To attract the attention of the best clients, your profile and proposals have to be stellar. Some clients judge freelancers based on their proposals before even looking at a profile. Others review profiles first. Many clients list their projects privately and handpick freelancers based on profile alone.

You never know what a potential client will look at first, so both your profile and your proposal have to make a great first impression and tell the client why they should trust you with their project.

Freelancers market their businesses to potential clients through Upwork—and the freelancers Upwork itself engages for its projects know how to pitch their talents to the best clients. We recently asked four of Upwork’s freelancers from different specialties to share their best tips for freelance profiles and proposals. Here’s what they had to say.

Fernando Vaz
Product Manager

“When you can’t meet people face to face, building trust and empathy is particularly important. For your profile, focus on the value you can bring and problems you can solve rather than focusing too much on specific skills—though those are important too.

“When submitting a proposal, try to get past what’s in the job posting and figure out what the client is looking for, and answer to that. Put yourself in the client’s shoes and address those needs in your first response.”

Radhika Basuthakur
Online Marketing Communications Specialist

“Your profile title is your first opportunity to capture the client’s attention. Put some thought into writing this. Don’t be ambiguous, let the client know what you have to offer from the start. Remember that Upwork has a character limit of 70 for the headline so keep it short and get straight to the point.

“When writing your profile overview, don’t lose the client by wasting time on pleasantries or describing yourself. Go straight to showing the value you will add. Simply answer the question ‘Why are you the best candidate?’ Put yourself in the client’s shoes and ask yourself what would convince you to hire you?

“Good communication makes a huge difference when it comes to working online. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a writer—a well-written and thoughtful proposal is the first sign of your professionalism as a freelancer.

“Write professional and to-the-point proposals that actually address the project description and any questions the client has asked. Sell yourself…but do it by showing the client how your skills are the perfect match for job and explain how you can help them achieve their goals.

“Don’t be afraid to inject a bit of humour into your proposals. It’s important to keep it professional—always—but a bit of humour and friendliness shows the client you’re not just a drone but actually a real person with personality.”

Shennaver Canasa
Talent Specialist

“Treating your profile as an open proposal can entice a client to collaborate with you. I think an effective profile should reflect not only your experience, but also your commitment and passion for what you do.

“I believe that both your profile and proposal should speak to who you are and why you would be beneficial to work with–think of it as showing that client how profitable your skills are. Like any other business, clients are looking for an asset to add to their team so they would want assurance that you care about how the project would impact their business.”

Amber Merideth
Upwork Professionals Lifecycle Management, Enterprise

“Perfecting your profile is not a one-time initiative—you should be revisiting it regularly to add new portfolio items, update your overview statement, adjust your availability, renew your skills listings, and just generally keep it fresh and appealing.

“For the love of all things entrepreneurial get a professional headshot and use it! This inexpensive investment goes a long way with clients. It shows that you are serious, and that you are committed to your business.

“Ask a former client or trusted friend to review your profile for another perspective. And if you want really constructive feedback, ask the Upwork freelancing community in the forums—that will certainly generate suggestions for improvement! You want to know if you are you coming across the way you intend when clients visit your page.

“You absolutely HAVE to make writing winning proposals part of your freelance success strategy! Your proposal is your first impression with a client—I can’t stress that enough. Read the project description a couple of times. Does the client allude to a pain point? Your proposal will stand out if you draft your proposal around how you can alleviate the friction that the client is experiencing.

“Write and save your submitted proposals in a document on your computer or in the cloud first. Note which ones were successful and use those insights to improve your proposal writing over time. Include the client’s name, their company name, or whatever you have at your disposal to make it personal.

“Be authentic! Let your personality shine through in your proposal language. There’s no point in using a voice that isn’t your own—when you advance to an interview or win the project your client is going to have an expectation of your communication style based off of your proposal, and you want that expectation to be one that you can meet and sustain.

For more resources to help you build a stellar profile, see “Get Noticed by Clients with a Knockout Profile.”