Elance, like many freelance websites, is an option service providers quickly come to love or hate. Many master it quickly finding it a safe place to find an endless amount of work and long-term clients. Others feel underbid and undervalued.
Today we have Salma Jafri, Content Marketing Consultant for Entrepreneurs and instructor of the popular Udemy course Freelance with Elance: How YOU Could Earn $2,000+ per Client, stopping by to share her Elance tips.
Tell us a little about yourself. What was your motivation to join Elance?
In 2007 I had my first child. Before that I had been working a regular 9-5 job in the corporate sector for 9 years. After my baby was born I wanted to look for opportunities that would enable me to stay at home with her yet not lose touch with my career. So I searched for online work and stumbled upon Elance. My background was in marketing, writing, and communication, so I started pitching for projects in the Writing category. I still remember how excited I was to land my first Elance job for $600 two weeks after I joined!
What type of person is best suited for the site?
I think the most successful freelancers on Elance are those who treat their work as a business rather than a hobby. If you come in with the hobby mindset of making some extra cash on the side, your focus is on the money and not on building a business, which can lead to working with dubious clients and projects that don't fulfil you. If, however, you were to treat your work on Elance like any other business that you develop and own, then your entire perspective shifts to one of building relationships, doing your best work and working on passion projects. The latter is the kind of person who has the most long-term sustainable success on the platform. Of course you also have to be a self-starter, highly motivated and disciplined to work online.
How does one sign up as a freelancer on Elance?
You can sign up with a free account by going to www.elance.com and choosing the Basic Membership plan. In it you'll get 40 connects – which means you can place bids on up to 40 projects in a month.
What's the process of getting a job on the site like?
Elancers ‘win' projects by placing ‘bids' on projects. Bids or proposals are your first contact with a prospective client and your chance to make a great impression. Unfortunately many freelancers squander this first chance by not doing their research or not completing their profile.
After you are signed up, make sure you complete your profile and take a few days to study the kinds of projects and clients that are on the platform. Go through project descriptions and feedback histories to get a sense of what work you'd like to and the kinds of people you'd like to work with. Once you've done this, the process of writing a proposal becomes more intuitive. A great proposal is one which is customized for the project and directly addresses the pain points of the client. If you can show them – in a sentence or two – why you're the best suited freelancer, then you're already halfway there. The rest is simply a matter of negotiating prices and scope of work. Two rules to follow: never compete on price (always articulate your value to the project instead) and always make sure escrow is funded before starting work.
So, with that background, here are some of my top tips:
1. Apply the 80/20 rule to choosing projects and clients. There is a lot of variety in terms of Elance buyers and you want to be careful about choosing those clients who you'll enjoy working with, who pay well and with whom the work itself is interesting. So remember that 80% of your success on Elance will come from just 20% of the clients you choose to work with. I have a very detailed Ideal Client profile that I use to segment who falls into my 20% ratio. It can be hard to say no at first but by being selective on Elance you reap the benefits of being more fulfilled as a freelancer.
2. Choose repeat clients over new clients. This one is really a no-brainer for me as repeat clients often pay better, and are easier to work with since you've already spent the time and effort in establishing a great working relationship with them. So once you've identified the 20% of clients who bring in the most dough, try and work with them long-term. I typically choose on-going projects (e.g. recurring blog posts versus one-time e-books) to ensure I get a healthy repeat client ratio. This also looks great on your Elance profile as other clients see it as a mark of trust.
Salma has been kind enough to offer a 50% discount to TheWorkAtHomeWife.com readers. Learn how to earn $2,000 per client on Elance with code Angie.