Elance and oDesk Survival Tips

Why Elance and oDesk?

….Because these two are the most popular and decent freelance job websites right now. You could probably also try working in Freelancer but honestly speaking, I have never been a big fan of Freelancer although that is where I first launched my career.

What Determines Your Success in Elance/oDesk?

Your success in these two platforms will depend on three main things:

  1. Your profile
  2. Your job proposals
  3. Client feedback and reviews.

Creating and Polishing Your Profile

Perfect Profile Tip #1

The information you provide on your profile matters. It is the first thing that a client looking for a freelancer to hire will see. The first few lines of your Elance profile will also appear in every job proposal that you make. It is important that you highlight a quality that sets you apart from the others in these first lines. What is your selling line? Mine, for instance, is “a freelance writer who gets it right the very first time- saving you time and money…
If you will be bidding on jobs on a particular category, say medical writing, it is important to point out this in the first few lines of your profile. I would for instance have this as, ‘a doctor who also writes‘ This very minor sentence can make the difference between a client passing you over and hiring you.

I will repeat this again…. mention what sets you apart within the first few lines of your Elance/oDesk Profile.

Perfect Profile Tip #2

Include samples of your writing in your profile. Many freelancers ignore this important part or include samples that turn clients off. If you are not looking for a job as an academic writer, forget about including your essays from college as samples. The best samples for your Elance/oDesk profile should be ones that are in line with the jobs you aspire to get.

If you will mostly be bidding for jobs as a press release writer (I personally enjoy writing PRs more), make sure your profile has some sample press releases that you have written. If you are trying to get jobs as an web content writer, include samples that show your prowess in this. You could also start a blog that acts as a reference point for clients.

Perfect Profile Tip #3

Include a professional photo in your profile. I cannot emphasis the importance of a professional photo strongly enough. Go to the nearest studio and get a clear headshot showing your perfect smile. Think of getting a job in Elance as going for an interview; you dress to impress don’t you?

That is all about the profile. I trust by now you have opened an account in Elance and oDesk. Share the url with me, and I will advise on what areas to improve.

Writing Your Job Proposals

Elance calls them proposals while oDesk calls them job applications.
If you are familiar with the platforms, you will understand that they require you to bid for jobs, which is not that easy, especially for a new freelance writer. Fortunately, you are enrolled to these lessons, and if there is an area where I pack the most knowledge, it is here.
So, what goes into writing the perfect proposal?
Start by going over some of these resources that explain a lot more about writing job proposals:

Apart from the above resources, I will also steal you into a secret. If you would like to write great proposals that any employer cannot resist, put yourself in the mind of an employer.

After you have read the above referenced resources, post a job (one that closely resembles what you would bid on in terms definition and price) in Elance or oDesk and let the applications start pouring in. Read through the applications as an employer would.

Pick the best application and spend a few minutes studying it? What makes it stand out, how has the freelancer addressed the employer? What makes you think that you could hire that particular freelancer and not any other.
It costs nothing to post a job in the platforms and you do not need to proceed with hiring a freelancer for the posted job. I do this every time that I think my job proposals are getting a little rusty, and it helps!

Getting Feedback and Reviews

Many clients look down upon newbies. The clients who really pay well are not willing to spend their money on someone who does not have any reviews, rating or feedback.

So, how do you get the reviews?

One of the ways that you can use to get reviews is to bid low on jobs and hope that an employer will hire you as a result of your low prices.

However, do not forget to mention to such an employer that the reason you are bidding lowly is because you want to establish a reputation in Elance/oDesk. Otherwise, the client might equate your cheap to low quality. To prove that you can indeed offer awesome quality, do not forget to include a sample article in your bid.
The other way of getting reviews is to ‘hire’ yourself! It is illegal to do so and your account might get banned if you are discovered. I have personally never done this, but I have friends who launched their careers this way.
If you are willing to take the risk, simply create another Elance/oDesk profile, post a job, go back to your true profile, bid on the job. Go back to the fake account, award yourself the job. Do the job. Complete it and forward it to the client account. Log into the client account and give yourself some good feedback and some 5-star rating. You might want to use different computers to accomplish all this.
However, if you have followed my advice about writing awesome proposals, you do not need to do this or bid low on jobs. Your job proposal is enough to land you high paying jobs. Spend some few minutes every day bidding to see how your proposals perform.
If you have any questions about working in Elance/oDesk, feel free to chat with me on Facebook, Google Plus or WhatsApp.