How I made My First $100k on Upwork: From Freelancer to High Earner

Have received multiple DMs regarding my experience on Upwork and was hoping to pass off some value to anyone that may be starting out in the same direction. I offer web development services using Webflow. This will be more of a stream of consciousness so take of it what you will.Around two years ago, I was let go of my corporate development role after a four-year tenure due to attempting to work in another country. Everyone’s working from home so I thought what’s the big deal of delivering work in another timezone? HR felt differently lol.

I always felt like a coding grunt, just a cog in the corporate machine. But now, I set my own schedule and don’t have to worry about shaking my mouse every damn minute to avoid getting caught slacking on Slack.

Some tips and strategies that got me here –

Personal Portfolio:

  • Create a personal portfolio website featuring a professional photograph of yourself. Establishing trust and credibility during the initial stages is crucial, especially if you have no reviews on the platform yet. Having a photo on your site that matches your Upwork profile photos adds a level of trust.
  • In my first year, I started with a simple portfolio website template provided by a Udemy course. Focus on crafting an exceptional portfolio site once you have secured real clients. Speed is key. Done is better than perfect.
  • Fill your portfolio with high-quality work that a potential client would be proud to call their own. If you lack actual client projects to showcase, recreate websites you admire. The goal is not to deceive clients into believing you created Stripe’s website but rather to demonstrate your capability of creating similar quality work.

Upwork Profile:

  • Keep your bio short, sweet, and easy to read. No one’s got time for an essay about how amazing you are. Just introduce yourself in a friendly way, bullet point style. Keep it light and show a bit of your personality to let clients know you’re not an NPC. Include the link to your portfolio website at the bottom of your bio.
  • Incorporate the projects from your personal website into your Upwork portfolio. Make it as easy as possible for clients to see your competence as a freelancer.


  • On Upwork, reviews are everything. Similar to how I don’t consider products on Amazon with less than 4 stars and under 100 reviews, or rely on Yelp for new restaurant recommendations, clients will look at your reviews. Getting high-rated reviews and receiving positive feedback is essential. With no reviews, your main competitive advantage is your pricing and availability. Propose a rate that aligns with the lower end of the client’s budget and send a tailored message explaining how you can assist them. No generic copy/paste bullshit but actually spend a bit of time detailing how you can solve their problem.
  • Seek out smaller projects that can provide you with quick feedback. Once successfully completed, follow up with a request for a review. Don’t be weird and ask for a perfect 5-star rating. Instead, focus on delivering a pleasant working experience and meeting the client’s expectations. Good reviews will naturally follow. It’s worth noting that clients at this stage often have tighter budgets and can be needy. Your goal is to move past this phase ASAP, but remember, the big fish won’t pay attention until you’ve proven yourself.
  • Without reviews, most of your proposals won’t even be opened. During my first few months, I subscribed to the paid plan for additional connects. Now, I frequently receive invites when I turn on my availability. Check relevant job posts daily and try to send out multiple proposals a day. In your proposal message, include a link to schedule a Zoom meeting on your calendar. Clients get flooded with messages so make it as easy as possible to meet.


  • Research other freelancers on the platform who offer similar services, and initially set your rate slightly lower while you are starting out. Remember, without reviews, your pricing becomes a key competitive factor.
  • As you gather reviews and attract leads, gradually increase your rates every 2-3 successful projects until you reach a point where clients stop reaching out. That’s how you find your sweet spot.

Go to the fucking gym:

  • Hear me out. Aside from the obvious benefits of staying physically active.. When clients recognize your dedication and discipline in maintaining a fit body, it instills confidence in your ability to deliver results, regardless of the difficulty and challenges you face. “If you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good.” – Deion Sanders

Thanks for reading. Hope something resonated with you. Get that money!

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