Why the Majority of Freelancers Fail Upwork Project Proposals


There are millions of articles online on how to write an Upwork freelance project proposal that wins new jobs and clients – GUARANTEED!

You can collect them all in a series of books – how to write a winning proposal, what to include and what not, including the best models, etc. Everything you ever wanted to know and use in your perfect Upwork project proposal is waiting for you right there in the cyber-freelance space.

So how come the overwhelming majority of freelancers fail to do it right? One of the very likely reasons could be that people who haven’t spent five minutes working as freelancers give “life-changing” advice to freelancers in their articles. Also, there are so many copy/pasted articles that are simply rewritten with varying degrees of success. So you end up with the same old advice presented in a new way.

It’s hard to find a genuine article about Upwork’s freelance project proposals with first-hand experiences and recommendations from real-life freelancers.

My portfolio has over a thousand projects, which means that I have submitted tens of thousands of proposals during my professional freelancing career.

I am not saying that I have seen, done and that I know everything. The best thing you can do is avoid making the same mistakes I made when I was writing and submitting my project proposals.

So, without further ado, let me share something helpful in shifting Upwork project proposals between myth and reality that can help my fellow freelancers win new jobs and return clients.

Don’t expect a project proposal to do all the work for you

Your project proposal is only an invitation. Nothing more than the first step on your journey to earning a job. Many freelancers expect a proposal alone to bring them new work and new clients. There is no proposition in the world, no matter how good, that will make your potential customers lose their footing.

Your proposal is meant to create an opportunity to showcase yourself and your work, not to win you a project.

It’s the only right approach.

Do not delude yourself that your project proposal will be perfect and irresistible to your clients. Your project is the front page of your independent fight to win a project, not the last. So treat it as such.

The fastest way to regret a freelancer is a boilerplate

Each project proposal you write and submit should be unique and have a story in itself. It is understandable that the bidding process is the most time-consuming and boring activity for every freelancer. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about it.

Either you write a single, fully customized project proposal, or you don’t write everything.

I used to think it was a smart thing to have a few pre-made proposals for a handful of the most typical project types. A small army of copy/paste proposals, even with a few changes and tweaks, are simply doomed to failure. It’s the perfect waste of time.

It is better to write a completely authentic and personalized freelance project proposal than a dozen more or less identical proposals.

Make it personal with your project proposal from the first moment

First, always look for names in a project’s description. There’s no better way to start your proposal than by talking directly to someone who posted this project. You are allowed to do a bit of research if a customer hasn’t left their name at the end of the description. You can Google the business or website if available. This is the most crucial moment when a client receives confirmation that your cover letter is not spam.

If not, and you can’t find a single piece of personal information about your potential customer, introduce yourself in the right way. You have to convince your customer that you are the real deal.

Hit the right targets with your project proposal

Customers always leave an indication of what they want from you. So deal with all points precisely and thoroughly. Be sure to include them all in your proposal. Convince your client that you will do all the tasks from A to Z.

Very often clients leave a “secret” keyword somewhere in the project description. They want to make sure you read the entire description more than once. That’s why they want you to use that keyword in your proposal. These clients are serious, so don’t miss this opportunity to convince them that you are the right freelancer for their project.

It’s never too early to start a discussion about your price and timeline for a project

This approach is a bit of a gamble. Some clients appreciate a direct and straightforward project proposal. You explain what you are going to do and how. Then you include your price and an estimate of the time required. The advantage is that you will show initiative and save a lot of time for you and your client. If your price is out of your potential customer’s budget, you won’t have to worry about this one.

Always attach your best examples

Don’t just invite your potential client to view your profile and portfolio. Instead, you should attach the most relevant examples and invite a client to review your portfolio with additional samples.

The art of writing project proposals is something you never master

Even the most experienced and successful freelancers should constantly improve their craft of writing project proposals. There is always something you can do better.

So don’t become a self-proclaimed independent project proposal guru. Each project proposal you submit should be a unique little work of art in its own way. Remember:

The excellent proposition is what makes the difference between successful freelancers and those who struggle.

Great deals !

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