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

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.

Clients and Service Providers: Partners or Arch-enemies?

Have you ever finished a meal at a restaurant and found the experience not worth your time and money? The waiter was not attentive enough, the food was stale, options were limited and finally you got the overall feeling that the management did not really appreciate your business as your attempts to request better service were ignored.
You just joined the dissatisfied customers club.

Could I get some service please
Could I get some service please? Picture credit:

Most know an unsatisfactory service when we are receiving it. Are we able to think for our own customers and go the extra mile to make their experience delightful?
p2w2 provides you with nuggets from the collective experience of all our users to make your more successful in building a lasting partnership with your customers.
p2w2 Blog had a great post recently on Pitfalls in Supplier Relationship Management. Interestingly, most of those points could apply in the other direction too. Suppliers too can at times get too fat and arrogant and succumb to the same pitfalls. They stop relating to the individual(s) behind the client organization, seek to squeeze too much by atrociously charging for every additional service request, adopt the “take it or leave it” approach when the client is trapped in a dire situation and finally, make every decision a matter of ego.

Another great post is on Freelancer Essentials, and it talks about how to establish as a reliable service provider. I will extend on these posts.

In my own career, I have gained a lot from working with seasoned professionals in customer relations. The need to manage clients and internal teams across the globe makes it even more challenging! This post draws from my experience on the bare essentials in establishing great relations with your clients.

View it from long-term client relationship perspective

In the services business, upwards of 70% of revenue comes from repeat business. Most of the new business comes from referrals from your existing clients. Effectively, your current clients can make or break your current revenue and its growth. What does that tell you? Every issue you have with your current clients should be viewed as if it affects growth of that account as well as a few other accounts. That’s the long term view. If you think it affects your current deal, you can move past that. That’s the short-term view. Which one do you follow?The right approach is to work together to get to a partnership, where both sides care for and actively work towards each other’s success. You give feedback to the client where if affects your business and the other way around. Not every client wants only the best price. They need relationships, timely service, and even references from you so your client can get other clients!


The Expansive Relationship of Two Individuals as An Independent One. Picture Credit:

Brighten the relationship with out-of-work activities

Partners share other interests too outside of work. Connect with your customer by finding out shared interests apart from just timely delivery of the agreed services. Photography, blogs, parties, baseball, soccer or Ping Pong… What does your client love to talk about? If you have similar interests, talk about them. If you know other people who have common interests, or can be of help to your clients, connect them. Your client will appreciate that and help you when you are in need.

Ask for feedback; Listen to your customer

Don’t pay lip service to listening to your customers. An often used, but usually poor strategy, is to use someone else (either outsourced, or a different administrative department) to survey your customers.

Your must ask for feedback frequently – what are we doing well for you? Where can we improve? Most people shy away from asking.

There are many benefits from asking for feedback.

First, it gives your client a platform to vent their feelings. You must patiently listen to her. That itself shows to the client that you give importance to her. You are one step closer to satisfying the client.

Second, it helps you narrow the gap between client’s expectations and your performance.

Third, you can figure out if there’s something you have but does not cost much for you but has a lot of value to your client. Discovering such aspects creates mutually beneficial relationship.

Put yourself in your client’s shoes

When you are at the receiving a service, consciously evaluate it. I have personally found this useful.When you are at the doctor’s office, waiting to talk to your bank’s service desk or requesting support from your internal technical/HR/facility helpdesk – were you treated the way you would have liked? What did you like? What should have been better? How can you apply that in the way you deliver service to your clients?

Bad news does not age well

The earlier you tell your client, the better the chance of working together on reducing the impact.

To deliver the message faster and to mitigate the impact, You can set up regular status meetings and using the meetings to disclose or warn about bad news. Being too early is better than being late at all.

Never defend the indefensible

When you make mistakes, accept them. Being passionate about your work and your team is noble. But nobody is perfect and at times we all make mistakes. Mature customers understand there are problems once in a while. Your ability to recover is as important as your ability to avoid most of them. Accept your faults and move on.

Customer is never wrong about the results s/he wants

Customer is sometimes wrong – but they are never wrong about the results they want (e.g. better service quality, faster deliver), but they may often be short- term focused and less knowledgeable about how they want you to achieve it. When a customer tries to tell you how to run your business, you should have the confidence in your own abilities to not let any pressure distract you from applying the right solution to deliver the right results.

Part amicably when things are simply not working out

Finally, there are times when your value systems simply do not match with those of customer’s. When there is too much interference that cramps your style of doing business or you are unfairly treated, it might require you to walk away. If a dialogue with the client does not produce a solution, move on. But you should part amicably. Parting amicably is always better than a bitter lawsuit! But parting amicably gives the client a chance to come back and talk about other opportunities she may have and retains a bit of reference value of that client for you.

Keep track of your goal

At a very high level, these are basic common sense points that we apply in most of interactions in our social circle. But the daily rigmarole can sometimes make us lose track of these when we deal with our clients. Being watchful

and not losing sight of what we have set out to achieve – a successful, well run business – should keep us right on track! I would love to hear from you on any other advice you might have for us and your fellow small business colleagues here at P2W2. Please do leave your comments!

YOU INC: Freelancer Essentials

of the globe is so easy, inspiring and empowering, that you can earn in dollars, on work that is interesting to you, from the comfort of your home with nothing more than a PC and a broadband. All you need to do is learn to anticipate a potential customer’s unmet needs (both real and imagined) and deliver on quality and timelines in a manner that she finds it easy and satisfactory to outsource the work to you than do it herself or outsource it to anyone else.Freelancer Essentials

Successful freelancing is more than just talking

It’s easier said than done. Do you know of a young businessman who started his own firm? He had just rented a beautiful office and had it furnished with antiques.

Sitting there, he saw a man come into the outer office. Wishing to appear busy and important, the businessman picked up the phone and started to pretend he had a big deal in the works. He threw huge figures around and made giant commitments.

Finally, he hung up the phone and asked the visitor, “Can I help you?”

The man said, “Yeah, I’m here to install the phones…”

If you are an amateur entrepreneur in services (“freelancer”), your client is as knowledgeable as the phone installer. She knows what you can do and what you can’t.

If you promise high, that does not mean you can deliver. She knows it takes time. She wants to know if YOU know that it takes time to deliver quality.

Here are a few hot tips on how to succeed as a freelancer:

Quality is paramount

The crux of delighting a client is in exceeding expectations. You have to exceed expectations on quality itself (i.e. ensuring that you deliver to the technical specs of what the client needs), second, on timeliness (you must deliver on-time) and third,

on soft aspects of the relationship i.e. responsiveness, courtesy etc.

All these together constitute quality. Not one in isolation. It’s like a shooting game where you have to hit not just one, but multiple targets with a single bullet!

If you know what the client wants, you can deliver it

Managing to extract a clear brief from your customer can be challenging at times, especially with a customer, who is not as gifted with words or time, as you are and is still experimenting with the outsourcing model, but this is a skill that you absolutely must develop in order to succeed as a freelancer.

To make your client articulate, you must ask the right questions. (Is it this or that? Did you mean…, is it ok if…, when do you need this…) because you would like to nail down the exact specs of the project and narrow down the ambiguity.

After that, you must write down the requirements of the project in scope statements – articulate clearly what’s included, what’s excluded, the timelines, major decisions taken during meetings and so on.

Sounds obvious? You will be amazed at how many offshore projects get kicked-off without a review and comment on the scope of the project.

The onus of making the buyer articulate what he/she wants rests with you. You have to make sure that the terms are clear.

Delivering on time enhances client’s confidence in you

Don’t assume that the other party would instinctively know that you are working on the project. Send timely updates to let the buyer know the progress on her project. Specially, when you have started the project and when you have met important milestones. And, unless absolutely needed for emergency reasons, don’t ask the buyer to stretch the deadline. Plan and meet the schedule. If you know that you can’t meet the deadline for sure, give the news as soon as you know it. Don’t wait until the deadline to give this news. If there’s high probability of delaying, figure out when you are likely to deliver the milestone or the project and let the buyer know.

That will enhance the customer’s confidence in your abilities because buyers know that there will be delays. It’s your job to manage them.

Build relationships – not temporary employment

Every provider-client relationship is unique and important. The relationship is a function of exceeding expectations on quality and timeliness, putting buyer’s requirements ahead of your own, the compromises you’ve made in favor of the buyer, competitive pricing etc.

If you share a great relationship with her, then you will get a lot of business and she will refer a number of clients.

Relationship leads to higher repeat business and spin-off relationships.

Put all the specs and changes in writing

A deal in writing forces clarity of thought and brings everybody on the same page. Successful service is about having common expectations on what has to be delivered and then staying true to that commitment. The scope of the project, the time lines and all the other deliverables must be clearly written.

We know that terms change. You must document them as soon as they change. That brings in clarity to your project. Use p2w2’s Terms feature that lets you articulate all the terms. It lets you manage those terms even when there are multiple changes.

Lethargy is client-repellent

It causes delays and affects customer satisfaction. You must develop the habit of working for a few fixed hours everyday. Preferably, you should have a designated work area at home and the discipline to follow fixed schedules even at home in order to keep a pipeline of projects ready for the next couple of months’ rollout. A freelancer’s income could be erratic, but you don’t have to contribute to making it even more.

If you are a housewife, looking for some extra income, this could be just the right profession for you, provided you are willing to commit yourself to schedules. Housewives doubling up as freelancers would have to develop the necessary discipline in themselves.

Sample your work; then ask for good rate

Too low a price can make a client feel that you are a bad at work. Too high rate is not sustainable. Over time, you will know where to do the balancing act. However, a buyer must taste your work before she’s convinced that you deserver a better price for your work. She has to experience both the quality of your work and your ‘dependability’ factor. If you are good at both, the buyer will herself want to keep you with higher rates. In addition, diversity in projects can bring you higher fees.

Beware of cross cultural pitfalls

Culture differs from place to place. For instance, a deadline is not held sacred everywhere. Nor is the definition of work ethics the same. But if you are working on a project, you have to have patience to understand the client is talking about.. Especially, if you feel that your client is being unreasonable or ridiculous, find out why? What does she need? Why is she acting in this way?

Keep in mind the time zone differences and project culture. It is the service provider’s responsibility either to know the buyer’s work ethic and work with her if it suits or inform her about your own.

Freelancing is a great teacher. But you have to learn

Freelancing has its obvious benefits: you are your own master and you have the freedom to choose your own projects, price, terms and schedules. But there are challenges. Because you would have to develop all the qualities of an entrepreneur, especially in terms of rendering a job well and on time!

If you are new to the trade, have the patience to learn the tricks of the trade. p2w2 will provide you the right content and the right platform for you to succeed.

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How to Lock-in Your Clients – 1: Listen to them

Many small businesses face this issue.

Listening skills for small business

“I want my customer to stay with me and not go to the competition. How do I do that?”

Many small businesses think that making their clients stay is difficult and complex. Nothing can be farther from truth. It’s simple, easy and, best of all, does not cost anything.

Most [means all :-)] people have a need-the need to feel important; the need to be acknowledged and understood; the need to feel valued and cared for. When you deliver a service, the above needs come to the fore. When a client’s need for feeling important is not satisfied, it hurts him/her and feel neglected. They complain – “service is poor.”

How do you make the client feel important and cared for? There is one simple way.
Listen to your client well. It’s as simple as it sounds. And it’s easy to implement.

How do you listen better? The first thing to do is to start with YOU. You must develop a desire to listen to your client.

DESIRE to listen

You must develop a desire to listen to your client. What does she have to say? Listen patiently and wait until he/she is finished. If something is not clear, ask him/her at the logical moment. The desire to listen must be as a receiver of information- not as a critic. The desire is to understand the client and not to make her agree to something or to change her opinion.

If you get this, the rest are all details. It’s just a matter of time you will be able to listen better. If you don’t it’s unlikely that you will improve. So I suggest that you check for yourself if you have the desire.

Once you have the desire, it is time to go beyond understand the how to listen better. I recommend these good resources that give you very good grounding on how to improve your listening skills.

1. How to be a good listener

2. Practicing listening skills

3. Eight barriers to effective listening

In addition, the table below (Source: Active listening: Skills Associated with Empathy ) summarizes what you should do.

It breaks down listening skill into detailed tasks. It’s a good check list of activities that you can do to improve your listening skills.

What you should do

What it means

Attending, acknowledging

Providing verbal or non-verbal awareness of


other, i.e. eye contact

Restating, paraphrasing

Responding to person’s basic verbal message


Reflecting feelings, experiences, or content

that has been heard or perceived through cues


Offering a tentative interpretation about the

other’s feelings, desires, or meanings

Summarizing, synthesizing

Bringing together in some way feelings and

experiences; providing a focus


Questioning in a supportive way that requests more

information or that attempts to clear up confusions

Giving feedback

Sharing perceptions of the other’s ideas or feelings;

disclosing relevant personal information


Showing warmth and caring in one’s own individual way

Checking perceptions

Finding out if interpretations and perceptions

are valid and accurate

Being quiet

Giving the client time to think as well as to talk

Your clients will love you if you develop listening skills. That’s because they don’t have good professionals – those who care for them and value them-and so are looking for them. If you can show them that you are ‘good’ and are willing to listen to them, they will give you more business.

Before I close this post, I would like to tell you that having listening skills alone will not cut it. You have to perform. You have to deliver what the client wants. You have to do what the client is paying you to do. But you can expect better loyalty from them because you’ve listened better.

I hope you will be able to imbibe listening skills and delight your clients!

About the author: Chaitanya Sagar is an expert in small businesses and is the CEO of, an online marketplace for services like writing, business consulting, research, software, online-tutoring etc. You can find good service providers and collaborate with them on p2w2. He blogs at You can Subscribe to RSS feed here.

Picture: LifeDynamix