It’s great to learn from your mistakes, but the process can be arduous when you’re just starting out as a freelancer.

Learning from the mistakes of others can speed things up.

To help you on your way as an Elance freelancer, here are some of the most common bidding mistakes for freelancers, as well as some tips on how to avoid them.

Bidding Mistake #1 – Bidding on jobs that don’t match your skill set

In the long run, it doesn’t pay to bluff your way into being hired for a job that’s not a good match for your skill set. On Elance, the ratings and feedback that employers leave stick around forever, so it’s important not to risk getting a bad rating. Don’t bid on a job unless you’re confident that you can satisfy or exceed the employer’s expectations.

Bidding Mistake #2 – Submitting a sloppy or incomplete proposal

A proposal that is too curt or that has numerous spelling or grammatical errors is not likely to land a job. Imagine an employer reading “I’ve done something like this before and will do this job for $75,” as compared to 2 or 3 well-crafted paragraphs that describe the freelancer’s qualifications, experience and skills. Which do you think will get the job? Take time to create an interesting and unique proposal for each job.

Bidding Mistake #3 – Using a generic proposal template

There’s nothing wrong with using a proposal template, but tailor it for each individual bid. You may even want to have a few different templates for different types of jobs. To avoid giving employers the impression that you submit bids without paying attention to the specific requirements of each job, add some details from the job description to your proposal.

Bidding Mistake #4 – Thinking that the lowest bid gets the job

Most employers are savvy enough to realize that the freelancer with the lowest bid is not necessarily the best one to hire. Although winning a job by placing the lowest bid may help get a freelancer’s foot through the door on Elance, it’s not a good idea to make a practice of always underbidding other providers. Instead, create a winning proposal that will make employers want to hire you even if your bid isn’t the lowest.

Don’t be deterred by freelancers from countries with lower economic standards who place very low bids. The reality is that many employers steer clear of these proposals due to the risk of lower quality work and confidentiality concerns.

Bidding Mistake #5 – Getting discouraged before you get going

Perseverance is one of the most important traits of a successful freelancer. It may take a few weeks or even months to really get going on Elance. Don’t let yourself get discouraged.

Check the new job listings frequently, keep submitting bids and work on polishing your skills. Most freelancers who deliver quality work on time soon have more work than they can handle.

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