If you’re new to Upwork, you’re probably wondering about how to get the most out of the Connects program.
On Upwork, Connects serve as a digital token or a virtual currency.
Freelancers earn free Connects by performing specific tasks on the platform. They may also choose to purchase extra Connects with real-world money.
Freelancers then spend Connects on things like proposal bids, proposal boosts, and special availability badges.
The system is fairly simple on its surface. But it can feel justifiably complex to a new freelancer, or at least a new Upwork freelancer.
This is why, as an established Upworker, who has earned over $600,000 on the platform, I thought it might be helpful to create this handy-dandy guide on how to earn Connects on Upwork.
But first …
Why I no longer use Connects
Before we get into the specifics, I wanted to remind you that it is quite unlikely that you will be dependent on Connects forever.
Weening off of Connects completely is the natural progression for pro freelancers on the Upwork platform.
This is due to the fact that Upworkers who are able to achieve and maintain Top Rated, Top Rated Plus and Expert Vetted status with a high Job Success Score regularly receive Job Invites.
And Job Invites require no Connects. Plus, they tend to reduce and eventually replace the need to apply for jobs on the feed over time.
In fact, today, 100% of my Upwork jobs come through Invites.
You also don’t need any Connects when:
- A client sends you a direct offer
- A client makes a purchase via your Project Catalog
- You send a proposal to the Enterprise Talent Cloud
I haven’t used Upwork Connects in years and regularly let my entire monthly allotment expire.
So try to keep in mind, if you play the game right, Upwork Connects are only a temporary evil/expense.
Now let’s get to the goods. Below are the eight ways to get more Connects on Upwork.
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1. Create an Upwork account
Freelancers receive their initial 40 Connects when they register for a new freelancer account on the platform.
2. Earn the Rising Talent Badge
Freelancers receive an additional 30 Connects when they earn the Rising Talent badge.
To earn this Upwork talent badge freelancers must:
- Complete projects on time as promised to clients
- Maintain a 100% complete profile with accurate skills and genuine work
- Keep their availability up-to-date
- Regularly submit proposals that match their skill sets
- Adhere to the Upwork Terms of Service
- Have been active in the past 90 days or joined in the past 30 days
3. Win and respond to interviews
Freelancers can also earn Connects by winning interviews with established clients.
An “interview” is the conversation that takes place when you receive a reply to your initial proposal.
The number of Connects a freelancer receives for responding to interviews varies on a variety of undisclosed factors. In the past, Upwork offered a set amount of 10 per invite, with a 50 per-week cap.
4. Complete an Upwork Skill Certification
Since Upwork nixed the unpopular Upwork Readiness Test, they are now offering a one-time free Connect bonus for completing an Upwork Skill Certification (currently offered by invitation only).
5. Collect free monthly Connects
By default, new Upwork freelancers are automatically subscribed to the Freelancer Basic program which includes 10 free Connects each month, issued on the first day of their billing cycle.
6. Subscribe to Freelancer Plus
Alternatively, freelancers may opt to upgrade to Freelancer Plus (currently $14.99 at the time of this writing) to receive an additional 70 free Connects each month on top of their default 10 for a total of 80 Connects monthly.
Other perks and benefits of Freelancer Plus accounts include:
- The ability to view competitor bids on any job
- Extended reports and functionality
- The ability to keep Upwork earnings confidential
- A custom profile URL
- The ability to keep their profile visible even during phases of inactivity
To upgrade to Freelancer Plus, login to your Upwork freelancer account, click on your profile picture in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and click Settings from the dropdown menu. Next, click Membership & Connects. Then, click on View or Edit Membership.
Note: If you upgrade to Freelancer Plus mid-billing cycle your bonus Connects will be pro-rated.
7. Purchase Connects by the bundle
Freelancers may also purchase additional Connects by the bundle.
To purchase Connects, login to your account and go to Settings > Membership & Connects > Buy More Connects.
Upwork Connects can be purchased for $0.15 each with a minimum purchase of 10.
The bundles will be charged directly to whatever primary billing method you have on file with Upwork. Upwork accepts most major credit cards and debit cards as well as PayPal.
At the time of this writing, there is no discount for buying in bulk (although I wish Upwork would consider adding a bulk discount option).
8. Redeem a Connects reward
Upwork also occasionally offers free Connects as part of a limited promotion like an event or a survey.
When this happens they typically issue a promo code which can be redeemed by going to Settings > Membership & Connects > Buy More Connects and entering the code in the promo code box.
Big Announcement: Upwork has changed its rollover and expiration policy
Finally, I have some big news for my fellow Upworkers: Upwork has finally changed its Upwork Connect rollover and expiration policy!
As of January 18, 2023, Connects now expire one year from the date of issue. And there is no longer a limit to the maximum amount of Connects you can hold.
This is a welcome upgrade from the original rollout in which unused Connects expired monthly and users were limited in the amount they could hold at one time.
Are you new to Upwork? Are you currently navigating the Upwork Connects system? How are you spending your Connects? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to connect with me (pun intended) on social media.
PS: If you’ve found any of the free advice on this site helpful, and you feel so inclined – buy me a coffee (leave a tip) on Kofi!