This week’s blog is inspired by @susiweaser, who reached out on Twitter last week to ask if she should have a website and Upwork profile if she’s just getting started as a writer. This is a great question, and one I’ll tackle with your three different options: a website, a profile, or both.

I’ll add that I did not use a professional writing website for the majority of my time on Upwork. I had one as a placeholder for about a year, but I used it more for identity verification purposes (as in, “Hey client, yes I am a real human being”) rather than a marketing tool. So keep that in mind as you read my opinion.

upwork profile

New freelancers could benefit from both- but if you only have time for one, let’s go back to a good old pro and con list to help you determine what’s best! The bottom line is that it really matters what your goal is. If you intend to build a reputation on Upwork, you need to have a profile there- ‘nuff said.

Upwork Profile Only

Pros

  • You might spend an hour or two putting this together, but it’s there forever. You have a professional looking presence on a job board where thousands of jobs are posted.
  • You can always link to your Upwork profile from elsewhere- LinkedIn or your website, for example. It never hurts to have one more place showing you as a writer.
  • If your primary marketing method will be Upwork, you don’t need a website. I didn’t have one for three years.

Cons

  • Your Upwork profile might be too long to send private clients to. Imagine you meet a potential client in an elevator: is he/she really going to remember upwork.com/profile/whateveryourusernameis? There’s something easy breezy about “Here’s my card: I’m at CharlesWritesBlogs.com”.
  • You’re limited with what you can say/do on your Upwork profile. You can’t blog there, for example. You can attract potential clients with an opt-in, either.

Website Only

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Pros

  • You can always benefit from having a professional website- it shows clients you’re serious and makes it easy for them to tell you’re a real person. Using a picture of yourself helps to forge a connection with your client, too!
  • If you’re a pro at technology, you can put up a site pretty quickly.
  • Your website can be a major marketing tool for you. Use a freebie opt-in like “10 Content Marketing Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making” to get clients on a mailing list and begin developing a relationship with them.

Cons

  • Can be expensive and/or time consuming- websites always seem to take longer than expected or work buggily at first.
  • If you intend to get jobs on boards like Upwork, you’ll still need a profile there.
  • Your website doesn’t do anything for you UNLESS you’re also marketing it somewhere.
  • If you’re relying on SEO, you’ll need to make sure the site is optimized and be adding materials to it regularly.

Both a Website and an Upwork Profile

Pros

  • Having a profile and website backs up that you’re the real deal and a real person.
  • A client might be more interested in looking at your work samples on your website, thus learning more about you than what the Upwork profile allows them to see.
  • If you actively market both, you could be earning business from on and off the site (you should never rely on only one source to succeed anyways!).

Cons

  • Cost, time, and energy.

What it really boils down to is what can you be consistent with? If you’re doing a direct mail campaign, sending leads to your website will work better. If you can commit to doing enough marketing to make your website worth it, the investment in the design might pay off. If you find it easier to commit to submitting 10 job proposals every day on Upwork, then put off the website for now and focus only on Upwork. Don’t try to lock yourself in to something you can commit to- that’s like joining the gym on New Year’s day with the best intentions but never showing up again.

upwork profile

Success freelancing is all about consistency. Either a profile or website (or both) can be valuable for your freelance writing business, but it’s all about how you intend to use them. Make an action plan to ultimately have both- but if you’re going to start with one, I’d recommend the Upwork profile!