Our series on a consulting side hustle moves into landing a project.  We have set the stage to present our services and “company.”  In this episode, we will look out how to use that positioning to find, apply for, and win a project.

Stay Happy

Early on, we will often take work that is not ideal.  Our goal is building a series of reference projects and we are not able to be too picky.  Nevertheless, the projects to take on for a side hustle should not be horrible.  Look for projects that match your skills but do not stop there.  Keep an eye out for projects that will help you work on skills you want to advance as well as challenges that will be “fun.”

Your goal should be to land a project you are comfortable completing that also provides you some benefit (even if that is just a steady extra bit of revenue).  As always, when in doubt, look for satisfaction over salary.  That will help you to avoid a side hustle that wears you out.

Set and Meet Expectations

Most project postings will include some implicit or explicit expectations of your commitment.  They may require a target number of hours worked per week or completion by a specified date.  Do not take a project you are not comfortable with as far as meeting these expectations.  You should also be clear with customers about your schedule, plan, and timelines to ensure expectations are properly set.  Clearly communicating this will go a long way towards completing the project in a satisfactory way.

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Anatomy of a Proposal

There are many ways to create a proposal.  A large project will often require a document that can become rather lengthy in order to sufficiently respond.  These small project sites like Guru and Upwork will have many projects that will not require that much work on the response.  However, a professional response will help your odds of landing a project.

I find good proposals have three key parts at least.  These are the header or introduction, the core response, and a wrap-up.  The introduction is exactly that.  Tell the customer who you are in a few sentences.  Focus on your skills, mission, and experience.  A catch that will entice them to read on will help.  I often customize the introduction to address immediately why I see myself as a good fit for their project.

The core response should include specifics about the project.  Make sure you address every point they mention and then add any insight you can provide.  For example, a requirement for users to log in implies a registration/creation process for users, and maybe “forgot password” and other administrative features.  Mention the implied features to show how you can add value to the project.

A Strong Finish

Your last opportunity for landing a project is the close of your proposal.  It is important to keep that in mind as your close your response.  Most of the time this should include a brief restatement of the proposal to make it clear and easy to summarize.  Offer some next steps as well as ways for the customer to contact you with any questions they have.

The end of your proposal is an excellent opportunity to open discussion about it and how you can meet the requirements.  So, take advantage of that.  When you can build a relationship with a customer you improve your chances of winning this project or at least being seriously considered.

Now it is time to put this to use.  Get out there.  Find some projects.  Then let us know how it goes for you.  If you have any questions, join us in a mentor session to get some reviews and help with your approach.  Good Luck!

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Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a longtime student of technology as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is a founder and principle of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences.In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although a few have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax.

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