05 Nov 2015 | By James
Don’t use the same proposal for every job – Your life would definitely be a much easier if you could use the same proposal for each freelance position you bid on. But, the fact is, you can’t. Furthermore, if you were to use the same cookie-cutter proposal for every job, it is likely that the contractor would pass it by. Your proposal is your first chance to prove to a contractor that you are attentive and pay attention to detail. You can’t really do that if you send the same proposal each time. A scripted or template bid just tends to sound mechanical. A proposal should address the buyer, and his or her needs, very directly. If the job posting includes the buyer’s personal name and/or company name, include this in your proposal. Using the same proposal for every job is a rookie mistake because it causes a proposal to sound too artificial and impersonal. Remember that this proposal is going to be the contractor’s first impression of you. Don’t make the mistake of just sending out your resume instead of a written proposal. A resume may showcase your experience, but it does not address the job specifications, your price, or your timeline.
Don’t bid on every job for which you are qualified – Freelancing Websites like Elance, Freelancer, Odesk, Guru and others is a global marketplace, meaning that you will find many different opportunities, posted by contractors from all over the world. It can be tempting to go whole-hog and submit a proposal for every job you think you’re qualified for. If two proposals are good, then ten are better, right? Not really. Because you need to put time and effort into each proposal, you can burn yourself out if you place too many bids. And you don’t want to exhaust yourself on part of your job that is unpaid, do you? Instead of bidding on every job for which you are qualified, take the time to consider which jobs best fit your ideal criteria. For example, you will find some contractors looking for a long-term commitment and relationship, and others looking to have just one job completed in a short time frame. Are you looking for long-term work, or a quick, one-time job? Sometimes, jobs with very short deadlines are overlooked by freelancers, so if you have the availability, narrow down jobs by the deadline, and bid on ones with a short deadline first.
Make sure to read all the details of the job posting – In every single freelance job, regardless of whether it is for copy writing, photography, graphic design or any other field, the specifications of the job are critically important. Read every posting very carefully to make sure you are qualified in every way before you write your job proposal. A contractor may specify that proficiency with a certain type of software is required, and you are wasting your time, as well as the contractor’s if you place a bid for a job when you don’t actually know how to use the required tools. Also pay attention to critical elements such as the required timeline or deadline, as well as whether the contractor will require you to communicate using a specific resource, such as Skype, Google Docs or Zoho. Regardless of the specifications of the job, there are a few things that you should include in every single one of your job proposals. These include: Refer to the job, individual contractor and/or company by name. Clearly, state your price along with your timeline. For example, “I will write ____ number of articles about ____ topic for ____, finished by ____date.” Provide the link to the work or resources where the client can see samples of your work.
Ask a question first – If you’re wondering how to write a bid proposal because there’s a detail that the contractor left out, don’t be afraid to ask him or her a question in your job proposal. Doing so can help to open up a dialogue between yourself and the contractor, as well as help you to make a good impression because it will show your attention to detail. Make sure to follow up your question with a statement about how you are looking forward to receiving the job contractor’s response. A winning bid proposal is all about understanding the client’s specific project goals and requirements, so if/when the prospective client answers your question, take note. Don’t make him or she repeat this information later when you’re awarded the job. In any “physical” contracted job, such as a home remodel, the contractor would visit the job site first before purchasing any supplies, and would also take into consideration applicable local, state and federal laws before beginning the project. As a freelancer, you will (most often) not be able to visit the site of your job or meet face-to-face with your client. So do this research in a virtual sense. Ask questions and gather all the information you need before you give a final timeline and price quote. Even Donald Trump agrees that it is a good idea to send questions for clarification because this is an effective way to get to know the person who will be reading your bid proposal.
Use key attention-grabbing phrases – Regardless of what the job is, there are a few things that every prospective client will be looking for. Every client wants his or her job to be completed within the specified time parameter and budget by someone who is an expert in their field. Even if you’re a freelance writer, it is best to steer clear of long, flowery phrases in your proposal. Instead, stick to short, memorable and to-the-point statements. The prospective client may have many proposals to read, so be direct. Use the first person “you,” as opposed to using third person “one.”
Check out the history and website of the buyer – Before you place a bid, check out the buyer’s history on Freelancing sites like Odesk, Elance, Guru, Freelancer and others. This can give you a good feel for how he or she works with freelancers, or whether he or she is hiring a freelancer for the first time. Also, take a few minutes to check out the buyer’s website. This can give you a feel for the business’s target audience. You can even take a cue from the business website in terms of how formal or informal you want to be with your proposal. If the business website reflects a very casual and fun tone, the prospective client may be attracted to a proposal written in a similar tone. Checking out the buyer’s profile and website can also allow you to find a common ground between yourself and the buyer. For example, “Like you, I am located in Newyork,” or, “I see that your company’s mission statement is in line with my own business values.”
Follow proper email etiquette – You’ve probably heard that WRITING IN ALL CAPS LIKE THIS IN AN EMAIL CONVEYS YELLING. So don’t do it! Make sure to use proper English, including using uppercase letters correctly, as well as punctuation. Always include a nice salutation and closing. Be polite and straightforward. Avoid giving too many personal details about your schedule or your conflicts; remember that the prospective client may have many bid proposals to read. Avoid overly informal lingo, such as abbreviations and emoticons.
Choose a fair price – You have a lot to consider when writing a bid proposal, but one of the biggest mistakes you can make is forgetting about, or brushing over, the financial aspects. After all, the primary goal of your proposal, in the end, is to gain money! Make sure to clarify whether your price is per project, per hour, or based on some other element or aspect of the job. When considering a price, it’s perfectly acceptable to look at what the current lowest bid is and consider whether you could complete the job for less. This may give you an advantage in the tendering process. However, it's, important not to try to severely undercut your fellow freelancers. Plus, if you always bid less than what you feel is your worth, you will burn yourself out. So make sure to choose a fair price. In addition to paying for your overhead and supplies, remember that you also need to pay yourself a salary from each one of your projects.
Provide samples of your work – The old saying says, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and this applies to both personal and professional situations. It is good to tell the buyer about a great job you’ve done; it is better to show him or her. Make sure to include a link to your online portfolio, or attach samples of your work. All freelancers should have a well-maintained and frequently updated website and/or blog, so this is a very appropriate time to put these resources to good use. If you’re a startup freelancer and don’t have any job history to show off, consider completing a job mock-up or sample. Or, complete a pro bono job for a local friend or charity.
Don’t take rejection personally – Like we discussed in #2, Freelancing Websites like Elance, Freelancer, Odesk, Guru and others is a global marketplace. This means that for every job proposal you write, you may have a pretty decent amount of competition. If you take the time to craft a really amazing bid proposal, but never hear back from the buyer, don’t be discouraged. Even the most experienced freelancers will admit that you must write several bid proposals for every one job you receive; that is the nature of working in a competitive market. Don’t take rejection personally, just roll up your sleeves and keep bidding. With each bid proposal you write, the process will become a bit more streamlined, and become a little bit easier. You may need to place several bids for every one job you receive, but as time moves on and you gain more experience, the gap between the number of bids you place and the number of jobs you receive will soon lessen.