low-paid rut? Join our writer community for training and networking.

Megan Williams is a B2B Healthcare Content Strategist and owner of Locutus Health Communications. Follow her on Twitter @LocutusHealth.

 

51 Comments

  1. Tryphena Maria

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. noman Nazir

    i”m sick of the extremely low paying jobs at upWork.

    but I dont understand how ppl claim to make $3000 monthly on upwork? i went through a job asking to write 200-300 articles of 500 words each for $150 🙁

    • Carol Tice

      Every advice post I’ve ever had about working on these mass platforms hast he same advice, Noman — you’ve got to IGNORE the vast majority of the offers and only respond to ones that pay professional rates. If you waste time applying to lowball offers, it’s nearly impossible to make a living.

  3. Andre

    My experience with Upwork has been mostly negative. Many clients I’ve interviewed with balked when I mentioned my rates. What you say about “lost lambs” stands to reason so I’ll definitely be trying this out.

    • Andre

      UPDATE:

      I’ve found that Upwork actually has a really nifty feature that allows you to eliminate entry level and intermediate level from your searches. At the moment, I’m trying to look for prospects who are ready to pay at expert level and don’t have an Upwork history. My reasoning is, if they don’t have a history it’s likely they’re “lost lambs” whilst if they have a history they know full well that bidding on Upwork can be a race to the bottom. I’ve made a few bids these past few days but no-one has caught on so far. We’ll see.

    • Carol Tice

      Interesting approach! Hope that works for you — and yay on the news that you can screen out the cheapskate gigs!

    • Megan

      That’s beautiful! I’ll have to check that out for sure.

  4. Wayne

    Hi there, fellow writers. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    I always love popping in to compare my experiences to what is being said. Carol, you’re an inspiration to many of us newbies!

    Today I decided to comment, and I followed a few links to end up here. It might not be the perfect thread, so please excuse that. I feel it’s important, though.

    I likewise had mixed experiences on Elance / upWork, working hard to improve my portfolio and ratings. I had just started to earn a livable wage with these kinds of jobs when Elance suddenly pulled the rug out from under me.

    They just closed my account. I had all 5 star ratings, except for one client who was a tough nut, but even that client re-hired me and still gives me work regularly. I have followed all the regulations and guides to the letter. I really worked hard to satisfy all my clients. Next thing I know, Elance sends an automated message notifying me of account closure, claiming “poor client satisfaction”. I immediately responded, requesting more information, but since then I’ve only received automated replies.

    Naturally I was upset. I’ve been following the advice of seasoned freelancers, like the great comments here (I’ve scoured your site, Carol), and I am working hard to get those top paying clients, and keep them.

    In other words, my advice is: even if you do everything right, don’t depend on just one platform (especially Elance/UpWork – in my opinion they are outright thieves, since they refuse to release my last payment.) I also had an experience like the one you wrote about, Carol, where someone copied my profile details and bid on jobs using my portfolio samples!

    So this is just a warning. I’m honestly not the ranting type, and very seldom bother to complain about things. I believe positive words are more powerful than negative ones. But I feel that I need to share this.

    Beware of Elance / Upwork. I have been researching this phenomenon, and found hundreds more like me, that have similar tales of woe. Elance seems to be weeding out freelancers, either because they don’t have enough account activity, or for some other mysterious mathematical / financial reason. I will never look for work there again.

    You might be doing everything right, maintaining a great reputation, but one day they will kick you off the platform for no good reason.So be wise – Spread your eggs to more than one basket!

    To return to the positive: I will survive the experience, and find new hunting grounds. A new writer’s number one weapon is tenacity.

    I have worked my way up in six months from taking my first $25 gig for a ridiculous amount of work (on Elance) and I am just starting to breathe again, financially. This setback will not stop me.

    To be fair, Elance gave me a kick-start, helped me gain confidence, and it was a tool to dissolve the mental blocks I had against earning a living writing. Even so, they have utterly disappointed me, and I will never deal with them again. Take heart, but beware.

    • Patricia

      I’m sorry to hear about your Elance experience. I think that what happened to you is terrible. I also think that it’s horrid that people would bid on jobs using your portfolio samples!

      Best of luck on your future projects!!

    • Wayne

      Thanks for that, Patricia.

      I can laugh about it now, and move on. Unfortunately my landlord wasn’t so relaxed when I had to explain why the rent was late!

      Funny old world we live in. 🙂

    • Carol Tice

      Thanks for sharing your sad story, Wayne. I wish this was the only time I’ve heard it, but in fact it seems fairly routine that these platforms toss people off, often with what seems no to be no cause. I’ve heard this tale time and again.

      It’s just another reminder that NO freelancer should have all their eggs in one basket — or tied to a single online platform. That means you’ve given Elance as much power over your life as a full-time employer — except they didn’t give you paid vacation, sick, 401k, etc. And that’s just wrong.

      You’re as much at risk of losing 100% of your income as you are if you had a day job, but without any of the fringe benefits that might go with that!

    • Wayne

      You’re absolutely on the money, Carol. As freelancers we need to take responsibility for our own destinies, get smarter, more efficient, and hedge our own bets. There’s always more to learn.

  5. Kayla

    Great tips! I have heard of a few freelancers having success with these types of sites so I might need to give it a try to increase my income.

    Thanks!

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