The gig economy is becoming more and more competitive. How people work and what is defined as work is changing rapidly.
The gig economy is defined as:
A labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs.
The types of jobs listed on Upwork are very diverse, some can be quite amusing (just see how many ghostwriters are in demand for erotic romance novels). Other jobs I’ve had include providing multiple question scenarios a Japanese concierge robot may encounter, editing web copy for an electrical wiring company in China, and writing a missing dog flyer for a FB post in Sweden.
If you possess cross-disciplinary skills aka you’re a “jack of all trades,” then you’re in a prime position to start submitting proposals and getting your feet wet with gig work. But how can you streamline the process?
You don’t want to spend countless hours writing concrete proposals stating why you’re the best candidate for the job, only to be looked over and more importantly, wasting your precious “connects” on the platform. Time is money, and wasting connects is like adding salt to the wound!
The key to landing jobs can be a bit tricky.
If you’re just starting out on the platform and looking to get your first 5-star rating it can be demoralizing. Ratings are gold. This is a common problem, not only with Upwork but most platforms that have a rating system.
You’re a minnow in an ocean filled with big fish. Therefore, it’s essential you stand out from the rest and double down on your specialties specific to what clients are asking for. The diversity of tasks required by clients on Upwork is what gives new freelancers a fighting chance of sticking out and landing gigs.
Having a solid proposal template to send out to prospective clients is vital.
There are elements to a proposal that have helped me to land over 100+ gigs from a wide range of clients from all over the world. I will describe what I believe to be key elements and tips for creating an evergreen proposal to get replies and land gigs.
Filters are your friend.
No need for endless scrolling and sifting through countless irrelevant job offerings, hit up the filters and get quality posts you’d most likely apply to.
I have a bias against hourly work. I prefer fixed-price jobs because the nature of my work deals with writing, editing, and proofreading, which is better suited to present transparent per word rates.
I find that fixed-price jobs are easier to get over hourly work due to the fact it usually entails clear, actionable, predefined tasks that the client gives, making it easier for freelancers to knock out and have the peace of mind that both you and the client are happy with the output.
What takes me 3 hours to do may take someone an hour. Also, there’s no time wasted going back and forth negotiating rates.
Next, I select ‘Any Experience Level’ given the fact this is subjective, and most clients may also even be confused as to what defines entry level from intermediate from expert? Some jobs may not even require this. If you’re just starting off though, don’t click “expert” when clearly you’re not. Providing low-quality work to a client, especially when starting out will cost you ratings and you’re desperate to get 5 stars at this point.
Be smart with which jobs you apply for and honestly ask yourself, “can I do this?” Ask questions if you’re not 100% clear and don’t be afraid to say “no.”
History is crucial to getting paid and important when dealing with competent clients.
As a freelancer, you’re measured by stars. For client’s, I’d say their track record, and the amount of hires is just as significant. Click on 1 to 9 and 10+ to play it safe.
As mentioned before, “connects” are money. Quite literally now too as Upwork has just announced that connects can be bought for $0.15 each. Nickelling and diming. The number of proposals should be considered. The more proposals a client receives, the smaller the chance you have getting awarded the job.
Timing is also crucial to getting jobs, and you should be the first to act. Make sure the proposals are less than 5 and at most 5 to 10. Selecting 10 to 15 as an option, especially if you’re just starting out, is risky. Unless you have a fantastic value proposition and you’re the “perfect fit” steer clear.
I’m not too fussed with a client’s budget so typically go ahead and select ‘Any Budget.’ Obviously, you don’t want to be working for less than you’re comfortable with, but I’m not against taking a $10 job if it means a small amount of my time to complete. Some smaller jobs are also posted as trial gigs that open up opportunities to long-term contracts with clients.
Which brings me to my next point, if you’ve worked with a client before and have history, select ‘My Previous Clients’ and give them a nudge. Hey, remember me!? (most likely they haven’t), I did job X for you before, saw your listing and was like hey, for sure, I’d love to take this on.
To get even more specific, you can set location preferences and choose countries. Aim for countries that have currencies you’d like to get paid in. British Pounds, USD, Chinese Yuan, Australian Dollars, Japanese Yen, etc. These countries may have a trend regarding the type of clientele they provide.
I’ve found that many Asian countries require editing, proofreading, and content writing in English. Also, transcreation services where someone has translated a document and require “sprucing” up to sound native and can make text easily readable.
Short and to the point. Keep your proposal simple.
Now that you’ve set your filters, you’re ready to deliver your unique value proposition. Undoubtedly, there are tons of jobs out there, but now that you’ve whittled down which ones you’d most likely apply to, you can create a proposal that can be used multiple times with minor to no changes at all.
I keep a short message on hand ready to command + C, command + V.
Here’s a typical cover letter I send:
Hey there! I’d love to work on this. I’m a native English speaker from the US with a lot of experience editing and proofreading content (Top-rated on Upwork). Here’s my website: https://www.joesenglishcafe.com
I can give you a quick turnaround. Hope to hear back. Cheers!
This short cover letter has given me a +38% response rate from clients.
Taking a closer look:
- Expressing a “love” to work on their gig right from the get-go. Even expressing how the job “stuck out to you” works. It draws the client in and shows that you will take the job seriously, you personally like it, and have a level of genuine interest.
- Answering precisely what makes you qualified in a short, to-the-point manner is next. For example, I want non-Native clients to be rest assured that I’m a native English speaker from the US that has a lot of experience. I will also add “Top-rated” on Upwork as a final validation plug.
- Providing a personal website with more details to your services will help even further to validate your experience and offer an opportunity to expound on your fundamental values and services provided. An impressive website is undoubtedly worth the hosting costs. Alternatively, adding any 3rd-party portfolio, whether it be LinkedIn or Medium to showcase an extra layer of experience works too.
- Lastly, I note that I can get the job done quickly. Getting stuff done on time and meeting deadlines is really what it comes down to. Overdeliver if you can.
Overall, the word count for my proposal comes in at 44 words. In general, people don’t like to read. If you’ve managed to make it this far, congrats! Hopefully, this will help you create better proposals, even if it does mean I’ve got to compete against yours! Happy bidding!
If you need help creating compelling proposals to land more jobs and speak to your prospective clients so they’ll actually listen, feel free to get in touch.