Freelancer Tutorial: Step by Step Beginner’s Guide to Upwork

We have decided to create a Freelancer Tutorial because our friends, relatives, and even co-workers keep on asking questions about freelancing.

Questions like,

  • Where do I start?
  • How do I start making money online?
  • Is freelancing worth it?
  • Teach me how to find a job online.

Those are the types of questions we received from our friends.

On this post, we will guide you exactly what you need to know and how to start your freelancing career.

In short, we will help you land your first freelancing job.

Unlike any other freelancer tutorials out there, this is based on our personal experience.

To give you an overview, here are the topics you will learn:

  • Step 1. Select a Payment Method
  • Step 2. Register on Upwork as Freelancer
  • Step 3. Creating Your Profile
  • Step 4. Tools to Familiarize
  • Step 5. How to Create a Winning Cover Letter
  • Step 6. Getting Your First Job
  • Step 7. How to Withdraw Your Earnings

Feel free to skip a topic, if you already know it.

And if you are asking what are the types of work available? There are tons…

  • Admin Support
  • Customer Service
  • Writing
  • Web, Mobile & Software Dev
  • IT & Networking
  • Data Science & Analytics
  • Engineering & Architecture
  • Design & Creative
  • Translation
  • Legal
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Accounting & Consulting

So, shall we begin?

Freelancer Tutorial

Step 1. Select a Payment Method

Selecting a payment method is very important and it should be the first step.


Because this is where you will receive your earnings.

No payment method means you cannot withdraw your cash earnings.

So what’s the point of working if you cannot withdraw, right?

We recommend you to register either Payoneer or PayPal.

Choosing a payment method is very easy, just follow the instructions below.

Payoneer: [Recommended]

The advantage of having a Payoneer account is lesser conversion fee, plus you can request your own physical card.

  • Signup using this link.
  • Fill out all the required information.
  • Make sure that you have either National ID (SSS ID), Driver’s License, or Passport for verification purposes.
  • Verify your email address.

By signing up on the link, you can also get an extra $25 bonus once you receive a total of $100 on your Payoneer account.

Sounds great right?


Setting up a PayPal account is very simple, you just need a valid email address. But to withdraw your cash you need to connect your PayPal to your bank account.

  • Signup on this link.
  • Fill out all the required information.
  • Then verify your email address.

Step 2. Register on Upwork as Freelancer

We recommend Upwork because they have a lot of clients, and it’s easy to find jobs when you are just starting your freelancing career.

So what to do?

Register on Upwork as Freelancer.

Fill out all the information needed to “Become a Freelancer”.

Why Upwork?

  • Biggest freelancing site
  • Easy to find jobs for the first timer
  • Get long term contracts

On the negative side, they charge 20% on your first $500 earnings. That’s too much if I will say, but it will get lesser once you earn more.

Freelancing tutorial Upwork rate

Check out the Upwork charges below:

  • 20% for the first $500 billed with the client
  • 10% for lifetime billings with the client between $500.01 and $10,000
  • 5% for lifetime billings with the client that exceed $10,000

Step 3. Creating Your Profile

We are now down here creating the best profile you could, so that clients can’t resist to invite you for an interview.

This is very important because this is the place where the clients decide if you are qualified for the work.

More like attracting clients through your profile.

Let the client find you, not you find the client. The advantage of this is that you have a greater chance to get hired.


Because the client already sees your profile and found out that you are qualified. So he / she decided to invite you for the interview.

There are a lot of clients out there that need your help, so make sure your profile is ready.

My wife started receiving invites from clients day by day after she edited her profile.

freelance guide Upwork invitation

What did she do?

You can check her profile description below.

Upwork Profile Overview:
Most entrepreneurs have great talents and I hate seeing you being overwhelmed with too many tasks.

I’d be happy to see you focusing 100% on how you can generate income with your business.

Let me help you. =)

While I can be the all-around guy (since I love self-learning), I’d rather provide you with my core service which I’ve been effectively doing for some time.

I can help you….

– write conversational, SEO-rich posts for your blog
– write compelling news articles
– upload content on WordPress
– create blog and social media graphics
– social media automation
– customer service through email handling

Here are some of the tools that I normally use, but not limited to:
– Gmail
– Google Docs/Sheets/Drive
– WordPress
– Canva
– Photoshop CS3
– Hootsuite
– Buffer
– Asana
– Slack
– Evernote
– Skype
– Time Doctor

No, I don’t want to brag about my call center experience. Although, I’ve worked for the biggest call center here in the Philippines.

But I want to share instead how I learned blogging, content creation, blog and social media marketing and graphic designing through years of self-help study and application.

And every single day, I’d wake up determined to be better than yesterday – I don’t settle for good, I want to be great.

Once you hire me, expect me to help your business like I’m growing it as my own. Your happiness and business growth are my ultimate goals (as cheesy as it may sound, but yes, I’ll be the happiest seeing you right on that top spot).

If you think that I am a right fit for your team (I hope you would..), then just click on that white “contact” button in the top right corner of this page so you can reach me.

I would love to hear from you.

Short Explanation:

On the first few paragraphs, you need to feel the need of the clients.

  • Who are your targeted clients?
  • What are they struggling about?
  • Then offer some help.

Freelancing tutorial Upwork overview first paragraph

A short introduction will do (2-4 sentences).

Then be more specific what help can you offer? And what tools you are good at…

Freelancer tutorial Upwork tools

Lastly, add some spice.

Brag something about yourself, like your achievements in life.

Freelancing tutorial Upwork spice

I also highlighted above what clients do love to hear.

And that is to give value to their business.

So what did the client say during their initial interview?

The client confessed that by the time she read my wife’s profile she said to herself, “She is what I’ve been looking for. I want her to be on my team.”

I heard it myself, and the client explained that most of her applicants just want to work for money. But what the client likes is that people who are eager to learn with them and value their business as their own.

Not satisfied yet?

The client even promise to register some of the paid online courses so they can both learn.

So I can say that using these words on your profile will engage more clients.

Value their business just like you value yours.

Other feedback from client on our profile.

freelancer guide client feedback

But that’s not all…

If you want to be searched by client, you need to add some keywords on your profile.

What are these keywords?

It is the type of work you want.

Let’s take for example the client was searching for “Virtual Assistant“.

Below are the top 2 search results…

Freelancer Guide Upwork keywords

Make sure that your keyword is on your Job Title and Skills.

The more keywords, the better your chance to get searched.

By the way, for VA position I have to admit that most of the client preferred a girl rather than a boy.

But of course not all of them.

Additional Tips and Information:
  • Make sure that your Profile is 100% complete before applying a job.
  • Take Upwork exams (I don’t want to promote this, but if you are having trouble in the exams you can try searching for the leakage online.)
  • Don’t set your rate too low, but not too high either. For starters, you can set at least $5 / hr.
  • Every month you have available 60 connects to apply a job, and it will cost 2 connects for each submitted proposal.

One more thing, it can’t be avoided that there are clients who just want to take advantage on you.

So how to determine if the client is legit?

The first thing you will check is if they have a verified payment. and how much they have already spent.

Freelancer Guide Payment Verified

On the example above, the first client has verified payment and already spent $4K+.

So we can say that this is legit.

The other way is to read client’s feedback on “Client’s Work History and Feedback“. You can check this by clicking on their proposal.

But it doesn’t mean if the client has unverified payment or $0 spent, they are already one of those scammers.

Let’s take a consideration that they are NEW or they just don’t want to work inside Upwork because of the fees.

If you are tempted to apply or you are invited with unverified payment, I can only advice that don’t work again until you get paid on your previous work.

But if you want to play safe, only apply or accept invitation with a verified payment.

Step 4. Tools to Familiarize

You might be wondering how you will track your working hours as a freelancer. So I will give a brief idea how you can track it.

Before Upwork has their own time tracker, most of the clients used Time Doctor.

But the big downside of using the Time Doctor is, it’s not free.

Though some clients still using it, but I will share to you how to use Upwork’s Time Tracker.

There are no special features about the Upwork’s Time Tracker, except that it will automatically capture your screen in a period of time once you turn it ON.

And of course tracking how many hours you have work in daily and weekly basis.

This feature works for the client to make sure that you are working your job.

How to install?

You can download the software on Upwork’s Downloads.

Click on “Download Upwork Desktop App“. If you are using a Mac or Linux, you just need to scroll down a little bit for the download link.

freelancer guide time tracker

Once you were able to download the file, just install it on your PC / laptop.

Then login using your Upwork credentials.

You can also open your chat messages using this app.

But in order to use the Time Tracker app, you need an active contract from your client.

So if you don’t have any job yet, you will only see like this…

Freelancing Guide Contract

And to open the chat box, just click on the message icon below it.

Most of the client are Entrepreneurs, so it would also be a great advantage for you if you know something about blogging.

Starting a blog would be good, but it is not necessary. You just need to familiarize the menu and some tools of it.

If you have time, I recommend you to register on and gain even the basic knowledge on it. Don’t worry this is FREE.

Just create a sample blog for yourself, as a start, it would be a good idea if you will create a portfolio so you can refer your client to your blog.

Yes, I know it takes time, but if you are serious working as a freelancer you have to give it a try.

Step 5. How to Create a Cover Letter

Creating a cover letter will depend on the job you are applying for.

Remember, this is your first communication with the client, so make sure you create an impression.

But it doesn’t have to be long; provide brief and concise information. Let the client check your profile.

Our first tip in creating a cover letter is to find the client’s name.

Don’t be too formal, you can say, “Hi John,” or “Hello John,” at the beginning.

So how to find the client’s name?

You can find it on Work History and Feedback. See example below.

freelancer guide client name

It is just very simple, but it will add a big impact to the client.

What kind of impact?

Make the client realized that you are a good researcher, “This freelancer does his / her homework.”

But that just the start. The real deal is on how you create the content of your cover letter.

Below are the sample Cover Letters that we created and gain good response from the client.

Sample Cover Letter:

Here’s the job description or proposal from the client.

Freelancer Guide Proposal1

And then, our cover letter.

Hi Max,

I hope you’re doing great!

I’m Annabella and I’m interested in working as a VA for your business. I have been blogging for nearly four years and have done extensive research to create informative and engaging posts for my readers.

Google is my BFF and specifically use Google Trends and BuzzSumo to check on trending posts online and the most shared ones. Posting a content on WordPress won’t be a problem for me. If you need minor editing or you need original written content, I can also provide you with quality output.

Let me know if I’m a right fit for this project by sending me a DM. Would love to hear more from you.

To your success,

The client is looking for a Virtual Assistant (VA) to post directly on his site. So in our cover letter we indicated that we are also a blogger and posting content would be easy.

We also give some tools that we are currently using.

Another example…

We receive an invite for interview from a client who is looking for a VA on her “Food Blog”.

Just in case you are doubtful, or couldn’t find the name of the client, then don’t bother finding it. You can just say “Hi,” or “Hello,”.


Thank you for inviting me to your VA job posting.

I’m Annabella and I’ve been blogging for nearly four years. Right now I’m on the online money-making niche. It’d be a great experience working with a fellow blogger and learn more things while freeing you up with more time.

I use the free versions of SEMrush and BuzzSumo for SEO and Content research. But if you have a particular tool for me to use, I’d be more than happy to learn it. Basically, our blog is a two-man team — me and my husband. I do the content writing and publishing on freelancing topics, graphic images designing and social media posting.

Here is a sample of my work — — which has ranked well on Google even if our blog is just a month old.

I’m a self-learner and prioritizes quality output. If you think I’m a right fit for this position, please shoot me a message and I’d love to get into the details about this project. Thank you for your time! =)

To your success,


On this cover letter, aside from giving a short description and the tools we are using, we also give our sample work.

So as I have said, there is a great advantage if you know something about blogging.

Step 6. Getting Your First Job

Getting your first job will not happen overnight after you have registered on Upwork. Give it a little more time while building your portfolio.

The key to success is to never give up.

We’ve also been there, applying online jobs for several months to no success.

We have the urgency to get an online job when I already submitted my resignation letter.

Yes. I filed a resignation without a back up job. Risky move I’d say, but I do have big guts that we will be able to find a job quickly.

So we have started researching, and found out how to build an Upwork profile that will get clients attention.

We’ve learned it the hard way, but we are sharing this freelancer tutorial to you so it will be easy for you to start.

Before my last day of work, my wife already found an online job on Upwork.

And the rate is much higher compared to my work.

So if you are asking why I resigned from a big company?

Simply because I want freedom, and becoming a freelancer is the answer.

Step 7. How to Withdraw Your Earnings

All we wish is for you to start making money online.

So if you have already earned and want to withdraw your cash, then follow the steps below.

First you need to add your payment method, go to Settings.

Freelancer Tutorial Payment1

Then click on “Set Up Now“.

Freelancer Tutorial

Choose the payment method where you want to withdraw your earnings.

Freelancer Tutorial Payment3

Click “Set Up” which ever you choose.

You will also be asked your minimum payout, and how do you want pay (weekly, bi-monthly, or on a monthly basis).

Freelancer Tutorial Payment4

That’s it.

It will just automatically send the payment depending on the option you selected.

Let’s take for example you have already earned $25 and want to withdraw it.

You can still do that, though it has an extra charge.

Just select on “Get Paid Now“.

Then follow the same process.

Recommended Courses from Udemy:

If you find this freelancer tutorial helpful, share it with your friends who want to become an online freelancer.

We created this freelancer guide for beginners who want to start their freelance career.

And don’t forget to subscribe to our mailing list to get updates. Don’t worry, we also hate spam and we will only send emails that we know will be helpful to you. =)


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