Let me share 11 pro tips as a developer to help you get your first (or next) client on Upwork quickly. Let us embark on your journey of freelancing.

How to Get Your First (or Next) Client on Upwork?

Getting your first client is the most crucial step to be a freelancer on Upwork. So how one should go about getting the first client on Upwork?

There can be tons of advise others can give about what works and what doesn’t. But the first client you get with your effort on Upwork makes you believe it is not about what others achieved or said.

Now you can do it too.

Many bloggers share their Upwork success stories. As a reader, you do believe in it as well but with a pinch of salt – they have a reputation already built.

Once you have your first client, those beliefs and success stories become a reality, and you start dreaming.

Nothing significantly changes from being no clients to winning the first client, but once you have that belief, it becomes much easier to find the second client.

Your trust in your ability increases many folds.

So what does it take to get your first client on Upwork? Let me share ten tips to get your first (or next) client on Upwork.

1. Get an Approved Upwork Profile

The first thing one needs to do is get the Upwork profile approved in a niche you want to have clients.

Here is my step by step guide on what you should be doing and what you shouldn’t be doing to get your Upwork profile approved.

Even if you have an approved profile for a different set of skills, you can change them later without requiring you to get it approved again.

2. Bring Your Clients to Upwork

It isn’t as tough as it may seem to find your first client outside of Upwork within your contacts.

Here is my step by step guide to finding the first client outside of Upwork. It is a simple and easy process. Now all one needs to be doing is bring that client on Upwork.

It can also help you get your Upwork profile approved instantly.

3. Learn to Craft Proposal

The proposal is the first impression you make of your services.

It is not only essential to make a lasting professional impression, but it should be crafted perfectly for the project you are bidding to help the client build trust.

Over time you will become efficient in crafting better proposals for your niche through proposal templates. Here is my Upwork proposal template that wins me job always. Feel free to use the same format with changes as per the needs.

Even if you are using a template, make sure you understand client requirements, build prototypes if you don’t have them handy.

4. Have a Li’l Patience

If things aren’t working out, use the feedback loop. Question everything that you are doing on Upwork.

  • Does your profile (overview, expertise) match the projects you are applying for or they talk differently?
  • Does your proposal address common client questions with samples related to what the client is looking for?
  • Are you asking the right questions to your potential clients?
  • Is it that you are applying for projects in the wrong category or may need to move on to other programming languages?

Freelancing is a long-term play. Have some patience and try to work your way out. If you don’t want to be a freelancer badly, you will quit. It isn’t easy to be an individual freelancer, but it is worth the effort.

5. Sample portfolio

As a new freelancer, you may not have the reviews and feedback to back your proposal, but you can add a sample of your work to your portfolio that you may have worked previously.

Here is my way to Showcase Samples As a New Freelancer.

Apart from adding the sample of work to the portfolio, you can show these samples in your proposals which will make your proposal stand out and help build the confidence of the client to accept your bid.

Clients don’t hire the experienced freelancers only but those who can provide excellent value at a reasonable price and can complete the task on time.

6. Take a Certifications from Udemy

A decade of experience doing PHP programming as a freelancer, I keep learning. Recently I worked for a client in PhalconPHP. It was my first project in Phalcon, and I had a minimal idea about the framework but was ready to learn it.

Use Udemy to get on the learning curve with some of the programming languages like

The best part is, you can add your Udemy course completion certificates to your Upwork profile as well.

7. Hourly Rate

Many new freelancers try to keep the hourly rate at the minimum allowable value of $5 per hour.

If you value your services to be so ineffective, why will the client value them any better?

If a client has the budget to hire $20 per hour developer and needs a right mix of expertise and experience, why will they hire a person who himself doesn’t consider to be worth more than $5 per hour?

Clients don’t sort based on the price and hire the one at the top. They are looking to hire the person with needed expertise.

So never set the hourly rate at the lowest possible value. It depicts you don’t know anything. Instead of working for so small, try to learn something new to be able to charge better rates to clients.

Pro Tip: Be consistent in price. As an example, for fixed price job, if your hourly rate is $20 per hour and if you mention that you can get the job done in few hours, make sure your fixed price is justifiable to the hours. Ideally, if you are quoting for a fixed rate, avoid the hours you may work on it.

8. Riches are in the Niche

You can’t be a programmer for everything under the sun.

Any search for a PHP freelancer on Upwork and you will find programmers with expertise in multiple programming languages.

get first client on Upwork

As a client, if you are willing to hire a PHP developer, will you consider them?

You have to choose one and go deep within it instead of going wide with more programming languages.

9. Go For Recent Projects

Apply for projects posted recently instead of trying to dig old projects and send proposals to them.

If you send too many proposals without client response, your Upwork can suspend accounts as well. So be careful.

For old projects client may not be actively looking for somebody or may have found someone else on some other freelancing site. Whatever be the reason, try to apply for jobs that are posted recently instead of trying to dig deeper.

10. Sleepover your proposals

Don’t wake up one day to apply for ten jobs.

Be consistent and set a maximum daily limit on the number of proposals you want to be writing.

One to two proposal per day is good enough.

You won’t have the number of Upwork connects needed to apply to more than one or two projects consistently. You don’t need to apply to many projects either.

If clients aren’t responding to your proposals, sending more proposals won’t help. You need to look at either improving the proposal, the profile, more samples, etc.

Allow yourself time between proposals to see how clients respond to them.

Accept rejection because it happens to everyone. Even my proposals after a decade of experience also get rejected. It is part and parcel of being a freelancer.

11. Understand how Upwork works

When you want to be working as a freelancer on Upwork, you need to know how Upwork works?

As an example, projects have expertise level that the client wants. As a new freelancer, you should apply for beginner and intermediate expertise projects. If you keep applying for expert level, your proposals may consistently get rejected.

Apart from requirements for expertise, there can be many other requirements like they are

  • Looking for a freelancer in a specific geo
  • Have completed certain tests
  • Have a certain level of fluency in English.
  • Be part of certain Upwork groups
  • Have certain job success rate
  • Have completed certain hours of billable work.

Check out all the requirements and never apply if you don’t satisfy all the criteria. Even if you apply, your proposal ends up in the list of do not match criteria and is more likely to be ignored.

Bonus Tip: Respond Quickly

Faster turnaround time helps build reputation and trust with the client to help you close the deal with a client faster.

The response shouldn’t be faster only before you are hired but try to respond faster even after the client has hired you. It is a perfect way to convert clients into long-term clients.

Try to respond to the messages from clients as soon as humanly possible.

Use an Upwork App on your mobile to be able to respond to proposals faster.

How to Get Your First (or Next) Client on Upwork?

Getting your first client is the most crucial step to be a freelancer on Upwork. So how one should go about getting the first client on Upwork?

There can be tons of advise others can give about what works and what doesn’t. But the first client you get with your effort on Upwork makes you believe it is not about what others achieved or said.

Now you can do it too.

Many bloggers share their Upwork success stories. As a reader, you do believe in it as well but with a pinch of salt – they have a reputation already built.

Once you have your first client, those beliefs and success stories become a reality, and you start dreaming.

Nothing significantly changes from being no clients to winning the first client, but once you have that belief, it becomes much easier to find the second client.

Your trust in your ability increases many folds.

So what does it take to get your first client on Upwork? Let me share ten tips to get your first (or next) client on Upwork.

1. Get an Approved Upwork Profile

The first thing one needs to do is get the Upwork profile approved in a niche you want to have clients.

Here is my step by step guide on what you should be doing and what you shouldn’t be doing to get your Upwork profile approved.

Even if you have an approved profile for a different set of skills, you can change them later without requiring you to get it approved again.

2. Bring Your Clients to Upwork

It isn’t as tough as it may seem to find your first client outside of Upwork within your contacts.

Here is my step by step guide to finding the first client outside of Upwork. It is a simple and easy process. Now all one needs to be doing is bring that client on Upwork.

It can also help you get your Upwork profile approved instantly.

3. Learn to Craft Proposal

The proposal is the first impression you make of your services.

It is not only essential to make a lasting professional impression, but it should be crafted perfectly for the project you are bidding to help the client build trust.

Over time you will become efficient in crafting better proposals for your niche through proposal templates. Here is my Upwork proposal template that wins me job always. Feel free to use the same format with changes as per the needs.

Even if you are using a template, make sure you understand client requirements, build prototypes if you don’t have them handy.

4. Have a Li’l Patience

If things aren’t working out, use the feedback loop. Question everything that you are doing on Upwork.

  • Does your profile (overview, expertise) match the projects you are applying for or they talk differently?
  • Does your proposal address common client questions with samples related to what the client is looking for?
  • Are you asking the right questions to your potential clients?
  • Is it that you are applying for projects in the wrong category or may need to move on to other programming languages?

Freelancing is a long-term play. Have some patience and try to work your way out. If you don’t want to be a freelancer badly, you will quit. It isn’t easy to be an individual freelancer, but it is worth the effort.

5. Sample portfolio

As a new freelancer, you may not have the reviews and feedback to back your proposal, but you can add a sample of your work to your portfolio that you may have worked previously.

Here is my way to Showcase Samples As a New Freelancer.

Apart from adding the sample of work to the portfolio, you can show these samples in your proposals which will make your proposal stand out and help build the confidence of the client to accept your bid.

Clients don’t hire the experienced freelancers only but those who can provide excellent value at a reasonable price and can complete the task on time.

6. Take a Certifications from Udemy

A decade of experience doing PHP programming as a freelancer, I keep learning. Recently I worked for a client in PhalconPHP. It was my first project in Phalcon, and I had a minimal idea about the framework but was ready to learn it.

Use Udemy to get on the learning curve with some of the programming languages like

The best part is, you can add your Udemy course completion certificates to your Upwork profile as well.

7. Hourly Rate

Many new freelancers try to keep the hourly rate at the minimum allowable value of $5 per hour.

If you value your services to be so ineffective, why will the client value them any better?

If a client has the budget to hire $20 per hour developer and needs a right mix of expertise and experience, why will they hire a person who himself doesn’t consider to be worth more than $5 per hour?

Clients don’t sort based on the price and hire the one at the top. They are looking to hire the person with needed expertise.

So never set the hourly rate at the lowest possible value. It depicts you don’t know anything. Instead of working for so small, try to learn something new to be able to charge better rates to clients.

Pro Tip: Be consistent in price. As an example, for fixed price job, if your hourly rate is $20 per hour and if you mention that you can get the job done in few hours, make sure your fixed price is justifiable to the hours. Ideally, if you are quoting for a fixed rate, avoid the hours you may work on it.

8. Riches are in the Niche

You can’t be a programmer for everything under the sun.

Any search for a PHP freelancer on Upwork and you will find programmers with expertise in multiple programming languages.

get first client on Upwork

As a client, if you are willing to hire a PHP developer, will you consider them?

You have to choose one and go deep within it instead of going wide with more programming languages.

9. Go For Recent Projects

Apply for projects posted recently instead of trying to dig old projects and send proposals to them.

If you send too many proposals without client response, your Upwork can suspend accounts as well. So be careful.

For old projects client may not be actively looking for somebody or may have found someone else on some other freelancing site. Whatever be the reason, try to apply for jobs that are posted recently instead of trying to dig deeper.

10. Sleepover your proposals

Don’t wake up one day to apply for ten jobs.

Be consistent and set a maximum daily limit on the number of proposals you want to be writing.

One to two proposal per day is good enough.

You won’t have the number of Upwork connects needed to apply to more than one or two projects consistently. You don’t need to apply to many projects either.

If clients aren’t responding to your proposals, sending more proposals won’t help. You need to look at either improving the proposal, the profile, more samples, etc.

Allow yourself time between proposals to see how clients respond to them.

Accept rejection because it happens to everyone. Even my proposals after a decade of experience also get rejected. It is part and parcel of being a freelancer.

11. Understand how Upwork works

When you want to be working as a freelancer on Upwork, you need to know how Upwork works?

As an example, projects have expertise level that the client wants. As a new freelancer, you should apply for beginner and intermediate expertise projects. If you keep applying for expert level, your proposals may consistently get rejected.

Apart from requirements for expertise, there can be many other requirements like they are

  • Looking for a freelancer in a specific geo
  • Have completed certain tests
  • Have a certain level of fluency in English.
  • Be part of certain Upwork groups
  • Have certain job success rate
  • Have completed certain hours of billable work.

Check out all the requirements and never apply if you don’t satisfy all the criteria. Even if you apply, your proposal ends up in the list of do not match criteria and is more likely to be ignored.

Bonus Tip: Respond Quickly

Faster turnaround time helps build reputation and trust with the client to help you close the deal with a client faster.

The response shouldn’t be faster only before you are hired but try to respond faster even after the client has hired you. It is a perfect way to convert clients into long-term clients.

Try to respond to the messages from clients as soon as humanly possible.

Use an Upwork App on your mobile to be able to respond to proposals faster.

Note: The Upwork app isn’t a substitute for the website. The app doesn’t have the option of creating a profile and other kinds of stuff. So you can’t take up the complete being a freelancer on Upwork using your smartphone. It is best to use for responding to messages. I don’t even recommend using an app for sending proposals. One can use the app to reject invites, but for submitting a formal proposal, I still recommended and using the website.

Note: The Upwork app isn’t a substitute for the website. The app doesn’t have the option of creating a profile and other kinds of stuff. So you can’t take up the complete being a freelancer on Upwork using your smartphone. It is best to use for responding to messages. I don’t even recommend using an app for sending proposals. One can use the app to reject invites, but for submitting a formal proposal, I still recommended and using the website.

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