After a much needed breather over Christmas, you're refocused, re-energized and ready to take on new work. Next stop, the job boards. 

It’s easy to get complacent when applying for jobs. Most established freelancers have a hit rate of around 1 in 30 applications so the temptation is to rattle off a bunch of applications in a few minutes without much thought. But here’s the thing - clients can smell a copy and pasted proposal a mile off. 

In this article, we breakdown the key elements freelancers need to consider to create a stand out, winning freelance job proposal. I’ll also provide some insider tips when applying for freelance jobs specifically on Freelancer Club’s jobs board too. 

How to write a winning proposal 

You've found a job that looks exciting and suitable. You click on the details and read the job description. So far, so good. Next, the job proposal. For many freelancers who use job sites to source work, this is the stage when they open their 'Notes' App, find the most suitable version of their carefully written job proposal, select all and press Cmd + C. 

I'm not totally against using a template, however, how one uses it is all important. Copy and pasting the same proposal for every job is unadvisable. However, using a template as a guide to write a winning freelance proposal can be a very useful tool indeed. Before you click Cmd + V,  consider the following: 

Message section


1.Keep it short

Between 100 - 150 words is what we’d recommend for a typical job proposal. Clients only have so much time to go through applications, especially for small, one-off jobs. If they see a proposal that looks like an essay coming their way, they’ll likely ignore it. 200+ words is suitable for ongoing freelance jobs or larger contracts whereby the client will be investing more time into the qualification process and will require more information about you.


2.Grab their attention

Personalise your proposal when possible. Simple additions like using a clients first name (avoid the overly formal sir/madam where possible) or the name of the brand, shows that you haven’t simply copied and pasted the a proposal that you’ve sent to tons of other clients. If you don’t have a name, go with a simple “Hello!”.

On Freelancer Club's jobs board, personal information is kept hidden for privacy reasons. We recommend that you open with a line that addresses their core problem. Remember, a client isn't hiring you because you're the best fashion photographer, UI designer or SFX makeup artist, they are looking for a freelancer to solve a problem - to generate additional sales of a product, to increase downloads of a new app etc... Once you figure out what their problem is, explaining how you're going to solve it will have an immediate impact.


3.Show examples of your past work

Clients will want to view the work you’ve produced for others in order to get a sense of your experience, and in many (visual) cases your creative style.

The Freelancer Club allows freelancers to upload their work to their profiles on the site. When you apply for a job, clients click on your name and can instantly see all of your past work. Be sure to keep your profile up to date with your latest projects. 

Top tip: Take the time to tag the photos on your profile with keywords that are relevant to the job you're applying for. For example, if you're applying for a logo design job, you can select the images on your profile that you’ve tagged with the keyword ‘logo’ to appear as part of your application. 

Have a personal portfolio website? Clients don’t have a lot of time to sift through proposals, let alone scroll through each freelancers personal website. So, instead of including a link to your personal portfolio site in your proposal, we’d recommend that you upload relevant portfolio work to your Freelancer Club profile and then include a link to your personal portfolio site in your profile bio.


4.Reference details about the job and build credibility

After you’ve read the full job description (not just the first two lines!), reference details from it in your proposal. This shows that you’ve fully engaged with the ad and you have genuine interest in the job at hand. Furthermore, aside from just highlighting how your experience and expertise make you a great fit for the job, briefly explain how you would use them in the context of the clients project. 

“With a BA in English and a diploma in SEO marketing [qualified], I’ve been writing SEO led content for clients since 2017 [experienced]. I’ve written copy for a number of high profile clients such as x, y and z [trusted] and my work has led to a significant increase in traffic to my client’s sites [an understanding of the problem], which has positively impacted their membership numbers and product sales [a solution to the problem].”



What separates you from the other freelancers applying for this job? Include a line in your proposal that tells a client exactly why they should hire you over other applicants. Have lots of five star reviews on your Freelancer Club profile? Here’s your opportunity to shout about it. Have you worked on projects in the same sector? Reference them. You can also use this space to show a bit of personality. I light remark shows you've got a sense of humour and social skills, both of which are undervalued soft-skills that clients look for.


6.Give them a final reason to hire you

In one line, summarise what you can do for the client if you win the job. Earn their trust.

“If you choose me for the job, you can be assured that I’ll deliver your work to a high standard within the timeframe agreed from the outset.”


7.Call to action

Don’t leave your client hanging at the end of your proposal. Encourage them to make contact with you by including a very brief call to action:

“Let’s jump on a 10 minute call to discuss your project in more detail and pinpoint how I could best use my skills and experience to create engaging copy for your website.”

Other important advice

Check your spelling and grammar

While you might think I’m stating the obvious here, spelling and grammar mistakes are all too common in job proposals and could ultimately cost you a job opportunity. From a client’s perspective, mistakes can make an applicant seem careless and lazy. If you're not too confident when it comes to spelling and grammar, ask a friend to have a quick scan over your proposal before you send it off. It’ll only take two minutes, but it’ll be worth it. 

Include a budget 

Always (always!) quote a budget. Even if a client has posted a job with very little information on which to base your budget, it’s really important that you include one. If you’d like, you can mention in the job proposal that you’ll need more information in order to confirm said budget. 

Top tip: Never quote over budget from the outset. Those who do rarely get the gig. We’d always recommend that freelancers quote within the budget set by the client. Not happy with the prescribed range? Don’t worry, you can agree on a more specific budget when the client responds to your application. You’ve got to be in it to win it. 


budget section


Answer all questions

Clients often include questions to answer that help them weed out unsuitable candidates. Always answer them honestly and accurately. 


Protect yourself and your work

No matter how big or small a job is, we’d always recommend that freelancers set out a contract with their clients.  We’d also recommend that freelancers put watermarks on any sample work they send over to potential clients.


Never copy and paste your proposals

Proposals that look generic or obviously copy and pasted may as well go straight into a clients spam folder. Don't bother applying for a job if you’re not going to put the effort in! Not only will you be wasting the client’s time, you’ll be wasting yours as well. Trust us, clients can smell a template from a mile away. Landing new clients requires considered, tailored proposals. 


Boost your ranking 

Make sure your profile is in tip top shape in order to boost your ranking on the site.

What’s the best way to do this?

Freelancer Club uses a range of different data points to preference freelancers when they apply for jobs on the site. Factors that can swing the algorithm in your favour include having a fully complete profile (with uploaded projects and a fully filled out bio with links to relevant social media accounts and your personal website), having reviews on your profile, likes on your images and being regularly active on the Freelancer Club’s website. 

Don’t have reviews? Ask past clients to add one to your page.




Whether you're new to freelancing or a seasoned professional, follow the advice above to give yourself the best shot of landing new clients.

If you're a newbie on the scene, apply for jobs early to get ahead of the crowd and follow the tips above to ensure that your proposal is strong and your profile ranks well.

Finally, if a client replies to your application, be sure to reply promptly. After all, the early bird catches the worm! 

What are you waiting for? Start applying for freelance jobs today.