9 Mistakes to Avoid When Bidding for Freelance Writing Jobs


Mistakes to Avoid When Bidding for a Freelance Writing Job


Tiny freelance bidding mistakes can ruin the most powerful proposal.

In fact, the more valuable a freelance writing project is, the more likely a small mistake will destroy your proposal. That’s because clients who are paying more demand even greater perfection in writers.

Besides, a vital sign that you’re an established freelance writer is that you make fewer bidding mistakes.

So, here are the mistakes to avoid when bidding for a writing job.


1. Ignoring competitors

The amount of competition you face will significantly influence how much you get paid.

It’s the age-old Law of Supply and Demand:


the law of supply and demand


You’ll likely get lower pay in niches that have many writers, such as general relationship topics. On the other hand, you can expect higher pay for issues like artificial intelligence, which require expertise that most people don’t have.

Therefore, placing high bids for jobs with many competing writers is the most basic of all freelance bidding mistakes to avoid. You’ll not get picked.

As much as you would want to charge $100 per article, few clients will pay that much if there’s a whole bunch of writers vying for the job.

Similarly, clients will doubt your expertise if you place a very low bid for a job that few people can do.


2. Giving a poor first impression

Of all the freelance bidding mistakes to avoid, this will determine whether or not clients will read your proposal.

How would you feel if you walked into a shop and the salesperson didn’t even greet you but instantly launched his sales pitch?

You’ll feel like an ATM that dispenses money to anyone who pushes the right buttons.

No one wants that feeling – not even your clients.

Therefore, if you give a terrible first impression when bidding for a writing project, you’ll lose clients before they read your proposal. And if you don’t know, people judge the character of strangers within a tenth of a second.


people judge you in the blink of the eye


It’s one thing to know the freelance bidding mistakes to avoid, but how do you prevent it?

Your proposal must start off by making a powerful human connection with the client.

Start your proposal the way you would write an introduction to hook readers. Remember, you’re sending a proposal to a human being – not a robot. Show that you value the client, and you’re not just after the pay.

However, don’t go overboard by flattering the client.


3. Writing a statement of work instead of a proposal

Too many writers present a dry, unappealing statement of work instead of a captivating proposal.

What’s the difference?

A statement of work tells the client what you will do. Whereas, a proposal focuses on how the client will benefit from what you do.

That’s a huge difference.

If the job you do would only take a couple of hours and cost a few dollars, clients won’t see the need to pay you too much money. However, if the benefit a client will get from your work will be worth hundreds of dollars, such a client will gladly pay you handsomely.

That’s why you should focus on the benefits, but not the work you’ll do.

As an illustration, compare these two examples of a statement of work and proposal.

Statement of work: I’ll research on specific keywords and optimize your content for those keywords, complemented by relevant LSI keywords…

Proposal: I’ll research on specific keywords for which your site has a competitive advantage in ranking compared to your competitors. While reviewing your site, I’ve noticed that some of the lower ranking competitor sites are optimized for and rank higher for keywords which your site doesn’t have. Some of those keywords have a monthly search volume of 1,000. Due to your site’s high domain authority,  you can rank higher if you optimize your content for those keywords.


4. Giving useless information

Many clients care very little about how you get the job done.

Therefore, detailing every single step you’ll take in doing the job will put them off. If the information doesn’t provide any useful insights to your client, keep it to yourself.

This is one of the essential aspects of winning more writing jobs. In fact, marketers have understood the power of cutting out unnecessary details for a long time, as seen in case studies of split-tested landing pages.

For instance, Imagescape achieved 120% higher conversion rate by merely reducing their Contact Us form fields from 11 to only 4 fields.


Imagescape achieved higher conversion rate by reducing their Contact Us form fields


Besides, every word must add value; otherwise, it’s useless fluff.

Don’t be vague.

Don’t just say, “I’ll produce quality content.” That’s too vague. What exactly does quality content mean in the client’s context? Is it an in-depth analysis of a topic no other blogger has covered? Will you feature an interview with an influencer?

Instead of saying, “I’ll produce incredibly unique and thoroughly engaging content,” say, “I’ll research on a topic which your audience is inquiring about on online forums, but no website has covered. Once published on your site, I’ll share the article on those forums, which will ignite strong engagement from your target audience.”

Lastly, remember to place the most important information first and the least important last. Not the other way around.

What’s important to the client?

“How specifically will what you do benefit me?” that’s what freelance clients want to know.

Will your content make the client’s website more authoritative? Will the blog post increase engagement? Can your writing service boost the client’s search engine ranking?

Mention the critical benefit before you start elaborating on how you’ll achieve it.


5. Not answering the client’s important question

Most newbie writers send proposals without answering the fundamental question every client asks: “Why should I pick you and not any other freelancer?”

Thousands of other freelancers have similar qualifications, samples and ideas as you do. In fact, most freelancers are well educated, as revealed in a survey by Freelance Writing Gigs.


a survey by Freelance Writing Gigs - most freelance writers highly educated


So, what makes you unique?

What makes you stand out from the crowd so that the client would pick you and no one else? This is more than specializing in a niche and having years of experience in it.

It’s about your personal brand.

It’s that extra thing that people can’t find anywhere else but from you. For example, have you built a network with the top influencers in your niche? Do you have a blog focused on your industry, with subscribers and followers? Do you have any award for something exemplary you did in your niche?

Such things are proof that you’ll go an extra mile to deliver. It shows that your heart, soul and mind is completely dedicated to that niche.

Moreover, having a following within a specific niche will make your content more valuable, if you state that you’ll share the content within your network.


6. Not applying pricing psychology

How you present your quote is just as important as the quote itself.

If your proposal only elaborates your writing service, qualification, and proof of experience, then you’re missing a vital part that will make clients pay: pricing psychology. If you write sales copy, this is the most important freelance bidding mistake to avoid when looking for writing jobs.

Pricing psychology means understanding the psychological impact of your pricing strategy.

Through pricing psychology, you can make prospective customers perceive a higher price to be less costly than a lower price just because the higher price has fewer syllables.


higher price perceived as lower due to fewer syllables


By applying pricing psychology, you can focus your client’s attention on the benefits of your service instead of the cost. For instance, present your writing fee as an investment with long-term benefits, not merely a cost for the writing service.

If possible, you can even quantify the long-term benefit of your writing service.

Show that the client will get extra benefits beyond what they gain from your content. For example, if you’re writing an SEO article, explain to the client that an article which gets to the top page for one keyword also stands a high chance of ranking for other related keywords. Hence, the value of the content would multiply.


7. A poorly edited proposal

Many times, clients assess your writing expertise based on your proposal.

If you present a proposal full of grammatical errors, won’t you also submit articles with such grammatical errors? This kind of freelance bidding mistake shows that you’re careless and unfit to do the job.

Therefore, never send a proposal without proofreading and editing it.

Check that there are no typos in the content. Make sure all the information you present is accurate. Accidentally giving wrong information might make the client think you’re a scammer or worse.

Who knows, you might even get penalized financially, like the printer of the 1631 version of The King James Bible who was fined £300 (equal to about USD 53,115 today) for an error in the holy book which read, “Thou shalt commit adultery.”


Error in old King James Bible

Image source


Most importantly, don’t make any errors in your quote.

If you present a quote that’s too low and the client accepts your offer, you’ll have no other choice than to do the job at that low rate. Trying to explain to the client that you made a mistake in your quote will only make things worse.


8. Leaving out important details

Every client has specific requirements that must be met to award the writing job. If your proposal doesn’t fit the requirements, you won’t get the job.

Generally, 3 critical aspects you must include in your proposal are:

  • show how qualified you are to handle the job
  • present proof of your experience
  • elaborate what the client can expect from your service

Besides those essential details, various clients might have other requirements, including:

  • your native language
  • your residential location
  • specific academic or professional qualification
  • particular professional experience

The challenge usually is figuring out what details a client wants. Some clients may not state what they want from you. It’s your job to figure that out.

Here’s a simple guide showing which details to present based on the client’s job description:


Job description

Required details

Client’s project focuses on a specific niche Present samples related to the project’s niche
A long-term project Indicate your availability for the required period
Guest posting in authority sites Present examples of your guest posts
A bulk assignment needed within a short time State the specific amount of work you can handle
Content for multiple sites in various niches Show your experience in writing on various niches
Website copy Detail your copywriting expertise
Sales copy that converts Show the conversion produced by your copy
Engaging blog post Present a sample blog post that had many comments


Never leave out any details relevant to a specific project.


9. Bidding on a project that’s beyond your capacity

Don’t rush to get high-paying jobs without first acquiring the necessary expertise. If you do, you might mess things up and end up getting negative reviews. This can ruin your chances of getting other jobs in future.

For beginners, this is one of the common freelance bidding mistakes to avoid. Just start with the tasks within your capacity to build your profile and enhance your skill.

Never bid on a complicated job hoping that you’ll research on and get the necessary skill afterwards.

If you don’t have the necessary skill, you would be wasting time since your proposal will show that you have little knowledge of the task. Some clients can even refuse to consider your proposal for other jobs since you wasted their time on a job you clearly couldn’t do.

In other instances, you might bid on a project you can handle, but then the client asks you to do a more complex task afterwards.

You would rather disappoint the client beforehand by politely refusing to do that task, than frustrating the client when you deliver a shoddy job.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t improve your skill.

If the job requires a set of skills which you can quickly research on and acquire, do it. Perhaps, the project is about producing a white paper, yet you’ve only ever written blog posts and e-books. You can research it and even prepare a sample before bidding on the project.



You’ll probably never have a second chance to rectify the freelance bidding mistakes you make. Therefore, always remain vigilant. Take your time before bidding on that project. Make sure everything is in perfect order before submitting your proposal.

However, if you do make a mistake, learn from it and don’t let it turn into a bad habit.


Do you know of any other freelance bidding mistakes to avoid when looking for a writing job? Share in the comments below
    • Mercy MmboneJoseph muthua
    • July 1, 2018

    This is an insightful article. Thank you for sharing.

  1. Reply

    Have learnt a lot from this article,now I know I am in the right path!

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