Back when I started as a VA, Upwork was called ODesk or Elance.  Those two merged together and gave us Upwork!

These platforms, right from the start, have had two distinct type of Freelancers.  The first is the $5/hour overseas VA’s that bid on everything, are willing to work 80 hours a week and have low to medium skills.  The second is the home-grown VA’s who have real world experience and are freelancing due to a change in life – stay at home mums, corporate escapees, people who live in rural or semi-rural areas.  Most of the time the home grown VA has at least 5 years experience and has medium to high skills.

The absolute basic rule you need to know as an Aussie VA is don’t compete with people charging $5/hour. If someone has limited budget and the work is somewhat simple or repetitive you don’t really want to do it and you can’t sustain an Australian business earning $5/hour – it’s below the minimum wage.

So you need to hack Upwork.

The way you do this is simply by searching for only what you want to bid on.  Upwork can be overwhelming with the number of jobs that pop up.  My first thought was “holy crap, I could do all of these with my eyes closed”… then you drill down and they only want to pay $5 an hour, the want it done in the next 2 hours, they want you to copy and paste 15000 rows of data… and then you think “screw that”.

Set up a search using these parameters, save it and then set up notifications to come to your inbox every morning

  1. Location = Australia
  2. Experience Level = Expert
  3. Category = Set your category to only the skills you currently hold

BUT, before you bid on anything on Upwork make sure you have

  • filled out your profile completely, make sure that it has all your experience and skills
  • take a few of the Upwork tests, especially the English language test as you can be auto excluded if you don’t have that test completed

AND ANOTHER THING, a lot of Australian companies are using Upwork as a recruitment platform.  There isn’t anything around yet that allows Entrepreneurs to advertise for VA’s.  The majority of Australian companies will find you via Upwork but ask you to be engaged “off line” i.e you invoice them.  It’s in your best interest to take it offline as Upwork’s fees to the contractor (i.e. YOU) are cray cray.  But cover your butt with an Independent Contractor Agreement… I’ll talk more about these in another post.

Go Forth and VA!