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roberty1y
Community Member

Is there a point at which it becomes easier to get work?

I send out a lot of proposals but the rate of success is about the same as it's been for the last two months. I only got started in earnest on the site around two months ago. Around one in 15 proposals results in a job (11 out of 155 in the since early July). 

 

Is there some threshold where more clients start to respond and hire? Maybe $5k, $10k earnings? I seem to spend half my time writing proposals, especially because some of them need you to answer a bunch of stupid questions (I've more or less stopped replying to those postings).

24 REPLIES 24
prestonhunter
Community Member

re: "Is there a point at which it becomes easier to get work?"

Yes.

 

Many freelancers, including many of us who are active Forum participants, rarely if ever actively look for work.

 

Many freelancers need to leave their "available" status set to "NOT available", or set their profiles to proviate, in order to prevent receiving excessive invites for serious, high-quality jobs.


Preston H wrote:

re: "Is there a point at which it becomes easier to get work?"

Yes.

 

Many freelancers, including many of us who are active Forum participants, rarely if ever actively look for work.

 

Many freelancers need to leave their "available" status set to "NOT available", or set their profiles to proviate, in order to prevent receiving excessive invites for serious, high-quality jobs.


Thanks for your reply. I've a thing about privacy (I stay away from Facebook, Twitter, etc.), so I set mine to private when I started, seeing that someone with little or no job record wouldn't get any unsolicited invitations. Nonetheless, I'll probably make my profile public when it's worthwhile to do so, but I think I'll still be relying on proposals alone until I've built up more of a job history.

a_lipsey
Community Member

Perhaps you should ask the forum for feedback on your profile and proposals so you can figure out where you are going wrong.


Amanda L wrote:
Perhaps you should ask the forum for feedback on your profile and proposals so you can figure out where you are going wrong.

Thanks, I'll ask people to take a look at my profile when I make it public some time in the next month or so. The thing about proposals is I write them very carefully, which is why they're so time-consuming. I always read the posting and check out any attachments or links included, along with taking a quick glance at the client's job history. 


Robert Y wrote:

Amanda L wrote:
Perhaps you should ask the forum for feedback on your profile and proposals so you can figure out where you are going wrong.

Thanks, I'll ask people to take a look at my profile when I make it public some time in the next month or so. The thing about proposals is I write them very carefully, which is why they're so time-consuming. I always read the posting and check out any attachments or links included, along with taking a quick glance at the client's job history. 


Maybe you are overthinking it.


Robert Y wrote:

The thing about proposals is I write them very carefully, which is why they're so time-consuming. I always read the posting and check out any attachments or links included, along with taking a quick glance at the client's job history. 

I think this could be part of the problem. I don't spend much time on proposals at all, and yes, I read the post and any attachments, as well as their client history. Still only takes me about 5 minutes, and I'm both interviewed more often and hired more often than my peers in my field (I get hired at a pretty high rate for whatever I decide to apply for). Definitely you have to learn the art of a quick, clear, concise proposal, but proposals really shouldn't be time-consuming. How long are these proposals that you are submitting? And remind me what field you are in? 


Amanda L wrote:

Robert Y wrote:

The thing about proposals is I write them very carefully, which is why they're so time-consuming. I always read the posting and check out any attachments or links included, along with taking a quick glance at the client's job history. 

I think this could be part of the problem. I don't spend much time on proposals at all, and yes, I read the post and any attachments, as well as their client history. Still only takes me about 5 minutes, and I'm both interviewed more often and hired more often than my peers in my field (I get hired at a pretty high rate for whatever I decide to apply for). Definitely you have to learn the art of a quick, clear, concise proposal, but proposals really shouldn't be time-consuming. How long are these proposals that you are submitting? And remind me what field you are in? 


I'm in writing. I think I usually spend around 5-10 minutes in total on a proposal, from opening the posting to clicking Submit. It depends on how long I spend reading attachments or looking through the client's history (if I see a string of 2 and 3 star reviews of freelancers, I'm out of there). I just counted the words in my last one - 57. That's about as much as I ever write. 

 

Possibly what's slowing me down in getting jobs is that I'm holding out for fairly well-paid ones (usually at least $45 per hour), rather than dipping into the $10-a-job market to get a foot in. I think that's the best policy in the long run.

 

 


Robert Y wrote:

Amanda L wrote:

Robert Y wrote:

The thing about proposals is I write them very carefully, which is why they're so time-consuming. I always read the posting and check out any attachments or links included, along with taking a quick glance at the client's job history. 

I think this could be part of the problem. I don't spend much time on proposals at all, and yes, I read the post and any attachments, as well as their client history. Still only takes me about 5 minutes, and I'm both interviewed more often and hired more often than my peers in my field (I get hired at a pretty high rate for whatever I decide to apply for). Definitely you have to learn the art of a quick, clear, concise proposal, but proposals really shouldn't be time-consuming. How long are these proposals that you are submitting? And remind me what field you are in? 


I'm in writing. I think I usually spend around 5-10 minutes in total on a proposal, from opening the posting to clicking Submit. It depends on how long I spend reading attachments or looking through the client's history (if I see a string of 2 and 3 star reviews of freelancers, I'm out of there). I just counted the words in my last one - 57. That's about as much as I ever write. 

 

Possibly what's slowing me down in getting jobs is that I'm holding out for fairly well-paid ones (usually at least $45 per hour), rather than dipping into the $10-a-job market to get a foot in. I think that's the best policy in the long run.


I am not a writer but 57 words to sell yourself and your service sounds like you believe your writing is that good or you  are not even trying. You have more than two lines, you know.

Jennifer said:

 

I am not a writer but 57 words to sell yourself and your service sounds like you believe your writing is that good or you are not even trying. You have more than two lines, you know.

 

Maybe. But when I look at the number of proposals the client will have to read, I think I need to be as succinct as possible. I'm thinking they'll probably only skim mine if it's more than two lines. I just looked at the proposal for the biggest job I've got so far - $750. It's 43 words.


Robert Y wrote:

Jennifer said:

 

I am not a writer but 57 words to sell yourself and your service sounds like you believe your writing is that good or you are not even trying. You have more than two lines, you know.

 

Maybe. But when I look at the number of proposals the client will have to read, I think I need to be as succinct as possible. I'm thinking they'll probably only skim mine if it's more than two lines. I just looked at the proposal for the biggest job I've got so far - $750. It's 43 words.


First, to answer your original question: yes, it can get easier. I won't go so far as it definitely will, but if you can build up some momentum, it will.  I couldn't tell you the exact tipping point, but somewhere near the end of my first year I wound up with steady work without going and looking for it very often. This year, with the exception of a couple of dead weeks in June or July, I've maybe bid on one or two jobs a month from the job board, if that. Everything else has been invites and repeat business.

 

To your proposals: concise is good, but that may be too concise in general. I do editing, which I know you do some of too. My proposals started out long but are now usually like this:

- sentence or two of why I'm the right person for their job

- what additional information I need from them before quoting (including a copy of the document)

- a caveat that the proposal price is only an estimate until I see the document 

- thanks and I'm looking forward to working with you.

 

If I have enough detail already to give a firm quote, the proposal gets longer because I have a list of terms I add to the quote: what's included, what can be added on for an additional quote, and a few things that are explicitly excluded. But, that part usually winds up in chat after I've been able to review the document and I usually need to ask some questions first.

 

I get a reasonable amount of the ones I bid on, and most of the ones I don't are due to pricing or timing.

 


Wes C wrote:

Robert Y wrote:

Jennifer said:

 

I am not a writer but 57 words to sell yourself and your service sounds like you believe your writing is that good or you are not even trying. You have more than two lines, you know.

 

Maybe. But when I look at the number of proposals the client will have to read, I think I need to be as succinct as possible. I'm thinking they'll probably only skim mine if it's more than two lines. I just looked at the proposal for the biggest job I've got so far - $750. It's 43 words.


First, to answer your original question: yes, it can get easier. I won't go so far as it definitely will, but if you can build up some momentum, it will.  I couldn't tell you the exact tipping point, but somewhere near the end of my first year I wound up with steady work without going and looking for it very often. This year, with the exception of a couple of dead weeks in June or July, I've maybe bid on one or two jobs a month from the job board, if that. Everything else has been invites and repeat business.

 

To your proposals: concise is good, but that may be too concise in general. I do editing, which I know you do some of too. My proposals started out long but are now usually like this:

- sentence or two of why I'm the right person for their job

- what additional information I need from them before quoting (including a copy of the document)

- a caveat that the proposal price is only an estimate until I see the document 

- thanks and I'm looking forward to working with you.

 

If I have enough detail already to give a firm quote, the proposal gets longer because I have a list of terms I add to the quote: what's included, what can be added on for an additional quote, and a few things that are explicitly excluded. But, that part usually winds up in chat after I've been able to review the document and I usually need to ask some questions first.

 

I get a reasonable amount of the ones I bid on, and most of the ones I don't are due to pricing or timing.

 


Thanks, yes, I'd often like to discuss the job in more detail, but I find the client rarely provides enough information, and almost never enough for me to give a precise bid. When it's just writing, I usually give a per word rate instead, adjusting it to the estimated difficulty of the subject. One thing that tilted me in favour of short proposals was looking at the ones I got when I once posted a job here. Some went on for paragraph after paragraph, straying on to every subject. 

Yes, it can get easier.

First off, if you've secured and successfully completed your first job, the hardest part is over.  From here, it gets grueling - thats why they call it "the hustle".  At this point you may find that you are only getting hits on 1 in 20 proposals.  

In any case, it can get easier once you complete that first job - getting samples for your portfolio, a review, a testimonial, or something else you can show prospective clients may help to close that proposal to hire gap.  I have found that taking on the jobs that nobody else wants tends to yield some of the best rewards (in terms of reviews and porfolio items).  You may even consider taking on jobs where the review and portfolio item is worth more than the compensation.

Eventually and with hard work, you may find that for every 4 proposals you submit, 3 will  come back as jobs.  As some of the other commentors have mentioned, you may get to the point where you barely have to submit proposals to get new work.  

Remember, you're selling yourself and your skills.  You are the product that the client is buying.  You need to have a value proposition.  Most clients don't know what they want - seriously - its up to you to tell them how you are the best fit and how you will solve their unique and specific problems.

Good luck! 


Robert Y wrote:

Wes C wrote:

Robert Y wrote:

Jennifer said:

 

I am not a writer but 57 words to sell yourself and your service sounds like you believe your writing is that good or you are not even trying. You have more than two lines, you know.

 

Maybe. But when I look at the number of proposals the client will have to read, I think I need to be as succinct as possible. I'm thinking they'll probably only skim mine if it's more than two lines. I just looked at the proposal for the biggest job I've got so far - $750. It's 43 words.


First, to answer your original question: yes, it can get easier. I won't go so far as it definitely will, but if you can build up some momentum, it will.  I couldn't tell you the exact tipping point, but somewhere near the end of my first year I wound up with steady work without going and looking for it very often. This year, with the exception of a couple of dead weeks in June or July, I've maybe bid on one or two jobs a month from the job board, if that. Everything else has been invites and repeat business.

 

To your proposals: concise is good, but that may be too concise in general. I do editing, which I know you do some of too. My proposals started out long but are now usually like this:

- sentence or two of why I'm the right person for their job

- what additional information I need from them before quoting (including a copy of the document)

- a caveat that the proposal price is only an estimate until I see the document 

- thanks and I'm looking forward to working with you.

 

If I have enough detail already to give a firm quote, the proposal gets longer because I have a list of terms I add to the quote: what's included, what can be added on for an additional quote, and a few things that are explicitly excluded. But, that part usually winds up in chat after I've been able to review the document and I usually need to ask some questions first.

 

I get a reasonable amount of the ones I bid on, and most of the ones I don't are due to pricing or timing.

 


Thanks, yes, I'd often like to discuss the job in more detail, but I find the client rarely provides enough information, and almost never enough for me to give a precise bid. When it's just writing, I usually give a per word rate instead, adjusting it to the estimated difficulty of the subject. One thing that tilted me in favour of short proposals was looking at the ones I got when I once posted a job here. Some went on for paragraph after paragraph, straying on to every subject. 


Absolutely concise is good, but concise still needs to have some depth. I think Wes's outline is pretty strong. 

 

For my part, I come in with a strong, expert vibe. My outline is different because I generally do ONE thing and that one thing only. So when I get invited or I apply, it's to this one thing (okay I get invited to unrelated things but the ones I respond to are my one thing). So essentially I start with saying:

 

1. I'm an expert and work solely on these projects every day. 

2. I know the program you're interested in applying to. Here are XYZ things to consider that I know from direct experience. 

3. List of about 3 questions related to their project that illustrate my expertise. 

4. A sentence about my process (and how it will work for them). 

5. Give them my availability in the next few days for a Zoom call to discuss their project. 

 

My strategy is that I don't ask to be hired. The basic takeaway is: I'm an expert in this small niche. I think your project has legs. Let's talk. 

 

Okay, the givens are that I have a strong history and a long track record in my field. And ROI is a lot easier for me to measure. They either won money or didn't. 

 

I know things aren't always directly translatable, but I think in comparing mine to Wes's, there's differences for niche, but the conciseness crossed with hitting the right points is still there. 

 

What I'd also say is you have to figure out what the 4-5 right beats are for you. You can't just use someone else's points - it has to be your voice and your points. I use almost the same proposal everytime, with minor editing, but I've developed these 5 points over time to be really on target. And occasionally as I see client responses, I tailor them further. 

 

You also need to figure out your endgame. I know once I get them on Zoom, as long as there are no red flags, we'll be starting a contract. I just have to get them on Zoom, and I can close the deal. What's your endgame? Do you want to be hired from messaging or do you do a client call? Figure out where your conversion point is and how to maximize that. If you message back and forth until you agree, how many messages do you typically do? Figure out the trajectory of those messages and when it works best and recreate that. 

 

I didn't mean to write a novel on proposals, but there it is. My contribution to Community for the day. 


Amanda L wrote:

Robert Y wrote:

Wes C wrote:

Robert Y wrote:

Jennifer said:

 

I am not a writer but 57 words to sell yourself and your service sounds like you believe your writing is that good or you are not even trying. You have more than two lines, you know.

 

Maybe. But when I look at the number of proposals the client will have to read, I think I need to be as succinct as possible. I'm thinking they'll probably only skim mine if it's more than two lines. I just looked at the proposal for the biggest job I've got so far - $750. It's 43 words.


First, to answer your original question: yes, it can get easier. I won't go so far as it definitely will, but if you can build up some momentum, it will.  I couldn't tell you the exact tipping point, but somewhere near the end of my first year I wound up with steady work without going and looking for it very often. This year, with the exception of a couple of dead weeks in June or July, I've maybe bid on one or two jobs a month from the job board, if that. Everything else has been invites and repeat business.

 

To your proposals: concise is good, but that may be too concise in general. I do editing, which I know you do some of too. My proposals started out long but are now usually like this:

- sentence or two of why I'm the right person for their job

- what additional information I need from them before quoting (including a copy of the document)

- a caveat that the proposal price is only an estimate until I see the document 

- thanks and I'm looking forward to working with you.

 

If I have enough detail already to give a firm quote, the proposal gets longer because I have a list of terms I add to the quote: what's included, what can be added on for an additional quote, and a few things that are explicitly excluded. But, that part usually winds up in chat after I've been able to review the document and I usually need to ask some questions first.

 

I get a reasonable amount of the ones I bid on, and most of the ones I don't are due to pricing or timing.

 


Thanks, yes, I'd often like to discuss the job in more detail, but I find the client rarely provides enough information, and almost never enough for me to give a precise bid. When it's just writing, I usually give a per word rate instead, adjusting it to the estimated difficulty of the subject. One thing that tilted me in favour of short proposals was looking at the ones I got when I once posted a job here. Some went on for paragraph after paragraph, straying on to every subject. 


Absolutely concise is good, but concise still needs to have some depth. I think Wes's outline is pretty strong. 

 

For my part, I come in with a strong, expert vibe. My outline is different because I generally do ONE thing and that one thing only. So when I get invited or I apply, it's to this one thing (okay I get invited to unrelated things but the ones I respond to are my one thing). So essentially I start with saying:

 

1. I'm an expert and work solely on these projects every day. 

2. I know the program you're interested in applying to. Here are XYZ things to consider that I know from direct experience. 

3. List of about 3 questions related to their project that illustrate my expertise. 

4. A sentence about my process (and how it will work for them). 

5. Give them my availability in the next few days for a Zoom call to discuss their project. 

 

My strategy is that I don't ask to be hired. The basic takeaway is: I'm an expert in this small niche. I think your project has legs. Let's talk. 

 

Okay, the givens are that I have a strong history and a long track record in my field. And ROI is a lot easier for me to measure. They either won money or didn't. 

 

I know things aren't always directly translatable, but I think in comparing mine to Wes's, there's differences for niche, but the conciseness crossed with hitting the right points is still there. 

 

What I'd also say is you have to figure out what the 4-5 right beats are for you. You can't just use someone else's points - it has to be your voice and your points. I use almost the same proposal everytime, with minor editing, but I've developed these 5 points over time to be really on target. And occasionally as I see client responses, I tailor them further. 

 

You also need to figure out your endgame. I know once I get them on Zoom, as long as there are no red flags, we'll be starting a contract. I just have to get them on Zoom, and I can close the deal. What's your endgame? Do you want to be hired from messaging or do you do a client call? Figure out where your conversion point is and how to maximize that. If you message back and forth until you agree, how many messages do you typically do? Figure out the trajectory of those messages and when it works best and recreate that. 

 

I didn't mean to write a novel on proposals, but there it is. My contribution to Community for the day. 


Thank you for this advice (thanks also to Jeremiah). Even though my case is somewhat different (wider range of work categories), there are are some really good points there that I'll keep in mind as I send out more proposals. 


Robert Y wrote:


Thank you for this advice (thanks also to Jeremiah). Even though my case is somewhat different (wider range of work categories), there are are some really good points there that I'll keep in mind as I send out more proposals. 


Having too wide a range could be part of the problem as well. You may want to consider focusing on a narrower range of opportunities so you can truly highlight your expertise. 

Range of categories/skills is the main way that I choose which freelancers to hire.

 

I rarely look at written proposals. I look for narrow range. I want to hire specialists. I avoid hiring generalists. Because they're usually mediocre at everything.


Amanda L wrote:

Robert Y wrote:


Thank you for this advice (thanks also to Jeremiah). Even though my case is somewhat different (wider range of work categories), there are are some really good points there that I'll keep in mind as I send out more proposals. 


Having too wide a range could be part of the problem as well. You may want to consider focusing on a narrower range of opportunities so you can truly highlight your expertise. 


In the long run, that might be best - I've noticed the most successful people here have specialist profiles. But so far I've grabbed any job that paid well as long as the client seemed OK - I can't afford not to. So far I've done web content, blog entries, crowdfunding pages, press releases, journalism, business letters, petitions, video scripts, proofreading, editing and social media posts. I think all I've missed is love letters (although I did put in a bid for one) and death threats. 

re: "I think all I've missed is love letters and death threats."

 

Well... sometimes those are the same thing.


Robert Y wrote:

Amanda L wrote:

Robert Y wrote:


Thank you for this advice (thanks also to Jeremiah). Even though my case is somewhat different (wider range of work categories), there are are some really good points there that I'll keep in mind as I send out more proposals. 


Having too wide a range could be part of the problem as well. You may want to consider focusing on a narrower range of opportunities so you can truly highlight your expertise. 


In the long run, that might be best - I've noticed the most successful people here have specialist profiles. But so far I've grabbed any job that paid well as long as the client seemed OK - I can't afford not to. So far I've done web content, blog entries, crowdfunding pages, press releases, journalism, business letters, petitions, video scripts, proofreading, editing and social media posts. I think all I've missed is love letters (although I did put in a bid for one) and death threats. 


I think that is part of the problem. I "only" translate texts and do not need to come up with any ideas what to write but the styles are too different and you end up without a clear profile. Focus on a limited number of topics. If you know the topic, it is easier to write about it. There are also topics that pay better than others. Do some research.
If you like to write blog posts, start your own blog. If you find it tiresome, stop applying for these jobs. Write down the jobs you did so far and rank them. Which ones were more fun than others. Ignore the clients and probably issues while doing it. Clients are easier to replace than something you like.

"But so far I've grabbed any job that paid well as long as the client seemed OK - I can't afford not to." This is the worst possible starting situation for freelancing but cannot be changed at the moment. I think it took me about two until I had a steady stream of invites on Upwork. But applying for every job with the label "writing" will backfire sooner or later.


Amanda L wrote:

1. I'm an expert and work solely on these projects every day. 

2. I know the program you're interested in applying to. Here are XYZ things to consider that I know from direct experience. 

3. List of about 3 questions related to their project that illustrate my expertise. 

4. A sentence about my process (and how it will work for them). 

5. Give them my availability in the next few days for a Zoom call to discuss their project. 

 

My strategy is that I don't ask to be hired. The basic takeaway is: I'm an expert in this small niche. I think your project has legs. Let's talk. 

 

 


I really like this.

elim3136
Community Member

You should try being more authentic. I know that's obvi. It's not. You already know you're not getting any proposals. Also, in me responding to this, please don't take it as me hitting on you. I literally only want to help with your authenticity or agency. However you want to call it.

Again, you said you applied to 15 jobs and only get one awarded to you. You also said they ask stupid questions you stopped answering. You should answer those questions. Again, obvious but still. Don't talk shi* about them. Talk crap to them. I mean that. You already know you're not gonna get the proposal. What have you got to lose? You're not winning anyways, why not be honest with them, not myself. Or, at the very least, don't lie. I think that 15 proposals rate will result in 2 projects being awarded to you instead of 1 for every 15 you do. The more authentic you do, or are, the less likely you are to get overlooked. That's not the same for me. It's too easy for me to connect. It's not easy to establish boundaries. Especially ones that work. No pun intended.


Elizabeth J wrote:
You should try being more authentic. I know that's obvi. It's not. You already know you're not getting any proposals. Also, in me responding to this, please don't take it as me hitting on you. I literally only want to help with your authenticity or agency. However you want to call it.

Again, you said you applied to 15 jobs and only get one awarded to you. You also said they ask stupid questions you stopped answering. You should answer those questions. Again, obvious but still. Don't talk shi* about them. Talk crap to them. I mean that. You already know you're not gonna get the proposal. What have you got to lose? You're not winning anyways, why not be honest with them, not myself. Or, at the very least, don't lie. I think that 15 proposals rate will result in 2 projects being awarded to you instead of 1 for every 15 you do. The more authentic you do, or are, the less likely you are to get overlooked. That's not the same for me. It's too easy for me to connect. It's not easy to establish boundaries. Especially ones that work. No pun intended.

Thanks, I know, I try to sound authentic, but it's hard to be when you're answering boilerplate questions from someone who can't be bothered making up their own. What I did was stop replying to ads that have such questions. Answering them all could take 10 minutes in some cases.

Your profile photo is dim and unclear.  Maybe try a better photo?  Your selling yourself, that's not a helpful photo regardless of your profession.

c63ea194
Community Member


Robert Y wrote:

I send out a lot of proposals but the rate of success is about the same as it's been for the last two months. I only got started in earnest on the site around two months ago. Around one in 15 proposals results in a job (11 out of 155 in the since early July). 

 

Is there some threshold where more clients start to respond and hire? Maybe $5k, $10k earnings? I seem to spend half my time writing proposals, especially because some of them need you to answer a bunch of stupid questions (I've more or less stopped replying to those postings).


I do not consider 1 job in 15 proposals being too bad. Most jobs get more than 20 proposals, so the ratio is expected to be on that scale, except if you are a superstar.

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