Is it OK to use a freelancer website?

Freelance Site: Upwork

When you decide you want to get started freelancing, you suddenly find there are sources online just for freelancers! It can become overwhelming with all of the options.

So I’m going to answer the question:  is it OK to use a freelancer website?

Yes.

But please keep reading because, TLDR: you can get started on a freelancer site, but don’t hang out there forever!

In this article, I’m specifically going to talk about Upwork. I’ll even give you my experience with it!

About Upwork

Back in 2018, I wrote a review of Upwork for Full Time Job From Home. Even then, I already had experience getting jobs through the platform.

Upwork is a place where people (AKA businesses or entrepreneurs) can post jobs that they need to outsource. And you (the freelancer) can bid on the jobs that you think you’re qualified for. Pretty simple.

How to be successful on Upwork

From my experience, the way you will find the most success on Upwork is to fill out your profile. Make sure it’s 100% complete. This will help you stand out against the competition.

Back when I was a bigger user ( I haven’t had to log in for quite some time, but I’ll get into that in a bit) I was able to take tests to help demonstrate my abilities. The tests could be focused on English grammar, etc.

I looked around and only found 1 test for myself at this time. I found it under the heading Find Work. It’s called an Upwork Readiness Test which I am able to take.

“The Upwork Readiness Test has 10 questions. It covers the best practices and safety tips that top freelancers use to build successful businesses on Upwork.” It continues on to say that each question has a 2-minute time limit. And they give you links to study up!

My Upwork Readiness Test Score

Oops! I scored a 3.5 out of 5… and failed! 😳😥

Definitely read up using the links they provide! I wanted to speed through the test to see what it was about. Thankfully, it says you can retake it at any time. Phew!

When do I use Upwork?

I’ve been a virtual assistant for over 5 years. I have clients and I have other lead sources for jobs. (You have to check out the Horkey Handbook mini-course!) But once in a while, I like to see what kind of jobs people are posting on Upwork.

Clients come and go. In the past, as clients have left, I have logged into Upwork and started bidding on new jobs immediately.

I think that’s the beauty of a freelancing site like Upwork. If you feel like you need more money – get online and bid on some jobs!

How Upwork works

When you sign up (for free) you receive what they call connect credits. The connect credits allow you to connect with the owner of potential jobs. You get a certain number of connect credits per month, so there’s no reason to hoard them. When they run out, you can buy more.

DON’T BUY THEM!

Just bid on jobs that you want. And when the month rolls over you can get more credits.

Why I say don’t hang out there

I say don’t hang out there because you’ll be competing against some people who will low-ball the jobs to get them. On the other hand, not all jobs want the cheapest labor! Some people need a certain skill that they don’t have and they’re willing to pay more for someone to do a better-than-good job.

Also, Upwork takes a portion of your earnings. Twenty percent, to be exact. So if you bid $40, they’ll take 20% which is $8, and you’ll receive the balance, or $32.

The nice thing is, you can play with the number to get it where you want it. I adjusted the field for the amount I’ll receive after fees, to make sure I’m getting my rate, and it adjusted the hourly rate I will propose to the client so that I can receive my rate after the fees are taken out.

Interestingly, I was able to submit a proposal even though I just failed the readiness test! 🤷‍♀️

My experience with Upwork

I have gotten at least 2 good jobs through Upwork plus other small jobs. One of them I’m still working with! After our contract ended, she contacted me to work on a different project for her and I’m still working with her!

Another client I’m still in contact with and we’re actually connected on Facebook! Needless to say, I’ve had a pretty good experience with it. But as I said, I put the time in, completed my profile, and took the tests they offered.

What to do next

If you haven’t started your virtual assistant business yet, there are a couple of ways to get started.

  1. If you’ve got $19 burning a hole in your pocket, you can take a mini-course from Horkey Handbook and find out if being a VA is something you really want to do.
  2. If you want to dive right in (this is you if you already KNOW you want to be a VA) you can enroll in Horkey Handbook’s FullyBookedVA system. It’s basically full access to all of their courses for as long as you want to stay enrolled.
  3. Or, you can take my FREE eCourse! You’ll receive 5 emails that will walk you through starting your VA business and you can literally start your business this week!

So is it OK to use a freelancer website? Have you tried Upwork? Are you ready to start your VA business? What questions do you have? I’m here to help!

Best follow up hack

How to follow up like a pro

Good follow up practices can make your business thrive vs make your business die. It sounds harsh, but it’s kinda true.

In this article, I’m going to talk about following up, why you want to do it, and how to do it!

And I’ll give you my #1 best follow up hack!

Why follow up?

It sounds like a no-brainer, but not everyone does!

  1. One thing that happens when you follow up: the recipient knows that you are still there.
  2. The recipient knows that you are still interested.
  3. The recipient knows that you are on top of things.
  4. And you don’t let things fall through the cracks.

Why don’t they respond?

You’re right, they don’t all respond. It sucks! You pour your heart out to a potential new client, you tell them what’s so good about you and why they need you and they don’t even reply. I admit, it sucks.

They’re busy! They need your help – probably because they are busy!

This is exactly why you need to follow up!

When to follow up

Is there a specific time frame you should follow? I usually follow up 5-7 days later, just depending on the day of the week that I sent the initial email.

For example, if I send them my initial email on Monday, I might follow up as early as Friday, so they can go into the weekend thinking about me! Or the following Monday at the latest.

If I send my initial email pitch on Wednesday, I might follow up as soon as the next Monday.

Either way, put it on your calendar or on your pitch tracker and when it says to follow up – just do it!

What do you say in a follow-up?

I follow up with something like this:

Have you made a decision yet? If you chose to go with someone else, could you provide feedback so I can make improvements if needed? Thanks for your time and good luck to you!

That is literally, exactly what my follow up email would say! Very simple and to the point. If they didn’t have time to reply to my first email, why would I want to overburden them with another long-ish email?

Can you force them to reply?

Unfortunately, no. There’s nothing you can do to force someone to reply. But you never know – they may be so overwhelmed that they haven’t even decided yet, and your follow up could be just what they need to make a decision!

I actually got a client this way back earlier in my virtual assisting career!

Why You Need a Follow Up System for Your Business

What else can you do?

Is there anything else you can do to aid in your follow up efforts?

Actually, there is!

I use something called Get Notify. It’s a free read-email notification. Check it out at www.getnotify.com

Ok, so using GetNotify is two-fold.

  1. When you see that the recipient has opened your email, then at least you know it got to them and they opened it. Yay!
  2. But it tells you more – if you see they’ve opened it several times, that could give you an indication that they wanted to read and reread your email!I think that multiple opens is a good sign!

Something you can do when you see they’ve opened your email is to call them. I’m not big on phone calls until they are an established client, so I don’t do it exactly this way, but it may be a tactic you could use.

This is it – my #1 best follow up hack

Picture this: your prospect opens your email. Then all of a sudden they get a call from you! Some will feel like it’s fate, or serendipity, that you called just as they were looking at your email!

But be careful! DON’T say, “I saw you opened my email”. You don’t want to sound like a creepy stalker! Lol

DO say, “I emailed you last week and I just wanted to follow up and see if you have any questions.” WOW!

Back when I was doing outside sales, this sort of tactic would work well when sending a proposal to a current customer. If they’re looking at my email, they might be ready to talk to me right now.

Same goes for pitching a new client. If they’re looking at my email, they may be ready to talk to me or hear more about me. If I think I left anything out of my email, I have used their opening an email as an opportunity to reply and add any relevant info that I feel I missed.

It’s like I’m answering potential questions they may have before they even respond. Just remember to keep it short. It’s perfect to say what I said above, “Just following up to see if you have any questions.”

Summary

While you can make a consistent process for yourself, you can’t control the prospect variable. But following up never hurt anyone. I promise. And if someone says, “your follow-up kinda annoyed me (or replace that with the word that sets you off)” – trust me, you don’t want to work with that person!

Please subscribe so you can get my weekly tips for new freelancers!

 

Refocus your business

How to get refocused in the New Year

Welcome, 2021! Thank God you’re here! Even though things won’t change overnight, there’s a mindset that 2020 just needs to be gone! Done! Buh-bye!

With the coming of a new year, it’s a great time to get refocused in all areas of your life. But for the sake of this article, I want to talk about your small business.

What does it mean to refocus

Do you know what it means to refocus? In terms of business, it could mean adjusting your vision. Or maybe reallocating resources.

But how exactly do you do that?

2 easy steps to help you get refocused

You have to start with your vision. What, historically, has been the vision of your business? For some, this will be easy to answer. For others, not so much. But don’t worry, we’ll get there!

1. What is your vision?

Ask yourself these questions:

Why did you start your business?

Who do you want to service/help?

Let’s look at my business as an example.

Why did I start my business?

I started my business so I could be home with my kids but still use skills that I’ve learned over the years. As a Virtual Assistant, I want to help small business owners who need support but don’t need a full-time employee.

Who do I want to service?

I want to provide services to small business owners.

More specifically, through my articles and products – I want to help NEW freelancers who have questions and don’t have time to take all of the courses or read all of the books.

I want my articles to be short, easy to read, and include just a few actionable items so that someone new can use the information NOW.

Why? Because I’ve purchased and taken soooo many courses and I feel like I could’ve gotten the info in so many fewer words! Lol, but I totally get it – I mean, they needed there to be more content to sell it, right?🤷‍♀️

Now, looking back, my vision hasn’t always been this clear. As I’ve written more articles, it’s really hit me that I think I can help new freelancers.

So that’s my new vision. This will help me stay focused when I’m thinking about what I need to do on a daily basis.

2. Reallocate resources

When we say resources, we could be talking about money or time. Ooooh, tricky! Yes, time is one of our most valuable resources!

Are you spending your time wisely? Based on your vision, should you adjust the use of your time?

I’m not adjusting my time spending habits, per se, but I did come up with a daily and weekly checklist system to keep me on track. So many times I feel like I get to the end of the day and I haven’t done something I’m supposed to do.

It seems so simple! Like, duh! But sometimes we overlook the easiest things.

Refocus and Grow Your Small Business

Now you do it!

  1. What’s your vision for your business? Are you happy with it?
  2. Do you need to adjust your time? Could you make a short checklist of daily and weekly tasks to keep you on track?

 

I hope you found this to be helpful! Next week, I’ll be looking more closely at mindset.

While you’re thinking about refocusing, are you happy with your branding? Does it tell people who you are? Are you happy with the image that you portray?

If you haven’t looked at it already, please check out my Branding Template! We have a new template in the works – a daily and weekly task list to help keep you focused!

My Branding Template and Asset Pack is a collection of my best resources to help you with your small business! Is there something you need? I’d love to hear about it!