The “Authority Booster” Trick That Almost Everyone Gets Wrong

YOU Focus is one of the best ways to demonstrate competence as a freelancer.

It shows the client that you paid close attention to their job post, and, more importantly, that you paid attention to them.

Once you show interest in the client and get their attention, NOW you can share a little more about yourself.

That's what today is about.

Because you can't just use the word "you" and expect that you will get a response. 

You have to go a little deeper than that.

You have to give the client reasons to believe in you.

One of the easiest ways to do that in your proposals is by demonstrating what makes you an authority.

But how do you demonstrate your authority?

Two words...

Credibility markers.

What Are Credibility Markers?

Credibility markers are indicators of what makes you credible - things like your degree, employment history, awards - stuff like that.

Credibility markers are symbols of what makes you credible (in other words, symbols of what defines you as an authority).

Credibility = Authority = Perceived Expertise

You can't just call yourself an expert in your proposals. You can't say, "Hi, I'm an expert web designer." or "Hey there, I'm a professional illustrator" and expect to get a response.

Clients will not believe you.

That's because real experts and professionals don't tell people that they are experts and professionals.

Instead, they use symbols (credibility markers) to demonstrate what makes them an authority.

And through authority, they create the perception of expertise. 

When you appear credible to a client, then you become an authority in their eyes and you transform into an "expert."

Let's look at a proposal that applies credibility for authority.

Example Proposal

Business Coach Copywriter for Hire!

Hey There,

You need a copywriter for your coaching business. I write copy for millionaire coaches like Mel Robbins, Jordan Belfort, and Carolin Soldo.

Some of my coaching clients have generated 6-figures in under 48 hours from a single sales page. To see more examples like this, check out my portfolio.

If you think we might be a match, reply and let's chat.

Kind Regards,

Lex DeVille

Here are the credibility markers I used to establish authority in this proposal:

  • Mentioned a big, relevant number (millionaire coaches)
  • Name dropped celebrity coaches (I borrow credibility from these celebrities)
  • Mentioned relevant sales volume (6-figures is a lot in 48 hours)

Without using the word "expert," I've said the right words to trigger a business coaching client to believe that I am competent enough in this area to be considered an authority.

Let's look at some more examples of credibility markers.

Credibility Marker


Big Numbers

Generated $10,000 in sales in a week

Increased subscribers by 20,000 per month

Article read by 250,000 people

Meme shared more than 50,000 times

Saved client $100,000 in lost profits

Grew FB group to 7,000 members

Taught more than 14,000 students

Name Dropping

As an email marketer for Amazon I...

When I wrote for Coca-Cola...

Helped Samsung develop their next big...

Past clients like Tony Robbins, Mel Robbins...

Places You've Been Featured

As featured on MindBodyGreen

You'll find my writing on Forbes and Inc.

You can see samples of my work on Medium and LinkedIn

Interviewed on the Joe Rogan Podcast

The Joplin Globe featured my web design business last week.

Education & Training

I hold a B.A. and M.A. in Psychology

Certified in Javascript and PhP

Working toward a B.A. in Finance

Trained by Agora in Copywriting

Those are just a few examples of credibility.

There's a LOT more examples in Freelance University since I added access to the Leveraging Credibility videos and workbook modules.


Writing generally good (YOU Focused) proposals establishes basic competence

Competence leads to confidence.

Credibility builds authority.

The more authority you build, the more competent you will seem, which means the client will have a higher degree of confidence that you can get the job done right, done well, and done on time.

Ultimately, this leads to their sense of comfort in responding to you.

But there's a mistake freelancers make.

Two of them, actually...

Mistake #1 - You Cannot LIE About Your Credibility

If you're low on credibility, it can be tempting to make up credibility markers to boost your perceived expertise in the hopes of getting clients to respond.

The problems with this become very apparent as soon as the client starts asking questions (and they always do).

So let's say you put into your proposal that you have a degree in web design, but you don't actually have one.

What happens when you get on a call and the client asks you where you earned your degree?

What happens when the client messages you and asks for proof of your diploma?

When that happens, you will stumble.

Then you will fall.

Because the client will see right through you.

Even if you manage to secure the gig with false credibility, when you start doing the actual work, the client will discover the truth behind your lie.

Then, not only will you end up with negative feedback and a damaged Upwork profile, but you will also earn yourself a bad reputation and other clients will avoid working with you in the future.

Never lie about credibility.

Only use credibility that you can back up with facts, evidence, proof...

Hot Tip...

Everyone has credibility. Yes, even you. Even if you think you don't. I promise that you do. You just don't yet know what to look for yet.

Mistake #2 - Using the Wrong Credibility

There are two main kinds of credibility markers (and a third kind that is covered more in Freelance University).

  1. General Credibility
  2. Specific (also called "Targeted") Credibility

The two types aren't really different from one another, but the context in which they are applied sets them apart.

General Credibility 

General credibility are credibility markers that make you a credible person in general but that do not necessarily build authority around the specific area that the client needs help with.

Freelancers typically default to general credibility in their proposals. 

When you apply to a copywriting gig for a direct-response marketing agency and you say you earned a degree in English, this is general credibility.

Or when you apply to a graphic design job and you mention that you worked for your last employer for 10 years... this is general credibility.

General credibility highlights things that make you generally credible.

But because they are not specific to the client's problem or needs, these markers are mostly considered irrelevant "fluff" that does not establish authority.

To solve that problem, you need to use Targeted Credibility.

Specific (Targeted) Credibility

Targeted credibility are credibility markers that are highly relevant for the specific gig and problem that you are applying to.

A degree in English is not highly relevant for a direct-response marketing job; however, it IS highly relevant for a job teaching English.

10 years of experience with an employer is not highly relevant for a web design job UNLESS the client asks for someone who has worked in their current role for 10 years.

Context is key.

General credibility becomes targeted credibility when it specifically demonstrates what makes you credible to solve the exact problem that the client needs help with.

An English degree isn't that relevant for a direct-response copywriting job, but a degree in Psychology is highly relevant, and therefore, establishes targeted credibility.

Working for a Shopify store is not relevant for a SaaS startup client, but working for a financial SaaS client in the past is highly relevant, and therefore, establishes targeted credibility.

If a client needs help getting responses to cold emails, and you've helped a client increase their cold email responses by 10% in the past, this would be highly relevant credibility.

Targeted credibility demonstrates relevant indicators that you are an authority in a very specific subject area.

But most freelancers don't do this.

Instead, they turn to general credibility markers, and those credibility markers fail them.

So you need to use relevant, context-based credibility.

Start to do that, and you'll boost your authority 10 fold instantly.

How Should You Use Credibility in Your Proposals?

Very soon, you will start to realize that you have a lot of credibility markers (even if you think you don't right now). 

Then the question becomes, how should I use them in my proposals?

Think about credibility markers like salt.

If you dump a cup of salt on a hamburger, it will taste disgusting.

But if you sprinkle a little here and there, it will taste amazing.

Do that with your Upwork proposals.

Sprinkle in targeted credibility here and there in small doses.

You want to use just enough to demonstrate that you are an authority on the client's problem.

Don't pile on every marker that you come up with.

Mostly, your credibility should be contained to the first and second paragraphs of your proposal, and then you can add more into your bio for the client to read if they want to.

For now, just start to think about your own credibility markers. 

What specific problems do you help clients solve, and what pieces of credibility will make those most sense to demonstrate your authority in solving those problems?

When you get that part right, you will boost your authority, and you will get a lot more responses.


See you later!
Lex DeVille


We cover all of this in more detail than I've ever covered it in before in Freelance University.

The Leveraging Credibility course is specifically designed to help freelancers who don't have a lot of experience, education, training, or proof to uncover what makes them credible.

Some of our past students weren't sure they had any credibility at all.

That changed once they went through this program...

Everyone has things that make them credible, and everyone even has things that make that credibility relevant for their client's problems.

The tricky parts are figuring out which pieces will be most useful, and how to turn less useful pieces into more useful pieces.

That's what we do in Leveraging Credibility.

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