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:
- 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.
- Write in good English (or another language if this is specifically asked for) – many buyers will be put off by poor spelling and grammar.
- 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!