How to Spy On Your Freelance Competition on Upwork (and why it’s important)

Freelancing on Upwork is super competitive and requires any serious freelancer to have an upper edge over their competition when it comes to getting jobs and making money.

Competition is everywhere, sometimes it’s healthy and other times it can run you out of business.

If you’ve read the book, “Who Moved My Cheese?” you know how devastated ‘Hem’ and ‘Haw’ were when they realized their cheese had moved. This also happens on Upwork due to stiff competition by other freelancers.

On Upwork, freelancers that offer the same services that you offer pose the greatest competition and if you want to remain competitive, complacency is your number one enemy once competition sets in or a market turns.

In this post, I’ll show you how to spy on your freelance competition to help you notice market changes and avoid being cannibalized by other freelancers offering the same service as you do.

This will help you get your profile noticed and you’ll make more trips to your bank.

Let’s dive in.

Who is your freelance competitor on Upwork?

Your competition on Upwork includes and is not limited to:

a) Freelancers that get hired for jobs that you apply.

When another freelancer gets hired for a job that you’ve applied, this is your number 1 competitor.

They can make or break your freelancing career and getting to know why they were hired is important.

b) Freelancers that offer similar services as you.

When you and other freelancers apply for work on Upwork, it is because you have the skills required to offer the service a client needs.

If your competition offers the same service that you offer and they package the service better than you, chances are clients will hire them for their projects.

c) Freelancers with better feedback and work history than you.

There’s always that freelancer that gets all the praise and 5-star feedback from clients.

Getting to know what they are doing (it may be as simple as communicating effectively or delivering exemplary results) can help you know what you need to change to compete better.

d) Freelancers that offer services that cross.

If you offer transcription services only and another freelancer offers transcription and captioning services, who do you think a client that needs both services will hire?

Obviously, the freelancer that offers both services.

e) A market that is constantly changing due to automation and artificial intelligence.

A lot has changed in the freelancing world due to automation and artificial intelligence and in the next decade, many services being offered by freelancers will be obsolete.

For example, audio transcription has been done manually for a long time but in the recent past, a number of A.I. powered transcription tools have emerged and depending on the accent and audio quality, they deliver accurate transcripts for a fraction of the cost a transcriber would charge.

You need to be aware of market changes to stay competitive and adapt accordingly.

Why should you research your freelance competition?

Before we look at how to spy on your freelance competitors, let’s discuss the reasons why you need to stay on top of your game by diving deep into what other people are doing.


1. To know what services they are offering.

If you want to know why your freelance competition is getting all the work, you need to know what services they are offering and how they are packaging their services.

For example, I offer Camtasia services on Upwork but most of the times my competitors get hired because they can offer voice over services.

This is something I know well and accept they have an edge when applying to screencasting jobs that require voice-overs, especially for the North American audience.

I can hire voice over artists from North America to help me get these jobs but sometimes it’s a lot of work and a client might request you to jump on a call for them to assess your English Accent.

2. To know how they have optimized their Upwork Profile.

If you want clients to notice you and your services you need to optimize your profile and keep it up to date with relevant information.

Here are some few sections you can review from your competitors profile.

  • Upwork Profile Photo.
    How is their photo? Does the photo appeal to a potential client?
    Are they smiling? Do they look friendly?

    This may seem irrelevant but having a friendly profile photo – shows clients that you’re approachable and this could be the edge your competition has over you.
  • How does their Profile Title read?
    Does it describe the services they offer clearly? How is your profile title?
    If you are a client, who would you hire yourself based on the title?
  • Does their profile overview elaborate on the services they offer?
    How does it compare to your profile overview?

    TIP:
    Write a profile overview that clearly outlines your services and one that is easy to read. (Don’t write stories)
  • Do they have a video review of their services?
    A well-done video review by your competition communicates effectively and easily gets them closer to being hired. It is an interview without them being present.

    If your competition has a video review and you don’t this can be one of the reasons why you’re not getting the job.

    Caution:
    A video review can make or break your services. It’s best to hire a professional videographer to shoot and edit one for you.

    Personally, I don’t find the video review necessary.
  • What portfolio or sample items do they have?
    Samples can really help clients decide whether to hire you or your competition.
    Clients will hire you for having relevant samples even if your competition has better feedback or work history.

    Since you can visit other freelancer profiles, it’s best to take note of what samples your competition has, how old the samples are, how relevant the samples are to the services they offer, etc.
  • How much do they charge for their services?
    We cannot all charge the same price but getting to know how much your competition charges per hour or on fixed priced contracts is important to ensure you remain competitive.

    It could be that they are charging very cheaply or they are charging highly and appealing to a market that associates high rates with quality work.

3. To know what other services they offer.

If you offer a single service on Upwork, this could be what is costing you all the jobs.

For example, if you offer transcription services only, and your competition offers transcription and captioning services, it only makes sense as a client to hire the freelancer that offers the service I need.

4. To know what skills they have (that you don’t)

A quick glance at your competitor’s profile is a gateway to finding out what extra skills they have listed and if they are relevant to the services they offer.

If you find that a freelancer has related skills that you don’t or can use a wide variety of software’s that you can’t, you need to invest some time and money in learning new skills to be able to compete and command higher rates.

Learning new skills is the best way to diversify your portfolio and be able to capitalize on more job opportunities.

How to Spy on Your Freelance Competition on Upwork.

I’ve already covered who and why you need to research your freelance competition.
Let me show you how to spy on them. It’s simple.


Spying Tactic 1: Revisit a Job Posting that you got declined to see who was hired.

upwork-proposal-tab

You can easily see this by going to Proposals > Archived Proposals or even active proposals (some have hires but the client leaves the job open) and navigate to the job that you’re interested to see who was hired.

Below is an example of an active job posting that a competitor got hired to do.

Active-proposals-on-Upwork

Click on the job posting to review the proposal and job details.
From the new window, you can click on View Job Posting to see more details about the job.

View-job-posting
activity-on-this-job

Scroll down to the Activity on this Job section to see if anyone was hired and for this sample job posting, someone has been hired.

For this job posting, the client has hired another freelancer.

Let’s scroll to the Client’s recent history and check for Jobs in Progress or completed jobs.

Clients Recent History and Jobs in Progress
Clients Recent History and Jobs in Progress

From this section, you can tell how satisfied the client is with my competitor’s services, who my competitor is, what type of feedback the client left them and how much they charged.

Aint’ that cool?

Next up you’ll need to visit the freelancers profile to know what services they offer, how their work history looks like, the type of feedback they get, what portfolio samples they have and what other relevant skill they have that you don’t.

That’s tactic 1 and I’m sure you’ve learned a lot.

Go try it out on a job posting that you were declined.


Spying Tactic 2: Search for Freelancers that Offer Similar Services


With this tactic, I’m interested in searching for freelancers that offer the same services that I do and get to know how they appear and where they appear in Upwork search so that I can optimize my profile accordingly.

I’ll also be able to find out how much they charge, what their profile looks like, what jobs they’ve done and what portfolio/samples they have available on their profile.

Here’s how to go about it.

I’ll make a search for the word, Camtasia.

You can make a search for the service you offer or the name of the freelancer you want to spy on.

Here’s a direct link to the Freelancer Search Results.

From my search, there a few things I’ve learned.
Here’s a screenshot of the top profile for the search term Camtasia.

Camtasia Freelancer on Upwork
Camtasia Freelancer on Upwork

From the profiles that populate following my search, it’s important to appreciate that you can see:

  • how many portfolio items the freelancer has,
  • their name and title,
  • how much they charge per hour,
  • how much they’ve earned,
  • where they are from,
  • whether they have a specialized profile or not,
  • a quick profile overview
  • and extra information on the type of videos they create using Camtasia.

We’ve learned a lot of information without opening the freelancers profile.

The next step is to open the freelancers profile to get a detailed look at why they are getting all the jobs while your not getting hired.

I’ll let you experiment on this on your own and see what you can learn from spying on your freelance competitors.

Conclusion

Now that we’ve looked at how you can spy on your freelance competition on Upwork it’s your turn to make relevant changes where applicable.

Depending on what you’ll conclude is the reason why your freelance competition is getting all the jobs, here are some ways that you can position yourself to compete better with other freelancers.

a) Updated your Profile With Relevant Information.

This includes optimizing your title, uploading a professional profile photo, editing your profile overview, creating specialized profiles where applicable and adding relevant portfolio/sample items.

b) Offer Competitive Prices.

If your competition gets the better of you by charging slightly less than you do, try guessing how much they’ll charge for a project and apply with better samples.

This improves your chances of getting hired drastically.

C) Learn New and Related Skills to the Services you offer.

If you want to beat your competition, the easiest way is to learn new skills that they are not offering but are related and are in demand for the services you both offer.

You don’t need to go to school to learn most of the skills but you can check for available courses online and get started without leaving the house.

That’s it from me.

Do you think you can easily spy on your Upwork competition and get to understand what you need to change or do better? I’ll be waiting for your comments.

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.

Leave a Comment

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