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Upwork Proposal Samples that Get Interviews (2 Templates)

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how to write an upwork proposal that gets interviews

I recently posted a job to and got 63 proposals overnight. There’s a TON of competition. So you really need a good Upwork proposal if you want to get any interviews at all. Fortunately, I’m going to walk you through the exact steps (and proposal templates) I used last year as a freelancer to make thousands of dollars per month on Upwork.

What we’ll cover:

Let’s get started…

How to Write a Winning Upwork Proposal

1. how to start your upwork proposal.

Within the first sentence, you want to show you’ve read their job posting. This is ultra-important. It’s more important than your name even. I see a ton of proposals that start like this: “Hi, my name is Michael and I’m a ___”. They don’t care. That’s boring and what everyone else does.

I’d start like this instead: “Hi. I just read your job posting and it sounds like you need ___”. This is so much better, and if you just make this one single change you’ll get more job interviews, I guarantee it. 

upwork proposals image

Talking about their needs and their job posting before talking about yourself is also powerful because it immediately shows them you read their job posting. Most freelancers just cut and paste the same garbage proposal to every client, and clients delete it immediately. So the sooner you can show this proposal is really for THEM, and not a generic cut & paste message that’s going to bore them half to death, the better.

2. How to Write the Middle of Your Upwork Proposal

There are two key pieces to the middle or main body of your Upwork proposal. First, you’ll want to share a bit about your background, and ideally how you’ve helped other clients solve the same problem or do the same thing in the past. But keep this brief. Four or five sentences are enough. You don’t want to tell your life story; they don’t care. They care about how you can solve their problem. That’s it! Then, the second part is you want to show you’re the expert here. You can do this by making a recommendation and pointing out the opportunities you see. Or you can do this by asking a question. For example, you might say, “I’d be curious to hear if you’ve tried ___. I recently implemented that with another client and the result was ___.”

Either way, you need something to show them you’re the expert. Why else would they hire you?

3. How to End Your Upwork Proposal

If you followed the steps above you’ll have a great Upwork proposal. It should be very brief, too. You should NOT be doing a ton of writing or sending out big bulky paragraphs. So now, how should you end the proposal?

There are two good options for how to end an Upwork proposal:

The first option is to ask a question about their project/needs. If you haven’t already asked a question in your proposal body, you can say something like, “Do you have a website so I can understand this more?” This is a good way to get a response and be able to find out more info about the project. The other option is to have a more traditional “call to action” telling them to reply or asking them when they’re free to talk. Examples:

4. Mistakes to AVOID in Your Upwork Bid Proposals

Here’s where so many people on Upwork go wrong:

Now that you know what to do, and what not to do, you should be able to avoid these mistakes in any future proposals you send.

5. How Long Should Your Upwork Proposal Be?

I made tens of thousands of dollars on Upwork within a few months of starting, and got multiple interviews each day that I applied for jobs. And I tried to explain above how short your proposals should be in order to do this! (Really short). But sometimes it’s difficult to get this across via words.

So I did something better…

I just counted the words in my most recent, successful Upwork proposals. Here’s what I found:

I just glanced at my Upwork account and here are the exact word counts of 5 recent successful proposals: 83, 91, 87, 116, 87.

That’s an average of 93 words per successful Upwork proposal. That’s very short. Use this as a guideline and keep it brief if you want to start getting interviews on Upwork. Remember, prospective clients get 50+ proposals within the first eight hours of posting a job typically.

Do you think they want to read a giant block of text in each proposal?

So keep it short, save your time and theirs, and get far more interviews.

6. CRUCIAL Step Before Sending Your Proposal

Before sending out your proposal, you want to make sure it’s about them and their needs, not about you. I mentioned earlier – the average job seeker on Upwork is talking all about themselves in their proposal, and the client doesn’t care. It’s boring and generic. So before sending, do CTRL + F (or Command + F on Mac) and search for the word “You”. Count how many times you said “you”. Then search for the word ” I ” (put a space on either side so you don’t see each “i” in the middle of words. You only want to see the actual word “I”. Now that you’ve counted these, you should be saying “you” at LEAST as much as you’re saying, “I”.

If not, edit it or rewrite it until this is the case.

7. Best Time of Day to Send Upwork Proposals

I’d recommend only sending proposals for jobs that have been posted within the past 24 hours. This is another place where most people go wrong on Upwork. Don’t waste time/proposals on jobs that are 48-72 hours old (or more). This means you’ll need to apply for jobs on Upwork multiple times per week, since you’re only going to be applying for jobs posted within the last day. Your exact schedule will depend on your timezone, the timezone of your ideal client, and your schedule/availability. I usually applied mid-day (11 AM or noon) in my ideal clients’ timezone (US Eastern Time). I also experimented with applying at 8 p.m. in the evening, and that worked fine as well. And I did this Monday – Friday each week.

As you get more clients and don’t need as many interviews, you could switch to Mon/Wed/Fri if you’d like, and skip Tue/Thurs. I started doing this once business picked up! But while ramping up, do it every day! Get a system in place in terms of keywords and search filters you use (I’ll cover this in a future article), and just repeat it each day. It’ll become habit and will be super easy to do after a few weeks.

Quick tip: I’d recommend grabbing a free account at Calendly for scheduling. It’ll save you hours of back-and-forth scheduling with clients and it’s amazing if you have clients in different timezones because it converts the timezones automatically.

8. How to Decide What Rate/Price to Put in Your Upwork Proposal

If you have an hourly rate, that should be consistent, so pricing your proposals on Upwork is easy. Things get more complicated if you do mostly flat-rate projects, though, like I did. I’d personally either have set prices for services you offer, and propose whatever your set rate is.

(For example when I did email marketing I charged $200 per email. Flat rate. So it was very easy to price out projects). Or, you could propose at or near the top of the client’s stated budget. For example if they say their budget is $2,000, I might either propose $2,000 or $1,800. Sometimes going a tiny bit lower is good, so they don’t just think you proposed their maximum after seeing it. So I’d probably do $1,800 in that example. But you don’t want to try to be the cheapest option, ever. Don’t compete on price. That’s what the people who struggle are doing.  I always aimed to be one of the most EXPENSIVE proposals a client got. Because I wanted to work with clients with great budgets who want quality. These clients are often easier to work with, believe it or not.

If you’re really unsure how much to propose in terms of your flat rate, you can also add a “P.S” at the bottom of your Upwork proposal mentioning that you’d need to discuss the project more before determining the exact price.

P.S. – the proposed cost is an estimate. I could give you an exact figure, timeframe, and what I expect to be able to accomplish if we talk. If any of the above sounds interesting, reply to this and we’ll set up a time to talk this week.

That way you at least won’t be ruled out based on the proposed rate. They’ll see that and even if you proposed a number above their budget, they’ll consider talking with you. I don’t use this all the time but it’s a good tactic if you’re worried.

9. Sell the Call, Not the Service

This is an Upwork tip (and a powerful sales tip in general) that most people don’t know: You should only be selling the next step in the process.

Here’s what I mean:                                                                                                                

The only goal of your Upwork proposal (and profile) is to get clients on the phone to discuss their project. Then your goal on the phone call is to sell your service and get them onboard (by paying an initial invoice, signing a contract, etc. – depending on your setup). The mistake a lot of people make – especially people who are new to sales – is trying to sell everything at the same time. They write their Upwork proposal trying to convince the client to pay to work with them. All you should be doing is selling them on why it’s a good idea to get on a call with you. That’s MUCH easier.

So keep it dead-simple, take it one step at a time, and you’ll get more clients.

10. Make Sure Your Upwork PROFILE Backs Up What You’re Saying!

Your profile is different than your Upwork proposal, but it’s very important. It’s what the potential client sees if they click your name and view your whole profile/bio. If you’re writing a great proposal, making suggestions, asking questions and sounding like a true expert, you need your Upwork profile to confirm that you’re an expert who they NEED to talk to.

I’m going to write another article soon focused just on how to write an awesome profile, but here are some tips to help you right now:

Notice in that last bullet I’m implying I’m not the right fit to work with everyone. This is how you should be positioning yourself… Show that you’re selective and careful about who you work with! Stop acting desperate. Stop chasing projects that aren’t a good fit for your specialty.

11. And if you don’t have a specialty yet, definitely go choose one…

You can always change it later if it doesn’t work out. But you’ll get far MORE work by specializing, and each project will be easier to complete because you’ll be able to create systems/templates, etc. All the broke freelancers I know say things like, “well, I don’t want to limit myself”… or, “I don’t want to cut off my options.” They’re going to stay broke, unfortunately.

The freelancers I know who are making $5-10K+ per month consistently all niched down and specialized.

They became true experts.

FYI there are two ways you can niche down:

You can also do both, eventually. If I had kept going I would have eventually taken my B2B email marketing service and focused on just a few industries. But fortunately, my passive income from this blog – CareerSidekick took off and I stopped having to take any freelance work.

Proven Upwork Proposal Samples

The following are REAL Upwork bid proposal samples that I sent out and used to get clients when I was active as a freelance copywriter on the platform (after I had niched down into email marketing in particular).

Upwork proposal sample 1:

Hi there, I just read your posting. It sounds like you need an expert in cold emails to advise you on everything from the content to the overall strategy. I have a background in email marketing and have been doing this for 3 years. Cold emailing in B2B is what I specialize in. I can work with you to write the content and subject lines, recommend the best technologies for you to use, and more. Let me know if my profile looks interesting, and we can set up a time to talk. Best regards, Biron Clark

Upwork proposal sample 2:

Hi! Just read your posting. Sounds like you need an email expert to advise you on a few things… from funnel setup and strategy, to what you should offer to get signups in the first place. I have a background in funnels and email copywriting and have been doing this for 3 years, including for some other subscription/membership businesses. I can work with you to come up with a great strategy and high-converting emails to turn your prospects into paying customers. And I can help you get more email signups going into this funnel, too. If any of the above sounds interesting, let me know when you’d be available to talk this week. Best regards, Biron Clark

These are both real Upwork proposal samples that I sent out and got jobs from. Feel free to use these Upwork proposal templates for yourself… however, this blog gets a lot of visitors now, so I’d highly recommend customizing this. You aren’t going to be the only freelancer reading this article. 

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Biron Clark

Biron Clark

Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.

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Upwork Proposal Sample: 11 Tips From a $600k Freelancer [2023]

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Disclosure: This site is sponsored by affiliate programs. We may earn money from the companies mentioned in this post. As an Amazon affiliate partner we may earn from qualifying purchases.

Successful freelancers know the importance of learning how to become a good salesperson. Especially when it comes to the art of writing a winning proposal.

Effectively presenting yourself as a knowledgeable professional who understands the needs of your clients is the best way to win contracts on Upwork.

Especially for new freelancers without an established reputation or a stellar Job Success Score.

In fact, my ability to communicate value to potential clients is one of the things that I credit most to earning over $600,000 on Upwork as a freelance graphic designer in just five years on the platform.

Read Also: Can you make good money on Upwork? How I earned $600,000 in 5 years

Below are a few of my personal Upwork proposal tips and best practices – along with a few Upwork proposal examples – for writing an amazing proposal and cover letter, regardless of your industry or niche.

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A woman with a laptop makes a shushing gesture

1. Keep it short and sweet

Try to keep your proposals and cover letters short and sweet – aim for 200 words or less.

It isn’t unusual for clients to receive 50 or more proposals on a single Upwork job posting. And they simply won’t have time to read long proposals.

Value your client’s time as you value your own.

Read Also: Upwork profile examples and tips from six-figure freelancers

A woman with a laptop reaches out to shake a hand

2. Use the client’s name whenever possible

Dale Carnegie once wrote: “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.”

When possible, begin every proposal letter with a personalized greeting.

It’s the first thing a client sees. And it’s a great way to grab the client’s attention.

Client names are not always included in job postings, but about 90% of the time you can figure it out with just a bit of detective work.

Browsing through client reviews is usually a great place to start.

Find a client's name in their reviews

3. Display your understanding of the requirements and an interest in the work

It’s always good practice to try and think about things from your client’s perspective and make your cover letters client-centric.

A good proposal focuses more on the client than it does the freelancer.

Practice this technique by beginning each proposal with a couple of lines that acknowledge your client’s needs. Also be sure to mention critical points about the job, indicate a genuine interest in the work and prove that you read the posting carefully.

Sometimes I also throw in a question in an effort to start a dialogue. Simply getting your client to send a message can drastically increase your odds of closing the deal.

You would be shocked to see how many freelancers don’t even read the job description carefully and rely on hyper-generic proposals.

It’s not as hard to stand out as you might think.

Wow. I have to say, this job post really stuck out to me – I’m a great fit for this project. I’m a regular consumer of these types of products. And e-book design happens to be my forte. I’m curious, what brought you to Upwork? I’d love to hear more about yourself and your role in the company.

A woman with a laptop points to the reader

4. Throw in a compliment

It may also be a good idea to throw in a compliment about the client, their work or their business.

Think about how you feel when a client compliments your work. It immediately puts a little extra skip in your step and makes for a memorable engagement.

Just make sure it’s genuine. People can always tell when you’re sucking up.

I love your company’s mission of achieving sustainability, it’s an important aspect of my life as well. I also love your branding – your tagline made me smile!

A woman with a laptop looks confident

5. List your professional qualifications

After acknowledging details about the job post, displaying an interest in the work and complimenting the client you may begin briefly talking about what makes you a good fit for the job.

Provide a list of your professional qualifications by answering one or more of the following questions:

And don’t be afraid to name-drop.

I am a graphic design guru with almost 20 years experience. I’ve work with nationally recognized clientele on a daily basis including the Centers for Disease Control Foundation (CDCF), QuickBooks and Kimberly-Clark. My freelance business has received national recognition including a Gold Digital Health Award for my work with the CDC and features in Business Insider.

Read Also: Freelance graphic design rates: How much should you charge?

A woman with a laptop looks pensieve

6. Include a unique selling point (what makes you the best fit for the job)

Always include a selling point that is unique to you. If you can’t come up with one, try asking yourself the following questions:

I’ve worked in this niche before. One of my most recent campaigns was even featured on the Amazon’s bestseller list for three months. I love to partner with my clients and make their products shine. I am also fast, efficient and able to offer rapid turnarounds.

A woman with a laptop gestures

7. Include a link to an off-site portfolio and/or your Upwork profile

In my opinion, having an off-site portfolio site, especially if you’re presenting yourself as a tech or design professional, is a must if you want to attract new clients.

Far too often, Upwork freelancers rely solely on their Upwork profiles to represent their entire body of work and experience.

Especially in creative fields, it’s not at all uncommon for a client to ask for more information or additional portfolio samples. This is why it’s a good idea to have that supplemental site or landing page ready to go.

In the past, I’ve recommended using your website as that portfolio.

But I recently learned – and I am not sure when this policy was implemented – that Upwork’s Terms of Service now disallows using any external link to a page that includes an alternate method of contact. Alternate methods of contact include e-mail addresses and contact forms.

So now, I recommend linking to a simple landing-page style portfolio that doesn’t include any alternative method of contact (other than a link back to your Upwork profile if you so choose).

Also, consider including a link to your Upwork profile in your proposal letter.

As silly as this might sound, on the client-side of the interface, multiple clicks are required to see a freelancer’s full bio, so many clients never bother. It doesn’t hurt to make it a bit easier on them.

I am attaching a multi-page portfolio to this proposal. You can view additional work samples at

A woman with a laptop points up

8. Include relevant portfolio examples

Include as many relevant portfolio samples as possible.

I keep folders of portfolio examples on my computer labeled by category for a quick and easy reference.

If the job is about a logo, send logo examples. If the job is about real estate, send real estate examples.

This advice sounds intuitive, but you’d be surprised how many people take the easy way out with generic, unrelated examples.

If you don’t have any related examples, make some.

Demonstrating that you are capable of successfully completing this type of job is a crucial step to winning the contract.

A woman with a laptop covers mouth

9. Ban passive phrases from your vocabulary

Don’t subconsciously undermine yourself by using the wrong words.

Consider the following phrases officially banned: “I think”, “I feel”, “I believe”, and “I should be able to”.

These phrases indicate a lack of confidence.

Instead, use phrases like “I will” and “I am”.

Put yourself in the client’s shoes. It can be scary hiring a stranger on the internet.

Smart clients want to hire a professional who knows they can get the job done. They aren’t hiring you because you’re a charity case, so don’t act like one.

A woman with a laptop looks nervous

10. If you’re new to Upwork, tackle the elephant in the room.

Winning that first contract can be a difficult task, especially with that “$0 earned” text staring both you and your prospective clients in the face. But it doesn’t mean that it can’t be done.

I personally hire Upwork newbies all the time. Their earnings, or lack thereof, don’t play a huge role in my decision on whether or not to hire them.

But with that said, don’t be afraid to explain to your prospective clients that you’re new to the platform.

Read Also: How I got my first job on Upwork: Tips (and examples) from a $600k freelancer

During my first month on Upwork, I included the following line with every proposal I sent out:

While I’m new to Upwork, I am a veteran in the graphic design industry with almost 20 years of experience.

Just remember, it’s unlikely you’ll get the first job you apply for, but if you take the time to craft a carefully worded proposal and demonstrate your abilities as a professional, success is sure to follow.

Young woman with a laptop sitting on the floor applauding

11. End with a call to action, a question and your full name

No proposal is complete without an effective close.

What do you want your client to do next? Reach out to you for more information? Contact you for details?

Make the next steps crystal clear, and 90% of the time they will follow suit.

I also usually like to include a question with my call to action. Make your question irresistible and there’s a good chance you’ll get a response. People love to talk about themselves, so make the question semi-personal if possible.

Finally – here’s my cheat for the “no website” rule I referenced earlier – sign off with your first and last name. Upwork hasn’t banned using your full name inside of a proposal (yet). It makes you more Googlable. And you can’t help it if a client has the foresight to check you out on LinkedIn.

Go ahead and shoot me a quick message here on Upwork so we can chat a bit more about yourself and the project. I’m also happy to answer any questions you might have about me and my services. I’ll be at my computer for the rest of the day. PS: How did you guys come up with the title of the book? It’s quite clever. Morgan Overholt

Two sample Upwork proposals

Ready to see how it all comes together? Check out these examples below.

For variety, I will include two variations. Both, in my experience, have proven to be effective.

Hey Kent! I have to say, this job post really stuck out to me – I’m a perfect fit for this project. I’m a regular consumer of these types of products. And e-book design happens to be my forte. A bit about me … I’m a designer with nearly 20 years of professional experience. I’ve worked with nationally recognized clientele like the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), Yogi Tea and Kimberly-Clark.  I am also Upwork Expert Vetted – which means I am ranked among the top 1% of professionals in my field on this platform.  I pride myself on my ability to offer rapid turnarounds and quality products to my clients. And I would like to do the same for you. I am attaching a multi-page portfolio to this proposal. You can view additional work samples on at Go ahead and shoot me a quick message here on Upwork so we can chat a bit more about yourself and the project. I’ll be at my computer for the rest of the day. Morgan Overholt
Hi Lokelani! Thanks for the invite! Very nice to meet you. I’d love to help you out with that menu redesign. And yes – you remembered correctly. Vector format is exactly what you need for a large format print. I can also provide a fast turnaround. What’s our print deadline? I’d also love to see your sketches and reference pictures. I can match any style you have in mind. I am also incredibly fast. As you may have already read on my profile – I’m a designer with nearly 20 years of professional experience. I’ve worked with internationally recognized clientele like the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), Yogi Tea and Granier Bakery. I am also Upwork Expert Vetted – which means I am ranked among the top 1% of professionals in my field on this platform. I am attaching a multi-page portfolio to this proposal. You can view additional work samples on my Upwork profile here: Go ahead and shoot me a quick message here on Upwork so we can chat a bit more about yourself and the project. Morgan Overholt

What are your favorite Upwork proposal tips? Let me know in the comments. Also, don’t forget to connect with me on social media using the links below.

46 thoughts on “Upwork Proposal Sample: 11 Tips From a $600k Freelancer [2023]”

Great article, Morgan! Thank you for sharing with us your tips!

I’ve read some tips about how to win the job on Upwork even with the very high rate like $5000 for their first project. But they all attached the presentation video to the client in the proposals and they are native English. I’m Indonesian, not a native English so don’t push your self to make it even worst. But if you are a native English then you have great chances to win the high rate jobs in your first gig on Upwork by attach the presentation video in your proposal.

I thought it was against Uwork’s policy to include a link to your personal website in not just the proposal but all buyer communication. That’s not the case?

Looks like I was wrong. According to a post on the Upwrok Community forums, you can add external links in your proposals.

As you can see in your link provided, you are not allowed to post the website on your public profile, but you ARE allowed to use it and include it in your proposals, cover letters and personal communications. 🙂

My first contract on Upwork is a $25 for emoticon designs, luckily the client let my self to decide how many emoticons I can provide for $25. And when I checked back the job post, it’s only submited by 4 freelancers, which I’m the winner. But it doesn’t mean if you submit to the job with more than 20’s freelancers you don’t have any chances to win. At least sometimes there are chances to do the other scope tasks outside the job post description that client will ask you then inviting you while you will be invite by client in a job post that has no related with your tasks.

I hope that you won’t stop writing such interesting articles. I’m waiting for more of your content. I’m going to follow you!

Thanks for the update, Morgan!

Hi, I have a question if you don’t mind. I am an accountant (not CPA) and have years of experience working on QuckBooks (Accounting Software). I would apply to projects that need help in this area but I don’t have anything to share and I don’t have my own company or website. Does that matter?

Do you at least have a LinkedIn or professionally designed resume? It never hurts to have a professional web presence.

Hi Morgan, This article I have gained commercially viable skills that I can be able to harness online work opportunities as a freelancer. Please Morgan I want to ask you some questions so, get in touch with me if it’s possible through this number +254704699960 so that you can assist me.

Great article Morgan. Keep it up.

Please can I get your WhatsApp number? There’s a lot I need to ask you

I am new in Upwork but I do not find any job yet.How can I get first job? Another question -Is there any way to get free bid or connect? Please tell me.

There are 5 ways to earn free connects after your initial batch runs out:

1. Passing the Upwork Readiness test (40) 2. Earning the Rising Talent Badge (30) 3. Freelancer Basic accounts get 10 free connects each month. (10) 4. Freelance Plus (paid) memberships receive 80 free connects each month. (80) 5. When you win an interview from the job feed, and respond you get a bonus free 10 connect (up to 50 every 7 days)

While reading this post i am getri g experience about how to shot first deal in upwork.I am freelance web developer since 2013 but have never earned any work in upwork although i found this market newly i think i will.

Thank You for the blog. Really appreciated 🙂

On point as always.

Good write up! Wish I could get you as friend to help as I newbies through upwork downcast 😓😓

Thank You Morgan Overholt for this great article

Tnakyou Morgan for this great article . I’m new on Upwork and as a newbie i never have win any bid and earned . How can i get first job . I’m new to this platform but I’ve already did lots of assignments work but that was indirect . I recieved the work from an other person complete ot and send it . an other one was bidding . i was just indirectly working.

Thanks a lot Morgan! I’m a newbie in up work. I would like to have a personal connection with you.

I think your advice is very feminine and quirky in nature. If you have to stroke their ego with fake enthusiasm and compliments they probably aren’t the type of clients you want anyway.

How long have you been on Upwork?

I’m new to Upwork and I wanted to know that when submitting proposals do I send them to clients with verified payment methods or even when their payment is unverified I should apply?

Great question! I would apply to both but verified is obviously preferred. Just don’t do any work unless the project is funded and money is verified/in escrow.

As a beginner, I feel you’re all I need to be every client’s favorite in upwork. Thank yoi

This is absolutely great insight. Well appreciated!

Hey Morgan, can you please help me with my profile and proposal? I want you to review it and solve my mistakes please.

Hi morgan, thanks for this wonderful writeup. It’s so good I met this at the time I needed it most. I look forward to getting more and more unique contents like this from.

Much love, Prince O.

Thank you for this piece. Newbies like me would really find it helpful. Haven’t gotten an invite yet so was wondering what’s wrong . Can I share my profile with you for any possible recommendation,??? Pls!!!!!

Nice Tips ,, Thank for sharing.

Hi morgan, thanks for this wonderful Tip.

Your winning proposal tip attracted me. Thanks for your help.

Thanks a lot. This was very helpful for a newbie like me.

Hey mma! @Overholt. Pls I enjoyed your article most Pls am new to upwork, would u mind giving me more guide line to enable me succeed?

Hi there! I suggest checking out my digital downloads for links to my most popular Upwork articles!

Thank you for sharing. looking forward to getting started as a freelancer

Thanks, Morgan for this it’s very insightful and I hope it would be helpful I have been on Upwork for months now trying to win a job

Thanks for such useful information from the bottom of my heart.

Great article! I’m gonna apply those tips to my proposals and see if it changes the situation because atm it’s pretty grim lol.

Thanks anyway!

Brilliant article! Thank you very much!

Thanks so much, Morgan for this article – quite informative. I’m a newbie at Upwork, and will really appreciate it if you can help me find my footing. Thanks in anticipation.

Hey Agatha! I would suggest subscribing to my newsletter and going thru the Upwork Jumpstart Kit! All of my best advice is in that free digital download.

Hi Morgan, Thanks for the great insight. I was wondering – if you don’t have a client’s name, is “To Whom It May Concern” still acceptable these days? Or is there a better way to begin a proposal?

Honestly Linda I find that to be a bit too formal. I think a simple “Hello” is much more personal.

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how to write upwork proposals

Upwork proposal samples: Your full guide

Aman Saxena

Aman Saxena

Upwork is a global freelancing platform where professionals can get hired for freelance work and projects. Freelancers can work with clients from around the world and build lasting partnerships. It is a great resource for freelancers but to get hired usually requires first a proposal to be submitted to be considered by the client.

Learn more about Upwork proposals and what some tips are to write a successful one. Plus, take a look at the samples below for different types of freelancers.

How to write an Upwork freelance proposal that works

When you are looking to apply for a project on Upwork, you will likely be asked to submit a proposal. The Upwork proposal works similarly to a cover letter, where a job poster can get a good idea about:

It is a chance for the client to get to know you and your interest, beyond your Upwork profile. Here are a few ways to write a proposal that stands out amongst the crowd of applicants:

Be clear and concise

Clients don’t want to read paragraph after paragraph of a project proposal. So whether it's your introduction or the following sections, keep it short and only to 3-4 sentences each. And create spaces between each section of your proposal so the submission is also easier to read. A clear, concise, and effective proposal can help reinforce that you are the right person for the job. A helpful tip is to check the client’s reviews to get a sense of how formal or casual to make your proposal.

State your understanding of the project and the problem to solve

Clients want to know that you understand the task at hand. You can exemplify that by briefly restating the project and your understanding of the problem. And then how your work can help solve their problem. Clients often get many, many proposals on Upwork so they will naturally gravitate away from those that haven’t read the posting properly, and move more towards that those that read it carefully.

Describe how you would complete the project

Let your client know the process and method that you would go about getting the job done and the time frame. It is a simple and easy way to show that you have given the task thought and are ready to take it on. Reinforce any details on deadlines and ways to communicate during the project and after.

Highlight related work you’ve done in the past

Having relevant past experience that shows you can get the work done is imperative to a good proposal. So provide quick and easy examples of work you have done before that is a fit for the job posting- this can be the number of clients you worked with or references to work you’ve done, or even better direct links to both. But keep in mind that if you don’t have the appropriate experience for the job, it may not be the best fit for you.

Say why you are a good fit

Sum up your proposal with why you are a good fit for this job. It can be a recap of your understanding of the project, plus the work you have done and how you have the work ethic and time commitment to get it done. Make sure this is tailored to the project posting to show the client that you are ready to take on the work.

And if you want to add to the proposal, feel free to provide attachments or links that qualify and support what you have said. Additionally, feel free to ask relevant and pertinent questions to the client.

Upwork proposal samples: easy templates to get you started

Want to write a proposal, but not sure where to start? Here are some easy examples to read through and get an idea of how to write a proposal for Upwork. It is highly recommended to solely take these proposals as guideposts and to write an original proposal for each job posting you apply to.

UpWork proposal sample for beginners

Hi [Client name or company], I’m Nalini and I’d like to help complete your project. I understand how important timely deliverables and clear communication are to working together remotely. I have been a freelancer for 3 years now and have received strong feedback on the ability to deliver high-quality work by the deadline. Here is a sample of my work: [Insert link} Additionally per your post, I understand the importance of the 3-day turnaround time and having the deliverables in the preferred format. I will definitely be able to meet your expectations for this particular project. Please let me know if you have any questions or if I can provide more samples of my work. Best regards, Nalini Bhatia

UpWork proposal sample for web developer

Hello, My name is Vijay Reddy and I’d love to help you launch your new website. I am a web developer, who has worked on over 40 different websites. I studied web development for 4 years and have worked with startups to build their web presence over the past 3 years. Below are a few links for websites I have built: Sample link 1 Sample link 2 Sample link 3 Sample link 4 If you are looking for a different type of website than the ones above, I’d be happy to tailor it to your needs. I understand you are a new company and I am happy to be flexible to make sure we work with your timeline. Could you tell me more about your target market and audience? If you are unsure, I can brainstorm with you on this point. Do let me know if you have any questions and I am excited to have the possibility to work on this project! Best regards, Vijay Reddy

UpWork proposal sample for virtual assistant

Hi [Client name], My name is Ajay and I came across your post for a virtual assistant and I’d love to apply for the position. I have 6 years of experience as an assistant for the Executive Director of [link company], so I have a strong understanding of the importance of organization, efficient working, and timely completion of tasks. You mentioned you are looking for calendar management, reaching out to clients to set up meetings and data entry, all of which require great communication skills and follow-up. I have a track record in maintaining strong communication, attention to detail and I am not afraid of being persistent. Here is a link to my personal website and my Instagram to learn more about me: [Enter in website domain] [Enter in Instagram link] I look forward to the possible opportunity to help you reach your personal and professional goals as a virtual assistant. Thank you, Ajay Kumar

UpWork proposal sample data entry

Hello [Client name], I am a detail-oriented data entry specialist and I would be interested in completing your project. I have been working in data entry for the past 10 years and am well versed in most data entry software. Is there a particular software this project will require? My experience has also been across sectors, from accounting to IT sales and F&B so I would easily adapt to your firm’s needs. I have attached my resume below for further details about my work. As you can see from my reviews on Upwork, I have been hired on this platform many times before and have received great reviews from previous clients. I work methodically and am able to deliver within the necessary deadlines. For this type of a project, my rate is ₹3500 for a complete handover of the deliverables. Let me know if this works for you and we can discuss timelines further. Sincerely, Salman Choudhary

UpWork proposal sample for graphic designer

Hi [Client name] I am a graphic designer and I’d love the opportunity to work with your brand. After looking at your website and social media presence, I got a clear idea of the style improvements you are looking for for your visual content. I have helped numerous brands refresh their content and look, including [example client 1 link] and [example client 2 link] who are in a similar sector. I have been working as a freelance graphic designer for the last 5 years and it is my full-time profession. Here is a link to my online portfolio to get a closer look at my work: [online portfolio link] My goal is to help you and your brand get to where you want to go and help discover a new audience with your content. I saw in the post that you are looking for the graphic design work to be completed within 10 business days, and that should not be a problem at all. Additionally, I would be happy to go through 5 rounds of edits after submission to make sure that you are satisfied with the work. I look forward to hearing from you, Renu Singh

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How to Write Upwork Proposals That WIN

Profile Image:Chris Christiansen

Freelancing Growth

Ending your client slump on Upwork this week

Attract clients with your upwork proposals, finding great upwork projects, my favorite upwork saved searches, writing killer upwork proposals, upwork proposal mistakes that screams ‘don’t hire me’, expanding beyond upwork proposals.

One of the most frustrating things as a freelancer is sending Upwork proposals and never hearing back. There is no way around it. It doesn’t feel good to spend hours putting together just the right ideas and then… crickets.

After experimenting and tracking my own Upwork proposal responses, I discovered that it usually comes down to three things:

With practice, we can write great Upwork proposals, but the two other points are only somewhat within our control. If our Upwork rates don’t fit the client, we can either lower them or look for other clients, but it’s hard to know when sending the proposal since most projects don’t have enough information to gauge that upfront.

I know of some experienced Upwork freelancers that lead with pricing, which is usually not a great idea, but because they’ve wasted so much time pitching clients that could never afford their rates it works for them.

At one point, I ran the math on my Upwork proposals to understand where they fell short and what I could do to land more projects. In a minute, I’ll show you the results but before we dive in, let’s make this a fun little quiz.

Which of the three points above do you think had the biggest impact on whether the client would respond to the Upwork proposals? The proposal itself, the rate, or the commitment of the client to begin the project?

Drumroll, please…

I discovered that about 55% of all the projects I applied for never hired any freelancer from Upwork. HALF. And I didn’t spend my ‘Connects’ machine-gunning proposals everywhere. I carefully selected the jobs and sent each one a personalized proposal.

Featured Image for: How to Write Upwork Proposals That WIN

It’s hard to say why. It could be because their business priorities changed and they didn’t need to complete the project, after all, perhaps they couldn’t find the right fit or they might’ve already found the right freelancer outside of Upwork.

upwork proposals - results example

This is the result of one proposal ‘batch’. I tracked several and each one contained 20 proposals – the results of each batch were almost identical.

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After each project was closed I checked who the client hired and worked to figure out why. I managed to land about 22% of all the jobs I applied for while someone else got hired for the remaining 22% – most often it was someone who had chosen more affordable hourly rates . That means for every five proposals I sent, I’d land a new client.

What can you do to stack the odds in your favor?

Since you can’t control if a client is ready to start the project, you can only do your best to minimize applying for jobs that are unlikely to go anywhere. Instead, let’s focus on the aspects we can control:

If you are ready to do something about the frustrating experience of not landing clients, there are two ways to end your client slump: write a different style of proposals or expand beyond freelance websites.

I wouldn’t avoid Upwork proposals if you have tried applying for jobs and haven’t been able to get responses yet. If you can find relevant jobs to apply to, it means that there’s something we need to tweak in the proposals rather than abandoning the idea altogether.

On the other hand, if you have a hard time finding projects you are excited about, it might be a good sign to move away from the website.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to write Upwork proposals that get client responses and what it looks like to move away from freelance websites altogether.

There are two things I’ve found to make the biggest difference when landing jobs on Upwork:

I’ll explain each one individually. Let’s dive in!

The easiest way to stand out in the sea of proposals clients tend to get, is to share something personal you have in common with them to show mutual interest.

For example, if the client needs help with their blog about living abroad, you might share your experience studying abroad.

I’ve found that a bad job description often makes it feel virtually impossible to write something relevant and win over the client. Life is much easier if we apply for jobs where we have enough information upfront to write something specifically for them.

It can take a while to dig up great projects and, in my experience, it’s not often you’ll come across more than a handful of good ones each day. I’ve noticed that applying for a couple of the most exciting ones each day worked better than batch-applying for a stack of them in one day.

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bad client example

There are always new jobs coming and I’ve found that jobs that are more than a few days old or have 20+ proposals tend to be harder to get.

I also like to look at the number of projects the client has hired for. If it is less than about 35%, I’m reluctant to send a proposal because there is a high chance they won’t hire.

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We can often ignore the project budget as many clients simply don’t know what to enter. They might be afraid of being overcharged and just put something random like $100.

In fact, I’ve found this principle to hold true for many of the features Upwork allows clients to add.

Another one is when they have to pick if they want a freelancer that is entry-level, intermediate, or expert. It seems kinda random what clients put there and often you’ll see those that want an expert but only want to pay $5/hour.

All of these filters are good, but the best indicator is the job description itself.

When looking at projects, I use this simple rule of thumb: does the job description give enough information for me to write a personalized proposal specifically for this project?

This is a great example of a job that makes it challenging to send a personalized proposal. The client is vague about what they want and shares no details that allow you to dive deeper and show them how good you are.

upwork proposals

The good news is that you can save yourself some time by playing around with Upwork’s brilliant “Save search” feature. That way, you can save the searches that gave you the best results and reuse them in the future.

upwork proposals

I landed my first client because I noticed a project from my home country and spoke to the client in our native language, which made things more convenient for him. I found this client by using the search filters to find clients with my native language or from my home country.

Upwork says that clients shouldn’t add their personal info or websites directly in the project description but they still do it. My perhaps all-time favorite search has been to look for projects with the specific websites listed right there.

Not because I want to contact them outside Upwork, but because it allows me to deeply research their business and write a customized proposal with direct ideas for their business. It usually gets their attention. Here’s what that search looks like:

upwork proposals

As you can see, I’ve used the “OR” operator which tells Upwork to search for A or B. That way, I can list out the things that I know are likely to be put as part of the website like www or .com, which are typically not used in any other words. You can even add your service as an extra keyword or category to narrow down the search even further.

The more familiar you become with the type of keywords that clients use, the better you’ll be able to find them. For example, if you want to work specifically with startups, you might know that they often talk about growth as a department where not as many other types of businesses do the same. Knowing that you might search like this:

upwork proposals

When you’ve found an exciting project with a detailed project description (like the one below), it’s time to write a killer proposal.

upwork proposals

It might seem counterintuitive but a good proposal is often not one that lands the project right then and there but simply gets the client to write you back. That way, you can better understand if they are a good fit for you before you dive deeper, and it’s easier for a client to decide to learn more about you than to award them the project on the spot.

The word ‘proposal’ can feel a bit misleading and ‘cover letter’ is a more relevant term when you think about what it should include.

That means you usually don’t include pricing but instead, work to understand what the client needs more specifically, what problem they are trying to solve, and which part of your experience is relevant for this particular project.

If we continue with the project description example above, here’s a proposal that landed a response:

Hi there, I couldn’t find your name anywhere. I’ve worked with many language courses before, for both German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and I created my own course teaching Danish. 

Please ignore the pricing for now. Before we decide, we’ll need to figure out what to do to bring results. I’d love to hear more about targets and what you’ve done in the past. 

I’ve written a few articles on my approach to driving sales specifically for language schools but it seems like Upwork doesn’t allow me to share them directly in this proposal. 

Would you be able to send me a message? That way we are able to interact and that should allow me to share the articles with you. Thanks!

The writeback:

Thanks for applying for this project. I’d love to learn more about what you did for your previous clients and how you can help us achieve our goals. Would you be up for a quick call sometime next week?

What do you notice in the example? Why do you think it worked?

It starts out with something we have in common and then goes on to suggest that I’ll need more information to better gauge how I might be able to help along with pointing out specific examples of relevant experience that are attached (e.g. only that related to their industry rather than my entire CV).

This isn’t one of the world’s best Upwork proposals and that’s exactly the point – even so, the relevancy of what we have in common and the few specific examples I wanted to share makes the difference.

Compare that to these proposals for another, similar content project:

I’m interested in working on your project. I understand that the quality of content matters most to you and so, strive to deliver to your expectation. I take instruction seriously to deliver content that is in line with what you are looking for. More to this, I ensure you get the work as early as possible within the set timelines. Feel free to discuss with me what you need for a successful project.

Kind regards, NAME

Hi there, I won’t bore you with a long story as I know you’re going to have lots of proposals to read to find the appropriate freelancer for your project.

I’m a native English speaker with years of experience writing for blogs, college magazines, fashion magazines, news outlets, SEO contents, technical documentation, etc

All the content will be 100% unique, error-free, and appealing to your readers, as you want.

Expect the following:

=> 100% unique content => Excellent grammar and punctuation => Appealing content to your readers => Timely submission of work

Thanks for your time and consideration. I look forward to working with you.

Good day, I am NAME. I would like to work with your project and I can surely provide the details you have specified on the project description. I am a [X] graduate, I am new at freelancing but I can confidently say that I am knowledgeable enough to finish your required task. I hope I can get a response. Thank you!

Sincerely, NAME

Do you notice how vague they are?

Not to mention that the things they highlight (high-quality content, unique content, etc.) are easy to claim but the proposals are hinting at the opposite by being dreadfully generic. In fact, all of those qualities are table stakes – they are expected just to get in the room, not as an impressive way to stand out.

Here’s another example of a project that got a response. The project description:

I have a course to teach UX Design ready.

I’m looking for an experienced consultant that can plan and guide me through a comprehensive launch strategy – with webinars, magnets, etc.

Also to set me up FB ad and the like.

I’m a great creative and I need an experienced guide to success.

I’ve had some success here and there but I need a serious plan for my next launch!

The proposal:

Hey NAME, I remember when I made my first few sales from my online course. It’s an exhilarating experience — you must be excited!

Your project description didn’t mention a particular product price, so I’ll give you a brief example of how to generate sales with Facebook ads for a $50-$100 online course and we can talk specifics if it’s different.

Courses sell differently on Facebook and the whole process can be divided into three categories based on your future product’s price:

1. Less than $50 2. $50-$100 3. Higher than $100

Because people need more persuasion to buy an expensive product than a cheap one. So assuming that you are in fact selling a $50-$100 online course, I’ll build a funnel that:

1. Targets look-alike audiences with videos (based on your current customers) 2. Retarget people that watched the majority of the video, send them to the website, and ask them to sign up for the newsletter 3. Retarget and email them based on the products they looked at

If you are selling a cheap course we can link it directly from the Facebook ad to the sales page but we need to split-test more on audience configuration, images, copy, and sales page to generate profitable sales.

This is a simplified version just to give you an idea of what works and how I do it. I’m sure you are busy, so I’ll keep this short for now. I’ve attached a few testimonials from clients with similar projects, in case you are interested.

Out of curiosity, how much does your course cost and do you have an audience you’ve already sold to or do we need to drive customers from somewhere else?

The course is $1300. [Calendly link to book a meeting]

When the client gets a sea of generic proposals, your specific one stands out. The job description for this project was fairly specific with some direction but still left some questions, so the attack plan was to share an example of how things could be done and then hear what they’ve tried in the past.

The first proposal mistake I often see is not showing that we took the time to care for the client rather than sending something quickly.

That means looking for their name in the reviews of previous projects or pointing out that we can’t find it to show that we tried. It also means treating the client like a human being who might not know our field of expertise as well as we do and catering to them by explaining things in plain English.

The second mistake is telling them about our expertise in a generic way like, “I have X years of experience, I have ABC skills” or throwing our entire portfolio at them. Instead, curate it and guide them by highlighting specific examples and explaining why those fit the client’s project. Don’t let them guess because they won’t.

Sharing specific insights about their project or industry is powerful. For example, if you work with the language learning industry, you might share that you’ve noticed that students often find it difficult to practice speaking a foreign language because they don’t want to feel stupid saying something wrong.

Or if you work with logo design , you might highlight that for a business with lots of printed material, changing logos can be expensive because of all the reprinting so it will be very expensive if they don’t get it right the first time.

Here’s another Upwork proposal example to summarize:

The job description:

upwork job example

The Upwork proposal:

upwork proposals

To my surprise, they were so happy with the project that they even added a 25% bonus to my total earnings (woohoo!).

If it’s challenging to find projects you are excited about on freelance websites, another approach is to reach out to businesses directly in order to land work. It can feel scary at first, as they haven’t put up any job ads and you might not want to come across as sleazy and spammy.

It turns out that you don’t have to be but before we go into that, allow me to share an example of what happened before and after I began landing freelance clients directly. It was a surprising experience to say the least.

Some years ago I quit my job and began freelancing on Upwork full time. At first, I landed a big project and life was great! But it turned out to be surprisingly challenging to find the next long-term project. While I had left my job and was technically living my idea of my dream life, it didn’t feel the way I thought it would.

Something wasn’t right.

I was completing 10-15 billable hours per week for clients. Then another 30 or so pitching new clients that on average would pay about $650 before Upwork’s fees and tax. Almost all my time was spent sending proposals.

During the day, I would scour Upwork’s newsfeed for hidden gems–that rare project that might have a chance of lasting longer than a week or two.

Like an addiction, I’d check it two or three times every day, using filters that I had carefully optimized to find the best projects. Sometimes I’d even try to defend a vague job description that clearly took someone two seconds to put together, and tell myself that I should be more open-minded – that the client was probably just busy.

It was never the case.

Since then, I’ve tried my luck elsewhere, also working 10-15 billable hours per week but without pitching anyone for months. Every now and then I’ve taken on another client when it felt like a good fit, often doubling or tripling my earnings that month. My clients send me new projects without a pitch, never argue about my rates and love the work we do together. It’s a totally different experience.

It feels like freedom.

There were especially three things I noticed from this experience:

If this has made you curious, there are a few places to find clients without freelance websites.

Where to find clients (if not on freelance websites)

There are many ways to go about it and they usually all work but have different benefits. For example, writing articles sharing your expertise like this one on running Google ads for doctors or this one on finding the right healthcare keywords , is a good way to get clients coming to us but takes a while to get off the ground.

On the other hand, the quickest way to land clients that I know of is by reaching out to them first. The medium, whether LinkedIn, email or Instagram DM, matters less than what we tell them.

You can either find them via Google search or using a service like SolidGigs that gathers businesses already looking for freelance help.

When you have found a business you’d like to work with, it works well to pitch them by following a similar structure to what we do on Upwork. First, suggest ideas and then move on to a discovery phone call followed by a summary proposal with pricing .

If you’ve ever worked at a corporation, you’ve probably gotten horribly spammy emails that you’d never respond to and figure that’s the only way to find new clients.

While there are many who buy long lists of random emails and spam them with a generic message, there’s another way that tends to work better and doesn’t make you feel horrible.

The idea is as simple as talking to them like you would if you had a conversation face to face in real life. Treating them like a human being instead of a number in a spreadsheet can make potential clients be surprisingly interested in your services – even if you are a stranger reaching out.

That means finding mutual ground to connect with them instead of a generic message like “I like your stuff”.

If you are curious about this approach, check out the program Cold Emails That Convert .

Upwork can be a terrific way to take your first step towards freedom and begin earning money online but if you can’t find any gigs you are excited about, it might be worth looking elsewhere.

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    How to write an Upwork freelance proposal that works. When you are looking to apply for a project on Upwork, you will likely be asked to submit a proposal. The Upwork proposal works similarly to a cover letter, where a job poster can get a good idea about: You as a professional; Your past experience; Why you would be a good pick for the particular project

  6. How to Write Upwork Proposals That WIN -

    Applying for jobs with enough details to write a good proposal Writing a personal proposal to each client I’ll explain each one individually. Let’s dive in! Finding great Upwork projects The easiest way to stand out in the sea of proposals clients tend to get, is to share something personal you have in common with them to show mutual interest.