Want to hear about how I landed my first Fortune 500 client on Upwork? I absoluely love this story.
About seven years ago, I hopped on Elance late one night just to see if anyone on the West Coast was posting a project before bed. I’ve learned that if you can get your proposal in before anyone else and it impresses, then you have a decent chance of landing the job on the spot without any competition.
So I would check the job feeds fairly often back then- usually 3-5 times a day minimum.
Anyway, I see a project for writing a post card for an upcoming charity event with a budget of fifty bucks. And I’m thinking a post card? That’s almost not even a job. I have a policy of never charging charities anything if I can help it but at the time, the minimum bid on Elance was $25 if you didn’t want to get penalized. So I bid $25 for a series of five postcards, with visual cues for the front and the copy for the other side.
Now, the client didn’t ask for any of that…she only wanted the writing. But it was for a good cause so I tried my best to go way above and beyond in any way that I could. Even so, I spent maybe 30 minutes total on this project before sending it back to the client. She was absolutely thrilled.
About a week later, the same client emails me and says, “Have you ever written a video script? I work for and I need five scripts for one of our major clients- I could pay you up to $1,000 if you could complete them within the next 3-4 days.”
Naturally I was blown away- I had no idea who I had volunteered for. But it made sense; highly sucessful people are more likely to be involved with big charities. And I happened to get on this person’s good side over a simple $25 project.
Over the last 7 years, I have billed this one client in excess of a half million dollars. She’s also referred me to two others on the Upwork platform that add up to an additional $175,000 in freelance work.
The Art of Landing Small Projects
Personally, I love bidding on small projects that can show off my abilities because I know for a fact that the client will come right back to me the next time they need something. So while others only bid on the jobs with $500 or $1,000+ budgets, I don’t pay any attention to the numbers part of the equation. I just look for users with a history of projects and good feedback- if they have that, then I’ll spend two minutes researching them and try to get them on board.
Here’s the thing though- if I had delivered $25 worth of postcard copy, then that client may have never reached out to me again. She loved me because I went above and beyond for a complete stranger…that’s how you prove your worth.
So remember this- there’s no such thing as a lousy job on Upwork. If you earn great feedback and get the chance for more work later on, then it’s a win/win situation. And you can always decline recurring projects down the road if the money is not adding up. That feedback and making a great impression is literally priceless though- I initially built my Elance profile $25 and $50 bucks at a time.
The Joys of Scam Artists
In fact, I remember an early job- maybe the worst project I ever accepted on Elance. It was for a “short eBook” on the driving laws in Australia, and the client said that he would be fully involved with the project and do all the research. The proposal said to write around 15 pages and he was offering $300. So even though the money was lousy, I said what the heck.
Only, the client completely lied- he didn’t share any research at all. In fact, he didn’t do anything but make additional demands. He changed the page count to 25 pages and then 35…all while promising me a hefty bonus at the end. The end product was 42 pages AND I did all the formatting for it.
But all of a sudden, the client wouldn’t respond. I could see that he was logging into Elance, yet he wouldn’t reply, release the payment or talk about that huge bonus he promised. So I’m contacting customer support and screaming bloody murder…this crook ripped me off! They did initially get the $300 released to me though since the client was non-responsive.
Nightmare job, right?
Of course it was. Yet, I received an invite for an eBook job about seven months later from a really, really good client. This person happened to like my profile and then he noticed that project, which convinced him to reach out. So even bad projects pay off if you deliver quality work.