Let me guess.
You are new in the industry. You’re not sure where to start looking for work, and that’s why you went where everyone in your industry goes.
Normally it’s a place where people post an assignment and then hundreds of colleagues apply to get it. Work conditions aren’t ideal (just to say something) but you need to start somewhere. You’ll be able to improve your situation later on, right?
Well, let me burst your bubble: you’re doing it wrong.
I’m sure that you’re spending hours and hours waiting for the next job post, writing the best proposal for… nothing. So many hours lost, am I wrong?
Why should you avoid bidding for work to find real clients?
Just in case you don’t know the answer yet. You just have to analyse the features of “employers” that post these assignments.
Bidding is a hassle. Nobody wants to bid. Nor the employer or the professional. But the employer does it because he needs it for a concrete occasion. It’s not likely that this potential contractor is going to hire you again (if they finally even hire you for a first time.)
These contractors don’t care about the professional that they’re going to hire (because they don’t know him personally for starters). They just post their offer in the biggest database of professionals to choose the best proposal (aka probably the cheapest one).
Conclusion: we invest a considerable amount of money in a poorly paid job that tends to be an urgent assignment for an employer that isn’t going to hire us a second time.
Either we are very very lucky when doing so, or I don’t think that’s the best way of building your client database, right?
The main problem is the approach when bidding for work. We always adjust our services to a particular job, when we should set our services firstly to target a specific segment in the market instead. When we adjust our services to a specific job, we are competing with many other professionals that are doing the same. However, when we define our services to target a segment in the market, we are escaping that red ocean and our competitors.
So, where should I start?
I’m sure that at this point you know that I’m obsessed with planning and analysing. Well, let’s analyse your current situation and plan some actions to take.
If you’re reading these lines, you’re probably in one of these situations:
Case 1: You have started bidding for work, but you have hardly achieved what you aim.
Case 2: You have been bidding for a while now. You have achieved something already, but you feel that you can be doing much better.
Case 3: Bidding is your main source of income. You’ve been doing it for a long time and establish yourself to be successful within one of these platforms. However, you want to change the way you get all this work.
Depending on your situation, you should proceed in a different way.
So, you’ve decided to go freelance and started bidding for work. You’re daily logging in these platforms and investing time in applying for job, but nothing happens.
Ok, I’ve got good news for you. As you haven’t gained any clients so far with this method, it’s simpler for you to implement a new method. You have nothing to lose.
You need to start implementing your time in something that it’s going to generate income for your business.
The first thing you need to know is to define the main goal of your business: where do you want to be in 1 (short-term), 3 (medium-term) and 5 (long-term) years? Be specific with your answer and set the annual income that you want to aim for each question.
Now, you need to define how you’re going to achieve these goals. To define this “how” you need to know as much as you can about your industry, otherwise it’ll be difficult to know how to proceed.
That’s why it’s so important to carry out a market research.
Now that you know how your industry works, you need to know your own capabilities to make the most of all this information. That’s why you should also carry out a SWOT analysis.
Now that you have you objectives, know your ICA and know your capabilities, you should also analyse how you’re going to sell your products and services.
I know, selling sounds daunting.
No one loves selling. It’s awkward.
But it’s the way it is. If you have decided to start your own business, you have to sell.
- Know your Ideal Customer Avatar even better that you know yourself.
- Define your message and communicate you added value. Your message must be unique, that’s the core of your Unique Selling Proposition. You need to align this message with the problems of your ICAs.
- Communicate and convince. To close a deal, you need to convince your clients by tackling your clients’ pain points. That’s why you need to explain your client how your business is going to solve his problem.
- Turn your potential clients into client. This is the final step and the conclusion of these steps. You’ll see that this will be the easiest way to gain new clients
You have been bidding for work for a while now and you have gained some projects. But you think that you could do much better implementing new strategies in your business.
It can seem a bit difficult stop doing something that has generated some income for your business, that’s why it could be more difficult to stop doing it.
It’s like smoking. It’s more difficult to quit smoking when you smoke one cigarette a day, than when you smoke one cigarette a month, right? But you know that it’s detrimental for your health and that’s why you should do it.
You’ll need to follow the same process that I’ve described in Case 1, but first let’s see how we can maximise the results that you’ve obtained bidding.
The first thing you need to do is to make a list with all the projects that you gained during your bids.
Also, I want you to write beside each project the answer to this question: “why did they choose me to do the work?”
Once, you have this list, you need to decide if exploiting these answers is worth it. For example:
Project 1: they chose me because I was the cheapest provider.
Project 2: they chose me because I was specialised in X.
Maybe it’s not worthy to exploit the fact that you were the cheapest one in certain project, but you can exploit the fact that you’re specialised in certain field.
Contact all your previous clients that chose you for something that you want to exploit and highlight this feature that make them hire you. They must perceive that something in your business has changed and suggest them to continue your business relationship outside this platform.
You’ve been bidding for quite a while now and you have somehow succeeded in it. You have a more or less continuous workflow, but you think that you could make the most of your working hours implementing a different strategy.
If this is your case, I reckon that it’s the most difficult case to change the way you do business.
Why? Because you’ve based your business model on bidding and applying for this type of assignments. Changing a business model is more difficult than changing the way you look for clients when you haven’t defined your business model yet (case 1) and are starting from scratch.
You have to do it gradually, otherwise you can lose your main (and probably only) source of income, and that can be dangerous for your business.
In your case, you need to know the amount of weekly hours that you spend in bidding for work. I’ll try to reduce this hours gradually. Let’s say that you spend two hours a day bidding for work. If you work from Monday to Friday, that’s 10 hours a week.
During the first couple of week you spend three of these hours implementing the same strategy mentioned in Case 2.
At this point, you’d have gathered a solid amount of clients, and that’s why you need to start a process of retaining loyal clients. It’s easier to establish business relationships with contractors that already know you.
Now that you have decided to promote the quality of the way you do business, it’s high time to take some action. It’s completely up to you to start finding the ideal clients for your business.