Upwork is one of the top freelancing sites and so it is quite obvious everyone looking to be a freelancer is making an account on Upwork.
So they are rejecting profiles of such freelancers who aren’t adding any value to the Upwork marketplace. It is for the betterment of the other freelancers who are serious about being a freelancer.
1. Use Professional Email Address
As a freelancer, your email address is the first point of contact. If you are using a free email address like a @gmail.com or @hotmail.com, it shows you aren’t very serious about freelancing.
I have always shared a view every freelancer must have a blog or a website. Having a website and blogs has many advantages but one of the main advantages is you can have your own professional email address @yourdomain.com that can help you jump start your reputation on Upwork.
So the first thing you should do if your profile is rejected on Upwork is, change the email address from the free email to the professional email address.
If you are used to Gmail interface, you can use the same interface for your custom domain. In India the cost of GSuite is lower and only costs only ₹1500 per year for using @yourdomain in GSuite for business.
I always prefer using GSuite them for all my emails including @imtips.co / @shabbir.in or my emails for clients.
2. Job Title
Upwork gives more preference to the job title but often freelancers get it wrong. It isn’t the position of the company or the job title printed on the visiting card.
For visiting card job title: What Small Business Owners Job Title Be?.
A job title like “Project manager” or “Team Leader” can mean your profile is sure to get rejected on Upwork.
Try to provide a Job title that describe your expertise in one single sentence and which is neither too generic nor too specific.
If your title is too broad like a “consultant” or “marketing expert” it doesn’t help much. Similarly, if the title is too specific like “PPC Marketing Expert For Amazon Stores”, Upwork may think you aren’t interested in other kinds of jobs.
If you work in a technology or CMS, provide the title as “CMSNAME expert”. If the technology is too general or CMS is WordPress, be more specific like “WordPress Developer for Food Industry”.
This is a very important part of an Upwork profile but often freelancer gets this too short.
The overview allows 5000 characters about services you offer but often freelancers add the bare minimum which is 300 characters.
Writing more details about your services is very important to get your profile approved by Upwork.
In my overview, I have more than 4k characters.
The overview can separate a lurking freelancer with the one who is really serious about being a freelancer.
If you are serious about freelancing, take some extra time to write a detailed overview of what you do and how you can help clients grow their business.
You can even add a video to the overview though it isn’t mandatory adding a video about your services can make your profile stand out and have higher chances of getting approved.
4. Category and Skills
The next important aspect in an Upwork Profile is the category and subcategory of expertise.
You are free to choose up to 10 categories. Choose all of them to make sure you are more searchable by clients in the marketplace.
I don’t take up any client work in Sales and marketing but because I know about sales and marketing, I have it as a category for my profile.
Though you won’t rank very well in each of those categories but that shouldn’t stop you from adding those categories. If you see something you can work on, put it on your profile to let Upwork know your wide range of expertise.
Apart from categories, we have skills. Again one can add up to 10 skills and make sure you add each of those 10 skills.
Choose the one that you are best at first and then add rest of the skills.
Adding more skills is preferred but again remember you have to select skills that you know and not random. Like for a WordPress developer choosing PHP isn’t a bad option so is the Skill like CakePHP or CodeIgniter because though you may not be expert in those skills, but have a basic idea of them.
If you add a very different set of skills, Upwork may verify them with a test.
5. Skill Tests
Before submitting your profile for approval, make sure to take up few tests and try to pass them.
Even if you fail, there is no harm done as the test results can be selectively hidden from the profile.
It is a total win-win scenario for the freelancer because if you pass, it weighs high on the profile but if you don’t pass, there is no harm done. One can hide them temporarily and prepare the topic and take the test again after few days.
It is always recommended to take up few tests on Upwork to show your expertise on the subject.
6. Add Portfolio / Project
Add every project you have worked in the past that you can share your work with your portfolio.
If you are starting out and don’t have samples to showcase in portfolio – Here is a guide for new freelancers to build samples.
Take the time to write the project overview. Don’t be in a hurry to complete it.
Though the skills part of the project is optional make sure you add all the skills used in the project. It is the skill set that you may have will define how unique your expertise as a freelancer is in the Upwork marketplace.
Remember, we aren’t filling the Upwork profile but we are building the Upwork profile. So add lot more details than the mandatory fields to submit the form.
7. Education and Certifications
We all have some level of education and so it is always better to add all our education details.
Or if you have any extra certification please add them to certifications.
Or if you have taken any course on Udemy, you can add them either under certification or under other experience levels.
Let Upwork know everything you have done or can do.
One mistake I see freelancers often make is when entering their experience. They consider the freelancing experience whereas the experience in the Upwork profile is for the overall experience of the individual in the best set of his or her skills.
What I mean is – if you are a newbie in PHP development and an experienced C# developer. As a freelancer, you want to be working in PHP over C#. So if you choose PHP or WordPress as a skill for freelancing, you may be considered an “Entry Level” freelancer but if you choose C# as well as PHP and WordPress, you can be an “Intermediate” or an “Expert” level.
We aren’t providing any wrong or misleading information. It is the most experienced in a technology is selected as the primary skill though we prefer working in other technologies more as a freelancer.
We all have some employment to be added to the Upwork profile. If you haven’t done any job and is straight out of college, you can still mention the details of your training program in the final semester of college as employment history.
10. Link Other Accounts
Link your other accounts from other social networks and development site profile.
I am not sure why but Upwork doesn’t offer LinkedIn profile which is kind of more professional in nature but I think they consider LinkedIn as more of a competitive site than a social networking site.
11. Learn Un-common and Yet In demand skill
Having a new set of skills that aren’t very common is a very good way to get your profile approved on Upwork.
I am not asking to add those skills to your Upwork profile but what I mean is to learn those skills that can help you grab more clients easily as well as get the Upwork profile approved.
The best way to learn uncommon and yet in demand skill is to focus on niche freelancing.
Let me share an example. PHP is a broad niche but framework like Laravel or CakePHP aren’t so common. As a PHP framework developer if you can learn a new and upcoming framework like Phalcon which is not very common among freelancer and yet in demand as in 2018.
I already see 8 projects posted for Phalcon in PHP.
So a PHP developer with Phalcon as an expertise and skillset is more likely to be approved on Upwork.
12. Find client to hire you on Upwork
Upwork has a program called BYOF or Bring Your Own Freelancer for clients.
If you can find a client elsewhere like from your blog or via a reference or forum networking you can ask the client to invite you on Upwork and your profile can be approved instantly.
It means your profile and expertise has demanded to bring more clients.
13. Don’t create multiple profiles
If one of your profile is rejected, there are no chances it will be accepted the second time. In fact, it does mean all your profiles can be suspended.
Similarly if your Upwork profile has been suspended previously for violation of any terms and conditions, do not expect the new profile to get accepted.
If your account is suspended, it is totally different from profile being rejected. You can get rejected multiple times before a profile is approved but once it is suspended, there is very little that can be done then.
14. Be part of an Agency Account
Upwork has 2 types of accounts, Individual freelancer and Agency accounts. Inside agency accounts there can be numerous individual freelancers who work as business development for the agency.
If any of your friends have an Upwork agency profile, you can be part of his agency profile and get your account approved.
Remember the work you do may as a member of the agency may show on the agency profile and not on your individual profile. So beware of that.
Again this is not at all a recommended method but it is shared as it is also an option to get an Upwork profile approved. It is always better to get an individual freelancer profile.
Also read: Common Upwork Proposal Mistakes and My Upwork Proposal Sample and Template.
15. Look for alternative
If you have done everything as above, there are a very little chance things don’t work as expected but still if nothing works out, Upwork isn’t the end of freelancing world.
There are many other freelancing site to work with.