Freelancing portals are the most common places where freelancers find work. Some popular freelancing portals are
On these websites buyers post projects and developers bid on them in an attempt to win the project. The whole process is full of competition and lots of factors (including luck), determine who gets a project.
In my early days I used to bid and do lots of things to get the customer on my side. And slowly over time learned, what techniques work and which ones dont.
Over here I am highlighting some of those tips and techniques that I found to have effect(from little to large) on the success of a freelancer winning a project.
1. Be the first one to Bid
Does not sound very convincing but yes, this has an effect sometimes. When there are lots of bidders some clients tend to select the first ones or those with whom they have already started a conversation in the the private message box. So being amongst the early bidders helps. Again there are some buyers who would wait for a long time till they get the lowest bid and so on. But that is OK.
All of common freelancing marketplaces/portals have features to send out email notifications to you when new projects are posted that match your skillset. Use these features to get faster notifications about projects that have come in and match your skill set.
2. Maintain a good profile and portfolio items
Elance, odesk, freelancer, all of them provide various options to list your portfolio items and other works in your account. Use those features to maximise the visibility of your skills to potential customers. Also have a descriptive profile that mentions your skills, past works and experience in various fields.
Having a good profile can help prospective buyers spot you out and invite you to place a bid on the project.
3. Start communication in the pmb (private message box) right away after placing the bid
Just placing a bid and then waiting for the buyer to get back to you is not enough. Right after placing a bid on the project start a conversation in the private message box or pmb (as it is called on most websites). In your first message in the pmb you can tell the client what you think about the project and how to plan to do it, along with samples of your past work that relate to it.
Try to make your message sound and look as much real and serious as possible. For example you can suggest ideas to the buyer about how you plan to do things in the project or solve the problem. Ask questions about specific parts of the project that can help the buyer understand his own requirements better. Such a communication builds confidence between both parties.
4. Try not to post a pre-prepared private message that contains a huge list of your portfolio items
Lets say the project is about making a wordpress website, and that you have made many such website. Then try to post only few of your past works that relate to the client's requirement very strongly. Do not just post away a list of 30 or 50 websites that you have made or worked upon that include wordpress, drupal, joomla etc.
Instead try to post specific items and explain what you did in each of them, such that it highlights your ability to do similar things in this new project for the client.
Posting pre-prepared private messages makes your message appear like a message from a BOT. Such messages indicate that you are already occupied and that you are just bidding for the sake of bidding. Experienced buyers tend to ignore such messages.
5. The Big Secret - Show the client a demo or prototype of what he is looking for
Yes, this is the biggest secret to put you ahead in the queue of bidders. If you can show the client a prototype of demo that is very similar to the requirements of a particular project then you get the attention of the buyer rightaway and the buyer may start explaining you things further. This process takes your communication much ahead than the rest. After this if the price negotiation settles down then the project might be yours.
Some freelancers even go to the extent of doing part the work mentioned in the project and showing to the client. Good idea for freshers looking for work, but some freelancing portals restrict such a practice.
Things mentioned above are just basic ideas for may be those, who dont know already. The rest is practise and experience much like any business. Look for the right projects that match your skill set, bid on them early, communicate well in the private message box and force the customer to deal with you by showing him highly matching work samples or even a partial demo of his current project. Thats the whole story (in short).