One of my readers, Curtis, sent me this question:
Listened with great interest to your webinar on Upwork. All of your tips are very sound – quite a few I’d never thought of. One topic not addressed is, in my opinion, a major nut to crack. I’ve got over thirty years experience as a copywriter. I promote myself as an expert, I have great scores on Upwork, great reviews, etc.
The obstacle is the fact that so many people say they want an expert and when you check their stats, the average hourly rate the majority of them are paying (even ones in the U.S.) is less than twenty dollars an hour – many times less than ten!
Often, the description of their projects are outrageously involved, requiring work that could never be written by anything less than an expert, yet I routinely see average hourly pay rates of three to five dollars an hour.
I’ve never seen a single solicitation for an expert that offers more than thirty-five or forty. As a result, I’ve been contracted for work only sporadically (a fraction of those I apply for) – and that was for sixty per hour. Where are these people willing to pay seventy, eighty, one hundred and more?
It’s great that you’ve been able to get clients at $60/hr and get great reviews too. That proves that you have what it takes to succeed on Upwork.
But I’ll be straight with you: You also seem to be falling into a few of the more common traps that keep people from unlocking some of the bigger rewards Upwork has to offer.
For one thing, averages are one of the most deceiving ways to measure just about anything.
That’s why con artists and politicians are always telling you about the average this, or the average that.
The main thing averages are good for is helping you trick yourself.
I’ll prove it to you.
Check out the screenshot below. It’s an Upwork job I just ended, except instead of me being the freelancer, I’m the client.
As you can see, I paid the freelancer $50/hr, and left her a good review too.
But if you look at the average hourly rate I’ve paid as an Upwork client, it’s nowhere near that high.
Are you starting to see what I mean about averages being deceiving?
The truth is, Curtis, I’d love to find more great copywriters I could hire for $50/hr! I posted a job on Upwork a couple of months ago, and I’d have loved it if you’d applied.
Now maybe you’re wondering about those other (non-Danny) clients who are posting a job asking for “Experts.” How much are they willing to pay?
To answer that question, you need to look at what clients see when they post an “Expert” job:
As you can see, when they select “expert” from the list above they are specifically inviting bids of greater than $46.50/hr. Why would they do that if they weren’t even considering paying that amount?
Sure, a few of them may be “window shopping,” or hoping to get lucky and find an expert who’s willing to work for less.
But it’s clear that most clients who want to pay less than $40/hr would just choose Entry Level or Intermediate as their desired experience level. Otherwise they’d just be wasting their own time.
In case you’re still not convinced, here are a bunch of screenshots — from various Freelance To Win students across different work categories — that should put your concerns about what clients are willing to pay to rest for good:
I’ve been on Upwork for years but I’ve never seen as many people making great money there as I’m seeing today. The examples I just showed you aren’t even the tip of the iceberg.
On the flipside of that, I’ve always been able to find amazing clients on Upwork but today there are more than ever and they’re easier to find. Even as I’m writing this post I’m getting invitations like this:
I’m not showing you any of this to brag, just to show you what’s possible.
I have to admit, the first few times people emailed me asking “Where are all the good Upwork clients?” I was pretty confused. What, did 4 million clients suddenly stop posting jobs?
I even emailed a few of my Upwork friends to make sure they were still doing good.
Then one day I figured out the trick to responding to those emails. I wrote back to this one guy and said, “Describe to me the exact process you’re using when you’re looking for jobs.”
Do you know what he wrote back?
He said he was filtering his search to only include jobs with specific keywords, with specific budgets (keep in mind clients will often pay way more than their stated budget), by clients who had already hired at least 10+ freelancers and spent over $10,000, etc etc.
The guy was using so many filters he was screening out a ton of jobs that would have been perfect for him!
I know it for a fact because I did an unfiltered search and found a bunch of good jobs for him myself.
I tried to tell him but he wrote back insisting that he wanted to ‘be selective.’ How can you be selective when you can’t even see what your options are?
Other people tell me they use filters to search for jobs because it saves them time.
If your freelancing business is already pretty busy and successful, saving time with Upwork’s search filters can be OK.
But be careful not to take it too far.
When I first started on Upwork people told me to filter out clients who were new and had no spending history.
That didn’t make any sense to me. All of the best Upwork clients were brand new at some point, right?
Listening to that silly advice would have cost me tens of thousands of dollars and caused me to miss out on great clients like this one:
I knew another guy who always searched for jobs using the keyword “Email Copywriting”. But what he didn’t realize was that he missed out on all the jobs that said “Email Copywriter”, “Email Marketing Copy”, “Email Marketing Writer”, and on and on.
He was proud of himself for saving a few paltry minutes, but he missed out on countless opportunities that could have been worth tens of thousands of dollars…or more.
And yes, he too sent me an email asking “where are all the good Upwork jobs”.
My work is far from done.
Hope you have a great 2017! Thanks for sending in the question Curtis, please let me know how it goes for you.
(Flickr Creative Commons image via Bill Alldredge)