Freelance 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.
Please engage us early
The first piece of advice is to engage us early in the process, whether this is for pre-bid preparation work, or as soon as you know tender documents are due to be published. We definitely can’t do our best work days before the deadline, if the ITT has been on your desk for a month.
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 bid start-up process.
We don’t have magic wands
Bid writers don’t have magic wands and while they are talented and experienced, they can’t cover the gaps created by a lack of relationships with the procuring client, experience in the right sector, or 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 way of marketing your business.
Do you have any existing content to work with?
It’s useful to let a bid writer 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 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 need them to do
Bid writers write bid content, so you should be clear if you also need them to coordinate the process or complete any formatting or basic design on tenders. The best clients clearly communicate the requirements and how a bid writer’s skills are needed as part of a bid process.
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 a lot with clients with great results.
Have realistic expectations about how long things take
Writing winning bid content isn’t a task that’s 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. Putting your own time and effort into the process will result in a quality bid and quality content that you can put in your bid library for the future, further maximising the value of engaging a professional bid writer.
Be engaged in the process
As I mentioned before, freelance bid writers don’t have magic wands, but they can create great bid content if your team engages properly with them. Bid success is dependent on clearly communicating technical expertise, so it’s a real collaboration. Please set aside the time to either provide the technical information or be interviewed, as well as completing any reviews you have committed to.
I won’t name names, but the worst bid experience I have ever had was with a client who point-blank refused to engage – me and a team of other freelancers were subjected to a hellish six weeks and resulted in sub-optimal outcome. This is a really pointless way of working with external writers.
Have realistic expectations about costs
You may think that someone in the office can write a bid cheaper, but you are paying for years of bid writing experience, often within a specific industry. 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
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 and this isn’t fair.
Working with a freelance bid writer will add a lot of value to your bid process, slotting into teams, working independently with minimal input and creating high-quality content that can be used again and again. You will also pick up tips about how to approach responses, develop CVs or repurpose case studies.
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?