Six Ways to Monetize Your Upwork Profile

I’ve been a freelancer for 9 years. Upwork has provided me with the sort of work that I never thought possible before that. The sort of work that you can enjoy doing and make good money while you’re at it — all on your own schedule. But, that’s not the whole story.

Contrary to popular belief, there is great value to be found in a successful Upwork profile beyond the obvious “do a project, get paid, move on” approach. A great profile can be a magnet for opportunity and passive income.

Most people don’t understand that Upwork can be a powerful marketing tool. Now, I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is, there are several ways to establish income streams by using a well-established Upwork profile. The bad news is, it takes time and effort and resilience — and when I say resilience, I mean resisting the urge to take your early clients off Upwork to avoid the 10% fee. Now, let’s dive in.

You can use it as a bargaining tool

Nothing says “my services are worth $X/hour” like a list of real-life projects where you’ve already charged $X/hour, accompanied by positive feedback from the people who were happy to pay you $X/hour.

Not only when bidding on Upwork projects, but when negotiating a rate/salary outside of Upwork, simply linking to your impressive (and well-paid) work history can provide proof of value for your prospective client and increase your earnings.

It can attract direct contacts from potential clients

I’ve had about 10 projects offered to me outside of Upwork by people who somehow came across my Upwork profile. Sometimes I was recommended by my Upwork clients, sometimes they Googled for freelance developers, and sometimes they clicked my Upwork profile link from other sites, such as LinkedIn or Twitter.

Out of those 10 projects, I accepted 2, and each one was both lucrative and successful. For those that seemed interesting but not quite up my alley, I recommended an agency to the prospective client (this was on LinkedIn and in-person). The agency completed 3 of those 10 projects and paid me a healthy percentage of the profits. This increased my earnings in that period by some 20% with very little effort.

It can serve as a guarantee

When you’re talking to a potential client, employer, or coworker, it helps to validate your expertise and work history. In the outsourcing arrangement I mentioned above, my collaboration with the agency started when their business development executive came across my…you guessed it, Upwork profile.

It serves as a guarantee for the things I write about freelancing here as well. It would be hard to take my advice seriously if I had nothing to show for it.

You can create content about it

Writing about Upwork has been lucrative in its own right. Not only did the first article I wrote about Upwork gather over 50K views and earn decent money, but it also prompted several people to contact me with offers ranging from founding startups to consulting.

My blog-writing work also inspired me to write a book about freelancing. That has been one of the most rewarding professional experiences of my life.

Creating content is thus a great way to get an additional income stream flowing and open yourself up to even more possibilities. Again, like above, it requires the sacrifice of first building up your profile to a level that provides strong validation of your ideas.

You can teach it

After the success of my Upwork-related article, I started preparing scripts for a Udemy course on the subject. After some trial and error in recording, the course is now open for students.

It is difficult to estimate the financial potential of this project, but it is a fun side hustle and, like writing, has the potential to attract new contacts and new possibilities. Plus, there is something genuinely rewarding about passing on one’s knowledge to a new generation.

The thought “I wish I had someone explain this to me 10 years ago” comes to mind often when I write course material.

You can use it to help others

To end on a more philanthropic note — you can use your Upwork success to help people find the courage to take that leap. People who are unhappy in their current jobs, underpaid or under-appreciated can find their way to a better life through freelancing. If you can show them your success, it can help propel them forward.

This is especially true if you live in a country or community that’s struggling economically. Having access to the global freelancing market helps workers fly higher than their local circumstances could possibly allow. This is true in my case, and I am proud to say that I gave at least 10 people a good, solid nudge towards Upwork.

With Upwork success come client referrals, and with referrals come opportunities you couldn't dream of just a year earlier. As a bonus, your sales and proposal-writing skills inevitably evolve.

In summary, your Upwork reputation and work history shouldn’t be a mere afterthought to the amount of money you’re making in the short-term. There is significant potential in an established Upwork profile — if you know how to channel it.

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