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How to Write an Upwork Proposal

by | Jan 7, 2022 | Freelancing

Upwork is a great place to find freelance work of all kinds, but writing the perfect Upwork proposal that helps you land gigs can be challenging. There are a few tried and tested proposal tips that are sure to help you land jobs on Upwork, and I’m going to show exactly what they are by using my personal proposal as an example. No matter what your niche is on Upwork, you can still use the same proposal format to land more quality gigs on Upwork. 

What Your Upwork Proposal is Not

Applying to jobs on Upwork isn’t quite the same as applying to jobs in the traditional sense. In most cases, you don’t want to submit a formal cover letter and your resume on Upwork. Sure, there are some job postings specifically requesting resumes, but I’ve tried this method in the past and didn’t see much success from it. Instead, you’ll want to blend your work experience with an outline of previous successful projects you’ve worked on. 

You shouldn’t submit an Upwork proposal that’s copy and pasted from a template, and you shouldn’t submit the same proposal that you use on every job posting. Instead, your proposal should have a cover letter that’s unique to the job posting, and your proposal should only feature previous experience and projects directly related to the gig you’re applying for. 

Your Proposal Format is Key on Upwork

When it comes to creating a winning Upwork proposal, the organization and design of your proposal are highly important! Remember, you’re often competing against many other freelancers, so you need to stand out. Your proposal should be easy to read with scannable text. Instead of going overboard with details, only offer the most important information. 

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Spend a good amount of time perfecting the layout and design of your proposal so that it looks well-thought-out and professional. I used one of Canva’s many 1920 x 1080 pixel presentation templates, and I highly recommend that you do the same. Canva is easy to use, affordable, and it allows you to download your document as a PDF for easy uploading straight into Upwork. 

Example Upwork Proposal Framework

  1. Cover page
  2. You in a snapshot
  3. List of capabilities
  4. Your related work experience
  5. Your approach
  6. At least 3 project case studies
  7. Testimonials

Your Upwork Proposal Should Include a Cover Page and Snapshot

If you’re using Canva to create your proposal, then it should be easy to create a cover page. This page should have your headshot and a short brand statement that lets the reader know your specialty. Mine is, “Creative writer, digital marketer, & WordPress design expert.” My headshot was taken by a professional photographer and I am smiling. You must smile in your photo so that you put off a friendly vibe to potential clients.

The next slide right after your cover page should be what I call “YOU in a snapshot.” On this page, you’ll want to list a short few sentences about your experience, your headshot, your education, certifications, and any key skills that make you a qualified candidate. You can also list your contact information on this page, including a personal portfolio website if you have one. This slide should be simple, easy to scan, and only include the most important information related to the jobs you’re trying to land on Upwork. 

How to Write an Upwork Proposal

List Capabilities and Experience in Your Upwork Proposal

Before jumping into my more detailed work experience slide, I have my capabilities in a bulleted list and categorized beforehand. The reason I do this is that your Upwork client may need other services that they could hire you to do. Some great Upwork gigs are the ones that are ongoing projects, so this slide is great to include so that your potential clients will consider you for additional services if desired.

How to Write an Upwork Proposal

You’ll also want to include some of your work experience, but make sure that it directly relates to the kind of work you’re trying to land. Your Upwork proposal should be very specific to your niche on the platform, so try to keep the work experience brief and specific. For mine, I saw no need to list out start and end dates. I also listed the company logos next to the bulleted list of responsibilities I had at each position. This makes the slide easier to read and more visually appealing. I don’t list any responsibilities that don’t relate to my niche. 

Outline Your Approach in Your Proposal

This section isn’t required to create a winning Upwork proposal, but I’ve found that many clients end up asking about my approach during the interview phase. If you outline your approach in your proposal, it can certainly make it easier for clients to decide if they want to work with you, and it could also shorten the interview period since it might answer several important questions about your process. 

Every freelancer has their workflow or process to how they handle projects. Your process page is simply an outline of how you approach each project. Do you have the client fill out a set of questions before you start a design project? Do you like to see a list of website examples before you begin creating a client’s site? Do you prefer to have a face-to-face Zoom meeting? Do you enjoy collaborating with your clients along the way, or do you prefer to take a more independent approach to client projects? Check out my approach slide in the example below. 

List at Least 3 Case Studies in Your Upwork Proposal

In this section, you’ll outline at least 3 of your most successful projects that are related to your Upwork niche. Remember that your proposal should give your clients a clear picture of who you are as a freelancer, so it’s a good idea to show them how previous clients of yours have had great results from your work. 

How to Write an Upwork Proposal

Don’t worry! A case study isn’t as scary as it sounds. When writing a client case study, all you’ll need is a few short paragraphs that tell a full story about the project you completed. 

You’ll need to answer the following questions for each project:

  • Who was the client?
  • What challenges did the client face? (i.e. Why did they hire you?)
  • What did you do for the client?
  • What was the result?

You can format your case study however you’d like as long as it answers these key questions. Formatting your project case study in this manner will display a natural beginning and end that will help potential clients better determine if you’re a good fit for their project as well.

Your Upwork Proposal Should Have Testimonials

Positive client testimonials are the ultimate source of credibility for your Upwork proposal. There’s nothing that proves your talents and abilities quite like a review from a real person. Even if you don’t have reviews on your Upwork profile yet, you can still list reviews within your proposal. If you’re already a freelancer off of Upwork, you might have already collected some reviews on a Facebook business page, a Google My Business listing, or on your LinkedIn profile. Any of these reviews are perfectly fine to screenshot and paste into your Upwork proposal. 

If you don’t have any reviews to share, I recommend requesting a few through Upwork. The platform recently launched a new profile feature that allows freelancers to request reviews off Upwork. Visit your profile page and scroll down to the testimonials section to utilize this feature. Keep in mind that those leaving a testimonial will have to have an active LinkedIn account so that Upwork can verify their identity. 

For more information on how to request testimonials from clients outside of Upwork, go here.

Mel Beasley
By Mel Beasley

Mel Beasley has a bachelor’s in creative writing and journalism from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He brings 9+ years of digital marketing and writing experience to the table by writing for publications such as Lumina News and Encore Magazine. He spent 2 years as a college-level writing tutor, and is a certified writing tutor through the CRLA, which is a prestigious cert recognized by the Association for the Coaching & Tutoring Profession. He is a professional SEO blogger with experience writing for brands such as Boardworks Education and The Greater Wilmington Business Journal. One of his latest website and marketing projects has been building the website for the now New York Times Bestselling author, Nina de Gramont.


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