This post is dedicated to new freelancers. If you are an experienced freelancer, you may skip this one. But read on if you are interested.
Many new freelancers have contacted me asking for advice on how they can get work. The below email is one example,
First up, let me begin by saying that I have immense amount of respect for those who ask my help. I feel honored that you gave me the time of the day to ask for help. I have seen many successful Freelancers make fun of struggling freelancers, specially in online forums. I am disgusted by their condescending attitude. And successful freelancers specially make fun of / insult other freelancers from the developing world, aka, places like India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Philippines etc. I find their behavior utterly disgusting.
On the other hand, I have also seen first hand, the outright unprofessional attitude of many new freelancers. I have seen some lying, or delivering sub-standard work or just plain scamming clients by taking their money and not delivering what they promised. That too is utterly shameful.
I am going to go over in this post, what you should do if you are a new Freelancer. If you follow this advice properly, I assure you , you will see very good results.
The Freelancing Sites
If you google “find freelance work”, there are literally hundreds of such sites. You have to ignore almost all of them. There are only two or three good places online where you can find work and which won’t be a waste of time. In my experience, the only four sites worth mentioning are,
Personally I have always worked on only one site. I used to work from ONLY elance.com. Elance was acquired by oDesk and they rebranded themselves as Upwork. So I am now only on Upwork. I mention the other three above because I have had clients who have successfully got work done from the other three.
My advice to you is, Choose one and stick to it. Choose a site carefully after reviewing all projects posted there and if they match your skill set. Look at the dates and how often projects which you can work on get posted on the site.
If you are more ambitious, and you should be, I also recommend TopTal.com. They have a very strict interview process to accept new Freelancers but if you get in, you can find long term high paying projects.
Beware of Scammers
Yes, there are scammers online who try to take advantage of struggling freelancers. It’s a version of the Advance Fee Scam. The scammer will post a Job on one of the Freelancing sites and then offer you a job or promise to offer you a job. Then they will contact you outside of the freelancing site, or ask you to contact them, and then require you to pay some kind of fee / money for the job.
So, if you are new, stick to the platform you have selected. Don’t contact clients outside of these platforms. And under no circumstances give them your Bank details or credit / debit card information etc. If you have any suspicion, contact the site. So for example, on Upwork you can go to the Upwork Community Forums, and ask help. Experienced Freelancers and Moderators there will be able to tell you if someone is trying to scam you.
If I have to guess, I would say 90% of new Freelancers get rejected because of their language. The screenshot of the email above is a classic example.
English may not be your first language, but if you want to succeed quickly in online freelancing, you HAVE to get good in your English. Long term, if your work skills are very good, it does not matter much. But when you are new, have no work to show and your English is bad, well, honestly, I myself won’t hire you.
This is 2017 and English is not my first language is really not a valid excuse. Find an institute in your town / city, take a course online, or just get a self learning book but fix your English.
And related to language is how you say things. Don’t call your clients “Sir”. You are not in college anymore. Don’t undervalue yourself. Most professional folks, like to be called by their first name. I understand it’s a cultural gap for many, where in your country, “Sir” may be a form of respect. But you aren’t online freelancing to marry someone’s daughter / son. You are asking for work as a potential employee. So don’t undermine yourself.
Don’t talk about what you want or some silly language about your ambitions. For example, someone contacted me looking for work with the following in their email’s first para.
“To work in a challenging environment, where dignity of work provides job satisfaction and the place of work provides potential avenues for learning and growing.”
To put it simply, the above is B.S. I don’t care what you want to do or whatever **** the above means. If you want to work with me, prove to me how “I” will benefit.
Fix your Profile
I posted in detail about this earlier. Here’s the post: Is your Upwork Profile leaking clients?
In summary, there are four parts to your profile on Upwork or any freelancing site and you have to ensure you get them right. The above post goes over each in detail.
People think that the only way to get references is by actually winning a project. NO. You can get a reference by simply doing the work you know and submitting it free wherever it can be accepted.
So a Freelance content writer can contribute to any number of article sites out there. A Developer can create plugins, projects on Github or wordpress etc and give it out free. A Designer can similarly post their work on one of the many design sites or Free stock photo sites like stocksnap.io for example.
The basic idea is, Give away your work for free where a large number of people can download it / use it so you have social proof. Use the links of your work as references when you are bidding.
Write Winning Proposals
I have seen so many Freelancers use the same text for every proposal they submit that it hurts my eyes. And then they complain that they cannot get a job. It has gotten so bad that many clients when they post a project, they add a specific word or sentence in the last line and ask you to write that word or line in your proposal just to ensure that you have read the full requirements!
I specifically created an entire PDF document which explains how to write winning proposals. There are 7 essential parts,
- The Introduction
- The Solution
- The Suggestions
- Address Problems
- Timeline and Pricing
- The Final Pitch
Sign up to my email list to download the Full PDF which also shows how I write the above with an example of a real winning proposal.
I also wrote about the single most important factor in your proposal which ensures you don’t get ignored by the client. Read about, The One thing which guarantees a client’s reply on Upwork. It’s essentially the same as what I say above in “Get References”.
If you follow the advice above, and do the work, there’s absolutely no way you will fail. But if you were expecting a shortcut or some magic solution whereby you don’t have to do the work and you can just make money, I am afraid you are in for a rude shock. There is never a shortcut to success. I will quote one of my mentors, Gary Vee here,
“No one knows anyone who became successful without doing the work”.
Do you know anyone who became successful without doing the work?
If you have any specific questions, post it in the comments. If you haven’t already, subscribe to my e-mail list.