Did you know a freelancer on Upwork made $2M+? (Yes, that’s 2 Million Dollars)

Well, he made that huge amount of money working from home.

I do not like the expression of “9 to 5 slavery” for a job; for even slaves have some happy moments, but the job is just a clockwork: nothing but a tic-tac that ends when your life ends.

Or perhaps not! Perhaps there, right there, beyond the dark clouds of doubt, exists the silver lining of your financial life. Some people call it real estate fluke, some people name it .com jackpot and I call it “freelancing”.

A Story.

Just two years ago, Judith: a single mom of two was simply not able to catch up with deadlines and the nagging SOPs, and now she’s working as a virtual assistant and making more money in a month that she ever made in a year.


She did not stumble upon some internet course or tutorials that proved to be the goldmine in a gold rush, all she did was start selling shovels because that is what actually works in a gold rush.

Judith was lucky to get sick and tired of clockwork and to start looking for smarter options.

Judith has been working as a secretary/assistant since the day she left college and in the course of her duty, unknowingly and slowly, she acquired all the skills required for a personal assistant.

Those skills included Microsoft Office proficiency, internet literacy, presentation skills, drafting and similar other skills.

Now she makes a $20/hour living only by offering virtual assistance to big-shot company heads with offices from USA to UK to Gulf and Australia.

And this is just one example; there are a lot of other skilled people: writers, voiceover artists, graphic designers, SEO experts and programmers etc. earning their bread and butter at Upwork.

And this is what this guide is all about. If you read this guide till the end, not for nothing, you will have an idea about how to start off with Upwork and how to scale success on this one of the best freelance markets.

Alright, enough chitchat about how freelancing can make your dreams come true. Let us focus on the secrets and tricks of the trade that will put you on your way to the glory on Upwork.

Why Upwork

So, first and foremost is the question of “Why Upwork?” I mean there are a lot of other freelance networks around and some of those are older than that times of Elance and ODesk (merged into Upwork).

For example “Freelancer”! This has been the oldest and biggest player for many years, and let me admit it, that those who get lucky with Freelancer, do not have time for marketplaces like Upwork or Fiverr.

Speaking of Fiverr, let us admit that the work online trickles down to Fiverr just like water always finds its level, while on other freelance markets, most of the sellers never go beyond bidding and proposals.

Why I love Upwork?”

Upwork offers better remuneration and better profile to its freelancers

Why is Upwork Different From Other Freelancing Platforms?

Yet, Upwork is the forum of choice for a person who’d like to grow from a meek freelancer to an agency, and here are the reasons why:

  1. Upwork allows you to grow into an agency and hire freelancers over Upwork as a team. This shows that UpWork is about serious freelance work and this is the reasons, why UpWork profiles are not only one-man show. It is easy to find 4 to 5 figure (in $) graphics design, SEO or coding companies on Upwork. We’ll be sharing some actionalble tips at the end of the post, so keep reading.
  2. There is no doubt that it is easy to get work on Fiverr, but those are mostly $5 orders (penny stocks?). Upwork is like Nasdaq of freelance world. Blue Chip companies come to Upwork to hire the best freelancers.
  3. As it has been mentioned, big companies and businesses, prefer Upwork and this is why freelancers on Upwork earn more. Same goes for the profile; if you have served a good number of businesses on Upwork, [su_highlight background=”#fd7448″ color=”#000000″ class=””]your profile is worthier than the profile of a seller on Fiverr[/su_highlight].
  4. The profile and portfolio options on Upwork cannot be compared to those on Freelancer or Fiverr. You maintain a detailed profile, you get to showcase all the skills and credentials, and on top of everything, you get to show the results of the tests that you take to prove your skills.
  5. Unlike Fiverr, Upwork does not give a hall pass to the buyers to come and buy your time and skills anytime they want. There is a decent proposal system, which is not only similar to a real-world business scenario.
  6. Upwork’s rules of engagement with prospects are not as dictatorial towards or skeptic of freelancers. The latter has very strict rules of engagement, which include not initiating any discussion out of the freelance channel.

In case of overall balance between buyer and seller and self-respect of freelancers too, Upwork seems to be the best option. You would hear from a lot of Fiverr sellers as to how they lost their years old accounts with many reviews to mere speculations, assumptions and fears of Fiverr CS. On UpWork, chances of losing your account permanently are little to no.

Is Freelancing on Upwork worth my time?

This is one of the most frequently asked question. Well, there can be no good answer to it, except, “It’s your call!” You can make it worth your time, the reason to quit 9 to 5 clockwork and the source to enjoy vacations in Hawaii or you can fail. The above-given examples prove that UpWork deserves a shot from you, if you are a freelancer indeed.

Freelancing Experience on Upwork:

A lot of people who got lucky at forums like Freelancer or Fiverr or 99designs, ask me as to how it is to work as a freelancer on Upwork since they got too busy and never got the time to seriously give Upwork a try.

My answer to all such queries is the same; they say that nothing succeeds like success and same is the case with Upwork. You either fail to get more than a handful of jobs or you make it beyond the silver-lining.

Yet, for those who want some highlights, here is how it feels to work on Upwork:

  • Job vs. Gig Scenario – Freelancer was the first and the best freelancing forum for a long time and the work acquisition model was simple. Employers come, explain a job, freelancers bid for the job and the best quote + profile win the job.
  • Upwork makes you think like a reputable artisan or a businessman who sends proposals to people who look for the sort of craft or product that they can offer.
  • The balance between Buyer and Seller – Make no mistake, in a market buyer is always right and same is the case with freelance markets, but in some cases, there is a dignity to the way a buyer is afforded privilege. Upwork is one of the few forums that have a better balance between buyer and seller; Fiverr? Don’t you get me started!
  • Professional Approach – A very good thing about UpWork is the way how one may execute a job. You have options like milestones to divide work in chunks and show the buyer how you will deliver the work in a very professional fashion. The good thing is that you get paid for milestones and unlike other forums, especially those based on Fiverr/Five Squid model, there are no unanticipated accidents.
  • Type of Buyers – On Upwork, you do not get the sort of buyers who know nothing like a balance between payoff and expectations. You get rich entrepreneurs and big companies; they don’t try to get a $50 work done at $5.

Fiverr/Five Squid and similar design freelance forums turn you into a coolie, who anyone can reach and hire at any time for some blue-collar, laborious job.

Upwork Success Stories: 10 Highest Paid Freelancers on Upwork

What could give you a better idea of how to scale success over Upwork, but the tales of those who made it to the summit and who have average hourly rates of $70+?

Here is a list of 10 highest paid freelancers on Upwork:

Vladislav M – Cloud Expert & architect

This cloud expert and architect, as well as Linux expert from Malaysia, makes $70 per hour. Behind his amazing freelance success is his many years’ experience as a network engineer, systems administrator and cloud as well as SaaS architect. His total earning from Upwork only, is $2 million plus and he has executed 421 jobs.

Volodymyr K – Blockchain Expert

He is a Ukranian Blockchain technology and programming expert with experience in ICO, AI, Bitcoin and programming languages etc. His hourly rate is $150 and with that high a rate, he has earned $900,000+ with a total of 92 jobs. His average job goes beyond a few thousand dollars.

Stanley S – Algorithm Scientist

This American postgraduate in Physics from Iowa State University of Science and Technology has skills like algorithm science, statistics and AI. His Hourly rate is $150 and on UpWork, his total earnings are $800,000+ with 106 completed jobs.

Serhii B – DevOps

Serhii is another Ukrainian freelancing ninja with skills like DevOps, Ruby on Rails, Linux System Administration, Amazon Web Services and Nginx etc. His hourly rate is $88 and he has completed 36 jobs with a 100% job success rate. His total earning from UpWork is $700,000+ and counting.

Alex G -Digital Marketer

Alex is another American freelancing gem with skillset that includes, but is not limited to, digital marketing, content development, branding, financial services and analytics. His hourly rate is pretty mediocre as compared to the freelancers mentioned above, but with $65 per hour, he has completed 780 jobs and earned $700,000+ which is more than developers and blockchain experts we discussed above.

Daland M – Cheif Scientist

This is another American freelancer with skills like CTO, Chief Scientist, DevOps and ML Architect etc. His hourly wage on UpWork is $79 and his total earning on the same freelance network is $600,000+ with 58 completed jobs. This means that his average payoff is huge in comparison with an average freelancer on Upwork.

Ryan M – AWS Architect

Ryan is from USA and his field of expertise encapsulates AWS Certified Solutions, Cloud management, PCI Compliance, Amazon Web Services and many others skills. His hourly rate is $140 and his total payoff from UpWork is $600,000+ and this too he achieved with only 27 jobs.

Aamir M – Django Developer

This Indian programming and coding expert with skills like Django, Node, ReactJs, JavaScript and Python, has an hourly rate of $67 only, but his total earnings are $500,000+ and those too with only 6 jobs and 100% job success. His 18+ years of experience landed him a success that only a few freelancers can accomplish.

Osama K – Video & Design

This Pakistani freelancer is different from the above ones in a way that his skillset is rather ordinary seen skillset on freelancing forums. I am talking about video, graphic design, social media and infographics etc. Yet his hourly rate is $150, he has completed 220 jobs and his total earning from UpWork is $500,000+.

Sven D – Ethereum

Sven is a Blockchain and data structures expert from United Kingdom. His skillset includes C++, CUDA and FPGA. He specializes in cryptocurrencies and his hourly rate is $400. With this rate, he has completed 34 jobs only and still his payoff is $500,000+ with a 100% job success.

So these are the top highest paid freelancers on Upwork based on our research. Please note that we didn’t include any agencies in our list.

Highest Paid Skills on Upwork

People want to make a profile and then skyrocket to the 6 figure income, which is not possible. Yet, if you have following skills, you have very high chances to earn more than you ever believed.

  • Network Analysis – $200 Hourly Rate
  • Computer Vision – $145
  • io – $140
  • Neural Networks – $140
  • Firmware Engineering – $130

* Source – Data collected from Upwork in 2017.

How to Write Proposals that Work?

Many freelancers fail at this first step and here is how you should write the proposal to avoid a rejection, especially in the case where you are a new freelancer with zero experience.

  1. New Freelancer – Mention facts and figures about how you have been doing the same job at other places.
  2. New Freelancer – Mention skill set and tests are taken to show that you are up for the job.
  3. New Freelancer – Mention names of previous clients in case those were famous companies.
  4. New Freelancer – Assure that unlimited revision and 100% refund is guaranteed in the event of failure.

These facts and figures have to be in first two lines. Make bullet points if you cannot be so concise.

  1. Experienced Freelancer – Do everything that new freelancer does and refer to numbers and facts that you gained after joining UpWork e.g. x number of jobs, x percentage of job success, x amount of payoff earned with good reviews and other such details.
  2. A proposal should be custom written for each employer and should focus on the value that you can offer to that specific employer.

How to Make Money on Upwork in 2018 – Hacks and Tips for Beginners

2018 is the year that will only see a hike in the rate of people leaving jobs to the green meadows of freelancing. Here is how you can scale a success on Upwork in 2018, even without a past experience in freelancing:

  • Spot your niche – Don’t try to be a jack of all trades. Google cannot help you do a coder’s job if you are not a coder.
  • Narrow down the niche – Suppose your niche is graphics design. You will be on wrong foot to start bidding for all graphic design jobs. Narrow down the niche and find out which graphics job is best that you can do. If it is a logo, only apply for logo design jobs and in those too, find out the types that suit you the best. Go for retro if it is your style or monogram logo if you’re an expert of that.
  • Proposal – I have just explained this above. However, you will hone the proposal writing skill with time.
  • Tests – You can pass UpWork tests with guides available online and if you do, good results add a lot of good reputation and value to your profile.
  • The Other Way Around – Make a fake account as the employer and think that you’re about to hire a person with same skills that you have. Now make a job posting keeping that person in mind and think what kind of workers you’d hire.

How to Become Successful On Upwork?

Now, hack the process and do better with the same posting. Definitely, when you will post a job with skills that you sell, other people with same skills will apply for the job. Read the best proposals and profiles.

Copy them from proposal to profile to profile photo and to tests: so on and so forth. You’ll soon become like the best people to get the job that you want to win.

Here is the list of pointers to check while applying for a new job on Upwork.

  • Payment Verified – If you want to be sure that your work is paid, only send proposals for the jobs posted by those employers who have a verified payment method.
  • Reviews – Reviews of the employer matter a lot, check if they have an established history of employing and if they have really good reviews.
  • Jobs Posted – Apply for a job that is posted by a seasoned Upwork employer because he will be professional and aware of the system as well as freelancers.
  • Total Spent & Hourly Rate – Check how much money the employer has spent on UpWork, hiring different freelancers and also check how much he pays for an hour. Higher the hourly rates, better the employer you will find.
  • Fixed Price – Go for fixed price jobs because the employers who post those jobs have to pay for the first deliverable/milestone into escrow and with escrow protection you are sure that you get paid for the work done – chunk by chunk.
  • Connects – You do not have the right to apply for unlimited jobs on Upwork. You are given 60 cents (for example) and those cents are called connects. So spend your connects wisely till the end of the month, or you will have to buy more if not wait till the end of the month.
  • Video Proposals – There are educational institutes that demand videos instead of a letter of interests. Why not adopt the same approach here? Write briefly about all important facts and figures and then let the employer know that you have attached a video proposal for him. They would love the idea of not going through boring details, but viewing and listening to you pitching your value to them.

This is it folks! I bet this was more than needed inspiration, motivation, push and practical tips to put you on your way to success in freelancing and that too at the best freelancing forum: Upwork.

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