Numerous Kenyan freelancers have reached out to me (mostly on Linkedin) asking for tips and information on how to get their Upwork accounts approved.
Some have tried almost 10 times (others even more) to get into the Upwork marketplace but to no avail. They keep getting rejected after every attempt to register their profiles, and this is quite disheartening to these future entrepreneurs.
So, where is the problem? Why isn’t your account being approved?
Simply put: Your profile is not standing out.
Upwork gets over 10,000 freelance applications every single day. 10,000!!
With such a huge number of applications coming its way everyday, the platform has no choice but to be extremely selective about the freelancers they let in.
Rejecting applications is mainly a matter of quality management in order to maintain the high standards the platform is known for. It is currently one of the most popular freelancing websites. (You can find other popular, reputable websites here).
In my view, demonstrating your uniqueness during the application process is the only way you can get in.
How do you go about this?
First, you need to demonstrate your seriousness and professionalism from the very beginning to Upwork. If you are seen to be taking short-cuts during this process, then your application will definitely be rejected.
One major reason for an Upwork application being denied is a shallow ‘overview’ section. Filling in this section comprehensively might seem cumbersome for many, and to save on time, they move on to other sections, hoping to come back to fill in this part later once their account has been approved.
Unfortunately, an inadequately filled ‘overview’ section demonstrates to Upwork that you are not as serious as you should be about being a member of its robust marketplace. Upwork has no idea that you intend to come back and fill this section in detail, and with that, your opportunity to become an Upwork freelancer goes away.
DO: FILL IN THE OVERVIEW SECTION COMPREHENSIVELY BEFORE SUBMITTING YOUR APPLICATION
Another way to demonstrate your seriousness is to register for an Upwork account using a business/ professional email address, otherwise referred to as a ‘work email’ by Upwork.
A professional email will cost you a few dollars (about $10 per month for the Business plan), but it will go a long way in impressing the Upwork bots. (You can sign up for a professional Gmail address here)
DO: REGISTER YOUR UPWORK ACCOUNT USING A PROFESSIONAL EMAIL ADDRESS
Secondly, you need to comprehensively show your expertise. After verifying your email address, you will be redirected to the application page. The first step is to pick the category that best captures your marketable skills.
The next part, selecting the subcategories, is usually the kicker for many applicants. There is a maximum number of sub-categories you can select, and you should take full advantage of this. Pick the maximum number of sub-categories, but be careful to select the options that best match your skills within that category.
It is important to select the maximum number of related sub-categories in order to prove to Upwork that you have specific and diverse skills, and that you can work in multiple areas within that category. You are demonstrating how useful you can be to the platform and its customers.
DO: CHOOSE THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF SUB-CATEGORIES
The next section you need to fill in is your relevant skills. Just like the sub-categories section, you need to fill in the maximum number of skills, which is 10.
Here, you will need to be a bit creative in determining the appropriate skills to fill in. The rule of thumb is to look at your primary skill, and see what other skills are related to it.
For instance, my main skill is content writing, but I can find 9 other related skills that I have been able to pick up over the years. These skills include:
1. Content marketing
3. Lead generation
4. Digital marketing
5. Landing pages
6. Email marketing
7. Creative writing
8. Social media advertising
9. Content research
This is purely hypothetical, but I hope you understand where I am going with this. The goal is to fill the section with the maximum number of relevant skills.
DO: ENTER THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF ENTRIES IN THE SKILLS SECTION
When it comes to the experience part, please do not willingly underestimate your experience level.
If you are truly capable of working as a freelancer, then you are already at the intermediate experience level.
Most clients prefer picking the intermediate and expert freelancers because this experience levels offer a guarantee of high quality work.
Putting entry-level as your experience level is a definite no-no for someone who wants Upwork to take them seriously. Each of us have some experience even if one does not have any freelancing experience.
Furthermore, you are experienced in working in the sub-categories you mentioned earlier, as well as the fact that you possess the skills you have included in your application. If you are being genuine about all of the information you have provided, then there is no discernible reason for selecting anything less than ‘intermediate’ or ‘expert’ level.
DO: SELECT THE CORRECT EXPERIENCE LEVEL
Another element of your application that you should focus on is the title of your profile. General titles do not work; make sure it’s specific, and that there is a niche market that your title is directly targeting.
DO: HAVE A TITLE WITH SPECIFIC RELATED KEYWORDS THAT TARGET A NICHE MARKET
Your profile picture can also have an effect on the approval of your Upwork account. The platform insists that you put a proper picture with a proper background, and enough light to ensure that you are visible. The picture does not need to be professionally done; your smartphone can be able to capture your facial features adequately. Just ensure you are smiling in order to make your profile warm and welcoming to the clients.
DO: HAVE A GREAT PROFILE PICTURE
These are just a few tips that can help your profile stand out during the application process, and increase the chances of it being approved.
TAKE AWAY: When applying for an Upwork account, always think about what the platform is looking for in freelancers, and why it is looking for these elements. Keeping these two considerations in mind will assist you in ensuring that you have provided Upwork with all the information it needs to consider you a serious freelancer and approve your profile.
Once your Upwork account has been approved, you need to select the best payment method for you. Read here how I landed on the best payment method for me.
You might also need help understanding how to pick the right clients. Click here to read more on how I am achieving that feat.
You can also watch me discuss tips for freelance beginners here.
Let me know if you have any questions or if there is a way you would like me to help you further by commenting below.