How a Graphic Designer made $30K+ after switching to an Upwork Agency profile!

The Unintended Benefits of War

The war between Russia and Ukraine has had catastrophic effects on international order, geopolitics and the global economy. But with every crisis arrives unexpected opportunities, and one would be foolish not to take advantage of them.

This is exactly what happened with Anna Shtonda, founder of PND, a graphic design Agency on Upwork. In her first days of Upwork as a freelancer, she struggled to secure contracts and find work, even after buying an entire course to better learn the online marketplace. However, it's always darkest before the dawn, and in due time, things took a turn for the better.

When reflecting back on those days, Anna noted:

"I had sent about 200 applications and I had gotten back nothing. Only when February of 2022 happened, the world got to know about Ukrainians and started to support us. I started to get new jobs, new contracts and from there I started to develop and boost my profile organically."

Fast forward two years, and Anna has already completed 165 total jobs on the platform, with her Agency raking in over $30,000 since August of 2022. Not too shabby for a graphic designer πŸ’…

Getting Traction on Upwork πŸ“ˆ

Even after completion of the first few projects, her profile was still relatively unknown and it took some time to really get a foothold on the platform. While discussing this in detail, Anna stated:

In the beginning, I got about five or six first projects in the graphic design field, and then I got ranked on the talent page. And I guess in month 13, I got on the top-rated page because I had a lot of projects, and I got reviews that helped me boost my profile and increase my ranking on Upwork. And after that, I got top rated and started earning money.

Naturally, we had to learn more about what she was doing that helped her land over 150 jobs on the highly competitive platform. When asking for some tips in order to find early success on the platform, Anna said:

First, I would say to identify the keywords you want to rank for. Next, package your profile because the skills in your profile and in the client's job post have to be similar to show you under recommended talents. Then, you have to make an analysis of your competitors to learn how they package their profile, and draw inspiration for your own.

However, besides profile optimization, there are a lot of other things that one needs to get right to see real success on Upwork, and we discussed those concepts in detail.

The Truth About Upwork Lead Gen

When asking about the difficulty of lead generation on the freelance platform, Anna agreed that it takes a lot of trial and error, alongside testing, before seeing any real results. Bringing her personal experience into the mix, Anna noted:

You should send bids more often to find your project because the conversion rate for hiring is about 1-2%. So to get one contract, you have to send about 100-200 proposals. It depends on different niches and specifications, but approximately, it's more or less the same. So you have to bid regularly instead of waiting for invitations.

Moreover, when discussing the importance of finding your ICP (ideal client profile) on the platform, Anna provided some important insights, specifically stating:

You should learn who your ideal client is and target them, not try to target everyone and for everything. Doing this will hurt your profile's search ranking. Because when you have similar jobs in work history, it makes your profile better in the bidding list for similar clients. They will see you as a great fit.

Lastly, when asking for some key points in order to stand out from the rest of the competition, Anna discussed the importance of genuinely trying to help the client and providing a holistic service. Specifically, she mentioned:

I always try to find a solution, not just earn money. Also, when clients are seeking for something that I can’t provide, I tried to find colleagues that can help him or her solve this problem. And also, I am always clear with my clients and don't miss deadlines. And I guess it's a key for success. To deliver what you promise.

And it's clear that these principles have paid off big time, based on her testimonials:

Making The Switch To GigRadar πŸš€

As Anna's workload began to expand, and the complexity and volume of her projects became greater, she soon started to realize that she needed to delegate some of her responsibilities and transition her freelancer profile into an agency. But doing this came with it's own risks and concerns, specifically about making the switch to an agency profile and the perception from the client side. When discussing this, Anna stated:

Our main fear before was that the conversion rate on the agency profile would be lower than from the solo freelancer. But in reality, we don't feel the difference. In fact, I'd like to say that our conversion rate has actually grown.

When discussing the genuine value brought by GigRadar to PND, Anna didn't place too much of an emphasis on metrics or huge jumps in leads/revenue. For her, GigRadar was a huge time saving instrument. More specifically, she noted:

I can say it's not a big difference, but it's like anyway, we work a lot on this. We're bidding a lot and we're trying to write the best cover letters. But GigRadar helps us save our time as we focus more on communication with our leads/clients.

We then spoke with Mariana, who was in charge of manual lead generation before the acquisition of GigRadar. When asked about the mundane day to day of client outreach and communication, she mentioned:

I worked for six months as lead generator manager, and of course it can be quite boring looking through so many job posts day after day and trying to understand, is this job relevant for us? So in regards to this, GigRadar really helped us out!

We imagine that her daily operations and workflow looked something like this before GigRadar:

When discussing additional benefits presented by GigRadar to PND Agency, Anna noted:

I'd like to add that the view rate increased, I guess, because of the speed of bidding. Also, we have seen an increase in the number of applications or bids during the month, so we can get more contracts because people can't physically bid on jobs, for example, at night, but GigRadar does that!

When asked whether or not she believes other Upwork agencies could also benefit from GigRadar, Anna noted:

I suggest to my colleagues to start using GigRadar if they are trying to scale their Upwork agency and are ready to start bidding through their agency profile. And I guess that a few of my colleagues bought your subscriptions already. And yeah, I like it and believe it will bring features and opportunities in the future!

The Future of Upwork with AI

When asking Anna her thoughts regarding the AI revolution on Upwork communication, she noted the importance of AI addressing the issues with language barriers, considering that Upwork is a global platform with freelancers from all over the world.

I guess that in the future, it will help in communication for non-native English speakers, for example, to translate language live or maybe to make notes from Zoom. For example, we use Firefly's different note takers to make notes, but maybe Upwork could implement it and provide within the platform.

Closing Thoughts

PND Agency's Upwork success story reveals a tail of persistence, bravery and great timing. Had Anna given up in her early days due to initial struggles even after investing capital, the entire agency and all of it's staff would have been removed from such an opportunity.

PND continues to grow month after month, and the application of GigRadar alongside an effective workflow combined with the right people in the right positions has helped Anna and PND earn Top-Rated in the worlds most competitive freelance marketplace.

Ready for your Upwork success story? Book a demo with GigRadar below!