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How to Write Job Proposals

Compile a Compelling Proposal for Online Jobs

winning business proposal
Write the best proposal you can – whether online or on paper!

Writing job proposals for potential employers who have posted projects on outsourcing sites is a very similar process to writing job proposals for any other new prospective employers. The most important factor involves selling your skills and convincing the employer that you are the best person for the job.

There are several things you need to cover including:

  • who you are and why you are the best person to employ for any writing job,
  • how your skills relate to the project that is being advertised,
  • how you can meet the employer’s needs, and
  • how you will ensure that you will be able to meet the required deadline.

Present Yourself

Whatever job you choose to bid for, you need to introduce yourself and show prospective clients who you are and what you have already achieved. If you have previous experience, and you have training and employment records, then it’s a good idea to draw up a convincing CV (curriculum vitae) or resume. Whatever you choose to call it, this is basically a document that outlines your educational and professional history, and it is commonly required when people apply for jobs. A good CV will set you apart from other freelance writers bidding for the same project. Many providers include a CV in their portfolio, so if you’re not sure, have a look to see what other writers do.

If you don’t have experience or reasonably impressive qualifications, then you need to approach this part of your proposal in a different way. If you have the ability to become a successful writer, this shouldn’t be difficult – but be honest. For instance, you could simply write a paragraph that describes your commitment to a writing career. Just don’t make claims that you aren’t going to be able to fulfil; that could be the virtual death of you!

Show What You Can Do

It is always a good idea to show potential employers what you are capable of. But you also need to be sure than any samples you provide are relevant to the job you are bidding for. You may be able to do the job better than anyone else, but the employer won’t be convinced unless you can do something to prove this point.

I know this can be incredibly frustrating for people with loads of experience.

One solution is to prepare a sample of writing that might meet the employer’s needs. But be careful because you could shoot yourself in the foot, so to speak, by guessing on specifications.

Some outsourcing sites, including Elance, do not allow employers to demand or even ask for samples of work to be done as part of the bid. It stands to reason that if an employer was to list a job and ask each bidder to provide a sample piece of writing that meets the job criteria, they could get the work done for nothing. If you see this happening, be aware. Elance and some of the other sites have a violation policy to safeguard people like you and me. If you think there is a violation, report it.

Meet the Requirements

If you are a good writer you will be able to get work on outsourcing sites. The very fact that some employers require bidders to mention a phrase or specific word in their bid documents shows that there are many more bad writers than good writers. Employers need to protect their interests just as much as you do. So if an employer asks you to quote “caterpillar lovers” in your bid, do so, even if the job involves a technical report dealing with oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

Not all employers have specific instructions in terms of their bid, but most do say what they want. What you need to do is show exactly how you will be able to meet their needs. If you do this, you will be well on your way to a successful bid.

Good luck!

Manage Your Time and Make Money

Time Management is Critical in all Fields of Work

Clock428-sIf you are a freelance agent who relies on working for numerous clients, it is essential to manage your time. In fact it is a critical factor of success, irrespective of your line of work.

If you don’t manage your time adequately, the biggest threat will be that you are not able to meet multiple deadlines. Or you might meet some of them, and then let other clients down.

What Happens if you don’t Manage Your Time

Time management is a critical factor in all fields of work, at every level from the CEO down to the person who is responsible for keeping the office clean. It doesn’t matter how you earn your money, if you don’t manage your time, you’re going to lose out somewhere along the line.

When I first became a freelance writer, I already had a good relationship with three magazine editors, because just prior to this I’d been working for them fulltime. But whilst I was an employee, I could balance my time without anyone asking too many questions. If I was already busy with an article, the other editors would simply have to wait until I was available. I officially worked from 9 am until 5 pm five days a week (although I did put in extra hours without any overtime remuneration), and if time ran out, and I wasn’t willing or able to stay late, so be it. At the end of the month I received my salary cheque, and I knew how much to expect.

Going freelance had its immediate challenges. I had to set my own targets, and if I didn’t get the work done, I simply didn’t get paid. Not only that, there was no more medical aid or pension scheme to fall back on, and the PAYE that was deducted seemed to increase.

While all three magazines were home orientated, the editors’ needs were different and individually demanding.

It went reasonably well at first, until I spread my wings a little and took on some more demanding non-fiction book projects. Contracts were structured so that I had no choice but to deliver specifics at given times. So if I ran out of time, my magazine work bore the brunt.

After I’d missed a few deadlines, one of the magazine editors suggested I write down my daily things to do! “If you don’t complete everything, carry it forward to the next day’s list,” she suggested. I can’t remember taking her advice, and I probably didn’t, because the next thing I knew, a wanna-be freelancer, with very little experience had slipped in the door and taken my place.

That is the first lesson to learn: NOBODY IS INDISPENSABLE. If you don’t manage your time, and you don’t have the time to deliver what people want, they will replace you. It’s as simple as that.

Manage Your Projects

One of the worst things that can happen to a new freelance writer is to be too busy. But you need to learn how to say “no” when necessary.

Of course not every freelancer is lucky enough to be busy all the time, and it does depend on your method of finding work. This, in turn, depends on the type of work you want to do. Many magazine editors prefer to work with writers they know, and it can be difficult to break into that field. But today there are so many internet-based outsourcing sites, if you write well, you will find writing work.

Most outsourcing sites work on a bid system. So clients post their assignments and contributors bid (or quote), giving their price and “selling” their skills. It isn’t too different from sending your CV out to a range of potential clients; after all you don’t immediately know which bids will be successful. Either way, one of the most problematic scenarios is to be awarded too many jobs.

The problem is that unless you are able to manage your time and ensure that you are able to complete all the jobs you get within the milestones or deadlines agreed upon, you will soon be heading for a downhill ride, and could find that these particular clients don’t offer you repeat projects.

The only way to succeed is to balance your time and make sure that you are able to complete your projects when (or before) they are required.

Manage Your Proposals

If you are going to be able to manage your deadlines, you will also need to be able to manage your bids and any proposals you present to clients.

Take the outsourcing sites like PeoplePerHour, Guru and Elance as an example. One of the most prevalent problems for new freelancers bidding on outsourcing sites is the fact that it really is impossible to know which bids are going to be accepted. Even when and if you are invited to bid, you won’t be any the wiser, unless of course the client has used your services before. Even then, not all repeat clients discuss jobs on offer, and many will invite multi providers to bid. As a newbie, the danger is that you will bid away hoping desperately that you will get your first job awarded. Nothing happens. Then you try again. This is when a lot of newcomers give up and they stop bidding. But those who persevere often find that suddenly they have more work than they can cope with. Strangely, this can be a real problem.

The secret is to play your cards carefully, and slowly. Don’t aim for too many projects at once. Having said that, you also need to bid for new jobs that will kick in once the jobs you are working on are completed, to ensure a steady flow of income. So when you bid for new jobs on outsourcing sites, pay careful attention to the time allowed for bids to be placed. For example, if you have a current project that is taking up all your time, and it has two more weeks to run, only bid on jobs that are due to be closed in about two weeks time. You’ll only be caught if the client closes the bidding early because he or she really likes your bid and wants you to start work immediately! And be warned that this does happen.

Make sure you can meet your deadlines

It is irrelevant whether you are working for an employer in your home town, or somebody based in another country who buys services on-line, you need to be sure that when you have specific deadlines you are able to meet them. If you don’t, your reputation will suffer, particularly if you are working for an online outsourcing site, because the feedback factor can easily  and instantly – come back to haunt you.

Never promise to do what you may not able to do. When you bid, you are required to put in a timeline, so it is ultimately you who is making the choice. My best advice is for you to play safe and give yourself a bit of extra time. If you finish early, you’re more likely to get good star ratings.

You also need to keep track of the work you have been awarded. Deadlines come and go, and it is very easy to take on a new job and then suddenly remember that you have another that still needs to be completed. You can keep track in many different ways:

  • with your cell phone,
  • on your computer (I use stickies on my desktop), or
  • in a notebook (which is what I often do as a backup).

What matters is that you check your progress regularly so that you don’t neglect virtual or real-time clients, especially when you get really busy.

Manage your time

The more experience you have writing, the more likely you are to be able to assess how long different writing projects are likely to take. But be warned that every job is different. For instance some rely on intensive research while others don’t. Once you start a project, you will be able to assess your time needs more accurately. Then you can set aside a specific period of time each day to be certain you will meet your deadline.

And don’t forget those lists!

Make Money Outsourcing

How Much Money Can You Make from

Outsourcing Sites?

It is possible to make a substantial amount of money online writing for employers who have registered with outsourcing sites. The amount you can make, however, depends on the type of jobs you bid for and your level of bidding success. It also depends on how much time and effort you are prepared to put into the work.

The different sites all work slightly differently. Most show what freelancers earn, even though some of them do give freelancers the option to hide this information.

Analysis of Guru and Elance

Money from outsourcing
The top three writers ranked on Guru in January 2014 earned between US$64,244 and US$44,120 each per annum. They advertised their hourly rates at between $25 and $45.

In my article on the benefits of outsourcing, I mentioned that two of the most popular sites are Guru and Elance. If you visit the Guru website and search for writers, you will immediately see what all the writers have earned over the past year. It also shows how many reviews each person has had from employers and sometimes their minimum hourly rate (Guru writers have an option to block bad reviews). This in itself doesn’t accurately show what writers are earning. This is because they are not all doing the same number of jobs or spending the same time working.

money from outsourcing
The top two freelancers on Elance in January 2014 chose to keep their income private.
money from outsourcing
Rated fourth on the Elance site in Writing & Translation in January 2014, this provider had earned US$52,409 since January 2013: at our current rate of exchange, this amounts to more than R557 946 – an average of R46 495,50 per month. Not too shabby!

If you visit the Elance website you will see similar information. It also shows whether writers are working on their own or whether they have a business and employ or sub-contract other writers.

Here are two examples of top earning writers that will give you an idea of what some people do earn. Both were top of the two respective web sites in July 2010, in terms of earnings for the past 12 months. This doesn’t mean that they are necessarily consistently the best paid writers.

A “Guru” who specialises in ghost writing books, earned US$57,368 in the 12 month period, and US$174,515 in his Guru lifetime – about 5½ years. Charging a minimum hourly rate of US$20, and setting a minimum budget of US$500, he had completed 141 jobs in all, with 38 in 12 months. His most recent payment showed that he had been paid a whopping US$6,000 by one single employer whom he had invoiced 12 times. A closer look showed that he had been working for this particular author/publisher for a year, so had been earning an average of US$500 a month from this one source only.

The Elancer at the top of that outsourcing site’s list of freelance writers had lifetime earnings of US$537,943. A member of Elance for not quite four years, she had earned US$206,058 in the 12 month period. Unlike the Guru writer, she had a team of 14 people working with her, so they clearly shared the income. Having earned so much more than the top Guru writer, it is not surprising that she had completed many more projects – a lot more than 1,000, including 506 in article writing, 399 for web content, 268 ebooks and blogs, and 77 ghost writing jobs. The list goes on…

How Much do Employers Pay?

It is impossible to give an accurate guide in terms of what employers will pay. For this reason it is impossible to tell you how much you will earn. But if you are serious about earning money writing for clients on outsourcing sites then you will need to learn how to assess clients and how to bid efficiently. I aim to give you some excellent advice in future articles.

I have to admit that when I first signed up for Guru and Elance in 2009 I was a little shocked at how little some clients paid. My initial bids were far too high because I tried to compare the needs of online employers with those I had worked for in the past, in a different world. Also, the fact that I had years of experience writing, meant little to employers in an environment where I was a complete newcomer.

I had to stop comparing and get on with concentrating on ways to make money in this new world, with different opportunities.  I also had to re-establish a winning reputation.

Eventually I fathomed that whichever route you take, it all has to do with whatever you put in you get out. Offer quality and you can bid high, and if you build up a good reputation you are much more likely to get the job. The good news is that even if you don’t get the job (and you certainly won’t get every one that you bid for), there are hundreds of other jobs you can bid for.

money from outsourcing
In January 2014 I was ranked fourth in South Africa in Elance’s writing and translation category, even though I had completed more jobs than the top three. I was on Level 9,having dropped from Level 10 in November because I had not been bidding on jobs over Christmas and New Year.
money from outsourcing
Although my free account at Guru is still open, I haven’t used it for more than three years, so I am no longer ranked.