When we send proposals on Upwork, clients will sometimes ask the question “what part of this project most appeals to you?”
Often, freelancers answer the question with a generic copy-paste answer. If you’ve been following the blog, you know that ain’t gonna fly.
Often the client will see answers like this:
That is great news for you because by putting in just a bit of effort, you can stand out a win the project.
A similar question is often used when hiring in the startup-world. Founders and investors sometimes ask employees that question to understand how long you might stay and your motivation for working on the project long-term.
It works well there but is a bit misguided on Upwork because there, the projects are often shorter. Nevertheless, we still have to answer it.
Let’s first understand what they are really asking – the question behind the question, and then how to answer it well.
What’s behind the question “what part of this project most appeals to you?”
To understand what they are really asking, we can ask “why?” to the question a few times.
“What part of this project most appeals to you?” – Why do they ask that?
They might want to know that you are a good fit – why?
So they know that their project will likely go well – why?
So they can reach their goals.
If this is the case, the question you are really answering is “can you make this project go well so we can reach our goals?”
We can establish that behind the scenes, the client is trying to figure out how they can trust us to help them. Remember, even though some freelance projects can seem transactional, you are in the service business and that is built on people and trust.
So the new, real, question then becomes, what can we answer to help them trust us? And probably also “why are you different?”
Examples of how you could answer to stand out
No client is the same, so there is no definitive answer but I see two approaches here. First of all, they likely want to discard anyone with a generic copy-paste answer.
Your answer can be fine and still win or it can be excellent and impress them. It will be tempting to write like you might write a cover letter with your CV when applying for a traditional job.
That might be something like “I have done X in the past, I like sports and I’m organized.”
It will feel natural to talk about yourself but remember that the client only cares about us in as much as it helps them.
They are trying to figure out why you are a good fit for the project among all the other freelancers. You can do them a huge favor by explaining why your profile is a good match for the project.
That way, they can immediately understand how you fit in and you’ll make sure they don’t miss anything important in terms of your experience and interests.
Instead of writing what the most appealing to you is based on your interests, try showing them that it is appealing because of deeper values. That could be that you’ve done something similar in the past and know you can do a good job delivering on their goals.
Try to sniff out what their goals are in the project description. It might be completing the project on time, more sales, etc.
Have you done a similar project in the past? Mention why it’s relevant or related and e.g. something you learned or something counterintuitive. Talk about them and how they benefit from your answer behind ‘what about this project most appeals to them’.
It might feel tempting to mention ALL your past experiences. Don’t. You aren’t married yet and you are just working to get their attention with the proposal, not land the project (just yet).
Mention one or two past projects that are relevant and focus on showing the connection between why they are relevant to the project.
Let’s look at two examples I found in the wild.
Here you might say something like:
“The most appealing part of this project is that I know I can help you because worked on very similar projects before. I’ve also been learning Spanish and Japanese as an adult. It isn’t Korean but it has helped me understand how adults feel when they learn a foreign language.
For example, they often feel embarrassed when they want to practice speaking but they might cover it up with an excuse about not having time to learn.
I’ve helped a client with a business teaching Spanish to get more leads via influencers and Google Adwords – I helped him go from 20 to 40 leads per month after three weeks.
I’ve also helped another client in the mobile gaming industry advertise with Naver, Daum, and on social media in South Korea.
While neither is exactly the same business as yours, the combination between the two means that I’ve helped another business in your industry get the same results and I’ve used the tools you are looking to use to get the job done.“
Remember that this isn’t the only part of the proposal, there is still the main cover letter attached with more details.
The point here is to 1) picking RELEVANT experience instead of all your experience and 2) Show HOW/WHY it is relevant to the client that you mentioned it.
Let’s look at another example.
I would normally not send a proposal for a project with such a short project description but it as some interesting insights.
We can see that it is a portable toilet company which is a rare type of business to see on Upwork. They specifically mention that they want to expand to also using online marketing for their business.
This project doesn’t have the question “what part of this project most appeals to you?” but they might as well have since it’s a template question suggested by Upwork when a client creates the job.
If you know how to help them, you might write something like:
“The most appealing part of this project is that I know I can help you because worked on very similar projects before.
I helped another client in the bathroom utility industry generate leads with online marketing. We tested out three different channels: SEO, Linked ads, and Google search ads. LinkedIn was decent yet expensive. We built a great combo between different channels that I think you’ll find attractive.
Even though the items sold were slightly different, they were in a similar industry so there is likely overlap with the buying decision between their customers and yours.
With another client that sells portable gear for events, I’ve helped build a short-term funnel with ads to get client leads quickly and a long-term approach with organic search traffic.
I figure your business is likely selling to event owners and in the second example my client was doing the same yet selling different gear.”
To learn more, you might want to go hire someone for a $20 task similar to the service you offer and notice what kind of replies you’ll get to this question. It’s an interesting experience.
Have you thought of other ways to answer the question? Share your thoughts in the comments.
- Always ask yourself why they are asking that question and work to understand what’s really going on in the client’s head
- Take the questions as an opportunity to stand out and build trust with the potential client. This is the best time to make a great first impression
- Check out this guide with proposal samples for Upwork