One of the disadvantages of working as a freelancer is that it involves a lot of legwork. In order to bring in a steady income, you need to find your own clients and projects to work on. If you have only just started looking for freelance work, you might struggle to land the job you’re after.
The trick is to write a winning bid proposal. If you’re not sure how to write a bid proposal, then you’ve come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the entire bidding process, so you can land the job you really want and start to earn money online, today.
What's on this page?
- 1 What is a bid proposal?
- 2 Steps to writing a winning bid proposal
- 3 Advice from a buyer
What is a bid proposal?
When you apply for freelance work through websites such as ODesk, UpWork or FreelancerCircle, you will be asked to submit a bid and a proposal. It’s not just about stating your work history and educational background like you would in your CV, but it should also include information regarding your qualifications. This can include information such as skills, past projects, experience and results.
Bid proposals tend to be rather competitive, which is why it’s important that yours stands out from the crowd. Remember, you will often be competing with candidates from around the world, so it’s likely that there are others who are equally qualified to do the job. Your job is to convince the buyer that you are the perfect candidate for the job.
Steps to writing a winning bid proposal
While there is no one template that will work for every employer, there are general steps you can take that will help you to create a good bid proposal. The next time you sit down to write your bid proposal, make sure you follow the steps below to improve your chances of landing the job.
Read the description
This may sound obvious, but you would be surprised at how many people skip this step. Just like when applying for a full-time job, you don’t want to just quickly apply for every job out there. It may seem like doing this will increase your chances of landing a job, but more than likely the bid proposal you end up using simply won’t attract the right attention.
In order to create a good proposal, you need to read the project description carefully. This information is vital for when you start constructing your bid proposal. You need to show the employer that you understand the project, and the only way to do that is to read the description in full, no matter how many times you have done this.
Carefully choose your jobs
It’s tempting to apply for anything that sounds even vaguely like a job you could do, but as I said before, don’t just apply for everything. There are plenty of jobs to go after, so you want to take the time to pick a job that is suited to your skills and experience and actually worth your time and effort.
You can take a look at the buyers history to get a good idea of how they work with freelancers or if this is their first time hiring. Check out their website if they have one to get a good idea of their target audience. It might also help to give you an idea of how formal you need to be with your proposal – it’s best to tailor your proposal to their tone. You can even use this information later to really personalise your proposal.
It shouldn’t be all about the buyer, you need to take your own needs into consideration. Take into account everything from the project length, to the skills that are required and the deadline you will be faced with. This is another reason why reading the full description is so important, you don’t want to commit to anything you won’t be able to deliver. Remember, your reputation is at hand, which is the key to landing more jobs in future.
Be clear and concise
As previously stated, bid proposals are very competitive. Employers are likely to get dozens if not hundreds of bids for their project. The last thing they want is to have to read unnecessarily long proposals. In fact, with so many others to choose from, these will likely be skipped altogether.
When writing out your bid, be concise and to the point. Avoid stuffing in too much information and just stick to the essentials. The following things should be included in every proposal:
- A reference to the job and employer
- A clear statement of your price and timeline
- Your relevant skills and experience for the job
- Samples of your work
Personalise your proposal
It’s ok to use a template, but the important part is that you personalise it and tailor it to each particular project. The last thing you want to do is send out a generic proposal that starts off with the words “Dear Sir”. Not only will a scripted proposal make you appear mechanical and impersonal, but it will also make you look inexperienced.
You don’t want to sound like every other bid out there – you want to stand out and show why you are the right person for the job. You want to demonstrate that you have an actual interest in the job and that you can pay attention to detail. Address the buyer and their needs directly.
Provide samples of your work
Always try to submit a sample of your work along with your proposal. These can either be uploaded alongside your bid, or you can simply provide a link out to them. The best thing to do is to provide samples that are actually relevant to the project you are applying to. In this case, quality is more important than quantity, so just submit the samples that best reflect your relevant skills and expertise for the job at hand.
Provide a prompt response
After sending out your bid, try and make yourself available to respond to any messages you may receive from employers. You should aim to respond to private messages as quickly as possible since most employers will hire someone within the first 24 hours of posting their project. If the platform offers a mobile app, it’s worth downloading to have access to your jobs on the go.
Don’t just offer the lowest bid
While it may be tempting to just offer the lowest bid in order to land the job, this won’t necessarily work. Competition is tough, but employers are willing to pay the right price for high-quality work. If your bid is too low, you might not get the job since employers will assume that the price reflects the quality of work you will deliver.
That being said, you don’t want to go too high either. This is particularly the case if you are just starting out and still need to build up your reputation. Try and offer an average bid for this type of work and if your work is really above average, you can always charge above the standard price once your reputation is in place.
Proofread your work
You may be in a rush to place your bid, but one of the most important steps is to proofread your bid proposal before you send it off. Your proposal should be clearly written, concise and devoid of errors such as spelling mistakes.
A poorly written proposal littered with mistakes won’t impress anyone. In fact, it will give off the impression that you have poor work habits and can easily make careless mistakes. This is your chance to show yourself off, so take the time to make sure your proposal is the best it can be.
If you really want to stand out from all the other standard bid proposals, you should try adding a short video of yourself explaining exactly why you’re the right person for the job. Sure, it may take a little extra time, but all you need to do is say out loud what you would normally write. Not only will this stand out from your standard bid proposal, but it will also show employers just how keen you are to land the job.
Employers are looking for someone who’s going to get the job done right. They want someone who is happy to go the extra mile to deliver. Why not go the extra mile with your bid proposal to show them exactly what you are capable of? You don’t have to do this for every job, but if it’s something you really want and feel it’s worth the effort, then you might as well give it a go. It’s sure to stand out from the many template, copy/paste proposals they would have received.
Advice from a buyer
If you want to win over those doing the hiring, it’s best to tailor your proposal to their standards. If you want to find out how to write a bid proposal that’s going to win over the employers, then why not find out exactly what it is that employers are looking for. It helps to hear it from someone who is used to seeing lots and lots of proposals. They know from their experience which types of proposals impress and which ones are headed straight for the bin.
The following tips came from a web development consultant who hires freelancers through these types of freelance sites. This advice is useful for anyone using these sites and shows just how important it is to take your time and personalise each proposal.
I am hiring freelancers on oDesk, eLance – most bids I am getting are quick copy-paste variations of their bio/profile. Those are almost always trashed right away. So, take time and personalize proposal a bit. Show buyer why you are the best bet – send example of project which is as close to posted job as possible, so buyer can see that you done similar things before. If no project to show – describe your experience in that area, again, try to stay relevant.
Don’t post long proposal – that’s usually boring to read. Get to the point.
Don’t try to be the cheapest bid – that looks bad. Say, if average bid is $1000 and I know it’s fair price, then anyone who is offering to do same job for $200 will be not taken seriously because I know from experience that quality will suffer as well. Being the highest bidder is likely not the best spot either unless your proposal is very convincing.
Try to respond fast – it’s hard to pay same attention to all applicants when you getting 50 proposals. If you can not post a bid, ask question about project, make sure it’s relevant – that shows understanding and effort, plus gives you extra chance to make a good impression and stand out.
Don’t try to contact buyers outside of the marketplace – that’s really annoying (at least for me)
Many of the points Andrei makes are exactly what we have covered in this guide. It’s all about taking that time to read the job description, personalise your bid, demonstrate good samples of your work and get straight to the point. Remember, once you’ve sent off your proposal, it will land in front of the employer. They are the ones who will decide whether or not to accept your bid. Before you send it off, take a look at it and consider if you would be happy to accept it. If not, you might need to do a bit more work on it.
The main thing you should take away from all this advice is that personalisation is key. That means reading the description in full and tailoring your proposal for the specific employer and their project. Every part of your bid, from the proposal itself to the tone it is written in and the sample work you provide, needs to be tailored to the job. That’s what will ultimately help to convince the employer that you are the right person for the job.
Do you have any tips for freelancers writing a bid proposal? If so, feel free to share them in the comments below to help fellow readers.