Last week, I was griping about the lack of money in freelancing for newbie writers. I had just joined Elance and the idea of competing against more experienced writers for badly paid jobs was daunting. It didn’t seem like I would ever get my feet off the ground.
This week, I have just completed my first Elance job and have another one in progress. I’ll admit the pay isn’t great, but hey, it’s the experience that counts. That’s just one of the things I wizened to while browsing that never-ending job board. So, while it may seem cocky offering advice two weeks in, I have to say it’s been a steep learning curve already. Leaping in without a single rope to hold onto…
So, with my bounteous knowledge, I present: My 11 tips on getting your first Elance Job.
- Have a complete profile. One that is compelling and demonstrates WHY anyone would want to hire you.
- Have a great opening line. The first sentence or two from your overview shows up under the job listing whenever you apply for one. Make sure it grabs the attention right away.
- Upload writing samples. Any potential employer can view your profile, and with an excellent range of writing samples, you can show them what you can do. It also helps you revise what kind of a writer you are, what you’re best at and what work you should be concentrating on finding.
- Take tests. Possibly the easiest way to prove your skills to an employer. The tests are multiple choice and don’t take long to do, and if you score well that will show on your profile. It also help you understand what kind of skill level you’re at, and challenge what you thought you knew about your expertise.
- Start small. If you have zero freelance experience and no client ratings, there is no way an employer will pay you plum rates. While qualifications and a great portfolio help, getting experience should be your first priority if you want to move up in the freelancing game. Bid low, work hard, and get those five-star ratings.
- Don’t sell yourself short. There are freelancers out there that charge $3 an hour, or even less. Serious employers won’t hire you if you don’t take yourself seriously. Decide on a minimum price for your work and don’t accept anything below that.
- Choose wisely. There are employers on Elance who genuinely want a quality product and will pay fairly for it. Then there are the ones who just want it as quickly and cheaply as possible. Consider the nature of the listing – is it well written and clear in its objective? Is the client willing to pay decent money? Being selective will also help you stop wasting Connects (you only get 40 a month to apply for jobs).
- Tailor your proposals. I honestly can’t stress this enough. An employer knows if you are just copying and pasting a stock-standard proposal into every listing. Read the job description carefully and respond sensitively. Take a personal approach and alter your tone to every client. Recast your qualifications, experience and interests in a light that engages the employer. Let them know that you’re diligent and imaginative and attentive to detail.
- Respond quickly. If a client contacts you, reply to them as soon as you get their message. If you keep them hanging for long, they will simply move on to another freelancer.
- Stalk your competition. Didn’t get the job? Trust me, I’ve been knocked back too many times over the past week, too. Whenever my bid is rejected, I look at the awarded freelancer’s profile and rates and see what they might have done right. It may be qualifications, experience, ratings or price – check them out and take notes.
- Chin up. I know it can be disheartening, applying for low level jobs and getting nowhere. But how does that Drake song go again? Every freelancer started from the bottom, with no experience, ratings or money. There are enough success stories on the site to motivate you to keep it up, no matter how slow your progress is initially.
You will learn, you will win and you will write.