Standing out is hard to do, especially when you are competing with a million other people. Online work sites like Elance and oDesk offer a venue for freelancers of all walks to bid and compete for short and long term projects. While these sites afford people the freedom to work when they want, they aren’t void of competition. Elance has around 1.3 million registered contractors bidding on work while oDesk boasts 1.6 million contractors. Thankfully there are ways to make money even among a sea of competitors and all it may take is following these four tips.
Tip 1: Think of Yourself As A Business
You may be a one man or woman show, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to market yourself when bidding on a job on these Websites. According to Ved Sinha, vice president of interactive marketing at ELance, you have to differentiate yourself from the pack as if you were a business trying to land a new client.
“What makes you unique? What credentials and what experience makes you the best choice,” are things you need to communicate when applying for a freelance job, says Sinha.
Since Elance and oDesk are global marketplaces, Sinha says to figure out what local knowledge you can bring to the table and demonstrate why that makes you the best candidate.
Tip 2: Position Yourself As An Expert
When it comes to these online workplaces, word of mouth referrals from past clients will do wonders for getting more gigs. But when you are just starting out, it may not be that easy to land the clients and thus those much needed recommendations. Because of that, positioning yourself as an expert is extremely important in building a client base. But how do you do that? According to Sinha, Elance has over 400 skill tests that after completion can be added to your profile. “Once you build up a reputation, skill tests are less important, but they do set you apart early on,” says Sinha.
Tip 3: Be Sincere
A little over three years ago, Benjamin Gran joined Elance as a freelancer focused on content marketing with an aim toward making a few hundred extra bucks a month. Today, freelancing has become his full time job earning him a substantial annual income. What Gran says works for him on Websites like Elance is being sincere when it comes to bidding on jobs.
“The problem with Elance bidding is a lot of people are just kind of spamming the job postings,” says Gran. “They copy and paste and use the same job applications multiple times.” That may get you out there, but it doesn’t show you are sincere nor does it showcase your expertise and quality. Gran sends a separate, unique pitch to every job he is bidding on, and gives thought as to why he would make a good fit and communicates that to the potential client. “I start to build trust and credibility with the client from the first contact,” says Gran.
Tip 4: Don’t Low Ball
For many people starting out on Elance or oDesk, they will assume they have to offer a low price to compete and land the contract. But according to Gary Swart, chief executive at oDesk, customers want value not price. That means charging based on your experience not on what other people may be asking for, he says. After all, these are global workplaces and what someone living in India is willing to charge might be way too low for someone living in New York City.
According to Swart, the best way to compete on value is to specialize. It’s not enough to be a marketer. He says you’ll be much more valuable if you are focused, say on search engine optimization. “You have to set rates based on your expertise and experience,” says Swart.