How to Write Proposals on Upwork (+Samples)

Why do some freelancers consistently land high-profile gigs on Upwork while others struggle despite being similarly skilled?

The answer might lie in the proposal they sent.

As a freelancer, your success on Upwork depends on your ability to craft compelling proposals. A proposal that stands out from the rest might clinch that job you badly wanted.  

So, let’s learn how to write better proposals that get you hired on Upwork.

What Are Upwork Proposals?

Upwork proposals are cover letters that tell the clients why they should hire you. The proposals showcase your skills, experience, and personality.

A proposal on Upwork is an opportunity to apply for a job and, at the same time, pitch solutions that address the client’s challenges. It helps convince the client that you can attend to their needs and, therefore, are the perfect person for the job.

Why Are Upwork Proposals Important?

Upwork bridges millions of freelancers to clients each day. Competition is tough, with freelancers drastically outnumbering clients in every niche.

This means that freelancers must constantly position themselves as the best among other freelancers to be hired.

Your proposal is the first thing that connects you to a potential client. It is the gateway to securing jobs on Upwork because it communicates your expertise and interest in the task to a client.

A proposal I wrote that the client reponded to.

A well-crafted proposal:

  • showcases your skills.
  • demonstrates your understanding of the client
  • reveals your presence of mind, professionalism, expertise, and reliability.
  • puts you ahead of the competition.

This is why it is necessary to spend time writing and tailoring your proposal to address the pain points of each job posting.

Common mistakes Upworkers make when writing proposals

Many Upworkers, new and experienced alike, need help in writing proposals. Often, they make mistakes that cause them to be overlooked by clients.

For example.

Using a generic proposal template. 

Most proposals fail to catch a client’s attention because they are modified copies of generic templates. If you don’t spend time crafting a cover letter that addresses the job directly, your chances of having it opened are almost zero.

Focusing on themselves

Does your cover letter include every detail of your education, skills, certification, and NOTHING about your client’s needs? Well, that’s a mistake that will cause clients to skip over your proposal.

Writing a long and verbose proposal. 

A proposal is just like a memorable advert – short and interesting. You may lose the essence of the proposal if it’s long. Also, clients like to skim over several proposals, so they may not have the patience to read a long one.

No portfolios

Clients want to know that you have the skills and experience to take on the job. If you fail to include relevant work you’ve done, you did very little to boost the client’s confidence in hiring you.

What do clients look for in a proposal?

To write a good proposal for a gig, you need to understand the needs of the client. 

Every client needs a freelancer who

Understand the nature of the job

This involves comprehending the message the client is trying to pass. To understand the client and their expectations, review the feedback from other freelancers. This gives you an insight of the client’s personality and the best approach to get their attention. 

Has done similar jobs in the past

Your portfolio plays an important role in your proposal. It gives the client a better understanding of your skills and experience in problem-solving. Always include outstanding projects relevant to the client’s job. You can also customize your portfolio according to specific job roles and provide visuals or brief context to these projects. 

Can help solve these needs

A client will always go for the freelancer whom they feel has their interest at heart. To be the chosen freelancer, you should be focused on the client. Make them the subject of the proposal – use client-centric pronouns like you and your. Address their problems and include solutions. Sell strategies.  

A helpful freelancer

By being helpful and offering result-driven solutions, you can foster a good business relationship with a potential client. To achieve this, deliver a good first impression. Also, maintain a positive and honest attitude when interacting with a potential client. Avoid acting desperate, and don’t oversell yourself. Be professional and friendly.  

How to write a proposal on Upwork

If you want your proposals read by Upwork clients, make sure they are:

Clear and concise

I recommend writing less than 250 words, although it is not a hard and fast rule. A good proposal should hold the client’s attention from the first sentence. 

Personalized

If you want to leave an impression, you must SHOW the client that you’ve read every detail of the job. Talk about the specific problem the client needs to solve, check out their website, or mention something not generally disclosed in the job listing.

Persuasive and professional

Highlight your knowledge, skills, and achievements in your proposal. Provide examples of your previous work or samples of personal projects that fit your client’s job description. Offer brief solutions and include a call-to-action that promises further discussion on how you can add more value or deliver results.

Friendly and respectful

Maintain a positive and polite tone when addressing your client. Adopt a business-casual approach when relating with your clients. A standard practice is to address a potential client by their name and thank them for their consideration.

Free from mistakes

Don’t send a cover letter filled with typos or grammatical errors. Use tools like Grammarly to check before submitting.

My proposals + results

I’ve been testing different ways to write proposals based on the framework I shared in my eBook.

Here’s a recent one that got me an interview.

Another proposal that resulted in an interview

You will get 12 more proposals + eBook. I wrote when you subscribe to my mailing list.

Wrapping it up

Understanding the client is key to crafting a winning proposal. It takes a bit of creativity, critical thinking, and proving to the client that you can deliver exceptional quality. Here are some best practices to follow when writing proposals on Upwork:

  • Read the job description carefully, and make sure it is a job that fits your area of expertise on Upwork. Your listed skills should match 80% of the client’s desired skills.
  • Begin your proposal with a personalized, casual greeting that grabs the client’s attention. A common practice is to address the client by their name. 
  • Write your proposal in a clear and concise format. Use at least three short paragraphs for the body and closing. If you need to list information, use bullet points instead of numbers.
  • Include relevant works you have completed and/or their results. Doing this greatly increases the chance of being hired.

Some clients may include trick questions, like asking you to name your favorite animal or color, at the beginning of your proposal. Attend to them as requested by the client. They use it to filter out freelancers who did not read the description.

Need an in-depth guide to writing winning Upwork proposals? Check out my free eBook . You’ll find the exact methods I use to write proposals that clients reply to.

FAQ

What is the standard length of a good proposal?

According to Upwork, a concise proposal should not be more than 300 words. 

A good proposal should be straightforward, with three to four convincing sentences per paragraph. 

Should you use AI to write Upwork proposals?

Upwork does not have a strict policy against AI-generated proposals, but they do not encourage it either. However, clients have complained about proposals with similar patterns – the result of many freelancers relying on popular AI tools to create proposals.

Using generative AI to craft your proposal comes with its pros and cons.

AI writing tools help to reduce the time spent on drafting one proposal. It also helps with proofreading and editing.

However, AI proposals lack human understanding and may not produce a proposal that properly captures the context of a job description or addresses a client’s unique need. It may also produce proposals that are long and bland.  

If you have to use AI tools to draft proposals, I recommend editing them to be more human-like and client-centric before submitting them. 

Author

  • Kenny Lee

    I'm an engineer-turned-writer who helps tech businesses increase online visibility with SEO-optimized content.

    View all posts

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