Why Am I Not Getting Jobs On Upwork?

So, you have gone through the rigorous Upwork application process and finally got your Upwork profile approved. The only thing that is remaining is getting your first client on Upwork.

While Upwork is a leading freelance marketplace with millions of clients, getting a potential client to take a chance on you can be a tough sell. Many freelancers give up soon after exhausting their free Upwork connects. 

Why Am I Not Getting Jobs On Upwork?

Some of the reasons you may not be getting jobs on Upwork include having an incomplete profile, lacking portfolio samples, not sending enough proposals, sending copy-paste cover letters, setting rates that are too low, and applying for jobs that you do qualify for.

Figuring out how to get jobs on Upwork can significantly boost your freelancing career. 

We set on a journey of understanding why getting that first Upwork client is often a challenging ride for beginner freelancers. 

Therefore, we analyzed some of the mistakes made by newbie Upwork freelancers while creating their profiles and applying for jobs.  

This post covers the rookie mistakes freelancers make, preventing them from getting hired on Upwork.

Read more: Is Upwork Good For Beginners?

1. The Skills You Offer Are Too Common

One of the biggest mistakes I see new freelancers making on Upwork is listing common low-level skills just because it is the easiest option. 

The secret to Upwork success is upskilling rather than “getting buried in the sea of commons.” 

Learn a skill that is highly in demand on Upwork. While that means holding back your plans and spending some additional bucks, it is a great way to kickstart your freelancing career.  

Machine learning, data analytics, automation, and application development are some of the most in-demand skills on Upwork

2. You’ve Not Optimized Your Upwork Profile 

Starting your freelancing career is an exciting experience. Out of the excitement, newbies tend to create Upwork profiles as an afterthought. 

Well, it’s understandable that you want to begin applying for Upwork jobs soonest possible. However, the reality is that clients tend to flag “half-baked” profiles.

Once you join and get approved on Upwork, take time to optimize your profile from the get-go. Avoid adding meaningless stuff to your profile just to make it 100% complete. 

Instead, focus on adding positive information that will help you win jobs on Upwork. Relevant skills will always be the first impression because clients look at your profile before reading the job application. 

How To Optimize Your Upwork Profile 

  • Spend extra time writing the profile title because it is the first impression you make on a potential client
  • Present more of what you offer the client rather than focusing on yourself.
  • Treat the Upwork profile as your elevator pitch and testimonial page 
  • Fill out the work and education history sections
  • Update the skills regularly
  • Set an attractive hourly rate 
  • Create an introductory video

Upwork clients are looking for professionals, not interns. Optimize your Upwork profile if you want to stand out as a professional and not appear as an entry-level freelancer.

3. Grammatical Errors On Your Profile/Cover Letters Scare Clients Away 

Well, the truth is that you do not need perfect English to land freelancing jobs on Upwork. However, clients may not hire you if your Upwork profile is ridden with spelling mistakes or your cover letters show English is not your first language. 

That does not mean that Upwork blocks your profile if English is not your first language. Instead, think more about the client’s reaction when your profile or the cover letter is hard to read.

Even if you have the best graphic design skills, with poor English on your cover letter or profile, the client may dismiss your application immediately. 

You can use a grammar checker tool to help you remove errors. Before sending out proposals, run them through applications such as Grammarly to scan for grammatical mistakes and fix any outrightly. 

If you are applying for jobs like content writing, translation, or social media posts where fluency is a must, scan the cover letter using Grammarly Premium edition to catch and correct any fluency issues. 

4. You Copy-Paste Cover Letters 

Personalizing each job proposal is the best way to apply for new jobs on Upwork. Take time to understand the job description and tailor the bid to answer the question from the first sentence. 

While Upwork does not flag you for sending a generic cover letter, you should craft a proposal based on the client’s job description. Writing a custom job application proposal on Upwork increases chances of you getting a reply. 

Make sure your proposals address the specific questions, concerns, and client requirements.

Read more: Best Upwork Jobs For Beginners

5. You’ve Not Added Portfolio Samples To Your Job Proposal 

When sending proposal, attach a sample from your portfolio to make the application feel complete. Do not add just any copy. First, read the job description and find out which of your past projects fits best. 

Few different ideas to approach this include:

  • Case studies: you may write a short explanation about a recent project you worked on or helped a client with. 
  • Snippets: include a screenshot of your work. For instance, you can include a summary of a longer document or share a preview of a clip of a larger workpiece. 
  • Results Graph: graphical representations are another great way to vouch for your skills. For instance, if you are a digital marketer, you can add a Google analytics graph to show how you helped a client grow organically using your SEO skills. 
  • Samples of your work: portfolios do not necessarily have to be work clients paid for. For newbies, you may develop a project that enables you to showcase your abilities to a potential client. 

6. Your Freelancing Rates Are Too Low

All Upwork freelancers face the challenge of what rates to set. 

Upwork does not support fixed-price contracts less than $5 and hourly rates lower than $3. Freelancers tend to think that offering low rates on Upwork profile will translate to more job invitations. Surprisingly, your rates say a lot about you. 

Some clients interpret low rates to mean the freelancer is inexperienced or offers low-quality work. 

To set the correct Upwork rate, consider how long it takes to complete the projects. Each task requires a different number of hours to complete.

As a freelancer, focus on finding the best way to use your time and provide the client with quality results. Consider any expenses so you are left with a meaningful profit. 

In addition, know the market rates for your services. Check what other freelancers are charging to gauge your rate.

7. You Don’t Follow Clients’ Instructions When Applying Jobs

Do not just read the job title and rush to fill out the proposal. While responding to jobs fast increases the chances of getting hired, that does not mean you should fail to read the full job description. 

Some Upwork clients include basic instructions that job applicants must fill to be shortlisted. Therefore, read the client’s instructions and structure your cover letter accordingly. 

You may not be getting hired on Upwork because you miss clients instructions when filling out job proposals. 

8. You Are Not Sending Enough Proposals  

You need to send proposals if you want to get hired on Upwork. 

The mistake I see a lot with newbies is that once they exhaust their free Upwork connects, they pause, thinking the clients will somehow start sending them job invitations. 

Instead of giving up, buy more Upwork connects and continue sending applications. Remember, the more job proposals you send, the higher the chances of getting hired. 

9. You Apply For Jobs You Do Not Qualify for 

To increase your chances of getting hired on Upwork, ensure you apply for the best matching jobs. Do not waste time, and your Upwork connects, applying for jobs that you do not have the skills to deliver satisfying results.

If you find a job that you consider ideal but you have not listed the skills required on your profile, first fill in the skills before applying for that job. 

Remember, Upwork will recommend you to clients based on the skills you list on your profile. Likewise, Upwork will send you recommended jobs based on the skills you have listed on your profile. 


Upwork is an excellent platform for freelancers looking for work online. However, getting your first Upwork job can be challenging. Some freelancers take weeks or even months to land that first Upwork client.  

If you’ve been asking yourself, “why am I not getting jobs on Upwork?” the above tips should help you. Check out our other posts about Upwork for additional information to help you get high-paying freelance jobs. 

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