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Craft an Eye-catching Proposal Every Time

Upwork Staff
Melanie F Upwork Staff Member Since: May 5, 2015
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You’re confident you can grab attention with your knockout Upwork profile—it tells your target market why they should choose you. The next step is making contact: When there’s a project you know you’d be a great fit for, a proposal is your chance to get specific and tell them why you are the best choice.

If you are invited to submit a proposal by a client, chances are you’ve already made a good first impression. The proposal is your chance to take that good impression and solidify it. If you found a perfect project in the job feed, your proposal may be the client’s first impression of you; being clear and communicative while catching their attention is a priority.

These tips will help make that first impression less of a challenge and more of a practised skill. Top Rated and six-figure freelancer Danny Margulies notes, “Being able to write a great proposal is one of the most valuable skills you can have as a freelancer. So it’s worth investing the time and energy to get it right.”


Clients don’t like to see cookie-cutter proposals. When you customize your proposal to show your interest and expertise in their particular project, you show your interest in them—not just any contract you can find.

“Clients aren’t just looking at your technical skill. They’re wondering, ‘Will this person be excited to work on this project?’”
— Danny Margulies

Be both professional and personable. Show enthusiasm for the project, and let the client know you’ll be an asset to their company.

Pro tip: Many clients will put special instructions in the job post to qualify candidates. Be sure to keep your eyes open for these and address them in your proposal.

Determine and address the client’s problem

The client posted the job because they have a problem to be solved that they can’t or don’t want to solve themselves. Determine what this problem is and make that the focus of your proposal, letting the client know how you will fix it for them and the benefit they will receive from having you do the job.

Tell them exactly why they should work with you. Danny says you should “Focus on what they want to accomplish. You can even offer a helpful suggestion right in your proposal—clients love that because it shows them you’ve got their back and want them to succeed.”

Keep it short and simple

Clients are busy so keep your proposal short and get straight to the point.

Do something to get noticed in the first two lines. For example:

  • Personalize your introduction. Don’t know who you’re dealing with? Troll the feedback section of their Upwork client profile to see whether anyone has mentioned them by name.

  • Highlight your success. Throw them a relevant and incredible performance statistic you were recently responsible for, if you have one. This is a great way to grab attention and avoid being too generic.

Include samples

To demonstrate you have the know-how to complete the project successfully, attach a relevant sample to your proposal. Resist the urge to attach your entire portfolio; instead stick to one to three items that are highly relevant.

Danny finds that “Dropping your entire portfolio in their lap can feel overwhelming. On the other hand, curating a few carefully selected pieces for them makes their life easier and shows off your expertise—a win-win.”

Be approachable and professional

Use language that will help you come across as an approachable person throughout the whole correspondence—someone who will be easy and pleasant to work with. But you still need to keep it professional! This means using warm but more formal greetings and closings, such as “Dear” and “Kind Regards” instead of “Hi” and “Later!”

Create and save your proposals in a word editor instead of directly in Upwork

Creating your proposal in an editor, such as Microsoft Word or Google docs, will allow you to style, edit, and save your proposals for easy reference the next time you have a similar proposal to send. By referencing old proposals, you can determine what might have worked and what didn’t, and test which approaches work better for you.