Today I am going to share with you a really hot topic – some of Upwork’s main talent badges. If you are active on Upwork or thinking about becoming a freelancer on Upwork, it is the biggest freelance job board site in the world. What I have found is that being noticed on Upwork really depends on things that are added to your profile to showcase you in a different or unique way. Some of the talent badges can also help boost your appearance in search engine results inside Upwork. Let’s say a client is looking for a Facebook ad specialist. If you are a Facebook ad specialist that has one of these badges on your profile, it might be easier for the client to find you. That client may push you above some other freelancers who have that same skill set if you are in one of these different badge programs.
There are four badge programs that are the most popular on Upwork:
- Rising Talent
- Upwork Top-Rated
- Top-Rated Plus
- Upwork Expert Vetted Talent
I have been a member of all of these badge groups at various times of my freelance career and I want to share with you more about what these programs mean and how they can benefit you, as well as, the requirements to be a part of these groups.
Essentially, this group is geared towards beginners. Upwork considers freelancers as Rising Talent when they start seeing successfully completed projects and good feedback from people who are new to the platform. A good thoroughly complete profile is required for the Rising Talent badge and the other badge programs, as well. I recommend updating your Upwork profile on an annual basis, but preferably more than one time per year. If you are investing in other tools, certifications, or training, keep those updated on your Upwork profile. All four levels of the badge program have to comply with the Upwork Terms of Service therefore you can’t violate any rules. You’re bound by things such as not taking clients off the platform unless you have had them pay the fee in order to do so.
Rising Talent means you are really new to the program – three months or less – and you’ve worked on a handful of jobs in which you have received good feedback on. There are no requirements regarding how much money you have earned in order to be classified as Rising Talent. There is a percentage that shows up on your profile that is calculated based on the odds of success on all of your overall jobs from the past. You want that to be 90% or above but that is not a strict requirement for this badge.
The next level up is for those who had their first contract on Upwork more than 90 days ago. It’s very possible to go from Rising Talent into top-rated relatively quickly depending on how many jobs you’re doing in that initial 90-day period. In this badge program, the job success score requirements begin. You must have a job success score of 90% or higher. This is updated every two weeks so you can stay in the program for a long period of time, you can go in and come back out of it, etc. In the Top-Rated program, you also need to have a complete profile, the first contract on Upwork needs to be more than 90 days ago, and in the last year, you must have earned at least $1,000.
The Top-Rated Plus Program is one step beyond the Upwork Top-Rated badge program. You will still need to meet the same job success requirements of 90% or above and have a completed profile. With earning requirements, you need to have 12-month earnings of at least $10,000. Upwork looks back to see what your 12-month earnings are for those past months to determine whether you qualify for Top-Rated Plus.
In this badge program, you will get job digests and faster payments on hourly contracts. Sometimes it can take as long as six days for your payment from an hourly client to come through but payment comes through a lot faster when you’re Top-Rated Plus. They say you also get premium customer support, including phone and chat. One thing I’ve noticed about Upwork is they make it really hard to call them, yet it is the most effective customer service that you can get if you hit a problem. With this badge, you get put into a pool where the talent specialists (people who are helping Upwork clients hire) will see your profile and you will be eligible to get matched with those jobs which usually come at zero connects so there’s no cost for you to do it.
For Top-Rated Plus talent, it doesn’t hurt to have this badge on your profile. As far as general searching and marketability of your freelance work, I wouldn’t say that I noticed it drastically increase the number of qualified invitations I got for jobs. I found it was helpful to have but honestly if you have lots of great feedback on your profile and you’ve completed a lot of jobs and your profile is thoroughly filled out, I think that’s more likely to be the reason a client would go with you rather than someone else.
The biggest benefit of being Top-Rated is the opportunity for feedback removal. We have all had a job with a client at some point where no matter how great you did, they weren’t satisfied and gave you horrible feedback that tanked your profile. In this badge program, you can remove any negative feedback you receive. Getting rid of feedback will not always change your job success score. Sometimes, it will affect your job success score positively during the times that you need it most. I have removed feedback from my Upwork profile a total of two times in the Top-Rated Plus program and it was largely because clients didn’t really understand it and left unfair feedback. It was nice to be able to have that removed and not have to worry about any negative impact it might have either on my job success score or on my overall profile. Even if you have dozens or hundreds of positive feedback comments on Upwork, if you have one right at the top that says “this was a terrible experience and I would never hire this Freelancer again” it could lead clients to think that your overall quality has gone down or you don’t know what you’re doing. Therefore, having the option to remove feedback can be beneficial.
Expert Vetted Talent
The fourth Upwork badge is called Expert Vetted Talent. This badge is the most “loosey-goosey” but also has the biggest benefits. This is the talent pool that I was recently added to and it is the smallest talent pool on Upwork. It has around 920 freelancers worldwide. These are expertly vetted selections that someone at Upwork has handpicked for one reason or another – either their work on or off the platform – to put them in this top-tier category. This is for enterprise clients. Many of the enterprise jobs with these bigger and more selective clients are the ones that Upwork works really hard to recruit for and get on the platform. These jobs are listed as Invite Only jobs – as a normal freelancer, you would not see them listed. With these top clients coming to Upwork, they don’t want to go through the search process of looking at every Freelancer on the platform. With Expert Vetted Talent, they’re looking at a much smaller talent pool.
The Expert Vetted Talent badge is one that you have to be cherry-picked for and added into the community following an interview. Being a part of this badge program opens up your opportunities to apply to different jobs, which are often much bigger contracts. I was contacted by someone on Upwork’s team to add me to the Expert Vetted Talent pool. I went through a 30-minute interview during which they talked about how the program works and what the benefits were. The Expert Vetted Talent badge appeared on my profile shortly thereafter.
The biggest benefit of being an Expert Vetted Talent is being able to see all of those other jobs that are popping up on the platform that other freelancers are not able to see or bid on. There are no additional fees or monthly memberships that you have to pay besides your regular monthly Upwork membership.
Those are the four different badges that I believe are most influential and that I get asked about the most for freelancing on the Upwork site. These badges are definitely helpful to have – I don’t think any of them are going to harm you in any way, right? They can only help and bring more opportunities. I don’t think they’re going to unlock massive benefits at those first three levels and I’ll have to report back to you on the Expert Vetted Talent level badge because that’s still new to me.