One hundred bids and I've not been hired!!!
What am I doing wrong?
The perfect profile
“Why am I not winning any projects / getting any work?”
“I have posted a hundred bids and got nothing. Why?”
These are questions I see almost every day on Freelancer's Feedback Forum, and whenever I see them I look at the profile of the individual who has posted the question and I see the same mistakes made by freelancer members of this site over and over again.
For a couple of minutes please take a look at your own profile and ask yourself, when you joined this site, how long did you spend setting that profile up. For most new members it's less than an hour and for some it's as little as ten minutes.
Imagine for a moment that you are going to a conference where you can hand out copies of your CV (resume) to every single other attendee, talk to every one of them personally, explain what you do and how you can help their business be successful. How long would you take to write your CV then? Ten minutes? An hour? … Or would you write it out carefully, check it, edit it, proof-read it and so on until you are 100% satisfied that it is accurate, and will have an impact on every single person to whom you speak at that conference?
How long would that take? A day? A couple of days? Longer? It should do; so why did you take an hour or less setting up your new profile on Freelancer? What did you omit? What did you fail to check for accuracy?
Your Freelancer profile is your CV (resume) and you are here to do business!
I regularly advise other members on the errors and failings in their profiles. Do they do anything about it? Do they listen? Do they put things right? It might surprise you that over 95% of people who read what I say about their profiles do absolutely nothing and carry on making the same mistakes, not only in their profiles, but in the way they pitch proposals / bids to prospective employers on this site.
Why is 95% an important figure?
Over 95% of members of this site have incomplete, inaccurate or flawed profiles.
Over 95% of members of this site write inadequate, inaccurate or flawed project proposals.
Over 95% of members will almost certainly never get work here of value.
These articles explain how you can be one of the 5% who do get it right!
What makes a good profile on Freelancer?
A few minutes ago I asked you to take two minutes to look at your own profile. If you have got this far in this guide and have still not done so, then this is the moment to do it.
Remember, your profile is your CV (resume) and it is about you … the individual, the freelancer, the worker … the moneymaker.
Yet in most profiles I see, on average, about ten to a dozen errors or omissions that would take only a few minutes to correct, claims that could never be substantiated and serious inconsistencies between different sections within the one profile. Think about it, if you were applying for a full time job, would you present the prospective employer with an incomplete CV? The answer should be an emphatic, “No!” So why not complete your profile here, fully?
1. Your avatar photo
Here's two photos of me. One of them is my Freelancer avatar photo. Which one do you think would attract the attention of a prospective buyer more easily? Which one says most about me? Which one sends a good message to a prospective buyer?
Your avatar photo is the first thing people see and look at in your profile. A good avatar photo connects you to the prospective buyer. A good avatar photo tells a story. Mine says I'm a photographer, I'm relaxed, but more than that it says, “I want to connect with you, the buyer.” It also says, “I am concentrating on you.”
You thought 95% was a bad figure. Well, over 99% of avatar photos on this website are very poor and say nothing about you the individual or the skills you offer.
Yes, my photo was taken by a fellow professional photographer, but he's also a friend and he didn't charge me. Contact your local camera club and ask if anyone would like to practice their portraiture with you. Make sure that the person who takes the photograph knows what they are doing, and also what is required by this site:
- The camera should be a DSLR ideally, and definitely not a smartphone;
- The camera lens should be set at about 75 / 80mm focal length and level with your eyes;
- The photo should be “head and shoulders” taken against a plain background;
- Keep your hair off your face;
- If you want to smile say “sausages” very slowly and ask the photographer to take the photograph on the third syllable. Never say “cheese”;
- Never add graphics to an avatar;
- Never have an avatar that is only graphics / a logo, and not a photo of you.
2. Your “headline”
The second thing people looking at your profile is your “headline”. Think of this as being like the headline on the front page of a newspaper. You have FOUR words to make a point. Which one works best?
Award-winning Graphic Designer
Student who enjoys drawing
Maybe you are a student, and yes you probably enjoy drawing, but as an employer, who would I want who will guarantee to provide me with a first class result, be available to speak to me from time to time and pitch a reasonable fee for the work being done accurately and within a realistic time-frame?
Will I spend more on the “graphic designer” or “the student”? Well, I'd probably be willing to spend more on the graphic designer. You see, good employers don't worry about cost, within reason. Bad employers (and yes they are out there) just want the cheapest. I spend money on good products that work well for me. My car, the double-glazed windows at my home, the laptop I am using now all came from award-winning manufacturers.
Think what are your top two or three skills, prioritise them in order of earnings potential, put the one likely to earn you the most money first and maybe say something about your reliability:
Photographer, Writer & Translator for 40+ years
Highly rated SEO and AdWords specialist
Internationally recognised fashion designer
Experienced WordPress and Wix programmer
Remember what I said earlier. 95% of Freelancer members have incomplete, inaccurate or flawed profiles. Be one of the 5% who gets it right!
3. Your Top Skills section
For most buyers the next thing they want to check is your skills. You would be absolutely amazed at how many people get this section wrong, largely by omitting very obvious skills which they mention in other sections of their profiles, but fail to put in their Top Skills section. I often see people list for example Excel, but not include Microsoft Office, PowerPoint, Word or Access. They go together. They are almost “a team”.
Think about what you do, and I mean by that up to a marketable skill level. Write a list down … yes, write it down … using pen and paper. Then ask yourself if that skill you have listed is part of a wider group of related skills, e.g. Microsoft Office being a very good example. When you are sure you have everything on that list written down, search on this site's skills list and check what this site calls each skill, or if the skill is not listed, under what group skill name it would appear. Look for variants.
Let me start by giving you an example of the somewhat rare skill - “milliner”. For those that don't know, a milliner is someone who designs and produces ladies' high quality hats and related headgear. If you have ever watched the television coverage of Royal Ascot, every lady attending is wearing a hat probably designed and made by a milliner.
Now this site does not list “milliner” as a skill, although interestingly a project came up on a rival site in September 2022 specifically seeking a milliner. However this site does list “fashion design”. Yes, that's a much broader topic, and to be fair there are few milliners who'd consider advertising on a site such as Freelancer as their marketplace tends to be very specialised. That's not to say they wouldn't, but this is a prize example of using a skill with a wider catchment and appeal then the very specialised service of a milliner.
Let me give you another example: Translator
Let's say for a moment that you live in Thailand, or Paraguay, or Côte d'Ivoire.
Your native languages are, respectively, probably Thai, Spanish and French (or possibly Dioula).
You say that you are a translator and mention your native language in your Top Skills list.
But I often see people only mention one language in the their Top Skills list. They don't mention the other languages they speak, read or write to a standard sufficient to be regarded as a translator. However, do make sure that the languages you list you can speak, read or write to a sufficiently high standard. Very few employers will consider machine translation undertaken by somebody else simply because they are perfectly capable of using Google Translate themselves. Never, ever claim to be able to translate any language pair. One day someone will catch you out with a pair of languages simply not available using machine translation, e.g. Choctaw and Manx … no neither of them are available on Google Translate.
Make sure you cover all reasonable possibilities where you have a specific skill, but don't exaggerate your abilities by claiming to be able to do something where your skills are limited.
4. Your Portfolio section
The Portfolio section is actually one of the most important sections of your profile, but is often missing. In a few images that portfolio can say more about you than several paragraphs of written text. There is a saying, “A picture tells a thousand words.” It is vital, especially if your skills include graphic design, architecture, photography, video, interior design, home improvements, creative writing and many, many more skills that you include pictures, images and files of work you have created.
If the work you do involved any visual form – designs, images, drawings, textual content, video and much more, then make sure you have examples of your work within your portfolio. Aim for a minimum of six for a single skill, but the keep the accompanying text to an absolute minimum. If it's work you've done for a client on this site simply say, “For Freelancer client <name>”. You don't need a long-winded explanation and you certainly should not reiterate whole paragraphs that you've got in your summary profile text.
If you work in any form of written skill you need sample documents you have created, but always convert them to PDF. You can also use screen captures. If those examples are only available from academic project work, that's fine. You can include that.
But one thing when you do this is very important. Yes you can, and indeed should consider marking your work as copyright but you should not, and indeed must not include a website or social media handle printed on the image or within the document as that is a direct breach of this site's terms and conditions, nor should you include off-site contact details in the text attached to an image or file.
5. Your Education section
The Education section is there so you can provide details of courses of study at tertiary level – diploma, degree, masters and doctorate. Make sure you write the course name correctly. I see dozens of educational qualifications written with capital letters missing from the course name, the academic institution and more. Every town or city name starts with a capital letter. Check it – make sure you have it correct. Check what the university called the course. Include the name and city of the academic institute, the start and end dates and, most importantly the major subject if not obvious from the course name. So mine was:
- HND Computer Studies
- Portsmouth Polytechnic, 1983-1985
6. Qualifications section
This section should include the qualifications obtained at the educational institution mentioned in the Education section, but can also include professional qualifications from other bodies and organisations. So mine repeats the first bit, and adds a second qualification:
- HND Computer Studies
- Portsmouth Polytechnic, 1983-1985
- LMPA – Master Photographers Association 1987
7. Experience section
This is where you put your working history, the jobs you have undertaken as an employee, but only those that are relevant to the skills you are offering. List the employer's name, the position you held at the highest level, the dates from and to. You can also include the periods of time when you were self-employed. Just put Self-employed, the job title and the dates.
Don't add irrelevant content. I saw one profile where the freelancer had written in this section under one job “I learned a lot at this job and gained a great deal of experience.” That's bad. Leave it out!
8. Your main profile text summary
I've left this one deliberately till last, even though it appears below your headline. The reason you should do this last is that if you do everything else first you will realise that there are things you need to include in the profile summary that you might otherwise miss. But be careful. Too much information is not a good thing.
Start with an essential sub-headline that is designed to grab the buyer's attention. These are my first three sentences:
TOP RATED PREFERRED FREELANCER
Professional British-born Commercial Photographer, Translator, Writer and Proof-reader. I am now based in France, in the town of Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche, south of Limoges, but undertake work for clients worldwide.
In less than four lines I have made an impact. The client knows:
- My standing on this site;
- The work I offer to undertake;
- My location; and
- My clients' geographic range.
What you write will be different. But remember what I said a few moments ago, “Too much information is not a good thing.” Having said that, too little is even worse.
This seems to be a problem particularly for those working in computer technology and graphic design.
Let me give you an example. I saw a freelancer's profile a few weeks ago, and he had listed just about every one of his Top Skills again in his profile summary text, and he had a lot of them.
In one case, I saw the member was a linguist, and he wrote:
- Urdu translator
- English translator
- Hindi translator
That's repetitive and is unnecessary. I would have written:
- Translator – Urdu, English and Hindi
- Graphic design
- Logo design
- Banner design
Again it's repetitive and unnecessary. I would have written:
- Graphic design and related skills
Then there are things that people put in the summary text which are unwise, in some cases downright dangerous, and a few that are prohibited within this site's terms and conditions. Here's eleven things you should never ever say, (and why you should never say them):
- ANY link to an outside website – (Breach of site terms and conditions);
- Unlimited revisions – (To me that says you will never ever actually get it right);
- Free samples – (Dodgy buyers will take you for a ride);
- I am “the best” - (No you are not. Someone else will always be better);
- I am “the fastest” - (No you are not. Someone else will always be faster);
- I am “the cheapest” - (That's almost as bad as offering free samples);
- I can translate any language pair – (So can everyone else who uses Google Translate);
- If you don't like my work I will give you your money back – (If I choose a freelancer, I expect to like their work. If not, you would not have got the job in the first place);
- I am a student / I have a young family / Please choose me – (You really are begging and under-selling yourself at the same time. Good employers are not interested in your family, your hobbies or your financial situation. They are only interested in your skills);
- I need the work / money – (Just as bad);
- I am new here – (Even worse).
Never, ever, put any of the above “claims” or “pleas” into your profile text, (or into your bid proposals either). Bad employers will take advantage of you and good employers will ignore you.
Finally, with regard to your profile, check it. Go through every line, every word. Check the spelling. Check the capital letters, check the punctuation. There should be, for example, a space after every full stop and every comma.
If you've got that lot right … and I do mean everything ... you are now one of the 5%. Now let's look at bidding on projects and making you one of the 5% who gets that right too.
The author of these articles is a commercial photographer, writer and translator, and has been a member of Freelancer's website for about twenty years. He has hired about 200 other members during that time and has undertaken work for about 100 other members, with feedback averaging 5 stars as employer and 4.9 stars as freelancer. The opinions expressed in these articles are also borne of years of experience in sales, marketing and freelancing, not only on this site but working at senior consultant, managerial and training manager level for major companies from the UK and USA and consultant to companies in the USA, UK and France including working with several departments of the European Union in the battle against counterfeiting, fraud and product piracy.
“I'm not infallible, but I'd like to think that the advice I give here is as good as you will get … and it's free!!”