A friend asked me in an email not 45 minutes ago about helping out his sister to get a writing job to earn some extra income. Actually, this site was started with that very intention: both to showcase what has been working for me, and to help anyone else in the same predicament (low on money, long on month, or simply wanting some more money in the budget).
Instead of giving him the details in an email, I decided to post about it, since it was in my plans anyhow. If you’ve been reading my posts, don’t worry: there is actually a planned growth with this site, a logical order. I like to capitalize on the moment.
In case you didn’t know, I’m “JamestheJust on Elance” – both my blogging name as well as a reference to where I make the most of my money currently. I have screen shots of my earnings in the “My First 6 Month’s Earnings” post, you’ll see Elance as the big winner.
Really quickly, what is Elance?
Why did I choose that platform rather than oDesk, Guru, GetAFreelancer, Demand Studios or the like?
Elance, as well as most of those other sites mentioned, is a freelancer’s dream. A meeting place where you can find freelance work in your given niche: writing, data entry, programming, photography…Here’s a screenshot:
As you can see on the left, there are a few categories (this is the top-level of the drop-down) to choose from. Writing is but one of the categories. Basically, business owners the world over are looking to outsource projects they can’t or don’t want to do themselves – if you’re an internet marketer like myself, you have hired out writers already in most cases – and this is a forum where that can happen.
You search for work with simple drop-down menus in the categories that you have a membership and then bid, much like you’re shooting for an eBay auction. Mind you, it is a global economy – you will compete against the Philippines, India, Pakistan…everywhere, really. But in the writing category, you’re pretty safe: idioms and grammar are always a bit peculiar even in the hands of the most bilingual candidates from these other countries. There are exceptions, of course.
As to why I prefer Elance from a freelancer’s perspective: on most of the platforms (I’ve tried four), including Elance, there is a “bottom feeder” mentality from those seeking freelance writing done – usually you’ll find the winning bids to be below what you want to do the work for – in most cases, anyway. This is again due to the fierce competition, but I’d rather have free markets than the alternatives. Elance counters the ridiculously low prices with a $50 minimum on bids and posted jobs – which is a good ground floor (considering the alternative).
I found my first gig on this platform, and never liked the bone-crushing ridiculous nature of writing for $3/article or lower as many seem to think is the “norm.” No, thanks.
Elance was something I was introduced to by another internet marketer, who himself hated writing. I have since made it one of my staples in income, and here’s all that I did:
- Went Through “Elance University” (Mandatory)
- Set Up Profile and Account
- Set Up EzineArticles Account
- Bid Like Crazy
- Study Competitors’ Winning Bids
- Followed What Works and Closed Deals
1. Went Through “Elance University” (Mandatory)
Elance prepares you for their service both as a provider and a client, putting you through their online tutorial for the interface. I won’t go into much more detail than that, other than to say: give yourself a couple of hours. It’s *worth it.* I have used many of their points to spot a bad deal, and have reported a handful of rule-breaking blockheads trying to take advantage of writers – and I don’t tolerate that bologna. I’m on there to make a living, not beg for a cracker as I pump out your 100 articles for $0.50 apiece – on commission, IF you get the SERP results you want… As if anyone can guarantee results like that.
So: Elance U is worth it in the very least to spot a rat, or cripple your competition who’s bending the rules. Fair’s fair.
(Oh, btw: Elance has no tolerance for commission-based jobs, and I’m glad for that. How would you check if someone’s telling the truth with their claims of non-performance?)
2.Set Up Profile and Account
Following their tutorial, I set up my profile, and pay the $10/month membership for one category, and 25 “connects” per month…I believe you get about 3-5 connects for the free trial version. What’s a “Connect,” you ask? Simple: a form of currency on Elance that allows you to bid for a job. If the budget on the job is below $500, you use one Connect. The more the budget, the more connects required, and I think it’s $10 per 25 connects. Here’s a screen shot from the bidding screen, at the bottom-right you’ll see the connects:
Tip: Use ALL your connects until you start getting jobs! They roll over until next month (a new feature since I joined), and you don’t need to use a connect *if* the job is “Invitation Only.” Don’t be confused, though: if your client invites you to bid and *also* leaves the job open to others, you’ll use connects to bid. But really: until you land your first job – the $10 is worth it, use it up! People are so conservative with it as if you were in a game of “See Who Dies With The Most Virtual Money” – lame! The connects do nothing if your horde them, unless you want to keep them around to feed a virtual pet…
3. Set Up EzineArticles Account
This is really giving away one of my secret tips – you have a choice in setting up your profile. You can have a portfolio of samples (recommended, I don’t do it because I’m lazy, but it’s a good idea), or have a Platinum (free!) membership to EzineArticles. I say Ezine specifically because it’s recognized as *the* article directory of directories, and for good reason: they’re picky. They go over their submissions by hand – every single time. Other directories are more lenient – not Ezine.
This is a moot point if you’ve got a portfolio to show, but 85% of my clients are Internet Marketers like myself, so they know and use EzineArticles themselves for various reasons. I simply paste my URL to my author name from EZA in every bid, and introduce myself as a Platinum author. I had to in my case: I had no credibility without it.
4. Bid Like Crazy
I covered this already, but will say again: Use Up Your Connects Until You Get Paid.
If you use all your connects and don’t land a job, you should contact every one of those potential clients and ask why you didn’t get the job, and that you’d love to work for them in the future…imho. I’ve landed several major clients this way. I can’t say enough: use all your connects until you get a job. When you run out: buy more! It’s $10, what else were you going to do – get a Frap from Starbuck’s?
5. Study Competitors’ Winning Bids
When you do lose – and this happens if you’re human – then go back to the bid screen and look at the winning bid. When you bid, before the job is awarded, you have no ability to view others’ bids, it’s all sealed. AFTER the job is awarded, you can go back and see what you lost to. (Correct me if I’m wrong on this – Elance keeps upgrading and may have changed this.)
This is how I discovered I was losing to more organized bidders, and found a winning template I use that looks like this:
Hi, I’m James _________, (insert credibility, verify with link to my articles on EZA)
Thank you, Mr. Client (IF they have a name besides the digital user name), for the opportunity to bid on your job.
(Summary of their job, listing my comprehension of what’s required, and how I will benefit them.)
**Skills Relating To Job** (re-phrase that of course)
(insert deadline, my terms, how to reach me)
**Request for Feedback**
(this is important: I have 100% positive feedback as I write this, all because I *ask for it* and provide quality service)
I fill in the information, of course, but the headlines and organization, along with giving the benefits I will bring to the table, are what close the deal for me. Get organized, and always look at what you’re up against. If it’s just a pricing issue: **temporarily drop your price** and call it an introductory rate – because that’s what it is!
Also: don’t be afraid to negotiate. When I’m looking for work, I ask the potential client if my terms are what they were looking for – and I don’t suggest you do this all the time, only when you really want to close a deal.
6. Followed What Works and Closed Deals
This is basically what I’ve just described – and it all comes from being frustrated at not getting a single job for the first month or two. And we were hard-up for cash at that time…So, I picked it all apart, re-strategized, lowered my asking price, started negotiating and those first few clients had a screaming deal out of me. Now: not so much. I’m turning away work because I can’t keep up.
That’s more or less it in a nutshell, but remember that credibility, an organized bid, a willingness to take the first handful of jobs at a low rate ===> MAKING SURE TO GET THEIR REFERRALS <=== (that's important those first few jobs: I told my clients that I needed to establish myself on Elance and was willing to take a very low payment IF they would give me a positive review if they thought I deserved it).
If you're looking for work, sign up at Elance and search over 20k jobs. I’m glad I did: my SEO is all on-the-job training, and I have work to spare at the moment.
Oh, one last tip: pricing suggestions. First off, there are no set prices. I have hired out writers at $15/article, and others at $1/article, and those are 500-word articles. A rule of thumb for me is $10/article, if I’m busy I raise that price, and have even done $25/article jobs. Pricing is something you’ll have to figure out, but know that many marketers online are looking at $2-5/500 word articles (1 page worth). I stick with $10 at a minimum unless I’m re-writing, then it’s less, if I’m spinning, it’s more…
Post any questions you have here so we can talk about it, and happy hunting. Here, btw, is a link to Elance’s blog and their tips on winning bids: Elance’s 7 Tips On Winning Jobs
Would you like a sample of job listings on Elance? Check out their Twitter feed with “#Jobs” on Twitter.
**Earnings Disclaimer: from the banner and throughout the article, with the exception of the last link, I have embedded my affiliate link into the hyperlinks. I may get some money if you purchase through my links, and thank you for it. There are cases where I won’t get paid (I forget the stipulations), but I want to be open about the fact that this site is designed to help you get some extra money by doing what I have found works, and it’s designed to make me some money in the process. My views and opinions are not colored one way or another due to this fact: these are the steps I have taken to make money online, and affiliate link or not, these facts don’t change. Thanks.**
Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!