Advice on project proposals for freelance writing.

9 replies
Hello,
I am looking to get into freelance writing. Since I am just starting out I want to use a couple of the main freelancing websites, ELance and Odesk. I have never made a freelancing proposal. I know that people are more concerned about what you can do for them than reading a long document.

Also, I know that when I am just starting out I will probably have to work for very low rates.

Here are my main questions. What sort of things should I include in a good proposal? Does anyone have additional tips for creating solid proposals?

Thank you in advance for the help.
#advice #freelance #project #proposals #writing
  • Profile picture of the author laurencewins
    You are posting in the wrong section here for starters.
    As for proposals for those sites, you simply address their requirements and offer oyur bid. You don't have to bid low. That is your choice. They usually tell you their budget range so you know what they're prepared to spend.

    You also need your own website with some samples of your work and some testimonials if you have them. Then you can refer people to your samples instead of writing them to order which you should never do.

    I hope that gives you a start.
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    • Profile picture of the author wheelstb
      Originally Posted by laurencewins View Post

      You are posting in the wrong section here for starters.
      As for proposals for those sites, you simply address their requirements and offer oyur bid. You don't have to bid low. That is your choice. They usually tell you their budget range so you know what they're prepared to spend.

      You also need your own website with some samples of your work and some testimonials if you have them. Then you can refer people to your samples instead of writing them to order which you should never do.

      I hope that gives you a start.
      Thanks for setting me straight. It seems like I was looking at things the wrong way.
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  • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
    It's a myth that you have to work for low rates just starting out. Plus, it's a hard and heavy rock to get yourself out from under.

    Bottom of the barrel clients that pay low rates will take up all of your time and energy, leaving you with none to go after the big boys when you feel you are ready.

    If you insist on offering low rates to somehow make up for your newness, make it a LIMITED TIME OFFER. Only X number of new clients get that rate. Give them something attractive - more revisions than usual (for the love of God, specify the number of revisions allotted in the fee, otherwise you'll be editing for*******ever), an attractive bonus.

    Personally, my worst clients came from those freelance sites. I know there are supposedly good clients there, but most are cheapskates who don't know good copy if it sits on their face and wiggles.

    Basically the story is the same there as it is everywhere. Weed out the bad clients. Focus on the good clients. You're going to get screwed - happens to all of us. Stick with it and get your lumps in quick and early so you can move on to bigger and better things.
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    • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
      Banned
      Originally Posted by angiecolee View Post

      It's a myth that you have to work for low rates just starting out. Plus, it's a hard and heavy rock to get yourself out from under.
      This, and very much so.

      It's really worthwhile, to understand this clearly before you start.

      I know you're not necessarily talking just about "articles", but some of these points apply to other writing, too ...

      Key concept (i): at the bottom end of the market, there are almost as many service-providers as customers, so that's the hardest way to earn anything.

      Key concept (ii): what attracts customers to buy the services of people who write articles for $5-$10 is the price: as soon as that increases, all the customers disappear (to become customers of one of the thousands of other people from all over the world offering the service at that price), and the service-provider effectively has to start all over again.

      Key concept (iii): the main reason you see providers of $5-$10 articles continually advertising and marketing is that their clients businesses' tend not to survive (mostly because they don't know how to use the product, rather than because the product itself is no good - though that can also sometimes be true), so they have to replace them all the time. The main reason you don't see providers of $100-$150 articles advertising at all is that their clients know how to use the product, profit from it and return regularly for more articles, with the effect that those writers tend to have all the work they want without needing to advertise at all. (A small proportion of those articles do actually change hands through Constant-Content, as well.) At lower prices, article-writers need continually to be marketing their own services. People who want their income to depend entirely on their own marketing skills should become marketers, not service providers.
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      • Profile picture of the author wheelstb
        Originally Posted by angiecolee View Post

        It's a myth that you have to work for low rates just starting out. Plus, it's a hard and heavy rock to get yourself out from under.

        Bottom of the barrel clients that pay low rates will take up all of your time and energy, leaving you with none to go after the big boys when you feel you are ready.

        If you insist on offering low rates to somehow make up for your newness, make it a LIMITED TIME OFFER. Only X number of new clients get that rate. Give them something attractive - more revisions than usual (for the love of God, specify the number of revisions allotted in the fee, otherwise you'll be editing for*******ever), an attractive bonus.

        Personally, my worst clients came from those freelance sites. I know there are supposedly good clients there, but most are cheapskates who don't know good copy if it sits on their face and wiggles.

        Basically the story is the same there as it is everywhere. Weed out the bad clients. Focus on the good clients. You're going to get screwed - happens to all of us. Stick with it and get your lumps in quick and early so you can move on to bigger and better things.
        That some great advice. It's simple yet ingenious. I think I will definitely try that out.

        Originally Posted by Raydal View Post

        You have to start somewhere and freelance sites are about the most
        difficult place to start from. It's the internet sweat shop, so be prepared
        to work hard and be abused in the process.

        You're faced with catch-22 because you need a good reputation to
        get jobs and you need jobs to get a good reputation. So you basically
        have to sell yourself cheap in order to get the early bids but after you
        have labeled yourself as low-wage worker then it's hard to get a bump
        in your fees.

        So the bottom line is that I think that your ratings are worth more than
        any portfolio you may present.

        -Ray Edwards
        Ray,
        Thanks for the advice. You are definitely right. It is the classic Catch-22. I'm thinking you would almost have to get decent feedback and a good portfolio then, rebrand yourself. It sounds like that is easier said than done.


        Originally Posted by Chriswrighto View Post

        Wheels,

        Check out this guide: Hacking Elance

        It really helped me when I was struggling.

        Thanks I will definitely check that out.


        Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

        This, and very much so.

        It's really worthwhile, to understand this clearly before you start.

        I know you're not necessarily talking just about "articles", but some of these points apply to other writing, too ...

        Key concept (i): at the bottom end of the market, there are almost as many service-providers as customers, so that's the hardest way to earn anything.

        Key concept (ii): what attracts customers to buy the services of people who write articles for $5-$10 is the price: as soon as that increases, all the customers disappear (to become customers of one of the thousands of other people from all over the world offering the service at that price), and the service-provider effectively has to start all over again.

        Key concept (iii): the main reason you see providers of $5-$10 articles continually advertising and marketing is that their clients businesses' tend not to survive (mostly because they don't know how to use the product, rather than because the product itself is no good - though that can also sometimes be true), so they have to replace them all the time. The main reason you don't see providers of $100-$150 articles advertising at all is that their clients know how to use the product, profit from it and return regularly for more articles, with the effect that those writers tend to have all the work they want without needing to advertise at all. (A small proportion of those articles do actually change hands through Constant-Content, as well.) At lower prices, article-writers need continually to be marketing their own services. People who want their income to depend entirely on their own marketing skills should become marketers, not service providers.
        Alexa, thanks for all the information. I will have to read it a couple of times to take it all in.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    You have to start somewhere and freelance sites are about the most
    difficult place to start from. It's the internet sweat shop, so be prepared
    to work hard and be abused in the process.

    You're faced with catch-22 because you need a good reputation to
    get jobs and you need jobs to get a good reputation. So you basically
    have to sell yourself cheap in order to get the early bids but after you
    have labeled yourself as low-wage worker then it's hard to get a bump
    in your fees.

    So the bottom line is that I think that your ratings are worth more than
    any portfolio you may present.

    -Ray Edwards
    Signature
    The most powerful and concentrated copywriting training online today bar none! Autoresponder Writing Email SECRETS
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  • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
    OP, don't beat yourself up too hard. You've only fallen prey to a myth that is widely circulated in this industry - that you have to give it away to get "exposure" and earn your credibility. Your credibility is that you can write. You can dig into the research and glean little nuggets of wisdom that other people skim over. You can position that nugget in a way that makes it irresistible for someone reading your copy.

    This has happened to me a lot - people who have questioned why I make the money I do and saying, "I can write too". If I'm feeling particularly snarky (I'm a corporate copywriter), I'll ask them for their suggestions. Then I'll throw out mine and the reasoning why I chose every word. That usually shuts them up pretty hardcore.

    Writing is skilled work. Just like sculpting or baking or engineering.

    It takes time and lots of so-called soft skills to be able to absorb and internalize hundreds of pages' worth of data and then distill that into a few pages of earth-shattering copy.

    Don't ever let anyone tell you, as a writer, that anyone can do it. If they could, they would.

    Now go get shit done. If you want to be a writer, write. That's the answer, my friend. Find the clients that value writing because they can't do it themselves and would rather hand it off to a pro. Those $10 a pop guys? Their offer shows you how much they value the work.
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  • Profile picture of the author shawnlebrun
    I'm not opposed to having new writers start on the freelance sites.

    In my mind, anywhere you can PRACTICE writing and submitting
    proposals to REAL paying clients... it's worth it.

    And sure, the fees that you get suck, BUT if you're able to SELL
    yourself, write a good proposal, and get hired for some gigs, it gives
    you a way to build your valuable proposal.

    The key to getting more clients is to GET GOOD AT getting clients.

    And that includes getting copy out there circulating and getting
    real world results and conversion figures.

    Chances are, potential clients will want to see some of your
    past work, because good clients can usually spot good copy
    and will want to know how you've done in the real world.

    So, learn all you can about writing winning proposals... the
    books by Alan Weiss really helped me out when I started.

    But if you go on the freelance sites just to hone your chops
    when it comes to writing real world proposals to real world
    prospects... and if you can go on there, land some gigs just
    to get some letters circulating... it's worth the time spent.

    Like Angie said... it's about doing shit, and one way to
    do it is on sites where you can practice doing it.

    This blog post I wrote last year might help you get into the
    mindset of what potential prospects are looking for when
    deciding to hire writers...

    how to write a copy proposal
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