Independent creative freelancers and sole traders are one of the main targets and beneficiaries of rising outsourcing platforms such as Freelancer, oDesk and 99designs. But standing out from a crowd of similarly skilled freelancers can be a major challenge.
Kyri Theos, Australian country manager for outsourcing platform Elance, told StartupSmart the key to success was taking a holistic and long-term approach to winning jobs.
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He shared his top six tips for getting chosen.
Create a stand-out profile
No matter how good your bid is, as soon as you bid for a job most people who are offering jobs will check out your profile to get a feel for how professional and reliable you are.
Theos says investing the time in developing a good profile will lead to more job offers.
“Make sure your profile is well written with correct grammar, spelling, and well-constructed sentences. Tailor the tone to your target audience. It could be bright and friendly, or conservative and business-like,” Theos says.
He adds profiles with professional and engaging photos do better than those without and you should schedule regular updates to your profile into your diary to make sure you’re sharing the most up-to-date and comprehensive portfolio.
Focus on a specific niche and on each pitch
Despite the temptation to go for every job you’re equipped to do, Theos says focus is the key to sustainable and successful pitching.
“Clients want to know what you can do for them specifically. Instead of providing a complete overview of your entire work history, highlight the skills you’re most advanced in. Back this up with credentials, testimonials and examples of your past work,” Theos says.
He adds only pitching for jobs you’re well suited to will also free up the time to craft each pitch email, and this will increase your success rate as well.
“Don’t cut and paste templates. Show the client that you have put serious consideration into the job and understand the requirements. Ask thoughtful and relevant questions and outline the process you’ll follow to complete the work,” Theos says, adding including timelines and attaching relevant work examples will impress clients even further.
Price fairly and over-deliver
Price is not the only factor future clients will consider, but it’s a significant one. A disconcertingly high or low price can rule your proposal out before your well-crafted sentences are even read, so Theos recommends setting a competitive price that works for you.
“Outline a sensible, fair, and clearly stated pricing policy. Make sure your clients know exactly what your products and services will cost them. Don’t overcharge or undercharge – be fair to the client and fair to yourself,” Theos says. “Don’t compromise on price as there are plenty of clients who appreciate great quality and are willing to pay for it.”
Theos says the good freelancers always deliver what the client expects, but the most successful ones on Elance always provide more than what the client expects.
“Exceeding expectations is what great customer service is all about. Focus on delivering a better product, faster delivery, and prompt and courteous communication,” he says.
Time matters so stay involved and monitor the job boards closely
Staying on the ball and being one of the first few proposals a client sees is a powerful way to make sure your proposal gets the attention you’re after.
“When a client posts a job that fits your skills, be one of the first to submit your proposal,” Theos says. “Once you’ve started a project, use your smartphone to stay connected and respond quickly to questions and requests for information.”
Seek feedback and develop a reputation
Theos says the more experience you have and the bigger and better your reputation is, the more you’ll be able to charge.
“Feedback is one of the most important elements a client will look at. Complete jobs on time, treat clients respectfully, have excellent communication, and above all – do high quality work!” Theos says.