Top 10 tips to write effectively winning freelance bid [Infographic]

I started freelancing back in August of 2010. What accidentally started as a curiosity of finding out “what is freelancer.com” turned out to be a life-changing event for me. And off course, a full time business.

Over the course of years, I have made mistakes. In fact, mistakes after mistakes. Over the course of 5 years, I have learnt so much from my freelancing business that I can now safely negotiate and mold the terms and conditions and rates of any project the way I like, NOT the way clients want.

I charge premium rates, considering the fact that I didn’t become a blogger overnight. From making basic mistakes, I learn the mastery of placing the most effective bids ever on some of the biggest projects on freelance websites.

As time has progressed, freelancing has grown from a hobby to a full professional business and while there are a NUMBER of high paying clients hungry for quality freelance work, there are an equally alarming increasingly number of freelance workers hungry for money.

But in such a throat-cutting, competitive marketplace, where and how do you see yourself in the near future? How to stand out LOUD from the cloud and become a preferred freelancer that wins projects, even at premium rates?

It all boils down to one fact:

Writing the MOST effective bid.

The moment you do it, you have already earned the trust of client.

Over the course of my 5 years working as a professional full time freelancer, I share my secrets of the 10 most effective tips that you can use to write that perfect bid, which will make clients come to you over and over and over.

I also have an infographic at the end of this post that sums up the top 10 tips of making effectively winning freelance bids. Do check it out and feel free to share it.

Here is the list:

1. Read in between the lines of the project description and do not miss any details:

Think about it. You bid on a project without even reading it and place a random “Hi I can do it” type of text with an average price that many struggling freelancers are charging, you think you can win that project? With 99% guarantee you cannot!

Perhaps one of the reasons that has helped me in becoming a successfull freelancer is choosing the right words and reading the project description carefully. A number of freelancers make this mistake. They hardly go through the project description, read the project title and THINK that what THEY have in mind is what the CLIENT wants from them. In reality, that is not the case. If the project description states:

“I need 50 articles related to various niches of interior designing and I would shortlist freelancers that come up with some good titles”

You should actually conduct research and come up with great titles on this topic. Once done, send in a proposal that matches your client’s requirements, such as:

“Hey, this is (your name) and I have been freelancing for a number of years, (write your experience, etc.). I have compiled a list of some of the greatest and best titles that we can work upon for writing 50 articles related to interior designing. Moreover, since I have worked in the past on this niche, I can do this for you easily. Here are some interesting topics.”

That should be your response. Instead if you send in:

“I will do 50 articles at $$xxx. Please hire me”

trust me, you will never get the project.

Oh please! Are you begging to the client to win project? You are essentially making the same mistake what MANY freelancers do: “not distinguishing themselves.”

In a nutshell, your employer should have a feeling that you have read the project description and understood it to the fullest before placing your bids. Sometimes, employers may even ask a question to answer. For example:

“If you are interested in bidding, state diet7 at the beginning of your proposal.”

Now this is stated at the end of the project description. Once you use the code at the BEGINNING of your proposal, employer IMMEDIATELY knows you have read and understood the entire project details.

2. To the point bids:

You need to send in enough details about yourself and the way you should be handling the project if awarded, instead of either sending a LONG essay about yourself (obviously has NOTHING to do with the project) or a short “I can do it” text. Either won’t work. Be as short and as detailed as possible. Stick to the main points of the agenda, and always be to the point. Do not, under any circumstances, wade off the actual task: writing a custom effective bid.

3. State your terms clearly.

Unless the employer states it clearly, you are the one responsible to inform the client about deadline, cost, payment terms, project deliverables, etc. Many clients simply post a project and may never be intended in getting the work done. Instead, they are more interested in knowing the market response. Give them a response that makes it IMPOSSIBLE for them to ignore.

I always clearly state in my bids:

“As per the project requirements, I will charge $$XXX, to be delivered in 14 days with 100% milestone payment.”

4. The employer contacted you. Congratulations

Pat yourself on the back! You got a response from the client. From dozens of bids on a project, even getting a response means that client is interested in knowing more about YOU and how would YOU be able to COMPLETE the project. Getting a response means having 50% success already.

I am not sure how many of you are aware of the fact, that you CANNOT send a message (because you are not allowed to do so) to the client UNLESS your client initiates communication at the first place. Hence, be careful with your words and with the proposal. GO ahead and make the best possible proposal because once you click that dreadful “submit, place bid” button, you ARE NOT ALLOWED to send a message to any client.

This is put in place to avoid spamming. Once client initiates communication, do not let go off that client and get engaged with him/her. Give details about the project and influence him that you are the only best freelancer for this project. Tell him now is the time to get it done and from me. So get the project awarded and escrow payment created!

Now that you have gotten a response, GO AHEAD and make sure to reply as FAST as you can. Do not delay. Most SERIOUS employers award projects within the first 24 hours. Although this is not always the case, you should still be readily available and be quick in replying to the clients. I work at Freelancer.com and they have a dedicated iOS and Android App that you can install on your smartphone and get push notifications even if you are not on your desk.

5. Share your website/blog address, work details, past portfolio link

Whenever you submit a bid on any project, do not forget to include a link to recent work such as a Google Drive/Dropbox link. The best strategy is to invest in your own website, grow your blog by regularly posting it and then sharing its link with each project. Do note that taking a client AWAY from freelance marketplace is against the terms and conditions. Your intention of sharing your personal website details should be for the sole purpose of showing your work and real life samples, not to take the client away. Your own website/blog address uplifts your reputation and when clients visit your link, it gives them positive vibes and feelings about your professionalism.

6. Never provide any free samples with the bid

Many of the employers tend to be very professional and ask for a free sample work as part of the work to judge your quality amongst other freelancers. Do not, under any way, under any circcumstances, for any reason, whatsoever, provide sample work for free. DO not do it. You are killing yourself. I used to do it and never got a response back from these employers. Some employers may ask:

“In order to win this bid, freelancers bidding on this project provide a 500 word free sample on a topic of my choice to gauge your quality. I will not select freelancers without samples.”

Yes, I understand you need work. You may also be a new freelancer to the community. THat absolutely doesn;t mean you should start doing work for free. It isn’t justified anyway. These are fraudulent employers with fake projects posted and will go to any extent to get the work done for free. In your bid clearly state:

“I understand you need work sample, I cannot work for free under any circumstance. If you want a quality sample, you can hire me for a very small rate to test my skills.”

If the client still persists to get a free sample, simply report that client to the customer support service of Freelancer.com, UpWork.com, Peopleperhour, Fiverr, etc. and they will handle it. These employers tend to get different samples for free from many freelancers bidding on their project and eventually run away. There is no way you will get paid. Hence, BE CAREFUL!

7. Price wisely

You should price your bid wisely. First of all, look at the range of the project. At times, employers might:

  • not know the real budget of the project
  • want to see how you give them the quote and deadline

Most of the times, experienced clients ALWAYS have a great idea of the rates. Note that you are bidding in a market where there is no entry barrier. Anyone can create an account and bid any price. New freelancers tend to bid the lowest ever possible. This should not be the case. If you are a new freelancer, try to be in the average range of a project.

If you are a professional, worked your ass day in and day out for freelancing, you should charge above average pricing. Clients prefer quality work. SO you should clearly be able to justify your above-market price with the quality of your work.

For example, a 10,000 word ebook at Freelancer.com sells in the range of $50 to $500.

I always used to charge $1,00 as a NEW freelancer. Today, 5 years later, I charge no less than $350 for a 10,000 word ebook knowing the amount of time, effort and pain that goes in making a lovable book!

Recently I got awarded a project of about 75 pages, and even though I was NOT the most experienced freelancer bidding on the project, I managed to get it for a whopping $1600, for merely 23000 words. Now that is $20 per page, or roughly $6.8 per 100 words, which is more than double that I usually charge. Since this project required special knowledge of the banking industry and digital banking, I undertook the project and assured client that I have a team of banking experts with me ready to work for this project.

8. Do not oversell yourself

While self-confidence goes a long way in making you successful, over promising and over selling than what is required is definitely going to be detrimental for your success. You should clearly state and know what you are selling. Do not provide tall claims like:

“Money refunded if not satisfied, I will make unlimited revisions.”

Claims like these only add pain to your projects. Instead, be honest:

“I am ready to make up to 5 revisions until you are satisfied. Extra revisions come at $$xx per revision. Unless the project is failed solely because of my responsibility, whereby I would need a proof, there is no way to refund the milestone payment for this project.”

Now that sounds sensible.

9. Send a custom proposal

Sounds a DAUNTING task to do. While you may copy paste bids for small projects, do note that projects that are over $300 or even over $200 require careful proposals and planning. All projects that I send my proposal to, are made custom for that specific project. Apart from my own credentials and work porfolio, which i always have written in template format, I NEVER copy paste the bid from one project to the other. Instead, I spend ENOUGH time to make sure that I custom craft a bid!

One of the projects that I recently got awarded was to write a 15 page report on a property development feasibility plan. Now, the EXPERTS bidding on this project were in the range of $400 to $500. On the other hand, I convinced the client to do the best work by crafting a compellingly unique bid stating my expertise in this project. When the client responded me with his queries, I was able to get it awarded at nearly twice the price, i.e., $800!

Just because you think others are charging higher, face the competition and convince the client that you are charging the most but with 100% guarantee of the best quality ever.

10. The quicker you bid, the higher the chances of being awarded

Thousands of projects are posted on a DAILY basis through various freelance marketplaces. Only the most successful ones are always ahead in bidding as quickly as the project is posted.

While you are working 10+ hours a day on freelance marketplace, projects are going to be flooded on a daily basis. Filter out the most relevant ones and do not delay in sending a proposal. You do not want others to bid and win the project whereas you keep on watching what happened.

Hire a bidder if you cannot do it but do not spam the marketplace with copy-paste bids. Remember, quality has to be a vital ingredient to become a successful freelancer.

tips to Freelance bidding

Your thoughts?

Let me know what you think should be added to the list above. I would love to know my readers’ responses.

Yasir Saeed

A tech enthusiast, blogger and all things tech geek, I am Yasir Saeed from Pakistan, somewhere in my mid 20's. I write how-to-guides and other tech topics for you on my personal blog at yasirsaeed.com.

  • Muhammad Zubair

    Great work, Yasir, Impressing……Keep it up
    What you stated here are the most premium guidelines on freelancing I have ever seen. well done…

    • Yasir Saeed

      Thank you Zubair for appreciation. My aim is to have loyal readership by producing quality content. However, this was not possible by just writing so I thought I would go ahead and come up with more quality content by having in-depth articles. My readers appreciating me are my rewards! Thanks once again

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