When I first began freelancing on Upwork I spend SO many hours tweaking Upwork profile overview to be professional.
I tweaked and I tweaked and I tweaked…
I wanted it to be perfect. Then I waited for the clients to look at it.
Nothing ever happened. They never did!
A friendly warning
Here’s an example of my own profile. As you’ll notice, the text is pretty short and focuses on a) clearly explaining what I do and b) building trust by showing what other clients have said.
There is also a little bit about me but only in as much as it is relevant to the client. Finally, there is the CTA.
The profile text and headline is good enough. It’s not amazing and it’s not terrible because it is clear and to the point. Client’s don’t want to spend hours trying to figure out if we are relevant.
The overall “topic” and client base I’m looking to attract here could be better. There aren’t that many businesses selling online language courses on Upwork and I could have been even more specific in the results I’ve helped clients get and describe example projects.
The point I want to make here is that none of this matter if the right clients never see it. And most of them don’t because they get plenty of proposals to look at and they are busy in general.
We can try to game Upwork’s algorithm and show up when clients search but if we are new it is not the best use of our time and it will be hard to beat experienced profiles.
Instead, we’ll land more clients by writing more and better proposals. The point is that with such a basic profile text, I still earned $10K, before moving away from the platform, simply by focusing on writing great proposals.
That being said, it is good to create a basic professional Upwork profile in case they do click to visit it after seeing your proposal.
Professional overview for Upwork examples
Before we dive into each element of an Upwork profile, let’s look at examples of different profiles that look great.
Keep in mind that you might see profiles and get discouraged thinking that others are so far ahead or have done so many amazing things.
That’s true but they once started with nothing and they are still not a fit for every client. There will be plenty of clients for you that are not relevant to them.
Notice in the examples below that I’ve been focusing on the profile texts and generally removed the rest since that’s what clients tend to focus on in my experience. I’ve also removed or blurred out the names and pictures of each freelancer in respect for their privacy.
General digital marketer
SEO (search engine optimization)
How to create a professional overview for Upwork in 30 mins
First, let’s look at what is worth spending your time on and what can wait until you have already landed clients before we dive into the details.
What’s in a professional Upwork profile: an overview
- Profile picture
- Profile text
- External elements and invisible sales elements
What is less important
- Upwork’s skill tests (except that basic one on how Upwork works that is required when signing up for the website)
- Your background such as where you went to school and where you’ve worked in the past (no one cares unless it’s a well-known brand and most clients are not even going to see it)
- Your portfolio (this is a bit of a case by case basis since it is good to have portfolio pieces but they won’t take you far on their own. I recommend saving them for your proposals instead of worrying about making your profile look amazing)
I know that this seems counterintuitive on the surface. Some of the best advice I ever got was what NOT to do, and I want to pass that same idea on to you so you can avoid wasting the time that I spent figuring this out.
How to create a professional overview for Upwork
The first thing is the profile picture. We all know that it matters but what might seem counterintuitive is that taking one in a professional studio doesn’t necessarily make it great. What makes it great is that we appear friendly.
We can take a great photo with our own phone as long as we are the only person, and the main thing, in the photo. I suggest using one where you take up 80-90% of the space in the picture, smile, and look professional.
You can look professional in a t-shirt or whatever you like, the important part is that clients feel like you might be friendly, easy to work with, and serious about what you do. Do that and avoid “party” type photos and you’ll be fine.
Next up is our Upwork profile text. You and I have already covered this part earlier in the article so this section will be a recap.
In my experience, most freelancers focus too much on writing about themselves. For example:
- I have worked with ABC
- I studied at XYZ
- I know this and have experience with that
The challenge it presents is that it is difficult for clients to tie that back to their own project because they are usually very busy.
They have to consider what we have done, at what level, how relevant it is for their project and how easy we are to work with as a person.
Not only is it a lot at once but many clients don’t know many of these details (like how it can translate to their project), that’s why they need expert help in the first place.
Writing down our experience is the first step and the second step is to translate it specifically into how it can help the client.
If you’ve done Facebook ads before, perhaps that can translate into more sales for the client. If you’ve done video editing and Youtube video thumbnails, maybe that can translate into more video views or website visitors.
If you’ve done graphic design perhaps that can translate into a website rebrand that helps build more trust with customers and new visitors.
A good place to start is to make a few sections explaining what you can do for clients, a few testimonials, and a brief section about you, followed by a call to action such as “contact me”.
If you don’t have any testimonials, don’t worry. You can always fill it in later when you get some. If you’ve done those, it’s good enough to go ahead and begin sending proposals!
The profile text will never be perfect and it will a neverending process to tweak it as you learn more. That’s fine.
Next, let’s look at the invisible sales elements and other external elements that can help us but that we don’t have direct influence over:
- Top-rated badges (I’ll be using that interchangeably with the other badges such as “expert-vetted” for convenience)
- Job success score
- Hours worked and jobs completed
- Hourly rate
- Identity verification
- Testimonials from past projects and other examples of social proof such as who you’ve worked with before (e.g. if they are a well-known brand)
All of these elements can help us appear more credible to clients and ultimately help us land more work. Except for the hourly rate and the identity verification, all of them are out of our control but we can sort of influence them via our work.
The top-rated badges have in my experience not been as important as I first thought. Granted, there are freelancers that have used Upwork way longer than I have and they might have a different opinion.
I experienced that the badges can be helpful when clients are searching for freelancers because they can use them as a filter.
Yet, the way we get them isn’t as easy to judge as we might think (how do we even judge if e.g. a marketer is an expert?) and the likelihood of getting quality invites, in the beginning, is low, so worrying about it is a waste of time.
It’s a way for Upwork to try to convey trust to the client but what works really well is being friendly and considerate towards their needs. I’ve never had a client not being interested because I didn’t have that badge and I’ve gotten plenty of work without it.
The same thing goes for the job success score. It’s a weird metric in that it can change instantly from e.g. 100% to 75% even with a long history of work. I admit that having a low success score doesn’t look great but again it isn’t the end of the world and worrying about it is just making everything worse.
Hours worked, jobs completed and earnings are a great metric to focus on but it also presents a catch-22 when starting out. If it represents experience, and clients want to hire for that, how do we get experience so that clients will hire us so we can get more experience?
It’s a lovely circle to get stuck in.
The best approach I’ve found to sending proposals is described in this freelance ultimate guide.
Basically, the point is to outwork the other freelancers by impressing the client with a well-thought-out proposal that shows examples and research specifically relevant to their project.
Last, we have testimonials and other things that can show your credibility like being featured on industry blogs.
If you don’t have these, don’t worry about it for now. If they are relevant to your clients it’s a good idea to add them but if your potential clients aren’t familiar with the places you’ve been featured, it doesn’t matter.
Testimonials, even if not from Upwork, are great to add. If you have a screenshot of a testimonial, you can even write it out and add it to your profile text. Particularly, if it is from someone well-known in your industry. They won’t make or break your chances on Upwork but they will give you a nice little boost.
- Upwork profile title examples
- Upwork tips: the good, the bad, and the ugly (& the ONE tip for success)
- Is Upwork worth it? — I tested it by earning $8,988 and collected opinions
- Upwork success stories: a case study and what really works
- How to get work on Upwork with no experience (an epic shortcut)
- Upwork hourly rate: see the average rate for your service
- Upwork proposal sample: The secrets to rapidly winning clients