Fiverr Review: Why You Should NEVER Use Fiverr For Freelance Work

I'll be honest, I always liked the concept behind Fiverr.com.

Just a few clicks and a client can place an order with a freelancer based on a specific set of deliverables.

Easy peasy, right?

Sure, but it comes a cost. A big one.

This is one the few freelance platforms where buyers are given free reign to abuse, threaten and outright blackmail sellers any way they like.

Why? Because Fiverr turn a blind eye to it.

In this post, I want to share a recent bad experience as a seller on Fiverr, and why I decided to give up on the platform altogether.

How A Regular Order Quickly Turned Into A Hostage Situation

While I've been using Fiverr myself (on and off) for a while, this particular experience relates to my girlfriend's account, not my own.

(I've been advising her on building up a reputable account, and how to go above and beyond with every last order. Everything stated is her doing, I'm just an observer.)

In this case, she had just gotten another $5 order on her logo gig, which seemed to be like any other... or so we thought.

The order was fulfilled in good time, and my girlfriend had even included a bonus logo concept as well as the source file (which is usually part of the more expensive package).

The client "loved" one of the concepts and so we proceeded to send her the appropriates file sizes, as stated in the gig description.

Soon after, things got a little weird.

The client came back asking for a social media kit to go with the logo, something that is clearly not offered as part of her gig.

Against my advice, my girlfriend decided to deliver the additional work, despite not getting paid any extra for it.

After that, the client responded with even more demands and some changes to the social media files.

At this point, she agreed enough was enough.

Despite every effort to please this person, they were clearly overstepping their boundaries here.

So, she sent the client a polite message:

The next reply was the nail in the coffin.

This is when the client went from simply overstepping boundaries to unquestionable blackmail. (The equivalent of taking my girlfriend's Fiverr reputation hostage.)

F*cking disgusting.

While she took some time to ponder a response and reach out to Fiverr support for assistance, the client did eventually go ahead and leave a 1 star review.

Presumably this was to show her he/she wasn't kidding.

Soon after, while still waiting on Fiverr's response to the support query, the client paid an extra $10 for the social media kit.

Of course, the payment was accompanied by yet another threat.

At this point, all I wanted to do was go all Liam Neeson and hunt this person down so I could repeatedly punch them in the face.

(Seriously, I would have paid good money for the privilege.)

But, at the time, I still had hope that Fiverr support would step in and rescue my girlfriend from this PITA client.

Enter The *Almighty* Fiverr Support Team

When the response came back from Fiverr support, they told her they couldn't force the buyer to accept the order.

Okay, that's fair enough. (Even though the buyer already accepted it, technically.)

They also suggested drawing up a list for the buyer to show the work has been completed in accordance to the gig requirements.

Honestly, this reply just didn't cut the mustard.

My girlfriend communicated in her initial email that the client was trying to extort her for free work outside the agreed terms, by leaving a negative review if she didn't comply.

Of course, it wasn't really about the work, it was about seeking protection from an abusive client who was blatantly pushing their luck.

Their reply didn't give either of us any confidence that Fiverr really understood that, and even at this stage we felt like they didn't want to get involved.

Here was her reply to Fiverr:

At the same time, she also responded to the buyers latest threat, explaining that she would not continue to work with them unless the feedback was changed/removed.

(Again, this is feedback that was clearly and intentionally left to bully her into providing work outside of the agreed terms.)

A fair request by anyones standards, right?

Well, apparently not.

Rather than acknowledge what the buyer had done up until this point, Fiverr immediately turned the tables on my girlfriend.

Turns out, she was the one breaking all the rules.

Because she had asked the client to change their feedback, she was no longer entitled to any help from Fiverr support.

You can imagine how we both felt reading this.

Everything that the buyer had said and done prior to her last message was now being swept under the rug — as if never happened at all.

Fiverr essentially chose to support a manipulative bully, leaving my girlfriend with a permanent stain on an account she'd worked so hard to build up.

Case closed.

What a f*cking joke.

Think This Was Just A One-Off? Think Again.

If everything that happened wasn't upsetting enough, it's knowing that this person is still running rampant on Fiverr, preying on defensless sellers without a shred of repercussion.

And believe me, there are plenty of buyers doing exactly this on Fiverr, knowing they can and will get away with it.

How do I know?

Well, as all of this was happening, I did some research to see if any other sellers went through a similar ordeal with a buyer.

Very quickly, I found a number of almost identical cases on the Fiverr forum dated years back. (that's right, years.)

Here are just a few examples:

And this...

And this...

I could go on, but I won't.

This is clearly something that's been going on for a long time and it all stems from giving buyers too much power over sellers.

If there's one thing I've learned about Fiverr, it's that clients are ALWAYS more valued than freelancers.

Doesn't matter how much time you put into a project, or how hard you worked on it, or even how well you handled communication during a dispute, when it really comes down to it...

...freelancers have little to no protection.

Even when it's a clear cut case in your favour, there's still every chance the client will come out on top. All it takes it one tiny thing you "did wrong" according to their terms of service and EVERYTHING else is disregarded

The worst part?

Looking at the evidence, it's obvious to me that Fiverr is well aware of what's going on, yet is still willing to sit back and let it happen.

After can't help but wonder if Fiverr even give a sh*t about the wellbeing of their freelancers.

A Final Message To Fiverr...

If you're a decision maker at Fiverr and you're reading this, I implore you to seriously reconsider your current support procedures for freelancers.

It's not right that someone can put all that time and effort into building up an account and over-delivering at every possible opportunity, only to be shot down by the very people you rely on to protect you.

Look, I don't want to abandon Fiverr.

I don't want to be telling people to avoid your platform.

But after everything that has happened, you haven't left me any choice.

Until something is done to protect freelancers from this kind of abuse, I will continue to spread this post and do whatever I can to prevent others from falling victim to your one-sided support team.

The second you actually do something about it and give freelancers a way to fight back, I'll be more than happy to update the post.

How To Become A Freelance Writer In 2017 w/ ZERO Experience

So you want to be a freelance writer, huh?

Well, I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news. Let’s start with the bad.

Building a successful freelance writing business is no walk in the park. It takes a LOT of hard work and dedication. Especially in the beginning.

You will f*ck up.

You will doubt yourself (a lot).

And you will feel like quitting.

If that’s not something you’re willing to accept, you better close this page now and go back to playing Candy Crush.

Still here? Great.

Because the good news is, this article will guide you through the EXACT steps you need to take in order to become a professional freelance writer.

(And, more importantly, how to get paid a decent living in the process -- something even experienced freelance writers struggle with at times.)

Let’s talk structure...

Here's How I’ll Break This Down...

I spent a lot of time thinking about how this article should be structured, and believe me when I say there were multiple iterations.

What I’ve ended up with, I believe, is the most logical way to approach starting your freelance writing business -- especially as a beginner.

We’ll go through this in 3 phases, like so:

Phase #1: Finding Your Market

Knowing what kind of service you're going to offer is not enough. In order to fast-track your success a freelancer, you'll need to establish your position in the market and "nichify' your offering.

Phase #2: Developing Your Craft

Once you've identified a market and honed your focus on a particular sector of that market, you can then use the methods discussed in this section to become an "overnight" expert.

Phase #3: Bringing In The Moolah

It doesn't matter how much you know or what you can do, if you don't know how and where to market yourself effectively, you'll never turn your skill (preferably passion) into revenue.


Please, don’t skip this section.

If there’s one mistake I see plenty of new freelance writers making, it’s branding themselves as exactly that…

...a freelance writer.

Unless you’re Jeff Bezos (Amazon Founder), you should never try to be all things to all people. It’s FAR more effective to narrow your focus and serve a small portion of a larger market.

I know, it sounds backward; after all, how does appealing to less people help you make more money?

The answer is relevance.

The more closely your service (or solution) speaks to the job (or problem), the more desirable you will ultimately be to the client.

Relevance is often valued over things like experience and qualifications -- even if some clients aren’t consciously aware of that fact.

Not sold it yet?

Well, niching down comes with various other benefits, including:

  • Easier to identify your preferred clients
  • Allows you to establish yourself as an expert
  • Increases the chance of referrals
  • Higher possibility of repeat business
  • Significantly less competition

It’s fair to say not everyone will agree with this approach. In fact, the whole “big fish, small pond” argument is often debated.

The reason I think it works so well with freelancing, is because you can slowly expand your offering as you begin to outgrow the pond.

It’s easier than you think.

As someone who uses Upwork as their primary source for new clients, it’s literally a case of adjusting my title and bio.

(And yes, I do recommend using Upwork when you're starting out, but I'll talk more about that later.)

Like I said, easy.

Assuming we’re we on the same page about the importance of positioning, I think it’s time for the real meaty stuff.

How To Find Your Positioning And Dominate A Smaller Market

There are essentially two angles you can take when it comes to positioning yourself.

  1. Selecting a niche market
  2. Selecting a writing niche

(I recommend taking both angles to some degree, but this will start to make more sense later.)

Let’s talk about what they mean, exactly.

Angle #1: Selecting A Niche Market

Despite me using the term “niche market”, you don’t actually have to go very niche with this at all.

In fact, you can be a successful freelance writer without choosing a niche at all:

Do I recommend it?

No, I don't. Especially if you're a beginner.

Instead, you'll give yourself a much easier ride if you focus on serving clients in a specific niche market, like:

  • Health & Fitness
  • Finance
  • Law
  • Education
  • Marketing
  • Real Estate
  • Technology
  • Etc.

And where the demand is strong, you can niche down even further. For example, there are a number of sub-niches for "Health & Fitness"

  • Weight loss
  • Pregnancy
  • Dieting
  • Body Building
  • Skin Care
  • Etc.

We’ll talk about validation shortly, but don’t be afraid to venture deep when it comes to niching down.

Note: This is an interesting podcast interview with Kendell Rizzo, a freelance copywriter on FIverr who niched into ‘crowdfunding’ (a subsection of finance) and is now making 6-figures as a result. (Yes… you can charge a lot more than $5 on Fiverr.com.)

Angle #2: Selecting A Writing Niche

This one is REALLY going to influence the next phase, and it’s the one I recommended spending the most time getting right.

What am I talking about, exactly?

Well, the key here is to zero in on specific sectors of writing, not just writing as a whole.

Some examples of writing niches include:

  • Academic Writer
  • Article Writer
  • Content Writer
  • Blog Writer
  • Sales Copywriter
  • Business Writer
  • Copy Editor
  • Creative Writer
  • Journalist
  • Press Release Writer
  • Screenwriter
  • Technical Writer
  • Translator
  • Book / Ebook writer
  • Ghostwriter
  • Guest blogger

Note:  If you want a more exhaustive list, this is an excellent resource covering 50 writing niches you can potentially dive into.

Another thing to keep in mind:

Some of the writing niches I’ve listed above encompass a wider selection of smaller, but still profitable “sub-niches”.

A good example is copywriting, which can be further drilled down into email, sales pages, webinar pages, squeeze pages, etc.

Validate Your Niche Market (And Avoid Setting Yourself Up For Failure)

The screenshots above are from my go-to freelance platform, Upwork.

Since this is a marketplace with over 12 million freelancers and 5 million clients, it’s also the PERFECT place to validate a freelance niche.

So how do you a validate a niche, exactly?

It’s simple. If other writers are doing well in a given niche, it’s very likely you will too.

(In other words, they have already proven the demand.)

As you’ve no doubt guessed, we’re going to do that by looking at the freelancer database on Upwork -- based on your prospective niche market.

Sticking with the “Health & Fitness” theme, let’s say you were interested in offering a writing service around ‘weight loss’.

Step #1: Head to the freelancer search page. (You can even do this from a freelancer account.)

Step #2: Open up the filter options, and apply a filter to show only freelancers under the “Writing” category.

Step #3: Apply a second filter to show only Freelance Writers that have earned over $1,000 through the platform.

Step #4: In the search box, use common keywords to describe the angle (or angles) you’d like to validate.

​​​Step #5: Scroll through to see how many other writers are having success in that particular niche.

What should you do if you struggle to find others making money in your preferred?

You can always try going broader, but if that doesn’t work, I’d strongly recommend finding an alternative.

(Remember, you can always change this at a later date if you feel your niche is not working out for you.)


PHASE #2: Becoming A Master Of Your Craft… In A Matter Of Weeks!

Now that you’ve nailed your positioning (wait, you have nailed your positioning, right?), we can talk about the writing itself.

Coming into this, you may already have some experience as a writer. Even still, it definitely doesn’t hurt to go through this section and brush up on your writing ability.

If you have virtually NO experience as a writer, this section will help you get into the game as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The good news?

You can become proficient in almost any online skill in a matter of weeks, and writing is no exception.

(In fact, the idea behind doing phase #1 first, is to make phase #2 EVEN easier than it would have otherwise been.)

Rapid Skill Learning & How I “Wasted” 2 Years Of My Life

‘Rapid Skill Learning’ is the process of becoming proficient in a given skill over a very short period of time.

Not years. Not months.

WEEKS.

I know it smells like BS, but hear me out.

During my 2-years at college, I studied software development. (Yeah, I thought I wanted to be a programmer.)

The saddest part?

I somehow managed to walk away with a marginally better understanding of software development. I mean, it was laughable.

Soon after, I decided to invest in an online course on coding a website from scratch, using a tool called Adobe Dreamweaver.

Within 1 week, I had gone through all the videos and learned more about coding than I had EVER learned over that 2-year period. No competition.

That’s not even the crazy part.

I paid $59 for that course.

That’s right. Fifty f*cking nine dollars for something I valued more than my 730-day stint at college.

Like it or not, online courses are just as -- if not more -- effective at teaching you something than going through the traditional education channels.

(The key difference being, you can get through the material in a FRACTION of the time.)

Moral of the story?

Online courses are the way to go if you want to break into freelancing writing, but don’t have the writing ability to back yourself up.

Shortcut Your Way Into Freelance Writing Through Online Course Marketplaces

Before I dive into courses specifically, I should clarify that it’s not the only channel when it comes to rapid skill learning.

There’s books, PDFs, blogs, podcasts, videos, etc.

The reason I’m so big on courses is because they’re organized into a complete, end-to-end system.  In other words, the information is structured -- very important for RSL.

(The other channels can, and should be used to supplement what you learn via a paid course.)

Note:  In case you were wondering, I do have my own course that teaches freelancers -- including freelance writers -- how to use Upwork to land high-quality clients and kickstart their online freelance business.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, you can join the waitlist here.

So, where do you actually find these courses?

Well, with everyone and their mother throwing themselves into an instructor role these days, several marketplaces have emerged.

Let me break down some of the more popular options:


Marketplace

Avg. Course Price

Rating

Udemy

$20

Lynda

$25 / month

Coursera

$49

Skillshare

$15 / month


Course Marketplaces

As much as I love these learning platforms, a lot of the good stuff is, unfortunately, buried amongst low-quality information.

In this section, I’ll show you how to flesh out the gems.

Firstly, depending on your writing ability and confidence, you may want to brush up on the basics before going full-throttle.

What I mean is, looking for general courses that cover things like spelling and grammar.

For the real ROI, however, you need to leverage the second positioning strategy I outlined above.

Your writing niche.

Granted, some writing niches will be better served than others, but you should be able to find a handful of good courses in any case.

For example, sales copywriting:

Many of the courses you’ll find on these platforms are only a few hours long, but that’s often all you need to get started.

Instant Proofreading With These KILLER Writing Tools

One last thing I’d like to cover before we move into the next phase, is writing tools.

You would be AMAZED at how good some online tools are at finding mistakes in your writing.

Grammarly is probably the most well-known.

You can install it as a Chrome extension (to monitor your writing in, say, Google Docs), or write directly in the web application.

The premium version gives you some nice benefits that are also worth considering, though certainly not necessary to get started.

Another one is Hemingway app.

It’s a free web-based tool that grades the reading age of your sentences. Believe it or not, but the key to great writing is having a lower reading age.

I find Hemingway to be a little too picky at times, but it’s definitely worth a quick check before submitting your work.

There are a bunch more, but those two will be plenty to get you off on the right foot.

Note: If you’re interested, I actually wrote a HUGE post outlining 60 similar writing tools. You can read it here.


PHASE #3: How To Secure High-Paying Clients For Your Freelance Writing Biz

If you skipped everything else and jumped straight to phase 3, I can hardly blame you.

This is easily one of the biggest question people have when they jump into freelancing.

How do I find clients who will actually pay me to write?

As it happens, this is also where my advice differs from most other freelance writers out there. At least to some extent.

While many will tell you to avoid freelance platforms like Upwork, I’ve actually found them to be a great channel for kickstarting (and even maintaining) a freelance writing business.

So, rather than just give you my own experience of what works, I’ll try to be as objective as I can here.​​​​

Note: It’s also worth mentioning that I compiled a huge list 101+ sites to find freelance work across several different fields, including freelancing writing.

The Case FOR Upwork (And Why You Should Ignore The Naysayers)

I’ll say it now, Upwork isn’t perfect. Far from it.

I’ve personally read/heard from plenty of people who have had a bad experience with Upwork, some worse than others.

What people don’t realize, however, is that 99% of these situations could have been avoided.

Take this classic example, posted on Reddit:

Note the highlighted section; Upwork told this freelancer exactly why his earnings were not protected.

If he had bothered to read up on what qualifies for hourly protection, he would know that he didn’t meet the requirements.

Do I think this freelancer deserved to lose out over not putting memos in his work diary?

Nope. Of course not.

Do I think Upwork has some pretty sh*tty rules that are not always in the best interest of freelancers?

Absolutely.

But if the cost of tapping into this highly-lucrative freelance platform is taking some time out to make yourself AWARE of these nuances, surely that’s a worthwhile investment… no?

Like I said, most of these situations can be avoided if you just familiarize yourself with the way Upwork works.

Note: If you’re still shaky about Upwork, I wrote a post that’ll hopefully clear up any remaining doubt you have.

Why You MUST Diversify Your Client-Acquisition Channels

Many freelancers, including myself, have relied solely on Upwork to acquire new clients whenever needed.

The truth is, Upwork is large enough to supply you with all the work you could possibly need as an independent freelance writer.

No question.

But that doesn’t mean I recommend doing that -- even if I don’t follow my own advice at times.

As great as Upwork is, putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good strategy. When it comes to running a freelance business, diversification is key.

So, while I am saying to focus solely on Upwork in the early stages, you should also eventually start building new channels to deliver leads to your business.

That way, if one channel was somehow removed from the equation, the damage that has over your business (and income) is severely mitigated.

There are a number of ways to achieve this, but none come so highly-recommended as the one I’m about to cover.

Building Your OWN Channel For The Craziest Conversions You’ll Ever See

You guessed it, a website.

Having your own website is one of the BEST ways to attract and convert potential leads for your freelance business.

It’s professional.

It projects authority.

It establishes credibility.

And, most importantly, YOU control every aspect of what prospective clients will see and experience as they navigate your site.

That’s everything from your branding, messaging, pricing and promise…  to the more granular details, like which portfolio items and testimonials to show (and where).

The best part?

These days, a complete beginner can have a professional-looking site up and running in as little as a day. (That’s right, no coding experience necessary.)

Of course, it does take a bit more work upfront to get it generating consistent leads, but it’s absolutely worth the effort if you’re serious about freelance writing.

Note: If you need some guidance with this one, I highly recommend Elna Cain’s course, WriteTo1k.

It’s a complete system that not only takes you through the foundational stuff, but also gives you a step-by-step process for setting up, designing and attracting prospects to your website.

Wrapping It Up

As I said in the beginning of this article, getting your freelance writing business off the ground won’t be easy.

Sure, reading guides (like this one) will soften the blow, but you gotta hustle if you want to make it in the freelance world.

The good news?

If you follow the steps I’ve outlined, you will give yourself the best chance to succeed, with the least amount of friction possible.

Good luck!

How To Get Your First Job On Upwork Using These 3 “Secret” Ingredients

You’ve signed up for a freelancer account.

You’ve spent hours filling out your profile to perfection.

And you’ve wasted countless days pumping out proposal after proposal without so much as a rejection email to show for it.

Sound familiar?

Well, you’re not alone. In fact, this is something a LOT of new freelancers struggle with when they first jump into the difficult world of Upwork.

And, sadly, it’s an experience that ultimately leads people to come to false conclusions about the platform as a whole.

But, as I often find myself saying these days, the problem isn’t Upwork. The problem is your approach to Upwork.

Flawed Advice

I want to start off by saying that it’s not your fault.

The internet is riddled with garbage advice on every topic imaginable, from relationships, to marketing, and, of course, freelancing.

Most of the stuff you read about Upwork is based on traditional thinking. Approaches that work great in the real world, but in reality, they fall flat in the kind of online environment that Upwork harbors.

Despite popular belief, success on Upwork (or any freelance platform, for that matter) isn’t predetermined.

The truth is:

  • You don't need previous experience
  • You don't need a portfolio
  • And you don't to be qualified

Any “resource” that says otherwise is just spewing flawed advice that’s long passed it’s sell-by-date. The kind of stuff that lingers on old forums and blogs like a fart in an elevator.

It doesn’t matter how dedicated you are, if you’re following the wrong advice, you’ll just keep spinning your wheels until, eventually, you burn the f**k out.

Why Should You Listen To Me?

I just told you that most of the “Upwork advice” out there is total crap, so what makes mine any different?

It’s a good question, and one I hope you at least pondered in the back of your mind.

All I can say is, unlike most of what you read nowadays, I’m actually applying what I teach in my own business. (In fact, you can head over to my Upwork profile right now and confirm for yourself.)

And what I’m about to share with you is the exact strategy I used from the beginning, allowing me to secure copywriting work at $35/hr, and closer to $100 only months later.

And I did it...

  • Without ANY copywriting experience
  • Without a SINGLE portfolio piece
  • With ZERO relevant qualifications

But more than that, I did it regardless of having virtually no history on Upwork, and with more established copywriters were charging less than I was.

How I Pulled It Off...

I’d like to tell you that I’m gifted. I’d like to tell you that I’m incredibly intelligent and that I somehow managed to “hack” my way to the top.

But the truth is, I was just lucky.

Before I started freelancing on Upwork, I was already very familiar with the platform because I’d been using it to hire freelancers for almost 5 years.

Being on the other side of the fence for so long gave me a distinct , unfair advantage when I eventually did switch sides.

And because of that, I was quickly able to reverse-engineer the core ingredients. The same ingredients I’m about to share with you.

The 3 “Secret” Ingredients

I put “secret’ in inverted commas because, despite very few people actually implementing these, they’re not really secret at all.

Ready to have your mind blown? These are the 3 core ingredients we’ll be tackling in this post:

  1. Authority
  2. Credibility
  3. Likability

Before you face-palm and click away, bare with me for a moment.

You already (hopefully) know that being authoritative, credible and likable are crucial ingredients for success. That’s not a new concept by any means.

But, if there’s one thing I’ve come to realize, it’s that just knowing this stuff isn’t enough by itself.

The key is getting a handle on these ingredients, and actively working them into your overall approach on Upwork. Then (and only then) will everything else start clicking into place.

That includes:

  • Your profile overview
  • Your proposals
  • Your work samples
  • Your communication

Alright, it’s time to get your wetsuit on because we’re about to do a deep-dive.

Ingredient #1: Authority

Being an authority, in laymen's terms, is simply establishing yourself as an expert on a given topic.

And that’s the word people get hung up on. In fact, most people don’t see themselves as being an “expert” on anything.

The truth is, you’re hardwired to think that way, and it originates from a cognitive bias called the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Hence, the corollary to the Dunning–Kruger effect indicates that persons of high ability tend to underestimate their relative competence, and erroneously presume that tasks that are easy for them to perform also are easy for other people to perform. - Wikipedia

To put it plainly, “authority” is subjective.

Clients go to Upwork because they don’t know how to build a website. They don’t know how to write compelling copy. They don’t know how to build an iOS application...

Assuming you know more than they do, in their eyes, you are an authority. All that’s left to do is help them realize that fact. (And again, it is a fact.)

How To Project Authority On Upwork

Being an authority -- or being knowledgeable on a given subject -- is not enough to land clients on Upwork.

You need to know how to project your authority and market your expertise before you can really start to capitalize.

So let’s look at a few specific tactics you can use:

#1: Offer Suggestions To Demonstrate Value

Whenever you get the opportunity, take some time to make tailored suggestions based on the subject matter of the task.

For example: if a client is looking to improve the conversion-rate for a landing page, check out the page and offer a killer tip that can be implemented for a quick-win.

Not only will this prove to the client that you know your shizzle, but this value-first approach will land you more gigs than you’ve had hot dinners.

#2: Dig Deep Into The Client’s Needs/Pain Points

All too often do I read proposals that are entirely focused on the freelancer and their experience, qualifications, ability,… blah blah.

The problem here is that you don’t become an authority by telling someone you’re an authority. It’s perceptive, and the best way to influence that perception is to put the spotlight on the client.

Whether it’s in your profile overview or in your cover letter, you should always be aiming to help the client, as opposed to selling yourself. (I cover this more in my cover letter analysis post.)

There’s a huge difference between the two and trust me, the mindset you go into this with will almost certainly be carried over in your writing.

#3: Communicate With Power

Alright, so this isn’t a “tactic” per se, but your ability to communicate with power is possibly the single most important factor when it comes to projecting authority -- so it has to be said.

For them most part, communicating in the right way stems from believing not only in your ability to deliver results, but also in the true value of your services.

(Wait, you do believe in the value you’re offering, right? Good.)

Not only that, but once you stop clamouring for clients and and start putting yourself in an “overbooked mindset”, you’ll naturally remove any semblance of desperation from your communication.

Ingredient #2: Credibility

Being “credible” ultimately comes to down to whether or not the client believes you can do the job.

Of course, you do inherit a certain level of credibility when you effectively position yourself as an authority…

...but that’s not always enough.

Not only do you need to demonstrate your expertise, but you also need to provide some form of evidence that YOU can get the results.

This is where, for many people, huge portfolios and high-level qualifications play a big part, but they’re not necessary. (In fact, they are among the least effective ways to establish credibility in my opinion.)

How To Establish Credibility On Upwork

There are a few ways I like to do this on Upwork, and each one is tailored to a specific, but universal goal.

Paint a picture of the end result.

I realize that’s sometimes easier said than done, but let me give you a few specific tactics you can use to achieve that.

#1: Give Them The Blueprint

This is something I’ve yet to see any other freelancers using, and it’s a technique I dubbed, “The Mind Map Method”.

Basically, it works by creating a mind map (or any other visual medium) that outlines your process from start to finish. I won’t go into it here because I wrote an entire post on it, so I highly recommend you check out.

There’s a fair bit of setup time to it, but once you’ve created your mind map, it’s something that really sets you apart from everyone else. Besides, it can be used repeatedly, so it’s absolutely worth the upfront investment.

#2: Attach A Highly-Relevant Sample Piece

Yes… I told you that having a portfolio isn’t a necessary component to being successful on Upwork. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Samples are still incredibly important when it comes to conveying credibility, and if you don’t have a portfolio to choose from, you can simply create them on-the-fly.

The biggest impact you can make with your proposal isn’t by submitting something super long or complex, and it isn’t even necessarily about outstanding quality…

...It’s about relevance.

Fortunately, starting from scratch and creating proposals on a need-to-have basis puts you at a massive advantage, because you’ll always have a scarily relevant sample to attach alongside your cover letter.

#3: Cough Up Some Stellar Testimonials

Nothing screams credibility like someone else vouching for your services, especially when the results speak for themselves.

If you’re just starting out on Upwork, you probably don’t have any Upwork feedback to leverage for this, and that’s okay. While this does seem like a bit of a catch-22, there’s a pretty simple workaround.

All you have to realize is...

Nobody said your testimonials must appear exclusively on your Upwork profile, and neither did anyone say they should come from Upwork itself.

In other words, you can source testimonials from from past clients, colleagues, or even friends and relatives, and then you can simply paste them straight into your cover letter.

Ingredient #3: Likability

“Likability” is often attributed to in-person scenarios, but I can tell you now, the same principles apply online, and Upwork is no exception.

The funny thing is, most freelancers tend to overlook this ingredient, and it’s one that will almost always give you the edge over your competitors.

Fortunately, only a slight shift is needed to take full advantage of this, and you’ll slap yourself once you realize just how powerful it is.

How To Be Insanely Likable On Upwork

A lot of this stuff comes down to just being human, and, as obvious as that may sound, you’d be amazed at just how many proposals read like a letter to the President.

Again, let’s look at a few specific tactics you can use:

#1: Address Each Client By Name (Seriously)

If there’s one stupidly easy way to set a good impression right from the start, it’s by addressing the client by their actual name.

Yet, even when I’ve clearly listed my name in the job description, I find more than half of applicants still fail to start their cover letter with it. (Which promptly lands them in the rejected archives.)

Can’t see a name? I’ve got some sneaky tricks for finding any client’s name, but I only share them with subscribers so you’ll have to gimme your email if you want in. 😉

#2: Inject Complements Where Appropriate

I struggled with this myself at first because I really hate forced compliments. (They’re so pronounced and full of intent.)

But I quickly figured out that even a subtle compliment slipped into your cover letter can go a long way, and if you know where to look, it’s really not hard to find a genuine reason to make one.

It could be as simple as...

  • Complementing the design of the client’s website
  • Acknowledging a need for the client’s product
  • Showing an interest in the client’s business or market
  • Thanking the client for a detailed job description
  • And literally dozens more...

Such a small thing, but it really does work wonders when it’s said in the right way and with conviction.

#3: Show Dem Pearly Whites

See the little circle that appears next to your name on Upwork? That’s right, your profile photo.

That little beaut is one seriously overlooked piece of real-estate, and using a cropped FB picture from your friends stag-party just isn’t going to cut it. Not this time.

The biggest impact you can make with your profile photo is to smile. And not just a casual smirk, but the biggest full on ear-to-ear smile you can muster.

A genuine smile is incredibly powerful. It communicates ease and openness, approachability and trustworthiness. It is perhaps the single most immediate way to express likability. - The 11 Laws Of Likability

Wrapping It Up

Understanding and applying these core ingredients will not only allow you secure your first job on Upwork, but they are the key to landing consistent work on the platform.

And while I’ve only scratched the surface on the individual tactics, the lessons in this article alone will put you head and shoulders above the competition.

Feeling confident? It’s time to get yourself back on Upwork and win yourself that first job.

Good luck!

Getting Paid on Upwork: Are You Following These 6 Crucial Rules?

Navigating a freelance marketplace like Upwork can be a bit of a minefield at times.

That’s why it’s important to do your homework, especially when it comes to getting paid. After all, getting paid is one of the main reasons, if not the main reason, you are freelance writing. Duh.

Whether you choose to undertake hourly assignments or fixed-price contracts, the trick is to ensure that you’re adhering by Upwork’s payment policies in order to avoid getting yourself into any disputes or sticky situations.

You’ve worked hard, you’ve completed the contract and now naturally you want what you’re owed. Read on for my 6 crucial rules that you must follow so you can get paid successfully on Upwork.

#1: Leverage Hourly Protection

If you’re already familiar with Upwork, you’ll know that the site offers payment protection to freelancers for the hours they work, as long as the freelancer meets certain criteria.

First of all, you have to ensure that you’re logging the hours that you’re putting in through the timesheet on the Upwork Desktop app. You can simply download this app for free from the site as soon as you sign up.

Then, you need to make sure you’re regularly updating your Work Diary with activity labels. This is so you can demonstrate the tasks that you’re performing for the purpose of your client.

If you’ve never worked with a particular client before, this hourly protection is ideal if you’re unsure about them, or if they’re suspicious, in any way. Trust me, it’s a trust builder. But once you’ve got the hourly protection down, then you can proceed to kick ass at those fixed price contracts!

#2: Fix Your Timesheet To Avoid Disputes (Hourly Only)

There are some instances where freelancers won’t qualify for hourly payment protection. I know – what’s up with that, right?

At the end of each week, you’ll have a brief window which you can use to help you clean up your timesheet. Make sure you check over and edit it before you send it off to your client.

The key is to remove any segments that are added manually, as well as any incorrect or missing memos. If you have long periods of low activity, you might want to remove them too, as this won’t work in your favor if there are any disputes. It’s also worth taking out any screenshots that are irrelevant or inappropriate.

Basically, keep things tidy and you’re laughing!

#3: Leverage Fixed-Price Protection

Not only does Upwork aid freelancers working on hourly contracts, but the site also offers payment protection for fixed-price contracts.

When you first start working with a new client on a fixed-price contract, there is the option to split heavier workloads into milestones. The client must always fund the next milestone in the contract. Then the money will be held in Escrow until the work has been completed to, what the client deems, a satisfactory level. Then the client approves the milestone and you gain access to your dollar. It’s as simple as rice and peas.

Like with hourly protection, fixed-price protection allows you to develop trust between yourself and your client which will hopefully result in a happy long-term relationship!

#4: ALWAYS Submit Your Work For Fixed-Price Jobs

What a lot of freelancers don’t realise is that sending work through Upwork’s messaging service or via email is considered as unofficial delivery. I was also guilty of this in the beginning!

The best way to go about it is to submit your work through the Upwork contract which will then kick off a two-week review period. The client can request changes or edits to be made to your work within this time limit. When the client is satisfied, they will approve the milestone and you will get paid! Happy dance!

However, if the client gives you the silent treatment and you don’t hear from them within these two weeks, you will still be sent the payment at the end of the review period. Another happy dance!

 

#5: Set Up Automatic Payments

You can choose the way that you get paid by Upwork, both through the payment method and the payment schedule.

In terms of method, you can decide which way you’d like your mullah to come through to you. The most popular methods are direct to your bank account or via PayPal. You can also have the funds wired to your bank or delivered through Payoneer.

In terms of schedule, you can choose to either get paid weekly (every Wednesday), twice per month (the first and third Wednesday of the month), monthly (the last Wednesday of every month), or quarterly (the last Monday of each quarter). Choices, choices!

However, make sure you choose carefully. As you get charged a flat-fee for every withdrawal, it’s better to specify a higher payout amount. Think about it.

 

#6: Don’t Be Tempted By Outside Payment Methods

As originally talked about in this article, there are plenty of clients who try to coax you into being paid outside of Upwork. The little rebels. Now it goes without saying that you will lose Upwork’s protection by agreeing to this.

I can understand why it’s so attractive; you get to skip the 324 fees of Upwork which end up taking a big chunk out of your wage (okay, slight exaggeration). And you can get paid according to your own terms and time schedule.

However, this is a little risky. If you get caught by Upwork then you could lose your account. Say what you like about Upwork, but it is a core driver of leads for your business as a freelance writer. So, be careful.

It is tempting in one sense, but completely not worth it in another. If you choose to get paid via PayPal for example, and there’s a dispute, PayPal tends to favor buyers over sellers. So not only would it be bye bye client, but it would also be bye bye money! Not cool.

If you really, absolutely, unequivocally want to take your client off the platform, there is an opt-out fee that few freelancers even know exists. It’s pricey, though.

Wrapping It Up

Essentially, it’s all about putting measures in place and respecting Upwork’s policies in order to protect yourself and your wages.

Being a large freelance marketplace, I know Upwork can be overwhelming at times. The getting paid side of it can be a little challenging to get your head around, especially when you’re new to it all, but if you follow these 6 rules then you won’t go far wrong.

And you’ll be an Upwork pro before you know it!

Upwork Vs Fiverr – Which One Is Truly King Of The Freelancing Hill?

By now, we’ve all seen those ridiculously long lists of places to find freelance work online. (I'm in the process of creating my own, but with a unique twist to make it actually useful.)

And while list-posts like that are an invaluable resource for any freelancer trying to kickstart (or grow) their business, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by just figuring out where to focus your energy.

In this post, I’ll tackle two biggest freelance platforms on the interwebs right now, giving my perspective on which of these monsters you should really be paying attention to.

Who Are These Giants?

In case you’ve been living in your Grandma’s basement for the past couple years, let’s quickly establish why we’re even comparing these two juggernauts in the first place.


Upwork is the result of a merger between oDesk and Elance back in March, 2014, and, as a result, it’s now the biggest freelance exchange in the world.

The platform is estimated to receive 43 million visits per month, and is said to house over 5 million client accounts, and 12 million freelance accounts, with jobs worth more than $1 billion in revenue each year.


Fiverr, established in February, 2010, is the $5+ marketplace that now ranks in the top 100 most popular sites in the US.

The platform is estimated to receive 35 million visits per month, and is also said to facilitate close to 1 million transactions per month.


Understanding The Key Differences

Despite both Upwork and Fiverr having a huge presence in the online freelancing world, and despite being compared side-by-side in this post…

...they aren’t actually all that similar.

Yes, they both allow you to connect with clients across various skill categories, but the similarities stop there for the most part.

Truth is, these platforms function very differently, and before you can even begin to know which platform is best, you need to really understand those key differences.

In a nutshell, this is how it looks:


Upwork

  • You offer services closely related to your skills
  • You bid on jobs to win client contracts, where scope is set by the client
  • The earning potential is broader

Fiverr

  • You offer gigs that can span across any number of services
  • Clients buy your gig, where the scope is set by you - the freelancer
  • The earning potential is on the lower side (initially, at least)

So… Which One Is Better?

The reason I can’t give you a straight answer to this question is because it’s the wrong question to begin with.

One isn’t inherently better than the other.

Both freelance platforms compliment your freelance business in entirely different ways - as highlighted in the comparison above.

Tapping into either of these can be lucrative -- and you can absolutely benefit from both -- but it’s more effective to master one strategy before moving on to another form of lead generation.

Lewis's Note
To summarize: Upwork is better for finding high-paying, long-term clients, while Fiverr is better for offering multiple high-volume, narrow and repeatable services.

The Real Question

The real question you should be asking has been staring you point-blank in the face since you started reading this article.

It’s not: “which platform is better”. That’s always going to be subjective.

In fact, it’s the same question I embedded into the title of this article… “Which one Is right for YOU and YOUR business?”

And if I frame the comparison in a slightly different way, it becomes a whole lot easier to identify which is the best fit.

Wrapping It Up

Look, I don’t know what business you’re in. And I don’t know what services you offer.

What I do know is, you should be able to take what I given you and figure out pretty quickly whether or not either of these platforms fit into your business (not the other way around).

If for some reason you can’t do that, then you need to take a step back and figure out what it is you’re actually offering, and what format best fits that offering.

How To Ace Upwork’s Interview Process (And Obliterate Your Competition)

Let's face it, nobody likes interviews.

Having to prove yourself to someone you likely don't even know is tough. And when it goes wrong, it's demoralizing.

But what few freelancers realize, is that Upwork's interview process is far from a typical job interview. And, once you fully understand how it works, you'll see that it's actually not all that scary.

In today's post, I'll reveal how interviews truly function on Upwork, and more specifically, some core principles that allow you to breeze through Upwork interviews every single time.

The Initial "Interview" Phase

There's a reason I put the word "interview" in quotes.

Not because I like quotes (who doesn't like quotes?). It's actually because the term is a little misrepresented on Upwork, specifically.

In the real world, an interview would be defined as:

"A somewhat formal discussion between a hirer and an applicant or candidate, typically in person, in which information is exchanged, with the intention of establishing the applicant's suitability for a position."

But on Upwork, that's not strictly the case.

In fact, the official moment an interview begins is when a client responds to a freelancers application (or proposal). You can even see this publicly.

A response doesn't necessarily mean they want to interview you per se, and in many cases, it means:

  • Scenario 1: The client wants to give you more information about the task
  • Scenario 2: They're already sold on you and want to ask some general questions (ideas, availability, etc.)
  • Scenario 3: They're looking to negotiate (price, deadline, scope of work, etc.)

All of that stuff just relies on basic communication and negotiation skills.

Of course, there will occasions where the client prefers to do a separate, slightly more literal interview to help narrow down their options.

Lewis's Note
It's even possible to skip the "interview" process entirely if the client sends a hire request in direct response to your proposal. It's quite rare, though.

2 Types Of Dedicated Interviews

So let's assume the client does want you to prove yourself, how does that actually translate?

In my experience, it can be broken down into two core types.

  • Type 1: The Call
  • Type 2: The Sample

In this post, I'll only be breaking down 'Type 1' since that's the area people tend to struggle with, and it's also what most people would associate with being
"an interview."

(Don't worry, I plan to a release a separate post on samples soon. I'll update this section when I eventually hit publish on that bad boy.)

The Call

In this case, the the client will reach out to request to have a call with you. Usually on a separate platform (although you can actually call directly through Upwork now.)

Here's how that might look:

A key thing to keep in mind here, is that most clients will assume this to be an unpaid offering of your time.

Now, there are very few cases where I recommend working for free, but given how well these calls convert, I'd say it's very low-risk on your end -- providing you execute properly, of course.

That said, there are a couple boundaries I'd recommend you communicate to the client from the offset.

Boundary #1: Date And Time

As you can see in the screenshot above, the client will often suggest a date and time for the call.

Since Upwork is an international marketplace, it's very likely that clients will suggest times that are super inconvenient for you. And, if that's the case, don't be afraid to offer alternatives that better suit you.

In fact, you can even use a tool like Calendly to give the client a visual overview of your availability, and they can book themselves in. (This is also great for positioning yourself a high-level, in-demand freelancer.)

Lewis's Note
If the client doesn't show up and fails to give you notice of cancellation, I recommend taking that as a pretty big red flag and considering passing on the opportunity entirely.

Boundary #2: Duration

This is a BIG one and something I was always reluctant to do when I first started out, but it's a necessary part of establishing yourself as a professional and learning to respect your own time.

Most invitations for a call are open-ended. They have no specified duration and could last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour (or longer).

That's why it's your responsibility, as the service provider, to communicate the allotted time-frame of the call. Especially if you're not being paid for you time.

Not only does this BEAM authority, but it forces both parties to get all their ducks in a row before the call and make it a highly-focused and productive 10...15...20 minutes.

How To Pass With Flying Colors

Ok so you've had a response to one of your proposals, and you've successfully scheduled a time to jump on a call.

What next? 

Well, one of the best ways to ensure a smooth interview (and to almost certainly bag the job) is to be irrationally prepared for every scenario.

Now, as I said before, these interviews are almost never like traditional job interviews. They tend to be a lot more informal and sometimes even require YOU to take the lead.

As long you're prepared, that will never be an issue. In fact, taking the lead is often something you want to strive for. Being able to direct the conversation in a way that hits all the right notes is exactly what you want.

Being Irrationally Prepared

I don't care how nervous or inexperienced you are for a call, being unreasonably and irrationally prepared is the only way to overcome the negative emotions and absolutely blow your prospective client away.

Look, 90% of the interview takes place before the interview even starts. The rest is just executing on what you've already laid out for yourself prior to jumping on the call.

Okay, I've got a lot to share so this will a bit of a quick-fire section:

#1: Just Ask

Once you've scheduled a call with the client, you should always ask if there's something they'd like you to prepare for the call.

Even though you'll already be preparing everything you could possibly need, their answer can often give insight into what kind of interview the client wants this to be.

(Whether it be a casual chat, a strategy call, or a more traditional, question-by-question grilling.)

This is more of a mindset thing more than anything else, and going in with the right mindset is another form of preparation that should never be underestimated.

#2: Reread The Job Description

Rereading the job description you applied for is a great way to get a quick refresher on what the opportunity is actually about.

It can sometimes be weeks until you hear back from a client, let alone end up on a call with them, which is why it's crucial to remind yourself of why you were interested in the first place.

This also ties in heavily with the new few points...

#3: Research The Company

The job description rarely offers enough information to get a complete understanding of the clients company and their goals.

A great place to get that information is from the company website. If the client didn't mention their website anywhere on Upwork, take a note from the first point and just ask.

You don't have to spend hours combing through each page of their website, but a quick read over the home page and about page will likely give you more insight than you know what to do with.

#4: Always Be Taking Notes

As you do your research prior to the call, you should always be taking notes. It sounds obvious, but you'd be amazed by how many people skip this part.

Relying on your brain to recall information at just the right time is a risky move, and the payoff for getting it right is significant enough to warrant going the extra mile to have it all written down.

Trust me, something as simple as reading back a clients mission statement in the midst of a conversation will earn you HUGE brownie points.

#5: Have Samples Ready

Often times, even though you've likely provided a sample prior to the call, you will mention something that ties in closely to something you've done previously.

For example, that might be a particular strategy you recommend the client take, which is likely something you've executed in the past. Wouldn't it be awesome to back up your advice with a proven case study?

It's all well and good saying "I'll send that to you after the call", but walking the client through it right there and then has significantly more impact than letting them figure it out solo. (And that's if they even remember to check it.)

#6: Watch Your Connection

I won't jabber on about this because it's fairly straightforward -- but it's so important to take the call on a stable internet connection.

There's nothing worse than having to repeat yourself countless times (or worse, asking the client to repeat themselves) because you couldn't be bothered to check your WiFi capabilities.

No matter how prepared you are in terms of what to say, none of it matters if you're not able to properly communicate.

#7: Don't Dodge Questions

Very occasionally, you'll get that one question you're not quite sure how to answer. It may be that you don't know how to phrase it, you're not confident in your ability to explain it, or you simply don't know the answer.

It happens. Don't sweat it. But the last thing you should do in that situation is try and dodge the question. Just be straight about your concern in answering that specific question.

Being upfront and honest is something that anyone (and especially clients) will appreciate, and maintaining authenticity is always a good substitute for when you don't simply don't have the answer.

Wrapping It Up

As I'm sure you've gathered by now, Upwork interviews aren't something to get your knickers in a twist over.

At it's core, the key is to understand the true definition of an Upwork interview and how it actually functions in comparison to a traditional interview.

From there, success simply comes down to your ability to be irrationally prepared for every possible scenario. And believe me, few freelancers are taking advantage of this crucial phase of client acquisition.

27 Insanely Practical Writing Blogs Every Word-Ninja Should Follow

Whether you’re just starting out in the freelance writing world, are a few years into building your career, or have been knocking out content for more years than you can even remember - we all need a little inspiration sometimes.

Often, the best way to develop our own careers is to learn from the careers of others. (We learn what works for them, so we can replicate the same success ourselves.)

We can also learn from what hasn’t worked for them, by making sure that we don’t repeat their mistakes! Lucky for us, there are many successful freelance writers out there, all willing to share tips and advice based on their own personal experiences.


1. Smart Blogger

asana

Smart Blogger (formerly Boost Blog Traffic) shares tips, strategies and guides on building and growing a successful blog. As you might expect, many of these posts revolve around writing, and they're easily among the most actionable articles I've ever read.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


Author
Jon Morrow


2. Writers in Charge

asana

Writers in Charge is owned by a Freelance Writer who's currently enjoying wild success in the industry. Through the blog, Bamidele shares his expertise and experiences, as well as numerous free resources, in order to help you further your own career in freelance writing.

My top picks


3. Freelancer FAQ's

asana

Freelancer FAQ’s does what it says on the tin, answering all of the common questions that a budding Freelance Writer might have. Different professionals in the industry often guest post, providing a wealth of knowledge and a community feel to the site.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


Author
Elna Cain


4. The Write Life

asana

The Write Life aims to turn the journey on the way to becoming a Freelance Writer into a fun one, by offering help and advice to eliminate as much stress and confusion as possible. From their income reports, to how-to’s and SEO strategies, you’re bound to learn something!

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


Author
Alexis Grant


5. ProBlogger

asana

If you haven’t yet heard of ProBlogger, then are you even a freelance writer? Well-known particularly for hosting detailed, high quality advertisements on their job board, this site is the go-to resource for any self-respecting freelance writer. Their variety of learning methods, through podcasts, e-books, in-depth tutorials, mean that it won’t be long before you’re a daily visitor.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


Author
Darren Rowse


6. Be A Freelance Blogger

asana

Sophie Lizard’s simplistic, no-nonsense blog content delivers help and advice for young, aspiring writers. Each post comes with bags of enthusiasm and oozes Sophie’s infectious personality, providing a high dose of entertainment alongside practical writing tips.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


7. Freelance Writing Gigs

asana

Another website centred around its highly credited job board is Freelance Writing Gigs. This site collates jobs from a variety of sources, as well as providing business, job-hunting and writing resources in order to help you grow your freelance writing career.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


Author
Visit Blog


8. Daily Writing Tips

asana

Daily Writing Tips publish a new article, you guessed it, every day in order to help budding writers improve their grammar and writing on a technical level. The topics range from spelling and punctuation, to usage and vocabulary, aiming to turn your writing into not only something, but something amazing.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


Author
Maeve Maddox


9. BloggingPro

asana

Very similar to ProBlogger in principle due to being owned by the same media company, BloggingPro currates top quality job advertisements on a daily basis for its popular job board. In addition to being a great job resource, the site also offers an abundance of WordPress tips and an extensive book list to serve as research for freelance writing beginners.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


Author
BlPro


10. Aliventures

asana

The owner of Aliventures, Ali Luke, aims to encourage beginners to “master the art, craft and business of writing” for both fiction and nonfiction purposes. From tips and techniques, to personal development and motivational features, Ali shares her thoughts and experiences to help you be the best writer that you can possibly be.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


Author
Ali Luke


11. Make A Living Writing

asana

Through video tutorials, e-books, and a writers-based community, Make a Living Writing is bursting with practical information and actionable advice for any solopreneur in the making.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


Author
Carol Tice


12. Writing Revolt

asana

Writing Revolt is one of my personal favorite blogs for freelance writers. Jorden Roper’s no-bullsh*t approach to coaching aspiring writers is just as entertaining as it is helpful. There is certainly no fluff involved, compared to some other sites out there, and it’s just great to be able to laugh while you’re learning!

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


Author
Jorden Roper


13. All Freelance Writing

asana

Featuring a frequently updated job board, alongside a forum for freelance writers, All Freelance Writing (formerly All Indie Writers) is one of the best resources for bloggers wanting to not only build a business, but make it flourish.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


Author
Jenn Mattern


14. Live Write Thrive

asana

Susanne Lakin is a writing coach and copy-editor who provides online courses to professionals in the writing and editing fields. In addition to handy resources, Live Write Thrive also communicates the latest news and events for the wordsmith community.

My top picks


15. Shout Me Loud

asana

Shout Me Loud is a blog for bloggers with an aim to “liberate every human being from the 9-6 job.” They’re dedicated to providing content that will guide aspiring writers through the blogging process, from conception to monetization.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


16. Lauren Sapala

asana

The Lauren Sapala blog is mostly educational-based. Lauren offers online courses and coaching tips in order to help her readers improve their writing, build confidence, and empower their creative flame.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


17. Enchanting Marketing

asana

Henneke Duistermaat is a successful entrepreneur who runs the blog over at Enchanting Marketing. Her enthusiasm and passion for coaching other professionals in this field is infectious, and she provides light-hearted blog posts on writing topics, alongside offering educational online courses.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


Author
Henneke D.


18. CopyBlogger

asana

Henneke from Enchanting Marketing is actually a frequent guest contributor to Copyblogger: a site whose aim is to teach people how to produce “killer online content.” In addition to offering online courses, they have listicle-type blog posts that are incredibly engaging and valuable to budding freelance writers.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


Author
Brian Clark


19. KissMetrics

asana

Surely you’ve heard of a (not so) little site called Kissmetrics? If not, then allow me to enlighten you! The Kissmetrics blog provides some of the most practical advice for bloggers there ever was. They focus on content based around analytics, marketing, and testing, in order to primarily help bloggers optimize their growth.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


Author
Visit Blog


20. The Write Practice

asana

The Write Practice has extensive practical tutorials for any type of writer. As well as freebies and fun articles for creative writers, The Write Practice also provides grammar and interviewing tips aplenty.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


Author
Joe Bunting


21. She Writes

asana

She Writes is, you guessed it, a site for female freelance writers. It is one of the largest online communities for women, whether they are at the beginning stages of their writing careers, or have been in the industry for years. The site has a lovely, personable feel and provides encouragement for every woman currently working in the writing field. Go, girls!

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


Author
Kamy Wilcoff


22. About Freelance Writing

asana

About Freelance Writing is especially aimed at writers in the early stages of freelance writing, giving them all the tools that they need to get their careers off the ground. From helpful books and online courses to job boards, About Freelance Writing serves as the ultimate guide for beginners.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


Author
Anna Wayman


23. Productive Writers

asana

Three guesses as to what this site champions? That’s right, productivity! Their philosophy is that the more productive you are - not just in terms of learning, but in terms of actual writing - then the higher chance you have at succeeding. Productive Writers’ signature blog post comes in the form of a guidebook, and these guidebooks are based on a range of topics, making you feel well-equipped for your venture into the freelance writing world.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


Author
John Soares


24. The International Freelancer

asana

The International Freelancer offers shareable posts that are split into four categories, resembling the four different stages of your freelance writing career: “finding the work”, “doing the work”, “running the business” and “living the life”. The site makes it easy for you to search for the help that you need and then receive beneficial advice from the experts.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


25. Write To Done

asana

Write To Done is unique in the sense that it offers motivational self-help articles, alongside thoughtful freelance writing advice. They put a creative spin on otherwise mundane topics and deliver content that is just as entertaining as it is educational.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


Author
Mary Jaksch


26. Men With Pens

asana

You might be thinking, like She Writes, Men With Pens is a freelance writing website aimed at a specific gender. And the owner, James Chartrand, is a man. But you’re wrong on both counts. James runs a successful freelance writing business and shares her personal thoughts, experiences and learnings from her own career through the Men With Pens blog.

My top picks


27. Rosie Does Digital

asana

Rosie Does Digital may be a relatively new freelance writing business website, but its content is seriously dreamy. Not only are the posts really advantageous and useful for writing beginners, but the content on the site is beautifully presented. Everything is so pretty and attractive that you can’t help but do the love heart-eyed emoji.

My top picks

Website
Visit Blog


Wrapping It Up

Whether you decide to check out just one of these blogs, have a peek at a few, or go crazy visiting them all - which FYI might take you all day - I guarantee that you will discover at least one good piece of writing advice.

The trick is to harbor what you learn so that you can apply this information to your own freelance writing career. That way, you’ll become a major success in no time, and then you can share your own expertise. It’s an endless cycle!

How To Write A Highly-Effective Meta Tag Description (Like The Pros)

You’ve written stellar content and want to create a link to the page that will rank in Google. You can create a meta description that captures the magic of your page while giving the reader a powerful mental image of what your content offers them. This article is going to show you how to construct a hard hitting, highly impactful meta description.

What Is A Meta Description?

A meta description is a snapshot of your content’s main idea. It’s a 135 to 160-character summary that leaves the reader wanting to click on your link.

The  snippet of what the web page is about displays in search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo and Yandex, just to name a few. It is best to set your own meta description in the CMS you’re using like WordPress or Joomla.

Why Is Your Meta Description Important?

If you don’t write your own meta description, one is automatically generated for you containing the first or second sentence of your link.

For instance, if there were no written meta description for this page, underneath the name of the page name you’d read: “You’ve written stellar content and want to create a link to the page that will rank in Google.

You can create a meta description that captures the magic of your page while giving the reader a pow...” This line doesn’t compare to the competing articles above or below it.

Creating your own meta description allows you to squeeze out the juice from your article so that your user will read it and get thirsty enough to click on your link.

Most People Neglect Creating Meta Descriptions

Why would anyone not write a customwant to create a meta description? Many people don’t know about meta descriptions. They think that they’re something that’s automatically generated or that it’s optional. While that’s all true, meta descriptions drive traffic to your website. Creating your own powerful meta description improves click through rates dramatically. This means you’ll actually see the traffic on your website increase once your pages have solid meta descriptions. See the difference here:

Automatically Generated Meta Description: BAD

Manually Written Meta Description: Good

See the difference between the “Bad” meta description and the “Good” meta description. The automatically generated meta description looks like it was grabbed from some random part of the article. It doesn’t make you want to click on the link because it doesn’t communicate any value. The second meta description is clear, concise, and communicates an interesting and little-known fact about annuities. The second meta description, for this reason, will get more clicks throughs, often resulting in a higher ranking. A human touch is always infinitely more powerful.

Surprisingly enough, the automatically written meta description is from a government website. This just goes to show you that by creating your own meta descriptions, you could actually communicate to users that your site is more relevant to their search than a government regulated fact site. How’s that for getting ahead of the game?

The 7 Elements of a KILLER Meta Description

Meta descriptions are a conversion factor that ultimately translates into a ranking factor. How can you create epic meta descriptions? Here are 7 ways that you can increase clicks and drive traffic to your webpage.

1. Stay Within The Limits

Meta descriptions should be limited to 155 characters and no more than 160. Unlike a Twitter post that are to 140 characters, meta descriptions are limited by pixel. This means that a search engine like Google will crop your description to a certain width. These tools will help you with creating meta descriptions that fit Google’s parameters: Yoast SEO and Google SERP Snippet Optimization Tool

Avoid truncated meta descriptions. This means using asterisks or quotation marks in your snippet. You can get help with getting around using truncation in meta descriptions from the Moz SERP tool.

2. Cut Out The Fluff

Make the most of your character limit. The more to the point you are, the bigger the effect you’re going to make on the user. Remember, someone scrolling through a Google search list wants to meet a need. If your meta description isn’t impactful, they’re not going to click on your page.

3. Avoid Trickery

Explain clearly what your page is about. The more to the point you are, the more relevant your webpage will be to the people searching for that information. Using flowery, click-bait meta descriptions can get you more clicks, but users will leave your page as quickly as they arrived. When users visit only one page on your site and then leave quickly, it increases your ‘bounce rate’, which decreases your rank.

4. The PAS Framework

Use the PAS framework to write your meta descriptions. PAS stands for problem, agitate and solution. PAS is guide that first identifies a problem: “Tired of student debt?” It then agitates the reader: “Many alumni are buried in debt. Some still haven’t found jobs after graduating from college.” Finally, it offers a solution: “Applying for loan forgiveness is simple.”

5. Core Benefit

Don’t get carried away with the details. Focus on communicating the core benefit of your page. Why should users click through to your site? Why is your site important and what value does your content bring your readers?

6. Use Common Words

Include keywords in your meta description. Use bold words because they stand out to the reader as well as SERPs. Refer to the third screenshot that shows you what a good meta description looks like. See that the word “Annuities” is in bold? The user’s eyes scan the screen and stop on your meta description. Making key words bold will make users read your meta description.

7. Test Variations

If your click through rate is low, change your meta description. Keep playing with it. Try different ways and see what works best. Research keywords that is relevant to your content and use those words in your meta description.

Take Action

Constructing powerful meta descriptions takes practice. Use the resources linked in this article as a guide. Creating hard- hitting descriptions that increase your click through rate and generate traffic to your website is possible. Start now with step one, and as a tip, don’t use the same meta description for multiple web pages. Have you found a method that works for you? Comment below. We want to hear your opinions on what makes a killer meta description.

Upwork Proposals: A Deep And Thorough Analysis Of A Real Cover Letter

Ahh… Upwork proposals.

As a long-time Upwork client, I’ve personally read well over 1,000 proposals and hired my fair share of freelancers along the way.

If there’s one thing I can say without a doubt, it’s that the majority of proposals I’ve received over the years have been… well... awful.

The truth is, most freelancers are completely oblivious to what really makes a great Upwork proposals (even if they think they know).

So here’s the deal…

Today, I’m not just going to tell you what makes a winning Upwork proposal, I’m going to show you.

Making The Cut

I recently posted the below job ad on Upwork (twice), where I was looking to hire a content writer.

Within 24 hours, I’d already managed to attract a couple dozen applicants.

As usual, though, I ended up deleting 98% of the responses I received. (Out of 31 responses, I was left with 2 reasonably good candidates.)

Like I said…

...I’ve gone through this elimination process countless times already, and this kind of result isn’t too far from the norm.

If you’ve ever found yourself applying to endless jobs only to never hear back, it’s because you’re just not making the cut.

The good news?

It’s easily fixable once you learn and implement what I’m about to teach you. Today, I’ve picked out one cover letter I'd like to share with you.

Obviously, my goal isn’t to “out” anybody here, it’s to highlight common mistakes in the hope that I can help you better your proposals and land more clients.

Note: When I say “proposal”, in most cases, I’m actually talking about the cover letter in particular, which is the written part of an Upwork proposal.

The Cover Letter

Below is the cover letter we'll be analyzing, and this is one I received only a few days ago in response to my job ad.

I've blurred out some personal information for anonymity, but have a quick read over it. Please. 🙂

I chose this one for the case study because if you read it, you’ll probably struggle to find anything inherently “wrong” here.

(In fact, it's a lot better than most proposals I receive through Upwork.)

But, while I will admit this isn’t a terrible cover letter, there are still a few fundamental flaws I'd like to address.

Pay attention, because I bet your bottom teeth you're doing at least one of these yourself.

The Bad Stuff

#1: THE SALUTATION

Before we even get into the meat of this cover letter, there’s already a slip up on the very first line.

If you look at my job advert again, you’ll notice I actually included my name at the very end.

Obviously, this freelancer didn’t bother to address me by name, despite the fact I gave it to them on a silver platter.

Maybe they didn't read the entire job ad, or maybe they just didn't think it was important to include it. Either way, these are not traits I would personally be looking for in a freelancer.

Lewis's Pro Tip
Many clients - including myself - purposely include a name to quickly eliminate ~60% of applicants who miss it. It's just another filter, so don't get caught by it.

#2: THE ANGLE

This is the one most freelancers get caught up in - and likely the one you missed after reading the cover letter.

It’s not what they said, it’s HOW they said it. The entire letter is focused on the freelancer, not the client.

In fact, just look at how many "me" statements there are (yellow) compared to statements that are focused on me (green):

Look, I get it. It makes complete sense to mention your achievements, your experience, and your talents. There’s nothing wrong with that.

But unless you can directly relate those things back to the client and explain exactly how they will benefit, none of it matters. It’s just waffle.

Lewis's Pro Tip
Try turning a "me” statement into a “you” statement wherever possible. And if you absolutely have to talk about yourself, be clear about why the client should even care.

#3: THE LENGTH

I always get asked about the “correct” length for a cover letter, and honestly, it’s hard to say exactly what that is.

What I can say is, the goal should be to include only the essential elements in as few words as possible. (It's obvious, but you'd be surprised.)

From my experience, the sweet spot tends to be somewhere around 120-150 words. Considering this cover letter stands at 226 words, it’s already a bit too long in my opinion.

Remember, clients are busy people. The last thing they want to see is a wall of text. Keep it short, fluff-free and punchy.

Lewis's Pro Tip
Psst.. I share my exact cover letter structure with email subscribers. Just click this box if you're down.

#4: THE SAMPLE

This is another "hidden" filter I plant inside my job ads.

Some freelancers are very quick to just point you to their portfolio and have you wade through different samples until you find a relevant piece. (Please, please, pleeeeease don't do that.)

Others will do one slightly better and attach half a dozen relevant pieces to the cover letter itself. But again, that's hardly respecting the clients time.

That's why, in my job ads, I make sure to slot this little gem in somewhere:

Even with that so bluntly thrown in, roughly HALF of applicants fail to include a single sample piece.

The proposal (or cover letter) above was no exception. No links. No attachments. Not even a portfolio on Upwork. Nothing.

The Good Stuff

#1: CREDIBILITY

If there's one thing this cover letter is full to brim with, it's credibility.

This particular freelancer is involved at high-level with several recognized online publications. And that says a LOT in terms of writing ability.

Not only that, but I can actually verify whether these claims are true, just by going to each website and looking for the name. (Some form of verification is crucial whenever you're trying to establish credibility.)

Of course, the freelancer has gone a little overboard in this case, but the right ingredients are definitely buried in there. No doubt about that.

Lewis's Pro Tip
If you're looking for other ways to establish credibility, I wrote a killer post on something I call "The Mind Map Method".

#2: SPELLING & GRAMMAR

What can I say... the spelling and grammar is flawless.

As someone who's hired more writers than anything else on Upwork, it's clearly important for me to see stellar writing ability within the cover letter itself.

Even if you're not a writer, it still doesn't hurt to run your cover letter through some free tools before you send it off. (Bad spelling and grammar is still a low quality indicator.)

Conclusion

Your proposal (and your cover letter in particular) is easily one of the biggest contributing factors when it comes to winning contracts.

Fortunately, as long as you follow the principles I've outlined in this case study, you'll be able to take your own cover letters to the next level.

In fact, get yourself over to Upwork right now. Fire off some proposals while this stuff is still fresh in your head. Never know, you might surprise yourself.

How To Beat Upwork’s Fees (And A Look Back At Last Years Infamous Fee Hike)

If there's one thing freelancers always complain about when it comes to Upwork, it's the fees.

And you know what? I get it. I really do.

Upwork is easily one of the highest commission freelance platform after last years fee hike. And that's not an easy pill to swallow when you're out there busting your gut, trying to make a living.

The good news is, Upwork is still one of the best places online to find high-quality, long-term clients... even with the increased costs.

Don't believe me? Keep reading.

The Price Hike

In case you just recently joined the party, let me get you up to speed.

Almost exactly 1 year ago, we, the freelancing community, woke up to the news that Upwork were about to change their fee structure.

Here's a snippet from the email:

The changes meant that, as of June 2016, freelancers would forfeit more of their earnings on future jobs with new clients. (At least until they hit the threshold.)

Essentially, Upwork wanted to implement a "sliding fee structure" that both rewarded high value-contracts AND punished low-value contracts.

Before the hike, it was a flat 10% fee across all contracts (and even then, some people argued this was too high.)

Fast forward today, here's what it looks like:

And while a sliding structure does make a lot of sense, it doesn't necessarily work out better for the little guy.

Lewis's Note
A fee was also introduced for clients, which previously didn't exist. It still stands at 2.75% on all payments.

Doing The Math

Now, I'll be real with you.

I'm a huge fan of Upwork. I used it to kickstart my freelance business. I've recommended it to countless people. And I've even built a complete video training course around it.

But that doesn't mean I agree with everything they do. I don't.

Just running the math on Upwork's "improved" fee structure shows why the move didn't benefit the majority of freelancers on the platform.

Here's what the sliding structure really meant:

  • You now pay 10% more on earnings for the first $500
  • You now pay the same on earnings after $500
  • You now pay 5% less on earnings after $10,000

Lewis's Note
This means for every new contract, you now pay an additional $50 upfront, and that will only balance out once you exceed $11,000 in earnings (for each client.)

And look, I always advocate charging premium prices and building long-term relationships with your clients. Regardless of price hikes.

But I'm sure I don't need to tell you, securing $11,000+ clients just isn't feasible for most freelancers. Far from it.

Of the 12 million freelancer accounts in Upwork's system, less than 1% have earned over $10,000. Much less with a single client.

What I'm saying is, the community had every reason to be upset. And believe me, they were upset...

The Backlash

The change was always going to ruffle some feathers, but I was still surprised at how seriously pissed some people were.

These are some snaps I took from Twitter when the news went out...

Some freelancers even vowed to leave the platform, using the hashtag #boycottupwork

And it wasn't just Twitter.

Shortly after the announcement, many headed to Upwork's own community forum to get some things off their chest.

This thread reached 576 replies in a single day - something I've never seen happen before in this particular forum.

Fighting Upwork's Corner

Like I said earlier, I get it. Having to pay a fee on your earnings is a bitch. I think we can all safely agree on that.

But let's take a step back for a moment. Let's look at what you're really getting for your 20%.

For starters, Upwork harbours more than 5 million client accounts, a good chunk of which are actively hiring through the platform.

How do I know?

Because there are around 3 million jobs posted every year, or 3 million opportunities to secure work. That's without taking into account the fact these jobs are worth a combined $1 billion (with a b).

And let's not forget that Upwork handles payments, provides time tracking software AND offers a payment guarantee.

As a freelancer, you don't even have to pay anything upfront. You only pay once you actually start earning through Upwork.

Weighing it all up, can you confidently say that Upwork's fees are unreasonable? Personally, I'm not so sure.

Beating The Fees

Most people's answer to last years fee hike was to either leave Upwork, or take clients off the platform.

I don't think either of those are smart.

By leaving the platform, you're also leaving behind a HUGE pool of potential clients that are only active on Upwork. It is the biggest freelance marketplace, after all.

(Not only that, but finding clients elsewhere will almost always cost you time or money anyway.)

As for taking clients off the platform? That's probably the worst thing you can do in Upwork's eyes. That s**t will get you banned for life if you get caught.

So what SHOULD you do if you're not happy with the fees?

Simple; Bake them into your prices.

Think about it. You're running a business. Every business has overheads, and those overheads should always be reflected in your pricing.

(When manufacturing costs rise, retail prices have to scale with it. It's no different.)

Lewis's Note
If you're worried that raising your rates by 10% will make it harder to win clients, then you're going after the wrong type of clients.

Conclusion

I've tried to be as objective as I can with this post, and I can absolutely see both sides of the argument.

At the end of the day, acquiring clients always comes at a cost. It's up to you to decide where those costs lie.

Upwork isn't the only place to find high-quality clients, but it's still a great resource to tap into and one that can be justified if you simply raise your rates accordingly.

13 Free & Freemium Project Management Tools To Stay Organized On A Budget

Managing projects can be a real pain in the goolies, especially if you don't have the right system in place to do it effectively.

And while some project management applications will take a big wet bite out of your budget, surprisingly, there are some excellent free (and freemium) alternatives worth considering.

In this post, I'll give you a quick breakdown of all the key players in the market, as well as my own personal rating of each.


13 Project Management Apps

Use the table below to jump to a specific project management application

ToolTaglineRating
AsanaAn easy way for teams to track their work—and get results
TrelloWork more collaboratively and get more done
BaseCampProject management & team communication software
WrikeThe world’s most successful companies trust Wrike
to accomplish more
FreedCampGroup efforts made effortless
MeisterTaskThe most intuitive project and task management tool on the web
ProducteevTask management software for teams
AllthingsTake control of your tasks, teams and time
KanbanFlowBoard management and project planning
AvazaBeautiful software to run your client-focused business
Bitrix24Your company. United.
PodioYour workflows, structured and smarter
RedboothEasy-to-use task & project management software

1. Asana

asana

Asana is your to-do list on steroids. It offers a clear and robust platform allowing you to break projects down into smaller, manageable tasks and delegate those tasks to individual people on your team.

Notable features

  • Assign due dates to specific team members via tasks and sub-tasks
  • Internal conversations allowing you to keep records of everything
  • Files and attachments to centralize all project related documents
  • Search past projects for tasks, conversations and files
  • Integrations with Chrome, Dropbox, Slack and more...

Free plan: Unlimited tasks, projects and conversations for up to 15 team members.

Website
Asana.com

Pricing
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My Rating







2. Trello

asana

Trello takes a more "flexible" approach to project management using the popular card-based system. By setting up boards, you can create draggable items that can each be assigned to members of your team.

Notable features

  • Add comments to any card on any of your boards
  • Upload and store file attachments for yourself or others
  • Invite people and delegate by simply dragging and dropping
  • Get notifications via the app, email, desktop or browser
  • Real-time task updates across all devices (without refreshing)

Free plan: Unlimited boards, lists, cards, members, checklists, and attachments (up to 10mb).

Website
Trello.com

Pricing
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My Rating







3. BaseCamp

Basecamp is another team-based project management app that aims to bring everyone's work under one roof. The platform is broken into 3 levels, allowing you to take a birds eye view, as well as focus on individual teams or projects.

Notable features

  • Dedicated discussion boards keep all communication in one place
  • To-do's allow you to assign tasks and set due dates to team members
  • Automatic check-ins gather status updates without having to ask
  • Group chat and instant messaging is built right into the platform
  • Detailed reporting to give you insights into every aspect of a project

Free plan: BaseCamp is only free for teachers and students.

Website
Basecamp.com

Pricing
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My Rating







4. Wrike

As well as having your own 'Personal Dashboard' where you can manage your work, Wrike offers an easy feedback and approval system for teams. The live activity stream also provides instant updates of project activity which saves your email inbox from overflowing.

Notable features

  • Mention your teammates using ‘@’ for real-time communication
  • Drag and drop your daily tasks on your timeline in your Personal Dashboard
  • Highlight content to comment and approve your teammates’ work
  • Monitor project activity through the Live Stream
  • Synchronize milestones in the team calendar

Free plan: Task sharing, file management, activity stream, spreadsheet view, 2GB of storage space, for up to 5 users.

Website
Wrike.com

Pricing
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My Rating







5. FreedCamp

FreedCamp does what it says on the tin, offering free software for companies, no matter how large or small your team is. With unlimited storage and projects, as well as unlimited users, the sky's the limit with this project management app.

Notable features

  • Task management in the form of written lists and sticky notes
  • A built-in calendar for adding tasks, milestones and events in one place
  • An easy-to-use invoicing system to bill clients
  • The ability to turn projects into a template for repeat use

Free plan: Tasks, discussions, milestones, time management, file sharing, and Google calendar.

Website
Freedcamp.com

Pricing
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My Rating







6. MeisterTask

MeisterTask specialises in assigning tasks and following your teammates’ progress using flexible project boards. You can also customize your dashboard which enables you to see your whole day at a glance.

Notable features

  • Develop task relationships by labelling as related, duplicated or blocked by other tasks
  • Assign automatic actions to projects
  • Allows integration with other tools, such as Slack, Github, Bitbucket, and Zendesk
  • Manage your files by linking to the cloud

Free plan: Unlimited projects and tasks, unlimited users, customized dashboards and project boards, integration with other apps, and file attachments up to 20MB.

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My Rating







7. Producteev

Producteev, like MeisterTask, focuses on task management as their unique selling point. Their “productivity in your pocket” offering includes to-do list management, the assignment of tasks and retrieving real-time updates on any mobile, tablet or PC device.

Notable features

  • Use the Network to keep track of your projects, task and collaborators
  • Customize and privatize projects
  • Categorize and prioritize your tasks with labels and sub-tasks
  • Sort by people, task, projects, or due date using the specialized filters

Free plan: Unlimited users and projects, real-time updates and push notifications, task management, specialized filters, activity tracking, and support community.

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8. Allthings

Allthings is all about the personalization! They offer a free 14-day trial for their project management software which allows you to customize your viewing panels. Allthings focuses on flexibility, through dragging and dropping tasks, as well as grouping and sorting projects.

Notable features

  • Create and share plans, projects and tasks
  • Centralize communication and balance workloads
  • Use progress reporting to track projects
  • Share and comment on documents with your team

Free plan: up to 5 lists, unlimited tasks, projects, and collaborators.

Website
Allthings.com

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My Rating







9. KanbanFlow

KanbanFlow offers a simple, easy-to-use system which is all about improving your productivity. It is perhaps one of the prettiest project management apps, with its multi-colored coding system – ooh la la!

Notable features

  • Assign tasks with progress labels to update the rest of the team
  • Precisely track how much time you spend on tasks
  • Visualize your current work progress in one place on the dashboard
  • Use the analytics and reporting to assess your work performance
  • Allows integration with your email and calendar systems

Free plan: unlimited boards and tasks, create sub-tasks, filter tasks, and time management features.

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My Rating







10. Avaza

Avaza offers from-start-to-finish project management software. It allows you to follow your team’s work progress from the creation of to-do-lists right up to client billing. Unlike some of the other apps, they also offer payment management with a professional quotes and invoicing system.

Notable features

  • Manage projects with task building, notifications and activity feeds
  • Integrate email with task-based discussions
  • Use the Timesheets for an online time tracking solution
  • Manage staff expenses and professional quotes to clients
  • Use the invoicing system to bill clients for your work

Free plan: Unlimited project collaborators, 1 user with timesheet and expenses access, 1 user with admin and invoice access, 5 active projects, 10 customers, 5 invoices per month, and up to 100MB of storage.

Website
Avaza.com

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My Rating







11. Bitrix24

This project management software is all about the little people! Putting collaboration at the forefront of its offering, Bitrix24 offers multiple communication and management tools, including its own social network. (Yeah, for real.)

Notable features

  • Manage tasks and share documents with your team
  • View your team’s progress with the live activity stream
  • “Like” content and use “badges” to show appreciation towards your teammates
  • Upload and share photos in your team’s Photo Gallery
  • Use the Instant Messenger for project discussions

Free plan: 5GB storage, Enterprise Social Network, Instant Messenger, unlimited tasks and projects, reporting, time tracking, file sharing, and time management, for up to 12 users.

Website
Bitrix24.com

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12. Podio

Podio believes in “tighter communication for greater durability” offering a simple project management app where you can customize the structure according to your team’s requirements. You can also invite anyone you please to Podio, including freelancers, clients and other team members.

Notable features

  • Attach files, view the status and add comments to every task
  • See the overall progress of your team at a glance through the dashboard
  • Integrate file sharing services, customer support tools and marketing apps
  • Offers a support community for all users

Free plan: Task management and workspace management for up to 5 employees and 5 external members.

Website
Podio.com

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My Rating







13. Redbooth

Redbooth is based on task management and uses a straightforward design to list projects that are both outstanding and in progress. It allows you to assign and delegate tasks to your team, as well as create visual project timelines to make sure everybody stays on track.

Notable features

  • Manage your projects by breaking them down into tasks and sub-tasks
  • Create fresh workspaces for each project, team, or client
  • Use the reporting tools to track overall productivity
  • Share files with your team and discuss through commenting/hashtags

Free plan: Up to 5 workspaces, 2GB of file storage, Gantt charts and reporting, project templates, email support, and integrations with Google Drive, Slack and Dropbox.

Website
Redbooth.com

Pricing
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My Rating







Conclusion

It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to deciding which project management app to go for, as there’s currently heaps of variety out there.

After reading my analysis of the best freebies, you should have everything you need to establish a well-informed choice that will make your work, and your life, much easier! (And hopefully I've alleviated the pain in your goolies. Because no one deserves that.)

New To Upwork? Quickly Boost Your Credibility With The ‘Rising Talent’ Status

When you’re new to Upwork, gaining credibility can sometimes feel like you’re in a catch-22 situation.

You need clients to build credibility, and you need credibility to win clients. Annoying, I know.

But Upwork can throw you lifeline.

You can use Upwork’s “Rising Talent Badge” as a fast-track ticket to credibility with little experience. And it’s easier to get than you might think.

In this post, I'll show you how to improve your chances of obtaining the “Rising Talent” badge and quickly boost your credibility on the platform.

(Even if you’ve never had a single job on Upwork.)

Rising Talent Status (And Why It Matters)

The rising talent program is run by Upwork, and it awards new freelancers who show early promise.

If you qualify, you’ll receive a number of benefits:

This matters because you’re marked with a “Rising Talent Badge” that clients will be able to see on your profile and proposals:

The badge instantly offers you credibility as clients have no way of gauging your reputation when you’re new to the platform.

This status is a good alternative until you receive your job success score, which can take several months to obtain.

Lewis's Pro Tip
90% of freelancers won’t get their job success score until they’ve completed 5 projects.

How To Earn It FAST

Personally, I earned the “Rising Talent” very quickly on Upwork; it only took me a few weeks and one completed project.

Let’s take a look at Upworks requirements:

You too can acquire it quickly, if you hit the right notes...

The Key Ingredient

Upwork states, "even new freelancers who have yet to complete any projects on Upwork can be admitted into the Rising Talent program."

Surprised? Yeah, so was I...

And it’s why I believe your profile strength is the key ingredient to earning your “Rising Talent Badge” quickly.

You can take these steps to ensure you’ve optimized your profile:

  • Make sure your profile is 100% complete
  • Upload a professional looking photo (not at your family BBQ)
  • Take 2-3 relevant Upwork tests
  • Don’t price yourself too low (read this)
  • Be thorough with ALL the sections (overview, experience, education, portfolio, etc.)

Aside from that, make sure your profile is focused.

Focusing your profile means you should only be offering ONE service. And I'm convinced this is crucial to earning your badge quickly.

It just makes sense.

High-level freelancers generally don’t offer a mixed service.

A professional video editor wouldn't be offering logo design at the same time. It would just dilute the impression of expertise.

How To Further Improve Your Odds

To improve your odds of being accepted into the program, start by getting a couple jobs under your belt.

If you're really struggling with this, check out my Mind Map Method to layer on some additional credibility.

When you’re applying for jobs, consider the statistics Upwork keeps on you:

Aim to keep these ratios as high as possible because low statistics will send low-quality signals to Upwork about you.

The logic behind this is simple...

  • 50 proposals yields 1 reply = low-quality signal
  • 10 replies results in 0 contracts = low-quality signal
  • 100 profile views results in 0 invitations = low-quality signal

To help keep these ratios high, don’t get trigger happy with your proposals. Be picky, and really concentrate on nailing your proposals for job adverts you’re confident you can do successfully.

And when you do win a job…

Give your client the experience of a lifetime. Blow them away by communicating well and efficiently, meeting or beating deadlines, and offering to do revisions when necessary.

It’s not hard, and I promise you, doing these three things will put you ahead of most other freelancers on Upwork.

Once you’ve completed a job, you’ll want to make sure your client leaves a nice review. What’s likely to happen, is that they’ll end the contract and Upwork will ask them to leave feedback.

So if you’ve given your client a world-class experience then you shouldn’t have any worries.

But, if you want to make doubly sure you’ll get an awesome review, you could send something like when you submit your work:

I’d recommend you say something along the lines of...

“Hi [clients name],

I’ve attached [completed work]. I’ve really enjoyed working with you, so let me know if you’re not 100% happy with anything and I’ll get to work on it right away.

If you’re happy with project, please could you end the contract and leave some nice feedback? My success on this platform depends on my feedback so I’d really appreciate a good rating.

Thanks,
[your name]"

They’d have to be a real sour grape to leave a bad review after that message.

Lewis's Pro Tip
Occasionally, a client will forget to end the contract. If that's the case, you can end the contract yourself, then be the first to leave an awesome review.

After that, simply copy and paste it it to them and politely ask for one in return. Doing it this way taps into the law of reciprocity, so they're much more likely to do it.

And On That Note

Building your credibility on Upwork doesn’t have to feel like an uphill slog.

Upworks “Rising Talent Badge” is a perfect for quickly gaining credibility when you’re new to the platform.

...all you need to do is follow the tips we’ve discussed to speed up your process.

And once you’ve earned the badge, clients will find it much easier to trust you. You’ll get more work which leads to more credibility.

So use it to your advantage, optimize your profile.

How To Choose The Perfect Upwork Hourly Rate (In Any Niche)

I think you’ll agree that choosing the perfect hourly rate on Upwork can seem like an impossible task at times.

(Especially if you’re new to the platform.)

But when you understand how to price yourself correctly, you’ll be able to win higher paying jobs with great clients, without ever having to grind on low-paying jobs.

And in this article, I'll explain exactly how to do it.

What To Pay A Writer

Want to know what your writer is worth? Check below for the current rates in each different field of writing.

Perhaps the most frequently asked question when it comes to freelance writing is what a writer should be paid.

The question often comes from both sides of the table, as neither the writer nor the client are clear on what a fair rate for each piece of work is. Truth is, there are no set in stone “market” rates you can expect to pay a writer.

Everyone writes, and that makes it harder to determine the rate you pay a writer. Unlike graphic design or programming, most people – writers and non-writers – write every day.

This lowers the perceived value of a writer’s work in some client’s eyes, because they feel they could do the work on their own, and don’t view writing to be as impressive as coding the whole new back-end of an app.

The opposing view on this is there are more people trying to be good writers, but professional writers shine as being in the top range of the skillset. There are lots of ways to look at it, and it’s important to examine these viewpoints when you’re trying to figure out what to pay for a certain writing project.

The three basic ways writers are paid is on a:

  • per word basis
  • per project basis
  • per hour basis.

This will vary based on how a writer likes to work and what the project demands. Research projects might make more sense on a per hour basis, whereas copywriting could be more of a per project basis. It depends on the goal of the work.

The variability in rates of pay for writers comes from the amount of exposure and effect the work is expected to receive. For example, SEO content demands a much lower quality of writing than a TV script. Between these two extremes, there are numerous sub-markets which command different rates.

Two other facts that affect what a writer is paid are the rights for the work and amount of research required. Only in higher levels of writing is the rights for the work a concern, but all things being equal, the client should expect to pay more for the rights than if the writer was going to retain partial ownership of their work. Research is a factor as well, since it increases the number of hours required to complete the work.

Through a survey of what writers are paid, we have determined the rates below. These are very general guidelines, since so many other factors come into play and each writer is special. In the end, the only thing that matters is what people have paid in the past and are willing to pay now.

Let's Break The Numbers Down:

Corporate/Business Writing

Reports/ Marketing Plans/ Technical Writing
$1 to $2 per word
$300 to $12,000 per project
$50 to $125 per hour

Editing

Varies according to publication/project
$30 to $60 per hour
$500 to $20,000 per project

Ghost Writing

Articles
Generally 2-3 times the usual rate

Books
$10,000 to $50,000 flat fee
Entire advance + 50% of royalties

Government Writing

News Releases/Studies/Reports
$1 to $3 per word
$500 to $100,000 per project
$50 to $125 per hour

Newsletters

Writing only; layout extra
$0.30 to $1.50 per word
$400 to $6,000 per issue
$50 to $80 per hour

Newspaper Writing

Large Daily Newspapers
$0.30 to $1.00 per word
$250 to $2,500 per article
$330 to $1,250 per column

Smaller Community Newspapers
$0.10 to $0.50 per word
$75 to $1,000 per article
$75 to $500 per column

Online/Web Site Writing

Varies widely
$1 to $3 per word
$60 to $100 per hour

Periodical Writing

General Interest/Consumer Magazines
$1.00 to $2 per word
$500 to $10,000 per article
$400 to $1,500 per column

Trade/Special Interest Magazines
$0.30 to $2 per word
$500 to $4,000 per article
$300 to $1,000 per column

Scripts

Radio (highly variable)
$40 to $80 per minute of script

Television (highly variable)
$60 to $130 per minute of script

Speech Writing

$500 to $8,000 per speech
$60 to $130 per hour

Teaching/Instruction

$25 to $80 per hour
$200 to $800 per day

Translation/Adaptation

Literary
$0.10 to $0.20 per word

Other
$0.25 to $0.60 per word
$40 to $80 per hour

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