Every so often, a plaintive cry will be heard from a service Provider, wondering why their bids are not being accepted. The implicit  – and wrongful – assumption is often that competition from excessively low bids is making their services uncompetitive.

We dug in to find out the truth. Whilst low bids may be a frequent occurance, it seems that the quality  of the bid is in fact what determines a winner. And so that you don’t take our word for it we asked one of our most successful bidders Claire Shiels who’s won over 50% of the bids she’s placed on the site to become one of our highest earners to tell us how she does it:

“As a relative newcomer to PeoplePerHour.com, I have nevertheless managed to secure a number of clients.  Having a great deal of professional experience in a wide range of industries certainly helped to win my first project, but you can certainly improve your chances of success by following these tips:

1. Be realistic – many providers bid for inappropriate projects or create an extensive list of unrelated skills.  This gives the impression that they do not have any expertise in a certain area, so stick to one area of work you know you can do well.

2. Make the effort – in your bids, make sure you tell providers how your skills and experience match what they are looking for, what similar work you have done in the past and why you stand out from the crowd.  Make sure your punctuation, spelling and grammar are correct and check over your bid before you send it.  An extensive portfolio always adds excellent support to a bid.

3. Be sensible about price – the buyer who chooses someone offering a ridiculously low bid over someone more skilled and experienced is unlikely to send a stream of work your way.  Be careful or you could end up working flat out for little money.  Offering excessively low fees can devalue your reputation and turn many buyers off.

4. Create a full profile – a full, relevant profile is much more convincing to a buyer than simply saying “Choose me”.  Give a couple of paragraphs if you can.

5. Create a relationship – engage with the buyer from the beginning.  They will normally want to build up a good working relationship with someone who they can depend on for experienced, honest advice and can discuss ideas.  Research their firm if you can and explain not only how you can match their needs but also put your own ideas forward if appropriate.

6. Play by the rules – flouting the PeoplePerHour.com rules, perhaps by including contact details or encouraging buyers to contact you whilst bidding is still open will more than likely alienate you from other providers as well as buyers .  You also risk a ban from PPH.

If you are serious about sourcing work on PeoplePerHour.com, you have to approach the task as a job interview, each time you make a bid.  Project hunting takes time and effort, and a great deal of both needs to be invested by you to make a success of your freelancing career.

Since signing up with People Per Hour in December 2008, I have taken on fourteen clients in this way, many of whom now offer me repeat business on a regular basis.  My workload is now such that I have been able to successfully launch my consultancy, Claire Shiels Marketing, full-time – showing that with a mixture of professionalism and realism, PPH can indeed provide much more than mere pocket money.  It may well act as a springboard to a whole new career.”

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Buyers often get frustrated when they don’t get quality bids for their project listing. We’ve done some research and we quickly realised that the quality of bids tehy recive is  directly driven by how good their project brief is . We have asked one of our top rated bidders to give us some Tips as to what constitutes good bid. Emily Cagle is a marketing and communications consultant and has won a high proportion of the bids she’s placed largely because she’s been selective in which projects to bid for

As a provider on Peopleperhour.com, I read dozens of job listings per week but often the project description isn’t terribly clear, so it’s hard to fathom exactly what the buyer is looking for.

While this might present a challenge to the service provider, the main victim of the vaguely worded project listing is the buyer themselves, who not only risks receiving dozens of irrelevant bids, but might even go so far as to accept a bid from a provider who has a false notion of what is required.

Make the title count

The first step to attracting quality bids is to make the most of your listing’s exposure in the ‘Latest Posts’ section on the front page of Peopleperhour.com. This feed only displays the first 30 characters of the project title, so it’s wise to keep your title below this mark and get straight to the point. For example, rather than writing ‘Help needed with sales letter for accountancy firm’, you could write ‘Sales letter (accountancy)’.

Be specific

When it comes to the project description, bidders will find it much easier to price up a project if you are explicit about what’s involved. So, for a web design project, for example, aim to explain how many pages are needed, what functionality the site must have, whether you will need a logo and so on.

Outline required skills

If you any specific skills requirements, such as being able to work with a particular piece of software, you should list them and state whether they are essential or preferred. It is also worth mentioning what industry your company operates in, as this can attract bidders with useful experience. For example, an accountant who already understands the typical transactions of a firm in your sector might be better placed to give industry specific tax advice.

Sell yourself

To attract strong bids, you should also consider giving some details about your company’s achievements and reputation. Just as with any job, people may be more inclined to apply if the company has an appealing profile.

Set a realistic budget

It is also important to be as realistic as possible about your project’s budget. If your budget range is very low, you may not attract the standard of provider you are looking for, and if it is unnecessarily high, you might find people bid higher than they otherwise would. If you have time, research what constitutes a realistic budget before submitting your listing. Alternatively, choose the ‘Prefer not to disclose’ option and judge what constitutes a reasonable price based on the bids you receive.

Clarify with bidders

Finally, remember that all bids come with a private message board that allows you follow up with providers and ask for more information, so if a bid looks great, but doesn’t answer those last minute questions that have arisen since you posted the project, ask them! A good provider will be happy to discuss your requirements in more detail before asking you to accept their bid.

Emily Cagle is a marketing and communications consultant