10 Helpful Upwork Proposal Tips

10 Helpful Upwork Proposal Tips

Upwork is one of the most popular freelance websites, 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 flat-out reject your offers. These 10 helpful Upwork proposal tips 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

Most Upwork freelancers send the same cover letter to every client they pursue. you’re competing with a template from a novice with no reviews, not a colleague. Taking this into account, 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 end up getting 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 lower caliber as well, which won’t get you anywhere with prospective clients. If your cover letter is going to 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 of the links below are where you can find free templates.

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 your best to tailor your cover letter and proposal specifically 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 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. If you can’t find any certifications that perfectly match up with what your potential client needs, don’t sweat it! Make note of one or two relevant experiences that 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 as such in your cover letter. Then mention how having worked as an online marketing manager has helped prepare you for managing social media accounts for [company name].

You can also highlight similar skillsets that are directly related to what will be expected of you once hired. For example, I am also 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 also gives them confidence in hiring someone who knows their stuff!

4) Mention any past 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 past experience working for an agency or on projects similar to what you’re applying for, mention it! Just 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 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 proposal? I hope to work with you soon. If you still haven’t heard back after a week or so, keep in mind that some clients are just 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 at all, there might be a problem. In most cases, however, if you wait 2-3 business days before following up again, you should be fine. 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 some additional insight into who they’d be working with if they choose to hire you. If possible, include a link or logo for their company as well; hiring managers often want reassurance that they’re hiring someone who understands their brand.

7) Include a few testimonials from clients you’ve worked with in the past (ask permission first!)

If you are able to demonstrate that you understand what your client is looking for, and you can 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 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 but your cover letter reads CSS and HTML5 skills only, then 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 proposals on irrelevant topics!

8) Proofread everything twice before submitting your proposal

It’s easy to overlook typos or grammar mistakes in your own writing, but clients can be very unforgiving about these little errors.

Use Grammarly while you write your cover letter, proposals, etc. This free online tool will catch even more errors than Microsoft Word does by itself. The paid version is especially helpful as it gives suggestions on how to improve sentences/paragraphs that are grammatically correct but worded awkwardly (the free version just tells you there’s a problem). I use Grammarly religiously now whenever I write anything!

Take an extra 10 minutes to reread your 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 proposals on Upwork, so if your cover letter is more than one page, they might just gloss over it and move on to another proposal. Plus, many clients will skim over their shortlist of 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 need to ensure that your proposal is relevant to your skillset and expertise. You need to include what you’re bringing to the table, as well as 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 jobs. It can be a little intimidating writing a proposal for an organization you’ve never worked with before but, with some careful thought and research, it’s totally possible to ace your first bid.

About the author

Co-founder, head of web development and paid media advertising at Orbit Local, is a certified Google Partner with over a decade of digital marketing experience. He's earned a BS in Computing Information Science from the University of North Florida and an MBA at the Florida Institute of Technology.

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