If you’re a great stand-up comedian or vocalist, you’ll probably find your best gigs in person and offline. If you’re an artist or crafts and apparel maker, you might want to set up shop on Etsy. But if your skill sets are more along the lines of reading, writing, and (computer) arithmetic, you can find opportunities to work for good clients online using the Upwork platform.
Commercial enterprises, non-profits and small businesses are increasingly looking online to fill their temporary staffing needs with talented and skilled freelancers.
Among the freelance skills in greatest demand this year are: writing and editing content for websites, web development and video editing, graphic design and social media marketing. Upwork posts hundreds of new jobs every day from clients around the world, and it costs nothing to sign up and get started as a freelancer.
The Demand is There
Website owners are always looking to find people to write quality, timely content to keep their sites refreshed and relevant. Both short blog posts and longer, well- researched articles are in demand. Some clients are looking for creative copywriting of short, compelling advertising messages, mass email “drip” campaigns or social media posts. Knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO) writing techniques using keywords is a big plus for many clients.
Some businesses hire freelancers to write or edit their company newsletters, HR policies, executive profiles, or annual reports. Entrepreneurs hire writers to flesh out their business plans. Other clients are looking for experienced professionals to write or edit e-books for publication. Still others hire freelancers to read their books and give feedback or write formal reviews. Graduate students often seek help editing their thesis or dissertation.
The most popular computing skills currently sought after on Upwork include web development for new website owners, video editing using Final Cut ProX, cybersecurity functions like hacking and phishing vulnerability testing and the ability to apply artificial intelligence tools.
Upwork Opportunities in Media
Graphic designers are also in-demand for effective visual branding of both commercial and non-profit ventures on websites, logos, hard copy signage, business cards and social media accounts. People with creative marketing talent in graphic design can find a steady stream of jobs posted online.
Likewise, social media marketing professionals are in demand for populating a client’s social media feeds with compelling written content, images and videos, or even designing a comprehensive social media marketing campaign. Instagram is the hottest channel for marketing right now, so if you’re skilled at using Instagram tools, creating popular hashtags and placing posts at the best times for optimal exposure, clients are out there looking for you.
These are just a sampling of the opportunities for reliable paid work as an Upwork freelancer. Starting with a compelling profile detailing your education, certifications and work experience, anyone can register on the platform, and then curate your own job feed by selecting categories of the type of work that most interests you. Some freelancers include a portfolio of their best work in their profile. Jobs are offered on either a fixed-rate or hourly pay basis.
How it Works
The next step is to apply for jobs by writing a short compelling introductory cover letter geared to why your skills are a perfect fit for the specific client need described. Generic template letters seldom work. Then you bid a fixed price or hourly rate that may be the same or lower or higher than the client’s budget amount, depending on your qualifications for and/or desire to land that particular job.
Once a freelancer submits a proposal, it cannot be modified or negotiated in any way unless and until the client contacts you for an online interview. Interviews are typically conducted solely in writing on the Upwork message thread, but can include voice and and video communications as well.
Freelancers may opt to be paid by direct bank deposit or via Paypal, and Upwork collects a 20% fee. However, for any billings that exceed $500 with the same continuing client, the fee drops to 10%. Payments are made within a week of clients approving completed work. Upwork provides live phone, chat and email support to freelancers with any and all questions about its system mechanics and policies.
As with ride hailing services, Upwork clients and workers both rate each other on the platform. So freelancers should apply only for those jobs they are confident they can accomplish really well and on time. That way, clients are most likely to award coveted five star reviews that get posted on the freelancer’s profile, and will impress future prospective clients. Upwork features its top rated freelancers on the client portal so they can browse listings and reach out with invitations to interview or apply for a particular job.
It takes at least several months of sustained full or part-time effort to build up a strong reputation as a freelance writer, editor, web developer, graphic designer or social media marketer, but once you do, the jobs start flowing in. Then you can choose to work as much as you wish, meet your earnings goals, and take a break of a week or more whenever you need to, or simply feel like it. As an independent contractor, you are your own boss.