The secret sauce of winning projects

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So you've done it.

You've gone ahead and created a profile to break out of the 9-5 grind, the boss and the headaches. Congratulations! 

But what now? 

It isn’t always clear what the best strategy is when freelancing, and there isn’t an official guidebook on how to succeed as a freelancer. The points below are some of the most common things I've noticed that the best freelancers do. By adding them to your systems you can give yourself an edge, and make sure your clients get a great experience. 

Let’s start with the basics. 

Making a good bid

This deserves an entire article in itself, but here are some pointers.

Pro tip: Read the project brief in ultra fine detail. Oftentimes employers will put a hint in their project brief because they're looking for people that took the time to read the brief. If you are one of those people, your chance of winning grows dramatically. Otherwise, I would suggest that by reading the project brief in detail you at least know what the employer actually wants and you can ask some good questions in your bid.

What's in a good bid? 

Remember that employers only see 250 characters of a bid unless they click on it. This means that the first few things you say really make a difference. Here are some things that belong in the beginning of your bid. 

  • A quick introduction of who you are, and the skills you possess that are relevant to the project.
  • The reason why you are a good fit; a metric, a piece of information, a unique skill. What separates you from every other bidder?
  • A good question to start the conversation.


Szymon here. I look after the freelancers on this site. I would be a great candidate for your app development project because I have made 25 apps with Flutter, and they are all in the playstore! What language are you thinking, and when do you want to launch? Send me a message.

After that, going into detail about your relevant experience or past projects will give you a better chance to win the project. Employers are usually thinking this:

  • Why did you bid on my project?

  • Have you done something similar?

  • What makes you better than the 20 other people?

  • How good is your communication? 

Remember, employers are comparing you to every other bid on the project as well as other platforms, sites or businesses. Try your best to stand out.  


OK, great, the employer messaged you! Let's get that ball rolling. 

First impressions mean everything. How you introduce yourself sets the tone for the entire conversation. If an employer has messaged you, it means that you have a good chance of winning a project. It's up to you to show them that you're the best freelancer on the platform for this job. 

Don’t just say hi. Actually introduce yourself. Tell people what your experience is, how it relates to their project and what you need to know from them. 

Good: Hey John, thanks for the message. Nice to meet you. I read through your brief and had a couple of questions. Do you have some time now?

Bad: hi 

Good: Thanks for reaching out John. I read your project in detail. Do you have any questions to start, or would you mind if I asked you some?

Bad: Hello

You get it. That first message will make or break the entire conversation and deal. I have seen many projects won in the first few messages. Use it to your advantage.  


Treat every chat like a real opportunity. You never know who might have a ton of work after this first project, and every project could change your future. I've seen $300 projects turn into $30,000 projects. 

Ask questions

Professionals ask questions. Unless the brief is extremely clear (which, let's face it, it never really is), you need to go into depth. The suggestions below are just ideas, but the goal is to try to get every piece of information from your client so that you're both on the same page. 

  • Tell me about what languages you prefer to have this built in?
  • Is there some inspiration behind your project?
  • Did you see a design somewhere that you're imagining? Something I could use it to help me curate your project better?
  • When do you want this done by?
  • Did you have anything in mind so far that you could share? 
  • What result will make you think this is a successful project?
  • How many words are you looking for? 

The right questions will separate you from the other candidates and make your client feel more comfortable about working with you. 

Focus your energy

Be honest with your skillset. It might seem like a good idea to bid on projects you can’t do just in case you win them, but if you focus on projects you can actually win then you will have a better chance of winning.

Outline deliverables

What is it that you need to do, and when? Have these down in writing. Not only is it important to discuss these in detail to win the project, it's equally important to have this information around while the project is ongoing. 

  • When
  • How
  • Why
  • How Many?

Pro Tip: Use Tasklist as a way to track deliverables.

Build value

If someone is looking for someone on, they're here because they need to get something done. They could spend far more, or far less than what they have in mind, or they could just decide to do this project on their own. The key to getting your clients to hire you is to build value. How do you do that?

Find out why they are looking for someone. Are they a company that's short-staffed? Are they too busy to do it themselves? What you learn in your question asking session becomes important now. 


If your client is a small business trying to cut costs, emphasize how you would benefit their business and bottom line.

If your client is a busy executive, remind them that you can save them a ton of time and they can focus on their other priorities.

If your client is developing an app, explain to them the benefits of hiring a freelancer or an offshore team (cost cutting, more agile support).

If your client is looking to get some design work, explain how this design will impact their business in a positive way.

Don't just tell people what you can do, tell them what they gain from hiring you.   

Close the deal like a pro

If you and the employer are on the same page, and you seem like you're the right fit and you have asked all the right questions, then ask for the business. Tell them to push that green button!

  • Hey, I think we would work great together. Should we go ahead?
  • If there are no other questions, let's go ahead and get started.
  • This looks like it makes sense. Should we proceed? 
  • If you're all set, just push the green award button and let’s get started!  

The key to this is is to do it once you're sure you're the right fit, and the employer and you are on the same page. Asking for the business too soon or too often may hurt your chances. Practice makes perfect here. 

Handle Objections

Not everyone has hired someone remotely, and it's normal to have some concerns with it. Guide them through this. Here are some common objections, along with some suggestions about how to help your employers through this:

I am still chatting with other freelancers

Great, there is a lot of talent on here. Is there something specific you are looking for in a candidate? 

Take this as an opportunity to remind them of why you would be an ideal candidate. Build value. 

The price is too high

I understand. Maybe I can explain where your money is going.

This is where your question asking period and value adding come to play. Discuss what your employer will be getting as related to their key concerns. For example:

Yes, building a hybrid app can be expensive. However, for that price you will get an app that: 

  • is very secure, using the most up-to-date technologies, which was one of your key concerns
  • is user friendly, as we will dedicate more time in the UX design phase
  • you will receive 24/7 support from my team and I 

I am not sure I want to hire a freelancer

Tell them you understand their concern, and that you have had this conversation with many other employers. Explain that you work with a lot of new clients and have coached them through their first time. Point out your reviews.

Whenever you handle an objection, always ask for the business again. The goal here is to address all their major concerns, and ensure they hire the right person (that's you).

Coach them through the process

Last but not least, help your new employers through the awarding process. By trying to remove any friction they may have, you give yourself a better shot at getting that project.

Winning projects like a pro is not always easy, but with some extra effort in the bidding and communication portion, you can increase your chances. 

Good luck! 

Posted 23 September, 2019




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