Upwork connects; I’m sure you all know what those are by now if you are into Freelancing. Especially if you are hunting for clients on Upwork, then you know how important Upwork connects are.
But, when I talked to freelancers who seek help with their freelancing journey on Upwork, many knew what Upwork connects are. But, I highly doubt that many wouldn’t be using these Upwork connects wisely.
That is why I decided to write this information-rich guide to all the Upwork freelancers who are still in the dark on Upwork connects.
To be clear, these are the things I consider every single day before applying for a job on Upwork. That being said, I’m sharing my real-life freelancing experiences with you all.
Not to mention all the fixed price assignments I completed on Upwork, which do not contribute to the total billed hours. I think it is safe to say I have more than 15,000 work hours experiences on Upwork.
So let’s get to it. And I rest assure you, I’m sharing things that matter the most. As a newbie freelancer, Upwork connects might be the one who is barricading your way to freelance success.
This detailed guide on tips for using Upwork connects wisely will help you determine how to use these Upwork connects and get the most out of them.
Table of Contents
First, Upwork connects were free
Yes, you heard it right.
I started my Upwork account back in 2010, and since then, Upwork was oDesk. As I remember, all the freelancers have been given 60 free connects per month. And all these connects were replenished for free.
That was the time that Freelancing was actually FREE!
And the truth is, paid connects made things even harder for someone who is just starting their freelance journey on Upwork.
Even though paid connects look a bottleneck for freelance success, I see quite the opposite. Because when the connects are free and replenished for free, there wasn’t any control when applying to a job. All were applying to all the jobs.
This might be the reason #1 that Upwork started charging for connects. (And yes, it opened another income stream for Upwork as well)
But, to give a better user experience as a client, connects play a pivotal role.
I know this, as my wife runs an agency on Upwork. When the connects are free, she got like 100+ applicants every time she posted a job.
The problem is, the majority of those applicants were just ‘joy-riders.’ Since it was ultimately free to apply, they didn’t even check if the job suits them or not.
With the implementation of connects, we have seen a considerable drop in the number of applicants. Interestingly, the vast majority of applicants are not time-wasters nor joy-riders.
Upwork connects explained
Even before learning how to use these Upwork connects wisely, let me explain what these Upwork connects are.
Technically, ‘Upwork connects’ are digital tokens that you have to purchase. To apply for a job on Upwork, you need connects. Depending on the job, the number of connects require to apply for that particular job may vary.
If you newly signed up for an Upwork account, you will be given 20 free connects. Once you consume these connects, you will have to pay for these connects.
One connect is priced at $0.15, and you can purchase up to 140 connects per month as a freelancer. If you are an agency, you can buy up to 400 connects per month.
NOTE: If you check the above screenshot, I already have 67 Unused connects and check the maximum number of Upwork connects I can purchase at this time.
It is for 73 connetcs. So the sum of current Upwork connects and the max connects can be purchased at a given time shouldn’t exceed 140 if you are an individual freelancer. If you are an agency, this would be 400 per month.
And you don’t have to use all these purchased Upwork connects within the same month of purchase. These Upwork connects rollover.
That means the remainder of the purchased, unused Upwork connects will be added to your next month automatically.
But, there’s a limit.
If you are a freelancer, then the maximum number of rollover connects 140, and for agencies, this would be 400.
And these Upwork connects expire as well.
Once purchased, Upwork connects have a life span of 12 months. That being said, you should utilize these Upwork connects within 1 year from the purchase. If not, they will expire. No matter if you are a freelancer or an agency, connects do expire.
How you pay for these Upwork connects?
If you are a new freelancer, you will always have to use your credit card or PayPal to pay them.
If you are already getting paid on Upwork, you can use your Upwork balance to purchase these connects. It is what I do.
As per Upwork, this is how you should pay for Upwork connects.
You’re authorizing Upwork to charge your account. If you have sufficient funds, we will withdraw from your account balance. If not, the full amount will be charged to your primary billing method.
How many connects do I need to apply for a job on Upwork?
This number varies based on several factors.
In general, you need a maximum of 6 connects to apply for a job.
But, keep in mind some jobs require only 2 connects, and some require 4 connects. But, never more than 6 connects per job.
If you do the math, you have to spend a minimum of $0.30 per job if you apply to a job that requires 2 Upwork connects.
So, applying for a job on Upwork is no longer free!
What are the criteria that determine the number of required connects per job?
2 main criteria determine the number of connects required for a job.
Size of the project
Duration of the project
Based on these 2 criteria, Upwork has categorized jobs into 3 groups.
These are the jobs with $49 or less as the budget, and the typical duration is 2 days or less.
And such projects require 2 connects. That is $0.3/job
If any project has a budget of $50 to $499 with a maximum of 7 days duration, these are categorized as medium jobs. And these jobs require 4 connects. That is $0.6/job
If the project length is 1 week or higher and the budget is $600 or higher, such projects are considered large jobs. These need 6 connects, and that is $0.9/job
It is clear that if a freelancer applies for 10 Large jobs on Upwork, he needs 60 connects, and that is $9 for connects alone. (60*$0.15)
The point is, not all the jobs you applied for will be awarded to you.
That means you have to be more careful when you are applying for a job. It is not free, and nothing’s granted. The client may look the other way if he is not happy with what you are offering with your cover letter.
That is why this guide on Tips for using Upwork connects wisely will get you practical guidelines to make sure of these Upwork connects.
Jobs that don’t require Upwork connects
There are specific scenarios that you don’t have to spend Upwork connects when applying for a job.
If a client invites you for a job, then it is free to accept that invitation and apply for that job
If you get an offer from a client, you don’t need any connection to accept that offer.
If you have access to Upwork’s talent cloud and if you send a proposal on Upwork talent cloud, you don’t need connects
Those 3 are only exceptions to Upwork’s requirement of connects for applying to a job.
But, look closely.
Do you really think any of those 3 can be fulfilled by a new freelancer?
Trust me, it is highly unlikely.
Suppose you are new and have no prior Upwork experience or work history on Upwork. In that case, it is highly unlikely that a client reaches out to you with an invitation or with an offer.
The bottom line is, you don’t get to apply for any job on Upwork without connects.
Guide: Tips for using Upwork connects wisely
Now It is clear that when you are a newbie, you need Upwork connects. So, let me help you understand how you should select the right jobs to apply for. If you failed to pick the right job for you, you waste your time and, importantly, Money!
Use the search function to find the right job for you
Upwork has a robust search function, and you shouldn’t miss it under any circumstance. With the help of the Upwork search, you can find just the perfect job for your skills.
It is no point in going after Vector Design Jobs if you are pretty good at Autocad. I think you know what I mean.
By doing a proper narrowing down of the jobs, you can find the most matching for your skills and experiences.
Applying to these jobs will increase the chance of getting hired.
Planning on using your Upwork connects wisely?
Then make use of Upwork’s search.
Always use filters
Even after using the Upwork search, you shouldn’t stop there.
This is all about finding the most fitting job and applying for it.
That’s why you should use filters.
Upwork has super powerful filters. With those filters, you can have granular control over filtering jobs based on your preference.
Upwork has 10 different filters. You can filter all your job search results based on the following criteria.
COVID-19 related jobs
Well, this might change in the future. And hopefully, it will be sooner than we anticipate.
One filter I love the most is ‘Client Location.’
It is evidently true that clients from the USA, Europe, and Australia are the ones who pay the most. Therefore it is highly recommended to go after clients from such countries.
Since we have to pay when we are applying for a job, it is recommended to take the best shots possible. Ring a bell?
So to make use of these valuable Upwork connects wisely, I’d use this client location filter.
Sometimes even this filter really helps to find clients from your country as well.
This very filter can be a gold-mine if you use it correctly.
On Upwork, there are 2 types of jobs. One is Fixed price, and the other one is hourly contracts.
You can select either fixed-price or hourly based contracts.
Pro Tip: If you are a newbie with zero to minimum Upwork work history, I highly recommend you always go for hourly contracts. Because if you work on an hourly assignment, it will get you more billed hours under your name. That’s a recommended measure that can get your Upwork reputation high.
To use your Upwork connects wisely, you must select the most appropriate filter here. Suppose you are a newbie and have minimum experiences with your skills. In that case, it is not a good practice to go after jobs that require an Expert level freelancer to complete it.
Suppose you don’t have enough experience and skills, and you still decide to apply for a job that needs an expert. In that case, you are wasting your Upwork connects, AKA, you are wasting your money. It is not a wise or a recommended way to use your Upwork connects.
If you are a client, will you hire a total newbie for a job that really needs an expert to complete it?
My recommendation is that if you are a newbie with minimum experiences, never go for expert-level jobs. Always go for Entry Level Jobs.
Maybe, just maybe, if you are confident, you can go for Intermediate Jobs as well.
One of the best ways to use your Upwork connects is to apply only to the jobs of the clients who have hired at least one freelancer.
It is not recommended to go after clients with no hires. Our plan is to make use of these Upwork connects. There’s a considerable risk that we technically can’t check the client’s feedback if we go after a client with no hires.
Number of proposals
This is one handy filtering option. With this filter, you can find jobs with a minimum number of applicants. Well, the point is, if a job has lots of applicants already and you are new, you might have considerable competition if you apply for such a position.
To use your Upwork connects wisely, I’d recommend you go after jobs with less than 10 applicants.
Since it has relatively low competition, the chance of you getting hired for that opening is considerably high. By applying to such jobs, you are not just making use of your Upwork connects. At the same time, you are putting yourself ahead of the competition.
If you plan to use your Upwork connects wisely, you better think about the client’s budget when applying for a job. My recommendation is, always go for the lowest budget jobs.
By experience, I know (and it is evident) jobs with the lowest budgets are the easiest to complete. And if you are a newbie, your chances of getting hired for such a position are higher as well.
So, your Upwork connects will not be wasted if you go after such a low budget job at the beginning of your Upwork freelance journey.
Hours per week
Let’s assume that you are planning on doing Freelancing as a part-time gig and you applying for a full-time position, mistakenly.
And finally, you will not get the job. Because you don’t have plans to go full-time.
If any job requires more than 30hrs per week, that means it is a full-time job opening and anything under 30hrs per week is not a full-time job.
With this handly filter, you can filter out jobs based on your availability per hour.
If you are only looking for a full-time opening or not, you can use this filter and find exact matches.
To be honest, I have never checked this filter on as I’m open to any sort of project. But, based on your requirement, you can filter jobs that are short-term, mid-term or long-term.
Last but not least, this is the most important filter of all. Client info has 2 options. One is My Previous clients. This is handy if you have worked on several projects on Upwork. With this convenient feature, you can quickly check whether if your past client(s) have posted any job or not.
It is highly likely you will get hired if you apply for a job of your past clients, only if you have a standing reputation with said clients. This doesn’t help at all if you are just starting.
Above all, this second filter is the most important.
Payment Verified: If you check on Upwork, you will find some clients haven’t confirmed their payment method with Upwork. You have to be more careful when dealing with such clients.
I’d highly recommend you never to apply for jobs posted by ‘Unverified’ clients. It is the wisest way of using your Upwork connects.
With this filter ticked, you can find all the clients with a verified payment method.
If you use Upwork’s search feature and these filters depending on your requirement, I’m confident that you will not be wasting your Upwork connects at all.
And I’d love to add more to this list.
You shouldn’t stop there: Even more, tips for using Upwork connects wisely
Yes, you heard it right.
You shouldn’t stop there.
Even after using Upwork search and filters, you still need to put your ‘common sense’ to work.
Here’s the thing. With Upwork search and filters, you can narrow down the results, and almost all the jobs you find will be an ideal fit for you and your skills.
This is where most of the freelancers go wrong!
No matter how good the search results or the filters, you still have to take a closer look at the client and the actual job post to get the best out of your Upwork connects.
Let me walk you through.
Avoid clients with a low feedback score
Yes, the feedback score is not only for freelancers. But also it can be used to check whether the client is okay to work with or not.
You can simply check the client’s feedback score by hovering your mouse over these stars on your search results page.
As you can see in this example, this client has almost 40 feedback, and the star rating is 5/5. Which clearly indicates that the client is perfect to work with.
In some cases, if you find a client with a low feedback score, you better check the job posting and go through the feedback that the client has received.
I found the above client with a low feedback score, and I needed to check his contractors’ feedback.
Well, see for yourself. This type of client should be avoided at all costs.
You can now understand that Upwork searches and filters won’t give the best clients nor the best jobs posted.
You always have to go that extra mile to make use of your Upwork connects wisely.
Avoid clients with low hire rate
This is something many of us would ignore. Due to this carelessness, you might be wasting your Upwork connects.
I always check if the client is hiring or not before applying to any job on Upwork.
If a client with Zero to a low rate of hire rate, I’d stay away from such.
It goes even beyond this.
Sometimes clients have joined Upwork a few years back and have never hired someone. Yet, they are still posting jobs on Upwork. Kinda fishy, right?
And I would never apply for jobs posted by such clients.
Because that would be a waste of time and connects AKA waste of Money.
Here’s a good example.
See, the client has joined Upwork a couple of years ago and yet to hire someone.
Of course, you can take the risk and apply it here.
It would not be wise as it comes with a risk of not getting hired at all.
Avoid clients who are already interviewing lots of candidates
As you can see, that client is already interviewing a bunch of freelancers and has sent many invitations to interview.
Applying for such a job can be a waste of connects. Because the client has already made his mind on a pool of candidates. You are getting hired, or at least get a chance to be interviewed might be a miracle in such cases.
So, avoid them and don’t waste your connects.
Avoid clients from developing countries
I know this can raise many flags.
But, truth to be told!
I’m from a developing country as well.
But, I have to be honest with you guys.
If you are planning on putting your connects into fair use, I’d stay away from the clients from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kenya, and of course, Sri Lanka.
The reason is, the clients from these countries are mostly ‘re-sellers.’
That means they are sub-contracting the bigger jobs they have from a client from a high paying country. (i.e., USA, Canada, UK, Australia, etc.)
That being said, you will have to work for under-wages, and being the cheapest freelancer won’t do any good to you or to your freelancing career in the long run.
NOTE: It is not always true that these countries’ clients are not good to work with or pay less. Most of the time, most clients from these countries aren’t recommended to work. It is really up to you to decide.
The last piece of the puzzle for using Upwork connects wisely
Once you have found the ideal job to apply for, you should apply for it right away.
Even after so much vetting, it is highly likely that you have found the perfect job that wouldn’t waste your Upwork connects.
Yet, people fail!
Because they don’t read and write!
Finding the perfect job for apply won’t grant you that you will get that job. Nothing’s granted!
After finding the right job, you still have to take your best shots at it. That is how you win the job.
First, you must read the job description. At least a couple of times.
Then you have to write an appealing cover letter that convinces the client.
If you need to have in-depth knowledge on how to find clients and how to keep them to you, I recommend you read this detailed article I’ve written.
It will answer almost all your doubts when applying for a job on Upwork.
FAQs: Tips for using Upwork connects wisely
What are Upwork connects?
Upwork connects are digital tokens. When you are applying for a job on Upwork, it requires these connects. Depending on the size and the duration of a project, the number of connects require for applying to a job varies. And these connects are not free. You have to buy them, and one connect priced at $0.15
Does Upwork give free connects?
Well there are several exceptions that Upwork gives free connects. If you just got your Upwork profile approved, Upwork gives you 20 connects. And when you obtain your top-rated badge, Upwork also gives you free connects. Also, when you become a 'rising talent', Upwork offers free connects. Apart from these scenarios, Upwork no longer offers free connects.
How do I get more connects on Upwork?
To buy more Upwork connects, you have to go to your settings and membership and connect. There you can choose to add more connects. Remember, you will have to pay for these connects. Because these are not free.
Do Upwork connects expire?
Yes, connects expire. From the date of purchase, you will have 1 year until these connects expire. If you don't use these connects within a year, then they will expire.
Conclusion: Tips for using Upwork connects wisely
The bottom line is, Upwork is no longer a free platform for freelancers. Even if they offer 20 free connects when you sign up with them, with just 20 connects, it is hard to win your first client on Upwork.
This is why you have to make sure not to use these Upwork connects without knowing what you do.
I decided to share this article on tips for using Upwork connects wisely because I’ve met lots of freelancers who gave up their Upwork journey as soon as they consumed their free connects.
If you are planning on using your Upwork connects wisely, you should make sure that you are going after the right job and, of course, the right clients.
In this article, I’ve shared practical AKA real-life scenarios to consider when applying for a job on Upwork.
You should use the Upwork search feature, a robust and nifty feature to laser target your niche or skills. And then, you should filter the search results using Upwork’s amazingly useful filters. There are 10 different filters, and you can’t go wrong with these filters.
And you shouldn’t stop there. After finding the most perfect job for your skills, you will have to manually evaluate the client’s job by looking through the feedback. Even though it requires extra time and effort, it worth the time and effort.
Finally, to make sure you are not wasting your Upwork connects, you should be writing on-point, personalized cover letters when applying for a job. If not, all your time, effort, and connects will be wasted.
Winning a job on Upwork or anywhere else is an art. You have to master it by addressing the tiniest flaws in your workflow. By making sure you avoid such flaws, you are not just using your Upwork connects wisely, but also you are winning life-changing clients on Upwork.
I'm a freelance social media marketer. 'i Wanna Be a Freelancer' is my way of helping fellow freelancers. I started from scratch and in the past decade, I've learned quite a bit. It is time to share what I learned working with individuals, small businesses, and brands.