As a freelancer, Upwork has been a huge pipeline for me. Yet when I’m working with people who come to me asking for help, whether they pay for a strategy session with me or as part of my course they get a bonus with me reviewing their pitches and their writing samples, I see other Upwork freelancers making the same mistakes over and over.  

There are five common mistakes that people consistently make when it comes to using Upwork. This blog is going to teach you what those five mistakes are and how you can avoid them.  

Mistake #1 – Upwork is Not a Quick Fix

The first mistake is thinking that Upwork is your quick fix. Now, Upwork definitely makes things easier for you. It can even make things a lot faster because the clients are already there, ready to outsource a job.

However, this is not your “I-need-to-pay-my-electric-bill-tomorrow” place to land freelance work. You’re going to have to bid a lot before you ever get selected for a job. You’re going to have to negotiate with a client, deliver the work and then there’s a five to ten day waiting period for you to get paid. So it’s never your quick fix.

It can help you generate money two weeks from now or a month from now and consistent money ongoing, but it is not an overnight solution. 

Here’s a news flash: your current and former clients are the best place for fast money because they are probably going to pay you some other way more effectively and quickly. When somebody pays you through PayPal, you’re going to get that instantly. Even if someone mails a check, it may still get to you faster than the money from an Upwork gig.

No matter how your clients pay, you’re still going to have to complete the work, so there is no quick fix unless you’ve got something you can roll out today to get paid today. Upwork is a great ongoing lead pipeline and it can be a great source of one-off job opportunities – but it shouldn’t be viewed as a quick fix.

Mistake #2 – Not Spending Time Searching for Jobs

The second mistake that I see too many people making is they spend no time searching for jobs. They are of the mindset that there are only low paying gigs on Upwork. So, they hop on the site and look for five minutes, see the low-paying gigs, and then they jump off of Upwork and say, “See, I was right. There are no good jobs to be had on Upwork.” It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You need to have a really specific searching strategy to narrow down what you’re looking for on Upwork.

The truth is, you are not leveraging their search function effectively. Trying to look through thousands of jobs in the order that Upwork presents them to you is really ineffective. You need to have a really specific searching strategy to narrow down what you’re looking for. 


Mistake #3 – Spending Too Much Time Talking About Yourself

The third big mistake that people do is they spend way too much time talking about themselves, even on their own profile. At the end of the day, what clients care about the most is the outcome you can create for the client. Do not waste so much time and energy putting things all in the basket of “I’m going to talk about how great I am and hopefully my clients will hire me.” Talk about what you have done for clients instead.

Mistake #4 – Choosing the Wrong Clients

The fourth major mistake that I see people making on Upwork on a regular basis is choosing the wrong clients. They finally get an interest or a job offer from somebody on Upwork, and it’s not the right fit but they take it anyways because they want experience. You are setting yourself up for failure. If it’s a difficult client or something that’s not really your sweet spot and you do a bad job, your rating is going to be affected, or you may have to cancel the job.

All of those things are going to hurt your job success score. If something doesn’t seem like a good fit, don’t take it. If you’re in the middle of a job that seems like it’s not right for you, it is better to cancel the job and move on.


Mistake #5 – Not Getting Great Feedback from the Beginning

The fifth major mistake that I see people make is not getting great feedback their first couple of jobs. It is really hard to land your first few gigs on Upwork but it’s more important that you knock those out of the park with five-star feedback than any job down the road. At the beginning, the average of one, two or three jobs is going to have much more impact than one job out of 50 or 200 or 300 down the road.

Someone who’s been on the platform for a long time will get the benefits of averaging, whereas when you’re new, you’re not getting those benefits. So it’s really important that you nail it the first time. The first couple of jobs, pick something that you can absolutely blow the client’s mind and do a great job with.  


For more tips on successfully using Upwork, subscribe to my YouTube channel, Freelance Freedom.



You’ll find all my best advice about building a fulfilling and sustainable business here. It’s where I’ll give you all the juicy details about building a strong digital team or using project management to stay on top of tasks.

Let’s Get Social

Featured Posts