Critical Mistakes Newbies Make on Freelancing Websites

Some links in this post are affiliate links, I may earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) if you make a purchase. Read the disclosure for more information.

Newbies are bound to make critical mistakes at one point or another on their freelancing careers.

I remember when I started freelancing way back in 2012. I got my Odesk account suspended faster than I landed any job. I was making mistakes left-right-and-center.

I needed help but I was alone in an open sea with countless freelancers bidding day and night.

I was getting frustrated and before I figured out the mistakes I was making I was on my third suspension. That is my story.

Before you get your account suspended here are some critical mistakes newbies make or even a advanced freelancers for that matter.

1. Use of Generic Cover letters – (Most common)

When applying to a job, your cover letter is the most important piece of your journey to getting hired. One too many times, freelancer ignore the fact that each cover letter needs to be proofread, personalized for a specific job post and result in recycling cover letters. This is a grave mistake that landed me my first odesk suspension.

Avoid at all costs the use of generic cover letters as this is your first impression for the client to see if you understood the job posting. Be human and craft a cover letter that you would read and hire yourself for the job posting.

Learn how easy it is to Write a Killer Cover Letter.

2. Incomplete Profile. (Very Common)

Do you want to get hired ? Ensure you have a complete profile.

When you apply to a job posting ensure that your profile is populated with relevant content, it lacks grammatical mistakes and has some portfolio items.

In cease you are struggling with your odesk profile, here are some Tips and Tricks to Creating an Irresistible oDesk Profile.

3. Mentality that Working online is a Get Rich Quick Scheme

One of the question I get asked alot is, How much money do you make ?

My honest response is the amount I make but caution is important when it comes to freelancing online.

Most newbies on hearing how much I make, think that this is a get rich quick scheme. Ha Ha Ha.

It takes rejection by clients, sleepless nights, frustration, patience, time and tireless bidding on jobs to make some good money.

Newbies – Rid your mind of the Get Rich Quick Mentality.

4. Getting Desperate – working for close to nothing

You have been bidding on jobs day and night. You are at the point of giving up or working for almost close to nothing / for free. I have been there.Desperate and broken.

This is a grave mistake when it comes to working online. Newbies often get frustrated and result in working for close to nothing.

Often this results in serious exploitation, poor pay and work that is close to torture.

Word is : Do Not Get Desperate

5. Asking for upfront Payment

Critical Mistake Newbie !!!! How do you request for upfront with no job history or feedback?

Some jobs justify requesting an upfront payment but on most occasions, clients do not want to deal with newbies that request for upfront payments. I know I would not even consider that job application.

6. Applying for all jobs -related or not related to your field

Finally, you get frustrated to a point that any job that you believe you can ace 5% – you apply.

This is a serious mistake that results in poor feedback reviews. It is a move of desperation that can be compared to shooting aimlessly with the intention of hitting the target. You will lose lots of bullets hitting bushes and rocks.

Reserve  the job application quota for jobs that you are confident and knowledgeable on. Jobs that will lead to more work and repeat clients with positive feedback.

 Here are some jobs that Newbies should apply to on odesk

Do you have any more mistakes that you feel newbies make on Freelancing Websites? Add them in the comments.

Photo by Ryan McGilchrist


Get Free Email Updates!

Signup now and receive an email once I publish new content.

I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )

I will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.

7 thoughts on “Critical Mistakes Newbies Make on Freelancing Websites”

  1. David, how are you? Good here, except – I have a question on profiles, but not Upwork, Elance:

    My profile is 90% complete. Remaining actions include Identity verification which is in progress. And phone verification – this is giving me trouble, I keep calling and the lady on the other end is ‘talking gibberish,’ I don’t seem to ‘understand’ what she’s talking about, and therefore not able to input the verification code before the call is ended.

    Secondly, with my profile being 90%, I am trying to apply for jobs by placing proposals. Now, there is thing thing called Membership plan. Elance says my plan is the basic one that has 40 connects per month. However, I don’t seem to be able to place any proposals for any job. Each comes with a recommendation to apply for a plan for an individual plan for $10.

    Of course, my Elance account is very empty, totally newbie on the website. Must I buy the $10 plan? How comes I can use the free basic plan with 40 connects? Are there jobs that are restricted to specific plans? Looks like all jobs I am clicking on demands for the $10 plan.

    Could it be that my incomplete profile is the problem?

    Kind Regards,
    Maganga Joy
    Please help…

  2. Okay, I seem to have answered my question above…, Clicked on a job that didnt demand the $ 10 membership plan, thanks be to God…

    Thanks for your time and consideration…

    Kind Regards,,
    Maganga Joy

  3. Hello David,
    Its with great joy that I read this blog post of yours on the critical mistakes newbies commit.Its unfortunate am a newbie in this context,perhaps I could be making the same mistakes listed above.In regard to the topic,I would like to ask you this:’I happened to have opened a new academic account[Academia] given that I have been a writer for one year now.I have been trying bidding for orders in this account to no avail’.What could be the problem?A friend hinted on me that its cause am a newbie and by profile as to the completed orders is nil,and that could be the reason for not tying up any order to my side.But I don’t believe this because I always draft appealing proposals as suggested by you blog.Please assist me if you happen to know how this account operates in terms of its bidding tips.Thank you in advance.
    Kind Regards,


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.