If you’re new to freelance writing, you’ll soon discover that all job posters at job marketplaces (e.g. Elance.com, oDesk.com and Freelancer.com) require you to write a competitive proposal to bid on freelance jobs. The process of bidding is very competitive, and the best written bid does not always land you the job. As you strive to put your best foot forward, so do other freelancers who compete for the same job. With all conditions being equal and objective, may the best bidder win! Usually the writer with the most enticing bid proposal wins.
(Terms you should know: At the three most popular job marketplaces, Elance.com, Freelancer.com, and oDesk.com, the most common term to define a job
poster, employer, or outsourcer is the term “buyer”— the person who has posted the job ad and wants to buy freelance services for his project. Therefore, this article uses the term “buyer” to refer to the job poster.)
What is a bid proposal?
Primarily, a bid proposal is very specific summary of why you are qualified to undertake the job. It does more than initiate a friendly greeting to the buyer and express interest in the job. Your bid proposal allows you to state what your qualifications are and how your background would allow you to perform the
specific job with excellence, accuracy, and on deadline.
Your qualifications may include:
3) Past projects
As to specifics, it’s essential that you specify how much you’re bidding for a project (in dollars or in other currency) and how long you will need to accomplish it (in turnaround time).
How the bidding process works
Once you have posted a new proposal, the job site immediately notifies the project owner (buyer). The buyer has the choice to select a writer based on qualifications, experience, price, and other individual factors.
Before you formulate a competitive bid proposal, realize that buyers will evaluate you based on criteria such as relevant skills, performance rating, and completion rate. You will have an eye on the job, and the buyer’s eyes will also be on you!
How to present your bid
A successful bid proposal persuades the buyer to award the job to you. Although you have little to no control over whom the buyer chooses, you have complete control over how you write and present your bid.
So, if you’d like to present it right, here are the top 10 tips on how to write a competitive bid proposal:
Tip #1: Don’t bid on every project.
To bid or not to bid—that is the empirical question! Honestly, you don’t have to exhaust yourself by bidding on every single project. Did you know Freelancer.com has over 2,000 writing-related jobs on which to bid at any given time? Obviously, you can only bid on a small fraction of jobs. You can always expect more promising jobs to
come your way. If you’ve worked in a dynamic environment such as Freelancer.com or Elance.com, you’ll notice each time you log into your account, buyers across the world are posting new jobs.
Tip #2: Always read the project details beforehand.
In every writing assignment, the specs are important. Included in the project details, the buyer specifies exactly what the project includes and what he expects the freelancer to accomplish.
In assessing the buyer’s job description, ask the following questions: Do you qualify for the niche? Can you write on the
topic with expertise? If you say Yes! on both counts, include relevant samples or references along with your bid.
Tip #3: Avoid scripted bid proposals.
Scripted bid proposals sound too mechanical. The most INEXPERIENCED freelancers write hackneyed bid proposals. When your bid looks and sounds the same as all the other bids, you sound like you’re only interested in winning the project itself and not meeting your buyer’s standards and expectations.
Here is one more tip: Never just post a resume as a substitute for writing a competent, conversational bid proposal. Posting just a resume in reply to a job opening is a lazy (and foolish) way of showing you do not know how to address the buyer’s specific needs. Sure, you can post your resume as part of your portfolio or samples, but not as a way of addressing the buyer directly.
Tip #4: Don’t sound impersonal.
Since scripted proposals sound forced, they also come across as artificial. Impersonal in approach, they generally fail to impress or appeal to a client’s sense of
Tip #5: Avoid being too hasty in committing your time.
Although there’s a sense of urgency to bidding, you should never be too hasty. Never commit to a project unless you’re prepared to deliver. Since the element of time is a crucial factor, think ahead and plan your schedule in order to meet all your deadlines.
Tip #6: Try not to underbid your fellow writers.
It’s reasonable to place a bid higher or lower than the competition, but it’s
unreasonable to bid way too high or way too low. Put simply, the latter tilts the balance in your favor, more often than not at the expense of quality.
Instead, capitalize on your strengths and credentials. In the long run, this practice encourages healthy competition and preserves the reputation of freelance writers as professionals.
Tip #7: Do a check on your buyer’s history.
Busy as you are, it pays to do a little background check. (Who knows? The
buyer may be doing the same thing on you as a bidder!)
As a reference, read previous reviews and look for positive feedback. Find out the number and nature of similar jobs the buyer has successfully completed in partnership with writers.
Tip #8: Likewise, check out your competitor’s reputation.
To have a clearer profile on the probabilities (the success and failure rate) of the buyer awarding the project to you, check out who else is bidding. This keeps you on your toes as to pricing and performance.
Tip #9: Don’t forget to proofread your bid!
Haste makes waste, so don’t rush into prematurely posting your bid. As a final check, avoid misspelled names and typographical errors.
Tip #10: Avoid taking a rejection personally.
In advance, it helps to know that—try as you may—not every bid gets awarded to you. You win some; you lose some. Without lowering your expectations, prepare yourself for either an acceptance or a rejection. Either way, the bottom line is that you know you’ve prepared
and submitted a bid as best as you can.
What a buyer looks for in a bid
Place yourself in the buyer’s perspective. Why would you hire yourself for the
project? A competent buyer immediately looks for these tell-tale signs in your bid proposal:
1) The buyer wants you to address his needs and his project immediately in the first sentence. He wants to know that you have the experience to complete his project.
2) Next, the buyer wants to know what experience you bring to his project.
3) Thirdly, the buyer wants to know if you’ve worked on similar projects, and any positive results that you’ve achieved for other clients.
4) Finally, and important in most cases, what is your fee, and
how do you justify the amount you are bidding?
5) Nearly all buyers, who are interested in working with you, will check out your Profile page to evaluate: 1) the number of prior projects that you’ve worked on; 2) positive and negative feedback left by other buyers; 3) your project completion rate; 4) your skill-set; and 5) samples in your portfolio.
WHAT MAKES A BID PROPOSAL ENTICING?
As both a buyer and freelancer, I know what makes a bid proposal
1) Always address the buyer by name or username as a salutation.
2) Never write in ALL UPPERCASE.
3) Use proper English. Capitalize all sentences. Use correct punctuation. Write in complete sentences. (But you already knew this.)
4) Address the buyer’s needs. Tell the buyer you can get the results that he seeks.
5) If the buyer is paying you such and such amount, what does he get in return? Be specific!
PHRASES THAT SELL
1) “I can complete your project on time and within your budget.”
2) “I have worked
on similar projects to what you are looking for, and I am confident I can exceed your expectations.”
3) “I can achieve the results that you are asking for.”
4) “I have attached samples of work very similar to what you are seeking.”
5) “I would love to work on your project.”
6) ” I read through the job details extremely carefully and I am absolutely sure that I can do the project very well.”
7) “I am an experienced business writer and marketing expert. I can create an ________ and create the webcopy that will have an instant connect with
your end users.”
8) “I have a Bachelor of Communications and Media Studies, majoring in marketing. I have worked across all areas in copywriting.”
INCREASE YOUR RATIO OF SUCCESS
Remember: you may be competing with as many as 50 bidders for the same job. What is
your chance of actually winning the job with this many competitors? Narrow down your job search to what you would like to work on.
1) Bid on unique jobs.
2) Bid on jobs with a smaller amount of bids.
3) Bid on projects over the weekend. Most freelancers do not bid over the weekends. This is a chance to post a bid that the buyer will see first.
4) Narrow down jobs by deadline. Many freelancers do not bid on new projects with a short deadline because they are too busy.
5) Evaluate jobs with high bids. Perhaps, within reason, you can
post a lower bid without sacrificing quality and your reputation.
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