Blog > Upwork Bidding 101: The Only Guide You Need to Succeed

Upwork Bidding 101: The Only Guide You Need to Succeed

Vlad Marchenko2024-06-05

Everything you need to know about Upwork bidding, from beginner tips to advanced strategies!

Upwork bidding is tough, both for beginners and pro Upwork users, mostly because many agencies and freelancers face the same challenge: they submit countless bids but never hear back.

It’s frustrating, and it can feel like you’re shouting into a void.

You spend hours crafting proposals, only to be met with silence. Every “no” or lack of response chips away at your confidence and makes it harder to keep pushing forward. It’s disheartening when other freelancers/agencies land gigs and your proposals go unnoticed.

But here’s the good news – you can turn things around. You can increase your chances of winning projects and building a stable source of clients on Upwork.

And this guide will show you how. Let's dive in:

TL;DR

To give you a quick overview, mastering Upwork bidding involves optimizing your profile, crafting compelling and personalized proposals, and effectively following up with clients. Key strategies include:

  1. Profile Optimization: Use a professional photo, detailed summary, and relevant portfolio to attract clients.

2. Client and Project Evaluation: Check client reviews, hiring history, and budget to ensure a good match.

3. Winning Proposals: Personalize your proposal, ask relevant questions, and outline a clear action plan.

4. Effective Follow-Up: Send a concise follow-up message to show continued interest and keep the client engaged.

5. Advanced Techniques: Utilize Upwork’s tools, handle objections professionally, and build long-term client relationships.

Implement these techniques to stand out, win more projects, and build successful client relationships on Upwork.

Upwork Bidder: Who Is That and Why Should You Become One?

On Upwork, you'll find two major account types:

  • Upwork Bidder: A freelancer/agency submitting proposals to secure projects.

  • Client: An individual or business posting jobs and hiring freelancers/agencies.

An Upwork bidder is you, the agency owner or freelancer. Or at least you should be. Here's why:

Why is (Proper) Bidding Crucial on Upwork?

When learning how to bid on Upwork, you need to start by understanding that the platform is a crowded marketplace. To rise above the noise, your bid needs to be sharp, engaging, and to the point. Think of it as your elevator pitch – make it count. We’ll tell you how in a moment.

Before that, though, take a look at these two bids:

Which one do you think has a good chance of winning? We bet it's not the one filled with generic terms like “industry experience" and “proven track records.”

If you want more gigs, you have to create and master your upwork bidding strategy. Tailor your proposal to each job, demonstrate your understanding of client needs, and showcase your exceptional service quality.

Finally, successful bids mean more completed projects and standout reviews. This not only boosts your profile but also makes future bids easier to win. It’s a snowball effect – the more you win, the easier it becomes to win.

How to Bid on Upwork for Beginners: A Step-By-Step Tutorial

Getting started on Upwork can be daunting, especially when it comes to bidding for projects. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help beginners navigate the process and place successful bids.

On the Upwork dashboard, use the search bar to find jobs that match your skills:

Use filters to narrow down your search. Filters can include categories, experience level (entry, intermediate, expert), project type (hourly or fixed-price), client history, and budget. These filters helps you find the most suitable jobs quickly.

Save your search criteria to get notifications about new job postings that match your preferences. This way, you can be among the first to apply when a relevant job is posted.

Carefully read through the job listings. Look for detailed descriptions that match your skills and interests. Pay attention to the project scope, deadlines, and any specific requirements mentioned by the client.

On the job details page, you will find the “Apply Now” button. This will open a new page where you can write your proposal.

Before you submit the proposal, though, you need to prepare.

First, let’s make sure your profile is ready for action.

Upwork Bidding Strategy: A Complete Breakdown

Before you start firing off bids like a machine gun, you need to understand the fundamentals of how to bid on Upwork for beginners. Let’s make sure your profile is armed and ready for action.

Think of your Upwork profile as your storefront – it’s gotta be inviting, professional, and showcase your best stuff. Here's how to make sure your profile is ready to turn heads and win gigs:

Professional Photo

First impressions matter, big time. And as much as we hate to admit – we all buy with our eyes.

A professional photo shows clients you're serious. Don't freak out, though, you don't need to hire a pro photographer for that. Just a friendly headshot will suffice.

Here's an example of good vs. bad headshot photos for your profile:

💡 Pro Tip: Use AI profile picture creators wisely. A slight retouching of some face blemishes is okay, but an overedited photo will make you look like a bot. We recommend using tools like picofme.io for the most eye-catching results.

Compelling Summary

Next, pair your pic with a compelling summary that screams: "I’m the expert you need!"

Here are a couple of templates for you:

Template 1: Graphic Designer

Profile Summary:

Hi, I'm [Your Name], a passionate graphic designer with over [X] years of experience in [Your Niche, e.g. helping SaaS companies craft addictive product experiences]

I specialize in [Your zone of genius, e.g., creating eye-catching graphics for both digital and print media, including logos, infographics, and marketing materials.]

Skills:

  • Branding and Logo Design
  • Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign)
  • Print and Digital Media
  • Infographics and Visual Content

Why Choose Me:

Find 1-2 reasons why your expertise is exactly what your client might look for. Example:

I believe great design is about more than just aesthetics. It's about communication and functionality. My goal is to help your brand stand out in a crowded market and convey your message effectively. Let’s collaborate to bring your vision to life with designs that captivate and convert.

Template 2: Content Writer

Profile Summary:

Hello! I'm [Your Name], a professional content writer with a flair for crafting engaging and informative content for [Your Niche]. With a background in [relevant field], I specialize in writing blog posts, articles, and web content that drive traffic and boost SEO. My writing is backed by thorough research and a deep understanding of SEO best practices.

Skills:

  • SEO and Keyword Research
  • Blog Posts and Articles
  • Copywriting and Web Content
  • Editing and Proofreading

Why Choose Me:

Words are powerful, and I’m here to help you harness that power. Whether you need compelling blog posts, informative articles, or persuasive web content, I’m committed to delivering high-quality work that meets your needs and deadlines. Let’s create content that not only informs but also inspires and engages your audience.

Template 3: Web Developer

Profile Summary:

Hi there! I'm [Your Name], a skilled web developer with over [X] years of experience in building responsive, user-friendly websites. I specialize in front-end development with a focus on creating seamless user experiences and visually appealing designs. Proficient in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and various frameworks, I bring your web projects to life with precision and efficiency.

Skills:

  • HTML, CSS, JavaScript
  • React, Angular, Vue.js
  • Responsive Design
  • Cross-Browser Compatibility

Why Choose Me:

I’m passionate about coding and dedicated to delivering robust and scalable web solutions. Whether you're looking to build a new website from scratch or need help with an existing project, I’m here to ensure your web presence is optimized for performance and user experience. Let’s work together to create websites that not only look great but also drive results.

Highlight Relevant Skills and Experience

Next up, your skills and experience. Be specific. Don’t just say “Graphic Design” – break it down. Are you a wizard with Adobe Photoshop? A pro at creating infographics? List it out.

💡 Pro Tip: Use keywords that clients are likely to search for. You can find them by simply using the Upwork search bar and analyzing the text of various job posts. This boosts your profile’s visibility in Upwork’s search results.

Create an Impressive Portfolio

Your portfolio is your show-and-tell. Include your best work and make sure it’s relevant to the type of jobs you’re bidding on. If you’re a writer, showcase your articles or blog posts. If you’re a web developer, link to live sites you’ve built.

This particular portfolio is awesome because it showcases a wide range of formats the freelancer has worked on. This informs a potential client what they can expect while working with this Upwork bidder.

💡 Pro Tip: Add brief descriptions for each portfolio item. Explain your role in the project, the tools you used, and the results you achieved. This context can make all the difference.

Collect Stellar Reviews

Good reviews are gold on Upwork. They build trust and credibility.

Now, if you just started out, you might have 0 reviews available. That's okay. Focus on making the portfolio exceptional to show off your expertise and craft and let the client make their own assumptions.

If you have some Upwork experience already, after completing a job, kindly ask your client to leave a review. Most satisfied clients will be happy to help you out.

Key Elements to Check Before Bidding

Before you hit that "Submit Proposal" button, take a moment to evaluate the job and the client. Here's how to make sure you're bidding on the right projects (and avoid the crappy ones):

Evaluate Client Profiles

Start by checking the client’s rating from other freelancers and agency owners. If they have a low rating, consider it a red flag.

💡 Pro Tip: Use GigRadar's filters to automatically filter clients by their reputation: average feedback, country, rates paid, etc.

Assess the client’s hiring history. A client with a solid track record of hiring and paying contractors is generally more reliable. Look for:

  • Total amount spent.
  • Number of jobs posted and completed.
  • Average rating given by freelancers/agencies.

💡 Pro Tip: Use GigRadar filters to filter out clients with bad history: low average rates paid and low hiring rates.

Next, see if the client's payment method is verified. While not critical, this step will help you avoid working with clients who might not pay you. Upwork marks verified clients with a checkmark, giving you peace of mind that they can make payments.

Understand the Budget and Bid Range

Look at the budget set by the client. Does it align with the scope of work? Sometimes, clients might underbudget, so it’s crucial to determine if the project is worth your time and effort.

💡 Pro Tip: Use GigRadar filters to estimate fixed price budgets from hourly budgets and hourly budgets from fixed price budgets

Want to automate the Upwork Lead Gen process and achieve 3x higher reply rates?

Strategies for Setting Your Bid Price

The key to understanding how does bidding work on Upwork is knowing that you have two price options on Upwork:

  • Hourly Jobs: You get paid for each hour worked on the project. In this case, the client might ask you to monitor your work time using Upwork or external tools.

  • Fixed-Price Jobs: You get paid per project, without monitoring your work time.

For hourly jobs, bid your desired rate, but be flexible if the client wants to start with a lower rate for a trial period.

For example, if you usually charge $50/hour, you might agree to start at $35/hour and discuss an increase later.

Saying that, price your bid competitively, but don’t undervalue your work. It's better to explain why your higher rate justifies the quality and expertise you bring to the table. Use your proposal to highlight past successes and relevant experiences that warrant your rate.

While bidding for fixed-price jobs, evaluate the project’s value and the time you’ll invest. Here's a fictional example for inspiration:

Bidding for fixed-price jobs: Example Bidding

Imagine you’re a web developer and you come across a project for building a custom e-commerce website. The client has provided the following details:

  • Budget: $2,500
  • Deadline: 2 months
  • Requirements: Custom design, user registration, payment gateway integration, and an admin panel for managing products.

After analyzing the project scope, you estimate you'll need ~95 hours of work. If your hourly rate is $50, the total cost would be 95 hours * $50/hour = $4,750, which is above the client’s budget of $2,500.

You have extensive experience in building e-commerce websites, which adds value to your bid. You might highlight your past projects and success stories.

You also see the client has a history of completing projects successfully and has good feedback from other freelancers and agencies. This reduces the risk and adds value to working with them. You also see this project could lead to ongoing maintenance work and potential referrals, adding long-term value.

Finally, calculate your costs. Software tools and any third-party services might cost you an additional $200. This needs to be factored into your bid.

The analysis will look something like this:

Given the client’s budget and your cost calculations, you might decide to propose a phased approach to fit the budget. For instance, you could propose:

  • Phase 1 (Within Budget): Basic design, user registration, and payment gateway integration for $2,500.

  • Phase 2 (Additional Cost): Advanced features and admin panel for an additional $2,250.

Here's a sample proposal you could send to the client

Based on your requirements, I estimate the project will take 95 hours of work. While your budget is $2,500, the comprehensive cost for full features would be $4,750. To align with your budget, I propose a phased approach. In Phase 1, we can complete the core features for $2,500, and in Phase 2, we can add the advanced functionalities for $2,250. This ensures you get a functional product within budget, with the option to expand later.

Taking these steps before bidding ensures that you target the right projects and set yourself up for success.

How Does Bidding Work on Upwork: Crafting a Winning Proposal

Alright, it’s go-time. Crafting a proposal that stands out from the crowd is like writing your own ticket to freelancing success. Here’s how to structure a killer proposal that gets clients excited to work with you.

Structuring Your Proposal

Start with a personalized greeting. If the client’s name is available, use it. A simple “Hi [Client's Name]!” can set a friendly tone. If the name isn't available, a casual "Hi there!" works too.

Next, introduce yourself briefly and highlight your skills and relevant experience. Address the project’s specific needs and explain why you’re the perfect fit. For example:

“Hi, I’m [Your Name], a seasoned graphic designer with over 5 years of experience in creating captivating visuals. I’ve worked on numerous e-commerce websites, helping brands like [Brand Name] and [Brand Name] enhance their online presence. I noticed you need a custom design and user registration feature for your website, which aligns perfectly with my expertise.”

Wrap up with a call to action. Encourage the client to reach out for further discussion or to schedule a meeting. For example:

“I’d love to discuss how I can help bring your vision to life. Let’s schedule a call to dive deeper into the project details. Thank you for considering my proposal!”

Customize Proposals Without Copy-Pasting

Using templates is fine, but make sure to customize each proposal to the specific job. Mention details from the job description to show you’ve read it thoroughly.

💡 Pro Tip: Keep copies of your previous proposals, but always edit and tweak them to fit the new job. Never just copy-paste.

Include Relevant Questions to Show Job Understanding

Ask questions that demonstrate your understanding of the project. This shows the client you’re thinking ahead and are genuinely interested in their needs. For a web development project, you might ask something like:

“I see you need a user registration feature. Do you have any specific preferences for the design or user experience? Are there any existing brand guidelines I should follow?”

Propose a Detailed Plan of Action

Lay out a clear plan of action to show the client how you’ll tackle their project. This builds trust and shows you have a methodical approach. Example for a writing gig:

  • Research: Conduct thorough research on the topic using reputable sources.
  • Outline: Create a detailed outline to structure the content logically.

  • Writing: Develop engaging and informative content tailored to your target audience.

  • Editing: Revise and proofread the content to ensure clarity and error-free writing.

  • SEO Optimization: Incorporate relevant keywords to improve search engine rankings.

Attach samples of your past work that are relevant to the job. If you don’t have exact matches, create samples that showcase your skills:

If you’re looking for high-quality content, here are a few samples of my work:

  • [Link to Sample 1]
  • [Link to Sample 2]

Remember, a well-crafted proposal is your chance to impress clients and win more gigs. Make every word count!

And bam! You just crafted your first killer proposal. But the work doesn't end here. It's just the beginning. The actual hard work to snatch the opportunity happens now.

Don't worry, though, we've got you. Here's what you do AFTER submitting your bid on Upwork:

Effective Follow-Up Techniques for Upwork Bids

After you've submitted the proposal and polished it to the tee, the client will view your offer, and decide whether or not it's of interest to him. If the answer is no, and he doesn't contact you back, there's not much you can do but continue to improve your Upwork proposal writing game for the next job :D

However, once you've caught the client’s eye and contact was made from his side, effective communication is key to sealing the deal and building a strong working relationship.

Don’t just submit your proposal and hope for the best. If the client has shown even a sliver of interest, sending a follow-up message can show your enthusiasm and keep you top-of-mind for the client. Here's a sample message you can use:

“Hi [Client’s Name], I wanted to follow up on my proposal for your project. I’m really excited about the opportunity to work with you and would love to discuss any questions you might have. Looking forward to hearing from you!”

💡 Pro Tip: Be persistent but not pushy. One follow-up message a few days after submitting your proposal is usually enough to show you’re keen without being overbearing.

Here are some extra follow-up tips for Upwork bidding beginners:

Timing is Key

Timing your follow-up correctly is crucial. You don't want to appear too eager or too indifferent.

A good rule of thumb is to wait 2-3 days after submitting your proposal before sending a follow-up message. This gives the client enough time to review your proposal but keeps you fresh in their mind.

Keep It Short and Sweet

Your follow-up message should be concise and to the point. Reinforce your interest in the project and offer to answer any questions the client might have.

For example:

Hi [Client’s Name],

I hope you’re doing well. I wanted to follow up on my proposal for [Project Name]. I’m very excited about the opportunity to work on this project and believe my skills are a great match for your needs. If you have any questions or need further information, please feel free to reach out.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Reiterate Your Value

Remind the client why you’re the best fit for the job. Highlight key points from your proposal that align with their project requirements. Something like:

Hi [Client’s Name],

Just touching base regarding my proposal for [Project Name]. With my extensive experience in [specific skill or industry], I’m confident I can deliver exceptional results for your project. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to discuss further.

Thank you for considering my application.

Best,

[Your Name]

Offer Additional Information

Sometimes clients need a bit more convincing. Offer to provide additional information or a sample of your work to demonstrate your capabilities:

Hi [Client’s Name],

I wanted to follow up on my proposal for [Project Name] and see if there’s any additional information you need. I’m more than happy to provide further details or samples of my previous work to help you make your decision.

Looking forward to your response.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

By following these tips and using these templates, you can effectively follow up on your Upwork bids and increase your chances of winning projects.

Now, you've mastered the basics. To truly excel on Upwork, though, you need more than the basics. So, buckle up because we're sharing some pro-Upwork bidding strategies we haven't found anywhere else.

Advanced Upwork Bidding Strategies

Once you spend some time on Upwork and get used to the basics of bidding, you should take it up a notch. Below, you'll find some advanced Upwork bidding tips to make it happen:

Use Upwork’s Tools Effectively

Upwork offers freelancers and agencies a way to make their bids stand out from the competition, Connects.

They are your currency for submitting proposals. Use them wisely. Sometimes, it's worth spending a few extra Connects to boost your proposal, making it more visible to clients.

💡 Pro Tip: Prioritize jobs that match your skills perfectly and have a verified payment method. These are the opportunities where boosting your proposal can pay off the most.

Automate Upwork Bidding ⚡️

Now that you know the best practices of Upwork bidding, you can start implementing tools that will help you apply for more jobs without spending hours crafting customized proposals.

GigRadar helps Upwork Agencies send automated hyper-targeted cover letters to potential clients within 10 minutes of the job posting, making sure you’re offer is the first and best one seen on the table!

This is done using the Sardor AI mechanism which analyzes the job post alongside your Agencies qualifications and uses enhanced AI technology to showcase why you are the best candidate for the position.

This particular client achieved a 20% reply rate with GigRadar, which is about 4x higher than the industry average for manual bidding!

The best part? Once you set up your scanners, it all happens 24/7, so you can wake up to an inbox full of warm leads ready for closing!

Plus, the advanced filtering helps you eliminate 99% of irrelevant jobs and saves those precious Connects.

Pro Tips from Our Clients: IT Squad

Max Radko, founder of IT Squad, a web development agency that earned over $80,000 on Upwork in its first year.

Max's success hinged on personalized, detailed proposals. Here are a couple of tips Max shares about effective proposal writing:

Start your proposals or bids from the high-end and if possible find the client's name. It's a great personalization tip. Also, it would be nice to say hello in the client's language. So it could be “Guten Tag” or “Hola”.

After fine-tuning their personalization strategy, IT Squad used GigRadar to automate the bidding process.

This boosted their lead reply rate from 5-7% to 15-25% and took their average response time from 2 hours to 9-10 minutes. Most importantly, they were able to increase their monthly sales by 3X!

Key Takeaways:

  • Personalize your proposals by using the client's name and language.
  • Be specific about your skills and experiences relevant to the job.
  • Utilize automation tools like GigRadar to enhance lead generation and response times.

Pro Tips from Our Clients: Coxit Agency

Volodymyr Hresko, founder of COXIT, faced numerous challenges due to AI-generated content.

Upon the AI boom in 2023, all agencies and freelancers started using ChatGPT and other LLMs to send out thousands of proposals per day. And Volodymyr knew he needed to change strategies up if he wanted to survive.

GigRadar’s autonomous bidding let COXIT respond to job postings within minutes without sacrificing the proposals’ quality. This strategy doubled their proposal view rates and secured high-value contracts almost immediately.

Key Takeaways:

  • Use automation tools like GigRadar to streamline lead generation.
  • Adapt to AI trends by submitting faster, value-packed proposals.
  • Focus on niche expertise to differentiate from competitors.

Respond to Client Objections and Rejections

If a client has objections or rejects your proposal, respond professionally. Thank them for their feedback and ask if they can provide specific reasons or areas for improvement.

Here’s an example of a good rejection response:

Hi [Client’s Name],

Thank you for considering my proposal. If possible, could you share any feedback or areas I could improve for future opportunities? I value your input and aim to continually enhance my services.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Offer Solutions:

If a client raises concerns, address them directly and offer solutions. Show flexibility and a willingness to adapt to their needs.

Build Long-Term Client Relationships

Consistently deliver high-quality work to build trust and satisfaction. Meeting deadlines and exceeding expectations can turn one-off projects into ongoing collaborations.

Keep communication lines open even after the project ends. Send occasional updates, holiday greetings, or check-ins to maintain the relationship.

You might send your client something like:

Hi [Client’s Name],

I hope all is well. I enjoyed working on [Project Name] and would love to collaborate again in the future. If you have any upcoming projects, please keep me in mind.

Best,

[Your Name]

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Even seasoned agency owners and freelancers can slip up on Upwork. Here’s a rundown of common mistakes and how to dodge them, ensuring you stay on top of your game.

Overbidding or Underbidding

Overbidding: While it’s important to value your work, setting your bid too high can scare off potential clients, especially if you don’t have a robust profile with stellar reviews to back it up.

Underbidding: On the flip side, bidding too low might make you look desperate or inexperienced. It can also lead to burnout if you're working more hours for less pay. Aim for a competitive yet fair rate that reflects your skills and experience.

💡 Pro Tip: Research the average rates for similar projects and adjust your bid accordingly.

Neglecting to Read the Entire Job Description

Skimming through job descriptions is a rookie mistake. Clients can tell when a proposal is generic and doesn’t address their specific needs. To avoid sounding like a robot:

  • Read the entire job posting carefully.
  • Highlight key points from it

  • Tailor your proposal to address the specific requirements mentioned.

This shows the client that you’ve done your homework and are genuinely interested in their project.

Writing Overly Lengthy Proposals

Clients are busy and often skim through proposals. A long, rambling proposal can be off-putting and result in your bid being overlooked.

Aim to be clear and concise. Highlight your main points quickly – who you are, why you’re the best fit, and how you’ll approach the project. Use bullet points or short paragraphs to make your proposal easy to read.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you’ll increase your chances of winning projects and building a thriving freelancing career on Upwork!

Conclusion: Mastering Upwork Bidding

Good Upwork bidding is a must for any serious agency owner or freelancer. By optimizing your profile, crafting compelling proposals, and following up effectively, you set yourself apart in a crowded marketplace.

Every proposal is a chance to showcase your expertise and stand out. By implementing these techniques, you not only increase your chances of winning bids but also build a strong reputation on Upwork.

And if you need help multiplying the number of proposals you send and filling up your inbox with warm leads, GigRadar can automate and scale the entire process for your Upwork Agency!

Ready for your Upwork success story? Book a demo with GigRadar below!

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