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Re: Salutations in a proposal

Community Leader
ILANNA M Member Since: Jun 29, 2014
1 of 5

Good Morning; 


I am putting together a proposal and I'm not getting any responses to the multiple proposals I've put in. So something is "wrong" with my approach. Here are my questions:


1. How do you open your proposals: Dear Sir or Madam, or something else?


2. How long are your proposals? Do you keep them short or go into detail?


3. Do you use paragraph style or bullet points, or both? 


4. How do you sign off? I usually say thank you for your time and consideration, but that's obviously not working either, LOL.


Here is a sample of mine:

Dear Sir or Madam;

As a curriculum specialist, I'm pleased to submit my proposal to you for this project. I can offer you excellent, high-quality service, and a unique program which will meet your needs. Here is what I can provide:

1. A professionally-designed ESL program

2. A course that is for in-class training, online eLearning, or blended learning

3. An excellent understanding of the principles of ESL learning

4. As a native English speaker, a thorough knowledge of spelling, vocabulary, grammar, syntax, conversational English, phrasing, and all elements of language acquisition

5. A professional attitude, and the ability to provide you with a high level of personalized service

6. Design a report-card system that meets your students' needs

I have an MA in Education, and completed my in-service training in ESL for elementary students. My fifteen years of experience in curriculum design will serve you well, along with my knowledge of language acquisition skills and training.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



Thanks for your advice!

Community Guru
Kelly B Member Since: Jan 1, 2016
2 of 5

I am waaay more casual here than I was in the real world, but I'm a designer, so it might be more acceptable. I never ever use "Sir or Madam" here; I had even stopped doing that in the real world because it was usually pretty easy to find someone's name. I usually say Hi _______, but I frequently have the benefit of responding to invitations so I know who I'm talking to.


I like the breakout of what you *will* provide but I think #5 should go without saying. It also seems like it should be the last bullet point at a minimum and is ironic since the proposal itself is not very personalized.


I also feel like you could move the last paragraph to the top but put the second sentence first, and eliminate all of the first paragraph except the part about what you *will* provide. The idea is to say right off the bat why they'd want to hire you.


I also end with a thanks of some kind and tell them to feel free to reach out with any questions they might have, and I again have the advantage of being able to attach (relevant) samples of my past work.


I usually end with Best but have tried less formal things like Cheers. I just always feel weird when I stray from Best though.

Active Member
Fahim Ul K Member Since: May 13, 2017
3 of 5

Here are the five things that I’ve found to make a good proposal.


1. Keep your proposals short

My first proposals were long and I tried to include everything I could in them. Long proposals won’t convince anyone, as no one will read them. People run from big blocks of text, and no one has the patience to read your life’s story.


2. Capture the client’s attention fast

You have just a few seconds to win your client’s attention, so you need to be witty in the first two or three lines. One trick I use is to look at the feedback on the client’s Upwork profile when applying; other freelancers will call them by their first name in the feedback. This lets me start my application with their name.

By doing this, I leave the client wondering how I know their name, which draws them to my profile to see if they know me. It also shows that I am very interested in the job and in collaborating with them; I paid attention to their job description and looked even further. Finally, it makes the application more personal.


3. Add your samples to the beginning of your application

If there’s one thing in your proposal your clients are interested in, it’s your work samples. If your samples are good, that is your main advantage for winning the job. So keep your samples as high as possible, maybe after the first paragraph.


4. Answer the “Why should I work with you” question

Every customer wants to know why they should pick you instead of any other freelancer out there. This is basically what your application has to be focused on.

No, don’t start your application with: “You should hire me because…” Present the advantages of a collaboration with you, as well as your qualities. Don’t brag, but be honest and present real facts:

  • Talk about the experience (i.e. how many years)
  • Mention your excellent feedback (if you already have some)
  • Mention the number of projects you have worked on so far (inside or outside of Upwork)
  • Tell them about your education, if it is relevant to the job

Point out anything that makes you look good as long as you can prove it, via samples or your profile. You should leave the rest out.


5. Be professional and friendly

I have also become a customer on Upwork in the last couple of months, and I have noticed that many freelancers need to improve their customer service and professional manners. “Dear John Doe,” will always sound better than “Hi.” “Thank you for taking the time to read my application” is a great closing line. You can make your proposal more professional or warm with a friendly closing, like “Best regards,” or “Kind wishes.”


Test everything until you find what works for you. The first few months as a freelancer are definitely not easy and you should expect some tough times. But, if you arm yourself with patience, will, and perseverance, results will eventually show and you will get better at it every day.

Community Guru
Mary W Member Since: Nov 10, 2014
4 of 5

Ilanna, when a client first gets your proposal, they only see the first two lines unless they scroll down.  I wouldn't waste it with a greeting.  Address their need and how your experience and skill can make it happen for them.

Ace Contributor
Tatyana M Member Since: Feb 10, 2019
5 of 5

I think it depends on your industry, but what works for me is being brief, attaching applicable work samples, and responding to something specific in their proposal. Clients want to know if you can do the job, how long it will take, and how much it will cost them.


Showing, not telling has also worked for me. Instead of saying you are professional, show that by being brief, polite, and to the point. Instead of saying that your work is great- refer them to the work sample you attach. I think this projects confidence. 


For a greeting, if I have been invited to the job, I always use their name. If not, I just go with Hi!