Finding Work After 50 – Episode #12 (A Hard Lesson)

Finding Work After 50 – Episode #12 (A Hard Lesson)

Well that was a hard lesson to learn.

I came across a project on UpWork recently that really intrigued me. The client gave it $$$, which meant they were willing to pay higher rates for the most experienced freelancers. They had a very reasonable budget of several thousand dollars. And most importantly, it required some really esoteric technical writing which I knew not many people could do.

Now I was no expert, but I was familiar with the topics they wanted someone to write about. This seemed like a really good opportunity and I want to get my proposal right.

If you want to submit a proposal that really wows the client, you must do three things:

  1. Write a fabulous cover letter
  2. Answer all their questions in detail
  3. Show at least one highly relevant piece of work they can use to evaluate your ability to do the job

I was willing to take a day or two to submit my proposal because I knew there wouldn’t be many other proposals and I thought quality would be more important than responsiveness.

The first thing I did was craft a fabulous cover letter. I must have edited it twenty times. Then I answered their questions flawlessly. But there was one thing missing: I didn’t have a highly relevant piece of work to show them. In the world of freelancing, that’s not a problem.

I came up with the title of an article I could write that I knew the client would find highly relevant. I then when about spending the next four hours researching and writing a 500 word article on that subject.

Of all the things that are amazing today, maybe the most amazing is that you can research and write an article on just about anything in less than a day. I call it just-in-time expertise. And as a freelancer you may need that from time to time.

So, I had all three pieces I needed to submit my proposal. I had saved the job in my saved jobs list and noticed that nobody was being interviewed for this project yet. Great! All that was left to do was to actually submit the proposal.

A funny thing happened when I clicked the Submit a Proposal button: nothing. UpWork crashed. So, I tried doing it in another browser. Same result. What the heck was going on?

I opened up a chat session with the UpWork help center, who by the way are very helpful. And after a short while we discovered the problem. The project had been changed to “Private.”

You see, when a client posts a project on UpWork, they can make it public or private. As you can imagine, anyone can submit a proposal on a public project but only invited freelancers get to propose on private projects. What this client had done is change their once-public project to private, which meant I could no longer bid on it.

What could I do? I just wasted the better part of a day preparing a proposal I couldn’t use. That was a hard lesson to learn.

I did suggest to the help center person that changing a project from public to private should be forbidden since it has the potential to waste freelancer’s time. Not sure what will come of that, but there is one great big lesson I took away from the ordeal.

Lesson #7: get your proposals in as soon as you can because you never know when they’ll disappear.

Until next time.


Also published on Medium.

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