How to become Rising Talent

How to become a Rising Talent on Upwork

Do you want to become a Rising Talent on Upwork? This article describes the 7 steps to the Rising Talent status.

Getting started on Upwork is not an easy task, especially when you know that the platform has over 14 million users.

While we don’t know the exact figure, we know that there are *at least* around 4 million freelancer accounts on Upwork, and we can assume that there are about 150,000 to 200,000 active freelancers on the platform.

Source – Upwork Community Forum

By just looking at these figures, you may think that you have zero chance to land a gig on Upwork. After all, why would a client choose you over one of these thousands of active freelancers?

Well, that’s more or less why the “Rising Talent” status was invented in the first place.

This status is basically an intermediary step between being completely new on Upwork and becoming a Top-Rated freelancer. It’s a way for you to differentiate yourself from other, less active freelancers (and eventually get the good gigs for yourself).

If you’re reading this article, that’s because you want to know how to become a Rising Talent on Upwork. Please acknowledge the fact that there’s no formal ‘application process’ to become a Rising Talent on Upwork. Their algorithm will select you automatically if you meet the right criteria.

Let’s get started with everything you need to do in order to become a Rising Talent on Upwork.

Take and pass the Upwork Readiness Test

Upwork developed the ‘Upwork Readiness Test’ to make sure that any new-comer would know what working on Upwork entails. I like the idea because it forces you to really understand how Upwork works, the kind of fees they apply and what you can and cannot do.

While I don’t have access to the pool of questions that this test may ask you, I know for sure that you’ll be asked questions about these topics:

  • How the Job Success Score works and how it’s calculated.
  • How payment protection works (both for fixed-price and hourly gigs).
  • Things that are unacceptable coming from clients (such as asking for free work, getting paid outside of Upwork, etc).
  • What elements you must include in your profile to make it 100% complete and outstanding.
  • What means of communication are okay and not okay to use on Upwork.
  • What questions you should ask yourself before applying to a gig.
  • What’s the ‘responsiveness score’ and how you can increase it.
  • What a good proposal looks like.

If you asked any seasoned Upwork freelancer to take this test, he would score at least 8 on 10 easily without ‘reviewing’ any of the materials. That’s because this test makes sense and really reflects on the Upwork reality.

If you’re totally new to Upwork and if you’ve never worked for any client on the platform, I recommend you to spend at least some time navigating the Upwork Help Center and reading about the points I mentioned above. This should be more than sufficient to pass the ‘Upwork Readiness Test’!

Complete your projects on time

It makes sense that Upwork cares about deadlines and conscientiousness. Deadlines are at the core of project management, and they’re a good way to know whether a project is moving forward or not (and how well it’s moving forward).

On Upwork, there are basically two ways to work with clients:

  • On an hourly basis: You log your hours progressively as you work for the client. The logs are approved at the end of each week (Sunday) and you can withdraw your earnings 10 days later (Wednesday).
  • On a fixed-price basis: You structure your project around milestones with specific deadlines. You submit each milestone and once the client accepts it and releases the funds, you can withdraw your earnings after 5 days.

The notion that you should complete your projects on time seems to mostly apply to fixed-price contracts since they’re the ones with the deadlines.

Concretely speaking, it means that if you’re supposed to deliver your milestones every Wednesday, you shouldn’t deliver on Fridays. Repeating this *offense* multiple times will probably exclude you from the pool of potential Rising Talent freelancers.

My tip to avoid this kind of situation is to always *underpromise* rather than *overpromise*. If you think that something takes you 5 days to complete, you’ll be better off saying that it will take you 7 days, rather than 5 or even 4 days. With this tip, you’ll avoid a lot of future troubles, including delayed delivery and bad reviews!

Maintain a 100% complete profile

If you’ve read this segment in my other articles, you may pass this point. But if not, here’s a summary of what a 100% profile entails.

First of all, a 100% complete profile may be broken down into two parts (60% and 40%). The 60% completion rate can be obtained by completing the adding these key elements to your profile:

  • Profile picture
  • Profile headline
  • Profile description
  • Past employment history
  • At least one skill to your skillset

The remaining 40% completion rate can be obtained by a combination of any of these elements:

  • Portfolio items
  • Employment history items
  • Education background
  • Profile video
  • Linked account
  • Certifications
  • Other experiences

This stuff is a bit boring but there’s almost a science to building the perfect Upwork profile. I’ve written an article about how to write a good Upwork profile in order to help you land more gigs.

Keep your availability up-to-date

Your profile availability indicates whether you’re only partially or totally available to accept new contracts from clients. That’s a good indicator for clients who already know if they’re looking for someone for a small mission or for a full-time position.

On Upwork, there are three types of availability:

  • As Needed – Open to Offers. That one should be used only if you are already booked with contracts and clients. It’s basically a way to signify that you *may* be interested in new contracts if they’re appealing to you.
  • Less than 30 Hours / Week. That one is for beginning freelancers that already have a couple of contracts going on, but are ready to take more in.
  • More than 30 Hours / Week. That one is for beginning freelancers that can take anything that’s thrown at them. It’s a good way to show clients that you are highly available, and that any contract you have may turn into a long-term, recurrent contract.

It’s really easy to set up your profile availability by following these two steps.

Step 1

Step 2

Update your availability progressively as you’re moving up the Upwork’s scale of success.

Submit proposals that match with your skills

That one tip really applies to all freelancers, no matter how experienced and skilled they are.

To submit a proposal on Upwork, you have to follow these steps:

  1. Click the “Submit a Proposal” button. Duh.
  2. Select the hourly rate or the fixed-price bid, depending on the kind of project.
  3. Write a cover letter.
  4. Answer screening questions.
  5. Add attachments.
  6. Click the final “Submit a Proposal” button.

Given how long it takes to write consistent and meaningful proposals on Upwork, it’s a huge waste to apply to gigs that require skills you don’t possess.

It’s not just a waste of time, but also a waste of money (connects) and energy. Along with that, it may also hurt your profile. Imagine that a client accepts your offer for something you have no freaking clue about. That could end up terribly.

I’ve developed a theory about which gigs you should apply to, and I’ll probably write an article about it in the future. Here’s a hint:

From my experience, you should only apply to gigs that require a mix of both *skills you master* and *skills you partially master*. The repartition can be unequal, and it’s usually better if the gig requires more skills you master and fewer skills you partially master.

You should restrain yourself from applying to any job that consists only of *skills you don’t master* and *skills you partially master*, as it can end up terribly and just cut your freelancing career short on Upwork instantly.

We are all affected by what’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect. It’s an established psychological bias that pushes you to overestimate your own abilities, and in particular when it comes to skills.

Concretely speaking, it means that you’ll overestimate yourself while you’re applying to Upwork offers. You’ll think that you possess certain skills you don’t or that these skills are easy to learn on-the-go as you’re performing the contract.

The problem is that it’s generally too late to realize that you fooled yourself. You then perform terribly, start freaking out and end up getting a bad review for something that was *supposedly* easy to learn.


Adhere to Upwork’s Terms of Service

That one is not particularly sexy, but it makes sense. Why would Upwork reward you with a “badge” and a premium status if you don’t comply with its ToS, right?

The thing about Upwork’s ToS is that they’re not just your usual terms of service, but also real guidelines that define what’s acceptable or not as a freelancer on Upwork.

Here are all the things that you should *NOT* do on Upwork:

  • Don’t share your profile with other people.
  • Don’t receive payments outside of Upwork.
  • Don’t lie about your qualifications and accept contracts when you cannot complete them.
  • Don’t mix up your client and freelancer profile (basically, don’t post a client offer stating that you’re looking for a freelancing gig, and vice versa).
  • Don’t share contact information with clients unless it’s necessary to complete the contract.
  • Don’t spam. Basically, sending the same proposals over and over is a big no-no.
  • Don’t pressure clients into giving you good feedback.

It takes time to build up a strong Upwork profile, and it’s never a good idea to play with the rules. The price you would end up paying would be far greater than what you would make trying to outplay Upwork.

Be active in the past 90 days or joined in the past 30 days

As you can guess, the Rising Talent status benefits mostly to freelancers who recently joined and are active on the platform. However, it can also benefit to freelancers who put a hold on their freelancing activity on Upwork for some time and decided to get back to it.

In both scenarios, the concept is the same. You should be active on Upwork, which essentially means that you should apply to new gigs on a daily basis, answer all client messages, accept most invitations and make some earnings overall.

That’s all you need to become a Rising Talent on Upwork!

The perks of being a Rising Talent on Upwork

Now that we’ve seen the requirements to become a Rising Talent on Upwork, let’s talk about the sweet part: the perks.

Once you become a Rising Talent on Upwork, you immediately join the VIP club of the soon-to-be-Top-Rated freelancers. If you don’t mess up, things should become pretty sweet for you on Upwork. As soon as you become a Rising Talent, check my article on “How to become Top-Rated on Upwork“.

Now, let’s talk about the perks of being a Rising Talent:

  • The badge. It’s mostly cosmetics, but it does look cool.
  • Being included in the “premium talent pool”, which means that you’ll be automatically shortlisted for certain projects by the Upwork team.
  • A one-time bonus of 30 free connects.
  • Premium access to the chat and ticket support to interact with the “specialized customer support team”.
  • Reduced fees (10%) on “Featured Jobs” (jobs that got boosted by paying clients).

If you ask me, that’s a very cool intermediary step towards the “Top-Rated” status on Upwork.

Also, please note that once you have enough Upwork history, your “Rising Talent” status will get replaced by the so-called “Job Success Score”. It’s a rate that’s calculated based on various factors that are supposed to measure your ‘success’ on Upwork. I’ve talked about it in this article.


We’ve seen all it takes to become a Rising Talent on Upwork:

  1. Take and pass the Upwork Readiness Test.
  2. Deliver on time.
  3. Maintain a 100% complete profile.
  4. Specify your availabilities.
  5. Submit proposals following the Venn diagram I showed you above.
  6. Adhere to Upwork’s ToS.
  7. Be active in the past 90 days or if you joined Upwork in the past 30 days.

If you ask me, I find that it’s a very good thing that Upwork implemented this intermediary program for freshmen. And I find that qualitatively speaking, it’s harder to become a Rising Talent than it’s to become Top-Rated.

Basically, becoming a Rising Talent is a bit like a leap from 0 to 1. At the beginning of your journey, you’re new on Upwork and you don’t know too much about everything. It takes time to assimilate all the ‘good’ practices and do things properly.

However, going from the Rising Talent status to the Top-Rated status is more like going from 1 to 1.5. At the moment you become a Rising Talent on Upwork, if you work hard and conscientiously, it’s just a question of time before you become Top-Rated.