how to find local clients with Upwork, formaly known as oDesk

By April 7, 2015Freelancing

One of the biggest factors of a successful project is effective and efficient communication. If you’ve ever worked with a company in a different time zone or worked with clients that spoke a different language natively, you know good communication is key to effectively getting ideas across and coordinating the projects details. However when you’re main source of work and connections is through an online service, sometimes finding local clients can be project all on it’s own. Below I’ll be outlining some great ways to find local clients using the online service Upwork (previously known by oDesk), as well as some other helpful tips for using the service most effectively.

Standing Out

The first step in finding local clients is optimizing your profile for being found, and to stand out to local clientele.

Upwork offers each freelancer a profile where they have the ability to list previous experience, previous employment, as well as other details such as a short bio and reviews from employers on Upwork.

Some key aspects to having a great Upwork profile are:

  • A well thought out and written intro that briefly talks about yourself and the services you handle. This is most likely the second piece of text any potential client is going to read, so it needs to be written with the idea that this is going to land you a job.
  • High quality graphics to showcase your work examples. If you’re a web designer looking to get some new projects, don’t just include a screenshot of the website; make graphics to go along or even just place the site into an iMac vector for a more aseptically pleasing view.
  • Have links to your current website and any external sources. Most people that are hiring on Upwork are new and not looking for an Upwork employee but a professional that uses Upwork. Show them something else to look at other than just an oDesk profile and some test you’ve taken.

When writing your introductory section, it’s important to include keywords that relate to your field such as graphic design, web design, copywriting, seo, illustrations, etc, as well as location. When an employer post a job on Upwork, they have the ability to search for freelancers. This is where the introductory section is so helpful, any keywords used in this section are going to help you be found by potential employers. I’ve been contacted before to make a website simply because I had the word Avada on one of my reviews.

Locating Local Projects on Upwork

While you can optimize your profile all you want, sitting back and waiting is not going to get you great projects. Actively seeking and locating local projects on Upwork is the key for success. But how do you find local clients on Upwork?

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, finding jobs on oDesk that are local, or even on the same continent can be a bit tricky. From my experience, a lot of companies looking to hire on Upwork are based in the UK, Australia, and the eastern United States. So to find more projects that are directly related to my field and local, I’ve come up with a couple steps to ensure I’m digging through less international postings and more local, higher quality projects. These steps can easily be modified and changed to fit your needs.


One of the biggest and easiest steps to locating local clients is simply doing a search for your city, or neighboring cities and counties. While this doesn’t show jobs posted by clients in these areas, it will showcase any project that had that city in the postings description.

Refine searches to your country

When searching for jobs, Upwork gives you a variety of choices for getting the best results, one of them being postings specified for a specific country.

Save RSS feeds of specific city searches

While searching a specific city or state is extremely helpful, you’ll notice that with specific searches there is a lot less results. Creating multiple RSS feeds for specific cities allows you to be notified when any postings are listed in a city that relates to you, allowing you to easily see any possible opportunity first.

Setting up RSS Feeds for Local Projects

In the last step of locating local clients on Upwork, I mention saving search results to an RSS feed. This is by far one of the most important steps in locating better projects, and more local clients.

Theres a couple reason’s for using an RSS feed for locating jobs.

Some reasons include:

  • Allows you to save search results
  • Get notified about job postings that directly relate to you, without having to do the searching.
  • Allows you to visually scan over more job postings that fit your requirements precisely.
  • Some RSS feeds have the ability to be seen on your computers Desktop, such as NewsBar.

Using an RSS feed not only allows you to visually see all job postings that fit the criteria you have saved, but it also gives you a day-to-day listing of jobs that have been posted. Being able to contact clients first about a project is a great way to stand out against other competitors.

Stay on Your Game

Lastly, to ensure you are getting the most from Upwork and applying to the most pertinent jobs, actively searching and applying to jobs daily is key. As a freelance designer, you do not have anyone finding jobs for you or giving you contact information. Finding clients is an active and daily task, setting up a time to go over RSS feeds and do extra searching on Upwork is mandatory for being self-sufficient.

Setting up a time each day to apply to jobs is a good way to stay on top your freelancer game.

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