Online Work Tips & Best Practices

You have excellent experience and top-notch skills, but you’re having a hard time landing a job. Sound familiar? If so, consider the first impression your profile makes with prospective clients.

Your profile is how you present yourself to the world. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, what does your profile picture say about you? Does it say you’re friendly, professional, and easy to get along with?

Clients look at profile photos to get a sense of who you are…and if they don’t see a photo that conveys friendliness and professionalism, you may get overlooked. To help you attract clients and stand out from the crowd, keep these guidelines in mind when you’re snapping your pics.

1) Find your best light

Shady areas outdoors, without direct sunlight, are a great lighting choice. Inside, avoid overhead light, which creates harsh shadows, and instead look for natural light.

2) Simplify the background

Look for a background that is clear and uncluttered. A solid, not-too-bright wall or simple outdoor background works well.

3) Focus on your face

Face the camera straight on or with your shoulders at a slight angle. Crop so that you only include your head and the top of your shoulders.

4) Smile! (You’ll land more jobs)

Clients find smiling freelancers more warm, friendly, and trustworthy. Not used to smiling for the camera? Try pretending that you are greeting your best friend.

Do vs. Don’t Examples

profile photo, bad photo composition profile photo, good photo composition
Bad photo composition
Poor light / too dark.
Not looking at camera.
Good photo composition
Good lighting.
Facing the camera.
profile photo, bad setting profilephoto5
Bad photo setting
Too much body.
Cluttered workspace.
Good photo setting
Framed into his face.
Simple background.
profilephoto_badcrop profilephoto_goodcrop
Bad photo cropping
Full upper body.
Face is hard to see.
Good photo cropping
Cropped around face.
Clean background.
profile photo, looks unfriendly profile photo, looks friendly
Unfriendly face
Not smiling.
Too serious and formal.
Friendly face
Relaxed pose.

Ready to improve your Upwork profile photo? You can change it in your profile settings.

Amy Sept

Managing Editor

As the managing editor of the Upwork blog, Amy Sept works with regular and guest writers to share information that helps freelancers and businesses navigate the future of work. She owns Nimbyist Communications and helps non-profits, startups, and small business owners get their content marketing on track.