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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hitting the boards and getting jobs...

I don't try to snag a lot of business via the freelance job boards. I have a good core of regular clients and others tend to find me either on their own or via word of mouth.

However, I do use the boards occasionally to hire people to do work for me. Right now, I am soliciting bids via one of the more popular boards for a web design project. I am giving the Content Done Better site a complete makeover and the designer who was going to work with me had to bow out.

I'm a writer, not a designer. Thus, I left a lot of room for creativity in the project description and actually emphasized that I had a few base requirements but wanted this to be an opportunity for the chosen coder to exercise his or her creativity. I explained my basic needs and asked prospective designers to provide me with a little information about the direction they might like to take with the assignment.

The response has been awesome in terms of raw numbers. There are dozens of bidders. However, none of them have actually provided me with any information about what they'd like to do with the project. None of them. Not even one.

Here's what I get:

"I have reviewed this project and can complete it satisfactorily within the required timeframe. Please look at these examples of my past work. [URLs follow]"

Obviously, the bidders sending out these cookie cutter bids have NOT reviewed the project. If they had reviewed it, they would answer the question. If they didn't feel they could answer it, they would at least acknowledge it. They haven't. And I haven't found a designer.

I have long maintained that the bid boards are becoming a huge pain in the backside for buyers and this experiencing is proving the point. Nearly fifty bidders and none of them are actually reading the project description carefully.

If one of them had taken the time to provide a decent answer, he or she would be in prime position to land the gig. As it currently sets, I wouldn't think about hiring any of them.

Obviously, the mass of designers out there using the boards are just bidding on everything they see without a great deal of consideration. I suppose they figure that it's all going to boil down to price or that a few samples will substitute for reading the listing. They seem to think that the "efficiency" of just tossing out the same generic response and hoping that they occasionally get a job is a better option that custom-tailoring their answers. They are wrong.

So, here's what I would mention to writers who feel the need to use the boards as a means of job generation... Read the project descriptions very closely. Provide the buyer with some indication that you actually understand what they want from you. Answer questions.

In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed that I'll eventually find an affordable designer who cares enough to read the job description.