When it comes to the freelance marketplace, Upwork is the undisputed king.
With more than 8 million registered users since 2013, Upwork is the place where clients can hire remote workers to get the job done for their business.
More importantly, Upwork is a place where your dreams of finally breaking free from your full-time job can be realized.
Once you put in the work, you should earn more than enough income to cover your monthly expenses, all while working in the comforts of your home!
While Upwork is a great place to launch your freelancing career, it has its drawbacks that you need to be aware of, most of which are covered in this level-headed post.
Just recently, an Upwork user got his account suspended due to working with a shady client. As a result, he won’t be able to withdraw more than a thousand dollar’s worth of work using the platform.
Ultimately, Upwork is just one of many places where you can make a living as a freelancer. If you’re making good money as an Upwork freelancer, then more power to you!
However, if you’re a newbie freelancer who feels that Upwork is not for you, then I’m happy to report to you that there is indeed freelance life outside Upwork!
This post is to help guide you in your journey to carve a niche as a freelance without using the most popular freelance marketplace.
Build a site
Think of your website as an online business card.
During meetings, you present your cards to your partners as a way to introduce yourself to them. It normally includes your job position, contact details, and branding to distinguish yourself from other people they have encountered.
Your website should function the same way. The online difference is that it should include more information about yourself professionally.
Aside from introducing who you are and what you do, you should also include your sample works, so potential clients will have a better idea of how your services work.
If you do not know how to build a professional site, then you should know that website builders have made it easier for you to create stunning websites without any design experience in a matter of minutes.
The drag-and-drop feature of these sites allows you to build a site on a template design to display what can offer to clients.
However, if you truly want to invest on your website, then I suggest that you run your site on WordPress. Personally, it is the most flexible and customizable platform where you can include add-ons to help supercharge your site.
Building a site using WordPress requires you to purchase a domain and hosting first. Not to mention, customizing your website is a lot trickier since you initially do not have access to tools that make building a site much easier.
To get over these learning curves, I suggest that you sign up to Marv’s “WordPress Basic Blogging Course.” He details in depth how to build a WordPress site from scratch and generate leads and clients using different tactics.
Learn how to blog
Initially, blogging is a platform where people can share and discuss their ideas online.
Nowadays, blogging can be used to build a following and promote your services as a freelancer.
As a professional, blogging provides you the opportunity to showcase your extensive knowledge about your industry to your target audience.
By presenting fresh ideas and a different perspective in your market, you can position yourself as an expert in your niche. More importantly, through consistent blogging, you can attract clients who may be in need of your expertise.
The issue that can arise with blogging is the fact that some freelancers are not writers.
It is understandable that words do not come naturally to them and they find it difficult to compose their thoughts the written word to be read by many.
However, the fact also stands that everybody can write. You do not have to be great at writing as long as you communicate your ideas in a clear and concise manner.
To help you get over your blogging fears, you can read this post by John Scalzi for a dose of inspiration.
To help you build healthy blogging habits, you can take this free 30-day blogging challenge at Sark eMedia to learn the basics of blogging the right way.
Optimize your site
Once you have a site and some blog posts published, it is only logical that you learn how search engine optimization or SEO works.
In fact, I would argue that SEO is a skill that freelancers must have a good grasp on to become truly successful.
In a nutshell, SEO is the practice of getting your site pages to rank for their respective target keywords. Since people refer to sites like Google and Bing for their search queries, ranking on top of search results affords you to greatest chance for your pages to be clicked on by these people.
Therefore, your SEO goal as a freelancer is to rank for keywords related to your freelancing services. For example, if you are a graphic designer, you should target phrases like:
- graphic designer for hire
- graphic design services
- freelance graphic designer
Appearing on the first page of search results for these keywords should help drive more visitors to your site and hopefully turn those visitors into clients.
A couple of things to remember when optimizing your site for search engines:
- Find the best keywords that will get you clients – Not all keywords are the same. You need to find phrases that have the highest likelihood to convert organic search visitors into customers. For more information on how you can do this, read this very informative and actionable post at Hubspot.
- Mention your target keyword on your page judiciously – Enter the keyword on the first few lines of your content, your subheadings, title, and meta tags, among other places. At the same time, do not compromise the quality of your content by mentioning your keyword more than enough.
- Write great content – Nothing beats writing compelling content that provides chockful of information to your intended audience. To help you write better content even if writing is not your strongest suit, download a free copy of my e-book “The Winning Blog Content Checklist.”
Establishing a freelance career outside of Upwork may be an arduous task. I would even tell you that it will take you a couple of months before you could reap the benefits of performing the tasks mentioned above.
However, the real beauty of building an Upwork-less freelance career by following the steps above is the ability the reap 100% of your earnings without commissions from the platform, as well as full control of your professional direction. If you are truly interested in making the most out of freelancing, then I suggest that you take the road I have traveled to enjoy a career without dependence on a single platform.