Why would I choose an image of a marriage proposal for an article about how to write a good Upwork proposal?

Because approaching clients on Upwork isn’t that much different from approaching someone on a dating site. You can’t just spend all the time talking about yourself — you’ve got to show interest in the other party.

In this article, I’ll cover…

  • The difference between freelance jobs and “real” jobs
  • Why the usual approach to writing job applications don’t work
  • How to write a solid Upwork proposal and what to include in it
  • An Upwork proposal template you can use as a starting point

You can also watch this video tutorial where cover all the main points of the article:

1. Why you need to to change your mindset

Applying for a freelance copywriting job is very different from applying for a full-time position as a copywriter within a company.

One of the reasons why many freelancers don’t get any replies to their proposals is that they approach it like a regular job application.

But there’s a world of difference, so let’s look at it to understand how to change your mindset when it comes to applying for jobs.

What full-time copywriting jobs look like

A full-time position usually involves a range of different tasks and many of the specifics have often not even been determined at the time of posting the job.

They just know that they need a copywriter, and that’s why the job ads tend to sound very generic and are often confusing or even misleading.

Here part of a copywriting job ad that I just pulled off of Indeed:

As you can see, it’s quite vague and includes unnecessary fluff such as “write effective copy” — effective in what way? They don’t say.

Job ads for full-time positions will also very often require you to have a series of qualifications that are either completely unnecessary or should be an absolute given.

Here is another screenshot from the same job ad:

Anyone who has attended university will know that having a degree does not necessarily make you a good writer. They’re not mutually exclusive, but one doesn’t follow the other.

Again, there’s a lot of fluff, such as “able to multi-task”, “basic understanding of digital communications”, and (my favorite) “proficient in Microsoft Office”.

What freelance copywriting jobs look like

Clients looking for a freelancer will usually have a very specific problem that they need a solution to, which means you should tailor your approach accordingly.

Let’s compare what we’ve just seen to a freelance copywriting job ad I pulled from Upwork:

As you can see, it’s much more specific. The client knows exactly what they want and which skills are required to do the job.

They also give us plenty of ideas of what to include in our proposal, such as samples of “How To” articles that we’ve written in the past.

2. How NOT to write an Upwork proposal

You’ve just seen the difference between job descriptions for a full-time position and a freelance job. Now let’s find out why you can’t apply to both in the same way.

A bad Upwork proposal will read exactly like a run-of-the-mill cover letter for a full-time position:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I’m a dynamic copywriter with over 10 years of experience in content marketing and SEO. I can write exceptional content and I always strive to ensure client satisfaction. My portfolio consists of a diverse range of work in both online and print publications. I have a keen eye for detail, know how to boil down complex subject matter into compelling copy, and an unparalleled enthusiasm for the work I do.

Kind regards,

Generic copywriter

Why it doesn’t work

The vast majority of Upwork clients aren’t looking to fill a generic position. They’re looking for someone to solve a specific problem for them.

It’s nice to have ten years of experience in your field. Good for you — but no one cares. The only thing Upwork clients care about is if you can solve their specific problem.

Another reason the traditional approach doesn’t work is that it’s all about you. Again, Upwork clients don’t care about you and your experience.

They care about them and their problem.

Finally, the traditional approach doesn’t work because you’re telling rather than showing.

Anyone can claim to have ten years of experience in their field, but all that experience is worthless if it doesn’t enable you to solve the client’s problem.

Conversely, someone with just ten days of experience in the field will get the job if they can demonstrate how their experience is relevant to the client’s problem.

Upwork Proposal: Let's get down to business and write an Upwork proposal that wins you clients.

Let’s get down to business and write an Upwork proposal that wins you the job.

3. How to write an Upwork proposal

Since freelance writing jobs are specific, you’ll have plenty of scope for making your proposal specific to the client’s challenge and desired outcomes.

The simple formula for writing a good Upwork proposal is to include these three elements:

  1. Address the client’s challenge
  2. Share a piece of advice
  3. Include a call-to-action

That’s a good Upwork proposal. You can expand this a bit to write a great Upwork proposal:

  1. Address the client’s challenge
  2. Probe about specific outcomes
  3. Share a piece of advice
  4. Provide proof to back up the advice
  5. Include a call-to-action

If you include some (or all) of the above elements, then your proposal will look much more appealing to the client — and thus improve your chances of winning the job.

Feel free to use this Upwork proposal template I’ve put together:

Hi [name],

I see you’re looking for someone to help you out with a [project] for your [business].

I’m not sure if you’ve found anyone yet, but I’d like to share a tip that can help with your [project] — feel free to use it whether we decide to work together or not.

[insert advice]

For example, here is a [sample] I did for [client] as part of [project]:

[insert a link to sample]

We wanted the [project] to reach [goal], and the method I just described worked wonders. 

The result was an increase in [goal] with [amount].

It would be interesting to see if we could make it work for your [business].

Are you free for a quick 5-minute call?

All the best,

[you]

Why it works

You’ve started off with showing that you’ve paid attention to the specific challenges the client has outlined in the job description.

You’ve also exhibited generosity by offering a piece of advice that also demonstrates your competence in the field.

Finally, you’ve backed up the advice with evidence that shows the client the specific results they can expect if they choose to work with you.

Notice that you haven’t mentioned your years of experience. Nor have you padded your proposal with unnecessary fluff that doesn’t tell the client anything.

Ready to win some clients?

You now know why the traditional approach to writing job applications won’t work, and what you should instead focus on in your Upwork proposal.

Hopefully, the Upwork proposal template I’ve included can be of some use to you, but remember to always tailor your proposal to each individual client and job description.

Remember to sign up to our newsletter to receive more quick guides on freelancing and content marketing like this one.

Feel free to leave a comment below if you want to share your own experiences with Upwork proposals or get in touch with us if you need additional guidance.

Happy job hunting!

Categories: Words

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