Freelancing has become a popular way of earning across the world and is becoming a new trend in Pakistan too. Projects such as E-Rozgaar and DigiSkills are playing a very important role in promoting freelance work culture across the country. As every month newbies from across the world are joining popular freelancing platforms, it is getting very competitive to make your mark in this industry.

Be it Upwork or any other freelancing platform, you would be getting your early projects by submitting proposals where you will have to convince the client that you can deliver the value he is looking for.

I have been guiding newbies to make their freelancing career and over the years I have figured out some common mistakes that newbies are committing in their proposals.


1- Don't make it self-centered

When I observed that many fresh graduates were failing at getting their first order from Upwork, I asked them to share their proposal screenshots with me. Whatever they are writing, just take the screenshot and share it with me. After getting their screenshots, I found that the first three-four lines were all about themselves. It was all about their names, their degrees, their majors, their research work, etc. In short, they were making it purely self-centered as there was nothing much of value for the client in those early lines.

If you fail to get the attention of clients within the first few lines, you will probably lose the client. Clients want to hear about the solutions you can provide and value you can deliver, they are not interested in knowing other than that, most of the time.


2- Don't make it lengthy

The length of your proposal matters a lot but we would need to understand human behavior as well. A client gets hundreds of proposals against a project, he can't read all of them, and he won't be giving a lot of time to each proposal either. If your proposal is unnecessarily long, chances are that the client might lose interest in reading your proposal.

Keep your proposal precise and to-the-point. Don't make it unnecessarily long. Don't go on the number of words, Upwork does allow you to write over a thousand characters but you are not supposed to use them every time without any valid reason.


3- Don't talk about irrelevant degrees

Another thing that I have seen is, college grads be talking about their degrees in their proposals, even in those proposals where degrees don't fit well. You are selling skills here, and most of the clients don't bother about which degree you have got and from which institute you got it. But since young grads are excited about their degrees, they would find a way to mention their degrees.

You may mention your Marketing degree when any project is about digital marketing, social media marketing, etc. But there isn't much value in mentioning the same degree in a common data entry job. The bottom line is, mention your degree where it compliments the project, other than that, no need to talk about it unless the client asks about it.


4- Don't try too hard

A well-composed spontaneous proposal would get a client's attention better than a proposal where you are trying a little too hard. Common factors of going too-hard include repeating the same thing again and again, making the proposal sound like you are begging for work, giving an impression of an extremely needy person.

No need to do any of these things. Just write your proposal in a professional manner and avoid giving an impression of a low-quality freelancer.


5- Don't let it wander away from your profile

Make sure your profile, skills, and proposals are complimenting each other. I have seen some freelance beginners having a data entry profile and submitting proposals for facebook marketing projects. Just make sure this is not the case when you are writing your proposal. If you have got new skills, re-evaluate your profile again.

Write your profile introduction again so it compliments your new skills. Check with the skills you have mentioned in your profile. In short, your profile intro, your skills, your experience, and your proposal has to be aligned, every time.


6- Don't pass irrelevant compliments

I saw a proposal where the freelancer was unnecessarily complimenting the design and layout of a client's website describing the science behind colors and how well-chosen they are. While the client was just looking for someone who can create social media communities for that site.

Passing a compliment is a very tricky thing. It mostly doesn't go well if you haven't analyzed the situation the next person is into. Better keeping the proposal to the point.



7- Don't Over-Commit

Everyone likes getting more value, but don't get yourself trapped by making over-commitment. Let it be a surprise if you are delivering more than what you had promised. If a client is looking for someone who can write 10 articles a week, just write in your proposal that you can do that work, that's it. It would still be a good proposal.

Over-committing also makes it look like you are going hard to get the project which is again not a very pro approach.


8- Don't bid before a complete understanding of the job

Make sure that you have understood what the client is looking for. Identifying the problem statement is pure art. Many times the way a project is described makes it difficult in identifying the problem statement. You would need to read the job description multiple times to find the problem statement. Without knowing what exactly a client is looking for, you can't win a client.

Some might find the problem statement by reading a job description just once, some might need to read it five times. Everyone has different analytical ability, hence everyone would need a different amount of time to identify the problem statement.


9- Don't submit where you don't fit

If you know about Facebook marketing, but you don't know how to use Facebook Pixel (which is an important tool used in conversion tracking), don't submit your proposal there. I have seen freelancers submitting proposals on jobs that require a type of skill that they haven't learned completely yet.

You might get such projects, but won't be able to deliver satisfactory results. As you know, even one negative feedback can affect your profile, so better not to put your profile reputation at stake.


10- Don't avoid questions

Don't be a lazy freelancer. Many clients prefer to ask more questions than others. It is their way of evaluating your proposals and making sure that they are hiring the right freelancer for the right job. You would see many projects where the clients have put a requirement to answer their stock of questions.

Don't avoid those questions, don't close the browser tab or press backspace on such projects. Answers those three-four questions along with writing a project-winning proposal.


11- Don't present yourself as a jack of all trades

The client prefers to work with people who are specialized in one thing, so you should always try to present yourself as someone who is good at one particular thing, rather than presenting yourself as a jack of all trades. You might be a multipotential freelancer having a variety of skills, but it is still recommended to position yourself in one particular skill.

You can always surprise your clients later by telling them that you can deliver more than they knew at the beginning. But mentioning multiple skills at the beginning can confuse the client and he would skip the proposal in their search of finding the right fit.


12- Don't end your proposal abruptly

Always put a smooth end to your proposal. One way of ending a proposal is by putting a relevant open-ended question. You can ask for other aspects of the projects when you are finishing your proposal but never just end it all of a sudden.

These are some of the top mistakes that I have observed beginners committing. There could be many more such things that need to be avoided, but these twelve are the common mistakes that can generally be helpful for all new freelancers. If you have got something to say that can add value in this article, do share it to make this list helpful for others.

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