Getting Started on Upwork

Upwork – The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Upwork has gotten a lot of traffic, rumors, and questions about Upwork.

What is Upwork? 

Upwork is a third party freelancer website. Potential clients post a project and then freelancers submit bids for that project. Every bid costs connects and each connect is  $0.15 per connect. To bid on a project it can cost up to 3 connects so up to $0.45 per bid on a project.

There are also fees on any money you make. Depending on the length of your relationship with a client the fees will vary. Generally, you can count on paying 20% of your pay to Upwork as well. 

Upwork terms of service require that if you find a client on Upwork you are paid only through their platform. This means that if you find a client you must use Upwork for payment. If you mention on the Upwork platform working or getting paid off of Upwork they will discontinue your account. Immediately. You will not be able to even retrieve any money owed. They take this very seriously. 

The Good

Using Upwork has several advantages. The first advantage is that you are protected by their payment program. Any work you complete on Upwork is guaranteed because Upwork requires an escrow payment from the client. This ensures that you receive your pay – no matter what. No more ghosting from clients!

The other benefit of Upwork is that you are submitting bids to potential clients who are actually looking for freelancers. This means that the odds of you being hired on Upwork are much higher. This is a huge advantage to having to do your own marketing. 

The Bad

Paying a bit of your wages to Upwork makes all of us feel icky. No one likes to just randomly pay part of their wages to a third party company. It definitely sucks. How do you circumvent this? You simply increase your hourly or project payment. If you normally (off of Upwork) charge $30 then charge $35 on Upwork. If you normally charge $300 for a month of blog posts, charge $360. Clients are aware of the charge up on Upwork – and they appreciate the same protection of Upwork as well. 

The Ugly

Scammers exist on this platform. They are everywhere and Upwork is no different despite their rigorous ability to check and double check both clients and freelancers. Here is what to look out for: 

  • Clients who ask YOU for payment
  • Clients who say they are going to send you a check for equipment and instruct you to cash it then send them the difference
  • Non Payment-Verified clients

The other difficulty is the fact that some will try to low ball their payments. Always charge what you are worth ~ whether on or off of Upwork this rule holds true. 

If you decide to get started….


You’ll want to have a great profile. Building a great profile that showcases your skills, personality, and experience is crucial to getting solid opportunities. 

Use Smart Searching

Once you register you will see a job feed full of hundreds of projects that you can bid on. I suggest using the search feature to find projects relevant to your skills. Searching for virtual assisting will have more relevant results than just scrolling through. There are also filter options. I recommend using filters such as “payment verified” so that you only land on projects for which the client has had their payment method verified. 


In order to bid on jobs you submit a Proposal. This proposal has a couple of parts. The first part is the cover letter, then your bid amount, and then the client may have questions specific to the project that they will ask. 

The cover letter is very important as it is the first thing the client will see. In this cover letter you should keep it short and sweet while still showing your personality and skills. The most important thing to remember is that you need to keep it short. Why? Because potential clients don’t have time to read a novel when they are trying to hire someone to end the chaos in their lives. 

Your cover letter should start with a greeting and then a brief explanation on how working with you will improve their business or solve their problem. Showcase your specific skills that will help this particular client succeed in their business. If their description isn’t clear feel free to ask questions to clarify what their needs are. 

Be sure to show a little personality, as well. Are you easy to work with? A pro at all things project management? Say so. 

Discovery Calls

Potential clients will connect with you when they like what they see either on your profile or once you’ve submitted a profile.  

One helpful thing you can do is take notes on every project for which you submit a proposal. This will help you develop some questions to ask on any discovery calls. What are discovery calls? Basically, interviews. But I try to stay away from employee/employer language when we talk freelancing because I feel like it puts both clients and freelancers in the wrong frame of mind. 

Be prepared for any questions by checking out what you can about a client. Some clients are going to be completely anonymous, and that is okay, there’s nothing fishy about it. Other clients will leave their names and companies so you CAN check them out. Do as much due diligence as you can prior to speaking on the call/video conference. 


This is super important. Follow up with any potential clients that you’ve had a discovery call with and feel like would be a great fit. Just a short message saying “thanks for your time and I hope to hear from you soon.” 

If you’d like help setting up your Upwork check out my Upwork Quick Start Guide!

Keep dreamin’