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How To Gauge the Quality of a Freelancer’s Portfolio and Expertise?

Community Manager
Lena E Community Manager Member Since: Apr 7, 2015
1 of 1

When you’re looking for a freelancer to help knock your next project out of the park, one of the top criteria—if not the most important—is whether they’ll deliver a work product that’s the quality you’re looking for. But how can you gauge the quality of a freelancer’s portfolio and expertise, especially if you’re sourcing talent that’s outside your field? Here are four ideas to help you assess whether a freelancer can deliver at the level you’re looking for.


1. Look for signals in their Upwork profile


Freelancers on Upwork tailor their profiles to showcase their skills to clients like you, so you can choose and interview those who might be a good fit for your project. Through a freelancer’s overview, you can learn more about who they are and what they do. Additional information can indicate the freelancer’s:


  • Attention to detail: Are their overview and profile information well-written and free of errors?
  • Experience: Do the skills they’ve highlighted match your project’s needs? What about the projects they’ve completed for other clients on Upwork, their employment history, and education?
  • Expertise: Do the items in their curated portfolio reflect the deliverables for your project and the quality you’re looking for?


You can also get more objective insights into their experience on the Upwork site. For example:

  • The Job Success Score, visible on every profile, is a rating system that considers public and private feedback from past clients and a number of other factors that indicate client satisfaction
  • You can review the freelancer’s work history on Upwork alongside confirmed feedback from past clients
  • You can also consider the total projects and total hours the freelancer has worked as well as their total earnings, which gives a sense of their work on Upwork


Top Rated Badge Top freelancers are awarded a Top Rated badge, a status that’s earned by building an impressive reputation on Upwork.
Rising Talent Badge Freelancers with newer profiles may have a Rising Talent badge—a program that considers a number of criteria that may include the overall strength of a freelancer’s profile, a strong background in their field, their educational background, and early success with their first clients on Upwork.



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2. Hone in on feedback from past clients

When it comes to trusting the work of a freelancer you’ve never worked with before, feedback from past clients can provide great insights. These ratings and reviews aren’t always particularly in depth, but they can help you determine whether a freelancer is a good fit for your project.


Look for signals about the client’s satisfaction with the work, including:

  • Quality of work
  • Ability to communicate effectively
  • Level of expertise
  • Ability to meet deadlines
  • Issues that came up and how they were addressed

The feedback system on Upwork is double-blind. At the end of each project, both the client and freelancer are prompted to leave feedback; these comments aren’t visible until both parties have responded or a 14-day feedback period has expired. (A Top Rated freelancer can periodically request that a client’s feedback be hidden from their profile. If this happens, it will be replaced with a note to indicate that feedback has been removed.)



3. Tap into the expertise you already have on hand


You may not have the resources to have the work done in-house, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that nobody within your team or network has experience that can help you gauge the quality of a freelancer’s work.

When you make selecting talent a team effort, a subject matter expert can help you identify the skills gaps on your team, determine interview questions, write the job post, and understand what to look for as you screen proposals and portfolios.


If you don’t have the expertise within your team, put a call out to your professional network—you may have a contact who can step in to offer a professional perspective and maybe even send a referral or two your way.

4. Start with a test project


Once you have a shortlist of potential freelancers, it can be helpful to incorporate a small paid project into your screening process. A freelancer test project can help you confirm that your project requirements are on the right track, test different approaches to the work, and get direct experience with the freelancer you’re thinking of engaging for the larger piece of work.


In terms of assessing the deliverables, a test project gives you an opportunity to see:

  • How closely the deliverable meets the defined scope of work
  • Whether the final product matches your expectations for quality and attention to detail
  • Whether the freelancer asked for clarifications during the process
  • How effectively they communicated about the project’s direction, progress, and results


Gauging the quality of a freelancer’s work can be intimidating, particularly if you don’t have the expertise to judge the results yourself. However, with thoughtful preparation, an informed screening process, and hands-on insights you’ll be well on your way to helping your project succeed.