UpWork Guide for Freelancers

How to make money on UpWork - a guide

If you're actively looking for work, you've definitely heard of UpWork. To get a good start as a freelancer on this platform, you need to have some prior knowledge.

Below you'll find practical tips on how to create a powerful freelancer profile, optimize your visibility on the platform, apply for jobs, and land your first contract.

Why you should start freelancing on UpWork

UpWork is one of the largest freelancing platforms today. With millions of freelancers and hundreds of thousands of clients, the platform aims to become the new labor marketplace. For aspiring freelancers as well as experienced freelancers looking to diversify their presence, the platform is highly relevant.

How UpWork works

UpWork is an intermediary. The platform connects clients with projects that are looking for freelancers who can fulfill their needs.

As a freelancer, you can apply through Connects and send your letter requesting work.

The project creator must then sort through the applications and conduct interviews. During the interview, the client and freelancer can agree on the parameters of the contract to be signed. These may include: duration, services to be provided, due dates, remuneration, fixed or hourly rate, and others.

The client then sends the freelancer an appropriate proposal. Eventually, the freelancer accepts the proposal and completes the task for which he or she was hired.

Upon completion of the work, the freelancer hands over the finished product to the customer, and the latter transfers the money. At this point, the cooperation can end. As an evaluation, both parties leave feedback in their profiles.

The archetype of a good freelancer profile on UpWork

The ideal freelancer profile on UpWork is what freelancers are trying so hard to achieve and what customers are hoping to find. Some are trying to create profiles that will interest clients. Others are trying to find service providers whose profiles perfectly match the selection criteria.

As important as it is for customers to know how to recognize a good freelancer profile, it's just as important for workers to determine what improvements are needed in their own profiles.

Badges on UpWork

On UpWork, freelancer profiles are labeled with badges. These are distinguishing features that distinguish standard profiles from experienced or exceptional freelancers. There are a total of 4 badges that every client should learn to recognize and try to capitalize on:

  • Rising Talent: this green badge is an indicator that the freelancer has a good profile and seems to have good potential. These are usually freelancers who have already won contracts and received positive feedback after completing assignments.
  • Top Rated: The top-rated are more experienced freelancers who have already won small contracts (less than $5,000) and have earned more than $1,000 in the last 12 months. In total, about 12% of freelancers on UpWork will be eligible for this badge.
  • Top-Rated Plus: These are the top-rated freelancers. They already have excellent reviews on large projects (over $5,000) and have earned over $10,000 in 12 months. They make up the top 3% of freelancers on UpWork.
  • Expert-Vetted: these experts are elite freelancers who have been selected by other experts and professional recruiters. Their experience is evaluated so that clients can approach them with complete peace of mind. They make up less than 1% of freelancers on the platform.

How to create a powerful freelancer profile on UpWork

Now that we know what a "good freelancer profile on UpWork" looks like, it's worth explaining how to get one. For an aspiring freelancer, optimizing your profile is one of the most important steps to getting new contracts and starting your career.

The basic elements of a good profile on UpWork:

Freelancer Profile

A freelancer profile is a modern form of resume. On UpWork, as on other platforms, it should include some key elements to catch the attention of recruiters and gain credibility. These include a presentation, portfolio, proof of previous experience, certifications, and testimonials and references from former clients.

Powerful presentation

Consisting of a profile title, a photo and descriptive text - this is the first thing a client will see when they read your profile. The headline should sufficiently describe your main services (ENG-FR translator / GOLANG Dev / Procreate illustrator / etc.).

The description in less than 200 words should summarize the main benefits of working with you. This is where you should give the client the impression that they have found a service provider who understands what they need. Finally, always include a professional photo with your profile. A serious photo that can be featured on both your LinkedIn profile and your traditional resume.


Whatever type of freelancing you do, you should have a portfolio. These can be personal projects or projects done on behalf of former clients (as long as you are authorized to share them). The purpose of a portfolio is to show that you have already worked on a certain type of project. In other words, it is a way to prove that you are not a hundred percent new to the profession.


Certifications are another way to demonstrate your experience. Adobe certification is useful for proving that you are proficient in graphic tools and software such as Photoshop, Illustrator, or Première, for example. Google or Facebook certifications related to advertising campaigns increase your credibility with a client looking for a specialist.

However, it should be noted that some categories of professionals may not have certifications. That said, UpWork allows you to import certifications from Credly, add them manually, or enter your own certifications.

Reviews and testimonials

Do you already have clients outside of UpWork? You can ask them to leave reviews on your profile. These testimonials serve as initial reviews when you haven't yet received assignments on the platform. You can add them manually with the information needed to contact the references.

Which jobs on UpWork are worth applying for and which ones should you avoid

When you study a job description on UpWork, you get access to a wide range of information about the customer. At a glance, you'll know what the job is about, what the customer's expectations are, the category of service, and the country of origin. You need to pay attention to three things:

  1. Is the means of payment verified? If not, it's possible the customer has never spent a penny on UpWork. This is usually a bad sign.
  2. Does the client have reviews from previous freelancers? If it has bad reviews, take the time to read reviews from freelancers who have worked for this client. You will know what to expect.
  3. How many people have already applied and when was the job posted? If the job has been around for a few months or many freelancers have already applied for it, there's a good chance you won't be able to stand out from the crowd.

How to use connects on UpWork

To apply for a job, you need connects. Clients can determine how many connects they need to apply to filter candidates. Typically, the cost ranges from 1 to 6 connects depending on the job.

However, as a freelancer, you can increase your application by spending more connects than you need when you apply. For example, for a job that only requires 4 connects, you might spend 12 or even over 100 to get to the top of the list. UpWork also lets you see how much other freelancers have spent so you can see where you stand.

Spending more connects does not guarantee that your bid will be accepted by a client. It is better to raise your bid only when you are already sure that you are a great fit for the job.

Note that if you don't make it to the top 3 bids after raising, you will be refunded for the extra connects.

Bad experiences on UpWork

Freelancers on UpWork sometimes complain about bad experiences. Besides the hyper-competitive nature of the platform, difficulties with promotion and disputes with customers, there are a few other unpleasant moments.

Scams on UpWork

It will come as no surprise to anyone that scammers are rife on freelancing platforms. Job seekers are vulnerable prey to a large number of scammers. However, the most insidious form is the middlemen who post offers and ask candidates to provide an "example" to get the job.

It is preferable to provide examples of similar jobs you already have. And if you are offered an unpaid test, only accept it if it is already listed in the job description. Ideally, all freelancers should have the same test.

Account deletion

It may not be that common, but it can happen. Freelancers can fall victim to more serious scams. Some unscrupulous platform users, for example, create particularly high-paying offers. They hire freelancers and pay them with dirty money.

If such a violation is discovered, the freelancer can be permanently banned from UpWork without any real recourse. Even if he is unaware of the fraud. It should be noted that all funds are blocked, including rewards from other freelance assignments on behalf of other clients.


UpWork is a good platform for aspiring freelancers. Here they can gain experience and acquire useful skills for the future. It is also a great platform for experienced freelancers with specialized and in-demand skills. They will find opportunities to work with big companies and can use it as a lever to grow their freelancing career.



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