I’ve been using Upwork for more than 7 years now. For the first five years, I have worked with 3 clients for more than a year each. On my fifth year, I decided to try other jobs where I can focus more on my blog and content writing skills. I opened my profile for job invitations and the response was overwhelming! Most of the time, I don’t even send in applications and I just respond to clients inviting me for an interview.
Now, when I decided to start working from home and offer my freelance writing services through Upwork, my main goal was to basically be able to help pay the bills and be more available to my family. Almost seven years in and this is still happening. I get to work and earn sufficient money to help give my family a decent life and spend a lot of time with my kids and husband. I know that a lot of people will want the same setup. And I was lucky enough to have found this freelancing opportunity when the concept was still young and starting.
As one of the best places to find freelance jobs online, I know that a lot of people are interested in creating their profile on Upwork. So to help others have a better understanding of how Upwork works, as well as to provide some helpful tips on how to create an Upwork profile that sells, I have decided to write this article that will, hopefully, give aspiring freelancers some guidance on how to land a job on Upwork, along with a few other places to find freelance work from.
How to Create a Profile that Upwork Will Approve
Because there are so many people wanting to become a part of Upwork, this freelancer marketplace has decided to apply stricter measures when it comes to approving freelancer accounts. Before you can start connecting with clients or before any clients can find you on Upwork, you will need to have your profile approved first. This part on its own will take a lot of work. Trust me, I went through that process, too. Even though, Upwork still haven’t yet implemented the profile approval process back then, I still found it necessary to create an Upwork profile that will capture the attention of potential clients.
Be it on Upwork or any other job search platforms, creating a professional career profile is important. A well-made profile can help boost your chances of getting picked from among the growing population of Upwork freelancers from all over the world. So if you want to get a client through this platform, you should start by working on your profile. And if you do it right, you can get in without any fuss and start connecting with thousands of clients and bid for any of the available projects. Here, I have rounded up some helpful tips on how to get your Upwork profile approved.
Work on your title
Your profile’s title is of key importance as it will help prospective freelancers find you. See to it that it captures your competencies accordingly. Your goal here is to give clients a gist of what they can get from hiring you, what specific skills you have and if they are a fit for what they are looking for.
Focus on one specialization
Depending on what you can offer, you will be required to choose your specialization based on the categories set by Upwork. They have 12 primary categories:
- Web, Mobile & Software Dev
- IT & Networking
- Data Science & Analytics
- Engineering & Architecture
- Design & Creative
- Admin Support
- Customer Service
- Sales & Marketing
- Accounting & Consulting
These categories are further divided into subcategories depending on what you specialize in. For example, under the Writing category, there are 9 subcategories available:
If you take my content writer profile on Upwork for example, it will show up under the Writing category. So if someone is looking for a writer on Upwork, there is a chance that my profile will pop up as a part of their search. But I don’t offer all kinds of writing. This is where the subcategories come in. It helps filter the search so that my profile will only show up for clients who are actually looking for my skill set.
My niche covers blog and content writing, SEO, social media management, email handling and WordPress. As you can see, my niche is primarily focused on content creation for online platforms such as websites, blogs and social media accounts. This proved effective for me, considering that the skills I have selected were backed by my previous work experience as a web content writer and SEO specialist. With my profile, I have started contracts with companies and individuals in the digital marketing, ecommerce, and other online industries.
For freelancers who have other skills to include on their Upwork profile, the good thing is, once your profile is approved, you have the opportunity to be found under more than one category, depending on your competencies. If you can focus on more than one specialization, you can create additional Specialized Profiles.
The Specialized Profile gives you the opportunity to feature multiple skill sets so that you can be found by more clients and improve your chances of getting hired. It’s a chance for freelancers to boost their hireability and become an invaluable talent for the right clients.
Use a professional email address
Another important part of getting your Upwork profile approved is your email address. Just like any other membership online, you are required to have an email address when signing up. But before considering using one, think about how it will look like or how others will perceive it once they read it. An email address like email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org is nothing but unprofessional. And Upwork is a platform for professionals. So if you want your profile to be taken seriously, you might want to reconsider using your regular email address.
A good choice for creating a professional email address is using your full name or, if you’re not comfortable displaying your last name, at least use your first name and your last name’s initial. In case you have a name sake, try an alternative way of using your name. The important thing is that you get to come up with an email address that will be identified as trustworthy and will not sound like it was just randomly generated through an email address generator.
Optimize your professional overview
Another important part of your Upwork profile is the Overview section. As a professional summary of your profile, it’s important that you maximize it and create a well-written overview. In this section of your Upwork profile, you can highlight your strengths, skills, professional accomplishments, and educational background. It’s also important that you keep this section within a considerable length, fluff-free and of course, error-free.
Another way that you can optimize your overview is by using industry-related terms or keywords. These keywords will
Think of it this way: clients looking for freelancers like you will surely be searching using keywords to find the right candidate. Whether they do their search on search engines or on Upwork itself, the industry-relevant keywords that you include on your profile can help boost your chances of getting found and being hired.
Be detailed about your work experiences
Another important information that clients look for when checking freelancer profiles is their work experience. But it’s not just for them to know what companies you worked for or the length of your tenure in each company, but also the tasks you handled during your previous work. By creating an outline of the tasks you have previously handled, you are giving clients a glimpse of what you can offer them. This helps them identify if you are the right fit for a project that they are hiring talents for.
Ultimately, your goal when listing your work experiences is to let your prospective clients see what they can expect from you. Do you have what it takes to help them accomplish their project goals? To make the most of this section of your profile, see to it that you incorporate previous tasks that will help support your competency and the relevance of your experience to the projects you would like to be hired for.
Complete the verification process
Another important aspect of preparing your Upwork profile is the verification process. This identity review process is done to make sure that you are who you say you are. To complete the process, you will be required to send in scanned a copy of your Government-issued ID or passport and/or other documents for proof of residency. In my experience, I sent in a copy of my UMID (Unified Multipurpose ID), which contained my photo, address, and date of birth. I was also scheduled for a verification video call, wherein I was asked some basic identification questions. The video call took only about 2-3 minutes.
Once the verification process is complete, you will gain a blue tick mark beside your name on your profile, indicating that your identity has been verified. This process took just a few minutes for me. I just made sure to submit all of the requirements they asked for according to their instructions.
There will also be cases wherein Upwork will ask for additional verification from you. You might need to send in a copy of your monthly bill, which should indicate your name as it shows on your Upwork profile, along with your address. This will only usually happen if the ID you have provided them does not include the information they are looking for. You can also reach out to Upwork’s Help Center to learn more about the verification process.
Create a portfolio
Nowadays, the best way for a professional to showcase their expertise is a portfolio. It is one of the most important tools for a freelancer as it will speak volumes about the quality of work that you provide. Upwork has a Portfolio section available on the freelancer profile allowing even the newest freelancers to upload screenshots and provide details about their previous work. This section can help give you an edge and allow potential clients to check out if your skills are what they need.
When adding projects to your portfolio, you get to choose which profile to add it to if you have multiple specialized profiles available. You can also link the project to any Upwork jobs you currently have or previously had.
You can also choose from their portfolio templates, depending on what suits your project best. After that, you’ll just need to add the supporting images, which can be a screenshot of your projects, such as a website, a blog post, or a graphic design. You also have the option to add a video link, in case your recent project can be best supported by a video.
You will also need to fill in additional information as indicated below. You can then preview the project and edit as you wish to make sure that it presents as much details as possible to help prove the credibility and the quality of your project.
Your portfolio serves as a great place for you to feature your accomplishments and your capabilities as a freelancer, so make the most of it. Additionally, you can also create a personal website which can serve as your portfolio outside of Upwork. I did that myself by creating this freelancing blog that allows me to feature my writing and content management skills using WordPress. It has helped me build more professional connections and reach out to more potential clients.
You can also check out these sample profiles and best practices to help increase your chances of getting your profile approved by Upwork.
How to Build Better Connections on Upwork
Once you have your Upwork profile approved and set, it’s time for you to connect with clients. Here are some tips on how you can establish better relations with potential clients and get closer to landing projects.
Set You Profile Visibility to Public
One of the best ways to improve your chances of finding more potential clients is by giving them the opportunity to view your profile. Personally, I have my Upwork profile set to public. This allows me to share my profile to potential clients, even those who are not using or not familiar with Upwork.
Your Upwork profile can serve as your resume and because it shows more than just your work history, it can be a great way to let any potential client know what you have been working on, what you can do and what your rate it. Your profile has all the information any client will need to know before hiring a freelancer and by setting your profile to Public, you get to minimize the back and forth because your profile can provide all the information a client might ask.
Upwork offers three (3) profile visibility options: Private, Only Upwork Users, and Public. By setting your profile to Public, you can also get better chances of showing up on search results within or outside Upwork. With better visibility comes a better chance of getting hired.
Apply for Projects that Suit You Best
With more than 60,000 jobs posted on Upwork every month, finding projects you can work with can be both easy and intimidating. Every job post requires different sets of skills, so it’s up to you to find jobs that suit your skills. Before hitting that Apply button, make sure to read every job description first. Make it a point to always read and understand the expectation for every job post you apply for. I also prefer to apply for job posts that provide a detailed explanation of the project as it saves both me and my clients plenty of time, as there will be less back and forth.
Apart from reading the job description, I also review the skills and expertise section, along with the experience level requirement, rate, and availability requirement. It also helps to review the history and rating of the client, as it will give you an idea on what to expect from the client based on the experience of other freelancers the client has worked with.
Additionally, if the client provides a link to their website, I take time to read their background and learn more about the company. It helps me create a properly targeted, personalized cover letter, which can help enhance my chances of getting noticed.
Create a Professional Cover Letter
Speaking of cover letters, whether you initiated the connection with a client or you have received an interview invitation, you should always see to it that you personalize your cover letter to make sure that it addresses your client’s hiring expectations.
Before they decide to book you for an interview, they will first judge you based on your cover letter, so see to it that your cover letter is professionally written, with no grammatical errors and misspellings. It should also provide all the information they are looking for. Below is a sample cover letter that I created for a recent interview invitation that I received.
I see to it that I provide ample samples of my recent work depending on the client’s niche. I make it a point to create a letter that is more targeted towards the client. I don’t settle for template responses, and instead, I create a cover letter from scratch all the time. Given that I am a content writer, it’s important for my cover letters to come across as well-written, straightforward and easy to understand. I don’t make it too long, I only see to it to set the client’s expectations, provide what they need, give them a glimpse of my experience and let them know my availability for interviews.
Respond Timely and Professionally
I view time as a very important resource. Since I get paid by the hour, I’ve always made it a point to make the most of my time. Given that, you should also think about your potential client’s time. If you received a job invitation, make it a point to respond timely and professionally. Your timely response can be a great first impression, and it can help you get one more step closer to getting a project you have been eyeing to get.
As much as possible, see to it that you respond to job invitations and messages within 24 hours. Your response time will also reflect on your Upwork profile so if you want to reflect your professionality and availability for work, see to it that you respond as timely as possible.
Deliver Outputs On Time
Another way for you to create a great impression and maintain long lasting professional relations with clients is by always delivering your outputs on time. I always make it a point to know when my clients expects a certain output. So before I start working on a project, I always make it a point to ask the right questions so that I can start my work right and avoid having to go through revisions. This also helps me complete the task on time and let my client make the most of my article as soon as possible.
Delivering work outputs is just like delivering any product that you order online. Put yourself in your client’s position. As a customer, you will want to be constantly given updates about the progress of your order. Has it been shipped out? Is it on its way? When can I expect to receive it? And as much as possible, you will also want to receive your order on or before the expected delivery date. So as a freelancer, you should see to it that you meet your client’s expectations, time-wise and quality-wise.
Always Aim for 5-Star Service
Do you know why many large companies spend millions of dollars to enhance their customer service? Because the quality of service a business provides can make or break their brand. A slight mishandling of a customer’s concern can affect how the public sees a brand. This is one reason why almost every business nowadays are setting aside manpower and resources to make sure their customers are happy.
Same should go with us freelancers and our clients. I see my work as my business and it’s important for me to maintain a good reputation and build long lasting professional relations with my clients. I’ve had multiple clients who have been very pleased with my work that apart from giving me 5-star reviews, they even recommended me to their friends. I always see to it that I get my outputs done right the first time and this impresses my clients.
Your clients will always remember you and the exceptional work that you provided them. By making sure that every work you do is worth 5 stars, every amazing review that you receive will boost your credibility and improve your chances of landing more jobs on Upwork.
Make The Most of Your Upwork Profile
Landing jobs on Upwork is not always easy. But your dedication and perseverance will always pay off. Always make it your mission to improve your craft and make sure that your Upwork profile reflects your expertise. When created properly, it can be a very powerful tool in showcasing your abilities as a freelancer. So make the most of your profile to have a strong start in freelancing and finding your clients on Upwork.