Featured Freelancer: Lorena Bastos

Today’s featured freelancer is Lorena Bastos, a writer from Araxa, Brazil. We had a quick chat with her about what it’s like working at Freelancer.com, and here’s what she had to say. Hi Lorena! How did you get into writing? My dream is to make my big move to Canada and start anew. When I decided to become a professional writer, I did not realize how hard it would be. I’m twenty years old and I took this path three… Read more

Success Story: Freelancer Illustrates Young Author’s Mothers’ Day Present

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Twelve-year-old Leo Whitehead wanted to bake a scrumptious chocolate cake for a mothers’ day surprise. However, he was afraid to do it because he was inept in the kitchen and his mom probably wouldn’t even let him try. With a pen instead of a whisk in hand, Leo turned the whole baking ordeal into a short story. The result impressed his parents Neill and Bernadette, so much so that they decided to publish the story.

The couple decided to search for a publisher but thought of hiring an illustrator first. Without pictures, the superb story would seem bland, especially since it was targeted to kids around Leo’s age. “We wanted to recognize his achievement. Writing something without being prompted is such as great thing to do. But for a kid’s non-commercial writing hobby, it’s not feasible to get an Australian artist to do commissioned work,” Neill said.

He turned to Freelancer.com because it wasn’t only more economical, but it also allowed him to view the work of several artists to assess the style that would suit Leo’s story.  “We decided to give it a go on the illustrator to surprise Leo. It didn’t cost much to try,” he said.

Among the bids he received, Neill picked Alina, an illustrator from Romania. “The competitive bidding (on the site) was a great feature. We saw a variety of styles, which influenced us to choose her. Alina is a very talented artist; she uses different styles and is also very flexible and adaptable,” he said. (See Alina’s work here.)

The outcome was a full illustration of Leo’s book entitled “The Cake of Doom” where the reader can choose between two actions with corresponding results – either the reader progresses through the story or suffers a consequence.  Leo got the inspiration on this type of story-telling in the series “Goosebumps – Choose your Own Ending” he read years ago.

“The Cake of Doom” has been available on sale for a couple of months now on iBooks,  Google Play, Amazon Kindle, and Kobo. Leo decided to donate all the profits of his book to a charity that will benefit a new school in East Timor. “What can I say – he is just a great kid. We’re very proud of him,” Neill said.

Are you looking for freelancers who can illustrate the cover of your book? Get bids in minutes by posting a project, or picking from a pool of illustrators.

Are you’re an illustrator looking to design some covers? Sign up now!

Living the Freelance Life: Creating The Best Work Schedule For You

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Some people are up and working at the crack of dawn, while some like burning the midnight oil. Which group do you belong to? The good news is, that won’t matter if you’re a freelancer. You can either be a morning lark, or a night owl, or somebody in between, because you can choose the work schedule that works best for you.

One of the many perks of freelancing is being able to work whenever you want. Sure, you still have to stick to project timelines or sometimes keep track of your work hours, but, for the most part, you’re not limited to a 9-to-5 schedule. The trick is finding out what the best, most productive work schedule is for you.

Early riser or nocturnal creature?
Do you like getting up with the sun and starting your work early, or is sunset the start of your day? Maybe you’re one of those people who love seeing the sun rise, but just can’t wake up early enough to do it?Studies have shown that night owls, early birds, and those that fall in the middle all have different brain structures. Chances are, if you’re a night owl and you force yourself to wake up way too early in the morning, you’ll have a difficult time concentrating on projects. Likewise, if you’re an early bird, you’ll find yourself lagging on tasks once the clock starts ticking towards midnight.

As a freelancer, you can be productive by staying true to your body clock. Don’t force what doesn’t feel natural – just work with a schedule that’s comfortable for you. Take note of the time you usually wake up and start from there. If it’s a struggle for you to get up at dawn, start your day at dusk. Instead of sitting like a zombie, totally unproductive for a few hours, you’ll have the energy for a fresh start everyday if you don’t force your night owl self to become a morning lark.

Breaks are good for you.
Are there times when you try your hardest to work nonstop for hours, but you find your mind wandering at certain times? According tostudies, that’s because your body’s telling you it needs a break. Your performance declines the longer you work, so let your brain rest from time to time. Take a walk, have some coffee, or do something else for a few minutes, and your energy will be back up and running at peak levels in no time.

Find your peak times.
People have their own personal peak times – the parts of the day when energy is high. Organize your work schedule in such a way that you work on your projects during these most important hours.

Do you find yourself feeling sleepy after lunch? If you have flexible work hours, or have the luxury of working from home, then by all means, take a nap! Staring sleepily at your screen won’t be productive anyway. The only thing you have to make sure of is that it really is just a nap and you’re not going to sleep your entire work day away. Feeling sluggish mid-evening? Schedule a coffee break then. You’ll be more productive afterward, when your brain is on top of its game.

Peak times can also equate to quiet times. Some people feel more productivity in peaceful surroundings, and if you’re one of those people, you should adjust your schedule accordingly. If you have kids or a busy house, you may want to work after everyone has left for the day, or gone to bed. If there are things that leave you feeling frazzled during the day, work around those times. It’s up to you to find those pockets of time within your day when you can work without any distractions.

Work with your lifestyle.
Freelancing gives you the freedom to be able to work with your lifestyle, not around it. You can plot your work day according to how you live, so you can be as productive as you can be.

Once you have your work schedule down pat, you’ll find that you have more time and energy for more jobs. Check out theFreelancer job list and start working!

Hard at Work

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The team at Freelancer have made it a top priority to review the authenticity and credibility of job listings. We are pleased to announce that we recently implemented new site functionality minimising the number of illegitimate projects in the marketplace. We are confident that our users will notice the clear change in quality and trust you will find that these updates enhance your experience on Freelancer.

How to Adapt Quickly to Your New Digital Office

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Businesses, especially startups that bootstrap to raise funds, resort to hiring offshore employees because it is cost-effective and lessens the possibility of talent mismatch. Employers also find the skills they need much faster as they don’t have to deal with posting job listings on websites, conducting lengthy interviews, and offering jobs to employees who ultimately refuse. This whole process takes days or even weeks to complete, whereas choosing an offshore employee may only take mere hours. As such, employers pressed for time and those who only need to hire on a per project basis find it beneficial to outsource.

Employers who have been hiring the traditional way may be confused or wary of how it works. Granting jobs to people on the other side of the planet who you will probably not meet in person seems off-putting. As always, there will be the issue of trust – but isn’t that somehow the same for the people that come to your office? The risks may be different in so many levels, but worker productivity is essentially the same; they either do work or lag behind.

From traditional hiring to finding people with a few clicks, the leap is so big that those new to it may have trouble learning the ropes. If you’re willing to try a new way of hiring (and working), we have made this guide to help you adapt to your new digital office.

Be adaptable – Once upon a time, cultural diversity was something only encountered by travelers. Now, offices are multicultural. People now have to work as a team no matter what the differences are in cultural values, viewpoints, and backgrounds. If you can imagine how challenging it is in a single office location, how much more would it be, managing people based in different continents?

The key here is adaptability, not only for the employer, but for the rest of his employees. If you are going for a collaborative project, make sure to look for freelancers who are experienced in this setup. Though they are holed up in their home offices, they should be able to effectively work with other people.

Ultimately, be understanding and patient. Take the time to learn a little bit of their culture, especially if you are hiring for the first time in certain countries.

Consider time zones – The time you are so energized and ready to take on the day’s challenges may be the time for others to conclude a hard day’s work and rest. When hiring for jobs that require your guidance or for jobs that are rushed, definitely hire freelancers who are flexible.

Always ask the freelancer the hours they are available and compare their schedule to yours. Both parties should be able to adjust when necessary, especially when on a tight deadline. Making clear arrangements steers your project away from delays caused by not giving instructions on time or waiting the next day to answer freelancers’ questions. To speed up communication, consider using chat instead of emailing, if you haven’t yet.

Pick only the jobs that can be outsourced – Not all jobs can be outsourced. If you want to make sure that you’ll get the quality of work you’re aiming for, don’t entrust jobs that can’t be handled by a person offshore. For the jobs that don’t require your attention 24/7 however, the ones that need lengthy meetings with the company board, or extensive collaboration with your local team, don’t think twice to outsource. Some of the jobs you can entrust to freelancers are web design and development, graphic design, content writing, marketing, and data entry.

Stay engaged – Even across borders, you should show that you are serious about getting work done. This is not just because your workers are out of your sight (and reach, literally), but this is due to the fact that you have to leave them on their own, expecting them to finish the job as agreed. Although there are workers fully capable and deserving of trust and leniency, try to keep the scale balanced. Get the right mix of being strict, engaged, and permissive. Staying engaged will help motivate freelancers, but of course, avoid being overbearing also.

It may take a bit of time to be comfortable with your new digital office, but hopefully, you’ll be able to quickly adapt and work efficiently with your new offshore team. Still unsure how it works? Check out Freelancer.com’s guidelines to help you get started right away. Ready to hire? Post a project!

The Lowdown on Milestone Payments

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Some of the risks of offshore work arrangements are getting quality work (for employers) and receiving payment (for freelancers). It’s difficult to trust employers or workers that you haven’t met (or won’t ever meet) so many are wary of hiring and working online. To minimize the risks and to give its users peace of mind, Freelancer.com has created a system called Milestone Payments.

The Milestone Payment System is a great service for both employers and freelancers. It sets aside funds for payment that will be released in full or staggered depending on the desired schedule or upon accomplishment of agreed objectives in the project.

The amount set aside for every objective is at the discretion of the employer, but freelancers can come up with their own milestones as well. Proposed Milestones is a new feature that allows freelancers to propose a breakdown of tasks with corresponding amounts and deadlines.

This payment scheme not only offers security, but also motivates the freelancer to take the job with utmost importance, knowing that payment is immediately due once the project is met with 100% satisfaction.

Both employers and freelancers can view the milestone payment but only the employer can release it and only the freelancer can cancel it (except for the Service Provider who is a Freelancer.com staff). This gives each party half of the control over the Milestone Payment.

Milestone Payment entails several short processes that are unique to employers and freelancers. Each is tackled below.

Employers

Employers have the freedom to reserve the funds for a certain posted project even if it has not been awarded to a freelancer yet. Doing this shows how serious the employer is and gives credibility to the project. As a result, high-quality freelancers are driven to bid on the project.

Once set aside, the Milestone Payments will be held by Freelancer.com until both parties agree to its release.

Benefits of using Milestone Payments:

  • Removes risk of paying outside of Freelancer.com
  • The employer stays protected by Freelancer.com if something goes wrong
  • Increases employer reputation
  • Projects are started faster (freelancers are keen on starting immediately knowing that payment is ready).

How to approve Proposed Milestones:

  • When reviewing bids, look for the number of milestones a particular freelancer can deliver under the amount proposed for the project.
  • Hover your pointer over the number of milestones (displayed alongside the number of days the project will be completed).
  • Tick the Shortlist box if you like the proposal but wish to check on other bids first. If you’ve decided to hire a certain freelancer, click on the Award Project button. As always, you have to confirm the award.
  • Click Create Milestone and you will be prompted to deposit payment for the milestones which will then be released after every task done.

How to set a Milestone Payment:

  • Click New Milestone Payment on the Finances menu
  • Click Create Milestone under the Milestone tab in the Manage Transactions section
  • You can either create a Milestone for an active project or directly for a user. It is strongly recommended that you always create a Milestone Payment for a project rather than directly for a freelancer. In the search box type in the name of the project or Freelancer you wish to create the Milestone Payment for.
  • Enter the amount to be transferred and a description for the Milestone Payment
  • Click the Create Milestone button

Note: Use this option if you don’t approve a freelancer’s Proposed Milestone.

How to release a Milestone Payment:

  • Click Financial Dashboard from the Finances menu
  • Under the Milestones tab in the Manage Payments section ensure Outgoing is selected in the top right to see list of Milestone Payments you have created
  • Click the Action drop down on the right of the Milestone Payment you wish to release then select Release from the menu
  • This will display a box where you can specify how much of the Milestone Payment you would like to release. You can release the entire Milestone Payment or only a portion.

For the protection of Freelancers, Milestone Payments cannot be cancelled by the Employer. If the employer feels that the freelancer isn’t entitled to a Milestone Payment, they should first contact the freelancer to settle things. If an agreement cannot be reached, immediately go to Freelancer.com’s Dispute Resolution Service.

Once the Milestone Payment is released, there’s no way for Freelancer.com to recover the funds. Make sure that the project has been completed and you are satisfied with the results before releasing any pending Milestone Payment.

Freelancers

Before starting any work, Freelancers should ask for Milestone Payments to ensure that payment will be given once quality results have been delivered. Make your Proposed Milestones as detailed as possible by including the tasks you aim to complete, the expected time frames you will work towards, and what price you charge for each completed milestone.

Benefits of using Milestone Payments:

  • Ensures that the freelancer is paid after reaching every milestone set by the employer
  • Helps build freelancer reputation
  • Adds points to a freelancer’s Completion Rate

How to create Proposed Milestones:

  • After placing your bid and writing your proposal, go to the Proposed Milestones section and describe each task/milestone you will deliver for the project. You have to be very specific to avoid miscommunication between you and the employer.
  • Indicate how much each milestone costs. You should have an appropriate price for every milestone. In this way, you can get paid after completing a task and you don’t have to wait for the entire project to finish. The breakdown prices must add up to the price of your bid on the project.
  • Click Submit Proposal.

Note: Freelancers will be able to propose up to a maximum of 10 milestones.

How to check if a Milestone Payment has been sent:

  • Click Financial Dashboard from the Finances menu
  • Under the tab in the Manage Payments section ensure Incoming is selected in the switcher. This table lists all your incoming Milestone Payments

How to cancel a Milestone Payment:

  • Click Financial Dashboard on the Finances menu.
  • Click the Milestones tab and choose Incoming.
  • Look for the Milestone Payment that you want to cancel and choose Cancel under Actions.

The Milestone Payment system is free and ensures that employers get the quality work they need while freelancers get paid for their efforts. Start hiring and get work done by posting a project, or start earning by signing up today.

 

Living the Freelance Life: Creating a Productive Workspace

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Freelancers can work anywhere – a coffee shop, a coworking space, even the park or someone else’s house, but most of the time, a lot simply work from home. Being able to do your job from the comforts of your own place is not only convenient, but also beats being confined to a cubicle all day. Here’s how you can make a comfortable, yet productive workspace that will inspire you to do the best work you possibly can.

Find a comfortable space and a roomy desk. You need a room or corner with a table and chair that isn’t cramped and gives you room to breathe. You need to be comfortable, otherwise the things that make you feel ill at ease can become distractions. Being ergonomic also helps you avoid work-related injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, back problems, and repetitive strain injury.

You also need a roomy desk. Some people have messy desks, while some have tables that are neat as a pin, but it doesn’t really matter what the state of your desk is. What matters is if you can get work done on it. Sometimes there is a method to the insanity of a messy desk, while a very sterile desk can be the cause of boredom. If you have space for all your work things, and it makes you want to work, then you’re good.

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Have all your tools within reach. Different people use different tools. Make sure you have all the tools you need for your job in your workspace. Set up shop where you can have your computer on the ready, and make sure an available power source is nearby as well. If a notebook helps you take note of things, keep one in handy. If a whiteboard helps you layout your ideas, tack one on the wall. If you need daily reminders that you can move around, have sticky notes on the ready. If you deal with numbers a lot, keep a calculator on your desk. Take the time to determine the tools that help you from day to day and organize your place in such a way that you get easy access to everything.

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Keep plants around. This may seem like a strange tip, but studies have shown that people work better when they have plants in their workplaces. This is because plants encourage you to interact with your surroundings, which in turn makes you work better. A cactus or succulent pot on your desk will not only help with that, but will bring a bit of cheer to your place as well.

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Play work-friendly music. A lot of people find that sound helps them focus while working, and you might be one of them. If you’re someone who is very productive in coffee shops because the background noise keeps you awake, Coffitivity – which plays ambient cafe sounds – might be for you. If you’re the kind of person who likes music while you work, get some playlists going. Music sites like Spotify has tailor-made work playlists, with names like Workday, Deep Focus, Brain Food, and Workday Zen.

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Surround yourself with things that inspire you. The joy of working from home means that you can have a workspace that’s done to your liking. Paint the walls with colors that make you feel pumped and energetic. Get a tea and coffee cart, or keep your favorite snacks and beverages around so you don’t have to get up when you get hungry or thirsty and lose your concentration. Hang art or posters on the walls that motivate you. Keep your toys near so you can tinker with them when you find your mind wandering. Your surroundings have a direct effect on how you work.

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There are many ways to spruce up your workspace. The only thing you have to keep in mind is that anything you add to it should contribute towards making you productive and help you enjoy working at the same time. It’s all up to you to make it your own. Happy working!

Success Story: Freelancer Brings Father and Son Together Through Music

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Alison Lynch and her husband Izzy could not be with Walter Schrader, Izzy’s terminally sick dad. The doctor told them that Walter didn’t have much time, but Izzy was sick with a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and it didn’t help that he was constantly emotional because of his father’s condition.

It pained the couple so much that they couldn’t be in the company of their father and support the family by being physically present. Alison knew she had to do something to somehow close the gap. She remembered she had two audio recordings in her possession: one of Walter singing the song “Where Are You?” popularized in 1937 and one of Izzy singing the same song when he was younger. Her aim was to combine the recordings so that father and son could be together, even if it was only in music form.

The couple agreed that the recordings would be their parting gift to Walter, who was diagnosed last year with melanoma. He bravely fought against it for a few months until they discovered that it had already spread beyond repair. Walter has since been under hospice care.

“Time is of the essence. Walter was totally bedridden and we had this gut feeling that he did not have much time left. I needed to find a place that can complete this type of work within an hour’s time,” said Alison.

Being a former musician in New Jersey, Alison knew that the local places charge too much. “It would have cost me a couple of hundred dollars at least and they would not be able to complete this type of work within a very short period,” Alison explained.

She remembered having great experience in Freelancer.com for some code-writing needed for her part-time job. She scoured Freelancer.com for the perfect person for the project and found IllusiaProd, who had everything she was looking for. When she told him that she needed the recording right away, he dropped everything so that he could deliver it on time.

“This amazing freelancer not only cleaned up the crackles in the old audio but also delivered it in an hour — just what I had requested. Hearing Izzy and Walter singing together brought tears in my eyes.”

The recording was then sent to Izzy’s mom, Maggie, his brother Michael, and sister Shari, who were by Walter’s side. They played the song for him and he managed to flash a weak smile and a thumbs-up. Walter passed away a few hours later.

“Walter and Izzy were not only father and son; they were best friends too. Even though he lived in another state, they still kept in contact and they talked every day.”

Do you have similar projects that require immediate attention? Post a project now and get bids from skilled freelancers in minutes. To speed things up even more, you can also chat with them instantly.

 

How-To: Make Your First Bid

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Freelancer.com currently has 13 million professionals. More often than not, tens of hundreds of freelancers find themselves competing for the same job for a number of reasons. How then can you, a beginner, stand out from the others? It would be easy if there was a magic spell that instantly gets you a project, but there is no such thing. However, there are things within your capabilities that you can do to help your bid stand out or increase your chances of winning a project.

The Project

Read the project description. More often than not, the employer will have information readily available on this page. It notes what is needed for the project, the timeframe, and other details. Some employers will even ask freelancers in this space to include in your bid how your skillset can and will help with the project.

Don’t be afraid to clarify things. Getting a project with details that are as vague as the plot of “Dude Where’s My Car” isn’t a good situation for you, the employer, nor the car. Never hesitate to find out exactly what the employer wants out of the project, the schedule for it, and the important facts you need to know. The employer will actually appreciate the fact that you took the time to make sure you are both on the same page.

The Bid

Get to the point. Keep in mind that, for a good project, the employer will have to sift through dozens or even hundreds of bids. Walls of texts will most likely be skipped, considering the amount of time anyone has for things that could have been said in a few words. Keeping your bid short and sharp will definitely catch the employer’s attention.

State your terms. Using the project description as your outline, be as concise and precise as possible in detailing the work and output you can provide, as well as how much it will cost, and the time it will take you to deliver the project.

Follow up. After placing your bid, the private message board makes a great avenue for those less important details you avoided earlier. In any case, if your bid got the attention of the employer in the first place, the smaller details will make the difference towards winning the project.

Your Profile

Update portfolio. It’s always a good idea to keep your profile page updated. Your profile page showcases what you can do and what you have done including a page for your portfolio as well as your resume. Here are our tips to get your profile page working for you.

Additionally, it’s always a good idea to highlight the skills that are relevant to the project you are aiming for. Remember to keep details short and straight to the point.

Protect your work. When uploading samples of your previous work or links to an online portfolio, make sure to protect your work, unless you want to give it away. Samples you send out should have a watermark or other means of identification or, at the very least, samples should be accompanied by a statement of copyright and your name or all three if you want to be on the safe side.

Your Price

Competitive pricing. Being competitive does not equate to being the lowest bidder, so don’t sell yourself short. A worldwide marketplace means competition will be tough, but if your work reflects quality, employers may consider paying above average prices. On the other hand, if you’re relatively new in the industry, justify your rates based on your portfolio and past works (if any). If you’re really just starting out, you may need to establish your reputation first, but it doesn’t mean you should work for free. Here are some of our tips on negotiating your rate as a freelancer.

Don’t oversell. Self-confidence is a quality anyone can appreciate, but overconfidence as well as exaggerated claims will probably make employers look the other way. Simple, honest, and frank works best with employers and building relationships with both colleagues and clients.

Proofread

It is always a good practice to proofread anything you send out first. Check to see if it is written clearly, and that anyone can and will be able to understand what you want to say. Google Word documents underline spelling mistakes in red and it’s all for free. No matter how great a project, contest, inquiry, or suggestion is, a poorly written proposal suggests lack of interest and poor work habits. Edit your document and put your best foot forward.
Lastly, after going through all these steps,you may want to check out our bid upgrades to make sure your bid doesn’t go unnoticed. Keep all these tips in mind while preparing your bids, and you’ll have better chances of getting the projects you want.

Introducing: Proposed Milestones

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Freelancers know how tough it can be to bid for a project. You have to show off your skills, include sample works, and articulate exactly how much your effort is worth. You know someone will get the project at the end of bidding but how can you make sure it is you?

The employer will award the project to the best freelancer for the job. This is where an effective bid comes into play. It is vital as a candidate that you put your best foot forward when pitching yourself to prospective clients. Another way to showcase your professionalism and prove to the client that you are serious about their business is by listing down milestones in your bid!

Proposing Milestones: What can it do for freelancers?

Freelancers can now enumerate upfront the well-defined tasks they will execute on to complete the project in the “Proposed Milestones” section. This will help them go into more detail on what they plan to deliver, the expected timeframes they will work towards, and what price they charge for each completed milestone. This in turn gives the employer complete confidence and clarity on how the freelancer will tackle their project.

Are you an employer? Let proposed milestones find you the right freelancer!

Some employers who have yet to try working with freelancers think the work may not be done to their standards. This is definitely not the case! If the employer finds the right freelancer whose skills match the tasks for the project, then they can get the job done right. Proposed Milestones gives the employer confidence in the freelancer’s abilities.

There could be 10, 20, or even hundreds of top freelancers waiting to work on your project!

Here’s how Proposed Milestones work:

For Freelancers

1. After placing your bid and writing your proposal, go to the Proposed Milestones section and describe each task/milestone you will deliver for the project. You have to be very specific to avoid miscommunication between you and the employer.

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2. Indicate how much each milestone costs. You should have an appropriate price for every milestone. In this way, you can get paid after completing a task and you don’t have to wait for the entire project to finish. The breakdown prices must add up to the price of your bid on the project.
3. Submit your proposal.

For Employers

1. When reviewing bids, the employer will see the number of milestones a particular freelancer can deliver under the amount proposed for the project.To view the milestone breakdown, hover your pointer over the number of milestones (displayed alongside the number of days the project will be completed).

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2. Tick the Shortlist box if you like the proposal but wish to check on other bids first. If you’ve decided to hire a certain freelancer, click on the Award Project button. As always, you have to confirm the award.
3. After proceeding, you will then be presented with an updated version of the bid breakdown. Think of your project’s priorities while reviewing the freelancers’ milestones.

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4. By clicking Create Milestone, you will be prompted to deposit payment for the milestones which will then be released after every task done.

Why are you going to love this new feature? According to company data, freelancers are 21% more likely to be awarded the project if they indicate a bid breakdown. The freelancer receives faster and more frequent payments because of each indicated milestone and the employer is completely confident in the freelancer’s work!

Bidding for a project? You surely know what to do now.

Looking to hire a freelancer? Look out for Proposed Milestones and pick the best freelancer for your project!