I’ve been on Upwork for years now. In fact, it’s where I started making my first money online as a freelance writer. But it wasn’t until 1.5 years ago that I took it seriously, improved my profile, increased my monthly income, and became Top Rated.
In this guide, I wanna share the things I did differently. All of them are doable. So whoever you are, you can become one of the top rated freelancers.
There aren’t any secrets of the trade, you don’t need to do things against your will or work twice as hard. These are just some little adjustments you’ll need to make to get positive feedback, have a stunning profile, and contribute to the platform with your quality work and good personality.
How to Become Top Rated on Upwork
1. I finally filled out that profile.
Success on Upwork would be impossible without sharing it all on your profile once and for all. While some go the extra mile and add a video, or beg their clients for feedback, or list everything they ever did in their description, I don’t think that’s necessary.
You can have a great Upwork profile while still staying true to yourself. In fact, to do this right, you’ll need to be authentic.
Here’s how mine looks right now:
Let’s talk about each element separately. Here’s what I changed about my profile in the last year or so:
Added a better picture.
I’m not a fan of making pictures, although I do need a few more professional ones for business purposes. But I did change my profile image on Upwork. I also think they had certain requirements and you really need a decent one to meet them.
Fixed my description.
I had to become a bit of a copywriter for that. I did a thorough research and to be honest, most of the tips are similar to how you’ll go about creating your Portfolio page on your website. I just updated mine these days, by the way.
It’s worth setting aside a few days to outline the text you want to have on your profile. Especially if you too are a writer, as this will be the first piece of content people will see.
My tips are:
- Be yourself;
- Share who you are and what you do;
- Don’t make it too short or too long;
- Add a personal touch (so clients can feel your personality);
- Keep it friendly;
- List the qualities and things you did before that are relevant to the name you’re trying to build on Upwork;
- See what some Top Rated freelancers in your niche have written there (don’t copy, just use this as guidance).
Raised my hourly rate.
There’s no right or wrong when pricing in the freelance world. But freelancers, in general, tend to underprice their work. Truth is, I raised all my prices recently and that led to doubling my income. Will talk about this in details in a future post.
For now, just keep in mind that even though there’s a ton of competition out there, people want to see you value your work and time. Once you do, they will respect you more and will value these too.
Added my new location.
Now, I know this can’t be the case for everyone reading, but it was for me and it’s part of what I did differently that eventually led to being found by more clients on Upwork.
See, I’m originally from Bulgaria. But after making enough from freelancing and this blog and becoming location independent, I relocated to Amsterdam, Netherlands. That’s because I’m also a lifestyle designer and chose to live in my ideal destination.
That happened 2 years ago, but I had many documents and details to fix in the new country so I wasn’t in a hurry to change my contact details everywhere online. I finally did it on Upwork, though. Then added Amsterdam as my location there and also mentioned it in the description. It definitely is a better thing to see on a freelancer’s profile than my home country.
Since then, more dutch clients started reaching out. That’s part of my strategy to promote myself and my freelance writing services as based in Amsterdam, which might bring local clients.
Added Employment History.
I did that just in the beginning of 2018, actually, after I registered Let’s Reach Success as a company with the Chamber of Commerce in Amsterdam. I also added my new VAT given by the Tax Service. Upwork finally approved it (which wasn’t the case with my VAT number back from Bulgaria).
So in Employment History, I added Founder of Let’s Reach Success.
I refused to add any previous experience before, but that’s part of my lifestyle design philosophy as I only like to keep what matters to me.
2. Start getting feedback.
I’m not gonna lie to you. Feedback on Upwork is a big deal, especially if you’re on your way to becoming Top Rated.
The very first thing you should do, though, is start asking for it. Not begging, or insisting. But simply leaving feedback to clients when a job is completed successfully and then telling them you did it. You can follow up after a few days. That itself is a reminder.
Keep in mind that most clients have too much going on and don’t really care about feedback. But if you remind them, they’ll dedicate that minute or two to leaving you a positive review. That will then appear on your profile.
3. Respond every time.
A big mistake I was making as an Upwork freelancer is not accepting or rejecting interview invitations right away and not answering clients a few hours after they texted me.
That’s because I didn’t take Upwork too seriously. I then realized response time was a big part of whether or not a freelancer can become a Rising Talent and then Top Rated.
How you communicate with people on the platform is crucial for your reputation.
By being polite and friendly, for example, you’ll make sure you don’t get negative feedback. By being honest and direct, you’ll always set the right expectations for a project and get paid on time.
And by answering soon after someone has shown interest in your application, you show that you are engaged. Those notifications you get in your email about interview Invitations, even if they aren’t a good fit for your skills, should be taken care of as soon as possible. That means you’ll click on the link, check out the job description, and accept or decline the offer.
4. Get familiar with the Upwork rating system.
To actually become Top Rated, you’ll need to know the exact requirements. Reading them once isn’t always enough to truly understand them, as each of them means you’ll need to take certain actions.
For example, to get that Top Rated badge, you need this:
So, ask yourself:
Do you know enough about Job Success Score and how it’s calculated?
Are you actually active on the platform (sending proposals, etc.) or are you just waiting for things to happen?
Have you made $1000 in the last year?
Have you set your availability?
But, first things first.
5. You should become a Rising Talent first.
I like how selective the Upwork admins are. Honestly, I didn’t think I’ll make it to a Top Rated freelancer, as it seemed too much of a hassle. But once you become a Rising Talent, it gets easier.
Once you get that status, you also receive your Rising Talent badge and start standing out to clients. You then get included in a premium talent pool, which means you get access to the top clients.
That, however, happens by email invitation. If you keep doing a good job, send proposals often, actually make money on the platform and receive positive feedback, follow the rules and never have suspicious activity, etc., you will get that special link in your email.
Here’s a bit more about becoming a Rising Talent.
6. I never violated the rules.
Some people really are in it for the money. So they don’t like paying the service fee for Upwork and might try to make clients email them or contact them outside of the site. But that’s not how it works.
Once you’re using Upwork to find employers and build a name for yourself as a freelancer, you should respect the marketplace.
It’s worth paying the fee as it gives you the connections. It allows you to use their system and find reliable clients. And you can get paid safely and quickly. Which is never sure outside of a site like Upwork.
7. I don’t start working on a project unless I know I’ll do a good job.
For success on Upwork, you’ll need to get hired often, communicate with the client all the time, deliver quality work, get paid on time, and leave each other feedback. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
But what most freelancers do wrong is they apply for a ton of jobs without even reading the descriptions thoroughly or personalizing their pitch. But no client (except for the one you really don’t need in your life) would respond for that.
It’s not about using all your connects monthly, but about finding the jobs that seem like a good fit for you and applying. Then, you can be confident when messaging the client. The least that will happen is they will respond to ask additional questions. From then on, it’s about setting the right expectations, showing you have a vision for the project, and sharing with them how exactly you will do a good job.
How is all this connected to becoming Top Rated on Upwork? Well, you’ll get hired more often, will make more money, will be communicating with clients all the time. That means you’re a hard-working freelancer and that’s what the admins are looking for when giving away Rising Talent badges.
So, that’s how you get a Top Rated status. These tips are practical and something I really worked on to turn into a habit. It’s easy to just randomly apply for jobs and not follow up. But that won’t change your Job Success score.
The Benefits of Becoming a Top Rated Freelancer
Imagine a life where clients come to you. Where you get hired more often than usual. Where you let your work and your profile speak for themselves. Where you’re considered talented and everyone on the platform respects you. Where you’re given the ability to remove negative feedback from your profile. Where admins are giving you personalized tips and jobs in your email to help you land even more clients.
That’s the life of a freelancer who’s Top Rated on Upwork. And that can be you.