Having a good profile and cover letter are both important to get the client's attention. Your profile should provide essential information about your qualifications as a freelancer. Clients review freelancer profiles to learn more about their skills and experiences so that they can decide on who to hire for the job.
As for the cover letter, it can also influence the client's decision during the hiring process because a good cover letter provides information as to why the client should hire you and why you are the freelancer for the job. Please check out the following links for more tips on improving your profile and on how to write winning proposals:
Depends on the client. I have hired over 100 freelancers on Upwork. I don't read cover letters.
But I know that cover letters are far more important than profile pages for many clients.
It is multiplication. Letter x Profile x Luck = Work. I've hired lots of freelancers, if you ask questions in your letter I answer them, now we're in a dialog. If profile is reasonable I don't care about your convictions for armed robbery and embezzlement. I ignore most ratings. I will look at your rate. I hire people to serve my clients' needs. My clients have high standards; if you don't think you're worth very much, why should I argue with you. I will skip past you if you're too low.
Preston's approach is just as good. Most clients find what works for them, and it's rarely the same.
Other thing which helps a lot is answering quickly when you get invites. No matter if it is 3 AM, if the job is of interest to me, i answer promptly to the invites (there would be more nights to go to sleep early and tranquil). Sometimes the clients invite to 5 persons and grants the job to the first that answers (if you pass the interview filter).
About the cover letter, I recomend you to be polite, professional and somewhat warm. investigate the client's name (it can be in the reviews), and start the cover letter with a phrase like: Dear Andrew, May I help you with..?. This is the formula that has helped me a lot to get jobs. Give the client the idea that you know what is the job about and that you want to help him.
re: "Other thing which helps a lot is answering quickly when you get invites."
A lot of the times when I hire a freelancer it is for a very specialized, technical task. It is the type of task that presumably nobody will apply to work on unless they know how to do the work.
I will block the cover letter feature so there is no way to write a cover letter, and ask a simple question, such as "Are you available to work on this now?"
Then I post the job. I do a search for the needed skills, and send a few invites.
Then I hire the first person who applies.
After that, I remove the job post.
So, yes... sometimes being first is a successful strategy in applying to jobs.