You’re currently reading Chapter 2 of The Ultimate Guide to Getting Your First (Or Next) Freelance Job
10+ years ago, freelancers had to do crazy things to find clients. They traveled to trade shows, sent out letters, and even cold called random businesses (UGH).
Today, freelance life is much easier. You don’t even need a website or business cards… Freelance sites like Upwork give you everything you need, all in one place.
Taking a few minutes to create a profile that shines will pay big dividends in the long run. We’ll spend the next few minutes talking about exactly how to do it.
Meet Ben, the web designer who works just 3 days a week (by choice)
Before trying Upwork, Ben spent dozens of hours each month looking for clients. He even kept a spreadsheet to help him cold call thousands of local businesses in his area, knowing full well that over 99% of his time and effort would be wasted hearing “NO.”
He knew there had to be a better way. So he switched to Upwork.
“Before, I would get one client for every thousand people I cold contacted,” he told me. “On Upwork, I get one client for every FOUR that I reach out to. As a freelancer, that’s a great feeling!”
How to create an awesome Upwork profile in minutes
Instead of obsessing over every single word of your profile, we’ll focus on a few key levers that will make it good enough to get you to the next step, so you can start earning money doing what you enjoy.
Top real estate salespeople understand this. They don’t try to make a house look perfect before they sell it — they focus most of their energy on the exterior and entryway.
Let’s start with the “entryway” of your profile: Your Title.
Writing a rockstar Upwork Title
Your Title is the first thing clients see when they look at your profile. Use this piece of real estate wisely, and you’ll stand head and shoulders above your competitors, creating the image of a confident pro who gets things done.
Don’t gloss over this. Most Titles are boring and generic, like “Graphic Designer”. That’s a surefire recipe for getting lost in the crowd.
Others take it a small step further, adding an adjective or two:
- “High quality writer”
- “Skilled designer”
- “Experienced marketing consultant”
That’s a little better…
But with a little effort you can really add some WOW factor.
Here are 3 fast and easy ways to make your title 10x more effective:
- Don’t be vague — tell clients EXACTLY what you do
- Choose words that have some PUNCH, and drop the sleepy ones
- Mention the client’s GOALS
Don’t try to stuff all of these tactics into your Title. Used properly, even ONE can transform your Title from lukewarm to blazing hot:
Can’t think of any ways to make your Title stand out? Here’s a hint: Even small enhancements — like adding the word “Professional” — can make a big difference. It’s a 10-second change, and makes you sound 10x more impressive.
Remember, your Title doesn’t need to be perfect. You can always come back to it later. For now, you just want it to be good enough to make you look like a competent professional.
The science of a winning profile photo
Most people don’t realize it, but uploading the right photo to your profile can make or break your online freelancing success.
Whether we like to admit it or not, humans are wired to make snap judgements about people based on how they look. This isn’t to say you need to be Natalie Portman or Adam Levine to be successful — you just need to understand the science of a winning photo.
To prove it, I uploaded 2 almost-identical photos of myself to Photofeeler.com, where random people voted on how competent I looked. Check out the amazing results:
It may seem shallow, but it’s a scientific fact that small changes in your appearance have an enormous effect on whether clients hire you — or ignore you.
Here are some quick tips for making your photo scream “HIRE ME”:
- Shoot it outside, where there’s plenty of natural light
- Do it on a cloudy day if possible (so there’s not too much sunlight)
- Smile big — the more friendly you appear, the more clients will like you
Enchant Clients With Your Profile Overview
Your Overview is where you’ll expand a bit on who you are, and the service you offer.
We’re going to stick to the strategy of getting it good enough — a few key, targeted sentences will do the trick.
At most, you’ll want to start off with a few paragraphs. Remember, you can come back and expand on it later. For now, keep it SIMPLE.
3 simple rules for quickly creating a stand-out Overview:
Rule #1: Ruthlessly avoid the common trap of describing yourself in subjective terms (e.g. “Detail oriented”, “Highly skilled”, “Fast,” “Reliable”)
I’m not saying you can’t say good things about yourself… You just need to be smart about it.
Hyping yourself up is a waste, since no one believes your own self-praise.
Instead, look for indirect ways to show your good qualities, and praise the work you do, instead of showering YOURSELF with compliments.
Here’s a great example of how one of my students brilliantly pulled this off:
Rule #2: Don’t just talk about yourself
Yes, clients want to know about you. But they’re infinitely more interested in how you can help THEM achieve their goals.
To see how you can do this masterfully, check out the following Overview snippet from another one of my students (a presentation designer):
Notice how she keeps the focus on the client…even when she talks about herself!
Here’s another great example — this one from a data analyst:
Rule #3: Put some ENERGY into it!
The average Upwork Overview lays there like a dead fish, the excitement level somewhere between a random Wikipedia entry and the ingredient list on a box of saltine crackers.
Your Upwork profile isn’t a resume… And making a list of facts isn’t going to win any hearts.
Don’t be overly formal and never be afraid to let your personality shine through. Clients want to hire PEOPLE, not robots.
Let’s look at a final example from one of my students:
Kaleigh’s awesome profile helps her win a $900 gig
Kaleigh C. learned firsthand how powerful the right Upwork profile can be. Shortly after creating hers, she was excited to get a personalized job offer from a brand new client.
“She told me she decided to hire me after reading just the first 3 sentences of my profile. After sending the job offer, she went back and read the rest of it.”
Kaleigh’s client-centric profile made such a powerful connection with the client that it helped her stand out from the rest of the pack.
“She complained to me about everyone else’s profiles: ‘Everyone just talks about themselves. You were the first person who told me what you could do for ME.’”
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the home stretch.
By taking these few extra steps, you’ve virtually guaranteed yourself better chances of success than 99% of wishful freelancers. As a wise person once said, “Chance favors the prepared.”
Now there’s just one thing standing between you and your first paying client: How to write a killer proposal that cuts through the clutter and gets you hired.
This is where the rubber meets the road. Are you ready?
Go to Chapter 3: How to write proposals that make clients say, “Take my money!”