21 February 2024

5 Things I wish I Knew Before Becoming a Bid Writer

Think being a Bid Writer might be for you? Or just looking for general tips around bid writing? Here’s some helpful tips and tricks of things to note before you do.


1: Bids are not like essays

Writing bids is very different to writing an essay at school or university, for every point you make you should always ask yourself, so what? What is the benefit of this? If you’re starting your Bid Writer career as a graduate the main difference between academic writing and bid writing is the lack of references (yay). The days of going through piles of notes to find a source is over. It is always important to know where your information came from, but it isn’t essential to include within responses. Writing bids is being given free rein to write a response but within a framework of requirements with key points you need to hit across each question. It’s more like structured freedom, ultimately you are always writing to a specification, but how you choose to do that is up to you.


2: Don’t be precious with word cutting

Not everything you’ll write is genius, sometimes good adjectives and clever sentences have to be cut to prioritise essential service requirements. As a Bid Writer, you can’t always let your creative freedom run wild and you have to work within the guidelines you’re given. Commissioners won’t always give you the word count you’d like to really showcase your offering and meet all the question requirements. Sometimes responses have to be a series of bullet points to tick off key requirements, compliance is just as important as creativity in bid writing. Commissioners aren’t always right; you need an attitude of do what you can with what you have.


3: Lower word counts don’t always mean the question is easy

At the start of your bid writing career, you might think writing a 750 word response is an easier job than writing 1500 words, more often than not these responses are the most challenging. In reality it’s much easier to embellish win themes and run away with the question than it is to squeeze the specification, service requirements, win themes, research and client USPs into 500 words, whilst still producing a strong, cohesive narrative. Learning to condense your writing whilst still being compliant is one of the biggest challenges of being a Bid Writer. It’s tempting to go overboard when writing the first version of a response and stretch well over the word limit- don’t do it. It will take you longer to cut the words than it did to write it them in the first place, don’t make life hard for yourself- stick to the word limit.


4: Research- understanding services and context is key

It’s very important not to underestimate the value of research, localisation is key to demonstrating a true understanding of the Commissioner’s reality and shows that you understand their challenges of service delivery. Even if the client doesn’t have a local footprint, a good way to outline their dedication is to mention local trends, population groups, locations, and relevant strategies. Researching the incumbent provider is critical to understand what the Commissioner is looking for from future providers. Reading service evaluations and comparing key points to trends you’ve noted in the specification offers valuable insight into areas where the incumbent is weak, helping you to understand what the Commissioner is really looking for. You need to think critically to craft your findings into winning responses, using research to your advantage. Understanding wider service trends and industry knowledge is equally important to keep up with as a Bid Writer, highlighting topical reports in responses is essential to demonstrate you really understand what you’re writing about.


5: No two bids are the same

Every bid looks different, what works in one bid might not work well for another. Sometimes (sadly) submissions will be via portal which only allows plain text, leaving little room for creativity with colours, tables, and graphics. Having an understanding that tone and style will shift on every bid is important, you need to be flexible in your approach as every bid has different requirements, even when writing for the same service. Being a Bid Writer is about fully immersing yourself in the Commissioner’s reality and the client’s vision, integrating the two with some excellent writing skills to produce strong responses that win.