How to Get Your Profile Approved on Upwork

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How to Get Your Profile approved on upwork
How to Get Your Profile approved on upwork

Why is Upwork rejecting my profile?


Before we dive in, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:


According to Upwork, the platform gets around 10,000 new signups per day. Upwork provides access to more clients than any other job board or freelancing site, so a lot of people want to be on there.


But what happens is that the marketplace gets flooded with freelancers. And many of these individuals either don’t have any relevant skills or aren’t serious about freelancing.


Upwork can’t manually approve or deny 10,000 applicants per day, so they created an algorithm to do the screening process for them. I actually think the approval process is a good thing, and I’m glad Upwork is doing it.


The fact that you’ve been approved to look for work on the platform means that clients will automatically take you more seriously. You’ll also face far less competition when you’re looking for work.


And if your profile gets turned down, it’s not the end of the road for you. There are a few very strategic steps you can take to improve your odds for approval next time.


I know this can be frustrating. So today, I’m going to share the proven strategies my team and I have tested behind the scenes to increase your profile’s chances of being approved by Upwork.



1. Upwork’s rejection policy is a GOOD thing. Because it’s the best freelancing site in the world, a LOT of people want to make an account. Having a screening process means that when your profile does get approved, you’ll face far less competition and your account will be even more valuable.


2. When Upwork rejects a profile, it’s not happening randomly or arbitrarily. When a client searches for freelancers, Upwork uses an algorithm based on a specific set of criteria to determine who shows up, and in what order. While the account approval process may have a human component as well, it’s likely that the first “line of defense” is an algorithm similar to what they use to deliver up search results. If you take time to think about WHAT Upwork is looking for and WHY, you can take steps to significantly increase your chance of being approved. (These steps will also give you a better shot at being hired and quickly boosting your freelance career.)


3. If Upwork rejects your profile, it’s not the end. Even if you don’t get approved, you can always make some changes and resubmit your profile. There’s no reason to stop trying if you’re rejected the first (or second, or third) time.

If your profile has been turned down in the past, please don’t despair. It’s not a sign that you should give up or that you’re not qualified to be a freelancer.


You just need to know what Upwork is looking for in potential freelancers.


Show Upwork you’re a serious professional – right from the start:♣

When you sign up for Upwork, you’re not just creating an account. You’re creating a freelance BUSINESS (or taking an existing one to the next level).


From the very first step, Upwork makes it clear that they’re looking for people who take freelancing as seriously as they do.


For example: when entering your email address, Upwork shows a preference for business email addresses (e.g., over personal emails (e.g., Gmail or Hotmail.)


You’ll use your email address to sign up for an Upwork account. And one of the first things you’ll notice is that Upwork prefers a business email address.


Why does a work email address matter? Well, it matters because Upwork is looking for professional freelancers. So taking the time to set up a business email account is a great way to show Upwork that you’re serious about freelancing.


Pick as many subcategories as possible:♣

After you sign up, Upwork will give you the option to choose what categories and subcategories you’ll be looking for work in. You can add up to 10 subcategories, so I recommend choosing as many as possible. 
A variety of subcategories shows Upwork that you’re qualified to apply for a lot of different jobs. It shows them that you’re a more diverse freelancer and that you’ll be a good match for a variety of clients.
Never choose just one work subcategory.
You don’t need to have an ounce of professional freelancing experience to choose these. If you see something you can do, let Upwork know.
Keep in mind, a lot of job types overlap which can make it even easier to find relevant options. For example, if you can do “Article & Blog Writing,” you can probably write “Web Content” as well (do you know any blog that isn’t on the web?).
Upwork lets you choose up to 4 subcategories
If you run out of options, you can always choose the “other” option, which is listed under every type of service.
Make use of the “Other” subcategory to broaden your job prospects
Every work category has an “Other” option you can select to broaden the jobs you’re eligible for.

List all your relevant skills:♣

Next, you’re going to enter all your skills. You can choose up to 10, and once again, you should pick every skill you feel is relevant. 
I would encourage you not to overthink the skills section. Upwork will prompt you with possible skills, so just pick 10 that you feel are a good fit and move on. 
You can always update this later. But if you’re really struggling, you can check out other freelancer’s profiles and see what skills they picked. 
You don’t need to be a world-class expert to say that you have a particular skill. You just need a basic knowledge and familiarity with the topic. For example, if you’ve read blogs about using the web to sell products, you can list “Internet Marketing” as one of your skills. 
With that said, be sure to only list genuine skills that are relevant to the service you offer — even if it means you’ll end up with fewer than the maximum of 10 skills. (Example: If you want to be a freelance web developer, don’t choose something like “Microsoft Word,” even if you’ve been using it since you were in elementary school.)
Make use of Upwork’s suggestions to find relevant skills
There are too many skills for Upwork to list them all out, so feel free to “go crazy” and type anything you can think of into the search bar. You never know what may pop up in the suggested skills.
Another great way to quickly find ideas is to check out the profiles of other freelancers who offer the same service to see what’s available.

Fill out your overview section:♣

The overview section is kind of like your “about me” page for Upwork. It’s where you talk about yourself, your background, skills, and what you have to offer. 
And it’s also the first thing clients will see when they come to your page, so it needs to be good. So my advice is not to skimp on this section. 
Really put some thought into it and make sure it’s at least a couple of paragraphs. Format it so it’s easy to read and skim through and not just one big block of text. 

Don’t undersell your experience level:♣

In addition to categories and skills, Upwork asks you to select one of three experience levels.
The three experience levels you can choose for your account
As you browse jobs, you can actually see the number of jobs available for each experience level.
Upwork displays a number of jobs next to each experience level
Upwork uses this information to determine which jobs you’re likely to qualify for.
One mistake I see people make all the time is underselling their experience. Just because you don’t have freelancing experience doesn’t mean you don’t have any experience at all.
If you’ve held a relevant job with a traditional employer, you should probably choose “intermediate” or “expert” — even if this is your first foray into freelancing.
Depending on how much you’ve done, you may also be able to bump up your experience level from having done lots of work outside of a regular job (like volunteering, or doing projects for family and friends).
With that said, if you really are entry level, that’s OK too. When I first started freelancing, all I had for experience was a few dead-end jobs that had nothing to do with copywriting. I didn’t let that stop me, and my only regret is that I didn’t start freelancing sooner.

Let Upwork calculate a personalized “rate tip”:♣

A lot of freelancers don’t know this, but when a client posts a job, Upwork shows them how much they can expect to pay.
when you’re first setting up your account, you should try to start with a rate that falls within Upwork’s suggestions. If your hourly rate is too far removed from what similar freelancers are getting, Upwork may think your profile isn’t competitive enough.
Luckily, Upwork will show you rate suggestions that match what clients see.
Upwork gives you a personalized rate tip
The rate tip that they provide changes depending on the skills, experience level, and work categories you chose.
Upwork’s rate tip is determined by the skills and work categories you choose
If your rate is too low, raise it. Being the cheapest freelancer isn’t just a bad strategy for winning jobs, it will also hurt your account’s chances of being approved.
If your rate is higher than the suggested tip, you may want to consider adjusting it for now. You can always raise it later if you’re feeling confident.
A higher than suggested rate may also be a sign that you’re underestimating your experience level. Remember: just because you don’t have freelance experience specifically, doesn’t mean you have no experience at all. Traditional (and non-traditional) work experience counts too.

Add all your employment and education history:♣

Include as many education items as you can, and write a detailed description for each one to show its relevance to your expertise.

Treat your profile like a resume:♣

Many recruiters for traditional jobs will instantly reject a resume if they see even a single typo. You need to take your Upwork account just as seriously.
Proofread each section carefully (including title, overview, education, and experience) looking for typos, spelling mistakes, and grammatical errors. Properly capitalize the names of schools, companies, and other organizations.
It can be hard to catch your own mistakes, so ask someone else to help proofread if you can. Paste your overview into a program with spell-check like Microsoft Word, or use a dedicated tool like Grammarly to see if you missed anything. If you can use spell check, so can Upwork’s account approval algorithm.

Keep improving your profile and try again:♣

If your profile isn’t approved the first time, don’t panic. You can submit it again after making some changes.
Try adding more experience and experimenting with different skills, subcategories, and rates. Make sure to keep track of the various combinations you’ve submitted in the past and take into account any feedback that is provided by Upwork.
Remember, there’s no limit to how many times you can submit your profile on Upwork so don’t get discouraged. Continue to add new skills to your repertoire whether it comes from a book, your job, or by taking advantage of all the free information available online.

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