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I made $100,000 on Upwork. Here are my tips for freelancing success.

  • Chad Wyatt, 31, is a content marketer and digital nomad in France who made $100,000 on Upwork.
  • He says there is some flexibility, but to be successful you need to put in the regular time and effort.
  • Here is the story of his career, told to the writer Perri Ormont Blumberg.

This narrated essay is based on a conversation with Chad Wyatt, a 31-year-old content marketer in Chaillac, France. The insider verified his earnings with documentation. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

I started my career as operational support in Her Majesty’s Prison Service in the UK, where I am originally from. This role involved various tasks to keep the prison running smoothly every day, including security checks, camera operation, ground patrols, night patrols and drug searches. Then I worked as a senior department head in a private hospital.

I started working for my bachelor’s degree in business and marketing in 2018, and from 2019 I built my career and my freelance businesses, focusing on digital marketing and more specifically search engine optimization , or SEO.

I joined Upwork in October 2018 while still working in the hospital and planning to leave my job after Christmas that year to travel. I was looking for jobs you could do online and came across the Upwork platform. I didn’t know anything when I signed up and started applying for projects until I landed one.

Since then, I’ve been able to travel the world for four years, live where I want, and earn more money than any job I’ve ever had thanks to Upwork alone.

At first, getting used to the platform was tricky

Getting started online without advice or experience is difficult, and even more so now. I spent time learning how clients communicated by refining cover letters and proposals to see which garnered the best responses, which projects had the most activity, and what methods were most effective in landing a project. .

I started by offering content-based services. This involved short writing assignments such as blog posts, proofreading, keyword research, copy editing, Airbnb listing descriptions, and product descriptions. I then started spending over five hours a day learning SEO and testing methods on my personal websites to develop new skills. I used YouTube, podcasts, Google documentation, leading guides like Ahrefs and Search Engine Journal, and news articles as resources.

My services are now similar to when I started, except that I offer a deeper knowledge of SEO and am a more experienced copywriter, which allows me to charge more for my services.

My hourly rate started at $20 an hour and is now $40-$70 an hour. Each contract is different and hourly rates are negotiated separately with each client.

I spend more than 80 hours a week on Upwork

It’s a daily job to achieve a high level of income and it requires juggling multiple clients and working long hours.

I work on my longer term projects during the day and on occasional short term projects in the evenings and weekends. I changed my availability settings for what I offer so I can prioritize what’s on my slate.

In total, I’ve made over $100,000 on Upwork since I started in 2018. Mid-2021 is when I really started focusing on growth. When I started, I didn’t earn much, so almost $70,000 has been earned from last April to now. My average monthly income is between $4,000 and $6,000 depending on the projects I decide to undertake.

Upwork is my main source of income, but I have my place in other work around the platform. I have clients that I’ve found through LinkedIn, Facebook, and word-of-mouth referrals, and I also work on those projects evenings and weekends.

There is some flexibility on Upwork, but if you regularly work with clients like me, there are set deadlines and times to work. I work regularly from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday. Then the other client deadlines will be weekly, so I work that into my schedule whenever possible. There is a common misconception in self-employment that work is flexible and can be done alongside “everyday life”. However, to be successful, you need to put in regular time and effort.

The best advice I can give is to work on customer communication

Many freelancers use templates and send one-word responses to clients, but that doesn’t get you hired.

When I started, I spent time understanding what clients were looking for and how they communicated, and went above and beyond to demonstrate that I was the right person for the job by providing a comprehensive project proposal. , thus facilitating their hiring process. I’ve had communication issues with clients before, so to avoid that, I now assess right at the beginning and try to understand if there’s a miscommunication before the project even begins. This way, I can modify the way I communicate to reduce friction after being hired.

Optimizing your profile is also essential. I used to have a boring wall of text with no keywords and nothing that stood out. Then I added emojis, a captivating two-sentence intro, a highlight of my accolades, testimonials, and a cover photo where I look natural and professional.

Adding keywords helps you appear in “freelance recommendations”, when the client invites people to the project. I also recommend adding a video because it lets customers see who you are and adds a human element to the process.

Another piece of advice: don’t give up. The freelance market is very competitive. You need to compete with lower rates to get started and build reputation and reviews. It may take time to land your first project, but many people give up before that point. Spend time learning the process, the algorithm, and what works and what doesn’t, and tweak that in your favor.

A common mistake people make is to treat the platform as a get-rich-quick scheme or side hustle.

I would advise people who are serious about freelancing to use Upwork, but not people who just want to work an extra Saturday. For those who want extra cash, understand that hard work and effort has to go on for a long time before you reach a comfortable stage.

Another mistake people make is relaxing once they’ve found their first client. At this point, you should continue your momentum and try to attract as many customers as possible. Ask your former or current client if there are other projects to work on or people they know, keep applying for projects even when you are working on existing projects, and share your profile on groups of social media or forums such as Facebook and LinkedIn to gain visibility.

Are you a freelancer or business owner who wants to share your story? Email Lauryn Haas at lhaas@insider.com.

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