Bidding strategy: If you hire yourself for a project, a buyer may hire you

Bidding strategy

Assume you want to hire a professional. You post a project on p2w2. You get responses. But you can smell from a bid that the professional did not read what you want. She just has a personal rant about herself that she ‘copy pasted’ it into the bid. What do you think about the bid? Will you choose her?
It’s mistake for a freelancer to keep a standard bid ready and dispatch it on any type of project. So a buyer looking for a person skilled in fiction writing receives the same profile as the one looking for someone skilled in business writing. The result?

Both buyers reject the bid!


bid must be uniquely tailored to meet buyer’s specs. This is because every project is different. Every buyer is different. Your objective in bidding is to convince the buyer, the decision-maker, that you are the best hire for the project.

Do you really suit the buyer’s needs?

Bid, only if the subject/project interests you and you have the necessary expertise. Don’t bid out of habit, as a morning routine. Don’t bid for the simple reason that it’s a high value project.
In order to make the correct choice of a project, you need to first, carefully study the needs of the buyer:

  • What is he/she exactly looking for in the professional? Do you have the skill?
  • Do you have relevant samples to show your credentials?
  • Do you command domain expertise the buyer wants?
  • Would you be able to meet the buyer’s deadline? If not….and if you are still very keen on the project

If your answers to most of these questions are yes, by all means, bid. If not, don’t waste buyer’s time and your time.

Grab a buyer’s attention: Tailor your bid to buyer’s requirement

Assuming a standard projects gets an average of twenty bids in response to a project, a buyer spends less than a minute on each bid. On bids a buyer is impressed with, he/she will spend more time. To grab and retain his/her attention during this crucial one minute of cursory scanning, highlight how you have the skills and the expertise buyer wants. For instance, if the project asks for domain expertise in environmental writing, begin with your experience in that field. If the buyer asked you a question, start with answering that question. That way, you can show that you listen to your customers and give importance to them.
Talk about how your experience suits the buyer’s requirements. Talk about aspects of the project description that were not clear. Ask relevant questions that show to the buyer that you understand the work.

Show samples; show proofs of your skills

Four to five samples is a good number and these must ALL be relevant to the project. Your samples must demonstrate your creative value and worth to the project at hand. Your samples must show the buyer who you are and how you approach a project. Good and relevant work samples can prove it to the buyer. Don’t ever direct a buyer to a portfolio site. You pick the ones that are the most relevant and send those out as attachments with your bid.

Learn how to pitch

You can’t swim, unless you are comfortable with water. Likewise, an important point to bear in mind is feeling comfortable in telling your “story,” your accomplishments, bit by bit, as you would to an attentive listener, or a sympathetic friend. Overcoming an ingrained reluctance to speak highly of our accomplishments is often essential to convince an employer to hire you!

Be honest

Be concise and do not stretch the truth. If there is an aspect of the project that you haven’t understood or are not sure you can handle, own up to that shortfall before hand and be transparent. Take responsibility. It’s always better to lose a project than commit to something and not deliver, or fall short of expectations. Whatever you do, don’t present inaccurate information. Don’t come across as phony or non-trustworthy. Examples of that would be tall claims without any substantiating evidence.

Double check for grammar and brevity

Remember that what goes in first will stay on top of the employer’s mind. Double check your bid for grammatical errors, composition goof-ups and poor styling. This is more important for non-native English speakers. Simple typos or errors — in grammar, word choice, spelling, and length can be a major put off, especially if you are applying for an editing or a ghostwriting gig. e.g., “Ability to meet deadlines while maintaining composer,” ” Hope to hear from you shorty (correct: shortly),” “Here are my qualifications for you to overlook (correct: have a look at..)”
If your bid, in which you should be at your best, is not in good shape, buyer can figure out what your output will be.
– Don’t give an emotional or an intellectual overdose in your proposal (“I am new on this site, please give me ONE chance.”)
– Don’t use sarcasm, derogative or humor that doesn’t work (“My services are not like those of a Chinese goods manufacturer”)
– Don’t use false claims (“I am the best that you can get on this pricing”)
– Don’t pepper your talk with heavy-duty words (“I can structurally embellish your concept like no one else can.”)

How long is too long?Project won

That’s a difficult question. Since, it’s a self-reported account; a personal glorification tool, one page (or 250-300 words) is often more than sufficient. Two pages are really over the top, where you have to present really sterling credentials. But even here, you must show substance over fluff.
Finally, remember that you bid is the first impression of your brand for a buyer. Protect and polish it before you present it. No use spending two hours every morning aimlessly and randomly bidding on projects that are never going to fall into your kitty. You might as well be shooting in the dark!

Picture credits: Eneas & Demion

Small business cash flow crisis: Psychology, not economics, is to blame

cash flow

You may find it a little hard to believe — at least I did in the beginning — that one of the biggest challenges faced by small business owners is not lack of demand or depressed sales but a poor choice of where you source capital and where you deploy it.

Nearly 84% entrepreneurs don’t make smart choices about their funding source. That’s the finding of recent survey done by UK-based Bibby Factors Northwest.

The outcome is that nearly half these ventures fizzle out within the first three years of operation. Just imagine — what a colossal waste of someone’s time, money and dreams!

After a careful analysis of this situation, I came to the conclusion that at the root of this problem is not economics but psychology.

At the first sign of trouble, a typical response of a small entrepreneur is either to get his bank overdraft extended, or dip into his savings. Both are big mistakes, yet 84% businessmen respond to a cash crisis in this knee-jerk fashion according to the Bibby researchers.

As I understand it, this happens because, a small entrepreneur, who often has a lot of his personal savings at stake in the venture is typically inward-looking and averse to taking big exposure, usually to his own detriment. Unfortunately, this kind of “tunnel vision” on capital issues does not help him in the long run. Instead of insulating him from risk, it turns out to be a costly decision.

“Let me tide over this crisis” seems to be the response as opposed to tackling more permanent funding source of deployment issues.

Cash flow crisis is typically caused not because of lack of funds but because of incorrect way of:

  • Where the funds came from
  • How the capital was deployed

Short term source of capital puts pressure on your cash position

Bank overdraft is short term capital. If you dip into savings, they last only for a short time. If you buy machinery by taking a short term loan, the machinery will only pay you back in a few months if not years. But the bank overdraft will not wait until so many months. It has to be paid off immediately. Similarly, if you buy the machinery by dipping into your savings, that cash will get locked in.

In both cases, if you change the underlying business economics, you don’t have to dip into your savings or draw from bank overdraft.

To understand the business dynamics and to figure out which source of funding is more appropriate for your business, I would suggest the following resources to small business owners:

  • Turn to accounting and

    financial professionals. A quick review of financial statements by a trained eye can help detect slow collections, poor financial management, overextended accounts payable or other warning signs, early before the house gets on fire

  • Financial institutions. Visit a bank for assistance with a line of credit, an accounts receivable loan, or factoring or other such vehicle to ease the cash crunch
  • Join Business groups. They are the best source for peer consultation. Get peer consultation.

Track your cash flows to get early signals

How many aspiring entrepreneurs venture into a business without so much as a primer course in business accounting?

Yet proper financial management is crucial to your business’ survival. Do your Receivables and Payables play nice with each other? Are expenses rising faster than profits? Is one skill more in demand than the other? How much do you need to meet your monthly expenses? Can you take a paycheck this month? All the answers lie in the numbers.

Let’s face it — as businesses grows; cash difficulties are bound to arise. This is especially true of start-ups, during sudden growth spurts, or during shaky economic times.

The real danger lies in failing to plan for such crisis, which can result in over-trading.

Other key causes of cash flow problems could be inadequate budgeting of income and expenses, not watching receivables, not setting goals, and trying to handle the company’s financial management single-handedly. Whatever be the reason, companies that are cash flow negative are simply spending more than their earnings.

Here are a few practical tips to avoid cash flow issues

Negotiate better terms with your customers

When taking on longer-term projects or clients, negotiate in advance for regular payments. Ask for payment at the beginning of projects and ‘front load’ invoices rather than ‘back loading’ them. Offer discounts for quick payment. Bill promptly and avoid slow pay/no pay customers. And finally, exceed customer expectations so they don’t have any reason to withhold payment!

If your customer does not pay on time, consider penal interest and implement it. It saves a lot of time and hassles, if all business terms, especially payment terms are discussed well in advance with a partner, especially an overseas partner, with whom disputes are harder to settle due to the distance issue.

Renegotiate or postpone payments

Check out if you can postpone your payments by either part paying the amount or by postponing it all together. If you have good relations with your vendors, and if you had helped them before, they will be willing to help you by allowing you to pay later.

Some of your payments can be brought down into monthly cash installments instead of a large cash payout.

Do background search and reference checks on new customers

Look before you leap. Perform credit checks on every customer you acquire. Ask for — and check out — credit references from past clients. This is quite an acceptable practice and no one minds it. Call other businesses that have had a relationship with the client. Keep your ears tuned in for any discordant note, a moment’s hesitation, and reluctance to speak about the client. These could be dead giveaways on the client’s past conduct in the marketplace.

Refinance your loans if it makes sense

Lookout for cheaper funding sources. Suppose you took loans on different interest rates from various sources. If your credit limit permits it, club these into one account on the lowest rate of interest with one lender. Or, you may be able to consolidate two or more loans into a lower-interest account and improve your cash flow. Explore these options.

Profit does not mean cash flow

Remember that you may be profitable – accounting wise. But if the invoice you raised is sitting with the customer, then your cash flow gets affected. In a bad situation, you may be unable to pay all the bills or salaries on time. Profits are important, but every decision has to be carefully weighed against its effect on cash flow.

Hold on to cash

Spending is easy. Earning is difficult. When you have cash, don’t take that easy decision. If you are spending a lot on expenses that are not necessary you can save on your cash. Are you spending on office décor, on full page color ads, on a color laser printer when an ordinary one would suffice? Don’t. You might trip and fall on the other side of the gorge. Hold on to enough cash reserves so that you can fight unforeseen cash flow issues.

Opt for credit insurance

Credit insurance can help mitigate the risks by protecting your bottom line against nonpayment–or even slow payment–of invoices, especially while dealing with overseas partners. These days, there are unit linked plans (cheaper than the usual insurance instruments) for every risk. However negotiate for better terms with at least two three insurance providers to cut the most cost-effective deal.

Try barter

You could reduce the strain on your immediate cash if you need goods or services from someone and can barter goods or services in return. Supposing there is a copywriting project posted by a team of website developers. They are looking for someone to write content for their site. Since they are

professionals like yourself, instead of cash payment for your services, you could opt for services in kind — get them to do some good graphics for your website that would boast your business. Of course, this option can be used only in limited circumstances.

The ideal situation for you would be to not even hear about a cash flow crisis. But that is not how real world is. You will run into cash flow issues. You have to think about strategic cash reserve so you can never run into crisis. Remember, when things get tough, the tough ones get going. If you have to become tough, plan for it.

Picture credits crazyneighborlady Amagill

Cash flow

Building a Winner’s Online Profile on p2w2

How to write online profile on p2w2

Picture credit: Lauren Manning

Among all the marketing tools available to a freelancer, a profile is by far the most important. Done carefully and with forethought, it can be the main engine of your business growth.
Profiles are like short, vivid biographies. Like a piece of art, a profile must capture the essence of your personality and your


The role of a profile is to convince the buyer to call you

When buyers look at your profile, they must want to engage you. To understand that, you must know what goes through an employer’s mind the content in which she goes through your profile. An employer looks at your profile on two occasions.
First, when you bid on a project, the buyer looks at the bid, thinks it’s interesting and then would like to confirm what she has seen in the bid through your profile. It can be through your own description, feedback from other buyers, or samples. In this scenario, the profile works to convince the buyer that you have the required credentials.
Second, when a buyer searches for a professional with a specific requirement, and the search results show your profile. The buyer goes through it and finds it interesting. In this case, your profile works to convince the buyer that you must be among the shortlist of candidates who can do her job.
In either case, the main challenge before you is to write a profile that is convincing that a buyer’s instant response is to pick up the phone and call you.

A good profile gives a glimpse of you, shows your expertise and sounds sincere
A freelancer’s work is more likely to be judged by:
A. Experience in the industry or the number of similar projects executed in the past, and/or
B. Feedback posted on p2w2, or references that can vouch for your work.
Where neither is available, i.e., where you are absolutely raw and new to the market, your best fallback is again your profile. That’s why you need to turn it into a first-rate, marketing tool. You have to do everything possible to make it:

  • Show your skills and who you are
  • Sound sincere
  • Read gripping, and
  • Look attractive and free of all grammatical errors

The key here is to invest the time required to bring your profile up to the cut required by your buyers.

All right! That’s easier said than done. Here are a few tips on how to give a face lift to your profile:

Put yourself in buyer’s shoes when you write an online profile on p2w2

What does a buyer want? Take an example. Imagine you are looking for a freelancer to write blog posts for you. What would you look for in that person?
“Can this person deliver the project?” is the question you want answered.
The first thing that you’d look for is demonstrated expertise. And buyers look at the Description, your samples, and the feedback to answer that question.
Further, in almost all cases, domain expertise is important. For instance, if you want an article to be targeted at insurance professionals, you would want that person to have knowledge of the insurance industry.
To simplify putting yourself in buyer’s shoes, understand what your potential buyers want and then start working to deliver on all those areas. I am not saying that you must fulfill all the requirements at the beginning itself. But it is necessary that you at least begin to think along those lines and are able to bring out strengths in your profile that the buyer/employer is looking for.

Make the best use of the marketing tools available on p2w2

Check out these two profiles as a sample – or (Yes! shows your profile without your contact information)
When you are building your profile on p2w2, you will find an important field titled “Description.” This is the face of your profile. Leaving it blank is as good as having no face for your profile. Make an expert use of all the tools available on p2w2 to sell your skills.

Use Skills section wisely. The 5 you enter should be your core skills where you are the master of the trade. There’s no point entering skills that you won’t win projects for!

In addition, indicate work type and domain preferences, projects that you are extremely good at handling.
Also, mention the time zone that you operate in and what is the best time to reach you.
In your contact details, especially phone numbers, give complete details, including country and area codes. Your data is confidential. It will only be revealed to buyers who want to talk to you.
This is also the field, where you must mention, your payment terms, expectations from the buyer, if any.
Also if you have any reservations relating to signing a ‘non disclosure agreement’ (NDA) or a “work for hire” clause, declare those beforehand in your profile.

Use relevant and recent samples

Post most relevant samples. Think of categories when you post samples.
“Which category of projects am I looking for? Will these samples convince a buyer that I am capable of delivering this type of work?” If your answer is yes, go right ahead.
Don’t make the mistake of pointing out a link, where a buyer can view your entire portfolio. You have to be specific. Four or five samples is a good number. If need be, you can post up to 10 samples. But more is not necessarily better. If you show your best work and if the samples cover all categories of work you are capable of, that is good enough.

Show passion; show commitment

A project is like a baby to a buyer. She wants to trust only with a caring nanny and a nice person. Demonstrate your interest and involvement in the project with solid proofs of your expertise. Tell the buyer just what excites you about her project and how you fit the bill.

Offer add-ons

Offers of basic design work on a writing project, insertion of royalty-free visuals etc., probably won’t cost you an extra dime, but it could go a long way in establishing trust and building rapport with a new customer. You discover value by offering something that does not cost you, but costs buyer a lot.

Firm up your track record

This cannot be overstated. The first thing that a service provider checks about a buyer is his past payment record. And, the first thing that a buyer checks about a service provider is other people’s opinion of his/her services. One bad review can delay your progress on p2w2. In order to have a positive rating from all your buyers, be willing to go that extra mile, stay true to your commitments and deliver on time. Satisfied buyers will always be willing to endorse your work to someone else.

SEO your profile

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a technique used for ensuring that your profile comes up in the top couple of pages in random Internet searches. For instance, a buyer does not visit Instead she just inserts ‘freelancing graphic designer” in the Google search bar. If your profile is search engine optimized, it will come up in the first few result pages.

Use these tips in how you write your profile and you will see better results.