How to Write an Upwork Proposal that Gets Attention

As a freelancer and someone who hires freelancers, I see all the good and bad sides the industry. From my experience, I can tell you that a good proposal can triple your income or even more. In today’s blog, we are going to talk about how to write an Upwork proposal that gets attention.

For so many years that I have been working as a freelancer, I’ve spent a lot of time B testing various proposals. What do I mean by B testing proposals? Well, I’ll have a proposal ready and I’ll make a slight variation. And then I’ll spend a week sending one version and take another week forwarding a different version. I’ll compare the conversion rates to see which proposal is more effective.

I know a lot of freelancers who send a bunch of proposals and wait to get a response. If your one of them, you will not get many conversions this way. For me, the most effective way to present your proposal is through a live chat via Skype video with screen share, and record it with And granted, there’s going to be times where a client wants to see the proposal in advance, especially if it’s a bigger project. But you should make all efforts to try to meet on Skype and discuss the proposal in person.

This method instantly lets you shut down any objections they have. Sometimes, objections are unfounded and incorrect. If you had the chance to talk to missed clients why they chose other freelancers over you, 80% of them would probably say reasons that are not correct. They might say that your rate was too expensive, but then they didn’t look through the whole proposal. They failed to realize that the scope was bigger than what the other freelancer can deliver and that they’re going to need to pay another freelancer to finish the job. In essence, your proposal was cheaper. Or maybe they misread delivery days or something. The only way to overcome any objection from your prospects is to present your proposals live through a video call.

My next tip is to monitor the proposals you send. Create a prospect folder where you can log-in the name of the company, whether you receive a response or not, the date when you submitted the proposal, the date you signed the contract, and other relevant information. By doing this step, you can track the progress of your proposal systematically. It will also give you an idea of what’s the best thing to do in your next bids.

But how are you going to write the proposal itself? In writing an effective proposal, I always use the acronym N-B-A-T. The first step is to understand what does the client Need and what type of freelancer is he looking for. That’s important because if you don’t know what he’s looking for, you will not understand how to market yourself. You need to determine where your skill can fit in to help the client do his business efficiently.

Look into the client’s Budget. You can take an estimated guess, but ultimately, you want to get the budget that they have. As a freelancer, you need to price yourself depending on what the client project entails for you to do. Most prospects don’t know how to do the job that they are posting that’s why they are hiring. At the same time, they don’t have any idea what is the right budget for the project.

To determine how much you can charge, look into the project details. Example, if the prospect asks you to do one part of a marketing strategy for $500, you can give the prospect a breakdown of how far the budget will go. So, if they have a budget, you have to tell them what you can do within that budget. If you think that the budget is not enough, explain to them why. Remember that they rely on you on what needs to be done, and how much each task cost.

The next step is to build your Authority. Ask the person you’re talking with if he is the decision maker, the one that can sign off on the agreement. If you are not talking to the person who can sign the contract, you are essentially wasting your time.

You need to remember that the larger the company you’re talking to, the more likely you’re going to get a mid-level manager or somebody who won’t sign off on the contract. That’s fine because if it’s a big contract, you might have to go through a couple of layers first. But as a freelancer, you’re more likely going to be working with smaller or even mid-sized companies; you need to talk to one who actually can sign off on the agreement.If they are not the decision-maker, you should get the basics, cut the call short and send in a detailed proposal to the person that is going to be signing the agreement.

The last one in my NBAT strategy is Timing. Ask your prospects what their schedule for the project is. If they want it done right away, you need to charge them more. You can timeline your proposal to let them know what you can deliver on a specific schedule.

Within your proposal, you have to consider three I’s: Issue, Impact, and Importance. At a glance, here are what these three I represent:
Issue: What is their big issue? Do they have lead generation problems? Is their existing writer not proficient with creative writing? What are they hiring you for?
Impact: What the value is of this project? If this project is not completed, how will it affect the business? How can your expertise create a positive impact on the completion of the project?
Importance: Is this important to their job performance or their review? Is this important for the company revenue or the bottom line?

Making a great proposal is your passport to success as a freelancer. I know that the competition is fierce because I experience it myself. But if you are confident about your expertise and you know how to bring them to the table, you have a bigger chance to make it big in the freelancing industry.

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