Boosted Proposals – Upwork’s New Proposal Bidding System

Upwork Boosted Proposals
Written by Lex DeVille

Recently Upwork announced their new Boosted Proposals feature – an auction system that allows freelancers to bid against one another for more visibility by clients. But what exactly are boosted proposals and how does the new bidding system work?

Upwork Boosted Proposals is a new cover letter feature that allows freelancers to bid any number of connects for a chance to show up at the top of Upwork’s applicant page. The freelancer who bids the most connects is promoted over others, while those who bid less connects will have some of their connects returned.

Alright, so Upwork wants us to bid for the top place now. But is that really valuable? If you’re like me, you’ve got a bunch of questions brewing in your mind, and I think we should answer them now.

How Many Connects Can I Bid?

For now, it looks like you can bid as many connects as you want. The one limiting factor is the number of connects you have available. Theoretically, if you have 38 connects in your account, you could bid them all in the hopes of being seen at the top of the list when the client starts reviewing proposals.

The minimum number of connects to be bid appears to be 2. There’s no reason to bid less than two connects at a time because there is virtually no chance that you will win the bid. For that reason, you can simply choose to bid no connects, in which case, the gig will cost you 1 connect to apply.

How Do I Place a Bid to Boost My Proposal?

The option to place a bid to boost your Upwork proposal is only available for some freelancers some of the time. To find the option, scroll to the bottom of the cover letter page, beneath the text area where you would normally write your proposal. You will find a box that allows you to enter a boosted amount as your bid.

Once you enter your bid amount and submit it, then there is nothing else to do. Now it’s just a waiting game. Wait for Upwork to let you know whether or not your bid was the highest, or if you might get some of your connects returned.

How Do I Know if I Won the Boosted Proposals Auction?

Upwork appears to notify users whether they won or not. If you didn’t win, then you will get a message notification that lets you know that someone outbid you for that particular gig.

I have not yet won a bid, because I personally do not find this system very valuable, so I can’t say for sure if Upwork sends a notification that you won, but I would imagine that they will since you will want to know if your connects were well-spent or not.

What Happens if I Don’t Have the Highest Bid?

If you don’t have the highest boosted proposal bid, then Upwork states that some of your connects will be returned. As of now, it isn’t clear to me how many connects they will return, but it seems that it might be based on the interactions the client has with your account during the time after your proposal gets submitted.

Some interactions that may affect the number of connects you get back might include:

  • Your proposal is opened by the client.
  • You receive an offer from a client.
  • Your proposal gets shortlisted by the client.
  • The client sends you a message.
  • Your proposal has been archived by the client.
  • Your proposal has been rejected by the client.

For now, we’ll have to wait and see how this plays out since the system is too new to have full insights into how it works. Plus, Upwork has a history of quickly changing things as they go.

Am I Required to Place a Proposal Bid?

You are not required to place a proposal bid even when the boosted proposals option is available. Instead, you can choose to apply without boosting your proposal at a rate of 1 connect.

If nobody else bids, then Upwork will likely default to other algorithms to decide who makes it to the top of the stack like they do for normal gigs right now. So even if you don’t bid to boost your proposal, there’s a chance you will still be found at the top of the review pile by the client.

Hopefully, Upwork will keep it this way. My personal belief is that most serious clients go through every proposal to figure out who is a “Best Match” for them. I’m not talking about the people Upwork labels “Best Match” but freelancers who are really the best fit.

Since clients go through basically every proposal they get, then it doesn’t really matter if your proposal is at the top or not. In my opinion, it is a myth that being at the top of the pile gives you a serious advantage over other freelancers.

Think about it like this…

If you were an employer at a large company, and you needed to hire a manager for a position, would you just grab the resume at the top of the stack and say, “you’re hired!” No. Because you would get fired for doing that because there is virtually zero chance that the person at the top of the stack is the best person for the job.

That’s why interviews exist!

Are Upwork’s Boosted Proposals Worth It?

For the most part, I don’t think so. Mostly, this new system looks like a way to get freelancers who don’t earn very much money on Upwork to use more connects faster so that they need to top up sooner.


Because topping up connects on Upwork means paying them money. When freelancers don’t earn much from clients, then the next best way for Upwork to make money from them is to get those freelancers to spend more money on the platform.

Freelancers who are already good at proposal writing, and who only write proposals for jobs when they’re a great fit – those freelancers won’t need to boost their proposals because the client will see their cover letter anyway, and will realize that they probably one of the best candidates for the gig.

That said, if you are great at writing proposals and getting responses, then you don’t have much to lose by bidding on gigs. Use as many as 10 connects, because you can easily replenish those 10 connects without paying anything the next time you respond to an invitation.

So those are my thoughts. But what do you think? Maybe you see something I don’t. Are Upwork boosted proposals worth it in some other way that I’ve overlooked? Let me know below.

About the author

Lex DeVille

Lex DeVille is a copywriter and freelance instructor who has trained more than 10,000 freelance students across 133 countries to start and grow profitable freelance businesses. If you'd like his help with that, then click the link in the bottom right corner to visit his website.

  • I think the new system is just a shameless moneygrab and is worthless except as a way for them to make people give them more money by buying connects. It has nothing to do with providing the client with the best possible candidates for the job. It’s a low stoop.

  • >