HEY! Welcome to my “All Things Pinterest and Pinterest Virtual Assistant” blog! I’m so glad you’re here! A quick blurb about me: I’m an 18 year corporate hospitality veteran turned online business owner. I woke up one morning and decided I was done wasting time working for someone else’s dream – I was ready to tackle my own. And let me tell you, I LOVE it here! If you’re new to the blog, here are some other Pinterest/Pinterest VA posts that might be of interest to you. I’m so glad you’re here!
When I decided to become a Pinterest Virtual Assistant, one of my top questions was “where in the world do I find clients?”. If you’ve done any research on the topic, you’ll find that the number one tip from most online educators is that Facebook Groups is the way to go. Show up, network, be helpful, but never “salesy”. But as someone who is building my side hustle while still working a full time job, the Facebook thing didn’t work for me. I wasn’t able to be online all day and by the time I would see a potential opportunity, there would be hundreds of comments, making it too hard to be seen.
Enter Upwork. If you’ve considered freelancing at some point, chances are, you’ve come across it. I actually learned about this platform in one of those Facebook groups, so I guess they’re not all bad:). But GIRL, it can be HARD to gain traction and get hired when you’re just starting out which is another reason I think Upwork is a great place to start.
For many, Getting hired on Upwork may feel just as difficult as Facebook so I want to tell you exactly how I got hired within my first week as an official freelancer. Are you ready?
How to get jobs on Upwork with no experience – My Story
My first profile on Upwork was all over the place! Was I an event manager or virtual assistant? I had the experience and education to support event and travel management, but nothing for virtual assistant.
The first job I was hired for was assisting a blogger with time management, scheduling and overall time blocking her day based on her regular tasks. Were these specific skills listed in my profile? Nope. But I was able to create a cover letter capturing WHY I was the person for the job (18 years in event planning, adhering to deadlines and creating strict timelines) and HOW I would be able to assist her with time management (time blocking, like task organizing, daily themes). It’s also important to note that in this instance, the hourly rate I proposed was higher than what the client had budgeted! But because I was able to effectively tell her why I was the right person for the job, she reached out and hired me anyway!
When I decided to niche down and become a Pinterest Manager, I obviously had no Upwork job history to support it. For this reason, I chose to bid jobs on the low side at $20-$25/hour. The first Pinterest job I was hired for was monthly management for a men’s fashion blog. I bid an hourly rate slightly higher than what he was budgeted for, but because my cover letter was created with his goals in mind, he still reached out and started a conversation. After speaking with him I learned that his overall monthly budget was $100. This is very low for Pinterest Monthly Management so I had a decision to make: take this client on at a less desirable rate to gain experience and exposure OR turn him down and wait for something that paid more.
Ultimately, I decided to take the job so I could 1) gain experience and confidence in Pinterest Management and 2) gain additional Upwork exposure in the niche of Pinterest Management.
I know a lot of people who would disagree with this method and while I also preach “know your worth” there’s something to be said for putting yourself out there, taking messy action, and getting started! In my scenario, this was a risk that worked. After a month and a half of working with this blogger, another fashion blogger INVITED me to submit a proposal for her job! I was ultimately hired which gave me additional credibility to get hired for my third job via Upwork! Heck yeah!
Getting started on Upwork the right way
If you haven’t been hired yet on Upwork, it can be challenging to get that first job. Especially if you are like me and are starting something brand spankin new with ZERO work history or education to show for it. In these cases, I suggest finding something you know you can do, maybe something on the peripheral of your preferred niche, and start submitting cover letters. And while it’s ultimately a personal decision, you can bid lower than the client’s budget to try and get a little experience under your belt. Once you get hired for a job or two, Upwork ranks your profile differently, you show up in more searches, and clients will ultimately have more confidence in hiring you. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s start at the beginning and walk through all the steps you need to get hired on Upwork!
Step 1 – Create a killer Upwork profile (check approval process on Upwork)
Think of your Upwork profile as you would your LinkedIn Profile. Be sure to highlight any work experience, even if you’re starting something totally new! Including any past work experience and education gives your profile more credibility and tells potential clients, ‘hey, you can trust me!”. For example, as I mentioned above, when I started out, my first profile was geared more towards event management and travel planning since that was my background. But my first job was assisting someone with time management and time blocking. You never know!
Additionally, you’ll want to showcase the skills you wish to be hired for. In my profile, skills listed are Pinterest, Pinterest Marketing, Virtual Assistant, Social Media Management and so on.
Don’t forget a profile picture! This is super important! Clients hiring on Upwork want someone they can trust and a photo can do just that by lending credibility to you and your brand. A good photo should be a close up image with minimal background noise and always in good lighting. No photos from spring break with your bestie, please!
Lastly, check out top performing profiles in your niche. Don’t copy but emulate how they sell their services. I utilized aspects from a few profiles I liked that included aspects of both Virtual Assistance and Event Management.
Step 2- Upwork Connects and how to buy them
What are Upwork connects?
Upwork connects are credits that allow you to submit proposals on Upwork freelance jobs. Each job is assigned a certain number of connects and once purchased, they are added to your account. The maximum number of connects used to purchase a job can vary depending on size and scope of the project. The current maximum number of connects that would be assigned to a job is 6.
How to buy Upwork Connects
You’ll be able to purchase your connects under the settings section of your profile, then “Membership & Connects” on the left hand side bar menu. Upwork connects are currently $0.15 each and can be purchased in bundles of 10, 20, 40, 60 and 80. Your connects balance is shown on the right hand side bar of the “Find Work” page as you search for jobs.
Step 3 – Start searching for jobs!
Now that your profile is ready, it’s time to get hired! All the steps up to this point are crucial for success. The following is my exact strategy to applying and getting hired on Upwork:
Read the entire job description. If it’s vague or lacking information that you need to submit a proposal, save your connects and move on to the next. See below for good vs. bad examples.
I would consider this an example of a job lacking enough information to submit an applicable proposal. What do I need to do to help you with the 5k? Do you need marketing support? Do you need a DJ hired? Do I need to sell and bake cookies or OMG, DO I NEED TO RUN?! I’m kidding and serious at the same time. How do I know if I’m a good candidate for this job if I don’t know what you’re looking for?
I love this job posting. It tells me the requirements right off the bat (4+ years paid experience), the working environment and necessary technical skills.
Check the number of proposals
If there have been 50 proposals already submitted, your chances of getting hired are slim. Remember the saying “the early bird gets the worm”?! That’s so true here! The lower the number or proposals, the better your chances for being hired. Aim for 0-10 or 10-20.
Check their budget
Here’s where you need to know your worth and make a decision based on experience. If you want to make $40 an hour on a job whose budget is $20, then you best be sure your profile, experience and proposal cover letter show your worth! You need to let that client know WHY you’re worth $40 and why it would be worth their while to hire you, even if you’re out of their price range. It’s a risk because the buyer could only look at the cost and eliminate you based on that alone, but I say if it looks like your dream job, GO FOR IT GIRL!
Pro tip: When you find a job you like, click the heart icon to save it to your favorites. You’re gonna need some time for this. I like to batch my work so I search for jobs, add several that I like to my favorites, THEN I go back and pitch all at the same time. I find this helps me be more efficient and I can get into the sales mode rather than switching back and forth between searching and selling. Try to save at least 10 at a time when you’re searching.
Keep in mind when you’re proposing that Upwork does take a cut of your proceeds. Currently the sliding scale is as follows:
- 20% for the first $500 billed with the client
- 10% for lifetime billings with the client between $500.01 and $10,000
- 5% for lifetime billings with the client that exceed $10,000
When you’re just starting out, 20% can seem like a lot. And there are plenty of negative reviews out there that say just that. However, when you start freelancing, people don’t magically stumble upon your website or Facebook page. If you want to make a living as a potential freelancer, you need to work to find clients. And for that, Upwork is a great starting solution. Overtime, and after you build trust and credibility with your client, you can discuss moving your contract off the Upwork platform to avoid the additional fees. I generally start this conversation after 3 months of work with my clients.
Step 4 – Submit your Upwork Cover Letter
Now that you have several jobs saved to your favorites, it’s time to apply!
Again, make sure to read the entire job description. This time, look for any keywords that you might be able to use in your cover letter. For example, the title of one of the jobs I was hired for was “Looking for a Pinterest Rockstart to Help Us Take Our Business to the Next Level!”. So my proposal started out as “Hi! Pinterest Rockstar here! I would love to be considered for your position!” See how I utilized her words into my cover letter? I continued to do this throughout the proposal.
I also like to look at their job history on Upwork. If they’ve hired in the past, their reviews may include their name. If so, I like to use it in my initial address to them. This shows the client that I not only read through their job posting, but I looked at their entire profile and did my research!
Propose often!! This is my NUMBER ONE tip! Submit proposals and cover letters as often as possible! Each time I was hired on Upwork, I was submitting anywhere from 3-5 proposals PER DAY! You read that right. Ultimately, it’s a numbers game. The more you propose, the higher the chance you’ll be hired.
KEY TAKE AWAYS for how I got hired on Upwork within 1 week with no experience
- Follow the steps to create a killer profile
- Find jobs with good descriptions and credible profiles
- Apply OFTEN!! My first week on the platform, I was applying a minimum of 3-5 jobs per day! It’s a numbers game y’all! The more you apply, the greater your chance of being hired.
- Consider taking jobs that might not be in your exact niche to gain experience and exposure
- Consider taking jobs at a lower rate to gain experience and exposure
- Apply for jobs when their received proposal range is low, i.e. 10-20.
Drop me a line and let me know how it’s going once you get started! Any questions or struggles, I wanna hear about it!
How do you present a portfolio? I am in technical field, so I do not have so much interesting previous projects. Like they are quite redundant. And do I have to customise my portfolio depending on the job I am targeting to get?
Btw, you gave a clear breakdown and very helpful tips for someone like me who would like to start freelancing. Thanks!
Thanks for your comment and this is a great question! I think it depends on the job. I do have a standard cover letter response for each of the services I offer but I always tailor it to match the job description – personalize it to make it feel less copy and paste. If you want to attach a portfolio, I do think that can be a standard one/two page document showing your work. It doesn’t have to be extensive, just examples of what you can do. Let me know if that helps!