FAQ: How do I place a bid on a Freelancer.com project?

25 11 2010

I was recently asked this question in a comment on this post, so rather than simply replying to the comment, I’ve decided to give it’s own blog post. Perhaps others will also find it useful!

So, to place a bid on a Freelancer.com project, it goes without saying that you need to register for a Freelancer.com account. You can find out how to do this by reading Freelancer‘s own FAQS, under “About Freelancer.com > How do I sign up?” Please please PLEASE READ the Terms and Conditions, and also the Code of Conduct to make sure that you understand what you are signing up for, and the rules and regulations you must abide by. If you don’t follow these rules, don’t be surprised if your account is suspended!

To bid on a project, you first need to find a project that you want to bid on. When you signed up for an account, you specified which project categories you were interested in – you can only bid on projects in these categories. Visit the “browse projects” page and click on the categories you are interested in to search for appropriate jobs. Alternatively, you can sign up to have emails containing brief details of the projects in your categories sent to your inbox every day, often multiple times a day. This ensures you never miss out on that really great project.

When you have found a project you think that you are qualified for and would like to do, click on the “bid on this project” button to be taken to the bid form. Here, you will need to enter your bid amount, either in US dollars, or the currency specified by the buyer (the person who has posted the project). Your bid must be what you would like to be paid for the entire project - you are not allowed to submit a “placeholder bid” (an approximate or estimated bid). If the buyer hasn’t provided enough information to allow you to judge this properly, you’ll need to ask for more information on the public message board (click “Post message on project clarification board” on the project’s main page). Annoyingly though, you’ll have to check this message board at regular intervals to see if the buyer has replied to you – there is currently no way of being notified of replies. Also worth bearing in mind is that Freelancer does not allow you to place a bid for an hourly rate.

Next, enter the number of days that you would expect to complete the project in, from the day that the project is awarded. You are not duty-bound to meet this deadline, although your buyer may be annoyed if you run over schedule and you haven’t cleared it with them first, but you should try to be as accurate as possible. There is no point saying you can do something in 1 day if you also have other deadlines to meet or the project will clearly take much longer.

The next piece of information to enter is the initial milestone percentage required. This is like a security deposit, except that you don’t get the money in your account straight away. If you are awarded a project with a total value of, say, $100, and you request an initial milestone of 50%, then the buyer should set up a milestone payment of $50 for you, after they have accepted your bid but before you start work. This money leaves the buyer’s account, and is held securely by Freelancer until you have completed an agreed amount of work and the buyer releases it to you.

Underneath the milestone percentage box, there is a check-box that you should tick if you want your bid to be “highlighted”. Personally, I think this is a waste of time and money. All that happens for your extra $1 USD is that your bid appears with a different coloured background and a box around it to make it stand out from the rest. For me, the best way to make your bid stand out from the rest is to write a well-written bid proposal that convinces the buyer that you’re the best person for the job! Please note, if you do use this option, you must have sufficient funds in your Freelancer account to pay for it upfront – you will not be able to use this option if your account balance is negative or zero.

Next is the really important bit: your bid proposal. Actually, what I usually do in the “details of your bid” box is write something like “Please see the private message board for further details of my bid”, and then I put my proposal in a private message to the buyer (check the “Also send a private message to the project seller” box). It’s up to you whether you choose to make your bid private like this, but I do it this way because a) I don’t want other people to copy my bids and b) I post links to my portfolio and I’d prefer not to broadcast these to the world and his wife. Whichever way you choose, your bid proposal is CRUCIAL. The price and turnaround time are of course important, but what will really sell you services to the buyer is what you write here. You need to convince the buyer that you have the best skills and experience to do the project better than any of the others. There are many tips I could give, but my top 3 would be:

  1. Be as descriptive as possible – a one sentence bid just won’t cut it. You need to give details about why you’re the best person for the job.
  2. Write in good English (or another language if this is specifically asked for) – many buyers will be put off by poor spelling and grammar.
  3. Post links to relevant examples in your portfolio, if you have them. If a buyer can see that you have completed similar projects before, this gives you a definite advantage over other people who have less experience. (But be careful if uploading samples of your samples of your work. If you own the copyright, make it clear to the buyer that the samples are not for reuse, and if you don’t own the copyright (i.e. it is something that you have produced for someone else), make sure you have the copyright holder’s permission.)

The last check box on the bid form is the “Notify me by e-mail if someone bids lower than me on this project” box. I never use this as I’m not interested in being the cheapest bidder – I want to be the best bidder – but if you are concerned with price, then check this box.

I hope this helps some of you new Freelancers out there, but please do ask if you have any further questions and I’ll try to answer them as best as I can!

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47 responses

8 12 2010
riddhi

Hi thanks for providing the relevent info abt bidding,but after bidding is it that the project provider will select the best bid n after his notification I’ll have to start the project.

8 12 2010
lisaamartin

Yes, exactly right. A buyer will select a freelancer from all the bids that he or she receives. If they choose you, what they should do is formally accept you for the project via Freelancer.com. If this happens, you’ll be sent an email notifying you that you have been awarded the project, and you will have to click the link in the email to accept or reject it. Assuming you accept it, you’ll then be sent another email to tell you that the project has started, and you’ll be given the buyer’s email address so that you can contact them directly to discuss how you will proceed from there. Do remember that it is against Freelancer’s rules to provide each other with contact details BEFORE the project has been formally awarded – you may discuss the project via the private message board, but you may not give out your email address, phone number, Skype ID etc. If you do, you risk having your account suspended.

20 01 2011
CARITO

Lisa! Thank you SO MUCH for walking me over the bid world!
kind regards from Argentina!

20 01 2011
lisaamartin

¡de nada! ¡buena suerte! :)

22 12 2013
mindereader

i does not click on bid in any project why??

24 01 2011
givemespace21

Thank you very much for the knowledge, Lisa. I recently signed up on Freelancer.com and hope to express my writing instinct plus earning some money because I have no formal job these three months – living on saving :-).

I also had placed a bid for a freelancer project and the buyer-to-be had respond to me via the project clarification board -previously I thought that this board is where I can send PM (Private Message?) so I also attached a sample copy but it turned out to be public board: but it’s OK.

By the time I write this comment in your rich blog, I still have not understand yet what should I do next because the buyer-to-be responded positively in the board but told me to bid while in fact I had placed the bid. Well, after I read your post I think I understand that I should make a formal proposal.

When I have edited by bid, do you think that I should attached another sample copy too? I already composed the proposal but still doubting whether to attach another one or not – well, you know, I have to postpone a posting in one of my blogs if I were to attach one more.

Thank you, Lisa. God bless you.

24 01 2011
lisaamartin

Hi there and thanks for visiting my blog!
In order for your bid to count, it must be placed via the proper bid form – bids placed on the public message board cannot be accepted, but perhaps you know that now.
As regards samples, it’s entirely up to you if you want to attach one or not. Personally I don’t usually do this, and certainly never on the public message board. Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous “buyers” and users of Freelancer who ask for free samples, or mine samples from the public message boards and reproduce these articles without permission or payment (they usually end up on sites like ArticleBase, or a pay-per-click affiliate marking site). If I trust a buyer enough to post a sample, I make sure it is just that – a small excerpt of a bigger piece of work (I never give the whole thing away). In most cases, rather than sending a sample, I send the buyer the link to my website. If they’re a legitimate buyer, they’ll take the time to browse my portfolio, and even if they do feel like stealing anything, I no longer own the copyright for most of the work I have had published, so it’s not my problem!
Regarding the project with which you have had contact from the buyer, there’s really nothing more you can do at this stage, other than send the buyer a message to ask if they are still interested in your proposal. Don’t be too pushy though! Though the buyer may be interested in your services, they may also be interested in several other bidders. If the project is still open for bidding, they may be waiting to see what other proposals they receive. They might just be taking their time in making their mind up, or have abandoned the project altogether! Until you have received the official notification from Freelancer that you have been awarded a project, the ball is in the buyer’s court I’m afraid.

24 01 2011
givemespace21

Hi, Lisa. I got the job :-). I hope this job will be alright. The buyer wants me to work 6am to 6pm GMT, 5 articles @500 words, for the first week test. I am working hard to figure out what is 6am GMT means for my GMT+7. I shall find out though and be ready.

By the way, I have already made direct contact with the buyer – chatting – but there is no official notification from Freelancer. I mean, there is no change in my Freelancer Activity bar: they are still no-no. The Project Table does not change either. Do you think it will be fine?

24 01 2011
lisaamartin

If you have been formally awarded the project, you should have received an email from Freelancer with the subject line: “Project [project title] for [your username] by [buyer's username] Begins”, and the first line of the email subject will be “Congratulations! You won the following Freelancer.com project:”. There will be a link in that email asking you to accept or decline the project. You should also see the project listed in the “Current work” section of your project table, your account will have been debited with Freelancer’s fee ($5 or 10% of your bid) and the project description page will show your user name as the awarded bidder.

If this hasn’t happened then you have NOT officially been awarded the project and it sounds like you may have committed 2 counts of Freelancer felony. You are NOT allowed to exchange contact details or contact a buyer via email, IM or any means other than via the Freelancer private message boards before a project is properly awarded, and you are not allowed to bypass paying Freelancer’s fees by starting a project without it having been awarded to you. You could well be at risk of having your account suspended, so I would strongly urge you to make sure that you have been awarded the project BEFORE starting any work. Accepting a project properly also means that you have some protection if your buyer decides to not pay you for any reason. PLEASE read the Freelancer terms and conditions and code of conduct!!

By the way, 6am GMT is 1pm in your time zone. I hope that if your buyer is asking you to write from 1pm until 1am every day he is going to pay you well for it! Good luck with that!

26 01 2011
givemespace21

:-(. I’m just too late visiting your blog again, Lisa.

I can’t help it. I was too excited with my first job. As soon as I received the first task, I was too busy worked on it. I had sent the result but the employer never showed up again and never reply my mail. The project in the Freelancer also had been canceled.

And like your warning, I have no protection. The 5 unique articles @500 words went away with me gaining nothing. I read the TOS again and sure that I can do nothing. If I were to dispute, I would have no evidence.

If only I read your reply earlier. I hope I can learn something from this. I hope that my account won’t be troubled because I want to be more intense in writing this way.

Thank you, Lisa. :-)

1 02 2011
kaizen550

Thank you very much for that educative blog ,I am anew entrant to the freelancer.com club wants to take up few assignment on engg subject. your blog gave an idea about how to get bid on project jobs . my question is any exam to be taken before sending my bid pl clarify .regards

1 02 2011
lisaamartin

Hi and thanks for visiting my blog! There are a number of Freelancer exams that you can take to demonstrate your skills in a particular area, but these cost $5 each (except the Employer’s Orientation and Freelancer Orientation which are free – I suggest you take these). It is not mandatory to take any exams before you place a bid and, in my opinion, it is debatable whether employers even take notice of them. I took a couple of exams when they were first introduced by Freelancer (they were all free for a trial period then) and I found some of the questions/answers very ambiguous. It is much better to have a strong portfolio of past work that you can show potential buyers as this is hard evidence that you can do what you say you can do, as opposed to shaky answers on a pop quiz.

1 02 2011
kaizen550

so its clear now that bid can be made depending on my skill ACTUALLY Your blog helped to formulate an idea to write the narrative information about the job and execution once again thank you very much regards .

1 02 2011
lisaamartin

No problem, glad I could help!

1 02 2011
Majo Grajeda

Hi, I cannot find where to send Personal Messages from.
It’d be nice if you could help me here!

Thank you!

1 02 2011
lisaamartin

Hi Majo,

You can’t send private messages until you have placed a bid. If you want to ask questions about a project before you place a bid, you should do this on the public message board (there’s a link on the project description page – your question may help others too!). When you place a bid, you’ll find a checkbox to tick if you want to send the buyer a private message, and this will be sent when you submit your bid. After that, you’ll be able to message the buyer in private through your Freelancer message inbox.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

16 02 2011
Sam

Do you know if a employer selects your bid, but you don’t accept yet, can you lower your bid at this time so the employer won’t have to pay you as much? Basically I found out I bid too much but I can’t change the bid now cuz it’s all frozen. But I still want the employer to consider me, that’s why.

16 02 2011
lisaamartin

Hi Sam, I think if you want to change your bid while the project is frozen, both you and the buyer will need to contact Freelancer support to request this. But why would you want to lower your bid? If the buyer has accepted your bid at the rate you offered, then this is what he or she should be prepared to pay you!

16 02 2011
Sam

Yeah it’s actually not that. Right now I bid too much and I know they won’t choose me, so i wanna pm the employer and say i will work for less money. So they can choose me! But if I can’t change the bid at all then it’s all pointless, cuz then they have to pay my original bid even if my pm says they don’t, and i don’t want that. :(

16 02 2011
lisaamartin

Ah so the buyer hasn’t actually accepted you but the project is frozen so you can’t change your bid. I see. I’m afraid there’s nothing you can do about that. Underbidding – offering less than your bid in a private message – is not allowed on Freelancer, so I wouldn’t recommend trying this if you don’t want to have your account suspended.

I would still argue that there is no need to lower your price – buyers do not have to choose the cheapest bidder, and many of them actively choose not to, holding to the belief that “you get what you pay for” (a theory that there is a lot of truth in, especially on Freelancer.com!). In my opinion, if you think you’re worth what you originally bid, you shouldn’t devalue yourself just to win more projects. If you do, it’ll make it harder to increase your rate in the long run. People can see from your Freelancer feedback profile how much you earned on a project, and if they can see that you did project A for $B, they’ll expect to pay no more than that.

In my experience, the best way to win bids is not to be the cheapest bidder, but to be the best bidder. This means, I put a lot of thought into what I write in my bid to try and convince the buyer that I am the best person for the job. It helps that I have a good portfolio to demonstrate my experience, which you might not have if you’re just starting out, but honestly, a well-written, well-thought out bid is far better than bidding low.

I read a really good article about pitching low for freelance projects – you should read this: http://freelanceswitch.com/money/how-to-tell-when-your-rates-are-too-low/.

Good luck with your next project!

21 02 2011
kaizen550

HI AFTER FEW ATTEMPTS OF BIDDING FOR PROJECT WORK SOME ARE INVITING ME TO TAKE TEST WHICH IS NOWHERE MENTIONED IN THEIR PROJECT DETAIL , SO PL INFORM IS IT NORMAL PROCEDURE OF THE EMPLOYER OR SOME KIND OF FAKE PROJECT SECONDLY OFTER BIDDING IN LINE A ENVELOPE FIG APPEARS WHAT IS THAT MEANS PL INFORM REGARDS

21 02 2011
lisaamartin

Hi, I’m not exactly sure which tests you are referring to, but it may be that the buyer wants you to prove your skills in a certain area by taking one of the Freelancer tests. You can find out more information about these here: http://www.freelancer.com/exam/exams/index.php (be warned that they cost $5 each and in my opinion, aren’t that good. Better proof of your skills should come from a portfolio of ready-prepared work).
If the buyer is asking you to take his/her own test, then it is up to you if you want to take it – use your own discretion. If the “test” involves writing a new sample on a given topic or editing a document that is actually the project, then I’d stay away from this as the buyer might be getting you to complete the project without pay!
To answer your second question, the envelope symbol that appears next to your bid simply indicates that you have sent the buyer a private message. If you click on that envelope symbol, you can continue to communicate with the buyer via private message.

21 02 2011
givemespace21

My advice: Don’t ever take any test or send any sample to the employer, except that the employer states that you can use sample which had been already published somewhere else. This way you won’t spend your resources for a fifty-fifty employer (fifty percent real employer, fifty percent SCAM).

21 02 2011
lisaamartin

I agree with this advice! There are a lot of buyers who ask you to write a sample especially for their project, but as soon as you submit it, they’ll just take that sample and use it (or rewrite it) without your permission. If you have an online portfolio of ready-prepared work, send the link to this (and make certain to tell the buyer that this work is all copyrighted). There should be no reason for you to create new work for sample purposes.

25 06 2011
Monjurul Hoque

if i failed any exam then can i retake again and i need pay again or its free

28 06 2011
lisaamartin

I’m not sure actually Monjurul. I will check for you. I suspect you would have to pay again though!

29 06 2011
Jenny

Thank you so much forsharing your expertise. In the future if there are problems that may occur about my bids, can you extend your advice to me?

29 06 2011
Jenny

Thank you so much for sharing your expertise. In the future if there are problems that may occur about my bids, can you extend your advice to me?

29 06 2011
lisaamartin

Hi Jenny, I don’t use Freelancer very much any more as I’m so busy, but if I can help, I will be pleased to help. Remember that I don’t work for Freelancer however, so any advice I give is only based on my own experience and research.

30 10 2011
ahmii

hi, i just wanted to remove my ambiguity, recently i bid on a project in freelancer.com and the buyer of my services (the person giving the project) messaged me to start working (giving a link to a software and a login name). i am confused that whether he has accepted my Bid or not ! No notification or any thing has been received by me. he just mail me and told me to start the work. Help would be really appreciated. Thanks.

7 11 2011
lisaamartin

If you have been properly accepted for a bid, you will receive an email notification from Freelancer to say so – there should also be a ‘congratulations’ message on your Freelancer dashboard. NEVER take the buyer’s word for it and NEVER start working on a project until you have received this official notification. Sometimes it is simply a case of the buyer not knowing that there is a process they need to follow, but often a buyer will not do things by the book so that they can scam you and you won’t be able to leave negative feedback. I’m always worried when I see projects requiring login IDs as to me, this sounds like someone is getting you to do their affiliate work. Be careful!

8 11 2011
ahmii

Thanku Lisa, that’s a really good advice . Some Buyer’s were trying to fool me by convincing me to start work and after completing the task will get paid. but thanks 2 ur blog i was saved. i was having the same feeling that how would i prove that the work was mine(if i had done it) and get paid without having any official Bid acceptance from the buyer .. Thanku again for the advice.

22 02 2012
farhad

Hey Lisa,

After completing all bid information on the page. But at the bottom of the page ‘PLACE BID’ option not work. thats why i can’t place bid. Plz help me.

23 02 2012
lisaamartin

Hi Farhad, the problem you described could be caused by a number of things. The one that springs to mind is that perhaps you are not registered for the project category that you are trying to bid for? Or maybe you don’t have enough bid credits left this month? Could also be that the buyer has frozen the project, or might even be your internet browser! I suggest you check your account and if you still don’t know what is wrong, then pls contact Freelancer support.

9 07 2012
kavi

awesome post really…
Was confused about that bidding stuff.. cleared all doubts here. thank you so much

15 08 2012
Ken Haynes

Hi Lisa.

I have just subscribed to Freelancer.com and I found your advice invaluable.

Regards,
Ken.

19 08 2012
lisaamartin

Thanks Ken, glad I could help!

15 08 2012
Ken Haynes

Oooops, I meant to say “Thank You”. Take my advice and never hire me :-)

16 12 2012
sajal

hello every one i have a problem and i would be thankfull if u would give me a solution the problem is when i try to bid on some project in freelancer.com it shows this me: error invalid parameters someone please help i would be thankfull and reply me as soon as possible

18 12 2012
lisaamartin

Hi Sajal, this sounds like a technical issue so I’m afraid I can’t really help, but some things to try/check:
1) Try using a different internet browser?
2) Are you eligible to bid on the job posts/categories that you are trying to bid on?
3) Do you have enough bid credits?
4) If all else fails, try Freelancer support.

6 01 2013
sajal

and i wantad to tel you that when i try to give some details in the box like giveing my pic in the box it does not allow me it shows me a black screen and even can you say me how to contact freelancer support or any other alternatives

2 06 2013
Ana

Hello,
Could you please tell me if a freelancer can be paid directly by the employer? Can the employer pay the freelancer using paypal and not the milestone payments from freelancer.com?

2 06 2013
lisaamartin

Someone who has used Freelancer more recently may be better able to help you, but I think I am right in saying that you if you ‘meet’ an employer for a particular project on Freelancer, you must conduct that project properly using the Freelancer system, otherwise you risk having your account suspended and you will not be able to use their dispute system if something goes wrong with the project. However, always bear in mind that using Freelancer is not the only way to freelance! When I have used Freelancer in the past, I only used it for the first project with an employer to establish trust and rapport. After that, you have their contact details and can work with them ‘off site’ if you wish. I would only recommend this if you are sure the client is trustworthy though!

3 06 2013
Ana

Thank you for your answer. The employer said it would be costly to use the milestone payment system and in the end agreed to pay through invoices. I don’t see why it would be a better payment method than the first one.

5 07 2013
Mouse

Thank you so much for posting this…It was extremely helpful.

26 07 2013
Hassam Hameed

Don we have to give our paypal details before submitting the bid?

26 07 2013
lisaamartin

No, don’t give out any personal details at the bid stage. The only things you should be writing in your bid are why you are the best person for the job, your experience, and yor bid amount. If and when you are selected as the winning bidder, then you can work out the payment details with the buyer.

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