Top bidding tips – win more business

June 16, 2008

We often get asked to provide help with bidding and advise on how it’s best to write proposals and how much to charge. While there is no ‘magic formula’, we have compile a short checklist of what we believe you should have in mind. While some points might seem fairly basic/obvious (e.g. having a comprehensive, up-to-date profile), a quick glance at the site shows that it’s easy to overlook these especially when you are going through a busy period at work. 

  • Your profile – review your profile to make sure it’s complete and all your skills have been added (these are also important so that buyers can find you when they are searching). The numbers speak for themselves – incomplete/poor profiles hardly win any work! Make sure your profile is always up-to-date and your online portfolio contains a good selection of your best work; revisit your profile periodically to add your latest projects, skills and clients. 
  • Feedback – a recent study that we conducted revealed that providers’ success rates in winning work had increased at least 10 fold after winning their first positive feedback on the site, with the top providers’ success rates reaching 15%-20%. Make sure you always ask buyers to leave feedback for you as soon as they pay for the invoices you have raised through the site. Invoicing through is the only way to build feedback and stay protected against bad debts.
  • Cover all bases – ensure that you give comprehensive proposals, explaining clearly why you are equipped to do the job, highlighting relevant previous experience. Look at relevant accepted bids on the site to refine your proposals and get a feel for the pricing if you are unsure what to charge. While it may be good idea to start with a template for your bids, ensure that you put in the time to customise each bid and address all the particular requirements of the project in question.
  • Be specific – be as specific as possible in your communication with buyers, not only in providing verifiable examples of relevant work you have done in the past but also on costs and timescales. If the buyer has not provided enough information for an accurate quote, do your best to provide a realistic quote if possible and state clearly your assumptions to the buyer or, even better, ask for the relevant information before committing to a final price.
  • Offer a free sample – make the first step and proactively offer a small, free sample of work to the buyer – it’s the best way of convincing them that you are capable of doing the job; results speak for themselves! For example, if a buyer needs their website to be redesigned you could offer redesigning 1 page for free as a sample. This approach can work for a number of sectors; translations, copy editing/writing, design are only a few of these. Most buyers will even be happy to agree to pay for the ‘free sample’ you have provided upfront if they end up accepting your bid.

This list is by no means comprehensive but should get you off to a good start – feel free to share your suggestions and experience with others, either here or in the ‘Bidding Q & A’ discussion group (you will need to log in with your Provider credentials).

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