evFreelance bid writers can be really useful – supplementing existing teams or providing specialised help that you don’t have in-house. However, it’s worth having a think about how you work with them to get the most out of your investment.
Putting a contract in place
I’d recommend putting a contract in place to clarify expectations, deliverables, how long the piece of work is going to cost and what the invoicing arrangements are. Most freelance bid writers will have their own and will supply this as part of the start-up process.
We don’t have magic wands
It’s worth mentioning that bid writers don’t have magic wands. They will work really hard for you, but they can’t magically cover the gaps created by a lack of existing relationship with the procuring client, a lack of experience in the right sector, or a lack of the right skills and experience in your proposed team.
This is why the bid/no bid process is so useful in checking how strong opportunities really are before going any further. As I’ve said before, ‘taking a punt’ is a very expensive and completely ineffective way of marketing your business.
Do you have any existing content to work with?
It’s useful to enable a bid writer to assess your existing content – do you have CVs and case studies already written and tailored to this sector and are they good quality? Are your business processes already written up and ready to be used as base bid content? This is all key bid collateral and may need to be written or developed during the bid process and will extend the time you will need to engage a bid writer for.
Be clear about what you want me to do
I’m a bid writer – I write content for bids and you should be clear with any bid writers you engage about what you need them to do on any tenders. For example, do you need them to coordinate the process or complete any graphics or formatting as part of the commission? My favourite clients are those that clearly communicate my role in the process and how they want to use my skills in their bid process.
I’m happy to coordinate smaller bids if asked to and can format content using InDesign and Word, however there are better process managers and graphic designers out there than me. Be clear about your expectations, because these extra tasks take more time. An alternative approach is to ask your bid writer to use their network to outsource this work to other freelancers. I work like this quite a lot with clients with great results.
Have realistic expectations about how long things take
Writing winning bid content isn’t a task that can be completed overnight, especially if there are a number of questions to be responded to, or you have no base content to start with. All responses should be drafted and reviewed at least twice before they are submitted.
While your putting time into the process may feel like a bind, what you will get out of it is a quality bid, and quality content that you can put in your bid library for the future. I guarantee you will be able to use it all again, really maximising your professional bid writer’s ROI.
Be engaged in the process
As I mentioned before, I don’t have a magic wand, but I can create great bid content if you and your team properly engage with me. There is nothing worse than people expecting the world, but not setting time aside to either provide technical information or be interviewed.
I get that we are all busy – however if you have engaged a bid writer to complete some work for you, please don’t go AWOL. Provide input and feedback and complete any reviews you have committed to doing.
While I won’t name names, the worst bid experience I have ever had was with a client with exactly this attitude, and a team of us had a hellish six weeks because the client point-blank refused to engage. This is such a pointless way of working with external bid writers – leading to a sub-optimal outcome.
Have realistic expectations about how much this will cost you
You may think that someone in the office can write a bid cheaper, but what you are paying for is years of bid writing experience, often within a specific industry. For example, I have worked across the construction industry for 20-odd years, and have 16 years’ experience as a writer working on some of the most high-profile bids across the world. This experience provides real insight and clients get the benefit of this every time they engage a professional bid writer.
As a client, you are usually engaging another limited company to complete the work, with a range of overheads that clients get the benefit of, including IT software and equipment, insurance, travel expenses, training, website, finance and marketing – very similar to the overheads client organisations have!
Please pay on time
I really value the clients that pay on time – they are my favourites, so please pay your freelance bid writers, or any other freelancers, on time. It is frustrating to chase for money for work that has already been delivered and you have had the benefit of because your bid has been submitted.
Paying freelancers late will mean that this stress is passed down the supply chain to other small suppliers – this really isn’t fair.
I make sure I add as much value to the process as possible, creating high-quality content that will populate a bid library and can be used again. I also share my skills with the people I work with. Many of my clients tell me that they have learned a lot from working with me, and if I can make the industry more efficient by sharing my bid writing skills, then I am happy to make my little contribution.
I’d love to hear your feedback on this post. Do you engage freelance bid writers as a client? How do you work with them? Are there any other points that other freelance bid writers would add to this list?