6 Upwork Proposal Mistakes Freelancers Must Dodge


I often get asked by fresh freelancers this question: “why can’t I land a job on Upwork?” Or, “why won’t nobody hire me?” The first thing I ask them is to walk me through their proposal writing procedure. 9 out of 10 times, I see they are committing at least one of these 6 Upwork proposal mistakes:

1. Copy/Pasting Your Upwork Proposal

Never copy paste your freelance proposal


Copy/pasting is one of the biggest, if not the biggest Upwork proposal errors you can make. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of freelancers, both new and experienced who are doing this. Their excuse is usually that they are saving time by doing this.

The truth is, they are not saving time by copy/pasting proposals, they are wasting it. Every potential client on Upwork is unique. You’ll never find two who are absolutely the same, even if they work in the same industry. So why write the same proposal for them?

Your proposal must reflect that client’s needs. You must show that you’ve read the job and researched their business at least a little. A copy/pasted proposal clearly shows that you didn’t and you probably won’t get that job.

2. Telling Clients “How Experienced You Are”

When it comes to common mistakes you can make writing your Upwork proposal, telling client how experienced you are ranks pretty high. This one is very common and while I understand why many freelancers want to impress their future clients, they are doing it the wrong way.

Your clients will be much more impressed by tangible results you’ve had than by your “experience”. Having 5+ years of experience doesn’t make you an expert if you don’t have anything to show for it. What potential clients will be interested to hear about is how have you helped your previous clients.

3. “I Can Write About any Topic”

While there are some clients (mostly agencies) who will look for a writer who can provide content on a wider range of topics, most clients will want a more “focused” content writer.

You must make sure that you stand out and as a “generalist content writer”, you won’t be able to do this. What exactly do you offer that some other guy can’t? Remember that you are fighting against hundreds or thousands other freelancers and that you must be able to offer something that they can’t. Being a generalist freelance writer will not help you there.

Impress the client with your knowledge (however rudimentary) of his niche and you will much more likely be hired for that job than if you tell him that you can write “about anything”.

4. Sending the Upwork Proposal to the Wrong Client

While you should make sure to send as many proposals as you can and use those connects, you should also be careful about who you send those proposals to. There are some clients you are better off skipping entirely.

For example, if a client works in an industry that you know absolutely nothing about, it’s usually better to look further and focus on something that you know more about. Granted, if you think you can tackle that topic nevertheless and that you can learn about it quickly, by all means, bid for that job. I’m warning you though, you will be handicapped severely compared to someone who knows that industry inside-out.

5. Not Answering all of the Client’s Questions

If you are not answering those additional questions the client has put out, you really ought to start doing so now. They are there for the client to better filter out freelancers and to find the one who best fits his job.

Take this question, for instance: “Do you have additional questions about this project?” I’ve seen a lot of freelancers completely skip this one and just write that they don’t. But that’s the wrong way to do it. It only shows you have not done your homework and don’t understand the project very well. Asking them to tell you a bit more about their business, their customers or their challenges will let the client see that you can actually help them.

6. Sending the Upwork Proposal too Late


There is almost no point in sending a proposal to a job that has been out there for a week or more. Even 48 hours is sometimes too late. Personally, I advise freelancers to send proposals only to jobs that are at most 24 hours old. 48 hours at most.

Why? Because the older the job, the more freelancers applied to it. You need to act quickly and be faster than the competition. Get your foot in the door soon after the job has been posted and not waiting until 50 or more freelancers take their place in the line before you. If you do, the client will not even notice you all the way back.

Another reason not to send proposals to offers older than 24/48h is that the job might not be worth it after all. If the client was unable to find someone by now, from dozens of freelance writers that applied to his job, then sending a proposal to that client could be a mistake. Anyone who takes that long to make a decision about something that should help his business is sending a wrong picture.

End Thoughts About Upwork Proposal Mistakes

You have 60 Upwork connects to use each month. For most, this should be more than enough to land a job. However, you should still use them wisely and be strategic about them. Avoiding these 6 Upwork proposal mistakes mentioned here will make sure that those connects are put to good use and that you have more chance of getting a job.

Do you know any other Upwork proposal mistakes that I missed here? Let me know in the comments below!