Freelance platforms are a great way to find work, but after signing up, don't rush to complete your profile. Think about it: you are one of the millions of freelancers registered on several sites. If your profile is incomplete, hard to read, or poorly designed, your potential clients will move on to the next freelancer.
Creating a hasty profile is dangerous: you don't put your name on something without making sure it's perfect. Some sites, including Upwork, help you stand out by offering a Rising Talent badge to impressive freelancers who are new to the platform. One of the conditions is to have a complete and up-to-date profile.
A quality profile appeals to customers and encourages them to spend more time there. You need a profile like that. Your profile on a freelance platform is your shop, your business card, and your face all at once. Clients who have never worked with you only have your profile to guide them in their decision. Keep reading our tips on how to create a good profile on Upwork, Guru, Freelancer.com, Fiverr, or any other freelance platform.
How to Create a High-Quality Freelancer Profile
The first step is to make sure your profile is complete. This means filling in all the important information about yourself, your experience, and your qualifications. To get started, make sure you have provided the following information:
- Your real name – don't be tempted to use a fake name like "Editor" or "Top Editor"
- A quality profile picture
- Your exact job description
- Appropriate talents and qualifications (you may need to choose only the most relevant)
- A portfolio to show off your work
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This is all just a starting point for creating a simple profile. Getting your profile from “ok” to “awesome” takes a bit more effort. Here are some tips:
- Use a fun cover image and a clean, clear, professional profile picture. Your profile picture should be a full-frontal, centered, and well-lit photo of your face.
- Most freelance platforms allow you to link to your online portfolio. Don't hesitate to do this, so you can show your work and a potential client rather than just telling them about it.
- Remember that a profile is not necessarily made of text only. You can enhance your profile with a video and/or a link to a professional portfolio site, which gives you more space to display your samples, diplomas, etc.
- Connect your social media accounts, especially professional networks like LinkedIn. It helps to establish your presence and your legitimacy and it provides a human dimension.
- Think about the perfect job name. An overly generic job title like "graphic designer" doesn't help you stand out from the crowd of graphic designers out there. A longer title that describes exactly what you can do and shows customers how they can benefit from cooperation (see our example below) is much more effective.
- Keep the description brief but powerful, ruthlessly eliminating any unnecessary words. Clients looking for a new employee don't always have time to read a novel!
- Do not include experiences that are not relevant to your field of work. For example, if you're a freelance graphic designer, you don't have to talk about the summer you worked in the kitchen at McDonald's.
- Remember to put the most important and relevant talents first in your description and lists.
- Always keep a customer-centric profile. If you want to talk about your personal interests and experiences, you should clearly state how this can benefit the client.
- Be precise. You might be afraid of giving too much detail about what you have to offer and scaring away clients who are looking for different specific skills, but in reality, it's the opposite. The more specific you are, the more clients will have confidence in your ability to complete projects — even types of projects that aren't included in your basic profile description.
- Never use "we" unless you are part of a team: too many freelancers fall into this trap. Using "we" when talking about your own accomplishments lowers their impact and makes you look nervous and hesitant. Also, your potential clients are looking to hire a freelancer, not a company.
- If you're writing your profile in English, but feel insecure about it, ask a friend who knows the language better. Most platforms ask you to list the languages you speak, so you can use this section to tell your potential customers that English is not your first, or even second, language. Many will appreciate your honesty.
- Once you've written your profile, proofread and edit it. Get it corrected by your friends, so you don't miss any typos, misspellings, or grammatical errors that could spoil all your efforts. Typos and spelling errors make a very bad impression.
- Next, keep in mind that your profile is not carved in stone. Update it every few months to add your new experiences and skills, and to change details.
Remember: if you don't have any relevant work experience (in other words, if you're a baby freelancer), you can include your other experiences by specifying how they are relevant to your current field. For example, “working in the kitchen taught me how to manage my time, organize my tasks and accomplish them quickly and precisely”.
This example of a great freelancer profile helps put the tips above into practice (we used the Upwork template, but it's relevant to all freelance platforms).
How to Create a Great Portfolio
If you work as a freelancer, you will need a portfolio. A portfolio can be part of your profile on a freelance platform, it can be on your own website, or it can be on a site specifically designed for portfolios, like Contently or Dribble. Your portfolio is your best chance to show off what you can do.
Creating an effective portfolio requires thought. First, you will need to choose what to include in it. It's not recommended to include the absolute completeness of your work – this can be too much detail for your visitors and inevitably means that you will have to include things that are less good than others.
Choose only the best examples of your work, not the ones that don't thrill you. If you're only interested in certain types of projects, it's best to focus your examples on that. For example, if you're a graphic designer and love web design, you should include as many website examples as possible and leave out your printed logo examples.
A portfolio, basically, is a simplified version of a presentation about your work. If the goal is to show the customer what you can do, you also need to give some explanation. For each example, specify your objectives and your method of creation. Talk about the client the work was for, and explain what made the project successful. Make a short but clear description.
If your portfolio isn't big enough yet, or if you want to get into something you don't have a lot of experience in yet, don't worry. You can create your own examples, or work for free for friends or colleagues to showcase your skills. For example, as a graphic designer, you could create a logo for one of the stores in your area, or create the perfect packaging for your favorite candies.
It goes without saying that you should never use someone else's work in your portfolio. It's not just a matter of ethics, it's also taking a big risk, which could fall on you when the real creators discover the deception or when a potential client asks why the same work exists in two different portfolios.
Remember: if your examples were created for a client, make sure you have their permission to use them before including them in your portfolio.
Another decision to make when creating your portfolio, do you want to make several? Opinions differ widely on this subject. Some freelancers are for putting all the best examples into a portfolio. You can organize it into sections that highlight the different areas in which you work while showing the client all that you are capable of and seeing the extent of your talents and abilities.
Others prefer to create several different portfolios, one for each type of task. For example, as a graphic designer, you might have one portfolio for your logos, one for business cards, and one for product packaging. Then all you have to do is send the right portfolio to the potential client, depending on the type of work they are looking for. In this way, you can create tailor-made portfolios, which highlight the most appropriate skills for each task.
Finally, always check your work before including it in your portfolio. Make sure there are no careless mistakes or typos. If you show something that has been published online, share it in PDF or other similar formats rather than with an internet link, so that no one appropriates your work and uses it for their own purposes.
What to do if your profile remains poor
There is no alert telling you that your profile is not yet complete - but if you have made several offers that match your talents and experience and you have had no feedback, it's a sign that your profile needs a boost.
Remember that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. If you don't think you can create a high-quality profile, turn to a copywriter or marketing expert. If you know that grammar and spelling aren't your strong point, ask someone to correct you. You could:
- Ask knowledgeable friends to help you
- Barter with other freelancers, so that everyone finds their benefit
- Hire a freelance writer, marketing manager, or proofreader to write, improve and edit your profile
If you hire a freelancer for this task, you will have the opportunity to experience freelancing from the other side: as a client. You will be able to have a better understanding of the process and see which profiles stand out the most during your own freelance search.
Do: If you notice your freelancer profile getting less interest for a few months, it's probably time to update it and give it a little makeover. And as always, don't be afraid to ask friends for help. They might notice things you don't.
Other ways to boost your freelancer profile
Besides creating a high-quality profile, there are a few other strategies you can use to promote yourself in a crowded market.
- Reviews from your clients: Freelance platforms like Upwork, Freelancer.com, and Fiverr make it easy to ask your clients to leave you a review after the project is complete. Add these reviews to your profile to build a reputation as a reliable and efficient worker. If you promote your work on your own site, ask your clients for permission before sharing their reviews.
- Video: Upwork and Guru both allow freelancers to create a profile video, which is a good opportunity to humanize your profile and build trust with potential clients. Once they've heard your voice and seen your face, they'll feel like they know you. Better to keep your video short, no longer than a minute, and make sure it's both professional and friendly.
- Blog: Whether you post on your own business site or on other sites, a blog is a great way to reach potential customers. No matter what your industry is, you can find a relevant angle that will interest new clients, giving you more authority in your field.
- Work for free: If you're just getting started, consider offering free consultations and samples. For example, a graphic designer could offer five free logos to get positive reviews and add them to their portfolio.
- Social Media Marketing: Remember that your social media is part of your brand. Feel free to add excerpts from your latest project or your opinions on specific issues in your industry to create or strengthen your connections to other participants in this field.
- Skill tests: Many freelance platforms offer skill tests. While not essential for getting a job, they can be a good way to prove your abilities in certain areas, which can come in handy if you don't have a lot of experience yet.
Actions to take
- Write a draft of your profile for the freelancer site you want to join, making sure you have read the terms and conditions so you know what you can include, and have browsed other successful freelancer profiles on the platform to get an idea of what works or not.
- Create a portfolio with examples of your work. This can be a zip file that you can send to your clients, or a video and/or portfolio site.
- Share your profile with your friends and colleagues in the freelance community to get an objective opinion.
- Publish your profile!