Breaking into Upwork, can seem tough at the start.

There are hundreds of established Virtual Bookkeepers from around the world and you’re all competing for the same job.

So the question is: How to get more Virtual Bookkeeping jobs on Upwork and beat the competition?

This is designed to help you stand out, attract clients and make it easier for you to get bookkeeping jobs (and make money).

My story:

In October of 2015 I went to a networking meeting at a Tech company. The speak mentioned how he had hired several people from a site to do specific tasks so he could scale his business. That site was Upwork. It took me about a week to do my research and set myself up to apply for jobs. With in 2 days I had my first contract followed by another contract a week later. If I could do it with nothing but an old laptop and an internet connection really anyone can. I am not going to lie to you it is hard work, takes patience and persistence.


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Here are some tips to get you in pointed in the right direction:

  1. Spruce up your Profile

When asked for advice on how to get Virtual Bookkeeping jobs on Upwork, the first thing I usually tell people is to put work into their profile.

Needless to say, a good quality profile is very important on Upwork. If you already have a profile, go back and make sure that it is 100% complete. Fill out as many sections as you can, in detail.

A 100% complete profile ranks higher on the Upwork search engine compared to incomplete profiles. A few things to pay attention to when sprucing up your Upwork profile:

Make sure you have a professional profile photo of yourself and not a pet or abstract objects.

Be specific in describing your skills.

Add work/experience history

Add a portfolio if possible.

Add a reasonable pay rate

  1. Take Relevant Upwork Tests

I know I know, taking those Upwork tests can seem very annoying. Truth is, if you want to get work on Upwork, taking those tests is a necessary evil. One very important test that is a MUST is the Upwork Readiness test. Most clients will not give your profile a second thought if you haven’t done this test.

Once you’re done with the Upwork Readiness test, take a couple of other ones that cover the skill sets you are hoping to work with. Generally a test will take about 20 minutes. Tests will help show just how good you are at something, so it’s worth taking them. Once you’re done, ensure that you set the results to show up on your profile (especially if you did well on the test).

Completing tests on Upwork will raise your profile up the Upwork search engine much faster. To take a test, go to the ‘Tests’ section and search for tests that are relevant to your field under ‘categories’ or ‘keyword’.

  1. Build Your Virtual Bookkeeper Freelancer Reputation (Upwork Job Success Score)

Reputation is everything on Upwork. You can create your reputation in various ways on Upwork; such as quick responses to job invitations, communication with clients, job satisfaction and so on. The better your reputation on Upwork, the more jobs you’ll manage to get (and the more successful you’ll be).

Upwork uses the Job Success score to measure your reputation. Put simply, if a client is happy with your work, you will have a high job success percentage (score). Your Job Success score also affects how you rank in the Upwork search engine. The higher your score, the higher the chances of getting a Top Rated badge.

  1. Work on your Proposals

A well-written proposal is a huge part of bagging a contract on Upwork. Many bookkeepers, especially those who are just starting out, tend to pay very little attention to their proposals. Don’t be one of them.

When sending a proposal:

Don’t use a stock response. Make sure you send a new and customized proposal for every job.

Be specific in why you are interested in the particular project and what experience or skills you have that will help you complete the project successfully.

If there is anything that you don’t understand, don’t hesitate to ask questions about the project in your proposal.

  1. Find a Niche

When starting out as a Virtual Bookkeeper on Upwork, it’s common practice to take up any job that has potential to earn you some money. However, as you progress and especially if you are interested in getting well-paying gigs that will earn you more, you will have to find a niche. Choosing a niche increases your chances of getting a job because clients will see you as an expert in a particular field.

As you set up your Upwork profile focus on 1 or 2 skills that you feel you are best at. Once you’ve chosen a niche, build your profile around it. Make sure your job title contains keywords relevant to your niche. Add the keywords to your description, add portfolios of projects related to this niche and also take tests related to this niche.

Niche Example: Xero Bookkeeper

  1. Find the Right Project

When applying for a job, don’t just apply to any job, be selective. To begin with, make sure that you search for relevant projects by setting up a job feed. This will make it easy to find a project within your skill set.

There are hundreds of jobs advertised for Bookkeeping on Upwork every day and finding the right one can be quite difficult. The Upwork Job Feed, lets you narrow down the job results into jobs that are more likely to fit your skills and from your preferred niche. The Job Feed is also important because it ensures you never miss out on new opportunities that match your skills.

  1. Understand the Two Types of Upwork Jobs

To get more jobs on Upwork, it’s important that you first understand that Upwork has two job types:

Fixed price

Fixed priced jobs are jobs with a set scope to be delivered at a fixed price. With fixed price jobs, you can work as many or as few hours as needed to get the job done. Most of these projects are short term and payment is made after the project is completed. Fixed price jobs are good if you are starting out on Upwork and you need projects that you can work on and get paid fast. However, be careful because the client can dispute work done and end the project early without submitting your payment. Even though Upwork has introduced Escrow for fixed price projects, there is a certain amount of risk involved.

Hourly Projects

Hourly projects on Upwork are projects that are payable for every hour spent working on the project. Upwork’s time tracking app takes random screenshots of your computer every 10 minutes and uploads them to your work diary while you’re working. Payment for hourly work is guaranteed as long as the hours are logged using the time tracker and not manually. Upwork guarantees that as long as you using their time tracker to do the job, you will get paid for the time.

  1. Know your Worth

Deciding how much to charge for a project can be confusing because you do not want to undercharge nor overcharge a client. Before you set your rate, do a bit of research to find out the average pay for the type of jobs you are interested in. Take a look at what other similar Virtual Bookkeepers with your skill level are charging and use that as a guide. Once you have figured out the right rate make sure you stick to jobs that will pay you something close to that rate.

  1. Bid Often and Reasonably

As already noted, competition on Upwork is high so it is important that you bid for as many relevant jobs as possible to increase your chances of getting hired. However, you also need to be reasonable in the kind of jobs you bid for. Make sure that they will be worth your time, pay what you deserve and that you will be able to complete them within the set deadline. If you don’t have the time to work on a handful jobs, make sure you apply to only those that you will be able to handle.

  1. Keep your Clients’ Needs in Mind

Before you start working on a project make sure that you fully understand what is expected of you and what the clients wants you to do. Always listen to your client’s concerns and respond positively and in a pleasant manner. Make sure that you deliver exactly what you promised. Ask the client to give you feedback on your work and should they request for changes, do so without complaining. Remember if you deliver what is expected of you, your clients will report good job satisfaction – which will increase your Upwork Job Success score.

  1. Plan your Time Well

The beauty of being a Virtual Bookkeeper is that you have the freedom to work whenever you want to. This can sometimes get out of hand if you don’t plan your time well. When taking up jobs be sure not to accept too much work that you have no time to complete. If you are working full time and doing Virtual Bookkeeping on the side, make sure you have systems in place to balance your workload.

Also, if your client is in a different time zone, be clear on exactly which time zone the deadlines are applicable to.

Remember as a Virtual Bookkeeper you are your own boss and you will be expected to follow through on what you’ve agreed to do so plan your time well to ensure that you have enough time to complete your projects in good time as agreed.

  1. Build Relationships with Clients

Communication is key on Upwork. It is important that keep communication with clients open. Respond to messages as soon you possibly can, do not let days pass before responding. This will greatly affect your reputation. Creating a working relationship with clients is important if you want them to consider you for future or long term projects. By creating great relationships, you’ll build up your reputation making you successful.

  1. Stick to Set Deadlines

Agree with the client on appropriate and reasonable deadlines. If you feel that the time provided to complete a project is too little, make sure you let the client know before you begin the project. Agree with the client on due dates and make sure you make them. If for are unable to meet a deadline, let the client know immediately and tell them when you’ll be able to complete the work. Sometimes circumstances beyond your control may make it impossible to adhere to deadlines. Do the right thing and let the client know in advance or as soon as you are able to communicate.

  1. Request Feedback

Once you complete a project successfully, clients can rate your work with 1 to 5 stars and add more feedback regarding their experience working with you. Feedback is very important as it contributes to your Job Success score. Should a client forget to rate you, make sure to politely request them to leave you feedback. To get good feedback:

  • deliver high quality work
  • communicate with clients early and often
  • be a pleasure to work with
  • keep deadlines

So to answer the question – how to get more jobs on Upwork? Experience is what you need.

To ensure you are among the best Virtual Bookkeepers on Upwork, work towards perfecting your skills. This will require you to keep learning about the jobs you’re interested in and how to best complete them. Take the time to continue learning about your niche.

If you would like to schedule time a one on one session for me to show you how you can work the Upwork system to build a six figure virtual bookkeeping business the cost is $150 for a one hour session using screen share: Click here to schedule:

Here are my 2018 Stats as of May 2018: