How to Create a Proposal That Wins Jobs
Eighteen months after quitting her 9-to-5 job, Andreea-Lucia Mihalache is a Top Rated copywriter on Upwork. In her journey from new freelancer to building her own copywriting agency, she’s learned a lot about running a business—and submitting winning proposals. Here are her top tips.
For the past few months, I have been using a template when applying to jobs. Of course, I change some things in it to suit the client, but the general idea is the same.
Why did I start using a template? For me, time is a big issue. Using a template saves me the many hours that I would normally spend creating customized proposals. As I’ve used my template more often, I’ve found other benefits, too:
- Once you create a template that works, it will generally bring results with every customer—no matter the project. Why change something that brings results?
- If you’re short on time, you can copy and paste the template into the proposal box. A customized proposal can take more time, which you may not have at that moment; if you wait until you have time, the job may already be awarded.
Why isn’t it good to use a template?
- If your proposal isn’t crafted well, it won’t get you jobs. Period.
- Once you have a template, you may start skipping the job description and apply robotically. You should always read the project description and requirements. There may be something that doesn’t fit your skills, or you may find you aren’t actually interested in the project.
This being said, you should never apply to jobs that you’re not confident you can complete successfully. Getting the job is just the beginning; the final goal is to have great results and offer a good customer experience. If you are not good at what you were hired to do, you will not get paid, and you will receive negative feedback. That feedback will stick to your Upwork profile forever, no matter what. And it will most certainly drag you down.
How to craft a good proposal
I think I tested eight or nine templates before I found the one that works best. Currently, I get three or four responses to every six applications. So, my success rate is between 50 and 70 percent—which is great, in my opinion. Initially, I got one response for every 15-20 proposals I sent.
Here are the five things that I’ve found make a good proposal.
1. Keep your proposals short
My first proposals were long and I tried to include everything I could in them. Long proposals won’t convince anyone, as no one will read them. People run from big blocks of text, and no one has the patience to read your life’s story.
2. Capture the client’s attention fast
You have just a few seconds to win your client’s attention, so you need to be witty in the first two or three lines. One trick I use is to look at the feedback on the client’s Upwork profile when applying; other freelancers will call them by their first name in the feedback. This lets me start my application with their name.
By doing this, I leave the client wondering how I know their name, which draws them to my profile to see if they know me. It also shows that I am very interested in the job and in collaborating with them; I paid attention to their job description and looked even further. Finally, it makes the application more personal.
3. Add your samples to the beginning of your application
If there’s one thing in your proposal your clients are interested in, it’s your work samples. If your samples are good, that is your main advantage for winning the job. So keep your samples as high as possible, maybe after the first paragraph.
4. Answer the “Why should I work with you” question
Every customer wants to know why they should pick you instead of any other freelancer out there. This is basically what your application has to be focused on.
No, don’t start your application with: “You should hire me because…” Present the advantages of a collaboration with you, as well as your qualities. Don’t brag, but be honest and present real facts:
- Talk about experience (i.e. how many years)
- Mention your excellent feedback (if you already have some)
- Mention the number of projects you have worked on so far (inside or outside of Upwork)
- Tell them about your education, if it is relevant to the job
- Highlight your Upwork skill test results, if you have done well on them
Point out anything that makes you look good as long as you can prove it, via samples or your profile. You should leave the rest out.
5. Be professional and friendly
I have also become a customer on Upwork in the last couple of months, and I have noticed that many freelancers need to improve their customer service and professional manners. “Dear John Doe,” will always sound better than “Hi.” “Thank you for taking the time to read my application” is a great closing line. You can make your proposal more professional or warm with a friendly closing, like “Best regards,” or “Kind wishes.”
Test everything until you find what works for you. The first few months as a freelancer are definitely not easy and you should expect some tough times. But, if you arm yourself with patience, will, and perseverance, results will eventually show and you will get better at it every day.
Andreea-Lucia Mihalache, Freelance Copywriter
Andreea-Lucia Mihalache has been a copywriter for the past four years. She loves being a freelancer and enjoys the work she does. She believes that content changes lives in today’s world, and is doing her best to help as many people as she can through the words she writes.