Bidding site users: read this

November 22, 2011 8:11am CST
I know I've said it before but I'm going to say it again because it's so important: READ the job description. I posted another job on Elance this week because my book cover designer's too busy to do the job (shame, though it's good news for her business). So far I've had about 15 replies and half of those - yes, HALF of them - hadn't read the description. As usual on a bidding site, I'd put a "key phrase" they have to include in their bid to show they'd read it and weren't just posting a template. I'd also said I didn't really want a big company, though that's not a deal-breaker. The half that failed didn't put the key phrase in, were a massive company posting a template bid (a real no-no for me) or sent me off to look at their portfolio instead of including samples (which takes a lot of time checking, thus putting the work on me and putting me off using them). So for you bidding site users, remember: make it easy for the client and READ the description! The ones that didn't got cut out straight away. Do you think that's cruel or reasonable, considering I'll probably have to go through about 30 proposals?
2 people like this
10 responses
@GardenGerty (101669)
• United States
22 Nov 11
I think that is perfectly reasonable. "He who pays the piper calls the tune". If you wanted to be responsible for each minor step of the way, you would do it yourself. If you must do their work for them, they do not deserve to win the bid. The fact that they did not read your entire specifications in order to bid would say to me that they would not read what you want in a book cover either.
• United States
22 Nov 11
I agree Gerty. I learned the hard way that you have to pay close attention to the details of a job description. I have a bad memory, so even though I read the directions, I quickly forgot them and just assumed that I knew what to do... and I was way off. My articles were 500 instead of the 700 words he wanted.. and my keyword density was 2% when he wanted 1%. So I agree... we must pay attention.
1 person likes this
22 Nov 11
Interestingly, the proposals for this one - graphic design - are much more variable than I've had when looking for a writer or an editor. There are a couple of really awesome offers (quite expensive, of course) and some that I've looked at their profile and thought "Oh, dear... clipart." Admittedly, my job descriptions are very long (this one had 13 important points...) but I break it down and make sure the essential bits are simple and clear.
• United States
22 Nov 11
I did one job for a guy in Elance, and I did read, but didn't re-read.. so when I did my articles they weren't exactly what he wanted. It was my fault, because i didn't familiarize myself with his directions. He wanted only a 1% keyword density, and I gave him a 2% and he wasn't happy with that. He had some other complaints too, because I didn't remember that the articles had to be 700 words. I gave him 500 words... so I just told him that if he didn't mind I would just pass on his job and use the articles myself for my upfront payment submissions for AC.. and got $5.10 for each of them. That's only about a penny a word, but it is about par for AC. When I wrote for K, I got 3 cents a word... but that gig is over now. I agree... if I had re-read the directions before starting I could have given him just what he wanted. My fault.. not his. I learned.. but I think I will just not bid anymore. I can get fairly decent money with AC when I have a great deal of articles.
1 person likes this
22 Nov 11
We all make mistakes - that's only natural. In that case it depends on the client. Personally, I'd have asked you to add the words and sort out the density but some people only give workers one chance, especially if they're on a tight deadline or something. I guess being a freelancer who's hiring a freelancer makes a difference: I know what it's like, so I'm a lot more flexible and generous!
• Indonesia
22 Nov 11
@PointlessQuestions What is this 'AC' you're talking about?
2 people like this
• United States
22 Nov 11
@ Murs... AC is the site : Associated Content. It's great for people who live in the US.
1 person likes this
@13tyates (1610)
• United States
22 Nov 11
I believe how you go about posting your job and its description is completely reasonable. When you decide you want that job I have always believed you need to thoroughly look in to the job, what it consists of, and any specification of what the job consists of. If they do not follow the rules you give that is the fault of themselves and they do not deserve the job. Glad you wrote this because many people need to understand this and take something from it. Happy Mylotting!
1 person likes this
23 Nov 11
It really is very simple, isn't it? Yet it's also the "secret" to winning bids that everyone seems to forget! (OK, so it's not really a secret but you know what I mean.)
@13tyates (1610)
• United States
23 Nov 11
I completely understand what you are saying about it being a "secret". It's that thing that some do not do and it will get you the winning bid. Very simple I would think yet many do not do it.
1 person likes this
@bmthepro (118)
• India
5 Jan 12
As usual you're bang on! You are 90% right, but let me tell you about something that happened to me at early stages. I read the posts thoroughly alright, but then when I merged myself into crafting the perfect application with undivided attention; thinking about nothing but the pros and cons of the job and whats needed to do it perfectly, I sometimes forgot to put a "I am your writer" or "2011" "I am the man" on top or bottom or both of the letter as instructed in a fine print in the job post. :P As you might have guessed it was not the fact that I didn't read the post properly, but my brain cells involuntarily ignored the trivial part which is hardly related to the job. Now I am not saying that what you do is wrong, in fact I think it comes in handy against time wasters and generic applications; but my story tells about a different side of the picture. Guess I evolved out of the pity mundane things(without any reason, I am born this way) and need to get into it by effort. It's bidding sites anyways and everything is part of the struggle. Btw long time eh :D
5 Jan 12
VERY long time! I think RebeccaScarlett said it best: "If they won't take the time to read your job description, I find it highly unlikely that they would take the time to do the job properly, either." Although it's perfectly reasonable to say that you were so involved in providing detail that you forgot the one vital thing they asked for, it still says "I don't pay attention to the vital bit" to the client. All you have to do is type two or three words (or even one) before you write anything else. I've actually had people who didn't put the keyword in re-apply after I reject them - I always put something like "Didn't read proposal - keyword missing" in a message so they have a chance.
• Canada
23 Nov 11
You're absolutely right to do that. If they won't take the time to read your job description, I find it highly unlikely that they would take the time to do the job properly, either.
1 person likes this
23 Nov 11
Exactly! That sums it up perfectly.
@fannitia (2170)
• Bulgaria
22 Nov 11
Hi, Spike, of course you are right and it's good to remind everybody the rules of a good job. I'm not a freelancer, but I tried to find some spare work at Freelancer.com. I had no success and I didn't realise that big companies look for job at the bidding sites. By the way if the job description is too long it's not easy to concentrate and read it really good :))
1 person likes this
22 Nov 11
Success on the bidding sites takes a while. On average, people have to spend a month bidding before they land their first job (that's not an official statistic, just personal experience and what I hear from other people). It's definitely worth it, though. I understand about long descriptions being difficult. That's one of the hardest things: do you put ALL the details in and make it long or just put a bit in and make it short? I go for the long version with bullets/numbering because I don't want people to waste their bids (or apply for things they can't do). Makes it more difficult but then the bidding's open for 7 days so time pressure is low.
1 person likes this
• Indonesia
22 Nov 11
Honestly, I've nothing much to say as freelance is still an unknown world to me. In my opinion, it's very reasonable for an employer to reject any bids when those bid don't meet the employer's demand, till the very detail bit of it. It's obvious in any kind of transaction that both sides have to be happy before reaching an agreement.
1 person likes this
22 Nov 11
Freelancing's a great way to earn, though you have to watch out for unethical and unscrupulous employers who pay slave wages. Not me, of course.
@NoWayRo (1062)
• Romania
22 Nov 11
I think I've wasted a few years of my life telling this to all my friends who want to start on bidding sites - as, just like you, I've been on both sides, and I know how much it matters - to both sides. I must admit that I use a few templates - but this comes after hundreds of successful (and repetitive) bids. I win about half of the jobs that I apply to and require a key phrase in the description - and I think that's most likely due to the fact that few other bidders bother to read and include the stupid phrase. I sort of understand this kind of behavior from big companies - they probably post hundreds of bids per day - but if they're that big, they might as well stay away from sites designed for freelancers
1 person likes this
22 Nov 11
Templates aren't inherently bad. I've had proposals (on the recent editing job, mostly) which blatantly stated "Here's the standard bit..." then "And here's the specific bit...". That's fine - it covers everything. It's just the ones that are obviously templates slapped into as many jobs as possible that get my back up. And I tell them as much when I reply.
• India
22 Nov 11
That's undoubtedly reasonable Spike! Its gross injustice to the employers when job seekers do a shabby job of posting their response. Not only do they waste their own time but cause inconvenience to others. Why do they that & what do they expect to get? Is it lack of capacity? Lack of sincere application for a task? How do they then expect to win a bid is inexplicable for me. I have created account at oDesk but I have notified that I won't be available till Nov 30 2011. Not that I can not start right away but I would like to familiarize myself with the rules of the game thoroughly and also look around to see the whole environment. I am also making sure that I score well on as many tests as possible for employers to see I am not fake or freak. . So, thanks again for emphasizing the point of the employer.
22 Nov 11
They do it mostly because they're big companies and they just paste a standard bid into every possible job (which is precisely why I ignore them). That said, one of them was an individual new to Elance and two others weren't English (and struggled with language), so I didn't decline them straight away - I sent them a note explaining why they would normally have failed, so they know in future. They'll get a fair chance. The funny thing is that all the big companies wrote to me as a "valued customer" or went on about how customer service is their main thing. If that were true, they'd have read my description. As I said to one of them: if they can't be bothered to read the description, what does that say about their service and how well they'll listen to what I need? Good luck with oDesk once you get started!
@ebuscat (5949)
• Philippines
23 Nov 11
For me yes it is good be a good bidder ever had keep up the good work.