How to setup your Upwork profile

If you are a working professional, you might be thinking of ways to make more money while you work a 9-5 day job.  Enter Upwork, a freelancing site that allows you to use your skills and experience on various client projects with contracts. In this blog post, we will discuss how to start selling your services through Upwork and making money.


Table of Contents:

  1. Upwork fees and costs
  2. Writing an overview
  3. Setting your availability
  4. Adding your portfolio
  5. Skills & Upwork tests
  6. Certifications & experience
  7. Setting your rate

 

1. Upwork fees and costs

It’s easy to start bidding on jobs in Upwork.  Upwork uses a bid system, where you are allocated a certain number of connects (bids) every month.  You get 60 connects for a free Upwork account and 70 connects if you are a premium member (We will go into the differences between Upwork free and premium accounts in another post).

You will be able to choose whether you want to be a free or paid Upwork account member.  The premium version allows you 10 more connects as well as more information on the bids on particular jobs.  

Furthermore, Upwork does take a percentage of your profits as you work on projects.  For an idea of how this works, look at this chart:  

Image result for upwork fee structure

Here you can see the brackets are $0-$500, $500.01-$10,000, and $10,000+ where Upwork takes 20%, 10%, and 5% respectively.  Thus, it is in your best interest to keep a client connection for as long as possible.

2. Writing an overview

Now that we have an understanding of Upwork and their fee structure, let’s talk about how to make a great profile to attract clients.  One of the first things a potential client sees is your written overview, so it’s important to have a solid and persuasive argument for your skills.  

You will want to pick two or three of your top skills to create your title and your overview.  As you can see in the image, the first line of the overview hooks potential clients with a question.  Most clients read plenty of descriptions and they like to see something different from time-to-time.   The subsequent paragraphs can go into depth about your two to three top skills, but don’t write too much and make it unnecessarily long.  We will go more into the specifics of writing an amazing overview in another blog post, but suffice it to say, that this is one of the most important pieces to your profile.

3. Setting your availability

Whether or not clients contact you directly depends a lot on the availability and your previous work.  If your availability is minimal and you have few projects to your name, you will have a very hard time getting your first few clients unless you are lucky.  

I have set my availability to “As needed – open to offers” to show clients I’m open to their offers and proposals.  You could also put “More than 30 hrs/week” or “Less than 30 hrs/week” to show your availability.  Also if you want to quickly change your status, you can toggle your availability at the top.

4. Adding your portfolio

Another area that is crucial to obtain high quality clients, is your portfolio.  Obviously the more pieces of work you can point to, the better, but quality also plays a role.  A whole website redesign and development might be treated differently than a couple of copy edits by clients.  

If you don’t have that many work projects to showcase, a great idea to build up your portfolio is to code small projects with what you know (examples include html, js, css).  Adding these to a github repository can show potential clients that you are an active developer constantly honing your skills.   Another trick you should definitely take advantage of is making sure to update your portfolio to include the work that you are doing on Upwork.  This is kind of like a domino effect by building up your portfolio -> gaining more clients -> and then building up your portfolio again.   This can net you some constant work and money to boot.

5. Skills & Upwork tests

Your skills are another thing that may make you stand out from a crowd people with the same qualifications and space as you.  Make sure you don’t go overboard and place your most important skills, i.e. the skills you are trying to get paid for, in this section.  

Upwork used to be known as oDesk and they still have oDesk tests that you can take to show your proficiency in different areas such as English, Drupal, WordPress, etc.  These are great to have and showcase IF you do well on them.  Upwork does allow you to hide unfavorable scores if you do tank a test.  

These are amazing at showing clients what you can do, how fast you can do it, and how you rank against other freelancers.  So take some time to study and complete these tests as they could be the ticket to getting clients and making money.

6. Certifications & experience

The next sections allow you to set any certifications, work experience, and education you have.  These are pretty self explanatory, but can also serve as a basis to define what kind of freelancer you are to the client.   So make sure to fill them out and see if you can get more certifications as you go along to keep updating this section.  Certain certifications are very valuable in the Upwork space.  For example, AWS (Amazon Web Services) certifications are highly sought after as there are many AWS jobs and clients using AWS systems that need maintenance or support.

7. Setting your rate

Setting your rate could be the section that gives you angst or comfort, but it is important to think about how to set an effective rate.  When initially starting out without a lot of experience or even just not a lot of Upwork experience, it is good to start lower than your usual rate.   Clients will be turned off easily if you set a rate like $200/hr without any experience.  From their perspective, they see an unqualified freelancer who can’t justify their own (self-appointed) rate.  To be able to charge those higher rates, you should show clients that you have a variety of Upwork jobs under your belt and/or tons of knowledge and experience in your portfolio section.   There are many freelancers who still haven’t received their first job or made a dollar on Upwork.  The key is to make yourself standout, follow best-practices, and apply apply apply to jobs with your connects.  Once you have setup your profile, you can start bidding on projects, so good luck!

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This post was written by Ajay Alkondon

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