Successful Freelancer – Complete Guide That Will Make You A Successful Freelancer ?

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Are you on your way to be a successful freelancer? This guide contains all you need to be a Successful Freelancer + how to get client on Upwork + how to write a professional cover letter.

A successful freelancer is someone that does not work under any boss, he is his own boss.

Freelancing has become a lucrative way to sell your ideas, skills and other jobs that you’re capable of doing. Freelancing is a work that you are absolutely independent from any boss, in the sense that you work when you want to work.

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If you have a great skill, with Upwork you can earn a living from what you can do for others and collect money in exchange. Some freelancers have their normal jobs and use freelancing as a part time job.

If you’re interested in having some control in your professional life, freelancing is an alternative option for it.

What is freelancing?

Freelancing is act of working independently for several different companies or clients while charging by the hour or day.

Who is a freelancer?

A freelancer is a self-employed individual who doesn’t have to commit to a single London term employer, instead they work, independently for several companies or clients.

A Freelancer typically Charge by the hour and are not required to register as a business if they operate under their own name. I am operating my freelancing career in my own name.

Basically you can work as a freelancer doing that which you know how to do well, you can work as a marketer, Graphic designer, web developer, writer, Accountant, Teacher, Social media manager and other administrative Assistant jobs.

You can add your own skill to the list.

Advantages of Freelancing

  1. You are the boss:  As a freelancer, you can chose when and where to work. Hopefully you can decide to only work in the night or on your bed to even in the Kitchen. There is a chance to select the type of job you want to work on… “You are the Boss”
  2. You can make note money:  As a freelancer, you have the potential to make more money than the average person. There are so many reasons because you can choose freelancing as a part time job and still have your normal job that pays you. In freelancing, you can make as much as $200 in a day.
  3. Balance in your life:  As a freelancer, you have a flexible schedule. So you have time to do whatsoever you want to do with your time. You can decide not to do any project for a period of time and nobody can disturb you for that because you don’t have any boss. You will have time to enjoy life and spend more time with your family.
  4. Plenty Holiday:  As a freelancer, you can decide when you want to work and when you don’t want to; you don’t have to wait for any public holiday to enjoy life. You decide when you want to go on a leave because you are the boss.

Brief history of Upwork

The Upwork Freelance Platform, formerly known as Elance–Odesk was created by Beerud Sheth, Srini Anumolu and Sanjay Noronha. The main aim of creating this platform was to help clients and freelancers get along with each other, without the fear of losing anything. The Upwork platform was first founded in 1999 with the name Elance, and was later called Odesk in 2003.

In 2013, it was rebranded, and was given the name Elance-Odesk. A name which didn’t last for too long, as it was given the name Upwork in 2015. Today, Upwork has over 12 million registered freelancers, and a number of 5 million registered clients. The platform also ranks as one of the most trusted Freelancing sites in the web today.

Successful Freelancer – Reasons why most freelancers prefer Upwork over other freelancing sites

1. Upwork prioritizes its users:  Unlike most freelancing sites, Upwork ensures the good working health of its users. It ensures that jobs are circulated around users, in favor of their skills. About 300 – 1,000 jobs worth thousands of dollars are posted on Upwork every day.

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2. Secured Payments and Service Delivery: Upwork ensures that both its freelancers and clients earn benefits. This they do by making implementing and instating their policies.

For instance, every transaction done on Upwork is recorded, and is being followed up by Upwork security systems. To affirm this, every client makes a deposit into Upwork escrow service when a contract is awarded.

And the successful freelancer who opts in for the job gets his payment from the escrow service system after he/she must have finished the job, and has gained a satisfactory reply from his/her client. These are the main reasons why most person prefer Upwork over other freelancing websites.

Note:  The Company giving you the project to handle is the client while whoever gets the deal is the freelancer.

Successful Freelancer – Upwork Accredited Skills

What are Upwork Accredited Skills? Upwork Accredited Skills are simply online skills that are offered on Upwork. One can also learn these skills online and be perfect in it.

They include:
1. Blog writing
2. Web Programming
3. Software Development
4. Presentation (Power Point)
5. Animation
6. UX Design
7. Legal translation
8. Photography
9. Voice Talent
10. Graphics Design
11. Ghost Writing
12. Video Production
13. Game Software Production
14. Auto card
15. Project Management, etc.

Feel free to add your own skill to the list. As you can see, Upwork accepts every skill provided that it can be used online.

What you need to know by aspiring as an Upwork Freelancer is to:

Find a Skill, Learn the Skill, Improve the Skill, Tush the Skill, Brand the Skill, and Sell the Skill.

I will explain this in details so that you can understand what I mean by that.


As a freelancer on Upwork, you can’t just actually learn a skill and you saw an offer on Upwork, then you decide to shoot your strength and convince them that you are capable.

Meanwhile you know you can’t deliver a clean job because even when you are trying to apply for it, they will ask you for samples of what you’ve done before. They want to see your ability.

Now remember that there are over thousands of freelancers on Upwork also and so many of them will be going for that same project that you’re actually going for. So now it’s more like survival of the fittest.

Now the way you are going to present your skills, the way you are able to brand it.

Tush it up in a way that even when they see it, they can recognize that this is perfectly different from what others have actually done. They can actually see a reason to trust you because they don’t know you.

For you to be a successful freelancer, you must be perfect in your skill.

Something to remember for you to be a successful freelancer

As a freelancer every work you get is not based on bias. Someone asked me – since it’s going to involve foreigners, is there any kind of stigma that they’ve actually stigmatize people like Nigerians?

Now this people don’t care the country you’re from in as much as they know that the money they are paying is not getting to you until you deliver the project to them.

Upwork has already created a means to maintain security between both a freelancer and a client. So they don’t care about the country you’re from, what they want is a clean job.

They want to present their brand as a brand that can be trusted, so all they need from you is “give us this clean job and once we are satisfied Upwork will pay you” that’s all. So once you have discovered your skill, you have to make it peculiar and make it stand out among others.

Successful Freelancer – Your Success on Upwork is determined by your knowledge of your skill/job category

As I said earlier, you have to know your “onion” before you can eat your “Suya”. Meaning you have to know the skill that you are perfect with and know the category you fall into before you can start receiving projects to handle on Upwork.

Even though Upwork accepts every skill, there are job categories on Upwork, and every skill offered on Upwork falls into one of these many categories.

So for every skill there is a category, you will have to locate the category your skill fall into. Definitely, the interface is different. This is what we call Niche/Niching.

So what are these Job/Skill Categories?
1. Web, Mobile & Software Development
2. IT & Networking
3. Data Science & Analytics
4. Engineering & Architecture
5. Design & Creative
6. Writing
7. Translation
8. Legal
9. Admin Support
10. Customer Service
11. Sales & Marketing
12. Accounting & Consulting

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Looking at the list above, you will see two things:

  1. Every Professional Field, has its place online.
  2. You can find and place your skills into any of these categories.

Remember: Your Success on Upwork is determined by your knowledge of your skill/job category.

Successful Freelancer – How to Get your First Client on Upwork as a freelancer

1. Good Professional Picture:

Getting a good professional picture – This is a picture that portrait professional design. You can see when you are actually registering, Upwork themselves will actually go and checkup your profile picture to see if it’s really presentable as a professional picture.

Now we must also note that professional picture that I mean here is not a head to toe picture.

Freelancer - a professional picture
A professional picture. Source Unsplash

It’s just have to be a very good quality and nice professional picture with a short from the head to the chest region. It will be more like a passport but a nice one that can portrait professional design.

Getting this kind of picture, you can go to a studio and get the picture. Probably they will send you the soft copy of the picture and then use it in your profile.

2. Set a Profile Title Related to your Niche

Example: Copywriting Expert, Web Designer with Java/Python/Ajax experience, etc. if you set a good profile that describes your niche, you will have many chances to get clients from Upwork.

Many Upwork clients will first check your profile to know the niche you fall into and to know or see the projects you have handled that is related to your niche.

3. A Good Profile Description

You can hire a copywriter to do this for you, that’s if you’ve got money to spend. Personally, I’ll collect nothing less than N5, 000 ($15) to give you a good description.

Otherwise, you can use the  “you get oil”  way to get a good profile description for yourself. It’s not hard, it will only cost you small time.

Let me explain what I mean by  “you get oil way”.

This is done by modelling the guys in your field. The name – you get oil was coined out by me, after finding out that only a man with wisdom and patience do it.

Here’s what I mean:

After you must have Google the platform, kindly click on your search button, and type in your skill, adding the word freelancer to it.

Something like this:

  • Copywriting Freelancers
  • Graphic design Freelancers
  • Voice talent Freelancers, etc.

After doing that, a list of freelancers in your niche will surface.

Note: This guys that come out at the first page are top ranked on the list.

Check their profiles, they’ve earned $5,000 and above. Next, look at their descriptions, and model it. I did not say copy and paste. So don’t copy and paste anything from their description. I said Model it.

If you try doing copy and paste and Upwork notice such thing in your profile, you’ll be automatically suspended from their website.

This is what I mean my modelling their profiles. “Kindly look at the structures of their descriptions and write something almost similar to their own.”

4. Set Your Hourly Rate

This means how much you’ll be paid per hour. Set your hourly rate in the same range as the top guys in your niche. For instance, the guys in my niche set theirs between the ranges of $10 to $30 for beginners. I kept mine at $20. Meanwhile, you should know that your hourly rate also decides if a client would buy from you.

5. Set Your Portfolio

Setting a portfolio is a way of standardizing yourself. When you are trying to apply or bid for a particular project work, you’re expected to set your portfolio. Your portfolio has to do with your past jobs that you must have done.

It is not necessary at all that it must be something you have done on Upwork, it could be something you have done off Upwork may be for instance you’re a web developer, you can put a project you have handled for someone some time ago.

It can also be something you created while you are on Upwork. But as a first timer, for instance you are into graphic designs, you can put up samples of the kind of thing you’ve designed probably fliers. Or you are an animator, they want to see examples of your creation.

Now by that way they could be able to build trust. If you set such portfolio and am just trying to visit your page to see if I can give you a job, if I see such portfolio I will be triggered and I will know that this person seems fit for the job.

And I will decide to try this person because with this samples am/we are seeing now, we are convinced that this particular project is going to the right hand.

Now they don’t know you before but when you set good portfolio, it builds trust between you and them i.e. between the client and the freelancer. This is what I mean by setting your portfolio.

Some clients would only do business with freelancers rating $5–$10 per hour. It’s not only Nigerian guys that like almost free things. The whites can do that too… Especially Indian brethren.

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6. Set your Skillset Within your Niche

When am talking about setting your skillset within your niche – After setting your portfolio and you have actually succeeded in getting people, it remains your skillset.

Your skillset is just like for instance an Instagram account your Bio that is where people gets what exactly you are and what you’re portraying to be.

Now on Upwork, your skillset within your niche is very important.

Let’s say you are the kind of person that has several skills: probably you’re a web designer, graphics designer, you are into animations, you are into copywriting, you are into marketing, and other several skills.

It’s very wrong on Upwork for you to just write them out like that without it being so neatly arranged. You cannot just list them like that. Even when you submit your proposals to them, they don’t just look at your proposals.

What clients do to freelancers ⤵

They go to your profile to know more about the person. They can’t just look only at your proposal and conclude that this person is the best for the job.

No they will go to your profile, they will check your picture, your skillset as well as your portfolio – this will actually give you more audience.

Now if your skillset is properly arranged, Upwork themselves will bring more job opportunity to you.When a particular project is being raised may be a client is looking for a freelancer and the client decide to post it, Upwork themselves will bring work to you and all you need is to write your proposal and send.

So your skillset matters a lot because they are still going to check out your profile, your profile picture and make sure you’re organized. Your skillset description cannot just be tattered and you expect them to deliver the work to you because of your proposal only.

7. Write Good Cover Letters

Good cover letters are like boosters that boost up when you have a standardized one. It’s just a way to express how competent you are for that particular project.

It’s going to portrait the way you’re going to handle their project. You should also know that Upwork has a standard for good cover letter.

Successful Freelancer – How to Write a Cover Letter as a freelancer

A cover letter is the best way you can affect a potential client strongly. Cover letters is one of the ways to advertise what you can offer to your clients or employer.

It gives your client a brief glance or look of what you can deliver. Your strong impression in your cover letter helps you to get the job you’re requesting.

Steps on how to write a quality cover letter if you want to be a successful freelancer

  1. Begin with a nice and authentic greeting. The person reading your cover letter is considering giving you job so you need to greet this person in a solemn manner. “Dear Mr. Name”. “Hello Sir”.
  2. Hit the nail at the head. Your cover letter should be brief. But it should contain your skill, information about your work experience including the previous works you’ve done. If you have any web page where your portfolio can be found, you can include the web page address here.
  3. Emphasize your skill. Some clients will give you clear pic of what they want you to deliver to them. If you have the skills that match what they want, it’s time for you to describe it briefly including your work experience in that field.

Sample of a cover letter

Upwork proposal sample
A cover letter. Source Upwork

How to retrieve your Money from Upwork

Withdraw your earnings manually

You can also withdraw your available balance at any time using the “Get Paid Now” option.

  • Go to the settings > Get Paid
  • Click on “Get Paid Now” button
  • Choose the amount to withdraw
  •  Click “Get Paid Now”


There are lots of benefits that I shared in this article which will open you to a lot of opportunities that can earn you a living.

Once you have mastered a skill and can deliver nice projects, you have great chances to work on Upwork and generate money for yourself.

You can work as a successful freelancer in this fast-changing online world and earn a living from it.

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