So you want to make money with your tech skills, and are looking to sign up with Upwork to find your first jobs?
Now, you are probably wondering:
- How can I create an Upwork profile that helps me get hired faster?
- How do I stand out from other freelancers on Upwork?
Freelancing is more popular than ever.
With COVID-19, working from home has become a lucrative way to earn a side income with your tech skills.
In fact, more than 53 million Americans are now freelancing – that’s more than one in three workers.
And with over 158,000 available jobs on Upwork, there is a ton of demand for skilled freelancers worldwide.
So, where should you start?
If you are new to Upwork, you want to stand out from the crowd with your profile.
You want potential clients to understand that you are the right person for the job.
If you fail to do that, all your hard work will be in vain.
You can write a hundred job applications – but you will never get hired.
To help you get your clients’ attention more easily, I put together this step-by-step guide to create an Upwork profile that lands you the job.
Throughout this post, I will show you real-world Upwork profile examples, too.
You will learn all the hacks that helped me land my first freelance jobs and ultimately become a full-time freelancer.
If you are new to freelancing, make sure to follow my step-by-step guide on how to become a freelance web developer for even more helpful tips.
So, roll up your sleeves and get ready for those freelance jobs!
Step 1: Sign up with Upwork
The first thing you need to do is to sign up and create an account on Upwork.
Head over to Upwork and create a freelancer account here.
Step 2: Upload your photo
A professional-looking, bright photo will give your profile an approachable and friendly feel.
Also, a pretty photo makes your Upwork profile more legit. It’s a simple way to let potential clients know that you are a real person.
So what makes a good profile photo, then?
Here are a few quick tips:
- Flash a friendly smile:
No need to exaggerate – but remember to look approachable.
- Use a high-resolution photo:
You want your image to be crisp and sharp.
- Use good lighting:
Bright photos have a friendly vibe.
- Check your outfit:
Wear something you would normally wear for a meeting with a client.
So, do you need a professional headshot taken by a photographer?
Not really, no.
Just use your smartphone and ask a friend to take your photo.
Step 3: Add a video introduction
One of the easiest ways to stand out from other freelancers on Upwork is to upload a short video introduction to your profile.
This is a great opportunity to give a friendly first impression to potential clients.
You don’t need a super professional video editing skills for this.
Simply shoot a quick 1-minute video where you introduce yourself and highlight how you can help your client:
- Introduce yourself briefly
- Describe 1–2 core skills and strengths
- Showcase your language skills
- Thank them for their time
- Express your desire to help them with your skills
- Invite them to peruse your profile
All in all, remember that freelance clients are interested in one thing only:
They want to know how you can help them.
In other words: they have a problem that they need solved.
Thus, they don’t necessarily want to hear which programming languages you have learned.
Instead, they want to know what you can create and build with those languages.
Shoot your video, upload it to your YouTube account, and add a link to your Upwork profile.
Step 4: Add your language details
By default, Upwork adds English to your list of languages. Remember to select your skill level for it.
If you know other languages, add them to your list and select the right skill level for each language separately:
- Native or Bilingual
Even if you don’t feel super confident in a certain language, don’t hesitate to add it to your list.
Some clients may need a freelancer who knows just the basics of Spanish, for example.
Perhaps they have a website where they simply need to add a link in Spanish. Or they need your help to translate their slogan or tagline to add to their website.
But remember: be 100% honest about your language skills.
The last thing you want is to get hired for a multi-language job that you can’t finish because you don’t actually speak the language.
Step 5: Add your education details
Next, you should add any relevant education information about yourself.
This will add credibility to your profile – especially if your education is related to the type of work you are looking for.
For example, if you want to work as a front-end web developer, it’s important to mention studies in both technology and design.
But what if you don’t have any relevant education to showcase?
If you are entirely self-taught (kudos to you!), don’t worry about your education information. Seriously.
What’s more important to creating an Upwork profile that gets you hired is what you can create and build with your skills. We’ll look at this in a minute.
Step 6: Write a value-driven title
Your Upwork profile title plays a huge part in landing your first jobs.
And yet, most freelancers neglect it altogether.
Now, your profile title is the first thing your potential clients read about you.
Therefore, it’s your #1 way of making the right kind of first impression.
It’s an easy way to show them that you are the right person to help them out.
To catch people’s attention, follow these easy hacks:
- Keep it short and simple:
Be concise and share how you help solve your clients’ problems. Highlight the solutions you can deliver – not the technical skills you have per se.
- Target a specific clientele and niche:
A simple way to get hired on Upwork is to choose a specific niche of clients and projects. Working on similar projects saves you time, so you can make more money. Also, positive reviews from clients in a specific industry tend to draw in additional similar jobs.
- Use relevant keywords:
Once you know your niche, it’s easy to target the right keywords that potential clients search for. For example, I specialized in building “WordPress websites” for “small businesses” – two popular keywords I use in my title.
Step 7: Add your profile bio
Your profile bio sits right below your title.
So, whenever your title catches a client’s attention, they will read through your bio to find out more.
This is where you elaborate on your title and pitch your services.
Needless to say, you want to make sure that your bio aligns with your title.
Hence, if your title highlights your logo design skills, don’t talk about how great your data science skills are.
Again, remember to focus on a specific niche:
- Who are your ideal clients?
- What are their biggest problems?
- How can you help them solve those problems?
- How do your abilities help them achieve their business goals faster?
It all boils down to knowing how to deliver value to potential clients in your niche.
For example, I know from experience that most small businesses struggle with getting their websites up and running.
They may be experts in selling their products to their customers. But they don’t know anything about building websites.
So they need someone who can make their lives easier.
And THAT is where I step in.
I know how to set up a professional-looking website that is easy to use and navigate.
See what I said there?
- “Easy to use”
- “Easy to navigate”
Those are subtle keywords and triggers that help my potential clients see that I can help them solve their biggest problem.
So, what are your strengths? How can you help your next freelance client?
When you have written your Upwork profile bio, check your grammar and spelling for free with Grammarly.
Nothing gives a more unprofessional impression than poor grammar. Hence, always double-check your writing.
Step 8: Showcase work samples in your portfolio
Your portfolio is perhaps the most important part of your Upwork profile.
Especially if you are new to the platform, this is where you can show the quality of your work.
Your portfolio allows you to build trust with potential clients. They want to see the value of your skills and the results of your work.
Focus on work samples that are relevant to your target clientele.
If you want to build websites for small businesses, don’t showcase your mobile app projects in your portfolio.
Instead, choose projects that show everyone your most beautiful websites.
Your portfolio is a fantastic way to give potential clients hands-on proof of your expertise. Use it wisely!
Step 9: List your skills
Your skills should – again – reflect the type of work that you are interested in.
Be mindful of your target clientele. Find out what they need help with.
Then list 4–10 of your most relevant skills based on the projects you are looking for.
For instance, if you want to find website projects, don’t mention “mobile app development” in your skills. That’s not relevant to your target niche.
As your skills improve, remember to update your skills list, too. Also, if a certain skill isn’t relevant anymore, remove it from the list.
You can also adjust the order of individual skills on your list. Simply drag-and-drop them so that your most important and relevant skills come first.
Step 10: Create your project catalog
Now this is the fun part of Upwork!
Your project catalog allows you to create a list of standardized projects that clients can purchase.
You can describe the scope of each project, the cost, timeline, and deliverables.
This simplifies the initial stage of landing your first jobs on Upwork because it adds transparency.
Especially if you are looking to work on similar projects, it’s a good idea to offer a standardized project package. It should include the most relevant and in-demand services your clients need.
In short: you can pre-define everything upfront.
Interested clients can then buy a project and place an order. Thus, they agree with what you have pre-defined for the project.
Step 11: Choose your experience level
If you want to create an Upwork account that gets you hired, you should select the correct experience level in your profile settings:
- Entry level:
You are relatively new to your field.
You have substantial experience in your field.
You have comprehensive and deep expertise in your field.
Your experience level tells potential clients how familiar you are with the type of work you are looking for.
Hence, it’s not about whether you are new to Upwork or freelancing.
If you are new to the type of work you are looking for, select “entry level”.
If you have worked in the field, you may want to make some extra money on Upwork. In that case, “intermediate” could be the right option.
Step 12: Add your employment history
Adding your employment history is an easy way to build trust and credibility with your clients.
This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase your qualifications, expertise, and experience.
Again, focus on relevant work experience.
If you want to become a freelance web developer, and you have been flipping burgers for 5 years, it’s better to leave that out.
If you don’t have relevant jobs to add to your employment history, it’s perfectly OK to leave it empty.
Instead, emphasize how you can help your target clientele by building a few extra portfolio projects.
Step 13: List your certifications
If you have any relevant certifications, remember to list them on your Upwork profile, too.
For example, if you have completed a comprehensive coding course or even a bootcamp, list those here.
Now, I know there are hundreds of certifications available for tech skills. So it’s difficult to know whether a certain specification will help you get hired.
I have nothing against certifications, but I’d say this much:
A coding course certification doesn’t guarantee that you know how to build a real-life project for your client.
Instead, you should showcase real-world projects in your portfolio. They should show your clients that you can actually build useful and helpful stuff with your skills.
Step 14: Add other experiences
Your Upwork profile also has a separate section for “other experiences”.
So what should you add here exactly?
This is the perfect spot for listing activities such as:
- Volunteer work
- Research projects
- Extracurricular activities
Add a detailed description to each individual experience and – again – emphasize those aspects that are relevant to your target niche.
For example, let’s say that you want to build websites for dentists and doctors in your area. If you have an extensive network of contacts or volunteer experience in that field, mention that here.
Summing it up: Create an Upwork profile that gets you hired
By now you should have a clear idea about how to set up an Upwork profile that really lands you more jobs.
Let’s do a quick recap of the most important points you should keep in mind:
- Define your target clientele and niche
- Find out what they struggle with (What do they need help with?)
- Highlight your most relevant skills that can help your clientele
- Showcase relevant work samples, skills, and experience
It all boils down to understanding how your skills match your clients’ pain points.
And this is where most freelancers fail.
Remember: your freelance clients don’t know what those skills mean.
They don’t even care what tools and programming languages you use.
Instead, they want to know how you can help them and deliver value with those skills.
Therefore, always think about what you can create with your skills, and how that’s helping your potential clients.
So, what are you waiting for? Head over to Upwork and create your profile right now!
Even if you have no freelancing experience yet, Upwork is a fantastic platform to start earning some extra money on the side.
One job at a time, your skills will improve, and your clients will write positive reviews for your profile.
Hence, your profile will become more trustworthy, and you can slowly increase your hourly rates as you go.
If you want to find out how I started making money on Upwork, grab your copy of my popular beginner’s freelancing guide!
Here are a couple of related guides you may want to read, too:
- How To Build a Freelance Portfolio Website? Step-by-Step Guide
- What Is The Best Programming Language For Freelancing?