There are numerous freelancing sites like Upwork.com (formerly Elance / oDesk), Freelancer.com, peopleperhour.com, or 99designs.com that can help you build a long list of clients as a freelancer but everyone is not able to do it. Some are really good at it and others struggle to make anything out of it.
For me Elance (and now Upwork) has always been a good source of clients along with my blog. There are strategies that you need to follow to help you get projects. I have almost completed 60k USD worth of projects only in Elance.
Before you can be successful in placing your proposal on such sites you have to understand how these platform work.
These websites help those who want to hire people for what they want done but are not willing to hire full-time. Describe what is wanted and developers and experts all around the globe can offer expertise to get it done.
So what is the secret where few people just have too many jobs from such site at the rates they want to be working where as others are just not able to fetch their first job.
Lot of Indian freelancers I had a discussion about it get it completely wrong views about such freelancing sites. They tend to think it is all about being competitive in price and client wants to get everything done for a dirt cheap price and makes them wonder if those kind of sites actually work.
I would say those kind of sites work but you need to realise how they can work for you. So here are some basic tips first you should always get it done on those sites.
Choose one site that you want to go with
You cannot just complete the profile on every possible site and get good reviews on each of those site. You just have to start with the one that you think has the jobs that you can do it now and get started with it.
If you ask me, I always worked with Elance and I knew freelancer.com works well for my colleagues but then I never completed a profile on it because I could manage too much work from one site only. Never needed and never wanted to get to a site just for grabbing more clients because it can never be the case where you have all the jobs that one site can offer and you can handle more than the site can offer for your expertise.
So I can never see a reason why you may need more than one. Before Elance it was RentACoder which was one site which I used as a freelancer and never thought about moving to the other.
Yes I would say you will register an account with many sites to see what projects that site has to offer and once you know for sure those are the kind of projects you can handle, opt for the one that offers more job in the category that you are good at.
My Elance profile is since August 2002, but I possibly started working on Elance in 2008. I possibly registered my account of Elance when I wanted to work when I was in college but then I found RentACoder had those homework help projects that I preferred working till I possibly left my job and become a freelancer.
Complete / Verified profile
One you have identified the site that you will go with, stick with it for an elongated time and try to complete the profile. Remember this is not a profile which you can just fill in bits and pieces like you would do on Facebook or twitter. You have to allocate a time to get it accomplished. You have to list your experiences, create superior images of sample work you can do or have done or you have to even share recommendations. It’s like creating your CV on the site.
You may even have to take some tests on the sites to show that you are knowledgeable in the area you are applying for or may even need to scan your mark sheet or degree.
Apply for what you can deliver
Once you have your complete profile, then and then only you should be applying for jobs. Remember once you have clicked the apply button, there is nothing much you can do after that and so everything that you want done is before you click the apply button. If you are applying just because it is the category that allows you to apply for it, your response will be based on what client wants to be doing for the hundreds of other applications.
You should be applying by understanding what exactly the client wants and how you can offer him the solution he is looking for at a better price than others.
Once you can offer a solution, price becomes secondary issue but then when others also offer the same solution and as you don’t have experience to back it up, you have to provide good value to your pricing.
Here is my proposal template that I use for winning proposal on Upwork.
Size of jobs you should apply to
Apply for small jobs because people don’t hire newbies with no experience for larger projects. On top of that large jobs can take a lot longer for you to complete and get a review. Smaller jobs can build up your reviews fast as well as help.
I always prefer to work on small jobs and till date I prefer to be working on small jobs only because that keeps me free for my forums and blogs but over time I have some regular and bigger clients as well.
Once you are hired
If you apply for a job that you can show you can do it at a good value for money price, you are more likely to get hired but then it is not over once you are hired, it is just the beginning. Now you need to ensure you not only deliver what you have promised in the given deadline but also try to over deliver. Make sure you not only follow the deadline religiously but at all cost deliver it well within the timeline you asked for getting it done.
Ask for a feedback
Once you have completed the task, ask for a feedback or if there is something you can improve on. I always ask my clients to things I can improve on even today.
There is still room for improvements and think about how you can improve on things you have been doing. It helps you be a better freelancer.
Also ask to share an honest review for your profile. These reviews can help you get more job from other clients.
Rinse and repeat the process, but don’t think about getting your rates higher. It is not all about the 1st review that you got can make the second client confident enough to be paying you lot more. Accumulate 10 excellent reviews before even thinking about giving yourself a rise in price.