How to Find Freelance Clients: Part Three

by Debbie Dragon on 15 May 2009 2 comments

Previously, this series for finding freelance jobs covered what you needed to do to prepare yourself for freelance life in Part One; where to find the clients in Part Two; and in the last article of this series - I'll give you some tips for actually applying or bidding on the freelance jobs you find.

How to Apply or Bid for Work

Applying for freelance work is an art form in itself – once you master the techniques, you'll be on your way to a thriving freelance business. Applying for work on job sites and contacting potential clients directly involves a different process than bidding for work on freelance bidding sites.

Bidding for Work

When you use a freelance bidding site to “bid” on jobs, you are rarely asked to provide a complete resume. The trick is to sum up your abilities and answer any questions their job specifications indicate within a paragraph or two as you are placing your bid. A sample bid response for a freelance writing job involving writing 10 articles for a blog about fish that are due on March 15th might read something like this:

I am a freelance writer and fish enthusiast – I would love to write 10 articles for your blog on the topic of fish. I can write and deliver ten 100% unique articles on or before March 15th, completely free from plagiarism. They will be spell checked and ready to post to your blog upon receipt. Thank you for your consideration.

Notice there isn't a ton of information in a “bid”. If you have experience directly related to the topic, you might mention that. In this example, if you have an aquarium in your home, or worked for the local fish store, that might spark interest in the buyer because you are already familiar with the topic. In most cases, you can write articles on topics you aren't familiar with simply by doing research, so it's not a requirement for the majority of writing jobs.

The most important aspects to include in a bid for a freelance bidding site are to show you understand the assignment (10 articles before their due date, 100% unique), and to write your bid without typos or spelling errors (particularly if you're applying for writing work!) There are many non-english speaking service providers bidding on the same work (and often at rock bottom prices if the buyer's currency is worth more than the providers currency), but you would be surprised at how many don't take the time to spell check or proof read their bid.

Apply for Work

On the other end of the spectrum, when you find assignments posted to job sites or when contacting a potential client directly, you need to use a different strategy for applying. These situations expect more information from you in order to consider you for the work.

It's a great idea to create a resume, summary of qualifications, or professional experience document that can be used for all freelance work you apply for. It doesn't have to be boring like the resumes you made as a high school student – and in fact, it is in your best interest to jazz it up a bit to stand out from among the hundreds of other people who may be applying for the same jobs!  Here are 10 tips for landing a gig online, by Wisebread's Andrea Dickson.  These tips are excellent and will help you with your applying or bidding process!

Use your freelance logo if you have one, and don't be afraid to use decorative fonts for the headings of categories on the document. If you have links to work samples that are accessible online, include a few so the prospective client can click and quickly see something you've worked on. You may want to include a small, professional head shot of yourself as well just to make it a bit more personable.

When you apply for work, write a “cover letter” email (or follow the instructions given in the job listing for how to apply), and include your resume or professional experience document. It's a good idea to paste it into the email directly as many businesses will not open email with attachments. You can always include a short note in your closing that you are happy to forward your resume or any other information upon request.

Getting the Job

After you start applying and bidding for work, you will start to get responses from the prospective clients. A freelance bidding site is your opportunity to get selected and get the just based on your “bid” alone; while most freelance jobs from a job site or direct contact will not hire you from your first contact alone. Expect to exchange a few emails and maybe even talk on the phone once or twice before you are selected as the freelancer for the assignment. Be professional with every communication you have with the prospect, and be sure to treat each client as if they will generate hundreds of new jobs for your freelancing business – because you never know which clients may turn into long term clients or your biggest referral source for new clients.

When you've gotten your first client and completed your first job – be sure to follow up with the client to see if he or she has any additional work you could provide. In fact, add the client to a mailing list and make it part of your routine to contact clients once a month or so after you do work for them, just to remind them you are still in business in case they have a need to hire a freelancer again. This is how you turn a one-time client into a repeat client – which is necessary for long term success in the freelance world.

 

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Guest's picture

Great article...it can be confusing to know how to break into freelancing. I know that a lot of people will benefit from this post.

Guest's picture

Great post! We should all develop full time and/or side gigs. Here are some of the side business ideas I have listed:

Side Business Ideas Recap http://divorceddadfrugaldad.com/2009/02/17/side-business-ideas-recap.aspx