Experience is a powerful asset, especially in the constantly changing world of design. In order to showcase your expertise, it’s critical to put thought and time into fully developing your profile. Essentially, your profile is a stream of stories that show off your work. As you take on new projects or learn new skills, your story evolves—and your profile should evolve with it.
Take a moment to think about who you are, what your skills are, what you’ve accomplished professionally, and why you’re the best person for the job. Here are eight profile tips to attract clients and increase your marketability.
1. Build your brand with a professional photo
Your photo makes the first impression and helps build your personal brand. Use a headshot of you dressed professionally. Understandably, designers are creatives so it’s okay to showcase a little bit of personality in your photo, but please keep it professional and don’t illustrate your picture as that’s against our policies. Also, make sure your photo is in focus, high resolution, and has a plain background.
2. Choose the most suitable design title
Titles give a prospective client a high-level summary of your expertise. Since many design roles share similar responsibilities and there is no definitive set of rules around them, design titles can be confusing. To help make it easier for clients to understand what you do, explain what type of designer you are, and the type of work you can deliver. Make it short and impactful—we recommend less than 10 words.
Here are some broad descriptions to help you as you craft your title:
Graphic Designer: focuses on visual communication and uses software such as Adobe Photoshop and/or Illustrator. They use typefaces, hierarchy, color, images, and placement to create a visual design. Some may be more specialized as logo designers or visual brand designers. Work may involve webpage mockups, graphics, branding guidelines, style guides, etc.
Web/Interactive Designer: focuses on the visual design and features of a website by creating mockups and responsive designs. They use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, and some may know HTML and CSS and have an understanding of front-end web development. Some designers specialize in certain types of content management systems (CMS), such as WordPress or Drupal. Others may use drag-and-drop site builders to create websites or mockups.
UI Designer: defines how different elements like buttons or menus behave and how people use them to navigate the site. Work may involve interface layouts, interface designs, visual designs, interaction designs, and establishing visual guidelines. Mobile UI designers focus on mobile apps and mobile versions of websites.
UX Designer: focuses on the user’s holistic experience. They explore how users interact with the product and ensure the experience isnt confusing and does what users expect it to do. Work may involve user research (including user testing and face-to-face interviews), task analyses, field research and detailed analytics, content strategies, user persona development, information architecture, wireframes, prototypes, and layouts. A mobile UX designer focuses on mobile apps and mobile versions of websites.
Motion Graphics Designer: creates complex graphics, animation, and videos and works on conceptualizing, storyboarding, editing, etc. They use software such as Apple Motion, After Effects, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, Avid, Maya, 3D Studio Max, Cinema 4D, and other software. Work may involve title and post-production work, multimedia campaigns, promotional videos, animated illustrations, computer artwork, etc.
3. Showcase your expertise in the overview section
Your overview is your pitch to potential clients. It should clearly tell your story and demonstrate why clients should hire you over another freelancer. Start by describing your real-world experience, design approach or philosophy, the types of clients you’ve worked with, and the work you’re most passionate about.
Your overview should help clients answer these questions:
- What is your design specialty, niche, or area of focus?
- Which professional experiences or previous projects are you most proud of and highlight your expertise? Include years of experience and well-known companies or agencies you’ve worked for.
- What type of work or projects are you interested in and who are you passionate about working with?
Being succinct is key; don’t opt for a laundry list of skills—save that for the Skills section.
4. Think of your portfolio as your greatest hits album
The portfolio section is one of the most important things clients use to evaluate freelancers, so putting together a great portfolio will be well worth it. Make sure you have your clients’ permission before you post anything!
Present the type of work you want to get. In the design field, perception is reality. If you’re able to show great design work in a specific area, then clients will trust that you’re an expert in that area. If you want to focus on WordPress design, UI design, or design for a particular industry, such as e-commerce websites, then you should highlight that type of work. If you have more than one area of expertise, your portfolio should reflect your wide range of skills.
Make the best first impression possible. Put your best work front and center by placing the highest quality pieces in the first four tiles. Only showcase your absolute best and most representative work and keep any samples you aren’t proud of out of your portfolio.
Tell a story visually or in words. Turn each portfolio piece into a case study. Upload multiple screenshots and descriptions for each tile. Take potential clients through your process and paint a clear picture of your role. Include the tools and technologies you used both in the project description and the project skills section.
Keep it fresh. Update your portfolio as you finish new projects and remove pieces that are no longer representative of your best work. Also, if you maintain a personal portfolio, remember to refresh your Upwork portfolio at the same time.
More tips to maximize your portfolio:
- Link your portfolio to contracts you’ve completed so future clients see your great feedback.
- Make sure to file your item under the most relevant category (e.g., Web & Mobile Design vs. Graphic Design)
5. Prioritize your most important skills in the Skills section
The best way to maximize the Skills section is to add new skills as you develop them or take on new projects and remove old skills as they become outdated. Place your strongest and most relevant skills in front. Make sure you select the skills you truly excel at—skills can include overarching themes (e.g., web design, UI design, graphic design) or design tools (e.g., Photoshop, Illustrator, Bootstrap, wireframing).
6. Link other accounts to your Upwork profile
Linking your Upwork account to your Behance, Dribbble, DeviantArt, and LinkedIn accounts will establish your online presence and enable Upwork to better match you to jobs.
7. Show off your success stories in your employment history
Use this section to highlight projects you’ve worked on both during your experience on Upwork, as well as before you joined. If you’re new to the freelance space, add information about your past professional history, especially if you’ve worked with top creative agencies or large clients. If you’re experienced on Upwork, feel free to list any long-term work or noteworthy projects. This will not only showcase your experience but also establish your credibility as a freelancer on Upwork. Each position should include a brief description about your responsibilities and examples of projects you accomplished in each role.
8. Get help from a pro
Having a hard time coming up with content for your profile? Work with an expert! Upwork’s user profile creation experts can help you craft the perfect profile.
Update your profile now and increase your chances of getting higher paying jobs—and getting showcased as top talent on Upwork. It’s critical that the spelling and grammar is flawless. Common mistakes include misspelled job titles, poor grammar, awkward capitalizations of letters, and inappropriate symbols (e.g., #, ~, *, ◯, ⅌, ♢, etc.). Put your best foot forward!