Updated the OneLove and Kwanda sites quickly, then spent a couple of hours going through bids. Learnt a couple of lessons from the process of finding a programmer:
a) Read the brief - Got a lot of emails/requests to chat, when the brief actually explains most of the issues. And the queries were usually about things that the brief already explained. Then there were the ones who sent me a portfolio saying "this is proof I can do the job" And my question is, yes, but where is your bid answering some of the questions I ask?
b) I don't like elevator pitches. Got a lot of "Dear Sir/Madam" letters, with contents which clearly indicated that the person did not read project brief. In future, when I'm looking for work, I too should refrain from using them. They don't really help you to stand out from a crowd ( and boy, what a large crowd it is!) And assuming that the person going through the bids wants to do it quickly, being generic does not help her choose you either.
c) Price is not the biggest issue. Obviously there's a set budget for the project and when it comes to the crunch, you want to hire someone you can afford. But bidding low does not make the provider more attractive to me than other bidders. Sadly enough, everyone and their cousin tends to bid extremely low. I believe that in most cases, you get what you pay for, so even though the project does not really have a big budget, I do want to be reasonable to attract the quality provider who'd dismiss me as a joker if I was shopping by price only.
d) The personal touch goes a long way to getting the attention of the person hiring. One guy explained why the project was interesting to him, and I found I warmed to him instantly. Obviously, he still had to meet the qualification/ skills/experience/affordability requirements, but he managed to make himself memorable.
Anyhoo, I am going to appply these lessons when I look for work. And I hope you do too.