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How to write an Upwork bio: do’s and don’ts

Updated July 28, 2021 | Originally published January 27, 2019

You’ve decided to spruce up your Upwork profile to land some new gigs, and you’re looking for advice on how to write an Upwork bio that clients can’t resist. Well, my freelancin’ friend, you’re in the “write” place! Read on for some Upwork bio-writing best practices, brought to you by a freelance managing editor who’s read hundreds of bios and hired dozens of freelance writers on Upwork.

Your Upwork bio is the one place where you can show off your lovely personality to potential clients. But even expert freelance writers have bios that are stuffy, overly formal, and well…a little self-centered.

Hate to break it to ya, but if your bio reads like a CV or cover letter, you might as well set a stack of money on fire.

Unless you’ve got money to burn like Granny here, you’ll want to remember the golden rule when writing your Upwork bio.

The Golden Rule

Your bio is not for you. It’s for your client.

Yes, your bio is about you — but it’s not for you.

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This is an important distinction to keep in mind.

If your bio doesn’t hook your client from the first sentence, you can kiss that interview goodbye.

Which leads me to my first tip on how to write an Upwork profile bio that will help you make a living on Upwork.

How to write an Upwork bio: do’s and don’ts

With the Golden Rule in mind, let’s dive in to some best (and worst) practices for writing an Upwork bio.

DON’T: Write long, bulky paragraphs

It’s 2021 and we’re all, like, super busy. No one wants to read a whole page about how talented and experienced you are.

This is the era of the tweet, after all. Say what you mean, and say it quickly.

DO: Keep it short and scannable

Apply some content writing best practices to your Upwork bio: use bullet points, short sentences, and short paragraphs to keep the client reading.

Remember, most of us scroll the internet on our phones, so content that looks short on your computer screen might look a whole lot longer on a phone or tablet screen.

Pro tip: Read your Upwork bio on your phone. If you think it’s too long to read, your prospective clients will, too.

DON’T: Write a one-size-fits-all bio

“I have ten years’ experience in writing for several niches. I would be an excellent fit for any project because I’m versatile, qualified, and experienced.”

Now, class, can anyone tell me what’s wrong with this Upwork bio excerpt? Aside from the fact that it’s vague as heck?

Answer: it’s way too broad. This imaginary freelancer is obviously looking for any kind of work they can get their hands on.

If you want to land your dream freelance writing client, consider your ideal client when writing your bio and tailor your content accordingly.

DO: Address the client directly

Here’s the introduction to my own Upwork bio:

Looking for a top-rated writer with a lifelong passion for the craft? You’ve come to the “write” place! Writing is my day job, my side hustle, and my hobby.

(Yes, I absolutely did make a pun in my bio, because this is my house! And I really like puns, okay?)

Remember, the bio is for the client, so talk to them! Tell them what sets you apart and what you can do for their business.

DON’T: Repeat information already featured in other sections of your profile

Try this (totally made-up) bio on for size:

“I am a journalist with several years’ experience in writing. I earned my BA in journalism from the University of Hard Knocks, where I graduated summa cum laude. I’ve worked with nationally acclaimed publications like USAToday, The Guardian, and The Independent.”

Now, class, can anyone tell me what’s wrong with this Upwork bio?

Answer: it’s repetitive.

All this info is already available (and easily scannable!) in the Education and Experience sections.

In short, it doesn’t give the client anything new to work with.

And most importantly, it doesn’t tell the client anything about you. Ya know, the living, breathing person behind all those fancy-schmancy qualifications and bylines?

DO: Provide context

(This is gonna sound a little contradictory to my last point, but just trust me, okay?)

There is a right way to flaunt your education and experience right in your bio.

“But you just said not to talk about that in the bio!”

You’re right, I did.

But I’m gonna tell you what I tell my team of freelance writers: don’t repeat information unless you’re providing additional context.

“But how on earth do I do that?”

Simple. I’ll use an example from my own bio to illustrate:

What sets me apart:

– 5+ years’ experience as a freelance writer and editor

– 2 degrees in writing from universities in 2 countries (see the education section for more info!)

– Extensive knowledge of advanced topics related to language, including rhetoric, discourse, and syntax

– Rave reviews from 20+ satisfied clients

Instead of saying, “I earned my MA in writing from the University of Winchester in England,” I highlighted the fact that I’ve studied internationally.

Instead of saying, “I earned my BA in English at Lander University,” I discussed how the subjects I studied made me a top-rated writer and all-round logophile.

TL;DR: Figure out what sets you apart in terms of qualifications and experience. Instead of bragging about it or simply stating it, contextualize it in a way that benefits and engages the client.

DON’T: Be afraid to show off your personality

My bio is friendly and casual — something many of my clients have commented on in their job invitations:

“I love the way you write, I think you could be the perfect fit for this role!”

“I came across your profile and I was impressed by your bio and feedback.”

“You certainly do sound like the perfect person for this job.”

Those are real comments from happy clients both past and present.

The key here is to strike a balance. Don’t be too casual — use proper grammar — but don’t sound so formal that you come across as robotic, either. (Besides, there are enough robots on the internet.)

DO: Thank the client for their time

Again — and I cannot stress this enough — your bio is not for you. It’s for your client.

Rattling on about how qualified and experienced you are makes you seem…well, a little self-absorbed.

Your client went out of their way to read your bio and consider you for their job — so thank them for their time.

Here’s how my bio ends, after the bullet points:

Think I’m the perfect fit for your project? Just send me a message!Thanks for reading, and I look forward to (hopefully) working with you!

Boom! The potential client already feels valued and we haven’t even talked specs yet.

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TL;DR: Your Upwork bio is not for you. It’s for your client.

Seriously, write this on your forehead if you have to, because it is the key element of writing an Upwork profile bio that wins clients.

Now that you know how to write an Upwork profile bio, let’s move on to the next stage of our Upwork journey: how to write an Upwork proposal that gets you hired!

Speaking of proposals, starting in May, freelancers will be charged anywhere from $0.15 and $0.90 to submit a job proposal, as opposed to being free. To help freelancers and employers alike prepare for the transition, here is a comprehensive guide to the Upwork Connects pricing changes with everything you need to know.

Not ready for that part just yet? Consider sharing some of your own bio-writing wisdom (or woes) below!

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3 Responses

  1. Okay, I understand the proper approach I’m supposed to take but still have no idea where to start. Why you might ask? I’m 32 and only have a CELTA certification for teaching English and the best skills I jotted down in the skills section were basically just different kinds of translating and typing along with a tad bit of academic writing. Now, how do I sum all this up and sound impressive without making a complete ass of myself?
    These are the skills I entered in the skills section.
    Academic Transcription, General Transcription, Business Transcription, Translation, Writing, Email Support, Multiple Email Account Management, Customer Support, Communication Etiquette, Answering Product Questions, Administrative Support, Training Online LMS, Sales & Marketing, Microsoft Office and Typing.

    1. Hi Alex! Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment.

      To give you the most meaningful advice, I need a bit more info. What type of work are you looking to do? Do you want to stick with teaching/translating, or would you like to try something new? A bit of both perhaps?

      Who’s your ideal client? What problems are they facing that you can help solve?

      Once you’ve answered those questions, my advice would be to focus less on what skills you have and more on how you’ve applied them in your work. Do you have any memorable stories or examples from your teaching experience of how you’ve helped your ideal client solve their problems?

      As for not making an ass of yourself (which is a totally valid fear for anyone who’s ever had to market themselves!), I would recommend figuring out where your ideal client hangs out on the internet and doing some social listening. What words and tone of voice do they use to describe the problems you can help them with? Make a note of what you find. Then see if you can mirror their own language back to them in your bio and proposals. Not only will they want to hire you, but they’ll feel like you “get” them.

      Sounds like a fair bit of work, but these are just a few strategies that have worked for me. I hope they work for you too. If you need some more pointers, please don’t hesitate to reach out, and best of luck with your freelance career! 🙂

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