Upwork is one of the most popular freelancer job marketplaces, but it can be tough to land work on this platform unless you know what you’re doing. You might think that simply putting together your best proposal will do the trick, but you’ll likely be disappointed at how often clients ignore or reject your offers.
These 10 helpful Upwork tips on how to write Upwork proposals will help you develop an effective strategy that will make hiring managers take notice of your skills and want to hire you as their next employee or contractor.
1) Always Upload a High-Quality Cover Letter
On Upwork, most freelance workers submit the same cover letter to each project they pursue. Considering this, how do you rank on your clients’ shortlist? How do you respond to projects while maximizing your chance of winning the project and gaining new clients? If you implement these tips in your cover letters, you’ll get 50% more jobs on Upwork.
An Upwork cover letter should always be high-quality. Uploading a poor-quality one will suggest that you’re of a lower caliber, which won’t get you anywhere with prospective clients. If your cover letter will count, take some time and learn how to craft a highly impressive one. Once you understand what makes a good cover letter, it’s easy to replicate your success. Some links below are where you can find free proposal sample templates.
- Upwork Proposal Sample that Win Jobs
- Upwork Proposal Templates That Get Interviews
- Proven Upwork Proposal Examples
2) Explain why you’re the best candidate for this job
Since so many people are trying to get hired on Upwork, it’s important that you do everything you can to stand out. Try to tailor your cover letter and proposal for each job that interests you. Explain how you could be a perfect fit for the position and reiterate why they should hire you over all of their other candidates.
For example, if someone else applying for a job has more experience than you, explain how your skill set is still relevant and fits better with what they need. If another candidate’s UpWork proposal is longer than yours, describe why less is more in your writing: You want to hire managers to know upfront what they’re getting without having to sift through unnecessary information.
3) List your relevant experiences and certifications
Listing your relevant experiences and certifications is a great way to stand out from other freelancers. Don’t sweat if you can’t find certifications that perfectly match your potential client’s needs! Make a note of one or two relevant experiences you have had in a certification category and show how they relate to what is being asked of you in a cover letter.
For example, if you have experience working as an online marketing manager for a non-profit organization, list your experience in your cover letter. Then mention how working as an online marketing manager has helped prepare you to manage social media accounts for [company name].
You can also highlight similar skill sets directly related to what will be expected of you once hired. For example, I am familiar with x software and know how to use x tool effectively. This shows potential clients that not only do you know what is required of them, but it also gives them confidence in hiring someone who knows their stuff!
4) Mention any experience working with an agency/client similar to what you’re applying for
Similar to working with an agency, your client will want to know they’re hiring someone that knows what they’re doing. Show them. Have Upwork experience? Mention it in your cover letter or proposal—the key is to give your client a reason to choose you over others. If you have experience working for an agency or on projects similar to what you’re applying for, mention it! Like any other job application, you should include all relevant work history on your resume and/or cover letter. If there are projects that relate directly to the work of their posting, make sure these are listed as well.
5) Wait 2-3 days to follow up with Upwork clients after submitting a Job Proposal
If you don’t hear back from a client within a few days of submitting your proposal, it’s never hurt to follow up by sending an email that includes something like: I’m wondering if you received my UpWork proposal. I hope to work with you soon.
If you still haven’t heard back after a week, keep in mind that some clients are busy and will get back to you when they can. If, on the other hand, you find yourself waiting longer than two weeks without hearing anything or getting any response, there might be a problem.
In most cases, however, you should be fine if you wait 2-3 business days before following up again. Just make sure not to overdo it! Following up too much is annoying and makes potential clients question whether or not they want to work with you. So make sure to balance being polite and assertive with being pushy—and remember that persistence is key!
6) Add links and logos relevant to the project you’re applying for on Upwork
This is a quick way to stand out from your competition and demonstrate that you know what you’re doing. Of course, adding links and logos in your proposal won’t get you a job on its own—but it’s an easy way to separate yourself from other applicants. If you’ve done any research into your potential client or employer, be sure to include that information in your cover letter. It’ll show them how serious you are about working with them and give them additional insight into who they would work with if they hire you. If possible, include a link or logo for their company; hiring managers often want reassurance that they’re hiring someone who understands their brand.
7) Include testimonials from clients you’ve previously worked with (ask permission first!)
If you can demonstrate that you understand what your client is looking for and show how your experience and skillset relate to their needs, then chances are that they will give you a chance. If they don’t like what they see in your UpWork proposal, there’s no reason for them to look any further.
Many freelancers make mistakes by submitting cover letters that aren’t tailored to specific projects—if a project requires WordPress Development. Still, if your UpWork proposal cover letter reads CSS and HTML5 skills only, there is no point in showing it.
Remember: Every single job posting has a person behind it—the client who wants something done their way. Do them a favor by showing that you understand what they want before wasting both of your time with UpWork proposals on irrelevant topics!
8) Proofread everything twice before submitting your proposal
It’s easy to overlook typos or grammar mistakes in your writing, but clients can be unforgiving about these little errors.
Use Grammarly while you write your cover letter, UpWork proposals, etc. This free online tool will catch even more errors than Microsoft Word. The paid version is especially helpful as it gives suggestions on improving sentences/paragraphs that are grammatically correct but worded awkwardly (the free version tells you there’s a problem). I use Grammarly religiously now whenever I write anything!
Take 10 minutes to reread your UpWork proposal and check for errors. You won’t regret it!
9) Keep it short but interesting — remember, Upwork clients will likely read hundreds of proposals!
Clients read a ton of UpWork proposals, so if your cover letter is more than one page, they might gloss over it and move on to another proposal. Plus, many clients will skim over their shortlist of Upwork proposals and read them quickly in search of interesting bits to highlight for future reference. Make sure to highlight your points at the beginning or end of your cover letter with memorable or useful information.
10) Always submit a proposal relevant to your skillset and expertise! (see points 1–9 above again!)
You must ensure that your proposal is relevant to your skillset and expertise. You need to include what you’re bringing to the table and how you can help achieve their goals in detail so that they know exactly how valuable you are! And don’t forget your proposed hourly rate too! It’s not just about skill – it’s also about value.
If you want a client to hire you for $100/hour, then make sure your proposal shows them why they should pay you $100/hour instead of someone else who might charge less but not necessarily be better than you at doing what needs to be done. Just because a client has posted an ad on UpWork doesn’t mean they will automatically choose a freelancer with no experience over one with years of experience!
In conclusion, UpWork proposals are often your ticket to winning lucrative freelance digital marketing jobs. It can be a little intimidating writing a proposal for an organization you’ve never worked with before, but with careful thought and research, it’s possible to ace your first bid.