It’s important to start by saying this is not a paid advertisement and I’m not receiving any payment of any sort for this article. It’s strictly my opinion.
There are 2 main reasons I like using UpWork.com; Accounting and Finding Jobs
I no longer need to manually track my time, manually generate invoices at the end of the month, and make the dreaded calls about non-payment. Using UpWork is similar to the old factory days where you’d punch a time clock when you started work and you punch out when you’re done.
Using the UpWork software is like using the old time clock system. I choose the client I need to work with and click go, punching in. The timer starts and I’m now on the clock. The software takes periodic screenshots of what I’m working on every few minutes and are stored in both the client and my account areas.
The client can essentially see what I’m doing and the screenshots can be used to dispute any charges. If I’m cruising Facebook and Twitter on your dime, you’ll see it and can dispute charges based on this. Note, this has never happened to me as I feel like someone is watching over my shoulder the entire time I’m working. It also helps me stay focused.
Just like the old factory days, I get paid next week for the work done this week.
Another thing I like to mention is the client can keep me on retainer this way by keeping a project open. When the client needs something, I clock in and get to work. The client is charged only for the hours worked. Some clients need 10 minutes per month. Others require 10 hours.
UpWork does all the accounting and my checks are auto deposited into my bank account. Nice and easy!
2. Exposure and Job Opportunities
UpWork is one of the largest job sites in the world. While that’s not always a good thing, so far I’m very happy with their service.
One of the challenges for us developers is finding clients. Another is getting paid a reasonable rate. UpWork does both.
At first, you’ll need to work hard finding clients. Especially good ones. I recommend doing one or two sites for practically nothing so you get something in your portfolio with good reviews.
Make sure you only bid on projects you’re confident with.
Read the project description carefully. You’ll get a feel for clients you think you can work with. Pay attention to the language used. Run away if you see things like all caps or words that sound demanding like “you must” or “I expect”. My favorites (sarcasm) are the ones that make all kinds of demands including “detail oriented” and a laughable rate, and have misspellings and grammatical errors in their project description. It kills me!
It’s tough to come up with a rate you’re comfortable with because you’re competing with people all over the world. Places like India and Pakistan for example work for less than $5 USD per hour and are very happy with that rate. If you live in the US, you’d be living in a cardboard box if you charged that rate. Look up the rates in your local area for what you do and charge accordingly. Be fair based on your experience. Plan to raise your rates every year by at least 10% to keep yourself motivated.
I like to speak on the phone with every potential client. If you’re not good on the phone, I suggest you work on that. There is no substitute for good communication skills and making your client feel comfortable with you. Be confident but not overbearing. Listen to their needs and try to come up with solutions. If you don’t know something, say so.
Honesty goes a long way. I’ve had a few clients hire me after I told them I was probably not the best choice for whatever reason. I said I could probably figure it out but hiring an expert in that particular area might be a better option for them. They said the reason they hired me was because I was so honest with them and they needed someone they can trust. Now the client expects bumps in the road but will never complain as long as you’re doing a good job and helping them to move forward.
Always remember your relationship with your client is exactly that, a relationship. It’s symbiotic where you each benefit from the other. Make sure your client knows how much you value them.
It’s OK to periodically throw in some free time. Maybe add a feature you think adds value to their site and put it on a test page so they can view. It shows the client you’re thinking about them and not just after a quick buck. If they like it, you may turn it into more work in the future like polishing up what you did for free.
There are some other nice features in UpWork like their messaging system where you can keep all client correspondence so you have a paper trail. Make sure you send the client a detailed list of the items you worked on with explanations if needed.
Remember, if you conduct yourself with honor, dignity, and integrity you’ll be just fine.
I hope you found this article useful in some way and I wish you the very best!