In this article, I’m going to be digging into some of the most common mistakes that people make when they are posting their RFPs on Upwork. By the end, you’re going to be able to see real-world examples of people making these exact mistakes so you can avoid making them too.
Let’s take a step back though, I’m going to go ahead and spill the beans and tell you exactly what some of these common mistakes are. That way you can keep an eye out for them when we’re going through the real-world examples.
Mistake 1: Not including enough information about the exact job
The first mistake that I see that people often make is that they don’t include enough information about the exact job of what they want done. They just expect people to understand them, and that simply cannot be any more false when you’re looking for a potential freelancer. People cannot read your mind, and this is a no-no when it comes to mistakes when posting your RFP.
Mistake 2: Not clear on their budget
Another mistake that I often see people make is that they’re not clear on their budget. They might state something in their RFP, but actually they say something else in the actual description of their project, or they introduce some sort of other payment mechanism in terms of how they want to pay a freelancer. If it’s not clear how the freelance is going to get paid, then it’s not clear that they’re going to really want your project because they’re not going to know how exactly they’re going to be compensated.
RFP is a great opportunity for you to present yourself as an awesome client. That means that you have great grammar, that means that you are easy to communicate with, and when you have weird capitalization, as well as weird grammatical errors, that just demonstrates that somebody that you might not be that sophisticated of a client.
And when you’re not that sophisticated as a client, then it signals to them that you’re probably a low value client as well. So it’s really important that you just follow basic grammar convention when you’re making your RFP.
Mistake 3: Too generic title in their listing
Another common mistake that I see people make is that they have a generic title for their listing. They don’t include anything that would excite a freelancer to actually want to apply for that job. Freelancers are constantly building their profiles in Upwork. So if you think about it from their lens, they want something that’s going to be super flashy on their profile too. And so it’s useful for you to include more descriptive words in terms of what your project’s actually about.
Mistake 4: Setting low budgets
And then another mistake that I’d say that people often make is setting really low budgets for the work that’s actually described. When you underpay people, if they’re not going to want to work for you. And so this is something to in general avoid when you are posting an RFP on Upwork.
Now that we know what some of these mistakes are, let’s take a look at actual examples in Upwork and see exactly people that are making these mistakes or some other mistakes that might come up when we start to spot these different RFPs in a while.
Example 1: ISO Ghost Writer for NYC Real Estate Newsletter
In this situation, this person is looking for a monthly newsletter on the real estate market and compiling articles and whatnot. They tend to reference different articles that they’ll want to send in bullet points, and then they want this person to write it into full supporting sentences.
And then they’re saying how this person has to have some sort of understanding of world economics as well as basic guidance of the New York city real estate market. Here’s what’s wrong with this listing though, this listing is not specific enough. It is not clear what the outcomes are going to be aside from the fact that there’s this generic monthly newsletter.
To make this a lot better, what this person could do to get more RFP proposals is really detail exactly the sort of work that they are looking to get done. This could be as simple as providing a few different links to the past newsletters that this person has written. It could also include more specific examples in terms of how many words the person will be writing. That would make it a lot easier for a freelancer to look at this 25 to $50 hourly rate and understand exactly what this person is expecting of them.
The other thing that is really hard to understand is this is an hourly project. However, because they’re using the generic less than 30 hours a week by Upwork, it’s really hard to understand exactly how much work is actually available from this client.
So to improve this a little bit further, it would be way more helpful for this person to actually list out, “Hey, it typically takes me five hours to write this.” So that at least the potential freelancer can read this and think to themselves, “Oh, I stand to make probably between 125 and $250 per newsletter.”
By making things more crystal clear in terms of exactly what outcomes you want from the freelancer, as well as what they can expect in compensation, you make it a lot easier for them to want to hit that apply button for your RFP. And this is one of the clear mistakes that this person makes in this first listing.
Example 2: YouTube script writer, bulk order, five projects for $50
First things first, this is already a terrible listing and here is why.
It’s five projects for $50. No, one’s going to work for $10 if you’re asking them to do an entire script. What’s even worse about this is how grossly underpaid these people are. In this situation, they list that this is a long-term position, bonuses and raises are available for excellent work. $50 will be signed to escrow, and that they’re looking for 1500 word scripts, four to five times a week.
So here’s what’s wrong with this. 1500 words for $10 each is a very, very low rate. In fact, almost nobody on the planet that is a self-respecting content writer is going to actually apply for this job. So right off the bat, they are making the mistake of improperly budgeting for their RFP. And naturally you should see how on the right-hand side, they’ve posted five jobs and they’ve had a 0% higher rate.
It should not be surprising that this person, if they actually were a little bit more self-aware because they would realize that they are grossly underpaying people. So this is the biggest problem with this listing, but what’s also really challenging about this listing is that there is no understanding in terms of the actual work that’s going to be done.
There is no detail in terms of what niche this is even in that makes it really difficult for a content writer to actually understand whether or not their skillset is a good skillset for this particular job. So what you’ll notice in the first listing is that the other listing was actually smart enough to go ahead and include two example questions that they wanted the person to apply for.
And actually now looking at this, I realized that they actually probably didn’t include a newsletter in that first listing. So my apologies on that side of things, but it really points out the differences in the second listing in which what we see here is pretty much no detail, and this was just posted about seven minutes or so ago.
And it’s clear that probably no one’s going to apply for this job. In fact, it’s probably the case where they have four different open jobs and they’re seeing no proposals. And they’re wondering what they’re doing wrong. It’s really unclear what the expectations are. The title itself is actually generic.
It’s just says YouTube script writer, bulk order. It’s as if they are going on Fiverr trying to find some sort of really cheap work. That’s why it should come as no surprise that this person has no proposals yet. I understand that it was just posted an hour ago, but I promise you when you actually post something meaningful that people are interested in, you typically will get proposals as fast as within the first hour.
So in this situation, this is just an agregious listing because it doesn’t have a lot of the things that a freelancer would find appealing to want to work for.
Example 3: Content Editor
For the last example today, I’m going to show you a content editor role. In this example, this is a really interesting one because they’re making a ton of mistakes, but they’re actually probably going to fill this role just because of their existing reputation on Upwork.
And that just goes to show you that these mistakes are not black and white, you can still have a bad listing and get it staffed, but it really depends on other variables in those situations. In this situation, this is an Upwork Plus client and they have 98 existing reviews and almost all five stars. So it’s really clear that they have spent a ton of money on Upwork, which makes it a lot more attractive for potential freelancer to want to work here.
But right off the bat, some of the mistakes that this person is making is that they’re just naming it content editor, where they can include way more detail in terms of what the content editing is about. They could include exactly what topic it is. So for example, content editor for real estate blog, or a content editor for FinTech blog, whatever it is, it’s really important to provide specifics in your job listings. That not only helps you find the right candidates, but also helps the freelancers in building up their profiles.
The other thing that’s not really helpful is you can see how this description is just saying review monthly newsletters, offer editorial and tone guidance. This is so generic that it’s really unclear if I was a legitimate editor, what you would want me to do, to what extent do you want the work to be done? So you’re not setting up the freelancer up for success because in this situation, you’re probably leaving it to them to actually define a lot of these things for you.
So to make this better, it would be ideal for this lister to actually post what their guidelines already are, or if they don’t have guidelines, to give some general parameters in terms of what they’re looking at. For example, are they looking for a content editor that has at least three years of experience? Are they looking for a content editor that can give specific details to a particular style of formatting, whether that’s MLA or APA or so on.
By providing these sorts of specifics, this listing would be able to take full advantage of their Upwork Plus status. Instead, what they’re probably relying on is just the fact that they have an existing strong profile, and then from there they’re pretty much leaving the freelancers themselves to actually be successful.
The problem with this approach is that if you don’t actually know what you’re looking for, it can lead to a lot of frustrating experiences for you as the manager. It’s going to lead to a situation where you’re going to have two or three editors, all doing different things. When you don’t have clear SOPs, you’re going to get different outcomes from everybody involved.
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