The Easiest Way to Make Money on Upwork

You’ve never seen this strategy before. And, for a minute, you’re going to think I’m crazy. But, trust me, this works and it’s the simplest way I know to make money on Upwork (or anywhere else for that matter).

(BTW, if you also want to learn the more traditional approach to making money on Upwork, I have an article on that, too… here).

This is a 3-part strategy. The first part is…

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1. A Problem-Focused Title

In the traditional approach, we focus on keywords. So, we might do something like “WooCommerce | WordPress eCommerce | WordPress”. In fact, you’ll find hundreds of Upwork profiles with that exact title. It’s meant to get those profiles to rank for those client searches.

Our approach is drastically different.

Instead of focusing on what WE do or search results or any of that… we’re going to focus on a very specific problem that our client is having. The example I’ll use throughout is “wordpress speed optimization”.

That’s our “niche” (article on niches and why they’re so important here) and when we search that phrase on Upwork, we get a good number of real projects looking for this exact thing (6 of 11 projects on the first page are directly related to this search, as of this writing):

Now, you might be wondering… “how did you come up with that idea?” I have a whole video where I show you how to come up with niche ideas that people are actually hiring for right now. That’s where “wordpress speed optimization” came from:

Now, that we know our niche… then, our title is easy. The format is:

<niche phrase> Expert

So, in our case, it’s “WordPress Speed Optimization Expert”. Take a second and think about that from the client’s perspective. Imagine you come across two profile titles:

  • WordPress Developer With 15 Years Experience
  • WordPress Speed Optimization Expert

If you’re looking to hire someone to speed up your WordPress website, which of those two will immediately jump out to you? So, with our title locked in, now we move onto the “crazy” part:

2. A Profile Overview That Gives Away the Solution

Again, in the traditional approach, we’d list our accomplishments and experience and tell clients why they should hire us. But, not here. Instead, we’re going to give away the “what” of the solution to their problem in our overview.

I know, it sounds crazy and counter-intuitive.

But, I’ve done this for years and it’s devastatingly effective if you do it just right. So, let’s take our example of “wordpress speed optimization”. Here’s a sample overview:

Hey, I’m John. I’ve been a WordPress developer for 15 years and I specialize in optimizing the speed of WordPress websites. In my experience, speed issues in WordPress come down to three main things:

1. Minification. This is defined by Google as: “the process of removing unncessary and redundant data without affecting how the resource is processed by the browser.” In practice, it’s removing all the white space and comments from your HTML, CSS and JavaScript files to make those files smaller in size and, therefore, quicker to load. There are plenty of WordPress Plugins that do this, but you’ve probably ran into this if you tried any… they have to be configured just right or they can cause a lot of havoc.

2. Caching. Caching is the process of storing a subset of data so future requests are served up faster than accessing the data’s primary storage. In WordPress, this, in part, means storing an HTML version of your web pages that can be served to the browser instead of the typical way WordPress loads a page using PHP and MySQL. Again, there are lots of plugins that does this, but most of them have tons of options. If you really want max speed out of your website, you have to get these options just right and it can vary based on your server, your theme and your installed plugins.

3. Image Compression. Images are, often, the main culprit in slowing down a website. It’s easy for the size of an image to get out of control if you’re not careful. There’s several parts to getting this right, including sizing your images appropriately, but also “smushing” them to reduce their file size without losing quality and other techniques. Again, there are plugins that do some of this, but a lot of it comes down to how your site is built, what theme you’re using and how you’re posting your content.

Anyway, this is what I do. I know all the plugins and how to configure them properly. Plus, all the “non-plugin” techniques we can use to squeeze every last drop of speed out of your website and nail your GTmetrix and Google PageSpeed scores.

If you’d like me to take a look at your WordPress site, just click the “Hire Now” button on the top right of this page (or invite me to your existing project) and we can get rolling.

Let’s break this down so you can apply it to whatever problem you’re solving:

a. Opening Paragraph

The opening paragraph should be short and concise and mention two things: 1) your experience and 2) your specialty. And, of course, both should be relevant to the problem you’re solving.

b. Answer Paragraphs

Next are the “answer paragraphs” where you give away the “what” of the solution. Notice how I just tell them upfront what the solution is: minification, caching and image compression (I know, there’s more to it).

This may seem counter-intuitive, but there’s a difference between knowing WHAT to do and being ABLE to do it. I know, in basketball, that I need to get the ball in the basket, but that doesn’t mean I can suddenly compete with Lebron James.

Clients pay you for the HOW. So, be liberal with the WHAT. Think of it like sampling at the supermarket. Instead of talking about how great you are, you’re demonstrating it by giving them a small, written sample of your expertise. Then, they can decide if they want more.

It is, by far, the easiest way to sell your services… Upwork and otherwise. One key point here, though. Be sure to close each answer paragraph with a “but…” Notice how I kept saying, “Yes you can do this with plugins, but…” That keeps planting that seed in their head that they need an expert to do this for them.

c. Transition Paragraph

This is the “this is what I do” paragraph. You’re reiterating that this is your specialty and then you throw in a couple benefits: 1) increase site speed and 2) nail your GTmetrix and Google PageSpeed scores. Keep this simple.

d. Call to Action

And, we finish up with the call to action, “Click the button to hire me”.

And, that’s it for the profile overview. If you take a look around at other Upwork profiles, you’ll quickly see that this is drastically different that what most freelancers do. So, you are going to stick out like a sore thumb. But, in a good way, that will get you hired.

3. Bid on the Relevant Projects

The entire point of everything we’ve done, up to this point, is to set you up for the bid, because Upwork includes your profile in your project proposals. So, imagine, you’re the client and you have one of the projects I showed you at the start.

And, you get 20 proposals from “WordPress developers”. Then, along comes a proposal that says “WordPress Speed Optimization Expert”. You’re going to perk up and pay attention. That’s the whole idea here. Directly addressing a specific problem.

So, what should you write in your proposal?

A summary of what we already put on your profile:

Hey! I’m John. I saw your project and thought I’d be a great fit. I’ve been a WordPress developer for 15 years and I specialize in optimizing WordPress sites for speed. I find a slow WordPress site usually comes down to three things:

Minification, caching and image compression.

As you’ve probably seen, there’s lots of plugins that address these things, but they can be a bit overwhelming and tricky to get working right. That’s the first part of what I do.

I’ve worked with all the different plugins on all different kinds of sites and server environments and know what to configure and how. So, I’ll do that for you and get your site humming.

Plus, we can look at some of the “non-plugin”, more “technical” techniques to help speed up your site, as well.

In any case, like I said, I saw this project and it’s right up my alley, so I wanted to throw my hat in the ring. Feel free to check out my profile and let me know any questions you have.

And, if you decide to hire me, I look forward to chatting with you.

The big thing to remember with this (and everything you do in freelancing) is what people really want is someone who understands them and their problem… more than they care about credentials or experience. If you can articulate their problem back to them in precise terms, they’ll see you really “get it”, appreciate it and ignore most everything else about you.

And, that’s the bulk of what we’re doing here.

So, that’s it. You bid on all the relevant jobs for this particular problem, knock them out and start building your portfolio and job history on Upwork. And, that brings us to the final “step” with all of this:

How to Grow Beyond Your Tiny Niche

The whole idea of what we’ve done here is to get your first few jobs and portfolio pieces on Upwork. To get the ball rolling. Attacking small, problem-focused niches like this is the easiest way to do that. But, at some point, you’ll run out of clients and/or want to expand.

And, this is where you want to think strategically.

If we look at our niche, “wordpress speed optimization”… there are some simple ways we could expand beyond it, once we have some job history. We could stick in the WordPress space and expand into building WordPress websites from scratch… with an emphasis on site speed. So, maybe your title would change to:

“I build speed-optimized WordPress websites.”

Your job history would support this, because it would have a bunch of projects oriented around “wordpress speed optimization”. But, now you could move from working on existing sties for $100 – $500 per project to full site builds and charging $2,000+ (you can learn my data-driven method for figuring out exactly what these prices should be here).

The point is: start small and specific and grow bigger.

That’s really the secret sauce on Upwork. So, there you go… the easiest way to make money on Upwork. Of course, that’s just one of the many little Upwork tricks I’ve learned in my 15 years as a freelancer. If you want to learn everything I know about starting, growing and building a freelance business using Upwork, I have a full course on Skillshare. And, you can get access to it for free. If you’re interested, all the details on it are here.

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John Morris


I’m a 15-year veteran of freelance web development. I’ve worked with bestselling authors and average Joe’s next door. These days, I focus on helping other freelancers build their freelance business and their lifestyles.

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