Brian has made a minimum hourly rate calculator. It showed me that up until the start of February I was really charging too little for my work. I was never very good at figuring out paid time off, national holidays, sick leave etc etc. I just brought in clients, made money, spent money, and overall had good time. Now that I’m employed I don’t need to think about calculating hourly rates anymore, so I wish Brian had come up with this thing a few months earlier.
Here are my tips for bidding and being successful on Elance:
- Create a strong profile, being honest about how you are and your skills
- Talk yourself up. Your profile is no place to be modest. Be realistic though, don’t make shit up, just highlight your real achievements.
- Use the Elance tests to showcase your skills
- Make sure to use examples of your work. I had no paid work at the time, so I used some university essays and a magazine article I wrote. If you need to, write something to show off your skills.
- Once you get some jobs, make sure you ask for reviews, and leave reviews in return.
Bidding for Jobs:
- Bid for jobs that are suitable to you and your skills. There’s no point in wasting your time, or the potential client’s
- Read the buyer’s profile and see if you can find anything about them on the internet. Sometimes their username will easily tell you how to find them. For example, Hampton’s user name was catlinsoftware, making him pretty easy to track down.
- Make your opening line grab the buyer. They are going to read potentially hundreds of bids, make sure that your’s stand out.
- Be yourself and get your personality across. Some people are looking for long term relationships and the bid can be just as much about how well they think they’ll work with you as one specific job.
- Think about how you structure your bid. Don’t just brain splurge. I always included information about me, addressed the specific project and how I would carry it out, and then what I could bring to it. These could be in any order.
- Don’t use a template! It’s so obvious when people do. You need to hand craft each bid. It’s a pain, and you’ll write more than you get, but you’ll have a better success rate.
- Be clear about rates and hours. Money can be a thorny issue but it’s best to be up front so you can manage expectations.
- Proof-read. This is particularly important for writers. A grammatical mistake or spelling error in a bid demonstrates that you’re a pretty rubbish writer.
Some more Elance tips:
- Accept that you may be starting out small. After I got lucky with Hampton, I got a job writing 44 restaurant/pub/attraction articles for $200. I like eating out so I figured it would be a good job. It was a painful slog. $4.50 per article and they each took about 30 minutes. I was cursing doing it, but it added to my overall rating and no doubt helped me to get future jobs.
- Maintain relationships with clients – be friendly and helpful. Two of my clients came back to me again and again for work.
- Accept that, after big promises, some jobs will come to nothing. I got a gig writing personalised biographies for an American company who promised me loads of ongoing work. After one job the whole thing seemed to fizzle out.