How to Become a Top Rated Freelancer on Upwork

Last updated on August 13, 2020

freelance writing on upwork

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On March 26, I received an email from Upwork, right after they announced their TOP RATED FREELANCER PROGRAM. The email read:


If you received the same email, I know you were also quite excited – as should be! Actually, only 10% of freelancers on Upwork are Top Rated. 10% is a small number but the qualification bar that Upwork sets is quite high. If you want to qualify and get the Top Rated badge on your profile, you need to deliver great quality work consistently and adopt freelancer best practices.

But what is the Top Rated program all about?

The Top Rated Freelancer program recognizes the highest-performing freelancers working on the Upwork website. It’s a program that helps clients find the best freelancers in terms of top performance. These high performing freelancers have a TOP RATED badge on their profile.


The program also seeks to recognize the efforts put by freelancers as they aim to produce consistent, high-quality results that impact clients positively. A top-rated freelancer, as the site describes them, is one that has an impressive reputation, has a history of successful tasks and makes the site a safe and vibrant working platform. This program is a huge morale booster and when you get this badge, you want to most definitely keep it!

Top Rated Requirements

The requirements in summary, are:

1) Earnings of at least $1,000 in the last one year.

2) A complete profile (100%)
To get the Top Rated badge on your profile, you need to have a complete profile with all the details fully filled in and updated. A complete profile attracts more clients than an incomplete one. If your profile is at 40% and another freelancer’s profile is at 100%, which one is more attractive?

  • A complete profile consists of the following key things:
    – a clear, close-cropped photo of yourself.
  • a title – talk about your key skills e.g Java Developer with over 3 years experience, Well-read Articulate Writer, Transcription Specialist.
  • a sample of your work i.e your portfolio.
  • Your overview section should be an opportunity to highlight your key skills and strengths, and why you are a good fit for your potential client. Ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors.
  • Skill tests taken – It’s advisable to take at least three English tests to prove to your clients that you are fluent in the English language. You can do other tests as well, depending on which industry you are in. Aim to be at the top 30%, and definitely not less than ‘ABOVE AVERAGE’ If you get a fail result, it’s advisable to hide it.

Read: A review of the Upwork site

3) At least 30 days’ work history

4) Updated availability status

The availability of the freelancer also matters because Upwork needs to have ready workers when clients need their work done.

5) A job success rating of at least 90%

You get this rating when clients are satisfied with your work and they leave you great feedback/rating, preferably 5 out 5. If you have too many jobs in progress, it is not advisable to end the contracts all at once as this may affect your job success rating.

Read: Upwork account suspension – why it happens

6) Zero recent account holds (no account interference due to customer dissatisfaction and ignoring rules.)

That means there have been no account interference due to customer dissatisfaction or due to your ignoring Upwork rules. One such rule is that a client should always pay you via the Upwork platform. If a client asks to pay you outside the platform, that is a violation of Upwork policy. Other policy violations are having multiple accounts, and if Upwork are uncertain of your identity.

Freelancer Best Practices

Quality of Work: Aim to have and keep a good reputation.  How do you build a good reputation? Always do great work and don’t over-promise and then end up disappointing your clients. Aim to satisfy your clients and then some. That way, you’ll always get a 5 out of 5 rating, and even if not always, not less than 4.8.

Read Also: How To Write a Great Proposal

Sometimes clients forget to leave a review and you’ll need to send them an email reminding them to end the contract unless they are planning to send you more work. Potential clients always check your profile to see the kind of feedback that previous clients have written. Ensure you meet deadlines so as to gain trust from the client. When you gain the client’s trust, this can lead to more projects, referrals and repeat clients.

Communication:  Communication is key for every freelancer, and more so if you want to qualify for the Top Rated program. Before you begin the project, make sure you have all the information you need so that the project can go on smoothly.  Update the client regularly on the progress of the project. Be honest and realistic enough to promise what you can deliver. If you suspect a delay might occur,  inform them in advance.

Benefits of the Upwork Top Rated Freelancer Program

According to Upwork, qualifiers in this program will stand out above all the other freelancers in these ways:

  • Higher priority whenever email, chat or phone support is required (no delays or queuing.)
  • Individual tips to better one’s profile.
  • In-house recruiting strategy that links members to exclusive jobs when they become available.
  • A dominant (standing out) profile with a Top Rated badge that is advantaged than standard profiles.

Read: This is why you’re not being hired on Upwork

Upwork is also working on a program to recognize high earners under the Upwork Top Rated Freelancer Program. This will place them higher in the program. They also promise more benefits in future to help freelancers earn more and maintain their top-rated statuses. Let’s keep our eyes and ears open.

Over to you! Are you a Top Rated Freelancer? What are your views about this program? And has it helped you gain more clients on Upwork?

About the author

Virginia Nakitari is a work from home mom passionate about making money online. She's here to show you legitimate companies offering full-time, part-time and remote jobs from home! Stay tuned!

  • Looks like the computation for “Top Rated freelancers” was skewed against freelancers from Elance, at least from personal experience and forum discussions on Elance.

    • Thanks for your comment Ben. There’s a lot of talk in the forums. I’ve been following the conversations too. Well, this Top Rated program is relatively ‘newish’ Let’s see how this turns out, benefits and all.

  • Excellent insights Sheeroh. Am also a top rated client and am following to see how it spans out. So far so good coz i receive over 10 invites daily, though some jobs are not my best fit, but i get new clients. Keep up the good job.

  • Hi Sheeroh,

    I had no idea that one can become a top rated freelancer on upwork..This shall be my goal in the coming year.

    Thank you for the insights you continue to provide, especially to newbies like myself. I am looking forward to a fruitful online career.

  • Thanks for your information, Sheeroh….I used to be a medical transcriptionist (independent subcontractor) 14 years ago, and am now an empty-nester, wanting to get back into the game. Your advice is priceless; the world has changed so much since I was last transcribing!


  • Thanks Ruth for your timely advice, and congratulations on the top rate. I am a newbie and have not had a job. Any advice? Thanks in advance

    • Yes Mercy. It’s not easy landing a job on Upwork as a newbie, but you’ve got to hang in there, bid consistently and write proposals that meet the clients needs. Your profile needs to be at 100% too.

  • Hello ,
    Very good insight. Need some kidogo advice though. I have had opportunities to hire on Upwork but that whole credit card scenario ain’t working out well. Any avenues or insights on how to use local/ foreign billing methods?
    As you know they don’t allow debit cards and paypal


    • I hire on Upwork from time to time. Currently, I use my Payoneer card. Before that, I had linked my Co-op card but that was way back in 2012. Why don’t you contact Support. I’m sure they can help.

  • Sheeroh, I can only say Thank You! I’ve broken off from my online work so often, sometimes I feel guilty having registered with all these work platforms and then just neglecting them just like that. I want to embark on revamping and uploading and renewing my vigor like before. Thanks a lot.

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