As someone that's been on both side of the contract – both contractor and client, I think I have some pretty good insight on how to win bids in any industry, on any freelancing website. Here are some tips from the client side of the equation.
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1. Follow instructions!
This might seem simple, but a lot of people do not do this. I regularly see people who just use the exact same text for their bid on every single project, regardless of what the specifications of the project are, or what the employer is asking for. This is a sure-fire way not to get anywhere, because the first thing that employers look for is whether you were reading their instructions.
Hello Sir! I think I'm a great fit for this project because I have an interest in your project and can deliver on time, according to your specifications…
I always lay some kind of “trap” in my job posting to see who's paying attention. A simple version is that I ask for some kind of information, or say “include this phrase in your bid to confirm you read the whole project”. A more subtle version could be to include a sentence that just say, “Please let me know if you have any experience with topic XYZ”.
A quick glance at the bids showed that only around 25% percent of applicants actually follow the instruction. If you go to the effort of bidding on a job on one of these sites, you are wasting your time if you don’t follow the instructions of the employer, particularly as they are often simple.
2. Be Personable and Pick Projects Carefully
In a lottery, the more tickets you have, the better chance you have of winning, and many people think this concept applies directly to freelancer sites.
I don't think the same applies to landing a freelance client. If you are applying for a large number of jobs, you are probably not taking a long time to do so, and the quality of your applications is probably also decreasing.
This is a lose-lose situation, because you may be burning yourself out, and the projects you do win may end up being something you weren't too excited about. The end result is going to be less enthusiasm on your part for the job, and thus a lower quality product. Depending on who's hiring, you could also then be facing more criticisms, and receive a negative review and the end of all this despite the extra effort it took on your part just to get to the finish line.
A better approach is to pick projects carefully.
This also includes research on your part. Look at the clients history to see how much money they've spent on other projects and how many projects were completed successfully.
When you have found a project that you want to apply for, you need to be professional, but adding some personality to your application can make you stick out of the crowd.
Hey thanks breh I really wanna get dis job uknow? I need the money fast!
Not that kind of personal! I just mean you need to be honest, open, and friendly, while also making it clear that you fully understand and are prepared to do the task at hand.
3. Provide Proof and Samples of Work
Be prepared to back up any application you make with evidence about your skills. Keeping a document prepared with samples is a good idea, but sometimes you will need to write a new sample depending on what the employer is looking for. This is something that you have to consider on a case-by-case basis. You could potentially waste a lot of time writing free articles!
A short term job paying $30 per article would probably not be worth providing specific samples for a project. But a long term project promising $200 per week would be worth completing a custom tailored sample.
Personally, I think it's great when a freelancer has their own website with samples of their work. It shows professionalism and a commitment to their work. It also means I don't have to download any files to my computer to check samples. I can just see a live version of their logo, article, or other project.
This is something you can add to and update over time. Eventually, you could gain new clients from your website instead of from online bidding websites.
It's just one more point in your corner when competing with others bidding for the same job. Directing someone to a professional website or a custom piece of content for the job will help you stand out among the people just delivering a bunch of random .docx files with examples of previous work.
Bonus: Over Deliver
I have 10 writers on staff right now, one VA that I use from time to time, as well a coding guy that I hire when I need. I have used some of the same contract workers for more than 5 years now. Most writers I hire delivery articles on a weekly basis. After cycling through lots of contractors over the years, when I found someone that delivered excellent value for the price I paid, I kept contacting them over and over. The projects got bigger and longer, and now it's just part of the routine.
What started out as a $100 project turned into over $60,000 in earnings for my longest running writer.
Start looking at a ‘job' as a potential long term relationship. Even if you don't get regular work from this person, you may get first dibs next time a project comes around.
You may think, “Why should I overdeliver for a $20 article and make it worth two times the time I spend on it?”. That awesome article could turn into a 5-star review, which helps land your next client, and so on. I had a VA back in 2011 who cost me $5 per hour for work. I contacted her recently (2018), and she was now $20 per hour with hundreds of positive reviews. She can command that kind of payment because she has plenty of work and a flawless work history.
Building a business as a freelancer is the same as anything else. You have to start at the bottom, but the more you deliver excellent value (and over deliver regularly) the more opportunities will pop up.
Other Things To Consider
Ask A Question
As an employer, I have mixed feelings on this. On the one side, I see that a freelancer asking a question about a project shows interest and expertise. It shows that they are actually consider my project above other projects, and have taken the time to think about what might need to be done to complete it.
On the other hand, I can definitely detect when someone is asking a question just to ask a question. It's very transparent when someone asks me a dumb question, and I don't like the feeling of someone trying to manipulate me by feigning interest.
So try to make your question as genuine as possible if you do ask!
Another concept that I have conflicting views on is bidding higher than the minimum you value your work.
When I started hiring, I didn't have much to spend, so I just went with the cheapest of the cheap work. Now that I have some more experience in hiring, I'm tired of wasting my time with cheap freelancers doing crappy work,. I don't even consider the cheap guys working for $5/hour because I just don't want to deal with the headache of double checking for plagiarism, or someone not answering my emails for 3 days.
There's something just a little suspicious about bidding super low, unless you explicitly state in your introductory letter that this is a purposefully low bid to land the job and build up your ratings. Then, I may go for this “temporary discount”.
Where to Get Online Jobs For Writers
There are a lot of different places to find freelance jobs from, some I have tried personally and some I have not. The two sites I regularly recommend are Freelancer and Upwork.com. Those are the two that I have used in the past, although now I exclusively use Upwork.
For writers, there are tons of content farms you can try to join like iWriter, but they do not involve a bidding process, and can actually pay very little for the research and writing that you do. Fiverr.com is a great way to build a portfolio or meet clients that you can then work with on your own terms (as long as Fiverr doesn't find out!). Here's a giant list of places I found, though I haven't vetted any of them, so please do your homework on these:
- clear voice
- writer town
- Writer Access
- The Dollar Stretcher
- Freelance Careers
- Content Runner
- GetA Copywriter
- Tomoson Reviews
- Talent Inc
- Constant Content
- Content Mart
- avanti press
- BKA content
- blue mountains arts
- boost CTR
- cloud crowd
- custom pappers
- cloud crowd
- content divas
- content runner
- crowd content
- developer tutorial
- demand studios
- hire writers
- green light articles
- online writing jobs
- pure content
- zen content
- words of worth
- writers domain
Creating a LinkedIn Profile
Another thing you may want to consider is beefing up your LinkedIn profile. This can serve as a great resource for when you are bidding on jobs. If you have a professional looking, well written, and impressive LinkedIn profile, it can definitely reflect positively on you as a business person and not just some person trying to earn cash on the weekends.
A Better Way To Make Money Online?
I know a lot of you guys are writers, and some of you are VAs. If you are bidding on projects and winning, it means that you are good at what you do. So why work for someone else when you could be working for yourself?
Especially for the writers, creating a WordPress website and monetizing it with affiliate marketing is a great way earn money working for yourself. This is what I do now. I no longer write for other people. I write for myself, and benefit 100% from my work.
The downside is that the results are not instant and not always consistent. In contrast, as a writer, if you win a bid, you get paid when it's done. It doesn't matter if it ranks or converts to sales because you get paid by the word. You know (pretty much) what you are going to make at the end of the month.
Building an affiliate site sometimes requires months of work with no payout simply because it takes time to rank and tweak content so that it converts.
But when you hit that ‘zone' of profitability, you'll never want to write for anyone else ever again. I know this might be a bit of a new concept for some folks, so I created a free 5 day email course on affiliate marketing to introduce you guys to the concept. Check out the course, ask me some questions (I'm available via email) and I think you'll be surprised at what you can accomplish in the world of affiliate marketing with just a keyboard and a bit of training.
So, how are your bids going so far? What's your winning strategy, or what type of bids are beating you?
As a writer, you have an in-demand talent that can be used to earn you TONS of money online. You can earn money freelance writing, for sure, but it's still just trading dollars for hours. Personally, I recommend starting your own website! Information is the currency of the internet, so why not leverage your talents to build yourself a serious online income! Learn how to create your own blog-style website and make money through advertising.