You must have heard about Nigerians who are making it big in the remote scene. Well, I will be the first to tell you that it’s all true and that it’s possible due to freelancing sites like Upwork.
With freelancing, Nigerians can make money by selling in-demand skills like editing services, writing services, web development, and other popular digital skills. If you feel like it’s impossible to make thousands of dollars legitimately online, then you should read our guide to freelancing.
In this article, I’ll be showing you how to succeed on Upwork as a Nigerian. Take note that the steps that I’ll be showing you in this article do not guarantee your success (only God can do that). However, they’ll greatly increase your chances of becoming successful on Upwork.
Of course, if you want to try out another popular freelancing site, you can also consider Fiverr.
Does Upwork Work in Nigeria?
This is one question that requires answering before worrying about how to succeed on Upwork as a Nigerian, and the answer is yes. Upwork works in Nigeria, so you can use this freelancing platform to earn as a Nigerian.
You’ve probably heard about people using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to open Upwork accounts. Well, I will be the first to tell you that you don’t need to do any of that. You can just open an Upwork account here in Nigeria and work on the freelance platform as a Nigerian.
How to Use Upwork in Nigeria
In the section below, I’ll be showing you how to use Upwork after opening an account on the platform.
- Visit the Upwork website at https://www.upwork.com/.
- Sign in to your Upwork account.
- Click on “Find Work” at the top left corner of your screen.
- This will display a list of the jobs available on the platform, and you can make your choice.
- Select one of the available jobs.
- Read through the details of the job and see if you’re up to the task. If you’re up to it, click on “Apply Now.” Before you select any job, ensure that you have enough Connects to bid for it (you’ll learn about Connects below).
- Next, you’ll need to set your hourly rates for the job.
- The next step here is to write a proposal for the job (you’ll also learn about how to do this below). The proposal is written in the area called “Cover Letter.” You can also include additional documents like your portfolio, samples of your past work, etc.
- After submitting your proposal, you can then wait, with your fingers crossed, for the client to contact you. If you pass the client’s interview (just a simple question and answer session), you’ll have successfully bid for the job. This means that you can finalise the required terms with the client and start working.
How to Earn on Upwork in Nigeria
Are you ready to start earning on Upwork? Well, there are a few things that you need to understand first, and I’ll be talking about them below. This is a guide on how to earn on Upwork as a Nigerian.
Complete Your Profile
This is the first thing that you need to do to start earning money on Upwork and many other freelance platforms. A complete profile contains important information that clients might look for before they hire you. This includes your name, an email address for contacting you, a description of your services, etc.
You can also add a video introduction of your skills, an online portfolio of your past jobs, and your skill set. One more thing of note is your description; ensure you write a description that emphasises your skills. A 100% complete profile offers the best chances of earning on Upwork.
If you’ve got any certifications, don’t forget to list them on Upwork; they’ll increase your earning chances. Also, don’t forget to update your profile to “Available,” as this will show clients that you’re open to work.
Focus on a Niche
If you want to earn more on Upwork, it’s best to focus on an area where you show the most promise. Instead of being a copywriter/content writer/graphic designer/web developer, just focus on your strengths.
If you can do a good job at content writing, be a content writer. If your skills are better inclined towards programming, be a web developer. This will allow you to focus your energy on tasks where you’ll do a good job.
Do a Good Job
Your best chances of getting better jobs on Upwork hinge on your ability to do a good job and receive positive reviews. Whenever a client wants to evaluate freelancers for a job, they’ll go through their profile and check their job history. This will show them if the freelancer they want to hire can handle their job.
Receiving lots of positive reviews is how you show potential clients that you’re worth it. That’s how you can bid for an intermediate task as an Upwork newbie and still get it.
Use a Professional Profile Photo
Upwork is an online marketplace with lots of foreign clients that have never seen you before. They might have a bias against you based on the simple fact that you’re a Nigerian. You know, with the whole internet fraudster image and everything.
So, you want to paint a positive image of yourself from the get-go. As such, the first thing that you should do when you create your Upwork account is upload a professional photo. A professional photo is the first impression a client gets of you when they open your profile.
A professional photo should have a clear picture of you in responsible clothing. This doesn’t mean that you must be wearing a suit, but you should be dressed formally all the same. Of course, if you can afford a suit, it will be better.
Get yourself a decent haircut or hairdo when taking your professional picture. If your phone’s camera isn’t good enough, visit a photo studio and get a high-quality picture.
Bid Early on Jobs
When you log into your Upwork account, you’ll be shown many jobs, with the most recent ones first. Make sure you bid on the most recent tasks first. Yes, those tasks that were uploaded 2 minutes ago, 5 minutes ago, and 1 hour ago.
Now, the reason for this is simple: the client might still be observing the job they posted during this period. So, if you send a decent proposal soon enough, there is every chance that the client will read it immediately. This is better than sending your proposal when it will be buried under many others and hoping for the best.
Take Your Time in Choosing Jobs
Getting accepted into Upwork and being allowed to sell your skills is a very beautiful moment for any new freelancer. It’s so overwhelming that many freelancers throw caution to the wind and start bidding for any high-paying job they see. Of course, they’ll eventually have to stop when they come to terms with a new limited resource—Connects.
Connects are an Upwork-exclusive resource, and you’ll need it to send proposals on jobs. Different jobs require different Connects; as some might require 2, 6, 8, or even 10.
Upwork issues free Connects to all freelancers every month, but this amount is limited. So, you need to manage your Connects well, or you won’t be able to bid on jobs. Of course, you can always purchase more Connects if you wish to; just be aware that it isn’t cheap.
How to Succeed on Upwork as a Nigerian Freelancer
Do you know that there are hundreds of freelancers offering the same services that you’re offering? This means that when you open an Upwork account, you’re joining a saturated market (most of the time).
Don’t lose hope, though, as there are individuals who have been able to stand out in the face of such competition. These individuals applied a few principles that I’ll be sharing with you here.
Do you want to know how to succeed on Upwork as a Nigerian? The answer is simple: just apply the solutions shown in the guide below.
Get a Review from a Friend
Potential clients on Upwork do not entrust their services to anyone willy-nilly. When there are hundreds of freelancers vying for the same task, the client can just choose the best option. To do this, they’ll check if you’ve completed your profile, your picture, and a lot of other things.
One of the most important factors that they’ll consider are the reviews on your profile. It’s common sense to hire someone who has experience on a job rather than someone who’s trying their hands at it.
So, if you want to increase your chances of getting hired, you should have a review on your profile. Of course, to get a review, you’ll have to first get a job. It’s a vicious cycle, but I can show you how to break out of it.
It’s very easy, actually; just look for a friend that’s already on Upwork and beg them to give you a job. You don’t have to do anything for their job, as it’s all a formality, but you can still go through the motions. What we’re after is their ability to give a review after you submit the job.
So, just tell them to leave a glowing five-star or four-star review on your profile when they’re done. Of course, they shouldn’t make it too obvious that they’re helping you out, so their reviews should sound natural.
If you don’t have any friends on Upwork, you can still meet other successful freelancers on social media. You can connect with Nigerian freelancers on LinkedIn, Nairaland, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Most of these individuals would be happy to help, while others might demand a little token.
The more reviews you can get from these little helpers, the better. When potential clients visit your profile, they’ll see that you are an experienced freelancer and then you can start earning big.
Read the Job Description Completely
Do you know that many freelancers on Upwork bid for hundreds of tasks in a day? These individuals don’t usually go through the descriptions of a task, as that would be wasting time. So, they could get lucky, win lots of tasks, and, in a bid to finish them all, end up doing a terrible job.
Many clients are aware of this, and they’ve come up with methods to oust such people. When you read the descriptions of many jobs today, you’ll notice that the client will place outlandish requests to include in your proposal. They could tell you to start your proposal with “pawpaw” or “that’s a mad lad” to show that you read the description.
These requirements could be at the beginning of the job description, in the middle, or at the end. You can never tell, so it’s better to just read the whole thing. This is also good, as it’ll tell you if you can meet the client’s requirements or handle that job.
Write a Personal Proposal
There will come a time when you will have written numerous proposals and gotten tired. At this point, new proposals would just be copied and pasted from your past proposals. Please don’t do this.
I know that starting on Upwork as a newbie can be rather harsh sometimes, but you can’t compromise on certain standards. A client can always tell if you’re serious about their task from your proposal.
So, a copy-and-paste job can be easily singled out, as it would be bland and generic. When the clients read this proposal, they’ll notice that you didn’t talk specifically about their task. To successfully attract prospective clients, you’ll need to write proposals that show you read the task description and care about the task.
You can follow this simple guide below to write good proposals on Upwork.
- Start with a greeting and a short introduction of who you are.
- State your purpose and tell the client how you can help them with their job post.
- Show them that you have experience and can finish the task quickly.
- Include a sample of your past work or a link to your portfolio, showing similar things that you’ve done.
- Lastly, ensure that your proposal is not a wall of text. A good proposal should always be short and straight to the point. That way, the client would be able to read everything in one go.
Avoid Clients with Bad Reviews from Freelancers
Successfully getting a client on Upwork is not always a good thing. There are good-natured clients and there are horrible ones. Just because you’ve got a high-paying client doesn’t mean you’ll have a good time.
Getting a good client makes your work easier, as they won’t stress you and will be honest with what they want. A bad client can make a two-day job take a week to complete, and they’ll give you a two-star review at the end. Bad reviews are like poison to Nigerian freelancers; they must be avoided!
While there is no certifiable method to identify bad clients, you can reduce your chances of encountering them. You can do this by going through the reviews left by other freelancers who have worked with that client. This will tell you what kind of person your client is and if it’s possible to work with them.
To this effect, you should always try to go for clients that have employed other freelancers in the past. This will allow you to identify good-natured clients and those that might be difficult to work with.
Be On Good Terms with Your Client
Freelancers are independent contractors who work as per the terms of a contract for a client. This doesn’t mean that a client can only hire you for a single job and discard you once they’re done. Many freelancers work on long-term projects for clients, so they can be hired multiple times in a row or for long periods.
The only way that you can get access to such arrangements is if you’re on good terms with your client. You’ll also need to do high-quality work on the task that you were given and earn a positive review. That way, your clients would be happy to personally contact you if they there’s a new task.
Being on bad terms with a client is very dangerous, as it can cause them to give you bad reviews. As we’ve already stated, bad reviews should be avoided, as they make it harder for others to hire you. Imagine how difficult it would be to get hired when you have a 1-star review speaking boldly against your capabilities.
Ensure That You Execute All Your Tasks within Upwork’s Bounds
Working on Upwork puts you under numerous restrictions, like bidding with Connects and sacrificing 10% of your pay. However, this freelancing platform also protects your interests as it ensures your clients pay you for a job.
The Upwork payment protection system works for the hourly or fixed-price jobs you perform on the platform. This payment protection system works with Escrow, where the client deposits your agreed payment with a third party. When the time comes to get paid, the client only needs to approve your work, and you’ll get paid.
This means that when you do a good job, you are certain to get paid. However, you lose all this protection when you take your job off the platform.
I already stated above that Upwork takes 10% of your pay as commission, and some people do not like this. So, such individuals will meet their clients on Upwork and tell them that they want to provide their freelance service outside of it.
While this is a great way to escape Upwork fees and an even more straightforward method to meet clients, it’s risky. Most freelance services require you to submit your task before you get paid. This means that you’ll be relying on the honesty of the client to pay you for your job.
If you don’t want to take such a huge risk, then you should ensure that you don’t go outside of Upwork. Regardless of what a client might prefer, make sure that you work within Upwork to ensure that you get paid in the end.
How to Open an Upwork Account in Nigeria as a Freelancer
I will be taking you through the steps required to open an Upwork account in Nigeria. You want to know how to succeed on Upwork as a Nigerian, right? Well, this is the first step.
Although not every step that I will outline below is compulsory, they are all important. They’ll increase your chances of getting hired on this platform.
- Visit the Upwork website (https://www.upwork.com/).
- Click on the “Sign Up” icon. Its located at the top right of the screen.
- Select the freelancer option and click on “Apply as a freelancer.”
- Enter your details in the spaces provided, accept Upwork’s terms and conditions, and create your account.
- You’ll need to verify your email at this point to proceed.
- So, visit the email that you registered with and click on the link that Upwork sent.
- After verifying your account, you’ll need to enter your account details. There are many ways to do this; you can choose to upload your resume or import your LinkedIn details. Or you can decide to fill out your details manually.
I’ll advise that you choose the manual method, as that will allow you to properly customise your account. There are also chances that your LinkedIn details won’t fill out all the information required and that your resume will be imported incorrectly.
- The first thing you’ll be required to do is enter your title. This title is the first thing that clients see, and it shows your prospective clients what you can do. It could be a web developer, content writer, digital marketer, or other relevant skill.
- Next, you’ll need to enter your work experience. This includes the places you have worked, your title at that place, and the description of the job. Ensure that the experience you enter here is related to your skill or helps to sell your capability in that skill set.
This means that you can’t call yourself a graphic designer and start including job experiences where you worked as a cleaner. When you’ve included your experience, click on “Save.” You can include as many experiences as you want.
- The next step will be your education. This is for when clients will want to know your level of education to determine if you’re qualified to handle their job. You don’t need to enter your primary education here; just your secondary education or your university degree will do.
If you’re still in secondary school or an undergraduate student, you can include that information as well. Just make sure to indicate your expected graduation date.
- The next thing that you’ll need to provide are your certifications. Now, this is not compulsory, so if you don’t have any certifications, you can skip this part. If you have, though, try to enter them, as it will show your capability as an expert.
If you don’t have anything to add, just click on the “Nothing to add” box and go to the next step.
- Here, you’ll be required to indicate the languages you speak and your level of proficiency with them. English is compulsory, but if you speak other languages, include them as well. So, you can include Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, French, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, etc.
- This time, you’ll need to enter your skills, and you need to be careful when you do this. There are thousands of clients on Upwork, so the skills you enter here determine the types of jobs you’ll see. You can enter things like content creation, digital marketing, SQL programming, and other in-demand skills.
- In this section, you’ll be required to write an overview of yourself. This is a short biography explaining who you are, your skills, and what it is you can do. You are given a lot of freedom here, so you can write normal sentences or use bullet points.
- In this section, you’ll be required to choose the main services that you offer. This will help Upwork know the type of business that you’re running to better match you with your target clients.
- At this point, you’ll have to set the hourly rate for your account. The hourly rate is the payment you get based on the number of hours you spend on a task. Although this type of business model is odd in Nigeria, it’s very common outside our shores.
Outside Nigeria, workers are paid based on the number of hours they spend on their job. Take note that you’ll need to download the Upwork desktop app if you want to use the hourly model for a job. The Upwork desktop app will log your hours, monitor your work, and verify that you were working during that period.
Of course, you don’t have to use this option when you get a client; you can always go for the fixed rate model. Nonetheless, when setting your hourly rate, you should ensure that you check the industry standards for your niche. That way, you don’t undersell or oversell your services.
You might think that setting a cheaper price than others is best, but that’s wrong. Setting a very low price will make greedy clients take advantage of your skill and even make high-paying clients wary. Take note that Upwork demands a 10% fee for all transactions you conduct on their site.
- This is the last section of your profile, and here you’ll be entering other important details. You’ll be uploading our profile photo and entering your state, city, and zip code.
- When you’re done, you can preview our profile to see if there are any changes you need to make. If there are none, you can submit it.
- You can now log into your account and start bidding for jobs or make more changes to your profile. Take note that you’ll need to provide your tax information at some point on Upwork. If you don’t have any tax information, you can use this guide to generate your Tax Identification Number (TIN) for that purpose.
How Does Upwork Pay in Nigeria
After a successful round of offering freelancing services on Upwork, the next thing that comes up is payday. Take note that before you set up your payment method, you must have already provided your tax information.
Before I delve into how Upwork pays you, you’ll need to understand their payment system to run a successful freelance business. Upwork pays its freelancers using four payment schedules, and you can choose any one.
- Weekly Basis: This means that you get paid every Wednesday.
- Twice Weekly: With this option, you get paid on the first and third Wednesdays of every month.
- Monthly: This means that you get paid on the last Wednesday of every month.
- Quarterly: Here you get paid on the last Monday of every quarter (after 4 months).
Regardless of the method you choose, you’ll receive your payment within 24 hours of that stipulated date. Now, we can go back to the main topic, how Upwork pays you in Nigeria.
There are quite a few payment methods that Upwork uses to pay Nigerians, and they include:
- Direct to your Nigerian bank account
- Wire transfer in dollars
- Direct transfer to a US bank account (recommended)
You can choose whichever suits you best, but take note that PayPal isn’t available for Nigerians. So, you can only use PayPal if you have a foreign PayPal account. However, this is dangerous, as such accounts can be closed at any time and the funds lost.
If you choose Payoneer, you can open an account with ease and verify it with your digital National Identity Number (NIN) card. When you earn money, you can transfer it to your Payoneer account and withdraw it through your Nigerian bank account.
If you’re in the know about the dollar rate in Nigeria, you’ll understand why jobs that pay in dollars are well sought. However, you’ll lose this advantage if you allow Nigerian banks to convert your dollars to Naira using the official rate.
That’s why I will advise that you choose the direct transfer to US bank account option. With apps like Geegpay and Grey.co, you can own USD accounts and withdraw them with black market rates.
Keep in mind that all payment methods come with their own fees, which are different from Upwork’s 10% commission. To use any payment method on this platform, you only need to provide your information and activate it.
You can set your payment method when you go to your profile and click on “Profile Settings.” You’ll find your profile icon under “Find Work.”
When your profile settings open up, click on “Get Paid,” and you’ll see all the available payment methods. Choose the payment method that you want and click “Set up” to get it up and running.
Is Upwork Legit
Yes, Upwork is a legitimate platform with a well-known history dating back to 1999. This freelance site is a combination of two well-known freelance platforms: Elance and oDesk. Upwork is a US-based site and has also been recognised as one of the most influential companies in the world by Time Magazine.
Is Upwork Available in Nigeria?
Yes, Upwork is available in Nigeria, and you can use the platform to earn money as a Nigerian. You don’t need to use a VPN or purchase a foreign Upwork account to use the platform as a Nigerian. Upwork is available for Nigerians, so you’ll be able to open an account with ease.
Can Nigerians Join Upwork?
Yes, Nigerians can join Upwork. Unlike PayPal, Upwork doesn’t have any restrictions on Nigerians who join the platform. So, you can just register with your Nigerian IP address and enjoy all that Upwork has to offer.