How to Get Your First Clients, My Experience on Upwork

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Indexes
  1. 1. Just DO IT
  2. 2. Small talk is necessary and you must do research before the call
  3. 3. Overdo, and act as if you’re an expert, even if you’re not.
  4. 4. Learn to learn
  5. Best Passive Income Ideas for Those Under 18
An image of a mountain representing the difficulty of getting your first client, the Upwork climb.
Photo by Iuliia Dutchak on Unsplash

I’ve always been a learner, constantly bettering my knowledge on certain subjects so I could overprepare and have zero anxiety when doing those jobs, but just this week I realized I could achieve way more if I just did it, just stepped out of my comfort zone and finally applied my skills, finally reached out and tried to make money freelancing. Even though I had no real work experience in the development/design freelancing world, I knew that I had the skills required to make some income doing it, all I need was to get my first client and successfully finish the job, no matter how small or big it is.

So I set up my profile and… the fear hit. I didn’t even know how to speak to clients, do you say “hello, how are you?”. Do you just get straight into work, and say “Okay so you pay me money, I do job, what job is it?”. I had no clue how to even send projects or receive them, and that fear of uncertainty made me think okay maybe let’s learn more of this and that and come back in a couple of months. But that’s the coward’s way of thinking. If I don’t start now I will probably put it off for later, forever. So I opened up Upwork and casually went through the job listings, seeing what clients want and what money could be made. After skimming through a lot of spammy listings I finally found one job and that leads me to my first tip:

1. Just DO IT

Of course, don’t go all in, to a $2k+ job requiring over a month of work. Just go to the job posting and find a client that’s offering a very low sum per hour of work for what seems to be quite an easy job, listed as less than 30 hours per week and less than a month of work. After finding a job listing like that, just send the offer, don’t think about it just send it. Doing it, without even giving yourself much time to contemplate, makes it easier to climb to that first peak of the freelancing mountain.

Working for a small amount of money takes 50% of the stress off too, who’s going to miss $5 because of my incompetence? Most importantly though it’s much easier to get hired for a job that pays low when you have close to zero work experience. And even if you think you’re not that qualified for the job, still just send that offer. That imposter syndrome is never going to go away if you don’t challenge it and a simple job can almost 99% clear it with no risk of failure.

Once you land your first client and you go into a call, then the second tip I’ve learned comes into play:

2. Small talk is necessary and you must do research before the call

Small talk is very polite, and from what it seems a necessary part of speaking to clients. You will go into the call and say “Hello” and then a very awkward “How was your day?” will be asked from both parties. After a bit of a short pause, you will start talking about work. An extra tip is be prepared: do some research before the call, act as if you’re already talking about the job, try to come up with different ideas, write them down, and do competitor research.

In the call, the fear of uncertainty starts to quickly fade away and all that races through your mind will be about work and how to impress the client as much as you can. Impressing is quite important in my opinion, it will give you a higher chance of being rehired over and over, and to impress I recommend this:

3. Overdo, and act as if you’re an expert, even if you’re not.

Giving just a little bit more than the client asked for, like an extra design concept, an extra mockup, an extra idea or feature will certainly make the client very happy. And acting as if you’re an expert in your head will give a massive boost of confidence, of course, don’t lie always be prepared to back up your claims.

Only overdo on the first couple of jobs though, you’re here to just impress and show your expertise, not overwork and get underpaid.

And finally the last lesson I’ve learned and tip I will give is this:

4. Learn to learn

It’s impossible to always be 100% prepared for any job posting you might see or any client that reaches out to you for a job to do. This uncertainty of whether it’s even possible to finish the task or if you’re good enough to even freelance is what causes the fear, fear of failure. But if you practice learning itself, then any task is possible, the fear of failure can fade if one understands that they are capable of learning pretty much anything, and they can do pretty much everything. If you’ve already gotten this far, then what’s stopping you to go even further? Just step out of your comfort zone and learn on the job.

All of this hard work and stress made me a whopping $5 before fees! It was a very simple job though, so I’m still proud, though it wasn’t in the development field, it was in the design area of apps so there’s still more to learn and more money to be made. Starting small really alleviates so much of the fear.

I hope you, my dear reader, will find these lessons I’ve learned so far from my first client work on Upwork, at least somewhat helpful. Of course, I still have a long, long way to go, and I am merely a beginner, but taking each experience as a lesson and sharing it with others not only helps me understand them better but might really help others get through similar experiences.

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