The Real Way To Bid For Jobs On Freelancing Sites To Get The Contracts


Starting as a freelancer you will hear a lot of fairy tales about bidding on freelancing sites to get the contracts. A quick search on google will bring you a lot of blogs, articles and video tutorials on how to bid on freelancing sites. All of them (yes you have read it right “all” not most) are bullshit. 

When I started my freelancing career online I used to read a lot lot of them and noticed that they have a common pattern. All of them are full of long list of common rules and all of them are worthless in real life. I had no one to tell me the real way. So, I used to read those blogs, articles and watch those tutorials to get some ideas. The common pattern everywhere bored me and I started to experiment in my own way.

So, what they say about bidding and sending cover letter? Well, I am listing their points below (not in very ordered manner and will not match completely with the ones you find by a quick google search. It is a quite generalized approach I am following here). So, they tell you:

  • Start with “Dear Sir/Mam” or other types of greetings.

  • Tell your name.

  • Talk about yourself: who you are, what you do, what your passion about.

  • Talk about your background and education.

  • Talk about your expertise.

  • Answer to clients questions they asked in their job posting.

  • Discuss about the project to some extent.

  • Show your passion in the project.

  • Tell them what attracts you and makes you passionate about in their project.

  • List your previous work.

  • Tell them you are looking forward to listen from them and work with them.

  • End with thanks and your name.

  • Blah, blah, blah.

No, their points are not invalid but they are worthless. Ask me why?

Following these steps will evidently make your cover letter become one to several pages. What’s the problem in that?

  • Clients get a lot of proposals and you will get a little time to grab their attention. (Yes, most of them warn you about this!)

  • In all the client dashboards from those freelancing bidding sites client see a list of proposals with an excerpt form your cover letter. They can easily spot that you just talked about yourself. They hate that very much.

  • My main point of argument is not the above two points. I will come to the right points soon. Keep reading.

These type of cover letters remember me of the application we used to submit to headmaster in our high school life. It seems like that you are a high school student and after writing an application you are going to submit that to the headmaster in sheer fear. In another way it seems like that you are taking to your math teacher in your high school and the teacher is going to spank you.

Now the argument may arise that we need to be formal with our client and we need to maintain some standard. But how much? Like a high school student? No, you absolutely need not to do that. What you need to do is to show a bit of professionalism. And professionalism doesn’t mean that you need be like a high school boy.

Many people will tell you to “think out of the box!” but is that an example of thinking out of the box? Again, is out of box thinking is a good practice all the time? By thinking out of the box we should not choose some way that will be self destructive! Arguments goes on and on and goes on both sides.

So, let’s stop thinking and let me tell you what I discovered. What was and is my strategy of winning the jobs.

At first I used to send cover letter like the ones that everyone suggest. I did it for almost two days (maybe I sent less than one dozen of proposal day and night). I stopped then and I got fed up with that format (yes, I was not patient – two/three days is a very small number).  I started to send proposal in a mix of ways. I sent some by following all those conventional rules and some following my own strategy.

I thought it like this:

The clients are human like me. Maybe he/she has some different culture, different language, different mindset, different tastes. But they are normal human being – they are not some alien. Again they are not the rough headmaster or math teacher from high school. As a human being I have emotion they have too, in pain I cry they cry too, in great times I celebrate they celebrate too, I like to have friends and they also do. So, I should talk to them in a way that we do with brand new friends – I must not act like alien. They may at most be some strangers to me but they are human being, they are not machines or robots. Compared to an acquaintance our behavior is different with strangers – more polite and cautious. That’s it.  

So, I started to talk to them normally. I stopped writing long cover letter within a difference of several days and started to go in my way, with my strategy.  And yes I started to get better response if not much better.

Now, again, the argument may arise that sometime you need to be absolutely formal in the way of approaching the clients. Yes, I do agree but that is a different story and I will write about that later.

So, here what I started to do:

  • I read their job post very carefully but as fast as I can.

  • I try to guess their sentiment and their personality type.

  • I try to find their real name.

  • I start my cover letter with a very short greeting (with their name instead of Mam/Sir if possible and if appropriate). Many time I leave the greetings part (yes you have read it right, no typo here. I really leave the greetings part blank many time).

  • I start to talk about the problem described in their job description. If the job description is so small or so blank that there is no description of the problem to solve then I write that they haven’t specified their problems and they did not provide much details. In this case I invite them to discuss their job in details.

  • I ask some questions if needed (for clarification, confirmation or interaction purpose).

  • In one or two lines I tell about me.

  • I tell them to have a look at my profile, portfolio, reviews. Sometimes I leave this part blank also if I sense that client will not have much time to read it. Sometimes I leave this blank if I am confident that I could have convinced them in the problem discussion part.

  • I invite them to discuss more in message or through a video/voice call.

  • I end the cover letter with a thanks and my name. Sometimes with the phrase “Best Regards” and my name. To your surprise I sometime leave this part blank also.

How long the cover letter becomes?

From one line to any range within which I can discuss their problem described within the job post. So, usually it becomes 10 to 20 lines.

What is the main focal point?

The main focal point in the cover letter must be the client’s problem described within the job description. That guy is not searching for you to know about your story. Their main pain point is their problem – you have to prove that you are the rightest person who is most concerned about their problems and you are the one who can be a savior for them. So, only focus on solving their problem – all the rest comes next. If you can sense hurry-ness inside their job posts just focus on that – the client is not going to care about most of the other things.

The next most important thing to do is invite them to discuss more with you. They will feel welcomed and be your professional friend. So, send them an invitation card in this way so they lean toward you more than others. Mentioning all the rest of the thing is like the third person (singular number).  But you have to sense the weather in a proper way to understand whether you mention other things or not and if you do then in what extent.

There is still a lot to say but I am not going to bore you writing a very big article here. Instead I will tell more on this topic in future in few more posts. Feel free to express your opinion in the comment box or mail me. If you have any question then don’t hesitate and hurry up and ask below.