I’m not going to give you a magic potion. You might wanna reread the title. In this article, I will explain to you the best way to get your Upwork profile approved.
It is not about the easiest way to get your Upwork profile approved. But trust me. If you follow all the best practices as described in this guide on the best way to get your Upwork profile approved, then this would be the easiest way to get your Upwork profile approved as well.
Again, I’m reminding you. There are no shortcuts. And freelancing is a serious business that can get your life-changing results. So, pay close attention to each point that I’m going to describe through this informative guide on the best possible way to get your Upwork profile approved.
Table of Contents
It wasn’t this hard to get your Upwork profile approved back in time
Yes, you heard it right. By the time I started, it was oDesk, and starting a new account as a freelancer was super easy compared to today.
As you can see, I started my Upwork (oDesk) account back in 2010, the 28th of June.
That’s 10 years with this amazing freelancing platform.
Again, back in days, it was kind of an easy task to get a profile approved with them.
And finding clients was a lot less easy than these days.
As you can see, I started my oDesk profile on 28th June 2010 at 8.39 am. And I got my first interview from a client at 9.59 am the same day.
And some may think that things were different back in 2010 and how come you are instructing someone who is going to get their Upwork profile approved in 2020?
Well, the answer is super simple.
It was not when I started. It is when the last time I helped someone get their Upwork profile approved. In my case, I helped a friend last week to get her Upwork profile approved.
So, I have fresh and up to date experiences. Fear not.
Why getting Upwork profile approved is harder these days?
That is what almost everyone asking, and the answer is simple. (It is not what I think actually)
If you have ever tried getting your Upwork profile approved and then you have been disapproved, then you know the answer already.
Simply, there are lots of talented freelancers in the skill category you applied. To give everyone an equal chance, Upwork didn’t allow you to get into the system. It is that simple.
I don’t think so, and I’m totally against the idea behind this. It doesn’t matter there are 10 or 1,000,000 graphic designers in Upwork.
As long as you present yourself as a talented, skillful freelancer Upwork usually allows you to dive right in.
And this is where most of the freelancers failed and starting to think that Upwork is not for me. Well, it’s not!
Upwork really is for you and more of you to come. Only if, only if you take it seriously.
It is true that when you have thousands of freelancers in the same category, it technically doesn’t need more freelancers to it.
But, think like Upwork. If I’m the Upwork, I would love to accept as much as freelancers to the pool. This is how Upwork has become the biggest online marketplace for freelancers around the world.
But why this sudden change?
The change is, Upwork needed more quality freelancers to its pool. Not just joy-riders. At the beginning of this article, I told you that freelancing is a serious business that can change your life. So, treat it like one!
I would have done the same to keep the quality of the marketplace.
Let me share one of my experiences
My wife runs an agency on Upwork. When we need our work done, we post a job on Upwork and hire freelancers that suit our needs.
As I remember it was back in 2015, my wife posted a job for a graphic designer. And we got plenty of applicants to shortlist.
And we found that the same guy has applied to the same job 5 times. Yes, 5 times and the same job post.
So, we carefully checked the profiles. All 5 profiles were almost similar.
Same profile picture, 95% similar overview, or the profile description.
Then we decided to message one of the accounts, and we needed to clear this curiosity.
So the guys messaged us back, and we asked how come you are applying for the same job from 5 profiles.
And replied that it will increase the chance of getting hired for the job.
Indeed yes, he was right.
While a legitimate freelancer is having a single chance of getting hired for a job. But, when someone has multiple profiles are getting higher chances. It is insane and not recommended at all. It is like finding a loophole and leveraging it, regardless of the integrity of the system.
We just needed answers, and he gave the answer we looked for.
So, we didn’t hire him and politely asked him not to do this again.
I think now it is clear why Upwork is damn strict on approving a new profile. And I’m with Upwork on this. If it wasn’t for this kind of filtering, then Upwork might have lost its momentum a few years ago.
Who to blame, Upwork? Hell No!
We should be blaming ourselves for Upwork damn restricting.
The truth is, some of us tried to trick Upwork, and now almost every newcomer has to pay the price for it.
So, if you have read this far, I’m sure you are serious about getting your Upwork profile approved. And I’m here to share all my experiences to help you with that.
The first thing you should keep in mind is never to try to trick the system. It will backfire, and all will have to pay the price.
10 Things you should do to get your Upwork profile approved fast!
Since Namecheap is offering 2 months free trial, you can sign up for this. It literally costs you nothing. But, this will inevitably boost your ‘onboarding reputation.’
After 2 months, you can subscribe to a private email, and it will only cost you $11.88/year. It is super cheap and convenient, even for a newbie.
It is more like having a professional email address is giving Upwork a positive signal that you are serious about what you are going to do.
So, I recommend you give it a try. But the truth is, even with a Gmail account, you can still get your Upwork profile approved. That being said, having a professional email is not a MUST.
Yes, you should have to have a professional email when applying for an Upwork account. But it is not mandatory.
Because the last person I helped to get her Upwork approved didn’t have a professional email at all. Still, she got accepted.
Because having a professional email address is just one thing. There is a lot to consider, and the contribution of a professional email address to get your Upwork profile approved is almost negligible.
Presenting you in the right and appealing way
Yes, Upwork is now more about quality. They already have the quantity. Even though Upwork is the biggest online marketplace, it is no point in having a bunch of fakes. When quality matters above everything else, you should strictly adhere to it.
Yes, your title really matters, and it is something that has gotten the least attention. Now Upwork is looking for professional freelancers who are serious about what they do.
And your title is the first thing that is going to catch the eyes of a possible client. And that is the same when it comes to the evaluation of your Upwork profile.
That being said, no matter how qualified you are, if you have a silly looking title, then you are making your first impression a negative one. Always make sure you describe what you do in a few, but appealing words.
I know, I know it is not my first title.
I started as a freelance data entry professional, and I’m sure it is not the best title I could get. Like everyone else, I made mistakes when I’m starting, and now I’m here and sharing things you should do and should not do.
Your Profile Photo
I know this is self-explanatory. You should have to have a profile photo. That is as simple as that.
Even though adding a profile photo is one of the simplest tasks that you will have to do. Still, some are struggling to get a hold of this.
The problem is, many newcomers take this lightly!
You don’t believe me, right?
Yes, I know some people failed to distinguish the concept of Upwork profile photo from a Facebook profile photo.
Upwork is for professionals. It is not a place that people hang out for having fun, to entertain themselves.
So my recommendation is, your Upwork profile photo should be one of your best headshots, and it should be clear. It doesn’t have to be a too professional photo at all.
Yup, many would suggest that it should be highly professional. I don’t say they are wrong. As long as you are identifiable on your profile photo, you should be good. It is better to have a professional photo.
If you are just starting and trying to get into Upwork, finding a highly professional headshot might be a little confusing. This is why I’m suggesting you find your best headshot and use it on your Upwork profile.
Just make sure your headshot’s background is not too noisy and disturbed. Such headshots tend to get disapproved.
As long as the client can identify you by looking at your profile photo, you should be good.
And Upwork has clearly mentioned that clip arts, digitally altered images (AKA Photoshoped images), logos are not permitted as your profile photo.
Also, make sure not to wear sunglasses when taking your photo that is intended to use as your Upwork profile photo.
Your Upwork Profile overview
Your overview sets the tone for your profile by showing off your personality and giving clients a reason to read more about your skills and experience.
That is Upwork’s precise clarification on the profile overview.
I should say profile overview is the most overlooked feature. Yeah, I mean it.
If you are planning on going overlooked to over-booked, then you should not be overlooking your overview at all. Because even if your title gets the attention, your overview should support the title at all costs. If not, your title simply means nothing.
And the truth is, title and overview aren’t somethings that are going to modified frequently. In other words, if you managed to write a good standing overview, then you probably be using the same overview.
Then it is a good thing to spend some time working on your overview. If you don’t have any idea on how to write a good standing overview, the best thing is to check top-rated freelancers in your desired category.
Because Top-rated freelancers are considered as the best resources to check if you don’t have any idea on how to pile up your Upwork profile.
They are Top-rated for a reason. And I’m confident that their overview in someway has helped them achieve that Top-rated title.
I’m not asking you to copy someone. You shouldn’t do that under any circumstance. What I’m telling you is, go and check. Get an idea and fine-tune your overview.
It may take hours, maybe days to compile a good standing, professional profile overview. If it takes that much time, that is totally fine. Because good things take time.
And if you are not a native speaker and English, not your first language, then you probably having issues when it comes to writing a flawless overview. Because I’ve been there and I know the feeling.
Then you should try a free grammar checker app. I highly recommend you try Grammarly. It is free and the most userfriendly grammar tool that I ever used.
I even wrote an in-depth article on Grammarly. You check it here. I’m sure it will help you understand Grammarly and how to use it effectively with all forms of your writing.
And with the help of Grammarly tone-detector, you can check whether your Upwork profile overview sounds okay or not.
Mine is ‘Formal,’ and so far, this formal overview has really helped me scale my freelance career. It is really up to you to decide whether your a formal one or an appreciative one.
And one more thing.
Your Upwork profile overview can be as long as 5000 characters. Yes, you heard it right. That’s whopping 5K characters.
Upwork has allowed this many characters for a reason. And we should leverage it. Because the profile overview is the first place, a client would look before contacting you.
And Upwork will carefully check and evaluate your profile overview before approving or disapproving your profile.
What I suggested, contradicts with Upwork’s suggestion on profile overview.
As per Upwork, we should keep our overview short. Yes, I agree!
And only the first 250 characters appear on search results. Yeah, that’s correct.
That being said, your first 250 characters should describe you as briefly, as creatively as possible.
That’s totally correct. So, your first 250 characters have a much greater role to play in, catching your client’s eye. And don’t you think the same 250 characters have a greater role to play when it comes to winning the heart and mind of the Upwork staffer who evaluates your Upwork profile for approval?
So make sure you write something catchy, something needful in your first 250 characters.
This is what my first 250 characters are telling
As you can see, those questions are frequently asked questions if you ever managed an Instagram account. By asking the same questions at the beginning of my profile overview, I’m telling a possible client that I have answers to their burning problems. That inevitably catches the eys of a client.
But I didn’t stop there.
I’ve extended my Upwork profile overview. My overview has 2338 characters. Yeah, I still got 2662 characters remaining. But, I see that’s enough for me.
Use your creativity and make use of the allowed limit of characters when writing your Upwork profile overview.
As I told, this feature is the most overlooked. If you are serious about freelancing, you shouldn’t be overlooking your overview.
A well-written, catchy, and descriptive overview is a better sign of showing your evaluator that you are serious about this.
Add Skills to your Upwork Profile
Upwork profile approval rate has a direct correlation with the skills you have. It is evident that Upwork is looking not just the talent, but also they need talented professionals.
Adding skills to your Upwork profile is something you should to after carefully evaluating your core-skills.
Let’s say you are a skilled Social Media Marketer.
And there are indeed hundreds, if not thousands, Social Media Marketers on Upwork. And if you are another Social Media Marketer, it might be a little tricky to get your Upwork profile approved.
Social Media Marketing is a broad term. It represents all the social media platforms. I highly recommend you ‘niche-down’ your skills. This is something most of the freelancers don’t do.
But ‘niching’ your skills down, will help you to stand the crowd like a boss.
Let’s say you are good at Instagram. So, Instead of Social Media Marketing, you can niche down your skills to Instagram Marketing. It is evident that there will be less number of candidates on Upwork as Instagram Marketers, compared to Social Media Marketing.
And when selecting your skills, don’t go after ‘broad skills’ such as Social Media Marketing. Instead, go after all the closely related skills with Instagram Marketing.
I think you got the idea.
If you are new and still to get your Upwork profile approved, always go for ‘niched’ skills. Never go after ‘Broader’ Skills.
Because broader skills will always get you to a pool filled with lots of talented freelancers. There, you will have fewer chances of surviving and higher chances of getting your Upwork profile disapproved.
Pro Tip to Niche down your Skill
If you are still uncertain about this, just go to the place where you can add skills to your Upwork profile. And type your main niche. (i.e., Graphic Design)
As you can see, when you start typing your main niche, there will be a list of skills that are closely related to your primary niche skill.
There, you will be able to niche down your skills to a laser target audience. And this single trick will help you to stand the crowd like a boss.
And the next thing you should keep in your mind is, when writing your profile overview, make sure to highlight your niched down skill. It will give you a headstart.
Because Upwork won’t hesitate to welcome a freelancer with a unique set of skills.
It is recommended to play around with Upwork’s list of skills. Always dig deep to find your core-skills and niche them down before submitting your profile for review.
List yourself in all the relevant categories
It is all about showcasing all your skills in the right way. If you have a good standing title and laser targeted profile overview, you still not going to get clients or not going to get your Upwork profile approved in the first place if you haven’t enlisted yourself in all the closely related categories.
I mean it. Closely related categories!!
If you are a Graphic Designer, always go after the skills you really have and the categories listed on Upwork.
I know many would suggest that you should pick as much as categories. As Upwork allows 10 categories to select, it doesn’t mean that you need to fill out all the 10 categories.
Let’s say you do video production, and it doesn’t mean you should enlist yourself in ‘Resumes and Cover letters.’ Category.
What I’m trying to highlight is, picking all 10 categories won’t do any good, if you are already going after the categories with lots of freelancers enlist themselves in.
If selecting 10 categories is a MUST, then Upwork might have said that the minimum allowed number of categories is 10!
But they don’t!
It means it is not mandatory to list yourself in 10 categories.
Pick the ones that are clearly related to your professional skills, and you should be good.
I only picked 7 categories to list myself in, and so far, these have worked for me.
The reason I’m emphasizing on selecting closely related categories than picking any 10 categories is, you must show to Upwork that have a unique set of skills. I should say ‘niched-down’ skills.
And I highly believe that such freelancers with a laser targeted set of skills will be given priority than the ones with lots of skills in various categories.
List ALL the closely related Skills
Yes, this time, you will have to list all the skills. But, make sure all the skills are CLOSELY RELATED!
Keep in mind, you are about to present yourself to an evaluator. That being said, you should be taking your best shot.
Those are the skills I listed on my Upwork profile, As you can see, all the skills I listed are pointing directly towards Instagram marketing. That is my key focus, and I’m doing everything possible to keep my profile highly related to Instagram Marketing.
Not Social Media Marketing, Not Facebook, Just Instagram, and Instagram Marketing only!
When listing your skills, you should be adding all 10 skills. Not like adding categories to your Upwork profile to get approval.
When selecting categories, select the laser targeted categories and when adding skills, even pinpoint the skills you have.
All these are leading one particular objective.
Which is presenting yourself as a professional freelancer with highly niche related skills!
Upwork evaluators are going to like and love to onboard such freelancers,
And think like a client! Always.
If you are a client, will you hire someone to manage your Instagram account, who has listed himself in all the different kinds of categories with various skills?
I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.
I’d rather not. Because I need someone who is a professional in what he/she does. Not someone who is not an expert!
And if you are a freelancer, you might not have seen this. But I’ve seen this. Because my wife runs an agency on Upwork.
Whenever a client search for talent, Upwork gets a list of closely related freelancers for the talent we searched.
The interesting thing is, Upwork search algorithm is giving higher credibility to the freelancers who have completed jobs related to the talent we searched.
That being said, if you are frequently getting hired for a specific skill, then it is highly that you will be hired for the same skill again and again. Because Upwork’s search algorithm itself supports this.
This is why you should laser target a few skills. It will surely help you to get passed Upwork’s vetting process. After that, you only need a few jobs for your main skill, and then Upwork’s search algorithm gets the ball rolling for you.
Your Experience level
From the very beginning to this point, I’ve been specifically asking you to laser target one (maybe a couple, 3 at the most) particular skill.
When adding your experience level, you can make use of your skill targeting at its best.
Assume that you have added many skills to your Upwork profile and when setting up your experience level, you may go for ‘Expert’ experience level.
When vetting your Upwork profile for approval, that might raise unwanted flags. The person who is vetting you might get second thoughts when you have lots of skills and introducing you as an expert.
To avoid such, it is always recommended to keep your core focus on a few targeted skills and present yourself as an expert. Once you get your Upwork profile approved, you probably will have a headstart to find clients for your skills. Because you already optimized your Upwork profile for a much better impact.
So brace yourself for a continuous flow of paying clients!
Your hourly rate on Upwork
When I was starting, my hourly rate was $1. I know it is super low. At then, I literally had no experience at all. That’s why I kept my hourly rate as lowest as possible.
But, in your case, you can always go for higher rates. It only requires you to sharpening your core skills and getting more experiences.
This is why I kept reminding you to focus on a few skills and introduce yourself as an expert in that particular skill. This will open you a much better advantage of stating a higher (But reasonable) hourly rate.
When you are ‘pricing yourself’ there are two things to keep in mind.
Never overstate your skills, even you are a ‘ninja.’
Never understate your skills as well
To make sure you are pricing yourself correctly, make sure to check profiles of other freelancers who are in the same category and having the same skills as you.
To gain a competitive advantage over other freelancers, you should always do this self-evaluation.
If you are pricing yourself correctly for the stated skills and experiences in your Upwork profile, it will make sure you are getting approved.
Being the cheapest freelancer will not get you clients and will not always give you a competitive advantage over others.
When you are under-pricing yourself, it sends a strong signal to a potential client that you are not confident in what you do. It is highly likely that you will not deliver high-quality end-products. And if you are too damn cheap, a possible client would start to think that you are not an expert as you started.
You may think that will only matter only after you get your Upwork profile approved. No, you are wrong!
Always think like Upwork!
Do you think that Upwork will let you in if you price yourself low for a category or for a skill that literally worth a lot higher than what you are asking?
I don’t think so!
Add Employment history
The biggest misconception that most of the freelancers I met had is, they thought that they can only add employment, only if they ever worked on Upwork!
That’s completely wrong!
You are just starting and how come you are going to have any job completed on Upwork, even before getting your Upwork profile approved?
That’s what not Upwork is asking!
Let’s assume that you are joining Upwork as an Instagram marketer. If you have ever worked as an Instagram Marketer for any clients before Upwork, then you can add those as your employment history.
If you have such clients, you MUST add them all to your portfolio. It will skyrocket your chance of getting your profile approved!
Because Upwork or your future clients will not have to babysit you. Because you already know what you do and you have solid proofs!
Think no further, if you have lined up your Upwork profile, adding employment history is like your getaway ticket.
Adding your Education
Your education also plays a crucial part in getting your Upwork profile approved.
To present yourself as a professional freelancer, who is serious about what they do, adding Education to Upwork carries a huge weight in getting your profile approved.
It is more like your applying for a job and presenting your highest educational qualifications in order.
Since Upwork is looking for professional and skilled freelancers, adding education to your Upwork profile will surely boost your reputation.
And it will get your Upwork profile approved like a charm!
Let’s assume that you have a degree in Digital and Social Media Marketing from a leading university or a college. Adding that educational qualification to your Upwork profile, when you are trying to get your Upwork profile approved as an Instagram Marketer will get you a headstart!
FAQs: The Best Way to get your Upwork profile Approved
How long does it take for Upwork to approve profile?
Usually, it takes 24 hours from your submission for the Upwork profile for review. Sometimes in weekends, it might get a little longer than 24 hours. But, Upwork will get back to as soon as possible. Actually, sooner than you expect.
How can I get Upwork account in 2020?
Anyone can get an Upwork profile approved. But, you will have to stick to all the best practices when submitting your Upwork profile for approval. Take your time, focus on your core skills, follow this guide on ‘The Best way to get your Upwork profile approved.’ And you can have your Upwork profile ready, just like that.
Why did I get rejected from Upwork?
Upwork is all about presenting you as a professional in what you are best at. The first thing you could get rejected from Upwork is, you didn’t present yourself professionally as Upwork expected. If you get rejected from Upwork, you will have to re-submit your profile for the vetting process. But, before that, pay attention to why you got rejected in the first place.
Which is better Upwork or Fiverr?
Both of these market places have their own ups and downs. As far as I know, Upwork is the best place if you are looking for long-term, professional clients. In my opinion, Fiverr does have lots of professional clients. But, Fiverr is more like ‘Gig-based’ jobs. You do this, and we are done. But, Upwork is on the other hand more like a virtual office. You get to keep your client as long as the client needs you and as long as your fulfill what your client requires.
Conclusion: The Best Way to get your Upwork profile approved
Without a doubt, Upwork is the best and the biggest freelancing platform (Period). And lots of freelancers are trying to get into this amazing platform. Because Upwork alone can help anyone to build their entire career.
Not like in the past, now getting an Upwork profile approved is harder than ever. There’s a good reason for it as well. After seeing the true potential of Upwork, lots of people started to register themselves on Upwork, regardless of the skills and qualifications they had. This made Upwork filled with lots of imposters. As it started to degrade the quality of the platform, Upwork had to double up its vetting process.
Now Upwork only allows true professionals to get into the system. So it is harder to go through all the vetting and get the Upwork profile approved. But, when you do, you are opened to a whole world of opportunities.
Getting your Upwork profile is difficult. But it is not impossible. This detailed guide on ‘The Best way to get your Upwork profile approved’ was prepared to share my personal experiences with people who are struggling to get their Upwork profiles approved.
If you are serious about freelancing and have professional experiences, then all you have to do is follow this guide and practice what I have highlighted here. Make sure you are presenting yourself professionally and list all your professional experiences in a way that no one can say no to you.
If you still need help in getting your profile approved, feel free to drop a comment and share this guide on ‘The Best way to get your Upwork profile approved’ with your friends or someone in need of help getting approved on Upwork.
I'm a freelance social media marketer. 'i Wanna Be a Freelancer' is my way of helping fellow freelancers. I started from scratch and in the past decade, I've learned quite a bit. It is time to share what I learned working with individuals, small businesses, and brands.