Back in 2016, I recommitted myself to writing and creating content online. One of the best sources of income and work online has been Upwork. If you’ve never heard of Upwork, it’s an online platform for freelancers to find clients, and a marketplace for clients to connect with freelancers. Freelancers offer all types of services on Upwork from editing and writing, to graphic design and legal work. I have found it to be a great place to work and earn money online as a blogger.
Building a traditional blog and earning an income from it takes time. I have been blogging off and on since 2008, and I now firsthand that affiliate income and other sources of income that require a lot of traffic can take a very long time to realize. On the other hand, freelancing is a way to quickly earn an income online, and it is probably one of the best ways along with affiliate marketing and creating your own products. Instead of waiting for passive income, you can quickly create an income online by offering freelance writing services as a blogger.
I know that your ultimate goal may be to be in total control of your own blog and earn an income from it, or to work on your own projects full time. But, if you have responsibilities like do, it’s important to earn an income from our passions if we want to pursue them full-time. So, I’m going to share how I make my income as a freelance writer and blogger on Upwork, and how you can, too.
Offering Writing and Editing Services Online
For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to talk about how to make money as a freelance writer, or blogger, since the two skills are very closely related. I actually made my first few dollars from writing online as an editor, before I became a freelance writer.
Back in the day (2008/2009), I was just getting into blogging and online forums. There was a particular forum that I spent a lot of time on. One day, an author posted snippets from her book for free for us to review.I took a look at the book, and the information was great, but the book was riddled with errors.
I sent the author a private message, pointed out a few errors, and offered to edit the book for her for a small fee. She happily agreed, and I proceeded to edit the book. She sent me a payment via Paypal. I learned two important lessons from that interaction – 1) There was money to be made online through writing and editing and 2) Don’t charge by the page; instead, charge by the word or by the hour. I had initially quoted the author based on the number of pages, so she cleverly condensed the pages! Oh, well!
That work brought in extra income that I desperately needed at the time, since I was studying for the bar exam. I started advertising editing services on my blog, but I didn’t get many more hits. At the time, I didn’t know anything about targeted marketing, and I wasn’t really a “salesperson,” so I didn’t know how to go out and find clients.
Thankfully, when I got serious about working as a freelancer, I discovered that there were platforms that connected me with clients and vice versa. As long as you have a marketable freelance skill, you can join one of these networks, advertise your services, and make money as a freelance writer, a blogger, or through another skill.
How I Set Up My Profile to Stand Out as a Blogger on Upwork
A lot of writers are not naturally marketers and salespeople. I’m certainly not naturally a salesperson. I’m an introvert and it can be hard for me to market my services. But, in order to make money online through writing, you have to offer your writing services to clients that need your help. Before you get ready to offer your writing services, put yourself in the mindset of being a business person who has a service to offer. What do you need to do, say, or offer to connect with clients and get them to pay for your writing?
There are online marketplaces that connect businesses and individuals who need freelance work with writers who offer services. The marketplace that I have had the most success with is Upwork.com.
There are other services, such as Fiverr, and you can also use Craigslist, or even advertise on your own website or social media. But, if you’re like me and you want clients readily available, secured payments, and the ability to make your profile available for clients to find you and pay you a reasonable fee, then Upwork is a good place to market your freelance writing services.
I joined Upwork and wasn’t quite sure what to do to make money. It was very easy to sign up and set up my profile, but clients weren’t going to immediately come to me because I didn’t have any history or reviews on the site. I had to do a bit of work to attract clients to me, and I also had to pursue clients who had jobs posted on the site. If you want to make money on Upwork as a freelance writer, here are a few steps to take to make yourself stand out from the competition.
Tip #1 – Read A Freelancer’s Guide to Upwork
Although it may be tempting to jump right in, I recommend that you take a few minutes to read the guidelines written by Upwork in A Freelancer’s Guide to Upwork. This guide will let you know if the platform is right for you (so you won’t waste your time), and it will help you understand how to submit and accept proposals on Upwork, and how to complete a contract.
The guide also explains the service fees that Upwork charges, so you can factor those in when you accept an offer or set your rates. Upwork does charge a percentage of the fees paid by clients in exchange for your use of the Upwork platform. These fees may change from time to time, so be sure to read each contract carefully before you agree to do the work.
Upwork is free to join and it’s free to look jobs. However, there is a system based on “connects.” You have to have connects (similar to points) to apply for a job. It’s actually very simple and I have never run out of connects, but I also signed up for a membership plan, so I can have my own unique URL for my Upwork platform. It’s not necessary if you’re just starting out, but it’s worth getting a paid membership to have your own URL, more “connects,” and to have your profile seen and recommended more.
Tip #2- Upload a Photograph to Your Profile
Clients and companies are taking a risk when they hire someone on the internet. They will click on your profile and try to gather information about your qualifications, experience, and ratings on previous jobs. In order to ensure that you are considered for as many jobs as possible, it helps to add a photo to your profile. I write beauty articles on Upwork primarily, so I make sure that my profile picture is one that has my hair styled and it shows me wearing makeup and enhancing my beauty.
If I were to write about a topic like the great outdoors or hiking, I might have a picture showing me in the woods or wilderness. It’s up to you, but it’s important that you look like a real, relatable person, and that your face can clearly be seen in the photograph. If you are afraid of sharing your identity, then freelance writing on the internet might not be the best job for you. Unless you are working under an agency, you’ll have to reveal your identity and market yourself to gain clients.
They have also added the option to add a video to your profile. I recently started working again on Upwork after a break, so I updated my profile, including my picture, and I have also shot a video that I will be uploading once I finish editing it.
Tip #3 – Pick a Specialty
When I first started out on Upwork, I was applying for different types of jobs that looked interesting, but I wasn’t getting any hits. I had experience beauty blogging and vlogging, so I decided to make that my focus. I created a portfolio (more on that later), that showcased my specialty (beauty blogging and articles), and it wasn’t long before someone took a chance on me. After I established a relationship with that client, his company hired me to write dozens of beauty articles and product reviews.
Once, I was selected to write about outdoor products, and it seemed like it would be “easy.” In reality, I didn’t know a lot about outdoor products, so it was pretty tough. Unlike when I was writing beauty products and styling tool articles, I had to do a lot of research to familiarize myself with the outdoor products, terminology, and so on. I learned my lesson, and now I try to focus. Of course, I can write about more than beauty. I also write general lifestyle articles, and I write on topics like the law, human resources, personal development and, of course, writing, but I make sure that if I accept a job, I can complete it successfully.
Think about your unique skills and expertise. Did you spend years in retail or marketing? Maybe you can write sales copy and product descriptions (yes, people are looking for that). Are you a licensed counselor? You can write self-help articles. Do you like to go fishing or hunting? You can write about the great outdoors and survival products. Are you a spiritual person or a healer? You can write about religion or similar topics. You would be surprised at how many different types of content are needed.
Even beyond writing, there is a need for other types of freelance work, like social media content creation, photography, video and photo editing, logo creation, and more. Whatever skills you are using for your own hobbies or your day job can likely translate to freelance work if you focus your efforts.
Tip #4 – Write a Compelling Biography
This is one of the hardest parts of the process. You want to write a professional biography that tells your story and describes the unique skills that you have to offer. As an example, I’ve included a sample biography that I wrote for a fictional freelance writer (it’s written in first person, as if I was the writer). Do not – I REPEAT – do not copy my example or anyone else’s biography word for word. Use examples like this one for inspiration to write a biography that is unique to your skills. Remember, writing and other forms of freelance work require creative skill. If you can’t write unique content for yourself, how will you write for others?
Hello, my name is Jane and I’m an outdoor enthusiast, turned nature writer and 5th grade science teacher! I’ve written for major publications, including Outdoors Today, and Woman Scientist, and I specialize in writing about outdoor activities and adventures.
I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Archeology, with a minor in Geology. I’m a certified Pre-K through 6th grade teacher with 6 years of experience teaching. In my spare time, I work as a writer and I also teach classes on rock-climbing and cycling.
I would like to help your company or brand by breaking down complex topics about nature, science, and outdoor activities into entertaining and easy-to-read articles and blog posts. I also offer technical writing and editing services, and I can provide nature photography to coincide with different writing topics.
If you’re looking for an outdoor or nature enthusiast with a passion for science and the adventure, consider partnering with me for your next writing project. My portfolio is available for review, and I look forward to working with you.
As you can see from the sample biography, I started out by trying to “hook” the client with an introduction that describes the writer and what she writes about. Next, I included some of the writer’s formal qualifications and previous works. Then, I explained to the client how the writer can provide value. Lastly, I referred to the writer’s portfolio, and included a call to action to remind clients to hire her!
You can use this framework to create a biography that gets you booked – and paid!
Tip #5 – Create and Upload a Portfolio to Your Profile
The last tip I have to help you stand out and get hired on Upwork is to take the time to create a portfolio. The first time that I did this, I was at a complete loss. I had written lots of different types of articles and content over the years, but I had never put together a writing portfolio. The process of putting together a writing portfolio to help me get hired and make money on Upwork was really daunting. But, now that I know how it works, I can help.
Think about what types of jobs you want. You can browse the jobs section of the website and look for what types of work people are hiring for. Do they want articles, blog posts, or essays written in a specific format? Do they want pictures and videos to accompany the posts? After you review the types of posts that you would like to be hired to write, mirror those posts in your portfolio if you don’t already have written works that match what clients are looking for.
I created beauty articles, product reviews, and similar works for my portfolio. It’s also important to regularly update your portfolio to reflect your growth as a writer and the current needs of clients. In addition to, or instead of a portfolio, you can also write a resume or provide links to projects that you’ve completed. The most important thing is to make sure that clients can see examples of your work so that they feel confident in hiring you.
How I Earn Income as a Blogger and Freelance Writer on Upwork
So, now that I’ve shared tips on how to get started, and how to set up your profile, you probably want to hear more about the money. I earn money on Upwork as a freelance writer by writing beauty articles and product reviews. I also write blog posts for businesses and brands that need content for their websites and social media sites. Some brands will credit the article to you under your name, and you can add it to your portfolio. Other brands do not attribute the post to an author.
Here’s how it works. When you join Upwork, you can set a rate that you want to be paid, hourly, but that rate can be negotiated when you agree to complete a contract. Then, when you either apply for a job or are contacted to apply for a job, you make an offer for the project. The rate for the project can be negotiated, and once the project is agreed upon and you are hired, you agree to the terms of a contract, the rate, and the fees to be paid to Upwork. You then complete and submit the work in the time allotted, and you get paid!
When you first start out, you may not be able to demand high rates. If you don’t have any reviews, you can take a low-paying job (or a few low-paying jobs) just to get some experience and get positive reviews. No matter how much or how little you are paid, be sure to do your best work so that your clients will be satisfied and write a good review. I only apply for jobs where the client’s payment method is verified, and I prefer to work with clients who have successfully booked freelancers and paid them. Clients have reviews, too, so check out the reviews on a client’s profile before starting a contract.
Once you gain experience, you can raise your rates, or stick to your desired hourly rate, flat-rate, or per-word rate. When you decide which jobs to apply for, be sure to apply for jobs that meet your pay requirements, and pay strict attention to fees. Once you agree to the contract terms, and complete the work to the satisfaction of your clients, you’ll get paid! It’s a simple as that. In my first two months writing for Upwork, I made over $600 by writing a couple of articles a week after work. If I put in a full-time effort, I’m sure that I could make a full-time income on the platform. Today, after a long break from freelance writing, I used my own tips to refresh my profile on Upwork and I was almost immediately booked for a job. These tips work!
If you’re interested in becoming a full-time freelance writer, or even if you want to make a part-time income using freelance writing as your side hustle, you should give Upwork a try using my tips to get started. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can advance your career as a freelance writer and blogger.
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