Last summer I spent a lot of time on Upwork. I had visions of making it as a freelance copywriter. I worked my way up from $3 an hour for transcription to a couple of decent $20+ hourly writing gigs, but then I found a full time job and stopped freelancing for a while.
This summer, I decided I’d rather write code for a living, so I’ve been learning from FCC and everywhere else. About halfway through the FCC curriculum, I went back to Upwork to update my profile and see if I could find any development jobs. I sent a few proposals but I was a little daunted at the idea of trying to sell myself to freelance clients with no substantial experience in the field, so I decided to just focus on learning enough to qualify for a regular full time job.
A couple weeks later, I got a message on Upwork from a startup in California who needed a React developer. I spoke with the client (VP of engineering) and told him right up front that I had no professional coding experience but I had been learning fast and I was confident that I could deliver good work. He agreed to give me a test project under the guidance of the front end contractor who’s on his way out.
Three hours on the phone with the front end guy on Tuesday gave me a real eye-opening introduction to the world of professional Web development. The app only had two views and only called three API endpoints but included thousands of lines of code and a huge pile of dependencies. I felt like I was drowning at first. But then I had time to myself to dig into the project (create a new view) and everything came together for me.
Fast forward to today, and the VP calls back and offers me the job! For at least a month working remotely full time at an entry level hourly wage (lower than most developer jobs, higher than any other steady gig I’ve done), with the option to continue if we agree that things are working out. He said that they considered some more experienced candidates, but that I stood out for my enthusiasm for learning and my timely and clear communication. The front end guy apparently told him that I showed a lot of potential and they don’t want to turn away talent. So now I’m employed for at least a little while and if I fit in well at this company it could be a long-term job. And they came looking for me.
Creating a profile on Upwork and other freelancing sites can’t hurt, and if you already have some work history on such a platform it would be a good idea to keep your profile up to date and see if any clients contact you, even if it’s not worth your time to go applying for contracts yourself.
Reliable communication and commitment to learning can be your big selling point if you don’t have a bunch of (or any) prior experience.
This is great, congratulations!
I am curious, where exactly you were at FCC curriculum when you got this job? You completed React projects, probably?
The client reached out to me a few weeks ago when I was in the middle of FCC’s back end projects. I finished the FCC curriculum early last week and got the job today. But the job is strictly front end and doesn’t require me to use anything I learned from the back end projects.
That is so great! Congratulations.
Congratz, really I’ve also been lurking around Upwork, however, I find that I’m rather daunted at sending any proposals, even though some jobs are described as something I should be able to do easily. How’d you get over the “fear” of not being up to the task? Also, do you have any advice with proposals and what not?
When I got started on Upwork doing transcription and writing, there was no fear because the tasks were fairly trivial. Starting with very easy work for very little pay was the key for me to get my foot in the door on the site and build a good feedback record.
However, for development, with no professional experience, it really was too intimidating for me to send out a lot of proposals. I didn’t want my first contract as a developer to be too difficult for me to handle, and I didn’t have a way to know for sure how difficult a given job would be. That’s why I’m very happy that a client contacted me instead, and allowed me to do a test project before deciding whether to hire me. If I had failed at the test, they simply wouldn’t offer me a contract; they wouldn’t leave negative feedback on my profile, and I would not come out of the experience feeling like I had let my client down.
If I hadn’t gotten lucky this way and I didn’t already have a reputation on the site, I would have started by finding the easiest possible technical jobs and bidding very low just so I could get some work, not worrying about the money at first. After a few of those projects, I would know a lot more about my ability to perform in a real work situation, and I would be more confident about starting to seek more difficult projects and bidding higher.
However, a lot of people have said that it’s hard to make any substantial money bidding on contracts on Upwork, because there is so much low-cost competition on the site. For most people, your time is probably better used applying for regular jobs.
That’s amazing and also my dream, I know it’s possible as I’m seeing progress day after day. Congratulations to you, must be great to be getting daily professional experience, enjoy it : )
Ye, I figured the same, that low rates might be necessary. I’m not in it for the money anyways, simply for experience at the moment. It’s really intimidating though, watching the job describtion, even for the easiest of them.
your time is probably better used applying for regular jobs.
Being a student, I am only looking for experience, so even if I don’t get work all the time, no problemo
In that case, you might want to consider learning some PHP, particularly Wordpress themes and plugins. There’s high demand on Upwork for PHP, especially Wordpress, including some really easy jobs. And PHP is a pretty easy language to learn, there are tons of PHP tutorials all over the Web.
@SRHerzog Great news, good lack in new job
Congratulations man:) Lucky You, all the best:)
Wow congratulations! I am thinking of doing remote jobs when I finish some of the certifications
Your story is motivating, thanks!
Congratulations! Best wishes and keep coding. I also found a job after finished Back End and Front End courses. Didn’t touch React projects, actually.
Great to read about this kind of progress… it helps to motivate people like myself to keep going. Congratulations and best of luck in the future!
Just before I read this, I was thinking about setting up a profile on Upwork but the thought of sending proposals and bidding for contracts was too daunting. Reading about your experience gave me the inspiration I needed. Thanks for posting!
Congratulations! Always great to hear about folks trying out something new and finding success. Thanks for sharing.
If someone needs I can help with the first project on Upwork or Freelancer so you will have your first review, for details: telegram @diarfaton or firstname.lastname@example.org