How to Create a Proposal That Wins Jobs on Upwork in 2024?


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How To Write Proposals That Win Jobs on Upwork

As one of the world’s most top rated platforms for connecting freelancers and employers, Upwork is updated daily with tens of thousands of new job offers and specialists’ CVs. So, how can the latter survive in such a fiercely competitive environment? The key to this is often the proposal. Let’s discuss what are proposals on Upwork, how to write Upwork proposal, and what mistakes you should avoid below.

What Is an Upwork Proposal?

What Is an Upwork Proposal?

So, what is a proposal on Upwork?
In a nutshell, it is something like a cover letter addressed to a specific employer. Here, specialists usually indicate what contribution they can make to a specific project using their skills. Also, a specialist can answer some questions if an employer requests it. At the same time, the text should be short and concise enough so that the reader (i.e., potential employer) does not want to close it.

Why Crafting an Excellent Proposal Is Essential

Writing an Upwork proposal is an opportunity to stand out from other specialists. Indeed, given the ever-growing number of freelancers on this platform, most find it difficult to get noticed, especially when it comes to jobs where supply outstrips demand. This is why composing proposals correctly and avoiding critical mistakes is so important.

Step-by-Step Guide to Crafting a Winning Proposal

Let’s find out how to write an Upwork proposal.

Step-by-Step Guide to Crafting a Winning Proposal

Thoroughly Analyze the Job Description

One of the most important criteria for a potential employer to evaluate your profile is your attentiveness to his or her vacancy. The fact is that many freelancers have too basic a set of skills to meet the needs of specific tasks and eliminate specific pain points. In this regard, employers simply ignore even the best Upwork proposal samples so as not to waste their time.

At the same time, having a proposal that will indicate a solution to the employer’s problem will be an excellent advantage for you as a freelancer. Moreover, many employers include special words in their job offers that they ask those interested in carefully studying the job description to add to their proposals. Thus, by inserting these words, you will successfully pass your possible employer’s first, most straightforward “test” for attentiveness.

Finally, many specialists customize Upwork proposal templates to obtain more detailed information about the project from its owner. This, in turn, gives them a chance to get the first feedback from the project owner and, thus, establish communication even before they are approved for a specific position. 

Start with a Strong Opening

Another great tip on how to write proposal on Upwork is to start with a strong opening. Just imagine how many of your future employers open proposals like yours. These can be dozens or even hundreds of documents. To save time, they try to read them “diagonally,” but ultimately, everyone starts with the introduction – which is why it is so essential to make it really attractive, without fluff, and talking beyond the point.

To follow the best proposal writing practices, you need:

  • start with a greeting and self-introduction for a couple of sentences in the first paragraph;
  • in the second paragraph, go to a description of how you can solve the problem of your potential employer (without details, otherwise your idea may be stolen);
  • insert a test word if it was indicated in the project description (we wrote about why it is needed earlier).

In general, that’s all – the more concise your introduction is, and the more accurately you can convey your value for a specific vacancy, the better.

Tailor Your Proposal to Show Perfect Fit

You must clearly state in your proposal why your potential employer should choose you over hundreds of other specialists with an identical set of skills. At the same time, it is important here to indicate your value from the employer’s point of view, not just like you feel confident in your expertise. 

For example, the phrase: “Thanks to my 10 years of experience in SEO and social media marketing, I will bring your website to the top of search results after a couple of months of work on it” looks attractive, while “Unlike the vast majority of other SEO and SMM specialists, I work in this direction for more than 10 years” will hardly look like anything other than bragging.

At the same time, try to keep your thoughts brief – those who read dozens of similar documents daily will definitely not like long reads. Therefore, the optimal length is up to four sentences.

Propose a Clear, Concise Plan of Action

Finally, if we talk about how you plan to solve the problem posed by the employer, this part of your customization of the Upwork proposal sample for beginners should be structured best. It is ideal if you describe the step-by-step way to achieve the employer’s goal without unnecessary details.

First of all, this will help a potential employer understand whether your approach to completing work tasks meets her or his expectations. Secondly, you will provide a more transparent understanding of what scope of work she or he will have to pay for.

Enhancing Your Proposal

The above types will be enough to write a good proposal, but you don’t need a “good” one, but the best one, don’t you? Let’s find out how to achieve perfection in this matter and create winning proposals on Upwork.

Demonstrate Your Expertise with Relevant Samples

There is nothing better than showing your future employer what you can do using real examples. Usually, these are links to projects you have successfully completed, which are as identical as possible to the one your employer may involve you in.
However, when filling out your proposal sample for Upwork, you should not spam with dozens of such links – to understand that your account is worthy of a deeper acquaintance, three or four of them will be enough (or, if you still want to demonstrate more, you can group links to projects by individual topics). After all, if you show your best work but it doesn’t overlap enough with the client’s problem, you may be asked to share other, more relevant examples and/or perform a test assignment.

Offer Valuable Insights or a Quick Tip

Another “trick” to customize your sample Upwork proposal could be your expert assessment of the employer’s problems, which you can solve within your competencies. The main thing is to do this delicately without hurting anyone’s feelings or criticizing the skills of his or her team. For example, you may notice that your potential client would greatly benefit from introducing AI to solve specific problems – in general, whatever your recommendation is, it should look professional and well-reasoned.

We also note that you should not add many links to this section – otherwise, your text will look like you are advertising something. Just offer your outside perspective on possible optimization, and you will see that it will be appreciated.

Find the Right Tone: Professional Yet Personal

Finally, you must find the optimal balance between the formality of your tone and the personalization of what you write. The fact is that many freelancers are afraid of appearing inexperienced, and because of this, their Upwork proposals look too formulaic and, unfortunately, do not receive due attention from employers. At the same time, a joking, frivolous tone can make an unpleasant impression and make the future employer think that you are not too interested in a particular vacancy.

Therefore, be polite and modest, and use your wit only when it is really necessary.

Your Proposals with Upwex AI-Powered Proposal Generation

Incorporate Upwex to elevate your proposal game on Upwork. Our AI-driven tool crafts personalized cover letters tailored to the job description and client’s needs, significantly enhancing your chances for a successful bid. The AI analyzes key elements like client pain points and preferred communication style, ensuring your proposal is not only noticed but also appreciated.

Your Proposals with Upwex AI-Powered Proposal Generation

From starting with an engaging question to personalize greetings in the client’s language, and even a humorous sign-off message, Upwex ensures every aspect of your proposal resonates with potential employers. By aligning your qualifications with the client’s requirements and showcasing a clear understanding of their needs, Upwex helps you present yourself as the ideal candidate for the job.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Your Proposal

In addition to knowing how to write a good proposal on Upwork, you should also know what is the wrong way to create it. So, let’s look at the typical mistakes most freelancers make when drawing up proposals.

Avoid Generic Responses: The Template Temptation

Many freelancers who want to cover as many vacancies as possible with their proposals use some universal templates, substituting a few words only where necessary. However, the problem may be that your dream employer may have come across the Upwork proposal sample you chose a couple of days or hours earlier while reading another candidate’s proposal. So, is the game worth the candle? Obviously not.
That’s why it is better to spend more time on compiling an individual application or simply select fewer vacancies – this way, you will be sure that you will not be caught in this kind of “plagiarism” of a specific Upwork proposal template.

Don’t Focus Solely on Yourself

In the context of using a beginner Upwork proposal sample, another typical mistake made by many candidates is the abuse of demonstrating their professional achievements without reference to the value for a specific job offer. This usually manifests in what we discussed above – such candidates write something like: “I have 10+ years of experience in this specialty; moreover, I received a number of certificates confirming my expertise, etc.”
A much better solution would be to demonstrate your expertise in the context of the employer’s problem/task – in your proposal template, you can briefly explain how you will use your skills to achieve the desired results.

Steer Clear of Overly Casual or Stiff Language

We already mentioned above the importance of maintaining a balance between professionalism and personalization in your proposal for Upwork, but let us emphasize again: you should not use humor for jobs where it is not needed.
Unfortunately, many freelancers still try to stand out in their Upwork proposal examples this way and, as a result, do not receive the desired job offer. Therefore, it is better to appear overly polite and tactful than not to get the job you want.

Advanced Proposal Tips

Would you like to receive even more Upwork tips on how to write a proposal for Upwork? Here you go, they are presented below.

Would you like to receive even more Upwork tips on how to write a proposal for Upwork? Here you go, they are presented below.

Effective Follow-up Strategies

Even though your refined Upwork proposal example may look truly great, this does not guarantee that you will receive a job offer from the employer whose vacancy you like the most. The problem may not be with your best Upwork proposal sample and you in general – most likely, they hired a person who better meets the employer’s specific needs (some of which, by the way, may not be obvious even to them).

However, you can still make another attempt to get the job you want – just write to the employer about whether you have any prospects of receiving a job offer. If you don’t get feedback this time, it’s okay – don’t despair and just keep looking for your ideal job among other offers.

Handling Feedback and Rejection

If you do receive feedback from an employer and it turns out to be negative, don’t be discouraged – if you’re lucky enough to be given a constructive explanation for why you weren’t accepted for a particular vacancy, this can be an excellent starting point for improving your skills: like those that relate directly to your specialization and those that are necessary to compile an attractive profile description and create the best Upwork proposals.

Beyond the Proposal: Preparing for the Next Steps

If you followed all the above recommendations on how to write a good Upwork proposal, you will most likely receive an offer to undergo a personal interview with your future employer or team lead and/or complete a test assignment.
In particular, given that the interview will take place online, you will need to prepare for this in advance: make sure that your background does not have any repulsive details, and also check the operation of the microphone and video camera. You can get more information on interviewing by asking Upwork customer service.


Now you know how to write a proposal on Upwork and can check (but not copy) several Upwork proposals samples to hone your skills. It is also possible that viewing ready-made sample proposals for Upwork will help you understand how to briefly present your best professional sides to benefit the employer.

You may also find the following sections helpful, which were clearly described by the Upwork customer service:

or Upwex Team:

Additionally, consider leveraging Upwex, our innovative tool that uses AI to enhance your proposal quality. Upwex can significantly streamline the proposal writing process, ensuring that every application you send is optimized for success and stands out to potential employers.

And, of course, don’t forget to check our blog for more insights and tools like Upwex that can elevate your freelancing journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does shortlist mean on Upwork?

To answer the question: “What does shortlist mean on Upwork?”, let’s define what it means – to be shortlisted. In a nutshell, when new job offers appear on the platform, freelancers can send employers their proposals (you can learn how to send proposal on Upwork here). In turn, employers can highlight the offers they like – in fact, this is what it means to be shortlisted.

What are the key elements of a successful Upwork proposal?

The three main elements of any proposal are an introductory paragraph (here, you talk about how you understand the client’s need and know what methods and approach you could use to satisfy it), proof of your expertise (here you will need links to examples of similar projects), and an appeal to cooperation.

How long should an Upwork proposal be?

The optimal length for an Upwork proposal is considered to be a text of 3-5 paragraphs. Overall, it should be short, concise, and provide value to the client.

Should I include my rates in the proposal?

Rates are considered a mandatory item for proposals – this way, your potential employer will not have to check your Upwork profile additionally.

Can Upwex help if I’m new to freelancing and unsure about how to approach a proposal?

Absolutely! Upwex is designed to assist freelancers of all levels, including those who are new to the field. The platform provides structured prompts and guidelines that help you understand what information to include and how to present it effectively. For beginners, Upwex can be particularly beneficial in building confidence by ensuring that all critical elements of a professional proposal are covered. It also offers examples and suggestions for crafting engaging content that appeals to potential employers, making it easier to get started with your first proposals.

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