Mastering Upwork: A Guide to Earning Badges and Building Reputation

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How To Earn Badges and Build a Lasting Reputation on Upwork

Earning badges on Upwork is a natural process for all freelancers. However, if you’re new here and don’t have a badge yet, you might be wondering about the procedure to get one. Also, as a freelancer, you may want to increase your badge status over time and, thus, expand your capabilities of making money on Upwork. So, let’s talk about how the Upwork system for awarding badges works below.

The Importance of Badges and Reputation on Upwork

Badges on the Upwork freelance platform are a kind of identifier of the reputation of a particular freelancer – the higher the status of the badge, the more interested potential employers will be in cooperation, and the higher the rates the specialist who has it will be able to claim.

Understanding Upwork Badges

Is Upwork a good way to make money? Yes, it is. To help freelancers stand out from others and highlight their expertise, Upwork has introduced its own badge system. This system makes it easier for employers to select contractors for their projects.

Specific badges and what they signify

Currently, Upwork freelancers can receive badges of three levels. Let’s look at them in more detail.

Rising Talent

How to get rising talent on Upwork, you may ask. Generally speaking, this type of badge is awarded to freelancers who have recently signed up on the Upwork platform and filled out their profiles 100%. It tells employers that you are new but already have enough experience in your niche and have proven it positively both within the platform (that is, if you have already taken part in Upwork projects, you have received a Job Success Score of at least 90%) and outside of it. 

how to get the Upwork Rising Talent Badge?
Mastering Upwork: A Guide to Earning Badges and Building Reputation 3

Having received such a badge, you become an object of interest primarily for employers who do not want to waste a lot of time looking for a specialist since, most likely, your work schedule for Upwork is not yet overloaded. At the same time, you should not think that Rising Talent is something about inexperience. On the contrary, many freelancers come to Upwork to have a more flexible work schedule than with a full time job, as they are already great experts in their niche.

Benefits:

  • A one-time bonus of 30 free Connects;
  • Ability to offer consultations to share expertise with clients.

So, how to get the Upwork Rising Talent Badge?

  • Complete projects on time and as promised to clients;
  • Maintain a 100% complete profile with accurate skills and genuine work;
  • Keep your availability status updated;
  • Regularly submit proposals to projects that match your skill set;
  • Adhere to the Upwork Terms of Service;
  • Submitted a proposal in the past 90 days or were hired more than 30 days ago;
  • Have a JSS of at least 90%, if you’ve earned a JSS (you can earn a Rising Talent badge before you have a JSS);
  • Have no holds on your account during the past 90 days;
  • Be invited by Upwork.

In addition, agencies must also have:

  • 2 or more team members;
  • Maintain a 100% complete agency profile;
  • Maintain a 100% complete agency owner profile;
  • Maintain a 60% or higher average profile completeness across the agency.

Top Rated

Once you’ve already earned a Rising Talent badge (or your Job Success Score is at least 90% for at least 13 of the last 16 weeks) and your first project on Upwork was completed more than 90 days ago, you can eventually upgrade this badge to a Top Rated one. This does not require any special action from you – just expand the list of your skills over time, update your availability, cooperate with employers on Upwork (you have to earn $1,000 USD or more in the past 12 months), and receive positive feedback from them.

how to get the Upwork Top Rated Badge?
Mastering Upwork: A Guide to Earning Badges and Building Reputation 4

Benefits:

  • More control over your Job Success Score;
  • Invitations to submit proposals to jobs assisted by Talent Specialists;
  • Job Digest email to make it easier for you to find jobs that are a great match;
  • Faster payments on hourly contracts;
  • Ability to offer consultations to share expertise with clients.

So, how to get the Upwork Top Rated Badge?

CriteriaFreelancerAgency
Job Success Score90% or higherAgency and agency owner: 90% or higher (or none earned yet)
First Project on UpworkMore than 90 days ago
Rising Talent Status or Job Success ScoreMaintained 90% or higher for at least 13 of the last 16 weeksMaintained 90% or higher for at least 13 of the last 16 weeks
Profile Completeness100% complete100% complete agency owner profile with photo; agency profile with logo, overview, and services; agency member profiles at least 60% complete on average
Earnings in the Past 12 MonthsAt least $1,000At least $10,000
AvailabilityUp-to-date (if unavailable, set a date estimate)Up-to-date (if unavailable, set a date estimate)
Account StandingNo recent account holdsNo recent account holds (including yourself, your agency, and all agency members including agency owners)
Activity on the Platform in the Past 90 DaysProposal, accepted invitation, or earningsProposal, accepted invitation, or earnings

Top Rated Plus

Receiving the Top Rated Plus badge shows you have experience working on large or long-term projects (they have to bring you $10,000 or more in total in the past 12 months and the overall JSS of >=90%). Only 3% of the total number of freelancers on Upwork have this distinction (therefore, they have a really high annual salary here), so hunting such a specialist is a real challenge for employers.

Benefits:

  • More control over your Job Success Score;
  • Invitations to submit proposals to jobs assisted by Talent Specialists;
  • Our Job Digest email to make it easier for you to find jobs that are a great match;
  • Faster payments on hourly contracts;
  • Ability to offer consultations to share expertise with clients;
  • Priority customer support.

So, how to get the Upwork Top Rated Plus Badge?

How to get the Upwork Top Rated Plus Badge?
CriteriaFreelancersAgencies
Total Earnings in the Past 12 MonthsOver $10,000Over $20,000
Large ContractsWorked or working on one or more large contracts in the past 12 months without negative outcomes (must earn funds on the large contract within the past 12 months for it to remain qualified)Worked or working on one or more large contracts in the past 12 months without negative outcomes (<10% for agencies)
Top Rated StatusMaintained Top Rated statusMaintained Top Rated status

Expert-Vetted

The Expert-Vetted badge is awarded to freelancers who have successfully passed an interview and verification by talent managers on the Upwork platform (only those who are automatically selected by this platform receive an invitation). Only 1% of talents on Upwork have this badge and it means that you have exceptional expertise in your field and strong soft skills.

Only freelancers and agencies who work in these categories can become Expert-Vetted:

  • Web, Mobile, and Software Development;
  • Design and Creative;
  • Sales and Marketing;
  • HR;
  • Consulting;
  • Writing.

Benefits:

  • Be identified as the top 1% of talent on Upwork;
  • An Expert-Vetted badge on your profile that displays to Upwork Enterprise clients;
  • A dedicated Talent Manager who can help optimize your profile and coach you through Upwork strategies;
  • Opportunities to partner with Enterprise clients, including Fortune 500 companies;
  • Ability to offer consultations to share expertise with clients.

Steps to Earn Your First Badge

If you want to make money on Upwork, it’s time to find out how to get your first Upwork badge.

Criteria for the Rising Talent Badge

Upwork states that to receive this badge, a freelancer must have a fully completed profile with an accurate list of skills and at least several positive reviews from employers within the platform (please remember that the overall Job Success Score, or JSS, must be at least 90% if you got it at all). You also need to comply with the platform’s internal policies and regularly update your availability status.

Building a strong profile: the foundation

Just imagine that your profile is a kind of a landing page for your small business. Thus, to create a strong profile, you need to come up with a catchy description with keywords. In addition, think about what list of skills you can provide and what cases from your experience you can cite. You are also welcome to present reviews from your past employers, upload a professional photo, and customize the default URL leading to your profile as well.

Crafting winning proposals

In addition to filling out your profile, you can create a job proposal aimed at a specific employer. In a nutshell, this is something like a cover letter that contains a greeting, a short self-introduction, your own vision of solving the employer’s problem, a list of links leading to your relevant cases, as well as your hourly rate (or a fixed rate for the entire project). More information on this can be found in one of our articles: How to Create a Proposal That Wins Jobs on Upwork?

Strategies to Become Top Rated

In this paragraph, we invite you to consider some recommendations that will help you obtain the highest-level badge.

Consistently deliver high-quality work

The key to obtaining a Top Rated badge is to fully comply with the requirements listed by employers for the projects they delegate to you. Also, don’t delay submitting your work – missing deadlines can harm your rating a lot.

Maintain high job success scores

To maintain a high Job Success Score, that is, at least 90%, you will need to focus all your efforts on establishing strong, long-term relationships with clients, completing complex jobs, and participating in high-paying projects.

Effective communication with clients

Clients usually need regular and quick feedback from the freelancer’s side. At the same time, it is important to maintain an optimal balance between the frequency of contacts and their productivity – employers do not like too frequent clarification of project details, so they begin to doubt the level of expertise of their contractors.

Meeting or exceeding client expectations

Surely, as a conscientious specialist, you will want to exceed your employer’s expectations by doing better work than the list of requirements implied. At the same time, do not forget to ensure that you didn’t miss any of these requirements while refining the completed work.

Best Practices for Sustaining a Good Reputation

Now, we invite you to delve into creating a good reputation on Upwork – these insights will help you earn even more per day.

Regularly update your skills and portfolio

Whether you are well-versed in social media marketing, graphic design, blockchain development, freelance writing, data analysis, web development, or something else – if you don’t expand your experience with new skills over time, you won’t be able to positively affect your reputation on Upwork. Thus, to earn money here even more intensively than ever before, just continue to grow professionally. And, of course, don’t forget to add new skills to your profile and upload new cases that confirm each of them.

Ask for and manage client feedback

Although many Upwork freelancers believe that asking for the client’s feedback is unprofessional, we remain convinced that if approached correctly, it can only benefit you.

Handling negative feedback

It’s great if you receive positive feedback about your collaboration, but what if it turns out to be negative? In fact, it’s okay unless you deal with it regularly. Of course, this can damage your reputation, especially if you have a Top Rated badge. Still, ultimately, the harder and more diligently you work on subsequent projects, the faster you will restore it.

Understanding the reason for negative reviews

To minimize the risks of receiving negative feedback in the future, you will need to analyze what you did so that the client did not like the result of your work. In general, working on mistakes never remains without a trace, so your task is to grow as a professional steadily.

Strategies for resolving conflicts

One of the best strategies for resolving conflicts with clients is to offer to fix work that was not initially approved or to perform a few additional Upwork jobs. After this, you can ask your employer to leave new feedback, considering that you have ensured full compliance with the client’s expectations.

Requesting additional reviews to balance out one negative feedback

You should not write to a client asking for feedback while your task has not yet been completed and verified. Also, don’t do this when you are faced with a large number of edits while agreeing on the details of the task with clients – most likely, you will receive negative feedback about your cooperation. And please avoid situations when you offer to do some job without requesting money but in exchange for a positive review – this is strictly prohibited by the rules of the Upwork platform (if Upwork detects such an offering, it will block your bank account and payment method within the platform). Instead, if you suddenly notice that some of your projects that were approved by clients have not yet received feedback, you can write to them with a corresponding request – perhaps they simply forgot to do this.

Advancing Beyond Badges

While earning badges shouldn’t be your ultimate goal at Upwork (we still believe that here, you just want to shift from a full time job to more flexible work conditions), you can get yourself closer to earning the most prestigious ones by following strategies like these.

Transitioning from Rising Talent to Top Rated status

To upgrade your Rising Talent badge to the Top Rated one, you must have an RSS of 90% or more for 13 of the last 16 weeks. As practice shows, this is not difficult to do if you constantly analyze the feedback of your previous employers and eliminate your professional shortcomings over time.

Leveraging badges for more complex and higher-paying projects

Another effective way to improve your badge status is to regularly choose complex, long-term projects from job listings and collaborate with the same clients. In general, just do your job well, and Upwork will definitely notice this and boost your rating.

Protecting Your Reputation

As practice shows, your reputation is mainly formed under the influence of feedback from your regular clients. Thus, to protect your rating from one-time negative experiences and continue earning money, you need to aim to establish long-term, trusting relationships with those clients with whom you initially found common ground. The more such clients you have, the better – they will be able to leave their positive reviews as you complete the next task for them, which means that your rating will constantly grow. In turn, if you suddenly receive a bad rating, against the backdrop of dozens of other positive reviews, it is unlikely to have much impact on your JSS.

Conclusion

Here is a comprehensive comparison table of the qualifications for Rising Talent, Top Rated, Top Rated Plus, and Expert-Vetted statuses on Upwork:

CriteriaRising TalentTop RatedTop Rated PlusExpert-Vetted
Job Success Score (JSS)At least 90% if earned90% or higher90% or higher
First Project on UpworkMore than 90 days agoMore than 90 days ago
Profile Completeness100% complete with accurate skills and genuine work100% complete100% complete
Earnings in the Past 12 MonthsAt least $1,000Over $10,000
Large ContractsWorked or working on one or more large contracts in the past 12 months without negative outcomes
AvailabilityKeep your availability status updatedUp-to-date (if unavailable, set a date estimate)Up-to-date (if unavailable, set a date estimate)
Account StandingAdhere to the Upwork Terms of Service; no holds in the past 90 daysNo recent account holdsNo recent account holds
Activity on the Platform in the Past 90 DaysSubmitted a proposal or hired more than 30 days agoProposal, accepted invitation, or earningsProposal, accepted invitation, or earnings
Invitation by UpworkBe invited by UpworkInvitation-only, followed by a screening process
Completion of Projects on Time and as Promised to ClientsComplete projects on time and as promised
Regularly Submit Proposals to Projects that Match Your Skill SetRegularly submit proposals
Maintained Rising Talent Status or JSS of at Least 90% for at Least 13 of the Last 16 WeeksMaintained Rising Talent status or JSS of at least 90% for 13 of 16 weeksMaintained Top Rated statusMaintained Top Rated Plus status
Additional CriteriaEarn funds on large contracts within the past 12 months to remain qualifiedScreening process testing abilities and professionalism

Here is a comparison table of the benefits for Rising Talent, Top Rated, Top Rated Plus, and Expert-Vetted statuses on Upwork:

BenefitsRising TalentTop RatedTop Rated PlusExpert-Vetted
Bonus ConnectsA one-time bonus of 30 free Connects
Control over Job Success ScoreMore controlMore controlMore control
Invitations to Submit Proposals to Jobs Assisted by Talent SpecialistsYesYesYes
Job Digest EmailYesYesYes
Faster Payments on Hourly ContractsYesYesYes
Ability to Offer Consultations to Share Expertise with ClientsYesYesYesYes
Priority Customer SupportYesYes
Dedicated Talent ManagerYes
Opportunities to Partner with Enterprise Clients, Including Fortune 500 CompaniesYes
Identification as Top 1% of Talent on UpworkYes
Mastering Upwork: A Guide to Earning Badges and Building Reputation

We hope that after reading this article, you realized that getting your first badge at Upwork is not at all difficult – your Upwork earn money strategy just has to include analyzing in detail the task and requirements specified by the client and performing your work to achieve full compliance with them. At the same time, to receive more prestigious insignia, you will need more complex and lengthy projects in your Upwork portfolio – for this, you have to constantly boost your skills.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it typically take to earn a Rising Talent badge?

A Rising Talent badge is awarded to all new freelancers on Upwork (that is, those who completed their first project less than 90 days ago) who have received their first positive feedback from clients. Therefore, it all depends on how quickly you complete the freelance jobs assigned to you. As for the formal aspects of receiving this award, as soon as the Upwork platform sends you the appropriate invitation to the program and you accept it, you will receive your badge within the next 48 hours.

Why did I lose my Rising Talent badge?

There are a few reasons you may lose your Rising Talent badge:
— You receive poor public or private feedback from a client.
— You’ve attempted to move payments off Upwork or repeatedly communicated with a client outside of Upwork before a contract was started.
— If you’re working toward a Top Rated badge, you may notice your Rising Talent badge is removed, despite keeping a high Job Success Score (JSS). Don’t worry, as long as your JSS remains high, you’re on track to earning a Top Rated badge.

What are common pitfalls that prevent earning Top Rated status?

Perhaps the most obvious mistake of freelancers who fail to achieve the coveted Top Rated status is the lack of work on their previous mistakes – they do not analyze the negative feedback from their past clients and do not try to correct tasks that were performed below the employers’ expectations. In general, your main goal in the context of making money is to ensure the current Job Success Score of 90% or higher.

How can I recover from a significant reputation setback on Upwork?

Usually, all negative cases of cooperation with clients are resolved directly in the process of communication with them – specifically, you can offer to fix errors or perform some new tasks. However, if you believe that a negative review was left by a client undeservedly, you can contact Upwork customer service in chat and ask the virtual assistant to remove the negative review from your profile. Do not forget to indicate the contract’s corresponding ID containing the negative review.

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