Boosted Proposals: Investigating Upwork’s Controversial Bidding Feature

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In the world of freelancing, Upwork has long been a prominent platform connecting skilled professionals with clients seeking their expertise. With millions of freelancers vying for projects, standing out from the competition can be a challenge.

To address this, Upwork introduced the “Boost Your Proposal to the Top of the List” feature in March 2022. This feature promises to enhance visibility and increase the chances of securing projects.

In this investigative article, we’ll explore both the advantages and disadvantages of this new Upwork feature.

Advantages of Boosted Proposals

Here are some of the benefits of boosting your proposals on Upwork:

Enhanced Visibility and Exposure

The boosted proposal feature catapults a freelancer’s proposal to the top of the client’s list, ensuring increased visibility and exposure. This improved positioning offers freelancers a greater chance of catching the client’s attention, particularly in highly competitive markets or when bidding on popular projects.

Increased Opportunity

By leveraging boosted proposals, freelancers have a higher likelihood of being invited to interview or being awarded the project. This can significantly enhance their chances of securing consistent work and building a strong reputation on the platform. The feature provides a valuable opportunity for talented professionals to shine and prove their capabilities to potential clients.

Time-Saving

Freelancers often spend a considerable amount of time crafting well-thought-out proposals. The boosted proposal feature reduces the risk of their efforts going unnoticed in a sea of competition. By rising to the top of the client’s list, freelancers can streamline their job search process, ensuring their efforts are focused on the most promising opportunities.

Disadvantages of Boosted Proposals

Boosting a proposal on Upwork has the following drawbacks:

Financial Implications

The boosted proposal feature undoubtedly comes at a cost. Freelancers are required to pay an additional fee to utilize this feature, making it a paid advertising option. For some freelancers, particularly those operating on tight budgets, the expense may be prohibitive, limiting their ability to leverage this advantage.

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Potential for Abuse

The boosted proposal feature is subject to misuse by freelancers or unethical practices. Some individuals may attempt to gain an unfair advantage by repeatedly boosting their proposals, potentially flooding clients’ inboxes and creating an overwhelming selection process. This could lead to frustration for clients and dilute the quality of proposals received.

Dependency on Boosted Proposals

Relying solely on the boosted proposal feature may inadvertently discourage freelancers from honing their skills in crafting personalized and compelling proposals. If freelancers become overly reliant on the boosted feature, they may neglect the crucial aspect of tailoring their proposals to individual clients’ needs, which can result in missed opportunities for organic connections.

Freelancers and Clients React to the Upwork Boosted Proposal Feature

Although boosting a proposal puts your application at the top, according to Arthur Lee, who is both a freelancer and client on Upwork, he had never boosted a proposal as a freelancer and boosted applications overall hadn’t influenced his hiring process, likening the feature to paying someone in a physical recruitment setting to put your application at the top of the pile to increase your chances of being selected and wondering what employer wouldn’t look through a whole pile of applications to find the best candidate. “While others may have found it helpful, the feature has not helped me reach a top-rated or top-rated-plus status,” Arthur says. “A relevant cover letter, a comprehensive profile with an intro video, a brushed-up portfolio, and good communication helped me get to all my milestones.”

Virtual assistant Henfrey Muthama agrees with Arthur that boosting can put your proposal at the top of a pile of numerous others and increase the odds that you’ll get hired. “This feature ensures that your proposal stands out among other proposals and is one of the top four proposals shown to the client,” Henfrey believes. “As a result, the client is more likely to notice your proposal and consider you for the job, ultimately increasing your chances of getting hired.”

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However, Slvia Pinho, a social media marketer with more than a decade of Upwork freelancing experience, disagrees with the fact that boosting a proposal could enhance a freelancer’s visibility and exposure on the platform, saying she couldn’t get hired after boosting her proposals several times, even with all her past experience and reputation.

For Joe Golden, an Upwork freelancer and client, “Boosted proposals are a good idea and can help make Upwork a better experience for both clients and freelancers.”

“They allow freelancers to better demonstrate that they are making a serious proposal because boosted proposals are costly to them, which helps them stand out against less serious proposals,” Joe believes.

Upwork client and founder of quote-publishing website Must Read Quotes Maurizio Petrone shares similar perspectives with Joe about the benefits of boosting proposals on Upwork while noting some drawbacks. “Boosted proposals may be a time saver for clients if they focus only on boosted profiles,” Maurizio observes. “However, the best candidate for any given role might appear below the boosted ones. Boosting might devalue the skills, experiences, and personal branding in the selection process. For freelancers, they may now have to spend a substantial amount of money to have a chance to be considered, which can be significant, especially for the lowest-paying gigs.”

According to freelance writer Sara Iannacone, she doesn’t “believe this system is going to help Upwork in the long run” because “it is giving an edge to those larger agency-type accounts that have a number of freelancers working for them remotely from different countries or just those willing to take lower-paying work. Because they have the capital to bid on these jobs, they’re outbidding solopreneurs and freelancers on the platform.” Sara hinged her decision on the fact that she finds “it nearly impossible to find a fair-paying gig and even harder to land them,” despite being a top-rated freelancer with a 100% job success score who had spent more than four years on the platform, which was once her primary source of getting clients. “The correlation between that decrease in work and when they added the boosted proposal feature seems to be when they added it,” she reveals.

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Antonio Wells, an SEO and lead generation expert, sees the new bidding system as “a temporary boost, and in most cases, hiring clients do not vet candidates swiftly, and when they get to your application, your boosted status could have disappeared.” Antonio believes, however, that the feature “is a great way for Upwork to earn additional revenue, as freelancers who use the feature frequently will eventually have to purchase more Connects to facilitate their boosted visibility.”

The Upwork boost proposal feature has garnered mixed reactions within its community. While it offers advantages such as increased visibility, enhanced competitiveness, and time efficiency for freelancers, concerns regarding unequal opportunity, financial burden, and the potential trade-off between visibility and proposal quality remain prevalent. Striking a balance between providing fair opportunities and maintaining the integrity of the freelancing marketplace is crucial for Upwork to ensure a level playing field for all users. While Upwork has repeatedly pledged to address complaints about its boosted proposal feature, it has yet to do so. As the platform evolves, ongoing feedback and improvements will be essential in addressing the concerns raised by its community and maintaining a sustainable and inclusive freelancing environment.


Are you an Upwork freelancer? What do you think about boosted proposals, Upwork’s new controversial bidding feature? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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