Writing as a business

How to write an effective bid proposal

Writing an effective bid proposal is important, as it’s the only way a freelance writer can get through to a client.

However, most freelance writers falter at this and that’s why we’re here — to make sure you’ve got a better chance to succeed.

With that said, in order to present the best bid proposal, you should try to follow the effective points below.

Steps to writing winning bid proposals

1. Read job descriptions thoroughly

If you want to be successful in anything, you have to read with attention.

HR personnel often say that most of the job applications they get, don’t talk about the actual job that was advertised.

This phenomenon happens with freelancers too. You get so excited that you shoot off a message, without having actually read the job description first!

With that said, you should always read and reread the job description, taking the time to understand what the client actually wants from you.

Just because the job description says, “Content writers needed“, the job could actually be about writers who can write about the tech space — potentially, something that’s totally out of your niche.

Another important reason to read job descriptions thoroughly (especially when finding work through UpWork or Fiverr) is because clients often write strange catchphrases, which they expect you to mention in your bid proposal, in order to validate you’ve actually read it.

Sometimes you feel weird writing “I-READ-THIS” on the top of the cover letter. However, this tiny gesture lets them know that you’ve understood their instructions and will do the job as they originally requested.

2. Read the client

Another thing you need to do before writing a bid proposal is to read the client.

The job description is a great place to see how the client feels about the project.

If for example, the client has taken the time to write a long job description, this would signify that they know exactly what they want from you and you should be willing to do that, else, you could face problems later on, if you did end up getting the job.

3. Check for reviews

Freelance job sites often have fantastic features available for their freelancers to use. One of those being the ability to both see and leave reviews for clients.

Meaning, you (as a freelancer) can check the reviews (left by other freelancers) of your potential clients, before you even start to work for them.

By reading these reviews, you’re able to get more insight into how the client was with past-jobs. Specifically, their behaviours with past-freelancers, how flexible they were about deadlines or even payment issues that may have occurred in the past.

All of this will not only help you be more vigilant in your approach but also show that you could potentially cover things other freelancers couldn’t.

4. Do your research

Clients often include links to their business website or blog in their job description.

Most freelancers, however, don’t take the opportunity to do any further research. They never visit these links in order to read some of the past articles on their blog.

Unfortunately, ‘a missed opportunity’ is what I would say to these naive freelancers. As the client clearly expects you to take full advantage of the resources they have sent over. They want you to know them, their business and their voice used throughout their blog posts.

These types of clients often want a writer that knows how to do research and write accordingly. Meaning, doing this very basic research is going to really favour you when you come to write your proposal.

5. Have confidence in your talent

This one is tough for freelancers, especially for the newer ones.

Being a freelancer, you don’t have someone who always praises you or gives you a ‘pat on the back’, for a job well done — you have to really be your own cheerleader.

Confidence in your talent is an absolute necessity. As once you master this art, you can really convince anyone that you are the right person for the job.

Therefore, when writing a bid proposal, confidence is something that really needs to be shown when reaching out to clients.

It’s unlikely for a client to trust you if you start by saying, “I’m new to writing but I wrote something about this recently, so I think I might be able to help you“.

Whilst it’s honest, you’re better off saying, “Whilst my online portfolio is slim, I have past experience in your niche, which is a real bonus for both of us! Perhaps, I can send you a sample of my past-work“.

…It’s still honest and it allows you to send that sample you wrote recently (even if it was just the one).

6. Jot down all relevant skills

Now that you are confident in your talent, write down all your skills.

However, before you do that, streamline what skills you are going to write down, whilst remembering to stay relevant to the job description.

Once you’ve got a few ideas, start dropping them into sentences.

For example, for a content writing job, with experience in the stock market, you could write: “I have an analytical mind that can understand statistics, which is also capable of doing complex calculations in order provide well-written and useful content for your readers“.

It looks so natural and doesn’t come across that you’re listing them without any relevance.

7. Write a draft bid proposal

You might be a genius at writing articles, however, for winning bid proposals, get used to writing drafts.

With that said, there’s no shame in saying you needed to write more than one cover letter, as a draft will help you get your thoughts in check.

Some writers I know (including myself) even do a checklist for this, by trying to cover the following:

  1. The important points from the job description.
  2. Which relevant skills to mention.
  3. Answers to any questions the client has asked for.

By doing so, it allows you to chronologically tie all of these into a winning bid proposal, by making sure you haven’t left anything out.

8. Compliment the client’s tone

By using the client’s job description as their tone, you should check to see if the writing is professional, as you’d then also need to stay professional too.

However, if somewhere in the job description, you find frustration, humour or other informal phrases, then your bid should try to match their tone too.

9. Address the client accordingly

I know I said just above to compliment the client’s tone, however, that in no way means you should start your bid with “Hey dude, how’s it going“.

You should try to avoid using any cuss words or addressing the client in any derogatory manner.

With that said, you also don’t want to be too overboard with the politeness. You simply need to choose a middle ground between informal and professional.

10. Write the winning bid

Now that you’re ready to write. Start with a hook, something that will make the client want to read more.

Remember as a freelancer, you’re most likely amongst hundreds of other candidates all vying for the same job on Upwork, Fiverr or Freelancer, for example.

Sadly, similar to other employers, online freelancers also only have a couple of seconds to leave a good first impression.

Therefore, you should write in short sentences and remember all the things you want to say. Some people may even find it easier to create bullet points too.

11. Check the spelling and grammar

As a writer, Grammarly is probably your best friend.

Meaning, it’s the perfect time to use it and erase any grammar or spelling mistakes you’ve made. As it’ll be an extreme turn-off, should your client spot anything out of place.

If your client’s job requires spelling written in UK or US English, try to write your proposal in this — it would definitely impress them (Grammarly even has this function built-in).

Once you’re done writing, don’t immediately send it off to the client. You should reread what you have written, as this is the last chance you get before you send in your bid — it has to be nothing but perfect.

12. Upload relevant documents

Most freelance websites, such as UpWork, allow you to upload files when submitting your bid proposal.

You should always try to attach samples of your past writing, along with links to your online portfolio and other online publications that you’ve previously written for.

Another good idea is to upload relevant testimonials from your past-clients, as this helps to show your work ethics and prowess as a writer.

13. Follow up your prospects

Once you’ve landed an interview, you need to have an equally good follow up.

Unlike real-world job interviews, you can actually cheat here by preparing yourself beforehand. As you could potentially write down the answers to questions, which you may be asked about, prior to actually starting the interview.

This can especially help you in situations where your mind just goes completely blank!

So, there you have it, all the steps for writing winning bid proposals, in order to land yourself those great freelance gigs.

Once you’ve started to follow these steps a few times, you’ll realise that it essentially becomes a repeatable process, allowing you to tailor your approach better and faster each time.

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