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I’m going to tell you the most important things you need to focus on when it comes to making your Upwork profile a client-conversion machine.
Why you should listen to me: In my first 3 years on Upwork, I made over $1,000,000 in Upwork earnings (today it’s almost $2,000,000). At one point I was Upwork’s #1 highest-earning freelancer worldwide.
I’ve been there, I’ve done it, and I speak from a lot of experience across hundreds of Upwork contracts.
No matter whether you’ve made $1k or $100K, you need an awesome Upwork profile, because both your earnings and how fast you grow your Upwork income depend on it.
The easiest path: download our Free Upwork Profile Optimization Worksheet, and watch this video.
Show clients the results they want
When I first started, my Upwork profile was so bad – it was a copy-paste of my LinkedIn Profile. It was bland, it was long, it didn’t do anything for the people I wanted to attract as Upwork clients. I didn’t even realize it was holding me back… until I went for weeks without winning Upwork jobs.
I was wondering what was wrong: why are all these other people able to win clients and make so much money on Upwork, but not me?
So I did a bit of digging. I started searching around and looking at other people’s profiles.
That’s when I had a magical “Aha” moment. I discovered that the people making the most money on Upwork don’t really talk about themselves in their Upwork profiles. They talk about their clients!
So here’s the mind-shift you need to make before you write a single word on your Upwork profile:
Some of the most effective Upwork profiles of high-earning freelancers focus on the results achieved for clients. When writing an Upwork profile, one of the best things you can do is assume that the only thing the client cares about is the results you can achieve for them.
Today, some of the clients I’ve worked with over the years are some of the coolest people I’ve ever met. I care about them and they care about me. But I can assure you, our relationship did NOT start off that way. When we first met, my clients didn’t know me from Adam, and they could not have cared less about me.
The same goes for you, and here’s what you need to internalize: when Upwork clients are looking through a list of potential people to work with on their project, they DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOU. You need to assume the only thing that an Upwork client cares about is, WIIFM:
What’s in it for me?
They don’t care about your current job, your career, or where you went to school.
All they care about are RESULTS. WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR ME, RIGHT NOW?
If you tailor your entire Upwork profile strategy around the premise that clients are 100% self-interested, you will be successful on Upwork.
Use Upwork Search to gather clues on what clients want
When used correctly, Upwork search can give you a leg up on learning what will help you speak to your best clients.
Answer these questions, and you’ll be able to tell you if you truly know what your ideal freelance client wants:
- What is their job title?
- What size of business do they own / work for? How many employees, roughly? How much money does the business make?
- In which cities are your best clients located?
- What are their demographics? Male / female / age range / do they have kids?
- Which unique words do they use to describe the job you do?
- How would they describe their three biggest problems?
If you can’t answer those questions extremely confidently, then you need to use Upwork Search.
Upwork Job search can you help gather clues to freelance client pain points, the qualities they’re looking for in a freelancer, and specific terminologies they use in job descriptions that will help you better identify them.
Pay close attention to the terminologies that clients keep using to describe your job: do they call it a “Mobile App” or a “Mobile Application”? Do they have specific technologies they need you to use? Write down any unique terms that would only appear in a job you can do – these will probably be words you’ll want to use when creating your Upwork profile, and when you set up your saved searches.
Look for specific tech terms & specific platforms that you see that keep popping up in your niche, for example:
- Marketing Automation: HubSpot, ActiveCampaign, InfusionSoft, Zoho, Zapier
- App Dev: Node.js, C++, etc.
- Web Dev: Wordpress, Elementor
- Consulting: McKinsey, McK, Bain, BCG
- Accounting: CPA is bad. Xero, Quickbooks, QBO, Wave, Sage etc. are good
- Financial Planning: SBA, CRE, LBO, DD
- Advertising Copywriting: maybe target “methods” – Storybrand, Oren Klaff or Neil Patel. Maybe ClickFunnels or Leadpages
The Upwork search terms you want to target are not about the work that you do. It’s about the results that your clients get from it.
Test your assumptions by writing down specific terms that keep popping up, and see what the results are. Are you getting closer or farther from the types of jobs you want? Mark the good ones on your worksheet.
Research what successful freelancers are doing
Repeat the same research on the talent side to see what the highest-earning freelancers are doing.
Take your top search terms & search for Talent.
WARNING: Do not copy other freelancers’ profiles – you will get banned from Upwork.
Look for commonalities among the most successful Upwork freelancers’ profiles in your niche. Write down specific words and tactics you notice that resonate with what you want to do.
How do I find the most successful Upwork freelancers?
Want to go even deeper and find the people that are really successful right now? Do the math.
Go to the top 10 highest-earning people in your niche, and add up their Upwork earnings from the last 12 months. Some Upwork freelancers may have made a lot of money, but started 10 years ago. But other freelancers might have started more recently and made $100,000 in their first year on Upwork – that’s the person who is GROWING – try and figure out what they’re doing that’s so special!
For those successful freelancers, something is clearly working for them – some of those same things will help you to get the Upwork algorithm working in your favor too.
While you’re at it, you’ll also want to look at the rest of their profiles for inspiration, including their Upwork Profile photo, Work Examples, Headline and Profile Description.
The best Upwork profile photo takes only 3 minutes
Some people out there say “you need to have a professional photo taken,” or “that “you need to buy expensive photography gear.”
Let’s get one thing straight: You do NOT need glamour shots. You’re not going on the cover of Vogue. In fact, you shouldn’t even edit your profile photo, because Upwork will likely reject your photo if you do.
To take a great Upwork profile photo, you need:
- Good lighting
- A white wall for a background
- A smartphone with a camera
- Look at the camera and smile
Sure – professional photos are nice, but they are NOT required. It’s simple: Look like a professional and you’ll get hired more, at higher rates.
Write a compelling Upwork profile description
Compelling Upwork profile descriptions answer a specific question for a specific client – and you’ll do it better than anyone else.
The best thing you can do is lean into the things that are frustrating / giving headaches / causing business chaos to YOUR IDEAL CLIENTS…
…about their projects, for example: “Do you know what you want for your [project] but don’t know where to start? Don’t want to endlessly struggling with what could be a simple solution in [achieving your goal]?”
…or even about trying to find a freelancer to work with: “Want a [your job role] who actually knows what they’re doing, and won’t overcharge you? Who will simplify your life, instead of making you feel dumb?“ Messy code.“
In general, the best Upwork profiles speak directly to a specific client’s problems & issues starting with the first line of the description.
What should I write in my Upwork profile?
- Focus on your client’s problem
- Use specific examples of results you’ve achieved for clients (KPIs, stats or growth figures)
- You have roughly 5,000 characters worth of real estate in your profile description. Use it.
- Bullet points are fantastic for organization
- Emojis can work, but don’t go overboard
- Use key terms in a natural way, but don’t keyword stuff
Incorporate KPIs that show you deliver results
So many people will say “I’m the best writer, I’m a dedicated and hard-working person!”
…but are you the writer that can deliver 1000% return on adspend on your ad copy?
…are you the marketing expert that can deliver me 3x more qualified leads from your process?
…are you the web developer who can get me double the conversions on my e-commerce website?
Prove the results you can deliver as best you can, using hard numbers & stats to showcase the results you bring to clients that work with you.
The results you show off in your profile can come from past client work you’ve done, personal projects you’ve built out, and even from work you’ve done outside of Upwork.
Show off your best work examples
Since you’ve already done your research and know what an awesome work example looks like, you now know what you need to create if you want to be as good as, if not better than the rest.
If you’re struggling to find something awesome to show off, then google “best [your niche] companies” and check out the work that the top companies in your niche are showing clients. You can also check Dribbble for examples of awesome design for your profile work examples.
Aim for at least three truly great work examples, and you’ll be in a good place to start.
“100% Completion” isn’t enough
When an Upwork client sees your profile, whether it’s in search or through a proposal you’ve submitted, they’re going to get a bunch of additional information. Make sure that none of it is repetitive!
Must-reads while you’re fixing your profile
- The 31 Best Freelance Apps
- Freelance MVP Media Coverage & Events
- Upwork Revenue, User, and Growth Statistics (2023)
- How to Freelance on Upwork (and Make Money) in 8 Steps
- Upwork Connects Are 97% Pay-To-Freelance
Audit yourself. Be ruthless – because clients will too. Just because Upwork tells you that you have a “100% complete” Upwork profile, does not mean that it will win you clients! You can always take it up to the next level with a profile video, testimonials and adding your certifications.
Never forget that your Upwork profile is a living thing – if you want to keep growing, then it has to grow with you.
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