After Upwork was kind enough to feature me in their Spotlight piece through social media, I was inundated with Facebook friend requests, messages, and the likes. Some were well wishers and people already bringing in money from freelancing. Others were people who were struggling to make freelancing work for them.
So, I thought I’d be nice and offer to review their profiles and give them free advice on how to improve. I didn’t get that sort of help. I learned by trial and error. I’ve worked with enough clients over the last four years that I know what they do and don’t want to see and read on a profile.
So far, I’ve critiqued five profiles sent to me through email or messenger. Here’s what I learned.
People Think Clients Should Just Give Them Money
Out of the five profiles I’ve worked on for people, two took the process seriously. One is a web developer. The other is a health and wellness writer. And, yes, writers occasionally need help and feedback to improve what they need to convey. The web developer made some relatively minor changes based on my advice…and the following day, he had four invitations to interview. On Upwork, that’s a big deal. Invitations to interview mean people are interested in YOU and you don’t have to spend your application credits to talk to them. The content writer is still in the process of making changes because we basically deconstructed and reconstructed his entire profile. He’s made great strides. Because I know they both read the blog….guys, this isn’t directed at you!
I’ve noticed a disturbing thought pattern among freelancers with little or no Upwork experience. They think they should just slap in their name, a poorly put together synopsis of what they do, and a price. They expect people to just throw their money at them because they’re on Upwork.
That’s a bad attitude to take. I explained to each freelancer exactly what my profile says to potential clients: if you want people to pay you, you must establish yourself as an expert and build that trust. People aren’t going to throw money at a poorly worded profile. They’re just not. You must design your profile around the needs of the potential client.
People Think There’s a Shortcut
All five of the people I’ve worked with over the last week are not in the United States. So, we’ve done most of our chatting through email and messenger. The same two I mentioned earlier realized that what I was telling them to improve their profile was fast and easy to fix (although tweaking it to perfection can take time).
I received one specific comment that irritated me and it’s similar to many of the comments that people left on the post Upwork had on Facebook that featured me. It basically boils down to, “I don’t want to do all that. Isn’t there a shortcut that will make me swim in clients and money?”
The answer is no. And even if a shortcut existed, people with that mindset shouldn’t use it. Why not? Because those are the people that will:
(a) Take shortcuts on their project
(b) Think they know better than the client
(c) Will refuse to take direction from the client
(d) Will get angry when the client leaves bad feedback and gets help from a different freelancer.
There is no shortcut to building your freelance business. If you are fortunate it enough to have a big network of people who’ve seen your talent first hand in some way, you could find it easier to get clients, but that doesn’t mean they will stay or that it will be enough to support your business.
People Think Upwork Owes Them Something for Using Their Platform
Let’s get one thing straight: Upwork doesn’t owe you or me or any other freelancer a damn thing. Upwork isn’t perfect. No platform is perfect. If you don’t educate yourself on how to use it, that’s not their fault. That’s your fault. You’re stuck in an employee mindset and want someone to hold your hand and supervise you. That’s not freelancing. If you cannot or will not take the time to figure it out, freelancing isn’t for you.
I’ve been on Upwork since it was oDesk. I was also on eLance. I far preferred oDesk. I was giddy when I found out that oDesk was acquiring eLance. I hated my eLance experience. Any time I’ve needed a question answered or help with a dispute, Upwork has been nothing short of kind and professional. A lot of the comments I see online about Upwork are sad because I am fairly sure those people went about contacting Upwork with the wrong attitude.
Upwork doesn’t owe you clients. They don’t have to feature you just because you believe that you’re the best fucking writer or web dev ever and your mom likes your work. If you don’t have the communication skills, patience, and other necessary skills to start your business, that isn’t their fault. That is your fault. That is something you can remedy. As a friend of mine, also a freelancer writer, says, you can learn the skills required of a good freelancer. That doesn’t mean that freelancing will be your dream job, though.
If you didn’t read the above, your lack of desire to learn is why you’re struggling. So, once again for the people in the back: There is no shortcut. Do the work. Take advantage of the knowledge of others or stop fucking whining. No one owes you shit.