Setting up your profile on Upwork - Advice from a graphic designer who makes $100/hour

 
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I’ve heard both good and bad things about the freelancing platform, Upwork. I believe them all to be true. You can have good or bad experiences, but for me, Upwork represents a good solution to the lack of reasonably-paid graphic design positions on Prince Edward Island.

When I first moved to Canada, I couldn’t find a job. I eventually found one at The Guardian, but it only paid 15/h, and that just didn't cut it. I make more money than any other graphic designer on this Island, and this is because I have found work and great clients on Upwork.

Like anything else, the process of being a successful freelancer was challenging. I am charging 100 USD/hr, but I worked my ass off to get here. So, no, this is not an article about how to get clients, and you will not be a top-rated designer on Upwork in a week or two. It takes time.

This article is not for you if you are there to "test the waters"! Maybe you applied for 30 jobs, and you didn't hear back from anybody, and you just gave up?! Try again and follow my guide on how to, over time, get more freelance jobs on Upwork.

Let's start with the basics.

You decided to be on Upwork, and you are going to try to make some money.

The first step is to set up your profile:

PROFILE PICTURE

Your profile picture is fundamental because it is the first visual interaction with your clients. This is your opportunity to help your client trust you and connect with you. Your profile picture should be good quality and high resolution, and you should be smiling!

TITLES

This section is so powerful because it is the first thing a client will read about you and your services. Focus on exactly what you are offering in one sentence. Think of this as your “elevator pitch”. For instance, my title is "Infographic/Data visualization/Presentations/Layout Design." Notice how I am not saying something like: “I do infographic design, data visualization, presentations and layout design."? Avoid using a long sentence, and focus on keywords.

You should specialize and focus on one type of job starting out. For instance, maybe do infographics for a while, until you get awarded a few jobs and then eventually take on more jobs in other categories once you develop your track record.

ADDING A VIDEO

Most freelancers ignore this part, but I find it very useful because it is an opportunity to show that you are a real person and you know what you are talking about! Because of the online environment, it is hard to establish a real connection so a video might help you create a virtual connection. Be friendly, yet professional and talk about how you can help your clients.

SET UP YOUR PORTFOLIO

This part can be time consuming but trust me; you will only see good results if you spend the time to present your work in the best light possible.

Your clients will most definitely check out this section. Draw their attention by showcasing your best work and the value you can bring to their business.

CERTIFICATIONS AND SKILLS

Upwork has is beautiful way to prove to the world that your skills are legitimate, and your skills are at the level you claim to be. You can either add a list of certifications you received outside Upwork, or you can take Upwork tests that prove your knowledge.

PROFILE DESCRIPTION

In your profile description, you are not only trying to convince clients to work with you, but you can take advantage of it to make sure the work that comes to you fits your style and work ethic. Maybe you prefer creating minimalist work, or perhaps you only work on Instagram profiles; take the opportunity to express that on your profile.

EMPLOYMENT HISTORY

Think about this as a part of your resume. You can copy and paste from your resume, but keep in mind that you should only add relevant past work. Don't add all your work history for the sake of filling the space.

Add your responsibilities and accomplishments for jobs that Upwork clients might be interested in.

EDUCATION AND OTHER DETAILS

I don't think this part is too important, but it can be if you have studied in the same field you are working. Enter your education background if it is related to the field of work you are doing on Upwork. I studied journalism and advertising, but I am working as a graphic designer. It does show that I have knowledge of advertising and I am good with words, but this is in my native language, so I am not sure if it matters.

Fill out the volunteer background section to show that you are generous and see the value in caring for others and being selfless. Volunteering is essential because it can show you are not selfish and you are a caring person.  If you’ve won relevant awards, list them on your profile!

Setting up your profile on Upwork can take days.Don’t rush into it. Make sure it looks good, it is client orientated and it is fully filled.

I created a checklist for when you decide to start creating your profile on Upwork. This list contains tricks and tips I used for my own profile. I am not claiming to be Upwork expert, I am simply sharing things that worked for me.