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8 Keys To A Killer Upwork Profile

Today you’re going to create a killer Upwork profile.

To do this you must first have an Upwork account. If you don’t already have one, jump on over and create one now. It’s a freelancer account you’re going to need, and there’s no charge for it.

Why Upwork?

Just in case you’re not clear on why we’re focused on Upwork here, it’s simply because Upwork is by far the biggest freelance marketplace website on offer.

Yes, that means there’s lots of competition, but it also means that there are plenty of jobs. And by following the advice in this article, you’ll have a big advantage over your competitors on there.

But even if you don’t want to use Upwork, you’ll still find this article helpful, as all the strategies we’re going to talk about here can also be utilized on many other freelance marketplace websites.

8 Keys To A Killer Upwork Profile

Let’s run through eight specific keys for creating an outstanding profile. There will be plenty of examples throughout.

1. Write A Client-Friendly Title

To make your title client-friendly, follow these rules:

  • Speak to what the client needs, not what the freelancer does
  • Focus on a niche
  • Keep it clear and simple (i.e. don’t try to be clever)

Let’s look at some examples. We’ll take them two at a time.

Two titles from Photography freelancers:

Developer, writer, video, audio and image editor

High-end retouching | Color correction | Photography

The first breaks all the rules (and not in a good way). It’s a list of what the freelancer does, he’s not focused on a niche, and there are too many different and disparate skills listed there.

The second is much more focused and clear, and speaks to what the client might actually need.

Two titles from Blog Writing freelancers:

Small Business Blog Writing & Web Content Specialist

Virtual Assistant/Blog Marketing/Data Entry/Copy-Writing/Photo Editing

I love the first one here. It’s focused on a niche and is very specific about the type of work the client can expect.

The second one is all over the shop. No focus. That freelancer may be able to apply for more jobs (given that they haven’t chosen a niche), but they’ll never be able to charge a high price as they’ll be seen a generalist.

Two titles from Web Development freelancers:

Web developer

Drupal /CMS Developer and Designer, eCommerce expert

The first one sucks. If I was hiring on Upwork, any freelancer who put that little effort into their profile title would be dismissed immediately.

The second title is much better. The freelancer has used specific keywords that will catch the eyes of the right clients. (More on keywords later.)

Two titles from Copywriting freelancers:

Experienced Copywriter and Content Creator

High-Conversion Sales and Marketing Copywriting for Your Business

The first is pretty bland. It doesn’t speak to the client and there’s no niche focus.

The second is excellent. Clients want to increase sales and conversions, and this freelancer has communicated that brilliantly.

2. Use A Professional-Grade Photo

Yes, you absolutely need to have a photo on your Upwork profile, and it should represent you well.

Just as you need to be well-dressed and well-groomed to make your best impression meeting people offline, a nice profile photo will help you make your best impression online.

Some pointers for your profile photo:

  • It should be a photo of your face, with you looking into the lens.
    Nothing abstract or distant. Your photo will appear pretty small on screen to prospective clients so you want to fill all the space on offer with that gorgeous mug of yours.
  • Smile…
    But not too much! You should look relaxed and confident, not like a joker.
  • No selfies.
    Get a friend to take the photo for you.
  • Wear a nice shirt/jacket/blouse for the photo.
    You should look professional, not like someone who plays video games all day.
  • Be well groomed for the photo.
    Get your hair looking nice. Men should be clean shaven or have their facial hair neat and tidy.
  • Make sure the photo is well-lit.
    There should be no dark shadows on your face. Nor should you be squinting into the sun.

Maybe you already have a photo that fits the bill.

If so, great, use that.

If not, spend some time getting cleaned up and taking a few. Take more than you think you’ll need.

How do you decide which photo is best?

Two ideas:

  • Pick your three favorites, post them on Facebook and ask your friends which one best communicates friendly-yet-professional. Go with the most popular.
  • Sign up for PhotoFeeler. You can vote on other people’s photos and they’ll vote on yours. Run a few tests and you’ll discover which of your photos makes the best impression.

3. Display Testimonials

If you have any testimonials at all, I highly recommend using them in your overview.

Testimonials are actually a great way to begin your overview, because they provide social proof to the client, communicating your expertise without blowing your own trumpet.

Here’s how a successful web developer on Upwork begins his overview:

Upwork profile: testimonials

Note that he doesn’t even give attributions for his testimonials. You can do without them and the testimonials will still prove powerful.

If you don’t already have testimonials, reach out to people you’ve worked with before and ask for them. You can these tips from Derek Halpern and Ramit Sethi to perfect your request:

If you’re just getting started in a niche and haven’t had any clients yet, you can still get testimonials from colleagues, bosses and professors you’ve had in the past.

For example, below is a testimonial I received from a past web design client. It doesn’t mention anything about web design, meaning I could use it to find work as a copywriter or an SEO or whatever else:

“Niall works with complete transparency and is a dogged problem solver. I wish everyone I hired had his work ethic. He is simply one of the best people I’ve worked with in ANY industry.”

Another tip: don’t be afraid to edit the testimonials you receive.

The one I just quoted you was actually much longer initially. Here it is as originally sent by the client:

Niall Doherty has all the qualities you’d expect in a top-notch web developer: good at clarifying requirements, reliable, and provides quick turn around. But there are two traits that really make him stand out. The first is his integrity. With other contractors I have found myself bewildered by how they spent their time. Niall, on the other hand, works with complete transparency. If you run an online business and need someone to help you with the financial back-end (as I do), you won’t find anyone on the net more trustworthy. The second is that Niall is a dogged problem solver. My business keeps me busy, so it’s vital I hire people who make my life easier, not harder. When I wanted to switch to Office Auto Pilot, we ran into snags regarding the compatibility of some of the plug-ins I was already using. Niall chased each and every one of them down and laid out a plan for resolving them–all within a couple of weeks. I wish everyone I hired had his work ethic. He is simply one of the best people I’ve worked with in ANY industry.

That’s waaaaaaay too long to post in my Upwork profile. Prospective clients are never going to read the whole thing.

So I trimmed it down.

Of course, you need to be careful not to change the essence of a testimonial when you edit it. Your goal when editing should be to trim and clarify, not to misrepresent the person who wrote the original text.

If in doubt, send the modified testimonial to the person who gave it, telling them you made some edits, and asking if they’re okay with them.

Last tip here, also related to lengthy testimonials: break them up and quote them separately in your overview. This gives the impression that they came from multiple clients.

For example, I can make two testimonials out of that wall of text quoted above:

“Niall works with complete transparency and is a dogged problem solver. I wish everyone I hired had his work ethic. He is simply one of the best people I’ve worked with in ANY industry.”

“Niall has all the qualities you’d expect in a top-notch web developer: good at clarifying requirements, reliable, and provides quick turn around.”

2-3 short testimonials like that work great on your profile.

4. Write A Client-Focused Overview

Here’s an example of an overview that is NOT client-focused:

Upwork profile: not client focused

A quick way to tell if your overview is client-focused or not is to count up how many times you use the words I, ME and MY versus the words YOU and YOUR.

In the above example, Samantha uses I-ME-MY seven times and doesn’t use YOU-YOUR at all.

Do you see the problem there?

As a client, I’d look at a profile like that and say to myself,

“Okay, you sound great Samantha. But what can you do for me?

Ultimately, everyone wants to know what’s in it for them, and clients checking out your profile on Upwork are no exception.

With that in mind, make sure that your overview clearly communicates what you can do for the client, what problems you can solve for them, how you can save them more time and make them more money.

Those are the things clients care about.

Here’s an example of someone with an excellent, client-focused overview:

Upwork profile: client focused

This guy uses some variation of the word YOU seven times before he drops an I or a MY in his overview.

That’s the way to do it!

Note that he also uses a strong call to action at the end, which we’ll talk about more in a bit.

(Note: this guy is a copywriter. They usually have the best profiles on Upwork, as you’d expect from people who are in the business of persuasion. You can learn quite a lot by studying how the best-rated copywriters on there market themselves.)

5. Emphasize Benefits Before Features

If you build websites, you have to be aware that your clients don’t actually want a website.

Well, they do, but only as a means to an end, only as a feature that will bring them some benefit.

What is that end? What is that benefit?

What do they ultimately want?

If we assume that your client is a small business, their website is simply a way for them to do one or all of the following:

  • Generate more leads
  • Make more sales
  • Save time

That’s pretty much it.

And the same is true no matter what service you’re offering.

For example, if you’re an SEO writer, understand that your clients want high-quality articles that will bring them qualified traffic, which they can then monetize.

That’s the ultimate benefit they will receive.

One of the key things to communicate in your profile then is that you understand what the client ultimately wants, and that you can help them get it.

The aforementioned copywriter does a great job of communicating this:

Upwork profile: benefits

  • “boost your sales”
  • “cement your reputation”
  • “persuades your customers to buy.”

Those are all benefits the client can expect from working with this freelancer.

He goes on to list features:

Upwork profile: features

Listing features is good, too, but benefits should always come first.

6. Make Your Profile Easy To Read

Chances are yours is not going to be the only profile a client looks at while on the hunt for a freelancer.

More likely the client will be looking through at least a dozen others.

That’s a lot of reading.

As such, you want to make your profile easy to read.

Here’s a great example of a profile with lots of information without being overwhelming:

Upwork profile: easy to read

Note all the tricks this freelancer utilizes to make his profile more readable:

  • Short testimonials
  • Short paragraphs
  • Sub-headings
  • Bullet points
  • Some words capitalized for effect
  • Generous spacing between sections

Apply these same tactics to your profile so it’s easier to read.

(Note: that last profile is quite lengthy. Don’t worry about writing so much for your own overview. 300 words is usually plenty, including testimonials.)

7. Use Appropriate Keywords

Clients on Upwork can search for freelancers based on keywords, usually via this page.

As you’ll see if you try typing a few keywords into that search box, Upwork offers suggestions:

Upwork profile: WordPress search

Upwork profile: Writing search

Upwork profile: SEO search

Clients are likely to click on these suggestions, which means those are the keywords they are likely to be searching with.

And if you have those keywords in your title and overview, you’re more likely to show up high in the search results.

You’ll want to weave your keywords into your title and overview naturally. Two or three mentions of each target keyword is plenty. Don’t overdo it.

You can also utilize that “features list” idea we saw earlier to get some keywords into your overview:

Upwork profile: features

8. End With A Strong Call To Action

Place a strong call to action at the end of your overview.

We saw this in one of the earlier examples:

Upwork profile CTA

You might think there’s no need to do this, that it’s obvious what a client needs to do next if they want to hire you, but your goal here is to make it as easy and as thoughtless as possible for them to go ahead and contact you.

Don’t assume they’ll know the next step to take. Spell it out for them.

Quick Review

Here again are our eight keys to a killer Upwork profile:

  1. Write a client-friendly title
  2. Use a professional-grade photo
  3. Display testimonials
  4. Write a client-focused overview
  5. Emphasize benefits before features
  6. Make your profile easy to read
  7. Use appropriate keywords
  8. End with a strong call to action
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  1. Hello Niall,

    First of all, compliments for the wonderful job in running EBizfacts.com, you really nail many of the issues that people go thru while trying to make a career on their own. I read many of your posts on Upwork since I have decided I want to free myself from the boundaries of fixed schedule office work, and last week I finally registered. Once candidate freelancer I discovered other things about it, and I just wanted to know what your thoughts are on Upwork (recent, I was told) policy of the connects to apply for job and make proposals. I get their point, they want to be sure that one stays relevant and will not overapply with resumes on resumes, and thus it should work as a user guarantee, I guess.
    Nonetheless, I am kind of perplexed, cause I don’t find very ethical to ask money to people who are in the end looking for a job. Yes, one could say 0.15$ it’s not much for investing on ourselves, but (not mentioning I have a hunch lots of connects are needed before being hired, with all the competition up there) if you multiply that small amount for… I don’t know, let’s say 10.000 users applying for the various jobs, well… it seems to me the whole mechanism becomes quite a bargain. It was fine for me to let them have 20% off my hourly rate, perfectly legitimate, but I’m finding hard to buy these connect thing.

    Excuse me, it’s not intended to be a rant but I just wanted to express my point of view.



      1. Hi Niall,

        Thanks so much for your detailed review! Giving me pointers for all 8 keys in an easy to understand video. This’ll help me loads. I’m going to update my profile to incorporate your feedback. Definitely going to check out the “honest newbie” pitch template as well.

        Awesome stuff! I’ll keep you up-to-date of my progress.

  2. Hi Niall
    Thank you so much for asking to review profile. it will be my Pleasure to share my profile with you to review it and I will apply your suggested suggestion to it to enhance it.
    Here is my profile Link:
    Feel friendly to tell me all deep truth of what you are thinking about my profile without any hesitation because it is so important for me to get idea of how i can pretend from making mistakes.
    Thank you for your supports.
    Jay R.

    1. Hi Jay,

      Thanks for the comment.

      Some feedback and recommendations for you here: https://www.loom.com/share/c3228485c7434124a09945965c78e2f3

      I see that your hourly rate on your Upwork profile is set to $20/hour currently as well. That is probably too high. You will likely have more success experimenting with a lower rate. Take on small projects with a lower rate, do good work, get good reviews, then steadily raise your rate as you gain experience and reputation.
      Good luck!

      1. Hi Niall.
        Thank you for give me your time. I will surely apply this changes and will try more to improve my English.