Key Newcomer Tips - Online Freelancing Proposals
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Once you have identified a project you’re interested in, you have to submit a proposal to the client. There are a lot of factors that constitute a quality proposal, and writing them is a learning curve down which you will advance with time. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
This isn’t specifically about proposal-writing—it’s more about your state of mind—but it goes first because it’s so important. Above all else, don’t build yourself up for disappointment by having unreasonable expectations about how many projects you will win when you are starting out. It can be hard for those who aren’t used to rejection to see bid after bid go by the wayside, but rest assured that it is perfectly normal. Depending on the particular field you are in, you could easily see 90% or even 95% of your bids be rejected when you’re starting out.
Like anything else, it takes time to get established as a freelancer, and much of your first few months will be at least as much about getting used to freelancing and the sites you’re using, as about actually doing projects. Also remember that in many cases you’re going to be competing against people just as qualified as you are, but who also have a track record going back years. Be patient, look for opportunities, and stay optimistic.
The corollary of the advice to look for projects frequently is to bid on projects frequently. Competition is fierce in the online freelancing world, and it’s doubly hard for newcomers. Don’t bid on just anything, but do bid on any project you think you can do and that is worth your time.
On sites that charge for each bid placed, such as Elance, many new freelancers feel like they need to “conserve” bids, and that it’s a “waste of money” to buy additional bids (which Elance calls “connects”). This is false economy; it’s like starting up a new retail business but refusing to send out advertising flyers to save on postage.
Successful freelancers can point to their work history as a way of reassuring prospective clients that they are reliable; new freelancers have to find alternative methods. In your proposals, be sure to highlight your relevant experience and give examples of specific past work that you have done “outside the system”, so clients don’t think they’re taking a straight gamble by selecting you.
A client posts a project on a freelancing site because he or she has a problem of some sort or something that needs to be done. Your proposal should explain how you can solve that problem or accomplish that task. Everything about the proposal should be geared towards providing the service that the client wants; anything else is extraneous.
Some contractors like to put a lot of personal information in proposals, talk about themselves and their careers and so on. But this isn’t online dating, it’s online freelancing. Nothing personal, but the client doesn’t care about your personal particulars, just about how you can help him or her get the job done.
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Last Site Update: February 1, 2012
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