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I am new to freelancing websites. The problem is I have zero rating and I can't get any projects even if I bid the lowest amount.

I tried bidding aggressively. I even tried bidding the lowest possible amount to get my first project but still people having higher ratings get the project. This in turn prevents me from getting any rating which prevents me from getting any new projects.

I am stuck in this cycle.

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closed as off topic by thorsten müller, Martijn Pieters, ozz, Kilian Foth, Jalayn Apr 5 '13 at 12:41

Questions on Programmers Stack Exchange are expected to relate to software development within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

+1 for every comment or answer :) – zzzzz Apr 5 '13 at 7:12
this is rather hard to read (wall of text). Would you mind editing your post into a better shape? – gnat Apr 5 '13 at 8:27

Advice 1: Pick the price accordingly to your skills

Bidding the lowest amount may be the problem. In the eyes of a customer, low price equals low quality. Persons who already tried the services of freelancers and IT consulting companies know that lowest price means more money to pay later, and a much higher risk of seeing the project never succeeding.

  • If I hire a developer who asks $10 per day of work, I can't and shouldn't expect too much. I may be very surprised about how good and serious this developer is, but if the project fails, the only person to blame would be myself.

  • If I hire a developer and pay him $900 per day, I expect some good job in return. If the project is late, with no architecture and design whatsoever, written in crappy code and not matching half of the original functional and non-functional requirements, the only reason to blame myself would be the fact that I was too naive to be ripped off by a liar.

Pick the price accordingly to your skills. Don't ask too much: the customers will be disappointed. Don't ask too little: you will get customers who are desperate enough to sacrifice quality for immediate savings or who have no idea about how software development works.

Advice 2: Build your profile accordingly to what your customers are looking for

It's like during a hiring process: different types of companies are expecting different things from you, and a given CV type will work for some, but not for others.

For example, I myself have a US-oriented CV which fails completely in France. Here, in France, companies don't want candidates to write code during the interviews, they don't want to read about your projects, they don't care about how much do you share with the community or how much do you publish open source code, and they definitively don't know what competency matrix is. On the other hand, my CV will work much better if I search for a job at Fog Creek, Google or Microsoft.

In the same way, learn what are your customers expecting.

  • Do they expect you to be highly rated by the community?

  • Do they expect to see samples of your source code?

  • Do they want to exactly know who are you, what is the registration number of your company, etc. (I personally don't bear doing business with someone who don't even care giving me his family name)?

  • Do they expect you to be in their country or their city? Maybe they also expect to be able to visit you or that you visit them if they want to discuss about their project in more details?

  • Do they want somebody friendly and open?

  • Are they searching for a company or for a person?

  • Do they care about how well you write, or they are satisfied with a person who makes two mistakes in three words in average?

  • etc.

How do you learn about what your customers are looking for? Given the context, it's not an easy task, because you often have too little information about a given customer. You may still:

  • Do assertions from everything you can get from the freelancing website, especially the description of the project. A one sentence description and a 300 pages PDF document with functional and non-functional requirements indicate two very different profiles, and your response should change accordingly.

  • Watch the profiles of your competitors who won the bid. Why they won? Were they asking for a lower price? Was their profile more complete? Better written? Were they giving feedback and asking lots of questions about the project? Yes, rating is extremely important, but it's not the sole factor.

  • If you can, interview the persons who might have been the customers. How do they react? What do they expect? The task is very similar to what you do when you test a software product to determine if the user experience is good enough.

Advice 3: Ask for a feedback to more experienced persons

You can't ask for this sort of feedback on Stack Exchange, because it's both off-topic and too localized, but you can ask for feedback to the persons you know in real life. Show them your profile. What do they think? What could or should be improved?

The persons you may be interested in are:

  • Your fellow developers. Unless you're an expert in your domain, you may not know a few things, and reveal it in your profile. When a candidate for an interview writes: "I'm familiar with the latest database products like Sql.", it's embarrassing.

  • Visual designers and interaction designers (if you're building your own website with your profile). Ideally, hire one designer. If you can't, at least ask for a feedback to one. Don't be disappointed about how terrible your website is: most websites you visit daily are astonishingly terrible, and still they are used and are making money.

  • Persons who are familiar to proofreading. When I need to hire someone and receive a CV in French, from a native French speaker, where there are mistakes in nearly every sentence - mistakes Microsoft Word would underline, I already know that the candidate must be excellent technically to be hired.

    Most people don't know how to write, but what is acceptable for a YouTube comment or a text message is not acceptable for a public profile or a book.

    Proofreading your profile is very valuable. Even if you're a native speaker. Native speakers are convinced that they don't make mistakes; they do, and much more they could even imagine.

  • Persons who work in human resources, in psychology, in marketing, etc. They are all valuable as well.

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+1. About asking for feedback on SO/SE, I think the relevant chat room should be good. (Stackoverflow chat) – KK. Apr 5 '13 at 12:01

You can make some projects for free, in order to increase your rating. Just keep on searching for projects. That's it. When you get and complete the first one, you will get all the next ones faster and faster. Try to get each project you know for sure you can complete in time.

Good portfolio is extremely important. A project customer will look portfolios of freelancers and make a decision, who to choose. Make a portfolio of you previous works and put a link to it in your profile so that people could see, that you actually can do this kind of work well.

Also you can probably specify in your profile, which kind of work you can do. Maybe, it worths putting there information of your education, where did you study which technology. For how long do you use each of them.

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Where can I create this portfolio? And can I include my non freelance work on it ? Like professional projects,academic projects? – zzzzz Apr 5 '13 at 7:13
@iOsBoy this really depends on the type of your projects, on the engine of the freelance site and on the level of your skills. Some freelance sites provide the functionality of making portfolio right on them. If not, you can make a web-site with links/photos/descriptions of your previous works. If you can not make a site by hands, use some engines on the net like site-constructors. – Kolyunya Apr 5 '13 at 7:19
When someone can't make a website by hand, they should not pretend to be a freelance programmer. – Philipp Apr 5 '13 at 7:59
@Philipp you are mistaking IMHO. One can be a professional assembler, C or other language freelance programmer. And he doesn't even have to know basic HTML. – Kolyunya Apr 5 '13 at 8:07
@Philipp what Kolyunya said – zzzzz Apr 5 '13 at 12:25

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