How to write a winning bid

It can be hard to stand out from the crowd, but follow these tips to write an attention-grabbing bid
Feb 6, 2020 • 14 minute read
Adam Smith @HomebrandAdam
Technical Co-pilot
Cover photo for How to write a winning bid

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These tips and tools will help your bid rise above the crowd

Maybe you're new to the Freelancer platform. Maybe you've been at it for awhile but have yet to be awarded that elusive first project. Odds are it's not your skillset that's lacking.

There's an artform to writing an attention-grabbing bid that makes you stand apart from the crowd and puts your considerable skills front and center. We're going to teach you how to do it.

What details does a good bid include?

There are a few details you can include to give your bid the best chance of success. We'll look at some well-written bids as an example.

Let's assume someone has posted this project proposal: “I will send you a set of lecture slides and notes and you will need to summarize and make them into concise notes.” Here's a bid with a high chance of success:

So what makes this a good bid? Let's look closer.

Personalized response

Note how the bidder addressed the employer by name. Right away, this sends a signal to the employer that you've actually read the project posting and aren't just blanketing every project with a copy-paste response. Moreover, as simple as using someone's name seems, it forms a human connection.

Information about the project

Include details from the original project listing to show you've read it thoroughly. Remember that this project is very important to the person who posted it. They wouldn't have taken the time to seek out a freelancer otherwise. Including details about the project in your bid shows employers that their project is important to you as well.

Here is an example of two different bids for the same project. Can you guess which one was the winning bid?

how to write a winning bid on freelancer.comhow to write a winning bid on freelancer.com

If you chose Bid A you're right. 

This freelancer demonstrated that they read the project brief by mentioning the requiremnts in their bid, they even used the employers name which makes a huge impact!

Bid B, on the other hand, didn't use the employers name, didn't align their skills with the project requirements and didn't specify why they are the best for the job.

Would you hire that freelancer? Of course not!

Here is a nice summary to ensure your personalized bids are as effective as possible.

How to write a winning bid on freelancer.com

How your skills are relevant to the project

Be specific about how your skill set lends itself to the project. Mention previous similar projects you've worked on and what you've been able to deliver. If you're hired to produce a logo for a company, it's not enough simply to say you know how to use Photoshop and Illustrator. Talk about your previous experience designing logos, and some of the companies you've designed them for.

The deadline you can commit to

Give the employer an idea of the timeframe you can finish the project in. While some projects may not be as time sensitive, it's still wise to address how quickly you can deliver. This shows the employer that you're prioritizing their project. The caveat here? Don't overcommit. Only commit to deadlines on which you can realistically deliver.

For extra points, specify how long it will take you to complete the project.

For example:

"...I can get this done in 48 hours"

A link to past work

If you've done similar work before make sure to upload it to your portfolio and provide the employer with a link. The best way they have to gauge your abilities is to see what you've actually delivered in the past.

Some questions about the project

Try to ask one or two questions specific to the project. This serves two purposes. First, it shows the employer you've thoroughly read the project description. Second, it increases your chances of receiving a reply. Leave your question open-ended so you can start a dialogue with the employer.

Just make sure you ask relevant questions, and not questions you know the answer to. An employer will not select you if you ask questions that could be answered by reading the project brief.

Correct spelling and grammar

This is a big one. Bids with poor spelling and grammar immediately appear spammy, even if they address the project requirements. If you're uncertain about your spelling and grammar, have someone you trust proofread your bid before you post it.

Here's another example of a good bid. This bid was for a project where the project poster was looking to develop a sudoku app.

Be empathetic

If you can demonstrate that you sympathise with an employer's frustration they will most likely award your bid.

This tactic combines two different bid stratergies together - empathy + proof you've read the project description.

Let's take a look at this in action, here is an example project description:

“I have scanned a book (about 800 pages) and I have separated the chapters in PDF format. The problem is that the half pages are upside down. I want someone who is an expert in handling PDF files and has the ability to make all the pages appear normally. I have attached a small chapter as a sample. If you think you can make the pages appear normally, try this and contact me for details. Please write in your bid the words PDF EXPERT”

And here is an example of a great bid by a freelancer who sympathises with the employer's pain:

Hi John! I'm a PDF expert, with over 3 years experience dealing with PDF, I can help fix your scans. I've previously worked on the exact same project for another employer {link to my positive review from the previous employer}. When do you need this finished by? I understand how annoying it is, and can get this fixed for you quickly! Please see the sample I fixed and I look forward to working on this project with you. 

Look at all of the wonderful things this freelancer did:

1) They used the employer's name

2) They identfied the expertise they have and how it relates to the project

3) They sympathized "...I understand how annoying it is..."

4) They asked a relevant question

5) They referenced their sample work 

I have a sudoku android app source code that i made before. It is developed by Java in Android Studio. Happy to discuss how my previous project aligns with yours. 

Thanks.

Note that the freelancer directly addressed the project requirements and gave an example of relevant experience. They even discussed how the skills they would use to complete the project (Java coding in Android Studio). This also shows that good bids don't have to be wordy.

What makes a bid look spammy?

Trust us. We see a lot of project bids. And there are a few common elements to bids that don't get selected. If you can avoid some of these all-too-familiar faux pas, your bid will rise above the noise.

Let's look at some examples of spammy looking bids and dissect what makes them subpar:

Example 1:

Example 2:

I read job description and I can do your project. I can even work on urgent basis and complete your project soon..contact me for more information

Example 3:

"Hi, Hope you are doing well! Thanks for sharing your project requirement with us. It will be our great pleasure to work on your project. I have checked your requirement, yes we can do it, because we already work on similar requirement in past. We have right skills to work on this assignment. We will complete the work as per requirement

Bad bids are cut and paste

This is the cardinal sin in bidding. Don't just cut and paste a response and recycle it for every project you bid on. It looks spammy and it sends a message to the employer that you didn't care enough about their project to write an original bid.

In the examples above, it's obvious from a glance that the bids are generic. They don't mention any project details or how the freelancers' skills apply. Copy-paste bids like these are an immediate turn-off for employers.

As a rule of thumb, never reuse any of your previous bids. Always write a fresh personalized one from scratch.

Here is another example of a terrible generic bid:

Dear Sir - I am the best freelancer for your job. Choose me and I will deliver immediately.

Bad bids are overly formal

Note the, "Dear sir/madam," in the first example above. Being professional and respectful is important, but being overly formal comes across as stiff and impersonal. It also repeats the first mistake of bidding, which is making your bid appear cut and pasted.

Bad bids are self-focused

Read through the first example above again and note how many times the bidder mentions himself versus how many times he actually addresses the project posting. There's no reference to the project itself, only to the bidder.

Bad bids are overly general

When they post a project, employers want to know that they can find a freelancer with specific skills relevant to the task. They want to see experience with projects similar to theirs.

Note how the examples above have none of that. The first bidder mentions, "Relevant Skills and Experience," but doesn't go into detail about what those skills are. There's no mention of previous projects, no mention of the current proposal, no mention of deadlines and no mention of how the task will be completed.

Bad bids come from unprofessional looking profiles

Profiles without actual photos (cartoon characters don't count) immediately look less professional. Take the time to upload a quality photo of yourself. It helps potential employers form a connection to you.

In addition to a photo, you project more trustworthiness if you take the time to verify your email and phone number, connect your Facebook and verify your payment method. This shows potential employers that there's an actual person behind the profile. 

How do I win a bid?

It's likely your bid will be one of many. You've written your bid carefully and set yourself up for success. There are a few final steps that can help get your bid across the line.

Read the project description carefully

We know it seems like we're repeating ourselves, but that's how important this step is. Once you've written your bid, re-read the project description to make sure there's nothing you've missed. Make sure you've specifically addressed the project and that you fully understand the details.

Proofread your bid

We can't stress this point enough. Spelling, punctuation and grammar errors make your bid look unprofessional and spammy. Re-read your bid to make sure you haven't made any typos. Use your computer's spelling and grammar check features, but don't rely on them entirely. If you're not confident in your spelling and grammar skills, have someone you trust read over it for you before you submit it.

Bid competitively

Make sure your bid doesn't price you out of contention. Pay attention to the budget specified in the proposal and tailor your bid accordingly. This doesn't mean you have to be the cheapest, or even that you're bound to the proposed budget. It does mean that you have to value your skills and time competitively.

Be clear about your terms

Be straightforward about what you can deliver and when you can deliver it. As we said before, you need to be specific about the amount of work you can deliver and the deadline you can meet. Don't over-promise. Employers can see through unrealistic promises, and even if you're awarded the project you risk a bad review if you don't come through for the employer.

Consider low value projects

You can gain some traction by writing quality bids for lower value projects that can be quickly completed. Some projects require you to have five reviews before bidding. A great bid on a lower value project can help you build momentum and pay big dividends in the long run.

What should I do after I’ve placed my bid?

Congratulations! You've placed a high-quality bid on a project. Now it's in the employer's hands. But that doesn't mean your task has ended. There are a few steps you can take to turn a successful bid into a successful project, and ensure yourself more work in the future.

Follow up

If you don't hear from the employer right away, don't worry. It's likely they're being inundated with bids. If the project is still open, don't be afraid to reach out with a direct message. While you don't want to come across as overbearing, a polite direct message can keep you top of mind.

Reply promptly

If the employer does award you the project, make sure to reply as quickly as possible. You want to set a precedent that you're easily contactable and good at communicating. Ask a few more questions to make sure you fully understand the project, and keep in contact to update the employer on your progress. You might even think about using the "Suggest a Milestone" feature to set 3–5 milestones throughout the project with clear goals.

Protect your work

Make sure any samples of work you provide to potential employers include a watermark or other identifying feature.

Exceed expectations

The best strategy for winning more bids is to do excellent work. If you over-deliver for an employer, they're more likely to leave you a positive review and to hire you again for future projects. Your reviews and ratings serve as a powerful signal to future employers. Winning your first bid is a major milestone, but it's the work you deliver that will set you up for success.

To help you futher understand why it's so important to follow the above guidelines, let's take a look at how our ranking and matching algorythms work on our platform.

Freelancer.com bid ranking guide

Employers only see 8 bids per page. As a freelancer, you absolutely want your bid to appear on the first page. 

Many of our freelancers are also directly hired by employers. Employers discover freelancers from our Directory or Search.

Your chances of being awarded increase significantly with your rank. If you rank among the top few on a project, your chances of being awarded is far greater than freelancers who don’t.

Ranking Factors

Our  ranking algorithm rewards consistent delivery of  high quality work.  There are 4 factors that determine your rank in our algorithm:

(i) Reviews and Feedback

(ii) Use of Milestone Payments

(iii) Responsiveness

(iv) Quality of your profile

Reviews and Feedback

Employers rate freelancers across five categories. These five categories are Quality, Communication, Expertise, Professionalism and Hire Again. Additionally freelancers receive an 'On Time' and 'On Budget' rating. It is critical to get a positive rating across all categories. A “No” or a “Negative” rating on any parameter can severely hurt your rank.

how freelancer.com ranking algorithm works

This is how we use reviews and feedback in our ranking algorithm:

  1. Recency of Employer Feedback: Recent reviews are exponentially more important than old reviews. This is a crucial aspect of our ranking algorithm.  A recent glorious review can earn you a massive lift in our rankings.  A recent rating that is negative on even one parameter can set your progress back by weeks.  This implies that a recent 4 star review can potentially hurt your ranking.

  2. Number of Reviews: The more successful reviews you receive, the higher your score. Our system rewards experience.

  3. Size of past projects: The amount you have earned per project, while earning a positive rating,  is taken into account.  This system is nonlinear. Thus, a small increase in your average earnings can earn you a disproportionately higher lift in your score.

  4. Quality of Reviewer: Reviews by more experienced employers are given more importance.  

Milestone Payments

Working with the Milestone Payment System is the easiest way to improve your ranking across our platforms.

Here are all the Milestone Payment-related components in the scoring system that have a positive impact on your score:

  1. Amount: The total value of all Milestone Payments that have ever been released to you. The more you earn using Milestone Payments, the higher your ranking.  

  2. Frequency: Working more often with Milestone Payments improves your ranking significantly. Thus, the greater the number of projects where Milestone Payments are released to you per week, the higher your ranking.

For Hourly Projects, the following factors can improve your ranking:

  1. Total Paid Tracked Hours: The total number of hours that you have tracked using the Freelancer Desktop app, which have been paid.

  2. Paid Tracked  hours per project: Average number of hours tracked per project, which have been paid.

Not all factors improve your score. Some factors hurt your ranking as well. Early Milestone Payment releases combined with employer complaints can severely hurt your ranking - i.e.  if you have requested release of Milestone Payments before work was completed, and the employer reports such behavior to us.

Chat and Responsiveness

Being responsive and working  efficiently with our chat system is critical to your rank. Here are the factors that we look at:

  1. Accept Rate: Having a high accept rate is one of the easiest ways to boost your rank. Repeatedly rejecting projects after bidding can lead to incremental penalties.

  2. ResponsivenessThe faster you respond once an employer sends you a message, the higher your ranking.

  3. Spamming employers: Repeatedly sending unnecessary messages to employers to solicit work when there is no active project between you and the employer can attract a penalty.

  4. Offsiting: Attempts to take communication offsite to other messaging services can attract a massive penalty. We randomly screen messages for blacklisted terms. If caught, you can even attract a permanent ban from the platform.

Your Profile

  1. Exams: The number of exams you have written and your performance in exams can significantly boost your ranking. Exams are particularly useful for freelancers who are new and do not have a lot of experience and reviews

  2. Profile Marks: We mark your profiles based on their quality. Maintaining a good profile is extremely important for your ranking.

For New Freelancers

We understand that many of the factors above require consistent good performance on our platform, over a long period.

However, a significant proportion of projects are awarded to new freelancers everyday. It has never been easier to find work online, and at Freelancer.com we are committed to make it easy for anyone to freelance online.

Here is what we suggest for our new freelancers:

  1. Bid Early: Can’t get to the top? Bid before the others do. Early bidders consistently win more projects since it increases their chances of interacting with the employer.

  2. Proposals: When you place your bid, make sure you write a good proposal. Our analysis clearly suggests that copy-pasting generic proposals reduces your chance of being awarded. Proposals that are relevant to the project description are orders of magnitude more likely to be awarded.

  3. Sponsor Your Bid: Found a good project? Sponsor your bid! Sponsoring your bid ensures that you are on the top of the list and have a very high chance of interacting with the employer.

  4. Membership: Being on one of our membership plans gives you access to more projects. Members are eligible to bid on projects that have a higher likelihood of being awarded.

  5. Exams: Our scoring algorithm incorporates your scores in our exams. Completing exams is the easiest way to give your score that small boost that is needed to improve your rank.

Final thoughts

It's absolutely possibly to be a wildly succesful freelancer. We hear stories all the time of freelancers that have achieved an impressive income stream on our platform.

Follow the tips in this guide to ensure to get your bids get noticed and rewarded, over and over again.

 

 

 

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