How to Effectively Market Yourself and Win Projects

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Securing projects in the freelance marketplace can be a job in itself. Regardless of your freelance background, you must be willing to add the roles of businessperson, marketing guru, salesperson, and financial whiz to your list of skills if you want to survive and thrive.

Below are items to ponder when creating your customer acquisition strategy.

  1. Create a detailed but brief profile. You don’t have to give someone your life story. Employers generally spend five seconds on a resume or proposal before clicking to the next one.
  2. Upload Work Samples that showcase your work. Seeing is believing.
  3. Personalize each proposal to the Employer’s needs. Employers are looking for someone who is in sync with their thoughts about the project. If you send a canned response that does not speak about their project or organization, you are sending the message that you don’t care or have the time to communicate with them. If you can’t take the time to write a personal response, how will you manage the time to complete the project?
  4. Submit a Premium proposal to indicate how serious you are about working on the project. Premium proposals are sorted to the top of the Employers’ Quotes page and are distinguished from standard proposals by a special icon.
  5. When writing any document for an audience other than yourself, avoid using the first person (I, me) and rephrase your accomplishments to reflect what you did to help XYZ company overcome a specific challenge or how you managed to lower the IT budget by migrating from an outdated legacy system to Linux.
  6. Focus on quality over quantity. Though it is tempting to spam Employers as you feel there may be nothing to lose, no one can proposal-spam successfully. Eventually, all spammers resort to dry, canned responses that are ignored by Employers. This creates a lose-lose situation for both parties as you become frustrated from sending out hundreds of proposals and the Employers become annoyed by receiving numerous quotes that do not relate to their project.
  7. Re-evaluate your approach often. Though your resume and proposal text may have worked wonders last year, this year and its economy are a whole new ballgame. You need to take into consideration the changes in the marketplace and modify your plan to suit these changes.
  8. Make sure all your documents are free of spelling and grammatical errors. Though your work as a C++ programmer often does not require you to be an expert in grammar, the person in human resources will likely perceive you as a poor communicator if your proposal and profile are lacking in the proper grammatical structures.
  9. Complete all projects assigned to you in the most professional and time-conscious manner. Good credentials and a well-developed track-record go a long way to securing future projects.

As a professional in the freelance marketplace, you have to arm yourself with the information and tools needed to achieve success. What can you add to this list?


  1. Great writing skills are indispensable to success. Writing is communication. True communication is clear, respectful, and gets to the point. Also, it is free of insults, sexism, and crude language or statements meant to shrink the other person’s or your own soul. Great writing must be as free of spelling and grammar errors as possible! Brevity is the essence of clarity. Were I an employer looking for free-lancers for MY project, I’d look for the writer of a proposal who can clearly outline to me what he or she can do for me, my company, and my project. The last thing that I, were I am employer, would want, is a “spam-like” or “canned” proposal that is impersonal and sounds “canned”. You know, like an Ace Hardware ad that has no idea whether I am into gardening or home improvements. (I love Ace Hardware, by the way!) Two important things that every effective sales presentation has, are a concise list of Benefits to the Potential Buyer, as well as the Chacteristics of what you have to sell. The buyer or employer wants to know, what is in it for THEM. I hope this helps somebody. Even as I pat myself on the back for my ace writing skills. Writing should never be devoid of personality. YOUR personality. That’s what SPAM is for! Ha, ha!

    • Anna, you expressed my thinking perfectly. What about a review service, where free-lancers can (optionally) have their initial offering edited to better reflect the points you outlined above? The same could apply to buyers — providing a better specification that would allow freelancers to understand exactly what they’re bidding for? A nominal fee ($1) per successful proposal could help everyone…

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