A while back, I decided I could use a logo for Copy Martin. As someone who regularly does copywriting jobs on Upwork, I decided to flip the script and use the platform hire a freelancer myself.

Admittedly, my motivation was twofold: hire a competent designer to create logos; and learn more about the Upwork hiring process to help refine my own job-seeking strategies.

Within 24 hours of posting my job, 16 proposals filtered in from various graphic design professionals. Here is what I learned.

Many Proposals Were Templates

At face value, a templated proposal isn’t the worst thing. Freelancers want to maximize their time and apply to many jobs—I get that (and made that mistake early on, too). Problem is, many of the proposals were—or came across as—canned. Some even shared the same language. Hello, I have ten years of experience and I’d love to help create your logo, for example. Here are some portfolio items and some companies I’ve worked for.

Fair enough. But what will you do to help my project along?

Proposed Rates Varied

  • Only three out of sixteen freelancers bid above my stated budget (~18%)
  • Eleven out of sixteen freelancers bid at my stated budget (~68%)

Interestingly enough, two freelancers bid below my stated rate (~12%). Both of these freelancers have little experience on the platform (less than $1000 earned in total), which I found telling.

(Bidding under the stated project rate is not a strategy I would recommend.)

68% proposals were at my stated budget, 18% were above.

You Can Limit Proposals to U.S. Only

Technically speaking, I already knew this. As a U.S.-based freelancer on Upwork, I can filter jobs in my feed by those only hiring freelancers from the U.S. I bring it up here because … well … when faced with this decision, I did opt to limit proposals to the U.S. only.

Why?

Simply to narrow the pool of applicants. I didn’t want to spend valuable time sifting through 30, 40, 50 proposals. I assumed that limiting my job to U.S. only would shrink the applicant pool, and it did: I only received 16 total proposals.

I assumed that limiting my job to U.S. only would shrink the applicant pool, and it did.

Upwork Took About 3% On the Transaction

I suppose this is the price of doing business on the platform. The freelancer also gets a percentage fee taken out of the total contract value. It is something to consider when hiring a freelancer on Upwork, especially if the budget is tight.

The Final Word

The hiring process is subjective. For example, I found myself leaning toward upstart designers, those that were obviously qualified but not yet established on the platform. Hell, I work in the same eco system and had to scrape together my first few contracts, too. Excuse me my natural affinity for fellow freelancers doing the same.

Still, the proposal I ended up selecting had three elements that any good Upwork proposal should include:

1. Personalized to the specific details of the job posting

In the job posting, mentioned my copywriting business and included a link to my site for reference. The winning freelancer include some thoughts about how the logo might fit in with my current color scheme. Nice touch.

2. Included details about deliverables

Specifically, logo variations that could be used on different platforms (something else I mentioned in the posting). This was reassuring because this detail was important to me.

3. Asked follow-up questions about the project

And not just timeline and budget. This demonstrated the level of engagement I wanted to see throughout the project.

Hiring a freelancer on Upwork is a subjective matter. Sure. But the process taught me plenty about the client perspective. More importantly, it revealed some of the things that freelancers can do to set themselves apart and win more jobs.

PS Here is the logo that Rachel, the freelance graphic designer whose proposal I accepted, produced.

Thoughts?

Logo for Copy Martin the website of San Diego copywriter Martin Ceisel

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