Getting Started With Freelancing and Choosing Your Specialty


Two of the most common questions we receive across our social channels here at Upwork come from those who are new to freelancing. To help them out, we asked our Facebook Community how they got started and how they chose their field of specialization. Here is a collection of the best answers.


How Did YOU Make the Leap Into Freelancing?

“My former job was monotonous and I felt that I wasn’t making good use of my talents and skills. When I had kids, I stopped working and had no choice but to stay at home, so I looked for ways to be productive in my free time. I was searching for online jobs when I found my way to Upwork.

“It was very difficult at first because I had no one to ask about it. Nobody around me had a clue as to what Upwork was and what needed to be done in order to get a job on it. I had to rely on blogs, online reviews, and forums to find my way around. It took me a month before I had gained enough confidence to start applying because I wanted my profile to be completed first.

“Through self-study, hard work, and lots of persistence, I was able to land on my first Upwork job. I have not looked back since, and I realized that I was finally pursuing a job that I really wanted to do. Now I am a copywriter, and I continue to push myself to improve.

“I treat every task that I get as a learning opportunity, no matter how small it may be. I was able to grow with some of the first clients who hired me. Thankfully, there are people here who understand that good training makes a huge difference. I welcomed criticisms, rewrites, suggestions, and the confusing world of SEO keywords.

“It wasn’t all fun doing work in pajamas. I tended to get sleepy after a couple of hours, so I made it a point to dress decently. Whenever my kids need me, I am able to stop and take breaks to attend to their needs. I also dedicated a corner of the house as my work area, and dutifully used a journal to organize my thoughts. Since then, freelancing had become my bread and butter.”

— From Marianne Torres

“2 years ago, I googled how to earn money by freelancing online, and that’s how I discovered Upwork. I was a working student at the time and I really needed extra money. I went to the office everyday and I studied at night. When I couldn’t balance work and school anymore, I tried Upwork.

“Freelancing is not as easy as it looks. Upwork is a great online earning opportunity but only for those prepared to work hard and dedicate themselves to achieving success. I remember the time when only 1 or 2 out of 25 clients would respond to my applications. I couldn’t get any clients the first few months so since I offer design services, I took lots of skills test and built a strong profile.

“Here are some essential things that you should know before freelancing:

  1. Even a freelancing business has start-up costs. At a minimum, you need to have a laptop or PC, and Internet connection.
  2. Even if it is possible to run a freelancing business from a laptop in your bathroom, it’s not an ideal work environment. It’s important for you to have a decent workplace so you can work comfortably and efficiently.
  3. Before you even think about becoming a freelancer, you should have a very good skill set so that you can attract clients.
  4. Being a freelancer involves marketing your skills, yet many people hate to sell. If you’re not willing to sell your services, you may have trouble finding enough clients to stay in business.
  5. As a freelancer, you won’t have a boss to remind you of deadlines or suggest improvements. In fact, there won’t even be anyone to assign projects to you — you will have to go and get them yourself.

“Being successful in Upwork, or freelancing in general, is possible, but how well you will do depends on YOU, and most importantly, you should ‘Love the way you work.’”

— From RF 3Design Solutions

“Blindly! Kidding of course, but writing has been a hobby for 15 years before I realized I could make good money out of it online. From there, it was all persistence and perseverance, and the obstinate belief that I can make a living out of writing. As a bonus, I’m now traveling and writing, two things I ached to do from the very start.”

— From Cherry Vic Patalita


How Did You Choose Your Freelance Specialty?

“I chose my specialty based on my skills; what I knew with certainty I could do. If you choose anything else, then you’re fooling yourself, and your clients, and that will only result in poor feedback! Clients LOVE honesty! The great thing about many clients is that once you’ve completed the task they will often ask you to do something else and if you’ve done well in the first task, they’ll train you to do something new which you can then add to your profile!”

— From Ed Bentall

“It’s GOOD when you can do it, it’s BETTER when you love doing it, but if you have passion for it, then it becomes the BEST. That’s how I chose.”

— From Onengski Cobalida

“I followed Mr. Confucius’ advice and chose a work that I loved. I chose writing – something that I have always been passionate about. Now every time I get a new writing job, I experience joy!”

— From Ajanta Rezwana


For more information on how to get started, check out the Upwork Freelancer Guide. It contains information on everything from how to build a great profile to getting that first client to getting paid for your hard work.

Editor’s note: Responses edited for grammar and spelling. References to oDesk, which is now Upwork, have also been updated. The statements above are those of their authors and do not constitute the views or opinions of Upwork.