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UPDATE: Elance is now called UpWork but it works the same way so take what you learn from this post and apply it in the same way!
Today I am going to show you how to make money on Elance by sharing the exact strategy I used to start making money on Elance myself.
This enabled me to earn $1,593+ a month and live location free.
Unfortunately, the freelance world has been made, well, a little bit complicated!
There is a course, an eBook and a six figure freelance guide from every guru you can think of, all giving their advice on it.
And it’s turned Freelance living into a murky water where you never quite figure out what you’re supposed to do, without paying a $200 price tag first.
But that’s about to change.
Today I want to show you the simple, easy-to-follow method I used to build my freelance business, and springboard me into a world of location free living.
All completely for free.
Because it’s time to clear the waters. Throw out all the guides and give some simple, effective information you can use right away.
If you’re ready, grab a pen and paper, and probably a hard hat, because some knowledge bombs are about to be dropped…
What Will I Learn?
- How To Make Money On Elance
- Who Am I To Teach You About Making Money On Elance?
- Step #1: The Foundations
- Step #2: Finding Your Niches
- Step #3: Social Proof, Guest Posting, Feedback & Your Portfolio
- Step #4: Learning To Pitch
- Step #5: The Most Simple System In The World For Building A Freelance Business
- A Quick Note On Setting Your Price…
How To Make Money On Elance
Elance (and it’s sister site, oDesk) is an online marketplace for freelancers, just like you and is the perfect answer to the question… How do I make money online?
Where you could be trawling the Internet looking for work, Elance puts the potential jobs right in front of you. You can find work in all of these niches:
- IT and Technical
- Virtual Assistance
- Sales and Marketing
Essentially people are looking for lower cost freelancers to get their work done well.
Which is why it’s often, unlovingly, referred to as a Content Mill. But that’s mostly by snobs without a thick skin.
But it does come with a lot of benefits:
- Easy access to new work
- A great way to build your portfolio
- Trustworthy payment protection
So, ignore all the haters of Elance and let’s see what you can really get done on Elance…
Who Am I To Teach You About Making Money On Elance?
My name is James and I’m a full-time, location free Copywriter from England.
I quit my retail job last summer and decided to pursue writing as my new career. And, Elance is where I learned my craft.
In the three months I spent on Elance, using this strategy you’re about to learn, I managed to average $1,593 a month for a little over 80 hours work total.
Which is a little better than my retail job, don’t you think?
Although I did this in Copywriting, it can be done in any of the niches on the site.
And it’s so simple to do that once you’ve learned it here, you can use it to grow your freelance business to even new heights.
Or, just use it to make some quick cash in a pinch, depending on what you feel like.
Step #1: The Foundations
A good profile can make or break you.
Because this is where potential employers decide if you’re trustworthy. Which, as anyone who has ever worked in sales will tell you, trust is important.
So let’s look at some simple ways to build trust with your profile-
You wont get work without a headshot. In the same way you wouldn’t accept a friend request off somebody without a picture.
It doesn’t need to be professional, but you do need to consider a few points:
- It should be clear
- You should look professional
- Smile like your life depends on it
See where it says, ‘Expert Content Creator, Trojan Horse Thinker’? That’s your strap line.
Think of it as your first impression on clients. You need to make a good first impression.
A little trick I like to use here is, Sell it in six.
If you had to sell yourself to someone in only six words, what would you say? When you can answer that, you’ve got the perfect strapline.
Here’s some idea’s to get the juices flowing:
- Great writing that makes you money
- Fast technical support, cheap rates available
- Virtual Assistant so good you’ll cry
Think of this as your after pitch. Because nobody is going to see it unless you’ve already pitched to them.
Use this space to:
- Show you’re a real human
- Show your professional side
- Give any information you left out of your pitch
But, do try writing one for yourself so you can learn how to do it.
Sign Up For Premium
Becoming a premium member costs you $10 but you’ll make that back almost instantly.
It gives you:
- More credits to apply for jobs
- You rank higher in proposals
- You’re viewed as more trustworthy, because you invested in yourself
That’s about everything you need to get started on Elance.
Once you have this foundation in place, it’s time to learn about the really fun stuff:
Pitching and making money.
In short: Your profile is the first part you set up, but the last part the client reads. It should always add to what you said in your pitch. And it should show you as a real, trustworthy person they want to work with. Professional, Personal and to the point.
Step #2: Finding Your Niches
Being niche is the best thing you can be when you’re working on Elance. Or, if you’re a freelancer in general.
Unlike a business, it pays to have multiple niches. Each one creating its own income stream at a different level to the rest.
It also means you’ll always be able to find a topic you enjoy – or are at least know enough to work on.
For example, as a copywriter I stick to these five niches:
- Internet Marketing
- Business and Freelancing
- Health and Fitness
- Men’s Lifestyle
- Personal Development
So I only find work in these Niches. Anything else is a waste of my time. And, once you find these niches – like you will in a second – it becomes a powerful tool for productivity.
Because, all of a sudden, you stop looking at jobs that might pay well but don’t interest you. And you make the conscious decision to only find work in these niches.
Which, means you naturally filter out all of the other mess in the marketplace.
Let’s look at how you can find your own niches…
It Starts With One Simple Question
What do you like to do?
What would you do even if someone wasn’t going to pay you for it? What do you enjoy working, or being, around? What excites you?
Don’t censor yourself. Take a pen and paper, or open Evernote, and scribble down everything you can think of.
Then, of all of those, choose your top five. The ones you feel the most drawn to. And rank them highest, to lowest, in the order you want to do them.
If you wanted to work in Sales and Marketing, it might look like this:
It might sound a little ‘airy-fairy’, but trust me, the more you enjoy the topics, the more sustainable it is.
Keep The List Safe…
When you’ve got your list, you’re going to need to do two things:
- Put it somewhere you can see it
- Keep an editable version saved
This list is going to come in really handy when we look at the system of applying for jobs a little later on. Plus, it never hurts to keep a reminder of what you’re trying to achieve in view either.
Before you learn the system, it’s time to learn some tools that will boost your chance of getting jobs.
In short: You’re going to spend a lot of time looking for, and working in, these niches. Especially if you want to hit that $1,600+ mark. Make sure they’re topics you’re knowledgeable about, but that you also want to work in. Because if they’re not, you’re setting yourself up for a fall.
Step #3: Social Proof, Guest Posting, Feedback & Your Portfolio
Potential employers are naturally cautious of people.
Because between you, me and the four walls – not everyone on the Internet is as honest and hardworking as us. Go figure, right?
You’ve already looked at building trust in your profile. But the truth is, people are sheep. They don’t always want to be the first. They want to know the water has been tested.
Enter the power of social proof.
Social proof is by far the best way of gaining someone’s trust. Especially if you have a big name behind you.
You want to hire a copywriter for your new blog. You’ve narrowed it down to two people.
Candidate A has a great writing style, that you really like, but hasn’t ever been published anywhere.
Candidate B has a good writing style, you don’t like it as much, but he also sends along this graphic of places he’s been published, with links:
Which candidate do you choose?
It’s almost definitely Candidate B. Because you’re taking on much less risk.
But, how does that help you if you don’t have social proof? If you’re starting completely from scratch.
Here’s what you do if you’re in that situation:
Start By Getting Guest Posts or Testimonials
If you’re a writer, having someone else use your writing is powerful.
Now I can tell people I’ve been featured on Matt’s blog for example…
It’s going to add a lot of credibility to me.
So go out and get guest posts. Try and get featured on the lower-end blogs in your niches, or ask a friend to let you do the copy for their website.
If you’re not a writer, testimonials are the way to go.
Chances are you’ve done the work for someone, somewhere, in some form. So get a testimonial from them and a link to their website, e-mail or relevant contact details.
If someone says…
“This guy is amazing at coding, I can’t recommend him enough”
It adds a ton of weight behind you.
Get Elance Feedback
Feedback is a powerful currency on Elance. For every job you do you get a star rating. Which helps the cream of the crop, like you, rise to the top.
Anything over four stars is where you want to be. Because sometimes people are picky and will fault you over a misplaced comma. So there is room to manoeuvre.
I once got a four star review that said, ‘James is the best health and fitness writer I have ever worked with’, to put that into perspective.
But how do you get this feedback without social proof to get the job? You ask for it.
When you’re pitching – which you’ll learn in the next step – you offer to swap time for feedback. Such as writing a sample article in return for a five star review.
It might sound a little underhanded, but it’s predatory thinking, and it’s going to get your foot on the ladder to making an income. Sometimes, you’ve got to be ruthless.
Make Your Own Portfolio
Start a project. Measure your results. Use it to sell yourself.
Think along these lines:
- Create a ‘list’ blog post about one of your favourite niches
- Start a social media campaign for your friends blog or business
- Do a weeks free Virtual Assistance and measure how you improved productivity
In short: People trust other people. That’s why reviews are so powerful. Give your potential client a reason to trust you. Get published somewhere, have good feedback and showcase your skills in a portfolio, even if you have to make it up yourself. It may be an investment of time, but it could return a lot of money.
Step #4: Learning To Pitch
Life’s a pitch.
And this is the most important stage of earning your money on Elance.
Because, if your pitch is weak, you’re not going to get any.
It really is that simple.
But, thankfully, I’ve written enough failed pitches to show you what you should and shouldn’t be doing when it comes to contacting a potential client.
Let’s break it down into its elements so you can piece it together as you go along.
RTBQ: Read The Bloody Question
When you find a position you want to apply for, they’re going to have a job description outline what they’re looking for.
Make sure you read it. Twice. Because the more you can provide what they’re looking for, the better your chances.
And, occasionally, they’ll drop in sections like this:
If you miss out anything on the list, you’re out of luck before you even start.
So read the page and make sure you’ve not missed any important information.
Part #1: The Introduction
With your introduction you want to:
- Get their attention
- Keep it
- Prove your worth
Don’t worry about any of the niceties or sparking up a conversation. You’re working on the assumption that their e-mail inbox is full.
Cut through the fluff and get straight to the why they should hire you.
- Who you are
- Why you’re pitching
- Why they should care
Part #2: Why You’re The Right Person For The Job
Once you have introduced yourself explain why you’re the right person for them to hire.
Don’t focus on the features of your service, focus on the benefits of working with you.
- Increase productivity?
- Engage their audience?
- Boost social shares?
- Keep valuable documents safe?
Part #3: Social Proof and Portfolio’s
You want to make your potential clients life as easy as possible. Which means putting all the information you can in front of them, in the shortest space possible.
Adding your social proof into this next section does that perfectly.
Sharing links to your published work, or even to your portfolio samples in a Dropbox folder, makes it all more accessible and powerful to your client.
Lay it out, simply, like this:
Part #4: Share Your Story, Then Finish Strong
I don’t think I’ve used the word trust enough in this article, have I? Maybe I have. But I’m going to say it again.
This is another opportunity to build trust and prove you’re a real person. Share a little bit about yourself, your background and who it is they’ll be working with.
Then finish strong with a confident close-out.
Bonus Part: Asking For Feedback
All of the above is how to pitch for work. But, if you’re asking for feedback in return for your time, you need to approach this slightly differently.
Not much though.
In Part #2 – Why you’re the right person for the job – simply replace that with a simple message like this:
In Short: Pitching is vital to your success on Elance. It’s the start of you earning money and landing jobs. Remember these key points: keep it short, be clear, make their lives easier, focus on your benefits and stay confident. The rest will take care of itself.
Step #5: The Most Simple System In The World For Building A Freelance Business
Phew! You made it this far into the article. Well done. Hopefully you’re still with the program…
You’ve made it to the most simple, yet effective, business model of all time. How do I know it’s so simple? Because, well, it works for me.
And I’m the king of, ‘Keep it simple, stupid!’.
All you need to make this business model work on Elance is:
- A piece of paper
- A pen
- The ability to write a tally chart
- Your list of niches
You’re going to split your page into three different columns:
- Jobs Applied For
- Responses Received
- Guaranteed Work
So it looks a little something like this…
Then, whenever you apply for a job, you simply put another line on the tally chart:
And when you get a response:
And when you get some guaranteed work:
Why Do You Do That, Exactly?
Because now you know how many jobs you need to apply for to make money. How?
Let’s say you apply for ten jobs. From those applications you get two responses. But it takes you four responses to get one piece of work.
How many applications do you need to make?
That’s right, 20.
Once you know that information, you’re able to figure out how much you need to guarantee yourself some work.
If you needed four new clients tomorrow, you would apply for 60 jobs today. Not that you need to go to that extreme though.
Where Do The Niches Come Into It?
Ahh yes, the niche list. Well that’s your guide through the world of looking for jobs, and identifying the ones you want to do.
When you first come to the ‘Find Work’ page on Elance, it will look a little like this:
A heaped mess of jobs you don’t want to do. Now you’re going to use your niches to guide yourself through it.
Let’s say you set yourself a target of applying for six jobs today. And your number one niche is Technology Writing.
You would select ‘writing and translation’ from the sidebar, and then search, ‘Technology’.
The world of job searching simplified.
But, what if you can’t find six jobs you want to apply for in Technology? Well that’s where the list comes in again.
You just work down to the next section on your list. And so on, and so on, until you’ve filled your quota.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Everyday.
A Quick Note On Setting Your Price…
There is no right price to set for yourself.
Only the price you feel comfortable charging. Because, if you don’t feel honest in your price, you won’t ever actually get paid it anyway.
But I made my whole first $1,593 charging between $20-30 per hour, and charging in bulk on bigger items (like a 10,000 word eBook for $700) for example.
You’ll find a place that suits you.
But remember to value your time, because you’re worth much more than $5 an hour.
Wrapping It Up
In this article is everything you need to know to start your own freelance business with Elance and start earning serious money from it.
The more you follow this system, the easier it gets. The easier it gets, the more money you start to make.
And that brings me to a challenge I want to make to you now you understand how to make money on elance.
Can you beat $1,593 in a month, using this system?
I want to see you try. I want to see you succeed. And I want to see you break the mould.
Do you think you can do it?
If you have any questions about making money on elance or just need help? Let me know in the comments below…