How to Become a Top Rated Upwork Freelancer?

How to Become a Top Rated Upwork Freelancer?

Since I published an article about optimizing your Upwork profile, messages coming from fellow Upwork freelancers started to flow continuously on my Facebook inbox. People asked how did I become a top rated Upwork freelancer and requested the exact strategy that I implemented.


To become a top rated Upwork freelancer, you must have first a top rated mindset. I am going to touch this topic first before we dive into the strategies that you need to implement to climb your way up.

In the nutshell, your philosophy or simply put, your mindset is the most important thing to be considered if you want success. It is the driving force of every human action, the one that determines your destiny. If your philosophy is sound, then you are on the right direction. However, if your mindset sucks, then you are bound to despair.

Having a good mind set is just like tuning your guitar. If the strings of the guitar were not properly tuned up, then no matter how well you play, the notes will not be pleasing to the ears.

So what is the mind set of a top rated Upwork freelancer? Allow me to mention some. This is the exact philosophy that I developed when I started my freelancing career 4 years ago.

Know your greatest ‘why’

This is your starting point. You must have a compelling reason, otherwise, you will find it very easy to quit when tough times start to rock your way.

Why are you doing this? Why do you want to achieve? Why do you need to get up in the middle of the night just to catch up a client or job post? Why do you need to spend long hours learning new and challenging experiences? Why do you want to become a top rated Upwork freelancer?

The answers to these questions were crystal-clear to me when I started this career.

Due to my investment mistakes, I became so wrapped in debt. And when I got married, I was operated in the hospital and all of my savings were gone. And the worst thing is that I have only $70 left on my monthly paycheck.

With this money left, it is tantamount that we will never survive if I don’t find a way.

my greatest why in freelancing

This is my greatest why. I did it for my family.

So what’s yours?

Focus on the roots, not the fruits

Today, more people are switching to home-based jobs because of freedom, flexibility, and the opportunity to earn while you are with your family and love ones.

Well, after all these years of working as an Upwork freelancer, I can say that this is only half of the story. There’s still the other half that you need to understand.

Humans have the natural tendency to find pleasure and whatever that is good. That is why if they see someone who is successful, they tend to focus on his success and ignore what’s behind that success.

in freelancing focus on the roots not on the fruits to become top rated freelancer

Like an iceberg, success is the visible part that is floating above the water. But what is lying hugely beneath is the sacrifice, determination, patience, discipline, and the tons of effort one has poured out on his way up.

Always remember that in everything, there is always a process. Work on the process. Focus on the roots, not the fruits. This is essential to become a rated freelancer.

Success lies 100% in your hands

While it is good to have other people teaching you the process, but at the end of the day, it’s you who is solely responsible for your success. Be creative. Always find a way to understand what’s working and what’s not.

This is the philosophy that I have put in mind. Whenever I get rejected, I always find a way to understand why. And I never stop until I realize the answer. And since I already know what’s not working, I have to make sure that I don’t do it again.

Trust is your most expensive commodity, never waste it

It is being said that it takes 25 years to build a reputation, and only a minute to ruin it. Trust is the lifeblood of your freelancing career. Knowing that you are a person on the other half of the globe, you have to make sure that you are trustworthy to your client. You have to keep your word. If you agreed to have an interview at a given time, make sure that you show up on time. And if you can’t make it as agreed, notify the client no matter what the circumstances are.

October 15, 2013 was the time that our province was hit by a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake. That was a huge blow to my freelancing career because we don’t have electricity and no internet.

top rated freelancer never mind the calamities

So what I did? I went to the city, 42 kilometers from home and lined up to use the internet in the internet cafe. And since many people have to use the internet at that time, I waited 2 hours just to get my spot!

And after hearing my predicament, my client give me due consideration and even gave me a bonus. When power stabilized after a month, I resumed working and to my surprise, I became a top rated after 2 months!

Your Efforts Must Exceed Your Goals

While it is true that having a good mindset and a clear goal in mind is vital as life, but lacking the effort in doing your job is as harmful as death also.

Benjamin Disraeli, a former UK Prime Minister once said that “the secret to success is for a person to be ready when his time comes” and the best way to prepare and get yourself ready is to give your best in everything you do.

Are you ready?

How to Become a Top Rated Upwork Freelancer?

If you are still reading this section, I assume that you are really looking for a difference in your freelancing career. Also, I assume that you have already prepared yourself by having a good freelancing philosophy or mindset. Also, I understand that you are 100% committed to succeed and give your best effort no matter how tough the challenges are.

So here we go. As promised, I am going to take you by the hand to show you the exact step by step process on how to become a top rated Upwork freelancer. These are the exact steps that I have done 4 years ago.

Step 1: Determine what special skill you can offer to clients

I would like to underscore here the word ‘special’ because most newbies to freelancing will just play safe and opted to easy tasks like data entry and encoding.

I admit I have also done the same thing when I started freelancing. I looked for data entry jobs and immediately made my proposal. But what happened?

To my surprise, there were already 200+ proposals ahead of me even if I submitted a proposal 3-5 minutes after the job was posted! So how much more when the client went back to see the proposals 2-3 days after? It would be like finding a needle in the middle of the sand!

Ridiculous! There’s no way for my proposal to get noticed.

Also, when oDesk was purchased by Upwork in 2015, they are implementing radical changes like giving each freelancer 60 connects per month which translates to 30 job applications/proposals per month. This was a huge blow since in the previous platform, you can apply for as many jobs as you wish.

But the scary thing here is not that you are unnoticed but the policy that Upwork has implemented just recently. In a move to optimize their earnings and probably lessen their maintenance costs, they are suspending accounts of those who have not earned anything from their platform. Also, they are switching accounts to private if thre’s no income within 30 days.

This really hurts, especially for newbies. A friend of mine informed that he received an email from Upwork. Here is a screenshot.

top rated freelancer upwork policy


But all of these issues will not harm you if you do one thing. Focus on a single specialized skill that you can offer to clients. To help you identify that skill, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What am I strongest at?
  2. What am I most passionate about?
  3. What do I love to do during my free time?
  4. What is that thing that I love to do over and over again even if nobody’s paying me to do it?

Step 2: Build and enhance your profile

Certainly, the most challenging thing freelancers on Upwork are facing at present is getting their profile approved. Every time I visited freelancing groups on Facebook, I always saw a post asking for help about this issue. Also, many people are asking me help.

If you’re having a hard time getting your profile approved by Upwork, you should ask you should know the reason why. As mentioned, Upwork is on the move of unloading those who don’t have relevant skills to offer. It’s just like a ‘survival of the fittest’ situation. They don’t care about your job pitches, what they care is that you must have a specialized skill to offer to clients because this is the only way they can earn money from you.

After you have identified that special skill to offer, enhance your profile. Aside from uploading your best picture, writing your most enticing overview, completing your work experiences, educational background and others, the most effective starategies are taking relevant tests and uploading portfolio items.

To add a skill, go to your profile page and on the “Tests” section, tick on the “+” button to browse all tests that are available for you.

take tests to become toprated upwork freelancer

Of course, don’t take these tests haphazardly. Spend quality time doing your homework by studying about it and be prepared before taking the test.

Step 3: Optimize your profile

After enhancing your profile and making it attractive to clients, it’s time to give your profile a boost by increasing its chances to be viewed by clients. You can do this by optimizing your profile.

I have written an article that discusses the process of optimizing your Upwork profile. This is the exact strategy that has increased my profile views by 550%, got me 8 new job invitations and 2 new contracts started in just 4 days!

Check this link to visit the article.

 Step 4: Use your connects wisely

The ‘connects’ feature is one of the radical changes that happened in the platform since Upwork bought it from oDesk. Previously, you can apply to as many jobs you want, but now you are limited to just 60 connects or 30 job applications per month.

Because of this, you need to use your connects wisely. Only apply to jobs that you feel you really have something show. To have a feeling of the job, you need to read the whole job post. Understand the skills needed for the job. If these are in line with your goals and that the skills are the ones you have, send an application. Otherwise, find another job.

Remember, success does not depend on saying ‘yes’ to opportunities but on saying ‘no.’

Step 5: Be true and human in submitting proposals

Many people are asking me if I do have a template to use in applying for jobs. But I always say no.

Each job is unique that is why there is no single script to use in writing proposals. Also, these templates and scripts will kill your creativity and your true self. And worse, what if there are other freelancers using the same template and the client saw your proposal similar others’? You will surely lose credibility.

So always remember that at the other end of the line is also a human like you. So be true and be humane. Below are my best practices:

  1. Read the whole post and make sure to respond to all the questions. Most freelancers are worried if there are already many competitors bidding for the job. That’s why they did it hastily. This is a fatal mistake.
  2. Mirror the client’s language. If he said in his post that he is looking for a ‘dedicated’ and ‘smart’ person, mention that you are such and tell him how his business will benefit if he will hire you.
  3. Use ‘You‘ statements instead of the usual ‘I’ statements. Most freelancers highlight their skills and use ‘I’ statements in proposing to their clients. Clients need help for their benefit. And boasting yourself will not attract them. Remember, they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care for their business. And you can achieve this by making it crystal clear to them that your skills are the ones that can transform and bring that desired difference to their business.

Step 6: Always go the extra mile

Whenever you have successfully landed a job, always make sure that you delight your client. But going the extra mile doesn’t mean that you have to be always saying ‘yes.’

They understand that you have other limitations and circumstances that are beyond your control. So be true to him and never pretend to be someone who knows everything even if it’s beyond your skills.

I remember when I was working with a team before. There was that team member who is really that kind of showy person who is looking for ways to prove to the client that he was the best. One time the client asked for someone who knows how to write content and create a content marketing strategy. I know it’s my forte but I want the client to make a choice. But due to his eagerness, he volunteered to the job, and the client agreed.

But later on, that person chatted me asking for help!

So be helpful to always delight your client in everything you do. But do not try to impress him thru your words. Instead, let your actions show.

There was a client who hired me for his short-term project. When the project has ended, he gave this feedback.

upwork freelancer 5 star feedback

Because of this, the client hired me to another contract, this time on an ongoing basis.

Step 7. Always look for repeat

Currently, I don’t apply to jobs anymore. But I get constant invites and offers not only because of the optimization process that I have implemented. There are times that I get direct offers because from friends of my previous clients.

Always give your best to your clients because if they are happy with your services, they will recommend you to their friends. Remember, these people are business professionals who have friends who are business professionals too! If you just understand this principle of delighting them and looking for a repeat, you don’t have to chase after clients and begging them to hire you but instead, get chased by jobs.

Step 8. Beware of accepting job offers

You might be asking me why? If my goal is to find a job on Upwork to work my way up to become a top rated Upwork freelancer, then why I should be wary of accepting job offers?

I was a victim of this trap. I have a 100% Job Success Score before which I maintained for 2 years. But when I accepted some offers from clients who don’t have clear instructions about the job. The last time I heard from them was that they were telling me that I should receive an email instructing me what to do.

But I waited and waited and no email has arrived. So I followed them up and got no reply. So I can’t start working the job and as a result, the contract became idle after some time.

So I don’t have any other choice, but to end the contract by myself. And as a result, my job success score plummeted to 90%! So I worked hard to get it back. I’m glad it’s 96% now.

upwork freelancer job success score

Take note that most of the clients on Upwork are start-ups. They are working on their startup on a trial and error basis, so when it’s not working, they don’t pursue the project.

So the next time when somebody sent you an offer, be sure that you have already a clear agreement about the task or project.

Your Takeaway

Now we’ve reached the end of the half of the journey. I have shown you my exact strategies to become a top rated Upwork freelancer.

The other half of the journey is for you to implement what you have learned. Always remember that life is a continuous learning process. Do not just rely on the strategies that I have mentioned. Continue to learn and challenge the status quo.

Maybe the best thing that you can do right now is optimizing your profile to see what works and what’s not working. In the previous posts, I have mentioned that there’s a template to record your Optimization tests. For your convenience, just enter your email below and you will get this straight to you inbox for free.



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