How to increase your Elance-Upwork level and become an expert level freelancer

Reputation is very important for freelancers in order to get hired on Elance-Upwork or any other online freelancing platforms. On Elance-Upwork you have something called a “provider skill level” which starts from 1 and increases as your activity and job performance improves. The performance level is calculated based on various factors like your Marketing level, service delivery and client-provider relationships. If you have a low provider level in your category then you will appear very low on the provider list when the client runs a search for freelancers within the category. Thus, in order to improve your level you will need to deliver quality work on-time within the client’s budget, and then continue winning new, higher paying jobs. Here are some important tips to help you increase your Elance-Upork level:

Complete your profile, verify credentials 

Your Elance-Upwork provider level is affected by how much time and effort you are spending in marketing yourself. Every six months your level will increase or decrease depending on the number of jobs you take, your skill test scores and changes in your profile.  If you have unverified credentials such as academic degrees, employment or training license, you can improve your level by verifying those certifications- this of course carries some fee from Elance-Upwork. Also, complete your profile by writing attractive and professional introduction and service description, adding your recent works in the portfolio section and getting your identity verified.

Bid sensibly

Elance-Upwork wants high quality freelancers who make good money (meaning more money for Elance as well). When you bid for a job, it is recommended you bid within the client’s budget. If you think you are the right man for the job and you are certain that you can deliver excellent results, you can even bid slightly higher than the client’s budget range. Some clients won’t mind increasing the budget if you have the right skill-set for the job. However, never bid below a budget because it will actually decrease your skill level.

Collect as many 5-star ratings as you can by improving client relationships

If you have a lot of repeat client with whom you are still working but you don’t have a lot of feedbacks/ 5-star ratings your level will be less than another freelancer who has less repeat client but more new clients and more ratings.  So the idea is not only to collect repeat clients, which increase your recommendation rating, but also get new clients to improve your average ratings over a 12-month period.

Apply for new/higher paying jobs and respond to invites

If you want to improve your profile level, you will need to look for new /better paying jobs, send proposals, and respond to invites. In my experience I have found that if you don’t apply for new jobs and star collecting more “5-star ratings” your Elance-Upwork skill level will remain the same or even decrease even if you are currently working with multiple repeat clients who have hired you for the long-term and paying you well. For example a new freelancer with a higher number of low paying jobs will have a better skill level than another freelancer with higher level of expertise but only a number of high paying repeat clients and low number of feedbacks.

Send Weekly Status Reports, Collect Feedbacks, use the workroom

Your service delivery level is calculated based on various factors like earnings per job, client base, ratings and communication. So once the job is completed send the status report to client on-time and request feedback. Frequently use the workroom to ask questions or send drafts to clients.  To become an active freelancer you must frequently you use the Elance-Upwork ecosystem.


While it may be a hassle to busy freelancers to keep up with this provider Level system, if you are primarily working on Elance-Upwork, it is essential to maintain an excellent provider level because most clients will hire a freelancer based on their “provider skill level” and not your actual level of expertise.  Thus, on Elance-Upwork the people who can hack the rating and level system have more chance of getting new jobs than those who have better expertise but no knowledge of the Elance-Upwork rating system.  Focus on getting at least a few new clients every month and develop a good relationship with them via prompt communication and high quality service.

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