Landing That First Online Job by Using a Bidding Site

Are you new to freelancing online and having trouble landing that first job? It’s not as difficult as you might think. Within 24 hours of signing up with an online bidding site, I landed my first job (though I’m sure my past experience as an offline freelancing artist gave me a little help.)

Here’s what I’ve done to succeed and what I did may help you as well.

Complete Your Online Profile and Resume

Take special advantage of this space since this is where you’ll make your second impression. (You’ll make your first impression with your bid.) List your personal philosophy, your education history, your work history, and your skills with specific software packages and/or Internet tools. If you have references, make sure they’re available to answer questions and willing to verify your claims.

Feel free to display your skills with style if the site allows for it. A styled bio shows you really care about presentation and this is definitely the impression you want to give potential clients. If you’re not a designer, search the Internet for some ideas and modify them for your own. You can find some nice designs at websites that host resumes, bios, profiles… you get the idea. Then add a professional photo or logo. If you don’t have a professional image, leave the provided space blank until you get one. (A bad image is worse than no image at all.) And don’t forget to triple-check your editing! Nothing says amateur louder than poor grammar or incorrect spelling.

Prepare a Body of Sample Work Ahead of Time

There’s a significant chance a client will ask you to provide a sample of the work you’re bidding for. Not only is this a common request, it’s encouraged–and it’s really the only way a client can determine whether you have the necessary skills. I’m not talking about spec work here. I’m talking about previous work – work completed for prior clients or work that you’ve done for yourself. This step is not unlike the process that a fine artist goes through when seeking out opportunities to display at art galleries. The fine artist who approaches a gallery with a prepared portfolio of artwork has a better chance of being accepted than the artist who doesn’t.

Just remember to be careful about what you “put in your portfolio.” A client may judge what you submit as if s/he were going to buy your sample on the spot, and if s/he doesn’t think it’s worth buying, you may lose the job opportunity. Samples should always exhibit a commercial quality.

Always Compose a Professional Bid

Begin your bid with an introduction and explanation of why you’re the perfect candidate for the job. Since clients tend to disregard bids that look like boilerplate responses or that don’t look as though a bidder even read the specs, you’ll want to integrate the project’s points into your description. Take the time to describe how you’ll solve each of the specs issues, in other words. And if you think it will help your case, describe the tools you’ll use. Of course, if you have questions, ask!
Never bid on a job that leaves you guessing. Should you go ahead and bid on such a job anyway, you could easily make the wrong assumptions and a bad impression as a result.

Keep the bid short (no longer than two to four paragraphs) and formatted with again, correct grammar and spelling. Thank the client for reading your bid and attach a relevant sample or two to save the client some time in having to ask for them. From my experience as a freelancer, it’s the samples that grab the client’s attention and solidify an agreement the quickest.
Lastly, before pressing that submit button, look at your own bid and ask yourself, “Would I hire this person?” If not, fix it so that you would.

Don’t Stop With One Bid

Some services restrict the number of times their freelancers can bid unless they pay a subscription fee. That’s unfortunate since it can take several bids just to land a single job. Seek out services that don’t restrict your bidding opportunities and then bid to your heart’s content. As I mentioned above, within 24 hours of signing up with an online bidding service, I landed my first job. What I didn’t mention was that I put in over 30 bids.

Bidding for freelance work isn’t too dissimilar from seeking traditional employment. With traditional employment, you might mail 10 to 20 resumes at a time just so you can grab one interview. And so it is with online employment. The more bids you make, the quicker you’ll land a job.

As you can see, winning freelancing jobs is less about luck and more about your approach. Don’t play a game of chance. Follow these four simple steps and you’ll significantly increase your chances of winning that coveted, first bid.

What About You?

Have you successfully used bidding sites to find freelance work? What tips would you offer to other freelancers?

Leave your answers in the comments.