Need a job? How to win projects on freelance marketplaces

The competition is fierce on freelance marketplaces like Freelancer, Elance, Guru and Upwork (formerly oDesk), with countless bidders and a limited number of service buyers.

Excellent resources for freelance professionals looking for jobs, these communities offer the opportunity to place bids for free on a wide array of creative projects posted by clients from all around the world, ranging from web development to writing and translation, from data entry to sales and marketing.

However, in this dog-eat-dog scenario winning a bid may not be easy, even if you have lots of experience in your field.

Winning a bid on a freelance marketplace requires competence and perseverance. Here are 10 tips that may come in handy and increase your chance of winning projects.

1. Read the job post thoroughly

Read the freelance project description carefully and make sure you really comprehend what you are getting into once you are chosen. Always take time to go through the job post thoroughly. Make sure you answer any questions potential employers may pose in their project descriptions.

Before applying for a job, it is advisable to have a look at the employers’ profile to make sure they have a good enough credibility. Follow the instructions and do not contact service buyers outside of the communities.

2. Craft a compelling bid

Tailor your bid to the specific needs of the potential employer. You have the best chances of being chosen if you respond directly to what the employer is asking for. Winning a project without knowing exactly what you will be expected to do is not a good situation for both you and the client.

Be original and on-message. Refer to details in your bid, so the employer can see that you are aware of the specifics of the project. Making a good impression is key. Remember, you are selling yourself and your skills.

If you have questions, clarify. Show that you are really interested in the freelance project. Right after placing a bid, start a conversation with the buyer in the private message box.

3. Don’t copy and paste your proposals

Write each proposal from scratch, every time. Don’t be lazy and use standard proposals and pre-prepared private messages for different kinds of projects. This might give the impression that you are bidding for the sake of it. Optimize your proposal to suit the requirements of each project you are applying for, personalize it a bit and adapt the details so they are relevant.

4. Write a you-focused cover letter

Explain how you can contribute to the project. Explain how your capabilities can be of any benefit to the client, not only how they have helped you succeed in previous jobs. Write a convincing you-focused cover letter. It will be more likely to be read thoroughly than an I-focused one, exclusively praising yourself and your own abilities.

5. Proofread your bid before hitting “send”

Do not, under any circumstances, use shortened words, emojis or texting acronyms in a bid or in a conversation in the private message box on a freelance marketplace.

Triple-check for spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors. Why would a potential client think that you would pay attention to detail when working on a project, if you do not do it when bidding.

6. Be quick

Try to respond fast. The first freelancers in for a job will be more likely to be remembered by the potential employer during the selection process. Many clients tend to select the first candidates or those with whom they have already started a conversation in the private message box. So, if you cannot post a bid, ask questions that show initiative and understanding, giving you extra chance to stand out and make a great first impression.

To find new projects, sign up to the newsletters, which will keep you updated on the latest jobs every single day.

7. Flesh out your freelancer profile

Creating a great freelancer profile is the best way to stand out in these communities. It is the closest you will get to a face-to-face meeting with prospective clients, so fill it out with references and your latest samples.

Write less about you and more about what you offer. Give potential employers a clear insight into the quality of your work.

8. Go after projects that match your skill set

Do not make promises you know you cannot keep and, please, do not make a fool of yourself stretching the truth on a job application. For instance, do not place a bid for a writing task that asks for native English speakers and if you are not. Experienced buyers would immediately understand that you are lying.

9. Over deliver

Once you manage to get your first job, try and do your best. Positive 5-star feedbacks from buyers will give a killer boost to your ranking in the list of freelancers. The greater the success you have on freelance projects, the more opportunities will pop up.

10. Place a lower bid ONLY if you have just started out

Everyone was a newbie when joined these communities. Lots of quality freelancers will be competing with you in the race, so it is advisable to place lower bids when you are just starting out. This may help you winning more projects. However, do not go overboard in bidding low and do not try to be the cheapest bid. If average bid is, say, $100, anyone offering to do the same job for $15 will be not taken seriously. The bid should always be worth your precious time and effort.

Have you followed all these tips and still are not getting freelance projects? Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get a job right away. Try again, don’t give up and consider upgrading your account.