Tips to create a killer Upwork profile

29 June 2016

Since about 3 years I have been earning my full income by doing freelance jobs via the platform Upwork. This has allowed me to travel with my backpack through Brazil and Colombia, to live in Lisbon, Paris and The Netherlands for a while and now to fulfill my dream of living in a van!

Many people are asking me how I am earning the money for all this and that is why I decided to write a few very detailed blog posts about my way of earning money online. This is the second blog post in this series. Last week I wrote about the first steps to take when you want to start with online freelancing. In this post I will explain how to make a good profile on Upwork, or any other job platform. Because when you are freelancing online, your profile is your first and sometimes only way to present yourself to possible clients.

So, let’s go!

Why do you need to make a profile?

Let’s start with the very basics: what profile am I talking about and why do you need to worry about it?


Upwork is a huge marketplace. There are hundreds of thousands of freelancers on there, and ten-thousands of clients (the ones who are hiring freelancers). As a freelancer you want to be hired for interesting jobs.

Because in the world of online freelancing you probably won’t go for a job interview in person, your profile has to make the good impression for you. Based on your profile, application letter and your way of communicating, a client will decide whether or not to hire you.

Your Upwork profile contains basic information about your skills and your employment history, but you can also add a video, samples of previous work, test results and certifications. I will go through the items one by one to show you how you can get the most out of your Upwork profile. First I will talk about the essential things that you should add to your profile, and then I will give some tips to make your Upwork profile a killer one!

The very first steps

Let’s start with the first baby steps….

    • Go to the startpage for freelancers on and click the ‘Get Started’ button
    • Fill out our basic details, like e-mail address and name, and create a user name and password
    • Verify your e-mail address
    • Click ‘Create my profile’.

Now you can get started! In the video below you can watch a summary of the process of creating an Upwork profile.

The essentials of your Upwork Profile

Now you have taken the first steps, you can start filling out the information of your profile. Below I will go through all the steps, with some tips and tricks when needed.

Pick a category for your work

First you need to pick a category for the freelance work you will offer. The categories you can pick are:

  • Web, mobile and software development
  • IT & Networking
  • Data Science & Aalytics
  • Engineering & Architecture
  • Design & Creative
  • Writing
  • Translation
  • Legal
  • Admin Support
  • Customer Service
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Accounting & Consulting

In the next step you will see the sub categories of the category you picked, so you can define your work more precisely. Don’t worry. If you change your mind about your category there, you can go a step back and pick another one.

Another point to remember here is: whatever category you pick, you will be able to find and apply to all the job categories on Upwork. So don;t be afraid that you’ll be restricting yourself by picking a category. The category is important for clients to find you. You can change or add categories later on, once your profile is done. So if you decide to focus on a different category later, this is no problem.

Link to social media accounts

You can link your Upwork profile to your other social media accounts. The links to these other accounts will not show up in your profile. However, Upwork will rate profiles that are linked to other accounts as more complete. So it will give your profile a little advantage in the ranking in the search results. So when employers search for freelancers, you have a bigger chance that your profile ranks a bit higher.

Profile Photo

The very first impression that a client gets from you is your profile photo. It’s important that you pick the right image. For your Upwork profile you’ll obviously need a different kind of photo than for Facebook or OkCupid 😉 A few points of attention are:

  • Make sure your face shows clearly: of course you shouldn’t wear wear sunglasses or hats, so your face is visible.
  • Crop your profile photo in the best way: Your face and (part of) your shoulders should be shown, but not too much of your body. It’s all about the face!
  • Pick a photo with a neutral background. Just a wall, a neutral background outside or a non-cluttered room will work.
  • Smile! – According to Upwork freelancers who smile on their profile photos get hired more. A smile gives the impression that you are friendly and easy to work with. And that’s what you want, right?

upwork profile photo


The title of your profile is almost as important as your photo. With the title you should say in a few words what you are all about. It should explain your skills as clear and specific as possible.

But the challenge is: you also have to keep it short! it’s best to use 10 words max. Do you have skill that makes you different from all the other freelancers? That’s your unique selling point, so put it in your title!


In this section you can add up to 10 skills related to the work you offer. Think well, because these skills are being used in the search function of Upwork. If a client is, say, looking for German speakers, and you have ‘German’ as one of your skills, your profile will pop up in their search results. Your skills section will look something like this:

upwork skills

Most of the skills on Upwork are connected to a skill test. This means that you can prove that you are really mastering that specific skill. It takes some time to do these tests, but it’s worth it. If you did really well on a test, it shows on your profile. If you get into the top 10% or even on first place for a specific skill, this makes a great impression!


This is the part where you can really sell yourself!

The first two lines of this section will show up in the search results. That’s why it’s important that you use these first lines wisely. These lines determine if a possible client will click on your profile or not. Be sure to be clear in these first lines about what you can offer.

In the rest of the overview you can give more detailed information about your field of work and your expertise. What exact work can you offer? Be as exact as possible.

Also write something about relevant work experience here. Of course your previous work is mentioned further along in your profile as well, but here you can be more detailed. If you have done previous jobs that are similar to the work you are offering on Upwork, write something about it here.

Don’t forget to also write something about your soft skills. Are you for example very precise, are you good with deadlines? Mention these things here! These are the kind of things that set you apart from other freelancers.

Yu can see the ‘overview’ section as an open application. This is the place where you convince a client that you are the one he should work with!

English proficiency and other languages

Rate your own level of English. Be honest and don’t overrate yourself. The level of English is important, because most of the communication between freelancers and clients happens in English. It’s important for the client to know what level of language to expect. You don’t need to be fluent, as long as you can communicate clearly.

Also list the other languages that you know. If you have a different native language than English, list it here! This is very important, because it might bring you clients from your own country or who speak the same language as you. And this is a big advantage. I only do jobs on Upwork where they are looking for native Dutch speakers. Even in the very beginning, when I did not have any experience or reviews to show, the sole fact that I could write Dutch brought me my first job.

Availability and Experience level

State how many hours per week you are available for freelance jobs. (More than 30 hours per week, less than 30 hours per week, or flexible). Also rate your experience level. Are you a beginner that works for a lower rate, or an expert that charges more? All this information will help you to get clients that match your skills and time.

experience level upwork

Education and work history

Here you add your previous work experience and education. You don’t have to list all the jobs you ever had in your life. Limit yourself to the jobs and projects that are relevant for the work that you are offering now.

As for education, you can list all the education you have had. Even if your education is not in the same field of your freelance work, it looks good on your profile. Add as much information about your education as possible: full details of your degree, subject, official school name and information about your coursework and accomplishments.


Have you done any other courses or workshops apart from your formal education? Then you can list those things here.


The portfolio is a place where you can showcase your previous work. The way you show off your work depends of your field. Are you doing design or any visual work? Then you can easily add images/screenshots of your creations here. Did you do any copywriting or translating before? Then here you can add links to the websites where your work can be found. If you have your own website or blog, you can also add it here (if relevant for the work you’re offering).

Maybe you don’t have anything to show yet when you start on Upwork (When I started, I left this section empty). But as soon as you have your first jobs, you can add them here. It’s good to always keep adding new work and new experiences to this section.


Do you really want to stand out from your competition? Then you can add a video to your profile. This way you are giving a possible client a chance to see a bit more of you. A video in which you present yourself personally creates trust. This way a client will be convinced easier to hire you.

If you are doing graphic work, a video is a great way to showcase some of your work. Especially if you work in fields that are more competitive, I highly recommend you to add a video to present yourself and your work, so you stand out from the crowd!

Set your hourly rate

The last thing you have to enter on your profile is your hourly rate. This is also one of the most difficult things. Because how do you determine how much your work is worth?

A good first step is to look what other freelancers in your field are charging. But one thing is very important: don’t try to compete with your co-freelancers on price. It’s of course very tempting to put your hourly rate just a bit lower than your competition. But this is an endless downwards spiral. When freelancers compete with their rates, rates will keep going down.

It’s much smarter to compete with your quality of work. If you make a good profile that shows off your skills, you don’t need to be the cheapest. Also, an hourly rate that is too low looks unprofessional. So when determining your hourly rate, it’s best to be average. Choose a rate that lies more or less in the middle of the other freelancers in your category. As you gain more experience and more reviews on your profile, you can keep increasing your hourly rate. I myself started with a rate of 10 USD per hour, but after 3 years I can ask for over 3o USD per hour.

Bren from wrote an interesting article about bidding on Upwork. He also shows how NOT to charge rates that are too low. Very interesting and important!

Final tips for making a great Upwork Profile

Peek at profiles of other freelancers

Before you start creating your profile, it’s good to take a look at profiles of other freelancers, to see what works and what doesn’t. If you want to find profiles of successful freelancers, just go to the search function in the header and search for freelancers in your field. To get to the profiles of the successful ones, open the advanced filters and look for freelancers with a job success rate of at least 90% and at least 1000 hours billed. These are people that have probably done something good! These are the profiles you can learn from.

upwork profile search

Complete all sections

Making a good profile takes time. It’s important that you complete all the sections of your profile with attention and care. By doing this you give more information about yourself to possible clients, but you’re also showing that you are serious. With a complete profile you are already showcasing some of your soft skills: you show that you are someone that delivers prefect and complete work :)

Double check

After finishing your profile, double check every line and every word. You don’t want any typos in your texts, especially when you are advertising your great writing skills 😉 The best is to ask a friend to check your profile for you. It’s always good to have a second opinion!

Apply for jobs!

When your profile is done, you’ll have to wait until the Upwork staff reviews it. This should normally take up to 12 hours. After your profile is approved, you can finally apply for online freelance jobs! On Upwor
k applying to jobs is called: ‘sending proposals’. Just like your profile, your proposals deserve a lot of attention. Some fellow digital nomads from have written a very nice blog post about writing good Upwork Proposals, check it out!

Do you have other tips for creating a good Upwork profile? Or are you creating your profile now and do you have questions? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or to send me a message!

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tips upwork profile



  1. Comment by popeye

    popeye Reply 1 September 2016 at 07:25

    Hi all,
    A few weeks ago, Upwork suspended and closed off my account without any valid reason. The excuse given was that I was not generating enough revenue for them. So, it was my fault that Upwork is not generating enough income and the employers want to pay $20 for a $200 job. I have seen people working @$3/hr and apparently, Upwork is still allowing it. Upwork is just an extension of, which was just a cheap online labor market. It’s almost like mixed with very poor management skills of Stephanie Kasriel, the main culprit. The main blunder was to close off, which was just awesome. I had made substantial income from Elance until that retard Kasriel came along. Not only that, Upwork also suffers from very frequent technical glitches and server downtime.
    My advice will be if you really want to invest time and money into Upwork, do it as a secondary, tertiary, or some kind of a backup source of income. The only positive thing about Upwork is that tests are free but I seriously doubt how long it will stay that way.
    I am also almost convinced that Upwork is going to be closed down by 2017.There are just not enough projects. The situation is so bad that Upwork ITSELF is posting projects just to make things look better. At the time of posting this on 1st September 2016, approxiamately 12:30p.m. IST, there are more than 2,330,000 freelancers and a little less than 130,000 jobs in total. However, out of which, less than 10% jobs maybe genuine(but cheap) clients because in many cases the payment method is not verified. There are many spammers posing as employers out there. Upwork is just stupid and a plain waste of time and resources.
    -A former Upworker.

    • Comment by Valine

      Valine Reply 18 September 2016 at 15:21

      Hey Popeye, I’m sorry that you had such a bad experience with Upwork. I know that competition is fierce there and there are more freelancers than jobs. However I still think that it’s possible to make a good income there (I’m doing so it myself) But maybe a different platform would work better for you. Luckily there are so many out there!

  2. Comment by Shehar Yar

    Shehar Yar Reply 23 March 2017 at 08:13

    I tried almost everything to get my own profile approved, as Upwork is quite restricting profiles from Asia so after searching for hours and experimenting a dozen times I finally found the solution, please follow the steps in the link below but try to be really specific with it. At the end you will be able to get 100% verified profile.
    I guarantee it works

  3. Comment by Allan

    Allan Reply 21 May 2018 at 06:16

    I have tried everything but still I can’t get a gig at upwork.

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