Recently, I read an article that discussed what clients should do and be aware of before posting a job; all of which were excellent points. Freelancers can also benefit from a few guidelines so as to protect you from getting caught up in a bad deal.
Avoid those slow to respond. People get busy, no doubt. But, I'm amazed at how little some people respond to questions about their job proposals, especially when this involves a brand new website or a redesign. If a client is taking their time to respond to your questions, how do you think it will be when you get the job?
Don't assume the client knows all of the details. I've had several potential clients ask for so-and-so to be done and then appear lost when I ask them questions about their project. Regardless of what type of job you are submitting a proposal, understand you know more than the client does. Ask questions and pick their brains; you are wanting them to teach you something.
Don't settle for less pay. One of the things I love about website development is that I do not have to settle for local jobs. That being said, you must compete with fierce international competition; some of whom will work for 25% or less for what you charge. Know your rate before bidding. Even if it is over budget, send the client a proposal with your bid amount and do a follow-up a few days later. If they're interested, they will respond. You'd be surprised at how much clients under-value work. If no response after the follow-up, consider it lost. Move on.
Don't get in over your head. This almost goes hand-in-hand with #3. When you undervalue yourself to get a job, you undervalue the job. Don't settle for billing $100 to convert a website from Dreamweaver tables to a custom Wordpress theme. At the same time, don't submit a proposal to build an ecommerce system for Macy's either (unless you have the staff to do it).
Offer some enhancements. Do you like receiving bonuses for a good job? So do clients. Doing something for free has its rewards and its downfalls. But, offering a little something the client wasn't expecting can go a long way. If you're writing content, consider submitting it to some article directories or maybe even doing a press release (with the client's permission, of course). Like #2, don't assume your client knows what to do with the excellent product you've provided. Try to give them something that shows measurable benefit to them as a way of saying 'thank you'.
BONUS TIP: Don't let emotions get in the way of submitting a proposal. Yes, you may be in a dry-spell where, no matter what type of job you bid on you just can't seal the deal. This does not mean you should lower your wages or offer extraordinary services for an ordinary job. The industry itself likely is not suffering - it's just you. Even Peyton Manning and Kobe Bryant hit dry spells. Those that truly survive in this business are those that master the bad times.
There are many other things a freelancer can do to ensure a job gets done well and enhance their name in the industry. You are not only a freelancer, but a project manager which itself takes skill to master. Keep your eyes open and be true to yourself. Yet, also know your limitations. More times than not, your clients will become repeat customers if you can take care of the basics.
Tim Trice is an online marketing consultant and website developer based in Houston, Texas. He can help get your business and your website pointed in the right direction. If you are looking for someone to give you an honest opinion on your current website or want to know how to start one, contact him to get a free, no obligation website review and analysis today!