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Bidding for Jobs

Bidding for Projects on Outsourcing Sites

Bidding for JobsOnce you have registered with an outsourcing site and set up some sort of profile, you’re ready to start bidding for jobs. Finding jobs to bid on is really easy, and the principle is exactly the same with all the sites. Basically all you do is browse the jobs that are available and decide which ones appeal to you. Then you place your bid or quotation.

Winning the bid is not quite as easy! You need to get your proposal right (which I will talk about in a future article on compiling a compelling proposal) and you need to pitch your price at a level that will be accepted. Just remember that it isn’t always the lowest bid that makes it. While it is generally a good idea to bid low until you build up a reputation, it is also good advice to avoid employers who are looking for very cheap work (there are lots of them and they seem to happily accept sub-standard work). Good employers want good providers. If you are a good writer, you want a good employer, not a cheapskate who is going to rip you off. So be selective from the start.

Finding Jobs to Bid On

New projects are posted every day on all the good outsourcing sites, and so you need to keep going back to search for updates. When I first started using this vehicle to find work I tried to do regular searches (at least once a week) to see what was on offer. If you don’t do this you will find it incredibly time-consuming wading through thousands of jobs. While you don’t have to check out every single job, if you don’t, you might miss something that is perfect for you. Of course, once you have the kind of work load you are comfortable with, you might not need to check daily especially if clients give you repeat business. Once you have established yourself you will find that you start getting invites to jobs (see the image at the top of this page). Nowadays I rarely have time to do anything other than invite and repeat jobs, though I do check out the offerings at least every few months and usually pick up some very worthwhile projects.

If you don’t want to check out all the writing jobs, you can focus on specific writing categories, like creative writing or press releases, or even editing or proofreading for example.

Once you find a job that appeals to you, click on the job title and read the message that the employer has posted. If you like the sound of the project, check out the employer as well. Not every employer is good and there’s no point in working for someone who treats providers badly. You can see from the employer’s profile how many jobs that person has posted and how many have been awarded. You can also see what each employer normally pays for projects. This is important, because it will help you to set your fee. If the employer doesn’t have a history (in other words this is the first job posted) then you will have to take your chances if you decide to go ahead and bid.

Cost of Bidding

While bidding is technically “free”, if you opt for a paid membership you are in effect paying to bid. Different sites have different plans, and the more you pay for membership, the more bids (or in the case of Elance, “connects”) you will be awarded. The two images below will enable you to compare the differences between Guru and Elance as at January 2014. Both have changed certain structures within their organizations over the past few years, so it’s always wise to be aware of updates.

bidding for projects on outsourcing sites
From this you will see that the basic Guru membership plan allows you to bid 10 times. All the paid plans give you 50 bids per month. You will also see that only the more expensive professional, business and executive plans allow bids to “rollover”. If you have a basic plan and don’t use all your bids, you lose them. Also, when you bid, that bid point is “lost” irrespective of whether you get the job, or even if the job is not awarded to anyone.
bidding for jobs on outsourcing sites
Elance allows 40 free bids (or what they call connects) with their basic (free) membership plan. This number increases the more you pay. My current plan costs US$15 a month because I am registered in two categories, and pay an addition $5 for the second category. All but the basic connects rollover monthly, and I find I sometimes have more than 100 to “play” with. However, unlike Guru that charges a flat 1-bid per bid, Elance charges more for certain more highly rated jobs.

Assess the job

When you browse your chosen outsourcing site for open jobs, you will see how many other freelancers have bid on individual jobs. You will also see how long each job will be open for. Both these factors are important. For example:

  1. If only a few people have bid on a job, and you are a specialist on the subject, you will have a greater chance of winning the bid.
  2. If a huge number of people have already bid on a job, then your proposal will need to be really special for you to get a place amongst those who have already bid. If you don’t have a track record, back off and look for jobs with fewer bidders.
  3.  It can be a big advantage to be at the top of the list of bidders. Elance allows three providers per project to get listed first. So even if someone else gets there first, for additional “connects”, they get to be higher.
  4. If you wait until the job is about to close, you might find that some of the other freelancers’ bids have been rejected, and so your bid is still near the top of the list.

Assessing How Much to Bid 

When employers post their projects, they are given the option to specify a budget. This will give you some idea of what they are prepared to pay.

bidding for job on outsourcing sites
Elance suggests budget ranges for “fixed price” projects, but also gives employers the opportunity to decide for themselves either below or above the rates given here.

Elance also has minimum bid rates ranging from US$20 for jobs posted at less than $500 to $7,000 for projects that are advertised for $10,000 or more. If employers try to elicit bids below the minimum it is considered a violation and the project is likely to be cancelled. If providers (freelancers) bid lower than the minimum allowed, they are also penalized.

Elance also allows hourly bidding and this can be as low as US$5 an hour. Also be warned that by posting a project that requires a large number of articles, employers can easily manipulate the system. This is another good reason to investigate what they have previously paid other providers or freelancers.

While the majority of projects on Elance are below US$500 there are often jobs offered in the US$500 to US$1,000 range, and higher, sometimes up to US$25,000. When you bid for a job you can propose a higher or lower figure if you wish.

Guru bids start at “less than US$250”.

Once you have chosen a bid price, you will have to choose a timeframe that meets the needs of the employer. You will also need that compelling proposal for an employer who doesn’t know you. The proposal shown at the top of this page was for an Elance employer I have worked for on and off since 2009. It was an “invite-only” job and I was the only person who was invited; so I didn’t need to convince him. The one below is for a person I don’t know who invited me to bid on Guru a week ago. How opportune I went onto the site for the first time in four years to research information for this article!

bidding on outsourcing sites
My proposal on Guru to edit and restructure a South African Business Book.
Giving links to work you have done increases your credibility as a writer.

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