Common mistakes to avoid when writing Upwork proposals

Jan 26, 2024

Quick Topics

  • Starting with a greeting
  • Applying To Every Job Left And Right
  • Using Generic Proposal Templates
  • Focusing Too Much On Yourself
  • Making It Too Long 
  • Not Focusing On Client's Goals
  • Setting Wrong Pricing Terms
  • Failing To Proofread

The field of freelancing is competitive yet evergreen. Everybody thrives, especially on platforms like Upwork. Have you ever wondered why some freelancers consistently win projects while others struggle to even get a response? Still, most freelancers repeat the same common mistakes when writing an Upwork proposal.

In this blog, we'll dive deep into how you can avoid common mistakes easily and write a high-converting Upwork proposal. It’s like walking through a maze – one misstep and you’re lost. So grab a coffee, get comfy, and let’s talk about how to improve your Upwork proposal!

1. Starting with a greeting

Upwork is a platform where conciseness and relevancy are the keys to getting the job. The client gets many proposals and it can be draining to comb through them all. The first 2-3 lines are your most valuable space in your proposal. Imagine the client being greeted by 30 freelancers in the same way. If you repeat that same thing how is it any different from others?


  • Answer any questions found in the job description.
  • Tell the client how you will fix the problem. 
  • Start with the total cost or the time required for the project.
  • Ask or clarify what the client needs.

To be fair, this will be trial and error for you to figure out what works best for the first 3-4 sentences in the proposal.

2. Applying To Every Job Left And Right

It can get tempting to apply to every job that you think you are fit for especially if you are a beginner. That desperation to land your first gig tempts you to apply to every job that you come across. This approach will not only waste your precious connects but also your time. You don't want to apply for a job that is not relevant to your job title just because you need it. Quality over quantity is key when it comes to submitting Upwork proposals.


  • See if the price and time are right for you.
  • Check the reviews of the client's past hires.
  • Is the job interesting enough for you?

Remember never to apply to a job that you don't like just for the sake of it. Sometimes on Upwork, it's all about being selective and grabbing the right opportunity.

3. Using Generic Proposal Templates

The client can spot a copy-pasted template proposal from a mile away. Templates work if you want to repeat the same thing over and over. But that's not the case with Upwork proposals. Here, you need to write a unique proposal for each project. The sooner you realize that generic templates are a no-go the better for you.

On a side note, a little shoutout to our tool BidBuilder. If you need a little bit of help writing proposals check out BidBuilder. Moving on.


  • Highlight your unique selling point.
  • Talk specifically about the client's needs and goals
  • Ask questions about the project.

Even so, proposal templates can save time and increase efficiency. You can balance efficiency and customization. This way, you can use templates and show your creativity and attention to detail in each proposal. You can check out a proposal template here.

4. Focusing Too Much On Yourself

Think about a sales pitch. The seller highlighted product features but failed to connect them to the customer's pain and needs. Do you think the customer would be interested in purchasing the product? The same thing goes when you are writing your Upwork proposal. The client doesn't want to know about the 10 different things that you can do. Show them how you can help and why you are right for the job.


  • Empathize with the client and make them feel important.
  • Link your relevant skills to the project.
  • Mention any easy or fast solution if you know one.

A client-centric proposal will never disappoint. You have to strike the right balance. You must introduce yourself but stay relevant to the client.

5. Making It Too Long 

Writing way too much than is needed is one of the most common mistakes that freelancers make in a proposal. As much as a detail-oriented proposal is necessary, conciseness is the key. Showing that you can do everything all at once will only obscure the client. So, sell your services but don't go overboard with them.


  • Avoid mentioning irrelevant skills and experience.
  • Cut to the chase and sell the solution to the client.
  • Use bullet points or short paragraphs to communicate efficiently.

Remember, a short proposal will have more impact than a long one. Place yourself in the background and make every word tell.

6. Not Focusing On Client's Goals

One of the major and most common mistakes you can make is writing a generic proposal that does not address the client's needs and goals. The client can easily spot that you have not done your homework. Make the proposal persuasive and about your client.


  • Research the client's industry, challenges, and background.
  • Mention your relevant past projects to build credibility.
  • Specifically, address the client's pain points and how you can solve them.

You can stand out from the competition by just getting to know the client and taking that small extra step. A client-centric proposal will always be the way to go. 

7. Setting Wrong Pricing Terms

It's better to clear it right away that charging higher than what the client can afford doesn't work most of the time. There's nothing wrong with it but it won't work most of the time. On the other hand, being cheap can get you jobs but they won't match your worth and time.


  • Check if the client paid big to a freelancer for a similar project.
  • Do not bid at the lowest price. It's just not worth it.
  • Take a look around to check the client's budget.

In the end, it's about finding a balance between profitability and competitiveness. You can try charging a bit higher to test the water but don't charge too high.

8. Failing To Proofread

This is one of the most neglected and insignificant steps that isn't talked about that much. It will save you from making a negative impression on the client and coming off as unprofessional.

  • Check grammar, spelling, or typos.
  • Make sure the proposal is well formatted just as the client wants.
  • Double-check the important details.

It doesn't take much of your time to proofread and edit your proposal. Make sure everything is locked in properly and you are ready to go.

Wrapping Up

How many of these mistakes did you find yourself repeating over time? The next time you write a proposal make sure to steer clear of these points that we talked about.

Also, if you have a few minutes you can check out our tool called BidBuilder. It’ll be your helping hand when writing an Upwork proposal. Happy freelancing!