How To Create a Portfolio on Upwork

How To Create a Portfolio on Upwork

Every part of your Upwork profile matters, but some sections are typically more important. Your title and overview, for example, play a strategic role when it comes to capturing the attention of potential clients. Also playing a critical role? Your portfolio.

Your Upwork freelance portfolio is a highlight reel of your best work, designed to show prospective clients the great work you’re capable of. In fact, Upwork freelancers who publish a portfolio are hired nine times more often than those who haven’t.

Learn how to make the most of your Upwork portfolio with different types of projects and work samples and leverage it for your freelance business.

In this article:

Creating an Upwork portfolio: step-by-step guide

Your Upwork portfolio is a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to finding work on the work marketplace. Upwork makes it easy for you to create your portfolio with an intuitive tool designed to empower freelancers to showcase all types of work on their portfolios.

Highlight the work you’re proudest of — whether it’s sharing an impressive GitHub repository of your web development work, showing off your slick web design experience or summarizing compelling case studies of your social media management achievement.

Here’s a tutorial of how to add portfolio items to your Upwork profile.

Steps:

  1. Go to My Profile in your account
  2. Add a portfolio project
  3. Add content
  4. Preview the project
  5. Select thumbnail
  6. Publish your project
  7. Repeat as needed

Pro tip: Creating a great portfolio can take time. Save your portfolio in draft form until you’re ready to publish publicly, with zero risk of losing your work along the way.

1. Go to My Profile in your account

Your portfolio is within your Upwork profile. To start adding to it:

Go to my profile

2. Add a portfolio project

Get started with your first portfolio item.

  • Fill in the Project Title field with a title that describes the project in a succinct way
  • Optional step: Describe Your role on the project
  • In the Project description field, describe the project, the client’s goals, and how your work made an impact
  • Add in up to five relevant Skills and deliverables
  • Optional step: If this portfolio project is from an Upwork project, you have the option to add a project in the Connect to Upwork job field.
Add a portfolio project

3. Add content

Upload content to your portfolio project to make it more visually appealing or provide further context to clients.

  • Adding a variety of media files to your portfolio projects can help you showcase your best work in the format that suits it best
  • Your options include images, videos, text (or code) blocks, web links, PDF files or audio
  • Choose the relevant file icon and start uploading
  • Click on the Save as draft button if you aren’t quite ready to publish yet and would like to continue working on the project later
  • If you’re ready to publish, click on Next: Preview
Add content

Add content 1

Add content 2

4. Preview the project

On the preview page, check out how your portfolio item will appear to clients.

  • Seeing your project visually laid out will help you confirm that it appears how you’d like it to and includes all the relevant details
  • You can click the Back button and continue to edit and add files until you’re happy with how it looks
  • Remember you can also save the project as a draft if you’d like to finish it later
  • Click on Next: Thumbnail to select a cover image for your project
Landing page

5. Select thumbnail

If you’ve added images, you can select a thumbnail as your cover for the project

  • The thumbnail is the image that will appear alongside this portfolio project on your profile
  • Even if your project isn’t visual and includes more PDF files than photos, feel free to upload an image to use as a thumbnail
  • If you’re happy with how your project looks, hit the Publish button
Select thumbnail

6. Publish your project

Happy with everything and ready to share with the world?

  • Hit the Publish button
  • Go to your profile to see it live and ready for clients to view
  • Each portfolio project will also have its own link so you can share the item directly with clients on or off Upwork
Publish project

Landing page example

7. Repeat as needed

Follow steps one to six to continue adding relevant items and really flesh out your portfolio.

  • Add and remove items as your business grows to ensure you always have a relevant portfolio.
Repeat as needed

Upwork portfolio best practices

Your portfolio can sometimes tell your professional story better than your Upwork profile or proposal. Clients love to see real-world examples of your work more than just read about it in your cover letter.

While some talents may be more visual than others, your portfolio matters regardless of what your skills are. Upwork’s portfolio tools help you create a portfolio that paints a picture of your experience and highlights your expertise.

Here are five tips that can help you leverage your portfolio, regardless of your skill set.

1. Keep your target client in mind

Curate the portfolio on your Upwork account for the client you want. You may have a variety of work to share or you’re proud of; if it’s not relevant to the type of client you’re hoping to attract, don’t use it as a portfolio item.

You may be as multifaceted as they come with your graphic design skills. But, if your current goal is to focus on logo design clients, then highlight your specific experience in logo design within your freelance portfolio. Show clients real examples of your logos in action, which will help them assess if your style matches their brand.

When it comes to organizing your portfolio items, put your most relevant and best work front and center into the first three or four tiles. Remember: Focus on projects that are the most relevant to the type of projects you’re currently trying to win.

2. Leverage your portfolio to tell a story

Aim to make your portfolio exciting, not just a copy of your “Employment history” information. By thinking of each piece as its own story — whether you use words, images, reports, or something else to do so — you’re more likely to get people to pay attention to the projects you want to share with them.

Here are a few different ways to approach each example:

  • Case studies. Write a short story about a challenge you have solved or a business you have helped.
  • Snippets. Include excerpts of your work — you don’t need to use the entire project, especially if it’s large or complex. For example, you could include a summary of a longer document or share a preview or clip of a larger piece of work.
  • Screenshots. Take screenshots of your work, such as spreadsheets, research documents, apps, social media posts, or even anonymized Google Analytics campaign results.
  • Results. Create a visual representation of your successes using diagrams, charts, or graphs.
  • Testimonials. Have former clients vouch for your skills by requesting a testimonial. Add these to your portfolio items and make them visually appealing.
  • Samples of your own work. Portfolio samples don’t necessarily need to be a piece of paid work you’ve done. Consider creating a small number of relevant work samples, especially if you aren’t able to showcase previous projects.

Sometimes you can’t use your past work in your portfolio; maybe you don’t have permission to show the project, or the nature of your work is confidential. If this is the situation you find yourself in, focus on other sections of your profile and the proposal to showcase your experience and skills.

3. Showcase each service you provide

If you have more than one area of expertise, your portfolio should reflect your range of skills. If you have specialized Upwork profiles for each service, even better.

For example, let’s say you’re a writer who loves to work on blog posts. But you also have a copywriter side and love writing website copy or landing pages. To show potential clients how multitalented you are, upload three to five portfolio items that show your latest blogging and copywriting projects.

Each one will be categorized separately with its own unique project description. You can also assign a relevant specialized profile or Upwork project to each item.

4. Provide additional information for each portfolio item

When you’re ready to add items to your portfolio, provide as much information about each piece as possible by painting a clear picture of your role in each project. This can include selecting the relevant specialized profile, Upwork job and tagging the portfolio item with applicable skill tags.

Use the project description text box to write a brief but interesting story about how the project came to be. For example:

  • Explain what your main task or deliverable was
  • Describe how you tackled the client’s problem
  • Highlight the skills, tools, and technologies you used to fulfill the client’s requirements
  • Include any other important details about how you nailed the project goals
  • Keep it short and concise; one or two short paragraphs should do the trick

You can also link the items in your portfolio with past projects. This draws clearer connections between projects, portfolio pieces, client feedback, and client ratings, which can help verify your expertise, build credibility for potential clients, and give these items more visibility on your profile.

5. Update your portfolio regularly

As you hone and improve your skills, make sure you keep your Upwork portfolio up to date with your best work.

You don’t want prospective clients to see obsolete projects that don’t truly reflect how good you’ve become. Revamp old project descriptions to call out the skills and expertise that are currently more in demand or delete them all together. If you feel that these projects are still relevant, refresh your presentation to make your portfolio items look shiny and new again.

As you finish new projects, reach out to your clients to ask permission to share them in your portfolio. As soon as a client gives permission to use the finished project, upload it to your portfolio and point it out to the next client to come your way.

Elevate your work with Upwork

The benefits of a solid portfolio of your freelance work on Upwork can include higher profile views and better-quality job invites from potential clients. You can also build increased confidence in your abilities and professionalism — even if you’re an Upwork newbie.

Through your portfolio samples, clients will get a glimpse of your capabilities, relevant skills, versatility, and overall work experience. It can help them see why you’re the right fit for their projects,and how you can help them achieve their goals. As a new freelancer, your portfolio can set you apart from other newbies with no portfolio and help you win your first job. Clients are more likely to hire you if you can show them your skill level and work.

As we mentioned at the very beginning of this guide, freelancers who’ve published a portfolio are hired nine times more often than those who haven’t. This means you’re more likely to win more jobs, more often if you create and maintain a high-quality portfolio on Upwork.

Ready to get started? Create your Upwork portfolio and elevate your freelance business on Upwork.

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Author Spotlight

How To Create a Portfolio on Upwork
Radhika Basuthakur
Content Writer

Radhika is a self-confessed word nerd and content expert with over 15 years of experience writing content for businesses around the world. She is a cheerleader for flexible work, a passionate world traveler, and spends her free time alternating between a good book and a good hike.

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