Finding Contract Work Online

Follow these five tips to make freelance bidding sites work for you.

Q: What are the pros and cons of bidding for contract work on the web? I signed up on and bid on 10 jobs with no acceptances. Is there any hope?

A: Yes, there is hope of getting work on freelance bidding sites like or Elance Online. Here are five ways to improve your chances of becoming a successful bidder:

1. Make sure the biographical profile you submit to a site like Elance Online or reads well and has no typos or grammatical errors. It should show your background in the field; your education, training and credentials; the services you offer; and the range of your rates. If you need help writing your profile, consider posting it as a job on one of the freelance boards for a writer to help you. You'll experience firsthand what it feels like to receive bids, and you'll see what impresses you about the bidders.

2. Put up a portfolio with samples of your work. If you have them, include testimonials from clients as text or audio files.

3. Don't place your bids based on guesswork. Ask good questions about the company or person seeking bids. Often, work descriptions are too sketchy or leave gaps.

4. Propose payment schedules that will show you're motivated to get the work done in a timely manner, such as asking for a relatively low initial down payment of 20 or 25 percent, with progress payments based on agreed-upon milestones.

5. If you're using elance online, consider becoming a select service provider. This helps the positioning of your bid and means your credentials have been verified. These steps won't guarantee you work, but they will improve your chances.

Authors and career coaches Paul and Sarah Edwards' new book is The Best Home Businesses for People 50+. Send them questions at or in care of Entrepreneur.

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