The toughest time to get a job on Upwork is when you’re just starting and you don’t have any experience. However, even after you get positive reviews and rack up the hours, the next challenge is getting a job that you don’t have any experience with. For example, you do social media management and you work with Facebook. If you want to get into Twitter, you might find it hard to get people to hire you if you don’t have any positive client reviews.

In this article I’m going to tackle that problem, and show you how I was able to get a fantastic job that, according to the description, I was under-qualified for. After that example, I’ll go on to list five tips that you can use when you’re applying for new jobs which you don’t have experience with. Let’s get started!

I’m Not a Copywriter

The job in question stated in the title that I should be a copywriter, and in the description it went on to say that owing to the detailed nature of the project, I should have 5 years experience as a copywriter. While I have 6 years of writing experience, I’ve never written professional copy in my life. With that in mind, this is the proposal that I submitted that allowed me to have the chance to work on a project that I’m thoroughly enjoying!

My Proposal

“Hey, my name is Sam. I’d like to make a suggestion which you are obviously free to take or reject. Break apart this large $8,000 a month project, and assign some of the easier parts of it to me. Or, conversely, let me work on the project with you for a trial month, at half the monthly pay that you’ve suggested here.

Why am I suggesting this?

I’m almost the perfect fit for you, but not 100%. I have a bachelors in psychology, I eat philosophy books for dinner, I live in Brooklyn, and I’ve been writing for five years. But most of it has been SEO articles and web content. So I don’t have the level of experience that you’re looking for. However, I am a solid writer and I’m confident that I can deliver content that lives up to your expectations. In fact I’d love to demonstrate this by working for free for a week. If you think it will work, you can pay me. If not, then we can go our separate ways.

Well that’s my pitch. I’d love to get the chance to work with you, but obviously I’d understand if I’m just not the correct fit.

Have a good day!”

The Response

I submitted this proposal believing there was only a small chance I would hear back from them, because of my lack of experience. However, I was surprised when I got a reply about a week later, and I ultimately got the job. Best of all, I never had to hide anything about myself or my experience. By being fully forthright in my application I was able to speak confidently about exactly what I could and couldn’t do, and I believe that’s part of the reason that I got the job.

In applying for your own jobs for which you don’t believe yourself qualified, here are a few suggestions. Hopefully by following them you’ll find it easier to get more work, and increase your hourly rate as well!

Tips for Applying to Jobs

1. Never lie. If you don’t have experience doing something, don’t lie and say you do. Four times out of five that will lead to a negative result, which can mean receiving bad feedback on your Upwork profile, which is something to be avoided at all costs. Instead, try this.

2. Make an irresistible offer. If you look at my application above, you’ll notice I made it a no-brainer decision for the person who would hire me. I offered to work for free for a week, and I also offered to work at half of their advertised monthly rate.

3. Focus on your strengths. Going back to my first example, if you’re doing well with Facebook management and want to get into Twitter, talk about how well you’re doing with Facebook. Focus on all of the positive results you’re getting and how you’re going to use that experience to be successful on Twitter. You shouldn’t hide your lack of experience, but you also shouldn’t focus on it too much.

4. Consider doing some free work. If you’re really serious about getting work in a certain area, you may want to considering working for free for a while. Regardless of what you do, there’s probably some charity or non-profit that would like your services. For example, in the coming months as I get serious about learning to copywrite, I may contact various non-profits to see if I can write copy for their website. Not only am I helping them out, but I’m gaining positive references and new content to add to my professional website.

5. Take a course. offers great courses, and a thirty day free trial! I can tell you from experience that their courses are incredible and well worth the money. By taking a course you’ll learn a lot about your new field, and you’ll be able to tell potential clients that you have a good idea about what you’re doing.

As always, when applying for a position that you’re not qualified for, you should follow the golden rule. Apply to a lot of jobs. Dozens and dozens, don’t give up. For example, even though I’ve done 41 jobs and have 460 timed hours of work on Upwork, I still only hear back from about every third client. If you’re just starting out that number might be much worse. That’s normal, stick it out! If you want to learn more about writing a good application, check out my popular article: How to Make an Awesome Upwork Application

Having your own website is an invaluable way to market yourself. It’s the 21st century equivalent of a business card. It’s sort of like having a cool Facebook profile, only more professional and you have ultimate control over it. Regardless of the appeal of a large platform like Facebook, you have to accept that someone else will always be in control. At any time they can suspend your account for violating some arcane rule, and there’s little you can do about it. The only reason that will happen with your own website is your failure to pay the hosting fee.

I created this website after reading The Education of Millionaires, a book that I recommend to everyone. Ellsberg suggested registered a domain with your own name and I took him up on his advice. Eighteen months later here we are. But what if you don’t want to write blog posts, does it still make sense to create a website?

Absolutely. Even if you don’t plan to publish content a website can still be your calling card. You can use it to host your resume. If you do freelance work it can be a place for clients to leave reviews. You can use it as a portal to all of your social profiles. If you know nothing about web design it will force you to learn a thing or two. Finally, it will give you control over your image. If you don’t have a website, when someone types your name into Google you’re at the mercy of whatever comes up. Having a website gives you control over your own brand name which is important now, and will be even more important in the future.

Creating a Website from Scratch

Even if you don’t want the hassle of creating a website right now, you should definitely consider doing the bare minimum and registering your domain name. Sites like GoDaddy will let you register a domain name for about $15 per year.

If you’ve done that and you’re feeling adventurous, you can begin the process of creating your own site. There are loads of guides to get you started. Or you can easily go to Upwork and contract the work out. However, I believe that you should give serious thought to designing your own website. It will give you total control over the appearance and you’ll end up learning why things look the way they do. For people just starting out I’ve written the post: 4 Web Design Tips for Beginners. That’s just the tip of the iceberg though, and there’s a nearly unlimited amount of useful information out there on the internet.

I’ve applied to more than 90 jobs on Upwork. Sometimes I’ve gotten the job, and most of the time I haven’t. That’s the way the game is played, and it’s why Upwork gives you 30 new applications every month. Below you’ll find some tips about making a great Upwork application. If you don’t want tips, and just want some examples, look at a big list of my successful applications. If you have no idea what Upwork is, read my post: How to Make Money Online.

Let’s begin.

1. Apply for all 30 jobs, every single month. Now matter how amazing your application or profile is, applying to jobs is a numbers game. The more applications you have floating out there the better your odds. You might be surprised what turns up. I’ve had clients contact me weeks after I submitted an application.

2. Make sure that the hourly rate on your profile and the rate you submit on your application are in the same ballpark. Maybe you submit $15 an hour on a job application. The client sees this, looks at your profile, and sees that your hourly rate is actually $8. He’s going to ask what gives, and throw your application away.

3. DO NOT copy and paste applications. This is a retarded strategy. You should be customizing every single application based on the client’s job description. When I needed someone to speed up this website, I posted an application on Upwork. Guess who was rejected immediately? EVERY SINGLE PERSON who started their application with “Dear hiring manager”.

4. Ballpark your application with the job description. If the job description is long and detailed, you should make your application long and detailed. If the job description is three sentences, writing three paragraphs probably isn’t the best idea. This depends though, and should be taken as more of an idea then as a general rule.

5. Make your first few sentences STAND THE FUCK OUT. You want to immediately grab a person’s attention. Almost without exception, I start every single application with:

“Hi, my name’s Sam and I’m the perfect person for this project.”

Maybe it’s corny, but 90% of the time it’s true. Clients can look at my profile, see my perfect rating from past clients, and realize that I really am the perfect freelancer. Another strategy that I would suggest is to customize the opening sentences specifically to that job. Let’s look at an example. This is my successful application for my highest paying job to date ($22 an hour). In the job description, the client mentioned that he needed some technical articles rewritten. So what do I talk about in my second sentences?

Hey, my name’s Sam and I’m the perfect person for this job. Here’s why:

1 – I have extensive experience with rewriting technical product descriptions and documents. One of my current jobs involves improving mechanical engineering product descriptions. My client is pleased with my work, I invite you to look at the feedback on my profile.

2 – I write SEO articles on a daily basis. I’ve written in more than a dozen niches already, and that number grows every month. I can rewrite keywords with proper weighting, add internal and external links, define H tags, specify image, write title tags, and write Meta Descriptions.

3 – I’m a native English speaker from New York. That means my grammar is always perfect.

4 – I’m a professional writer who takes my job seriously. I’m always available via Skype or Email and I answer promptly.

5 – My writing is clear, concise and to the point. I’ve been writing daily for years, and that shows.

I invite you to check out my online portfolio at:

I’m looking forward to hearing back from you!


6. Mention past experience. That’s what I did in the above application, and I believe it’s why I got the job. Always play up any experience you have. A client doesn’t want you to be learning on the job, he or she wants you to be the master.

7. Create an online portfolio. There is literally NO EXCUSE to not do this. You can sign up for a free Blogger or WordPress portfolio. Better than nothing, not nearly as good as… Hosting your own portfolio website. For example, my site is Epoch Writing. I’ve written more about web design in my post: 4 Web Design Tips for Beginners.

8. Never plagiarize. This has nothing to do with filling out an application, it’s just general advice. If you plagiarize and get caught, your career is over. The client will leave you feedback saying you did it, you could potentially get kicked off of Upwork, and so on. It’s never, ever worth it. If you don’t know how to complete a job without stealing someone else’s work, you shouldn’t apply in the first place.


Forest Gump saying wordsLike Forest Gump, that’s all I’ve got to say about that. Out of everything here, I think the most important point is number one. You should apply for a lot of jobs. Even with a great application, you’ll still only hear back from about 1 in 4 clients. Maybe even less, that’s totally normal. As a rule, if you’re spending less than 10 minutes on an application you’re doing it wrong.

Also you can find loads of my successful applications that I’ve copied word for word from Upwork. Feel free to copy, steal, paraphrase or do whatever you like with it.