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17 cover letter ideas that get the client's attention

As any experienced Upwork freelancer knows, the first lines in your cover letter proposals are crucial to getting a client's interest. Below are several themes we developed in PouncerAI Studio (private beta) that have worked well for us and our beta users.


Note, these are concepts/themes for the cover letter copy only and not the actual copy used.


1. Theme: "I just completed a project exactly like yours."

This is one of the best performing themes we use! Client's are looking for someone that they can trust and has the experience to complete the job. So if you have recently done work on a project that aligns directly with the client's job description, then let them know. It also helps if you have any tangible results to include.


2. Theme: "I have recently worked on similar projects that require X and generated Y results."

This works well for projects that share similar tactics, tools, and techniques but may not be perfectly aligned with their project. The key with this theme is to include the results of the effort (i.e. saved time, money, etc).


3. Theme: "I wish this existed and would like to bring it to life. Here's why."

We find that client's like working with people that are enthusiastic about their project. This theme demonstrates that you have a personal connection to their project; hence the enthusiasm along with the reasoning.


4. Theme: "I am new to Upwork so I will work hard to earn your trust."

One of the reasons we find that a client works with new freelancers is because they assume that they will cost less than experienced ones. However the risk is that these freelancers won't deliver. This theme helps address both those issue up-front.


5. Theme: "There is a problem with your proposed project, but I can help."

This one works when a project description is missing key details, when the client wants something that can not be feasibly delivered, and/or when a client's budget is too low. Regardless, the end goal is to leverage your expertise to help them address the issues and propose a better plan.


6. Theme: "I have a few questions..."

This theme is designed to encourage clients to open your cover letter so they can see the questions you have. It helps when you include a quick reference to your expertise; providing context for why you are asking questions.


7. Theme: "I have worked with client's just like you."

For client's in specific industries, this theme helps showcase that you have an understanding of the issues and challenges they are encountering. This works well in highly competitive or regulated fields where client's want freelancers that can deliver the project without having to fill them in on the nuances of the market.


8. Theme: "Beware, not every freelancer can do this job."

Clients will often get 50-100 submissions for highly lucrative projects. This approach accounts for the fact that the client may be skeptical of all the submissions and indicates that, based on your experience, there are other factors to consider.


9. Theme: "Your estimate is attached."

If you are comfortable providing a written estimate for a project (meaning there is enough detail to do so), then this approach works when you attach a file with your cover letter. It indicates that the answer to their pricing questions are available if they view the file.


10. Theme: "How to make your project a success."

This theme uses the classic "How To" structure where you delve into the concept of what success would be for a client if they hired you. It can start as a question or just detail the response to the "how-to" question in the first line.


11. Theme: "The 7 things you will need to get this project completed."

This approach is very familiar to anyone that has created listicle posts on a blog. The idea is to create a list of things that are needed to help the client achieve a result and how you can help them obtain it.


12. Theme: "The secret to success for this project is..."

This idea is used a lot in direct-response copywriting because it works well. The concept is to highlight your insider knowledge by identifying the most important thing that the project will need and how you are best able to provide it.


13. Theme: "Little known ways to..."

Similar to the "secret" theme, this structure helps demonstrate your expertise while also highlighting what makes you unique.


14. Theme: "The quickest way to achieve X is to..."

If the client provides enough detail, this theme allows you to demonstrate how you can immediately help them get a result, based on your expertise.


15. Theme: "A finished project that you will love"

This concept focuses on how a client will feel once you deliver the project to them. If a client's project is something the public will use, then you can reference how proud they will be or how unique it will make them. The general idea is to align your work with a positive emotion for the client.


16. Theme: "This tool/resource may help you..."

This approach works well when there are existing tools or techniques that are important for completing a job AND where you have the expertise in using them. For example, when a client has a custom project, there may be an existing tool that they could use without having to build the solution from scratch.


17. Theme: "Other people trust me"

Social proof is a powerful way of getting a client's attention. If you have a great testimonial in your profile, use it as the first line in a cover letter. Of course, you will need to add to that line by indicating why client's like working with you.




These are just a few of the first paragraph theme concepts we developed for PouncerAI and I am sure there are many others.


Remember, these themes are designed to provide a direction and focus for the first lines in your cover letter proposals with the details and actual wording specific to the job and your skills.


If anyone else has an approach or theme they use, please add it to the comments.


P.S. If you would like to see how we use these themes in PouncerAI Studio, please DM me and I am more than happy to give you access to the tool at no costs and no obligation. We need beta testers so you can use the tool as much as you like while we continue development of it.

Community Member

Great post Sean

Community Member

Theme 1: Works like charm.

Community Member

Thanks for the tips!

Community Member

Great knowledge bombs, Sean! I would like to get access to PouncerAI Studio

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