- Editing: How to Use Upwork, Part 1

Editing: How to Use Upwork, Part 1 [Updated]

If you’re thinking of using Upwork to start your freelance business, here is a quick overview on how to get started.

When I graduated from college, I was in a situation probably very familiar to many graduates: What now? 

Generally, getting a job – preferably one that relates to your major – is the next step. As an English major, my options consisted of either being a teacher (not for me) or doing something in publishing. The great thing about English is that it’s kind of like Biology: it’s a general study, so you can explore various options within it (bio majors can be doctors or veterinarians or marine biologists!). With this in mind, I began exploring the various professions that focused on a background of English study. The most obvious was writing, which I did want to do, but since I didn’t consider myself the next J.K. Rowling, I knew I’d probably have to learn technical writing or web articling (totally a word) to actually earn money.

There are many sites and adverts out there that claim to pay handsomely for very little writing work. “$100 an article!” they say, or, “My sister earned $8700 last month just writing product descriptions!” Most of these – pretty obviously – are scams. It’s not that there aren’t people who do indeed make good money writing content online, but it’s very unlikely those people are freshly-graduated novices. That’s like, head writer for a giant newspaper money, maybe.

Until you get enough experience and word-of-mouth marketing to get people to come to you, you’ll have to go find work. The best, scam-free (usually) sites are Upwork and Elance.

Disclaimer: I’ve only worked on Upwork, though I do have an Elance account, and it seems to work very much the same. Also, I’m not being paid or anything to write about Upwork. I’ve just found it very helpful, and I wouldn’t be doing the work I am today without this site. 

To get started on Upwork, you have to create an account. You can’t even look at listings or anything without signing up. A feature they’ve recently implemented is Membership Plans. On the Basic one, you have 60 chances of Connecting with someone (i.e., applying for a job). With the Plus plan, you have more Connects, and can also buy extra. But both have Work Diary and Escrow Protection, which is the most important thing. These help you make sure you get paid when you’re supposed to, and for tax purposes. More on that later, but unless you’re planning on applying for everything and anything, the free Basic Plan should be just fine.

Once you have an account, you’ll be given a tutorial of sorts on how all the various features work, and how to get started. So, y’know, pay attention. You’ll have to make a profile, which, unlike many social sites, is actually really important to make sure it’s good. This is what potential employers will be looking at when deciding if they want to hire you. If you’re nervous about putting your location, you don’t have to, but it’s recommended because you’ll be looking through job entries all over the country and the world, so knowing everybody’s time zone is quite vital.

Your profile should work like an online resume, with a portfolio and employment history. If you don’t have anything to put, don’t worry! Make a nice Overview paragraph that talks about any experience you do have (such as being an English major graduate from such-and-such school with a GPA of awesome). That paragraph should serve as a mini pitch for your services. As you get work, you can start filling in the history and portfolio parts, but Upwork will automatically put in the jobs you complete on the site, featuring the type of job it was, the amount earned, and the rating you received from the client. More on that later. Basically, make your profile as enticing and professional as possible.

Once you’ve gone over all of Upwork’s features and set up your profile, it’s time to actually start looking for work! I’ll be talking about that next week, so stay tuned!

Questions? Advice? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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