If you are a freelancer and have been burnt many a time at job boards especially when others outbid you, you are definitely not alone. I have my bids turned down and declined so many times that I almost gave up!
However, I did win some bids (and am up to my neck in projects now...though I am not exactly earning big bucks for it!) and thanks to a really good buyer who gave me a really great review rating, I am able to get noticed more often in my bids. So, how did I win those initial few bids when I do not have any reviews?
Here are the steps that I took:
1) Find out the name of the buyer : I always try to address the buyer by his/her name when submitting a proposal. For example, when I see a job I am interested in, I will first check out the profile of the buyer. If it reveals a name, I will take note of it.
2) Be polite, professional and brief: When I submit a bid, my proposal is always polite, professional and to the point. I start it by addressing the buyer and then I state out in brief, why I could provide the services required. I always end it with a thank you.
3) Pricing: There are a lot of firms / freelancers out there who could submit really low bids from $1 per article to $3 per hour of work. We could never go down to that level of pricing (or else you'd be earning peanuts for a lot of work!) so DON'T! Instead, stick to your original pricing and search out projects which have higher budgets. It is not wise to reduce your prices as it would only lower your standards. If the buyer do contact you about your pricing and asking for a lower bid amount, you could do a bit of adjustment but not much. If possible, offer the buyer a few options as in a range of pricing for certain services. Example: $5 per hour for basic data entry work, $6 per hour for data entry and basic research work, $10 per hour for research and writing of articles, etc. This way, the buyer have a choice and may even accept your bid.
4) Close the deal: Sometimes, the buyer would send a message asking you a few specific questions. Sometimes it is to test your skills, sometimes it is just to get to know you and sometimes it is just to check out your response time. So, ALWAYS check your message board/email on a regular basis, if possible, a few times a day to ensure that you did not miss any new messages. ALWAYS reply to a message immediately and again, be polite and professional about. If it is a test, do your research first before answering the questions. If it is a sort of interview, answer it as eloquently as possible and be genuine and honest. Do not claim to be able to do this or that when you can't as it will only backfire on you later. Buyers always appreciate frank, polite and professional responses to their messages. It reflects that you are serious about your work and that you are professional about it.
5) Get a good review: If you are awarded a project, congrats! But before celebrating, the crucial point is to ensure you deliver the project. Be sure to do it according to the buyer's requirements. Adhere to whatever schedule they set. Always report back to them (if they required it) and always treat them with the utmost respect and professionalism. Remember, they are your clients and you do not want to drive away your clients! Follow instructions and importantly, put your best into your projects. It may be paying you only $15 per article or $9 per hour but it is still payment for your services. Be your own worst critic and go over all your work carefully before submitting it to your client. Once you have a satisfied client, you will get a great review!
These are but a few of my own personal tips. I do hope it helps! Happy bidding out there.