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Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

There are a number of mistakes potential clients make that will stop the best creatives from pitching for your project.

Depending on the day, I’m either hiring designers on Upwork or getting gigs as a designer on Upwork myself.

There will always be newbies on Upwork ready and willing to take on projects with low budgets, unrealistic timelines, and problem clients. If you’re an experienced, quality client on Upwork looking to establish relationships with skilled creatives, there are a few things you can do to make sure these people don’t see you as a red flag and, instead, bid to take on your projects.

How to write Upwork jobs that get you the best talent.

  1. Provide as much context as possible.

    In your job listing, describe the background and goals of your project. Provide examples of what has worked for you in the past or inspiration that you’d like your freelancer to use. Provide information about relevant assets or collateral that already exists. Provide information about the extent of brand documentation (do you have a brand bible?) to help the freelancer understand whether they will also be designing a brand on-the-fly as they fulfill your brief.

  2. Go broad on your budget settings.

    You may be missing out on great creatives who are unable to respond to your job. So often, I get an intriguing listing in my feed and I don’t bid because the client has set the bidding format requiring respondents to either speculate about the overall cost or come up with the various milestones they anticipate. No matter how exhaustive your job description is, any designer worth their salt will offer to schedule a conversation with you or, at least, ask a number of clarifying questions before being able to set milestones or a budget. We can’t respond to your listing to ask these questions without committing to a budget (that Upwork reminds us is binding).

  3. Don’t price the job by project or by milestone.

    In every project I’ve done as quoted by the project, rather than my hourly rate, the client has overpaid. When a designer has to quote a project this way, they need to estimate the fees based on the most expensive scenario and then add 20% for contingency. This calculation is harder to get right before having a conversation about the project so they will need to go big. To maintain a sense of security, you might want to start by asking how many hours it’s taken them to deliver similar projects in the past.

  4. If you’re not a nightmare client, avoid these words and phrases…

    Most red flags on Upwork are easy to spot. Like the guy who wanted an 8-minute video for $25. But there are a few tells that experienced creatives know are red flags. Like using the words “just”, “quick”, and “simple” or phrases “should be easy” or “shouldn’t take long”. Language like this might get inexperienced creatives to work for next-to-nothing, but it’s a red flag to skilled talent. There’s nothing worse than a client who thinks what we do is quick or easy. Simple is hard.

There you have it! My top tips for landing top talent on Upwork.

I hold up a mirror for my
customers to see their own
brand.

I guess you could say I’m like
a therapist for businesses.
No smoke.
Just mirrors.

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