How to Make a Winning Upwork Profile - Self-Made Web Designer

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How to Make a Winning Upwork Profile

Chris Misterek

I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of success on Upwork.

In fact, a few years back when Upwork decided to go public I was a featured freelancer in their Time Square ad campaign.

To be clear I’m not a branding guru or logo designer. I’m a web designer BUT who cares! My face was plastered all over Time Square!

Over the years I’ve been able to fine-tune my approach to Upwork and make it a well-oiled machine for consistent leads.

These days, I don’t even have to bid on jobs. I get so many requests for interviews that I take my pick of the best ones.

For me, a lot of that success can be attributed to a solid profile. I’ve gotten jobs solely based on how my profile was set up. How do I know? The client told me.

So, here’s a few things I’ve found that can help you make a winning Upwork profile.

  1. An Awesome Headshot

    Your headshot is the front door to you as a freelancer. And, if your front door looks like a scene out of a scary movie you shouldn’t question why you’re not getting any interviews.

    There have been multiple studies that have found when a user first visits a site their eyes move in an F pattern across the page.

    So, for your profile it would look something like this:
    An Upwork Profile

    If step 1 in the journey is a big, “NO!” from a potential client it doesn’t matter what anything else looks like.

    Here are a few tips to master the headshot even if you’re using your phone

    1. Use a good backdrop. You’re trying to make this look like you didn’t take the photo on your phone next to your bathroom.

    That’s not to say you CAN’T use your phone and stand next to the bathroom. You just have to make sure it doesn’t look that way.

    So, a nice neutral background works well if nothing else. Just be intentional.

    2. Edit the photo. Our phones have so many cool features these days. There’s no excuse to have a bad photo on your profile.

    Utilize the “depth of field” setting where your face is the focal point and everything else is blurred out.

    Download a good editing app like Adobe Lightroom and mess with the presets. It doesn’t have to be an award-winning photo. You just have to try!

    3. Have someone else take the photo. Seems pretty straight forward right? I see so many headshots with peoples arms extended to the camera revealing the fact that their headshot was, in fact, a selfie.

    How easy is it to ask someone to take a picture for you? A friend, a family member, heck if we’re close shoot me an email and I’ll do it for you!

    4. Look good. Take a shower before the photo. Do your hair. Smile.

  2. An Awesome Description

    I get it. It’s tough to talk about yourself. But, this is a high priority.

    You’ve got to figure out a way to be authentic, relatable and sound awesome all at the same time. AND, truthfully the majority of the potential clients looking at your profile will not make it past the “…more” button.

    So, let me introduce you to the Upwork elevator pitch. It’s similar to a regular elevator pitch but it’s got a twist.

    The important thing to remember here is that the majority of your clients will not hire you because of qualifications. I see so many freelancers with a laundry list of all the dev languages they’re familiar with and design software they know how to use.

    This is absolutely the wrong way to do it.

    People don’t buy things primarily because of the features of a product. People buy because they can envision a better life with the thing they’re purchasing.

    You are the product in this scenario. So, help your potential clients see how their life will be better as a result of hiring you.

    Will you make the process easy? Will you help them get the sales they’ve always hoped for on their site?

    Those are the questions you want to answer. So, the Upwork elevator pitch is less about the who and the what and much more about the why.

    Focus on that when you’re writing it.

  3. Set Up Your Portfolio

    Once people get to know you with your headshot and description they’re going to want to see your work displayed.

    There are two ways to do this on Upwork. You can either have a general portfolio not connected to any projects you’ve done within the platform OR you can have projects connected to the work you’ve been paid for on Upwork.

    My suggestion DO BOTH. Do as much as you can. Fill the thing up until there’s no more room left.

    Potential clients will click and click through all of your work. The more chances you have to show them something similar to what they’re looking for the better.

    It’s tough for people to connect the dots sometimes. I’ve had so many clients tell me the reason they chose me was that they saw something in my portfolio that reflected what they were looking for.

    The reality is I know I can give a client what they’re looking for even if I don’t have a similar project in my pocket. BUT, they don’t know that. So, it’s my job to bridge the gap between what they want and what they see in ME.

    Some of you right now might be saying, “BUT, my portfolio is tiny!” OR “I’m just getting started.”

    NO FEAR! I’ve written about that very issue in another blog post: “How to Wow Your Clients Even With a Tiny Portfolio”

  4. The Video

    The video option is one of the most underused features of the Upwork profile. BUT, it’s one of the best ways to connect with your client and help them see what it would be like to work with you.

    I’ve literally gotten an $8k job from my Upwork profile video. Like the client said, “I’m hiring you because of your video.”

    And, here’s the deal, I did the thing from my laptop with the computer camera and microphone.

    You’re not a Hollywood producer and clients don’t expect that from you. Having a clear video with a little music in the background can go a long way.

    Make sure to script out what you’re going to say before you go into it and don’t settle for a bad take. You can do it as often as you like before anyone sees it!

  5. Add a Location

    I’ve gotten interviews solely based on the fact that I was close to the client. So, don’t leave this puppy out.

    You might be saying, “But, I’m in an area of the world that people might look down upon where I live.”

    I get the fear in that and honestly, I think someone’s dumb if they don’t hire you just because you’re from a certain part of the world.

    BUT, here’s the thing: I can tell when someone is lying about their location. See, I’ve been a client on Upwork as well as a freelancer.

    I’ve looked at profiles and been able to pick out whenever someone is lying about their actual location or added some fake headshot that’s actually a stock photo.

    Trust me, it’s not difficult.

    So, be honest. When I see those things it’s an immediate dismiss from me. I’d rather you be honest about your situation than make up some fake story about who you are.

  6. Be Selective On Skills

    You’d think the best thing to do would be to list every possible thing someone might want to hire you for in your skills section. You’d be wrong.

    I’m sure there’s a lot of things you CAN do but you need to focus on a few specific things.

    When I first got started I had spent a lot of time working on a wordpress Plugin/Theme called Optimize Press. So, even though it’s a really obscure skill to list I added it to my bundle.

    Sure enough, the first few jobs I got were all using Optimize Press.

    See, people aren’t looking for someone who is a jack of all trades. They’re looking for someone that is good at the specific thing they are looking to have done.

    For the people that hired me, they wanted an expert in Optimize Press.

    For you, it might be something else. BUT, bottom line, it doesn’t help to list anything and everything that you can do.

  7. Tell Them a Bit About You Personally

    After you’ve done all that feel free to tell your potential clients a bit about who you are outside of being a web designer.

    There’s a section at the bottom where you can list employment, hobbies, education, etc. You might not think it’s a big deal. BUT, it can be.

    Some clients want to feel like they’re connected to you. There’s no way to do that if all they know about you is your skills as a web designer.

    So, use this as an opportunity to present yourself as an approachable human being.

    Listen, some people won’t care about this section. And, that’s fine. Those people probably won’t make it down that far through your profile anyways.

    But, some people will.

    I had a client hire me because he saw that I went to a University in Dallas, TX.

    That really has nothing to do with my skill as a web designer. BUT, amongst the other freelancers I was competing against, it’s what set me apart.

    So, use that opportunity to share a bit about yourself in order to make a personal connection with all of your potential clients


The bottom line is, be as intentional as you can and try to think about your profile from the perspective of your client.

If you were hiring someone on Upwork what things would you want to know about the freelancer before you decided to give them the project?

After all, this is kind of a scary thing. You’re giving money to someone you’ve never actually met in person. It could either go really well or really badly!

Help ease their worries and make a winning Upwork profile by doing everything I’ve outlined here.

Hopefully, you feel a little bit more confident about your profile as an Upwork freelancer. And, remember you can make tweaks and adjustments to see what really works.

You’re not locked out of editing your description after the first try. If you’re running into a slow season try making some adjustments to your profile. Test to see if it makes a difference.

Okay! I’d love to see them. Link your Upwork profile below and let’s give each other some feedback. 

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