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The 3 Strategies I Used to Upwork My Way to 6 Figures in Earnings

If you stick to these 3 things, you can write proposals that are better than 95% of your competitors.

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BY Quora - 04 Aug 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

How do I write a killer proposal on Upwork as a newbie? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Danny Margulies, Personally earned over $200k freelancing on Upwork, on Quora:

Even as a newbie there's a surprising amount you can do to make your proposals stand out and get attention (and get you hired, of course).

Here are a few key guidelines that have worked very well for me, and many others, over the years. If you stick to these 3 things, you can write proposals that are better than 95% of your competitors -- even the more experienced ones.

1. Resist the urge to "sell yourself"

When you first sit down to write a proposal there's a knee jerk reaction that says, "I need to convince the client to hire me." So you go into pitch mode and start to list out reasons why you think they should choose you.

It's a very natural thing to do. But if you look closely you'll see that the Sell Yourself approach contains a number of fatal flaws:

• Most (and many times all) of your competitors are doing it too, so instead of standing out you end up sounding just like everyone else

• Clients are mainly interested in themselves and accomplishing THEIR goals -- so if you lead by talking about yourself then you'll lose out to someone whose proposal is focused around the client and their needs (I'll show you an example of this shortly)

• No one -- and I mean no one -- likes being sold to by a total stranger

This is what I call a me, myself, and I proposal.

Simply having a better sales pitch than your competitors won't solve these problems. You need a totally different approach.

2. Build rapport

Some people think that clients choose freelancers based solely on their qualifications and experience.

In reality, it doesn't work that way at all.

For example, the other day a designer posted a comment on my blog about how a client chose her over a more skilled freelancer...because she cared more.

Another person reached out to me on Twitter to let me know a client hired him because he was from Boston -- even though he was lacking experience.

Don't underestimate the power of making a personal connection in your proposals. At its core, freelancing is a people business -- not a resume game.

Some great ways to build rapport with clients quickly in your proposals:

• Say something friendly

• Don't be too formal (sound like a human, not a robot)

• Focus on helping the client -- not just getting the job

3. Show, don't tell

Some of the most common phrases clients will encounter from your competitors sound like this:

"I'm good at ______"

"I have a degree in ______"

"I've been doing this for __ years"

Those are all examples of telling the client you know what you're doing. People default to telling because it's easy and it doesn't require any imagination. You just copy and paste your qualifications and you're done with it.

But lists of qualifications bore clients into a stupor.

It's 100x more engaging and powerful to show them you know what you're doing instead.

It's like saying "I'm funny" vs making someone laugh. The difference is like night and day.

Some great ways to show clients you know what you're doing:

• Share a surprising piece of knowledge with them

• Tell a story about something you worked on in the past

• Show them a relevant example of your work

Now let's look at how I put this into action in a real winning proposal.

Below I'll show you an actual proposal I wrote that resulted in a job offer within minutes.

The job description called for a copywriter to write a press release for a new company that had just launched its first app -- but you can apply the principles to any work category or job you happen to be interested in:

Notice how I:

• Started out by recognizing the client's accomplishment (instead of immediately talking about myself)

• Offered them helpful information that they can use, regardless of whether or not they hire me

• Told them a story about a previous project I worked on -- rather than giving them a boring list of credentials

Here's how the client responded:

And it resulted in this offer minutes later:

Keep in mind I could have written this proposal any number of ways, but the underlying principles that make a great proposal effective are always the same.

Since you're clearly someone who's interested in learning and improving, here are some more resources you might find helpful...

This is a webinar I created in collaboration with Upwork -- we maxed out capacity with 1,000 attendees (the webinar was live but if you click the link below and sign up you'll get instant access to the recorded version):

Power Proposal Tips From A Six-Figure Upworker

This is one of my most popular blog posts about Upwork proposals (there are currently 217 comments and counting):

7 Upwork proposal mistakes I see every day

And one of my most recent blog posts, which pinpoints 12 common phrases you should avoid in your Upwork proposals:

Specific phrases that ruin Upwork proposals (and what to say instead)

This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

Freelancing: What's one piece of advice you wish you'd been given before you went freelance / independent consultant?

Venture and Investor Pitches: How do I pitch an idea?

Startup Advice and Strategy: What are some common mistakes that startup founders make when pitching to investors?

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