Your freelancing career must start somewhere, and the easiest way to begin is through freelancing platforms such as Elance, Upwork, Freelancer etc. This is the first step on a staircase that could get you very high.
Creating an account and starting to apply to jobs is just not enough. Customers want to know more about you:
- What education do you have?
- What previous experience?
- How do you look? (yes, this counts too)
- Do you have a portfolio?
And many others. Imagine yourself as a shop and your profile as being its front wall. Depending on how it looks it may or may not attract customers to enter it – in this case, message you.
So, how can you create a freelancing profile that stands out?
If I knew at first what I know now, it would have been much easier for us to get jobs in the beginning. We changed and improved our profiles several times before we got to a successful combination. And here are our current Upwork stats(Andreea’s profile):
As you can see, there’s a really small difference between the number of Views and the number of Interviews. This is mostly because of the fact that the profile was continuously optimized and improved to a point where it now makes people contact us.
I’m sure you’re wondering how did we get to such a high percent of hires. That’s thanks to my customer relations skills, which I’ll tell you all about in another article. 🙂
Your Profile Photo
Most freelancing platforms will ask you about the same information, so, for this article I will use Upwork as an example, as this is where we got most of our jobs from:
Now, leave those complexes away and start thinking about the photo you will add on your profile. You don’t need to be a superstar model in order to get jobs. You don’t even need to look good.
In fact, you must meet the following conditions through your freelance profile photo:
- the photo should be taken from up close so that your face can be easily distinguished
- you must smile (at least a little bit)
- you should have a professional pose – remember, you’re not adding a selfie to Facebook, you’re trying to get jobs
Generally when you’re adding your profile photo, try to add one where you display a warm and friendly attitude. Otherwise, you may just scare off customers, before even getting to see your portfolio, feedback, expertise, which are somewhere below the image.
Here’s an example on how a good profile photo should look like:
Setting Your Hourly Rate
This is a tricky one. But the first thing you should keep in mind is to not sell yourself short. For a lot of people, price = quality. So, in the mind of the customer, a higher price means higher quality, while a lower one means that you’re not that good at what you do.
The second reason why you should add a higher hourly rate is that it would make it easier for you to offer some kind of promotion in your proposals. Here’s a short example:
“Dear John Doe,
Although my hourly rate is $26,67 per hour, I can offer you a one-time discount of 20%, as this is a project I am really interested in working on. This brings the new hourly rate down to $21.34, and the price for the entire project down to…”
We all love promotions & discounts, don’t we? While the customer will be excited by the discount, you are in fact bidding your real price now.
Pro tip: Make sure that your hourly rate isn’t too high, compared to your skills, experience, number of jobs and feedback or Job Succes Score(Upwork’s way of rating freelancers). You risk not being contacted at all as your rate is generally dictated by them.
Secondly, when having a high hourly rate, you also set some expectations, which may exceed your current level of knowledge. If you can’t meet those expectations, you risk getting negative feedback, and this is something you clearly don’t want.
Our first hourly rate was $10.
Conclusion: If you think that you’re worth $20 an hour, add an extra 20% to your freelancer profile. And when setting your hourly rate, try to find that balance between your experience, skills and the number of reviews you have received that far.
Your Freelancer Title
This is something we didn’t care that much in the beginning, but it’s just as important as your profile picture.
Although optional, the freelancer title is one of the first places where you can make a real impression. As you know, people have short attention spans, so the freelancer title should be carefully crafted.
Andreea’s current title is “Copywriter with Master’s Degree in Journalism”. We chose this title because:
a) It shows her as a professional in the field of copywriting, given the fact that she has a Master’s Degree in Journalism
b) When she became Top Rated, we were contacted by an Upwork specialist who suggested us that it would be better to change the title from Copywriter with Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Journalism (which we were using at that time) to the simpler version that we use now.
Bottom line is that, if you have any experience worth mentioning or any official document to attest your knowledge, that’s the first thing you should use for your freelancer title.
If not, you should try using some clever words that separate you from the rest of the pack. For example, this is my current title:
We also have a buyer account on Upwork as we needed help with some services. What we noticed is that the high majority of freelancers use the following title combination: [Service name] Expert. And when they bid, they start with the following:
I am a certified [Service name] expert. “
And I’m thinking like: Great, but how can you prove it? As you don’t have any certificate listed or any feedback at all.
Try to think about something that really stands out and make sure to keep it as simple as possible.
Seems like we’re already half way into creating a freelancer profile that stands out. Part two of this article will teach how to use your profile overview section, portfolio and certifications to look more professional than other freelancers in the same industry as you.