As a freelance writing professional, your writing time is valuable. This little post will quickly help you sift through the mountain of writing jobs on Upwork and concentrate on those worthy of your efforts.
Searching for writing jobs on Upwork
There are literally hundreds of writing jobs posted every day on Upwork and you can browse and search across a range of categories. Here is an up-to-date list:-
- creative writing
- technical writing
- editing and proofreading
- article and blog writing
- web content
- grant writing
- academic writing and research
- other writing
Quickly create your own job feed by selecting up to 10 writing categories (see above), or save a ‘job search’ using filters based on keywords, how much you want to be paid, and the location of the client. You can also create an RSS feed so your saved job search feeds live into your browser.
Browsing your Upwork job feed
Once you’ve selected your categories and filters, scroll through your job feed. Each job displays the first three lines of the job outline, the budget, the type of freelancer required (entry level, intermediate, expert) , the location, and the client’s overall rating based on feedback from previous freelancers.
You can quickly screen jobs using the ‘thumbs-down’ or ‘heart’ icon — either removing them from your feed or saving them to view later.
Choosing good writing jobs
1. Jobs that have a clear project brief
First look for job advertisments that clearly describe what they want or include a project brief in the description. Job advertisements with clear descriptions usually indicate a client who is experienced working with freelancers and knows exactly what they want. If you land their contract you can usually get to work right away with minimal questions.
Alternately there are loads of advertisements for writing jobs with vague or unclear expectations. Either the client is unsure of what they need or doesn’t know how to explain themselves. Jobs like these require a lot of ‘unpaid time’ to get going because you need to ask loads of questions.
2. Jobs that have an easy application process
Remember that every moment spent negotiating a contract or applying for a job is unpaid and eats into your billable writing time. Some jobs on Upwork have an exhaustive application process, which usually indicates a lack of experience by the client and waste of your time. Leave them alone.
Let’s look again at the job in section 1 (project brief) asking for product descriptions.
Can you see how the client gives clear instructions on how to apply. Follow the link and then write a two sentence product description from the list. While it’s not a high paying job the client at least demonstrates a professional work approach.
Let’s contrast this now against another job, this time to review a Linked in profile. To apply for this job you have to send an application letter as well as provide detailed answers to four generic questions. By generic questions, I mean pre-written questions created by Upwork rather than the client themselves. Something else to note is the client’s request for an ‘expert’ but no indication of their budget.
I looked at that job ad and instantly thought … ‘nope, time waster‘. How about you?
Of course there are high budget jobs where a complex application process is justified, but don’t waste your time applying for jobs that want you to complete 5 full written answers + a cover letter and only pays $50.
Here are a few jobs to ignore:-
- Clients who ask you to rewrite significant pieces of their material as part of the application process. Basically they’re asking you to work for free.
- Clients who ask you to explain all your work methods and writing techniques but haven’t given you any information about themselves. Sometimes other freelancers post dummy job advertisements just to know how to do a similar job themselves.
- Clients with short and sloppy job advertisements.
3. Jobs with a realistic price
Many clients indicate they are “willing to pay higher rates for the most experienced freelancers” but think $5 an hour is acceptable. When evaluating a prospective job check the overall client history and see how much they’ve paid other freelancers. If they have completed hundreds of jobs and the average payout rate is $6 per hour, chances are they aren’t going to pay you much more either. The Article and Blog Writing category is particularly notorious for this type of client.
Also here are a few jobs to ignore immediately …
- Any job advertisement that says “we’re a startup and only have a limited budget, but this could lead to longterm work” or “we can’t pay much but guarantee you a 5 star rating“.
- A job with a reasonable budget (say $1,000) budget but the client wants to hire multiple freelancers (say 15 or more).
- A job with a modest budget (say $250) but wants you to write 20 pages of website copy.
- A job for a blog post for say ($50) but they want 3,000-5,000 words, SEO keyword research and meta data, content research and unlimited reviews.
4. Jobs in your time zone
Most jobs require a few questions back and forth between you and the client. It can be really annoying and also unproductive to set the alarm for 3am to chat with a client. Unless it’s a dream job, concentrate on projects where your location makes communication very easy.
5. Clients with a steady employment history
While there are plenty of great clients out there who haven’t used Upwork yet, proven experience does mean something (just sayin’). Check their overall feedback score, how long they’ve been working on Upwork, average amounts paid to freelancers, and their hire rate.
6. Clients with a nice review history
It’s good form for a client to leave a nice review for their freelance writer. We all want to work with shiny, happy people so dedicate your marketing time to applying for Upwork jobs with reputable clients who clearly indicate what they want, pay realistic rates, and take the time to leave a favourable review at the end of the job.
© 2018 Melinda J. Irvine