17 Upwork Cover Letter Tips, With Examples

17 Upwork Cover Letter Tips, With Examples

A cover letter is a crucial element of the job application process on Upwork. This introductory letter is your first shot at making an impression with a potential client on the work marketplace.

No, they’re not a waste of time. Yes, they do get read. In fact, when many freelancer profiles may look similar—a well-written cover letter could be what sets you apart. An impressive letter may persuade the client to interview you.

When it comes to writing a good cover letter, it’s often the little things that add up to make a big difference (and impression!). To help you craft a winning proposal, we’ve put together some of the best cover letter tips for Upwork below.

Upwork cover letter tips:

  1. Choose the correct cover letter format and style
  2. Create a unique cover letter for each application
  3. Keep it brief
  4. Address the client
  5. Show understanding of the job description
  6. Add some personality
  7. Showcase your achievements
  8. Stay away from buzzwords
  9. Include links to previous work
  10. Don’t regurgitate your resume
  11. Follow the instructions in the job post
  12. Explain why you’re a good fit for the client or company
  13. Don’t copy from the internet
  14. Make them want to learn more
  15. Proofread and edit your cover letter multiple times
  16. Have others review your cover letter
  17. Stand out with Connects

Let’s dive in.

1. Choose the correct cover letter format and style

How you format your cover letter is almost as important as how you write it. You don’t need to worry about font choices and margins on Upwork. But a professional cover letter should still follow a logical structure and include key information such as:

  • Greeting: Greet the client manager by name. If a name isn't available, feel free to simply write “Hello there” or “Hi” but steer away from outdated greetings such as “To Whom It May Concern.”
  • Intro: Follow the greeting with a short but strong intro paragraph that highlights why you are qualified for the project.
  • Body: In the main body of the letter, go into further details about your experience and qualifications. Explain how your previous accomplishments make you the ideal person to help the client achieve their goals.
  • Call to action and sign off: Finally, end with a paragraph that invites the client to contact you. Don’t be shy. State that you look forward to an interview.

A poorly formatted cover letter is difficult to read. Make your cover letter easily scannable by breaking up large chunks of text.

  • Use bullet points where possible
  • Add in links to work samples where relevant
  • Pop in the occasional emoji to highlight important parts of your letter

Clients likely receive multiple applications for each advertised project. Without a professional formatted letter, you risk being eliminated from the pool of potential hires.

Example of a well-formatted cover letter

Here’s an example of a well-formatted letter in action:

Dear {Name of client},

I’m excited to apply for the Web Developer role open at {Company Name.} I have more than 10 years of experience in web development, and my proficiency in JavaScript and HTML/CSS in particular, align with your needs for this project.

In my role as Lead Web Developer at {previous or current employer/client name}, I headed the team in charge of overhauling the company website. I was able to create a faster, more modern, and responsive web experience keeping real users in mind. This resulted in a 35% reduction in bounce rate and a 25% increase in conversion rates. I believe my hands-on experience and skills will prove relevant for your upcoming rebrand and subsequent website changes.

I’m very interested in discussing this project in more detail and available for an interview at your earliest convenience. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

{Your Name}

Need some more help? Here’s how to write an Upwork proposal that wins jobs.

2. Create a unique cover letter for each proposal

Having a general format in mind will give you the framework for your cover letter. However avoid a one-size-fits-all approach. Write a unique cover letter for each new project or job you want to apply to on Upwork.

It’s perfectly fine to recycle some of the stronger statements from your letter. However, a generic letter that doesn’t address the specific role or the organization you’re applying to is unlikely to make a good impression. It could come across as lazy and you’re missing out on an opportunity to demonstrate how you’re a great fit for the company.

To personalize each cover letter well, choose a few skills or qualifications mentioned in the job ad. In your letter write about how you demonstrate each of these skills.

How to customize your cover letter

While you might save time with a copy-paste cover letter, this approach might cost you opportunities. Here’s how to customize your cover letter for a specific job. Compare the two examples—which proposal stands out to you more?

Good:

Dear Mr. Smith,

I'm excited about the project management role open at Organization Inc.  Your job post mentions the upcoming employee onboarding project. This particularly stood out to me as I recently wrapped up a similar project where I managed a team of four to deliver a new employee training program.

Bad:

To Whom It May Concern

I am a hard-working and determined project management professional seeking an opportunity to succeed at Organization Inc. In my current position, I led a team of 10 to meet and exceed project goals. I am confident that my knowledge and experience make me a great fit for Organization Inc as well.

3. Keep it brief

While you may be tempted it can be tempted to go into great detail about your work experience and qualifications in your cover letter—don’t. Short is best. Limit your cover letter to the equivalent of one page—less in some cases. Aim for no more than 200 to 300 words.

Clients will likely be reviewing multiple proposals. A lengthy, rambling letter is more likely to be overlooked than considered.

4. Address the client

If possible, use a name to address your cover letter. If you don’t already know who to address the letter to, a little research can go a long way.

Check out the client’s profile before sending in your proposal. Sometimes other freelancers will leave feedback for them that includes their name. If you spot this, bingo! You can address them by their name and impress them with your research.

If you’re unable to find a name, but can find some other details about the company or project based on the job description or other information in their profile, feel free to include it in your letter. Personalizing your letter like this will help you stand out from other freelancers who may not make the same effort.

5. Show understanding of the job description

The first few sentences of your cover letter should confirm that you fully understand what the client is looking for and their goals for the project. They want to know you have the right skills and are ready to help them succeed. Address this right away.

Alternatively, you could start by either restating the core problems or commenting on something about the job. This shows that you’ve taken the time to read the project description thoroughly. Follow this up by demonstrating that you have the necessary expertise to help solve their problem.

How to demonstrate your understanding of the project and the client’s goals:

Hi there,

If I see one more knock-off of Roger Federer’s RF logo masquerading as a unique  “logo design” for a brand, I will scream. Actually, I do. Daily. And from the sounds of your ad, you’re tired of the dupe logos too. So since we’re on the same page, let me introduce myself

I’m a logo designer (obviously) and I don’t do the same old regurgitated designs. I love to create quirky typography for creative brands so I think we’re a great fit for each other.

6. Add some personality

Stand out from the crowd of freelancers by showing your personality in your cover letter. While you should definitely keep your cover letter professional, you don’t have to sound generic.

Write in a conversational yet respectful tone. Don’t use unnaturally formal language. Avoid using flat language like  “My name is Job Applicant Jean. I saw your job on Upwork and I'm submitting my application for your perusal” to start your cover letter.

An overly formal, generically worded cover letter doesn’t tell the client much about who you are. Injecting a bit of your personality into your letter is an opportunity to show them how you can be a culture fit for their team.

How to write a personable letter

Here’s an example of how you can add some personality to your cover letter while still remaining professional:

Don’t say: I’m an accomplished copywriter with 10 years of experience writing sales copy for businesses.

Instead, say: I put my obsession with words and copywriting skills to the test by creating punchy sales copy for female-owned businesses. This has led to a 32% increase in sales (and subsequent heart-eyed emojis) for one of my clients.

7. Showcase your achievements

Clients want to see the impact you’ve made on projects. Did you improve sales? Perhaps you improved project efficiencies? Whatever your achievements—mention them in your cover letter.

Don’t be vague about your achievements. Your cover letter should make an impression. Quantify your accomplishments with numbers and facts to show a real, measurable impact of your work.

Instead of saying: Created a website that increased sales.

Say:I created a responsive, conversion-optimized website that increased web sales by 20% and mobile-web sales by 45%.

8. Stay away from buzzwords

Writing a good cover letter is all about selling yourself to the client. The right words can be powerful. The wrong words make you sound robotic and lacking in personality.

Generic buzzwords and phrases like a people person, team player, loyal, dedicated, or motivated can be seen as empty. They usually lack evidence and don’t really prove anything.

Instead, focus on using action verbs, evidence as well as job-relevant keywords, and phrases, to demonstrate your skills and expertise.

Bad: Meaningless buzzword sentence

I am a motivated team player.

Good: Action verbs and evidence-backed sentence

I managed a team of five salespersons. Together we surpassed our sales targets for the year by 15%.”

9. Include links to previous work

For most freelance projects, a sample of your work speaks for itself. Take charge and provide a link in your cover letter, instead of waiting for the client to ask. It helps to give them an idea of your skillset before they’ve even looked at your profile.

If you have a portfolio website, simply link to that. If you have a portfolio relevant portfolio item on your Upwork profile, simply draw the client’s attention to that.

  • If you’re a writer, you could link to previously published work.
  • If you’re a web developer, link to websites you have built.
  • If you’re a social media manager, provide links for social media profiles you've managed.

Tip: Don’t overdo the links in your cover letter. Instead, keep the portfolio section of your Upwork profile up to date and invite clients to check it out. If you don’t have a portfolio, simply provide one or two links to live samples of your work. You don’t have to include every project you’ve ever worked on.

For more advice on creating a great portfolio, check out these resources:

How to draw attention to your portfolio in your cover letter

How do you include your portfolio and/or other links to your work in your cover letter in a professional manner?

Good:

“You can review my social media campaigns in action on [Company Name]’s social media pages here: [LinkedIn link] and [Instagram link]. I also have more examples within my portfolio on my profile here: [Upwork profile link]

Bad:

Let me know if you would like to see samples of my work.

10. Don’t regurgitate your resume

Your cover letter is an opportunity to expand on your Upwork profile or resume and show off your personality beyond the bullet points. Don’t repeat your resume. Instead, explain how your experience and qualifications make you a good fit for the target role.

You don’t have to include everything that’s on your Upwork bio. Instead, focus on a few accomplishments that are relevant for this project and highlight those on your cover letter.

11. Follow the instructions in the job post

Sometimes, the most important part of sending an Upwork proposal can be following the instructions. This shows your attention to detail.

If the job requires you to submit your cover letter as a PDF, make sure your file is in the correct format. Some clients will ask you to include a random word at the start of your cover letter to make sure you’re paying attention. Start your cover letter with “Tiger” if that’s what the job post asks for or else your proposal may end up being ignored.

12. Explain why you’re a good fit for the client or company

So far we’ve discussed that you should use your cover letter to sell yourself. This “sell” should also include explaining to the client why you’re a great fit for their project or organization. This is especially important if you’re applying for a role that will involve working with other team members.

Show off your professional skills to explain why you’re the perfect person for the job. However, don’t forget to also include why you’re the right person for the company culture as well.

Start by reviewing the company website. Google as much as you can about the company culture, their services, and their business model. Make notes on what you like and what resonates with you. Then use that to write about how you fit into that culture.

How to demonstrate if you’re a culture-fit

Write honestly in this section. Don’t just write a generic line or two about what you think they want to hear. Be genuine about your why.

Here’s an example of what to say:

“I’m truly excited about this Marketing Specialist opportunity. I’ve personally used XYZ face cream and to put it plainly, I’m a fan. I love that it’s made of all-natural ingredients and comes in a plastic-free bottle. I really admire XYZ Company’s values and planet-focused goals. As a vegan and someone who’ is trying hard to live a zero-waste life, I believe I would be a great fit for your company.”

Here’s an example of how NOT to say it:

I’d love to work for XYZ Company because of its culture and product innovation. Since I’m vegan and an experienced marketing specialist, I believe I would be a great fit.”

13. Don’t copy from the internet

A quick Google search will show you there are hundreds of Upwork cover letter examples on the internet. These are meant to serve as inspiration. Don’t just copy and paste from these internet samples.

As much of the advice above explains, — your cover letter must be customized for each new proposal on Upwork. Copy-pasting a generic cover letter from the internet is the opposite of this. Besides, if a future client were to realize your cover letter is copied, — it would create a very poor first impression!

14. Make them want to learn more

Always end your letter with a call to action. A generic ending to your cover letter is a missed opportunity. Use this space to make your future clients want to learn more about you.

This final paragraph of your cover letter should express your excitement for the role or project. It should also serve as a mini sales pitch where you remind them why you’re a great fit for the role. Finally, demonstrate your eagerness for an interview.

The ideal call to action is assertive and confident while maintaining a polite and professional tone. ‍

How to write a good call to action

What does a good call to action look like in real life? Here’s an example of a good (and bad) conclusion for your cover letter. Remember to end with an impact.

Bad:

I look forward to hearing from you.

Good:
“I believe I’m a great fit for this role. I’m confident that my sales experience will enhance results at your organization, similar to the 25% increase in revenue I brought about for Client JMH Inc. I look forward to discussing my qualifications and suitability during an interview at your earliest convenience. Thank you for your time and consideration.”

15. Proofread and edit your cover letter multiple times

Once you’re done writing your cover letter, it needs to be proofread. Don’t send your letter before a thorough spell check and review. Run the spell check function. Also make sure to read it over again—slowly—to keep an eye out for any errors or issues.

16. Have others review your cover letter

Before you send out your cover letter, it’s also a good idea to get another opinion on it. This can be especially useful when you’re new to freelancing and still learning the best ways to win more jobs on Upwork. Ask someone you trust to review your letter. They can spot any errors or typos you may have missed. They can also read it to make sure it’s clear, professional, and paints a good picture of your suitability for the role.

17. Stand out with Connects

Finally, to conclude this list of Upwork cover letter tips—stand out by making the most of Upwork features. For an even better chance of your cover letter being seen by clients for projects you’re really passionate about, Boosted Proposals can be very helpful.

How does it work? Put simply, after you invest the time to create a great proposal, elevate its visibility with a boost by spending additional Connects—whatever amount you think it’s worth.

Upwork will boost your proposal to the top of the stack if you bid high enough relative to other bidders, making yours one of the first proposals the client sees. In fact, Boosted Proposals increase the chance of getting hired by up to 24%. Get all your questions answered via this support article.

For more advice on crafting compelling proposals, check out the Upwork Academy Course on Submitting Proposals.

Next Steps

Writing a cover letter for your Upwork proposals can feel like a lot of work. However, it’s important to spend this time creating a professional. It’s how you’ll make an impression on clients.

If you’re still finding your feet, this article on How to Get Started on Upwork may be helpful.

The next step in the application process is usually an interview. Whether in-person or virtual, an interview is a fantastic opportunity to make a great impression—so make the most of it. Check out our article on interview tips for freelancers and clients as well as our tips on how to tailor your interview answers and impress clients to start preparing for your interview.

If you’re communicating with a hiring manager for a job through the Upwork platform, please note that sharing your personal contact information, such as email address, phone number, or LinkedIn profile, is not permitted in cover letters or at any time prior to the start of a contract. Additionally, all communication should take place through the Upwork Messages feature. Learn more about using Upwork Messages here, and see more details on sharing information on Upwork here.

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Author Spotlight

17 Upwork Cover Letter Tips, With Examples
Radhika Basuthakur
Content Writer

Radhika is a self-confessed word nerd and content expert with over 15 years of experience writing content for businesses around the world. She is a cheerleader for flexible work, a passionate world traveler, and spends her free time alternating between a good book and a good hike.

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