Whether you are new to Upwork or a freelance veteran, the methods for attracting clients are the same. You must treat your freelance business as just that—a business—and craft a profile that sells your skills to prospective buyers.

Of all the jobs posted on Upwork, 37 percent are private: Clients post them and proactively reach out to freelancers they feel would be a good fit. This means if you have let your profile slide and rely solely on your proposals to sell yourself to clients with publicly posted projects, you could be missing out on amazing opportunities that are perfect for you without even knowing it.

Your freelancer profile is a way to show up in search and stand out, both to the clients you approach as well as to those who might want to approach you. These tips and resources—including expert insights from Danny Margulies, a six-figure freelancer and founder of Freelance to Win—will give you the know-how to create a profile that will set you apart from the competition.

Use words and phrases in your profile that your potential clients use when looking for freelancers who have your skills.

Upwork freelancer search works on an algorithm, just as search engines use algorithms to give you the information you are looking for on the web. When a client is looking for a freelancer, they have the option to include keywords, as well as filtering by attributes such as category, hourly rate, and scores. Cover your bases by describing your services using words that your clients would be familiar with.

Danny says: Don’t forget to mention the most important person (hint: it’s not YOU)

“One of the biggest mistakes I see—from both new and experienced freelancers—is making their profile all about them. Yes, clients want to know about you, but they also want to know how you can help them,” said Margulies.

“Make sure to use your Overview to describe the type of clients you usually work with, as well as what you can do to help them achieve their goals (or overcome their challenges). Be specific! The more accurately you can describe your ideal client and their situation, the more they’ll be drawn to invite you to a job when your profile pops up in their search results.”

Have a professional profile photo and consider an introduction video

Clients want to feel they can trust the person on the other side of the screen, and a big part of this perception can come from your profile image. Make sure it is clear and high quality, with a simple and light background, and is focused on your smiling face.

You don’t need an expensive camera to take a professional-looking profile photo.

  • Do the shoot outside but stand in the shade if it is a sunny day.
  • Choose a backdrop that doesn’t have a lot going on, like the side of a building. Concrete, brick, or a neutral color will work well.
  • Have someone else take the photo for you, rather than taking it yourself, or set up a tripod.
  • Have them stand close enough to you that only your head and shoulders are in the shot. Don’t use the digital zoom as that will increase the chance of a blurry photo.
  • Take many photos with several poses and in several locations so you can have a variety to choose from.

You may also consider recording a video to introduce yourself to your clients. Think of it as a television commercial for your business. Prepare by writing a script that describes what you can do for your clients and practise the script until you sound natural reciting it. You can use the camera on your laptop or smartphone—as long as you set it up in an area that has good lighting and is quiet.

Danny says: Pump up the energy with a testimonial

“The best salespeople never try to ‘sell themselves.’ Instead, they let others do it for them! That’s why I recommend adding a testimonial to your Upwork profile,” said Margulies.

If you’re new to Upwork, he says, don’t worry: “You can still take advantage of this powerful tactic—by picking up the phone. Just call (or email) someone you’ve worked with, and ask them for a quote you can use on your profile. It doesn’t have to be a previous client—it can be a coworker, boss, or even a former teacher, professor, classmate. One of my [Freelance to Win] students, Nicole, used this approach and got a shiny new testimonial within just five minutes of creating her Upwork account!”

Utilize the portfolio—even if you’re not in design

Portfolios are not just for designers, developers, and writers. No matter what your specialty, there is a way to showcase what you do best through the portfolio. Create a case study, post sample outputs, or put together a visual representation of your wins using graphs, charts, and diagrams. Do this for each of your specialities, and include a well-thought-out, well-written description for each. And every time you finish a project, update your portfolio as soon as the client gives you permission to use it.

Use the resources available to you

Make profile building a skill you’re great at by learning more about how to put your best foot forward. Check in on the Upwork blog and our Hiring Headquarters frequently for new content, and join the Upwork Community to participate in discussions and get advice from fellow freelancers.

For your convenience, here is a list of resources available that will help you develop a profile that will be hard to pass over.

Hiring Headquarters

Upwork Blog

Upwork Community