A professional profile can be essential to your success on Upwork. It’s your introduction to prospective clients, an important opportunity to grab attention and set yourself apart from the competition—not just as part of your proposals but also for potential clients who may discover your profile. Many clients search for freelancers with the skills they need and invite them to check out their job posts; it’s a proactive approach that can help businesses fill their project needs more quickly and successfully.
Completing your profile doesn’t just give clients the info they need. It also helps Upwork match you with more relevant projects and it’s required if you want to achieve Rising Talent status or Top Rated status.
In this article we will review:
- how to use every part of your profile to showcase your skills
- tips on selecting a professional profile picture
- how to showcase your expertise
- how to create an outstanding introduction video
- tips on highlighting your best work
- advice on listing your certifications
- the importance of including your employment history
- how to incorporate your educational background and other experiences
- additional tips to consider when reviewing your profile
But what does a top-notch profile look like?
Start your profile by choosing work categories that are most relevant to your skillset. Set an hourly rate that reflects your skills and experience level. You can search Upwork to get an idea of what similar freelancers are billing. Then consider these tips to help enhance your profile and ensure it showcases your experience and expertise in the best light.
1. Use every part of your profile to showcase your skills
Upwork has an extensive list of standardized skills that can help quickly identify your strengths and connect you with relevant projects. These skills also help clients find you more easily, so they should reflect your specializations and expertise: Only claim and list skills that you can back up in one of your other profile sections, such as your work or employment history, portfolio, education, or certifications.
List up to 10 of the most relevant skills based on the projects you are looking for — the more the better — and move the tags around so they appear in order of importance. If you have multiple work interests (e.g. data analysis and accounting), list the number of skills proportional to how much you prefer each type of project. (If an important skill is missing from the skills directory, please add it as a suggestion.)
As you develop your skills or add new ones, update your skill tags accordingly and remove old skills as they become outdated.
Pro Tip: Take note of which skills and keywords potential clients include as you review interesting projects. You may see that clients in your niche look for freelancers by the service they want (i.e. logo design, web design) rather than the tools needed (i.e. Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop).
2. Select a professional profile picture
Clients want to feel they can trust a freelancer before they engage them for a project and your profile photo is an important part of the equation.
Check out our how-to guide to help you choose the ideal photo >>
3. Showcase your expertise in the title and overview section
Coming up with a title may seem simple, but it’s a potentially powerful tool that’s often overlooked by freelancers. Why is it so important? Because when a client finds your profile in search, your title is the first thing they’ll see.
Your overview isn’t entirely visible until someone checks out your profile, but since it’s at the top of your profile it’s also a highly visible part of your marketing. Use it to introduce yourself and pitch your services.
Here are some tips to help you capture and keep a potential client’s attention >>
4. Create an outstanding introduction video
An intro video can help you shine and stand out, especially because many freelancers skip this optional section. Creating a video may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! Start with a great script that explains who you are, the type of projects you want to work on, and your areas of expertise.
Get top tips to help you create a stellar intro video >>
5. Highlight your best work in your portfolio
Your portfolio is practically guaranteed to draw a potential client’s attention: It’s your chance to show—not just tell—the quality of your work and the value of your expertise.
Choose pieces that reflect your niche and help prove your specialization. If your skills aren’t particularly visual, try to find creative ways to explain the challenge behind each sample and how your work had an impact.
6. List your certifications
Listing the certifications you’ve earned can help prove your specific knowledge or abilities, particularly if they relate to specific systems or software your clients may look for.
Pro Tip: To help connect with clients who may be looking for language skills that are not your native language, consider adding certifications that reflect your proficiency in that language.
7. Include your employment history
Adding relevant details about your employment history can help clients understand your background, both on and off Upwork.
You can start by adding a brief description of your responsibilities and accomplishments in your previous roles; pay particular attention to projects that relate to the type of projects you are looking for now.
As your freelance business grows, consider adding new entries for a few of your most impressive projects to help reconfirm your credibility.
If you don’t have a traditional employment history, consider adding your freelance business as a one line item, with a brief description summarizing your focus. You can use bullet points to highlight achievements and illustrate your specific expertise.
8. Include your educational background and other experiences
Your knowledge doesn’t just stem from your previous work experience! Your education and other activities — such as volunteer positions, mentorship programs, online courses, and other extracurricular activities — can also help shape what you do and how you present yourself online.
Consider including a detailed description of each relevant education item by listing the institution’s name and program in chronological order, beginning with the most recent one.
You can also add informal education and activities in the “Other Experiences” section. This may include research projects, competitions, or other interests that could help illustrate your value.
9. Review and analyze your profile
You may find inspiration viewing other freelancers’ profiles, but remember to make yours original and unique.
Consider the following additional tips:
- Make your profile about your clients. How can you help them?
- Be consistent with your strongest skills and leverage all profile sections to back up your skills (title, skills, overview, work history)
- Help establish trust and confidence by completing all sections
- Be concise and straightforward in your language
- Proofread each section carefully and update your profile regularly
- Track your reputation by taking action on non-active contracts—and if you are Top Rated, exercising more control over your JSS score
- Update your profile visibility if your profile has been switched to “private” due to inactivity
- Link other professional accounts in your profile settings to help Upwork match you better to jobs
- Keep a perfect responsiveness score by replying quickly to invitations and messages
- Update your profile to “available” when you are, so you receive invites. When you’re not, set your profile to “not available” to avoid the nuisance of responding and don’t risk hurting your responsiveness score
And before you publish your profile, ask friends to give you feedback. Another good tactic is to read your profile out loud: It’s a great way to see if your profile flows well, has a nice rhythm, and sounds like you.
Check out these other resources to help improve your freelancer profile:
- Creating Your Profile (the Upwork Academy course)
- Crafting Your Profile Title & Overview (the Upwork Academy course)
- Upwork Profiles: Why a Great Title and Overview Can Make a Difference
- A How-To Guide for Your Perfect Profile Picture
- Get Your Profile to the Next Level with an Intro Video
- 4 Ways to Create a More Successful Portfolio Regardless of Your Skill Set