For Upwork profile visibility you have two choices: public or private. A lot of freelancers use public because it’s easier for clients to find you. Most freelancers think private is bad because you don’t show up in search results. Plus, you probably only go private when you haven’t made money in 30 days.
Unlike most people, my profile is set to private all the time (even when I make money). I used to keep it public, but my attitude changed. So let’s look at some factors to help you decide how to set your Upwork profile visibility.
1. Do you care about SEO?
Private profiles don’t show up in search results on Upwork or Google. If you want your name and profile to show up, then you need to have a public profile. You can limit the settings so only certain people can find you, but without the public setting, you won’t get found at all. I don’t care about SEO because even when I set my profile temporarily back to public I was able to rank at the top of search results within 24 hours.
2. Do you care about invitations?
If you like to get invited to gigs then you need a public profile. Since clients can’t find you in search results when you’re private, they also can’t invite you. You can still get invited by Upwork, but they won’t invite you as often. My experience with invites is hit or miss, and often invitation clients are a big waste of time. I like to pick and choose clients, so I leave my profile private.
3. Do you care if other freelancers find you?
This is a big one for me. I have nearly 5,300 Udemy students. Another 4000+ YouTube subscribers. My freelance forum threads have half a million views. Since I talk about freelancing on Upwork, people hunt down my profile because they think it’s okay to borrow (often referred to as “drawing inspiration”) from it to make their profile stronger.
Sometimes I spend eight hours or more crafting my bio, so I don’t want freelancers plagiarizing unique creative thoughts that took me hours, or sometimes days to come up with.
Another problem is freelancers who blatantly rip off profiles. Some have copied my entire bio, name, location, and even my picture! I had to contact Upwork three separate times to have fake profiles removed.
4. Do you care about exclusivity?
There’s less perceived value in things that are freely available. My clients tend to share referrals. Those referrals search for me on Upwork, but they don’t find me. So they reach out by email or phone. They say they tried to find me but couldn’t. Then I explain why I’m not listed because of high-demand, time-wasters and thieves.
Suddenly the client realizes I’m not like every other freelancer. It’s not just about getting hired or getting the most money. To work with me you have to put in time and effort and you have to prove why you’re worthy of my services. All of this creates an element of exclusivity. You want what you can’t have. For that reason alone it’s a lot easier to sell yourself to clients when your profile is purposely set to private.
So how should you set your Upwork profile visibility?
Do what you want. Mine is private and no I won’t show it to you. You’ll see glimpses of it on my YouTube channel, in The Underground [our discord chat] or in my Udemy courses. But I don’t share my profile except when I apply to gigs. Below is a recap to help you make the decision:
When to set Upwork profile visibility to public:
- When it is important that you show up in search results
- When you want to get invited by clients
- When you don’t mind if other freelancers steal from you
- When you want to maximize the number of potential clients you work with
When to set Upwork profile visibility to private
- When you don’t care about search ranking
- When you don’t want to get invited by clients or Upwork
- When you don’t want other freelancers to steal from you
- When you want the client experience to feel more exclusive
Neither choice is particularly better than the other. Neither is bad. Upwork makes the private setting seem bad so they can charge you $10 to go public when you haven’t made money. But private is a good thing as far as I’m concerned so it’s all a matter of preference.