Guess what I did?
I hit 'back'.
I just don't do tenders.
This is not to say that tenders can absolutely never be good for you, because that just wouldn't be true, at least not in that kind of extreme degree.
However, tenders are simply not designed to be profitable to you, or profitable to both parties, i.e. balanced.
Tenders were designed the way the are with the goal of maximizing the buyer's interest.
Look at what the buyer does if buying via RFPs. The buyer sits back in a fluffy armchair and sips his tea just as the sellers enter the arena and bleed their blood, sweat and tears into the sun-scorched sand. Himself, he doesn't have to lift a finger in order to get the entire benefit of negotiation, i.e. the full, maximum benefit of the bargain.
And, no part of the system usually provides for any return of costs even if you 'win'. Yes, you hear me right. Your 'prize' is the opportunity to sell your normal or slightly upgraded services for your normal or somewhat (heavily) discounted prices. There is nothing like paying you for the costs of processing the paperwork. No man-hours, no postage fees, no nothing. I'm talking about the 'winner' here, mind you, not the poor souls who 'lost'.
However, the poor souls who 'lost' may well be real winners in the end — they don't tie themselves up for months or years to come in what's a questionable deal from the beginning.
Chances are they will meet — and use — better opportunities in all that time.
Pretty much the only exception is when you are new to freelancing but not to translating, which means you don't have many clients yet and finding work is a problem but you do have the qualifications to win a tender without being the cheapest provider. Or when you have no alternatives, then it's basically a fact of life that you must reply to those RFPs and better not in vain, or you're going to starve. Or when you can benefit from price difference between the buyer's country and yours (possible if you live in a third-world country or even a second-world country like my own).
Like I said, the scope, the object of the tender is the provision of your services in the future, not the recovery of any costs you may have incurred in the past. The system is simply designed in such a way (which I might well say as a lawyer) that it doesn't give any specific thought to your cost or anything like that. It only gives thought to you not making any more profit than is absolutely inevitable.
Yes, you hear me right: The point of tenders and RFPs and all that is for you to not make any more profit than is absolutely unavoidable. The balance of the bargain is supposed to go over to the buyer, in whole.
That's the point of tenders.