How to Become Top Rated on Upwork

I’ve carried the Top Rated Upwork badge since it was a “thing” many, many moons ago. Now, I’m Top Rated Plus. In a nutshell, Top Rated Plus is for Enterprise clients. I haven’t taken any of the expert-vetted tests. I don’t have a video on my profile. I haven’t even updated the language on my profile in yeeaaarrsss. I’ve made some minor updates to other things (such as using the testimonials feature for non-Upwork clients; this feature, by the way, tends to come and go from what some six-figure freelancers have pointed out on Twitter).

So, what does it take to obtain that coveted Top Rated Upwork status? Well, coming from someone who didn’t even have it to strive for because I achieved it when the program was first launched (meaning, I had to be doing some things (yes, plural) very right, here are my thoughts.

Optimize Your Upwork Profile

Learning how to become Top Rated on Upwork depends first on getting found on the platform. The very first thing you must do is determine your title. Mine starts with the word “expert.” It isn’t because I think I’m better than everyone else. Of course, after seven years (as of 2021) doing what I do, yes, I do know a thing 9,000 about what I do. And I make it a point to keep learning.

However, it’s not about what I think about what I do. It’s about how others search for me on Upwork. There you go. That’s the best thing you will ever learn about Upwork profile optimization. Your title should reflect how your clients will search for you. Are you affordable? Are you an expert? Are you an excellent researcher? If you were searching for a freelancer, what terms would you use to look for them? There are some clients who will look for inexpensive or affordable [insert what you do here.] But also keep in mind that you’re in this to make money.

Optimization does not stop at your title. SEO does play a part in your profile. However, it doesn’t and shouldn’t be the only thing. You need to talk to the prospective client…to them…not at them. Get their attention. Make them want to contact you and hire you. One thing you’ll become more aware of after this sentence is that I use a LOT of “you language.” I draw you in with it. Why? Because I want YOU to feel like I am talking TO YOU…because I am. But…I am also long-winded (but it works for me). Not everyone likes or reads long, drawn-out things…so that is also something to consider when optimizing your Upwork profile to become Top Rated.

Be Selective in Choosing Projects

When you first start on Upwork, it is totally normal to want to take any project for the feedback. I know. My first project (when Upwork was oDesk) was a $15 project. And I was so proud. I was in it for the feedback. The quick and easy projects that you can turn out for positive feedback are awesome.

However, it is imperative to be very selective when choosing projects on Upwork (regardless of the price point…but remember – you are there to make money). The last thing you need is to get saddled with a client who is never happy…now imagine mixing that with a very low paying project. And when you end the project or they end it, they leave you negative feedback or demand their money back.

This is why it is crucial that you make it a practice in advance to select only the right clients and projects for you.

Related: Work from Home Boundaries: Clients & You

Provide Excellent Client Care

The true key to gaining Top Rated status on Upwork is to provide excellent client care. Always remember that the project you were awarded is not your project. You were hired to fulfill a need…maybe an on-going need…but a need nonetheless. So, your job is to talk to your client and find out how they want their project fulfilled. If what they want isn’t possible or they don’t truly understand how what they want works, talk about it.

If it is going to take longer than you originally thought, a conversation needs to be had. If there is a snag, talk. If there are issues, talk. Talk. Talk. Talk. Excellent client care is the reason (on top of making sure you accomplish what you promised) is the pot at the end of the rainbow. When clients are happy, they come back.

When It’s Time to Close an Upwork Contract, Remind Client to Leave Feedback

Not all contracts are long-term and that’s okay. Sometimes, there are clients who want to close an Upwork contract and open a new contract for a separate project. That’s also okay.

Related: How to Get Out of a Bad Upwork Contract

If they tell you that they are ending the contract (before they end it), tell them that it was a pleasure working with them (if they are ending it without opening a new one), that you hope to work with them again, and to keep you in mind for future projects. Then, remind them when they close the project to leave positive feedback.

Why wouldn’t they leave positive feedback? Well, think of it this way…why don’t people complete feedback forms in other settings? They see it as a way to save themselves some time. So, do yourself a favor and remind them. You can even remind them how important it is to us (as freelancers) to have positive feedback left (as long as you had a great working relationship with them… Do not do this if you had a crappy experience.)

Learning How to Become Top Rated on Upwork Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult

Learning how to become Top Rated on Upwork doesn’t have to be difficult. It just takes some common sense practices and applying them consistently. If you’re Top Rated on Upwork, drop your best comment below.

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