Elance Blog

3 Reasons Why Some Freelancers Get More Jobs Than Others.

Now and again we like to invite freelancers and clients to this blog, asking them to discuss their real-life experiences and offer insights they’ve gleaned from online work. Today we’ve slated Toke Kruse, who will explain what he’s looking for when hiring Elancers.


My name is Toke Kruse. As the owner of several businesses, I often use Elance to find freelancers for various types of projects.

Though hundreds of freelancers have sent me proposals in response to jobs I’ve posted on Elance, there are a few key things that least 80% of them could have done differently, and ended up with a far better chance of being awarded one of my projects.Toke Kruse

With that in mind, I wanted to give you some advice on how to optimize your proposals – three simple but important actions that will increase your rate of job awards. As the CEO of Billy’s Billing, a provider of accounting software for freelancers and small businesses, these are points I always look for when choosing a freelancer.

#1: Provide a great presentation of yourself, your skills and your success.

You know better than anyone what you’re capable of, and all about the great work you’ve done in the past. Don’t keep it a secret! Present yourself well and honestly, highlighting your strengths and showcasing relevant examples of your work:

  • Make sure your profile is well written – that means good grammar, perfect spelling and well-constructed sentences and paragraphs. It also means a tone and “flavor” that will appeal to the sort of client you prefer to work with. That might be bright and friendly, or it might be more conservative and businesslike – it’s up to you.
  • Include a good photo, and highlight your past experience and other qualifications as a proven provider. If you’re new to Elance, say so. There are a lot of clients willing to give newcomers a try.
  • Your profile should also include examples of your best work (even if it wasn’t done through Elance), and feedback showing how satisfied clients have been with what you’ve provided.  No client is likely to hire a provider who doesn’t have any good references and work samples.
  • Build up a portfolio showing the different types of work you do, and be sure to attach relevant samples when bidding on a job.
  • As time goes on, be sure to keep your profile up to date, too. Add new samples of great work, new feedback from enthusiastic clients, new qualifications and so on.

#2: Offer the perfect product and a clear pricing policy.

It’s vital to your success that you offer and provide an outstanding product. I know this isn’t shocking news, but still it needs to be said – and kept foremost in your mind on every project you undertake.

The people who are consistently the most successful – in any field – are those who make it a point always to provide more than what the customer or client expects. A better product, a faster delivery, more prompt, courteous and clear communication – there are all sorts of ways you can exceed expectations. And it’s just good business to do it.

Next, it’s important to have a sensible, fair and clearly stated pricing policy. Make sure your customers or clients know, right from the start, exactly what your products and services will cost them. A clear, firm agreement on price before a project begins will save everyone involved headaches and upset later on.

When stating your pricing policy, be sure to mention factors behind your pricing that are important to the client or customer: the superb quality of your work, your speedy and reliable delivery, your flexibility and willingness to work with the client to ensure the product is exactly what’s needed, and so on. 

I won’t try to go into all the ins and outs of pricing here. The subject is worth a whole article (or two or three) all by itself.  And fortunately there’s plenty of good information and advice available. To put it very briefly, though:

  • You don’t want to overcharge, so that the customer feels he or she won’t receive fair value for the price, and look for someone who will charge less.
  • You don’t want to undercharge, either – that’s not being fair to yourself, and can end up driving you out of business.

By the way, as you may already have learned, there are some people posting jobs on Elance who are ONLY interested in getting the lowest price possible. And there are plenty of providers who, for whatever reason, will charge ridiculously low prices. Unfortunately for the clients who hire them, their product quality and service are often ridiculously low, too. So don’t compromise and offer prices way below what your work is worth. There are plenty of clients who appreciate great quality and are willing to pay a fair price for it.

#3: Be certain of what your client needs, wants and expects.

Before making a bid on a project, it can be very helpful to communicate with the prospective client, to clarify what he or she needs. Elance has provided ways for you to do this. (If you’re not sure how, check their “Help” section.)

In sending such a communication, introduce yourself briefly, tell the client that you’re interested in the project, and ask for information or clarifications you need in order to make a fair bid.  A good client (one you’re likely to be happy to work for) will appreciate your questions and the professionalism they indicate. 

Be sure to be very clear and concise. If your potential client is anything like me, they’ll be receiving a flurry of proposals and bids – and they don’t have time to be reading long Harry Potter stories. 

Whether you’re asking questions about a project, or making a direct proposal, it’s very helpful if you include samples of past work that are similar to the project in question. In some cases you might even supply a small sample of what you would do on that specific project. I don’t mean you should do a part of the project for free – no way. But a small sample of how you would approach the task can demonstrate that you really DO understand what’s needed, and that you CAN provide it. (It can also open the door to helpful clarification of the client’s needs. Either way, you both win.)

I hope what I’ve said here will help you to stand out from the crowd, land more projects and increase your earnings as a freelancer. I look forward to seeing you here on Elance!

Toke Kruse

CEO, Billy’s Billing


Great Article, it helped me personally as a contractor in knowing what people are looking for when I send them proposals.

As an employer:
You said "But a small sample of how you would approach the task can demonstrate that you really DO understand what’s needed, and that you CAN provide it"

That is so true. I am relatively new to Elance as someone looking to hire. One of my biggest frustrations so far is getting responses from people who say "I can do that no problem." I am left staring at their proposal thinking: Can they do it? Do they understand what I'm asking for? Are we talking about the same thing?

I include questions in my job request to try to initiate a conversation and I specifically state I will only hire people who answer my questions. Still, only 10 - 20% acknowledge the questions. I don't expect free work from anyone but I am afraid to hire someone if it's not clear that they understand what I'm asking for and can communicate with me.

Thanks for saying that... "I don't expect free work from anyone but I am afraid to hire someone if it's not clear that they understand what I'm asking for and can communicate with me."

wow i think this is the best way to have more comfortable job .. i must work hard and more experience to have a good goal :)

wow i think this is the best way to have more comfortable job .. i must work hard and more experience to have a good goal :)

thanks for the job

Agree WP.

Toke has really provided awesome information. It's like mechanism.

Very good article, Toke Kruse.

Studio Domingos


Good and nice post..........

Thanks & regards

Hello, Toke:

Clear, concise, and valuable words. Your piece ought to be offered as a stand-alone. Thanks so much!

All Best,

William J. Grabowski

All good advice. I'd just like to point out the contractor is not allowed to contact a new client before bidding. Even if the contractor submits a bid and checks the checkbox for "will submit amount later", the contractor cannot send messages to job posters unless the client sends a message to them first(usually in response to a bid).

Thanks for all the great feedback - good to hear that the blog post is useful!


Toke Kruse

A really useful article for me, a contractor. I hope to have a chance to work with a pro employer like you. Thanks!


Why should I include a photo? I'm not sure what a photo accomplishes in your eyes. Also, why do I need to highlight my past experiences in my bid? I have a complete profile with design samples, work history, and a proven track record on Elance. Please elaborate why this isn't good enough. Thank you!

Thanks for your questions! I’ll be happy to elaborate.

First, the photo. This is really a matter of trust. It would be silly to judge providers by their appearance, and I don’t. But if a person isn’t willing to post a photo, it’s enough to leave me with a question and a doubt. With all the good providers available, this seemingly small point helps me narrow the list of people to choose for a project.

Second, you’ve asked why you should highlight your experience and so on, in your bid. You’re right, I COULD go and check out your profile for details. However, the typical provider profile is FULL of details, product samples, client reviews and so on. I’d have to sort through that sea of info to find details pertinent to the project I’m hiring for.

Further, I commonly receive dozens of bids on projects I post. Time is precious, and I don’t have a lot of it to spend digging through profiles. If you provide concise, pertinent information and examples up front – right in your proposal – you save me precious time. I can see right away whether you understand what I’m after, and whether you’re likely to be able to produce it. If so, you immediately stand out as a possible hire.

Of course, if it comes down to a decision between 2 or 3 providers, I might dig into their profiles and portfolios to help reach a final decision.

I hope this is helpful. Thanks again for writing.


Photos open the door to racial discrimination. I'll pass.

Excillent article. I got too much help from this article thanks dear... I am expecting more such articles from you....

Thank you! Great article, and very well written and thought out. Thanks for taking the time to construct it.

Just an addendum: I've found it very helpful to read the site usage section on posting jobs and proposals from the client's point of view. I wonder how many contractors know that clients are advised to rate proposals according to certain criteria. A well-written proposal alone may not get you the job this time, but it will get you noticed for the right reasons, and that is worth something in the long run. Ideally, I also think that it helps to think in terms of building relationships rather than just winning jobs.

Thanks again!


A time aged article. I am in Admin Support category since last April. From the very first I awarded several jobs from perspective clients with good pay. But, now I noticed two things with like a computer virus are that $10-15/hr or $1000-5000/project but has no work history and not payment method verified.
Another things is that, someone bidding by $20 at any project whatever is the volume of project as $20 is the least price in the Elance. Now, most Clients consider this rate and they try to get it least price. This is very much pathetic ! and optimistics for a Freelancer. For example, I project may take 30-40 hrs. So, rate should be $100-120 as per hourly rate is $ 3 or it can be minimum $50-70 if it considered as the pathetic price. But now on many Clients insist to do it by $20 (with Elance fee). This is not for single clients most of them are trying to do so.

Since I am a graphic designer, I'm not much aware of the trends of 'admin support', but one thing I am sure about is that those who are bidding extremely low on the projects and those who are looking to get the work done in unrealistic prices will definitely come back to you, provided, you keep outperforming others' work. There's always a silver a silver lining. If situations are not favouring you, act like a duck. Don't be bothered and keep peddling. Things will change and you will emerge as a shining star. Best of luck.

Nice artice with clear thoughts that helped me a lot .......

Definitely a great article, but at times there are issues in publishing your previous work on your portfolio, especially when you have signed NDAs.

Greetings Toke,

I agree with your assessments of the process of choosing which freelancer to award projects to... as well as the dilemna of bidding and how much info to place in a bid. One of my heartaches is seeing those tremendously low bids on projects that you know well should be higher due to the work involved. I had to bid lower than what I normally would just to get my first project.

Now on the issue of what info to place in bids, etc.....One can look at it like the issue of well written resumes. How much info to place in them, or how long they should be, etc. Some people hold to the rule of always and only having a one page resume, while others go to 2 or maybe even 3 pages.When I first started out in my career, I had only enough info to fill one page. Now with over twenty years in IT, I have gone to the two page version. It is VERY difficult to fit info on all of my education, training, job experience, etc on ONLY one page.

But, what I do is whittle down the info as much as I can and fine tune my resume to the particular position I am applying for. For example.... I have electrical wiring, plumbing, a/c, food service, and IT experience. For an IT position, I do not mention my food service, or my electrical and plumbing experience... That should be a no brainer. I do mention my other training at appropriate times when I can relate it to the position. Ie... in the Accomplishments or Awards section... I earned top student status and hornor roll in these areas. I may also mention it if asked about certifications or specialised training if I can apply it to the postion I am applying for.

Finally I have my references on a separate page. On my resume I have the statement at the bottom: References available upon request.

I apply this to not only my resume for regular positions but also my bids here on Elance. I have never mentioned my food serrvice experience on a bid for an IT position unless it is for software for that industry. The same goes for the other areas.

Well enough for this long winded comment !!! :-) I hope this helps some one as well

Regards.... OASys1

Thank you for an excellent post!

It is very helpful as a contractor to understand what a client is looking for and what makes a proposal 'pop' for them. Unfortunately there are a lot of clients who seem only to be looking for the lowest bidder. I was turned down for a job recently when the client told me that paying me $25 for a 500 word blog post was "ridiculous". He hired a writer willing to do the job for $3 per post. I'm certain he only got $3 worth of quality from that contractor as well.

Very helpful article! Shall adopt a new strategy .Thanks.

Great article. I always try to provide the best proposal with the most detail that helps those hiring know that I can get the job done in a timely and professional manner and I pride myself on my ability to communicate but this article has helped me reshape and fine-tune my profile and proposal strategies. Thank you!

Good one, thanks.

me and my bro are try best but no body replay us. don't no why no response.

Great article, Thanks

I think no one get project with out trick and no one trust on new one because time is important. May new one have ability to do or not for this purpose a featured article published on FMUrdu.com click here to read http://www.fmurdu.com/strange-news/63-how-get-first-project-on-elance

Great article. I always try to provide the best proposal with the most detail that helps those hiring know that I can get the job done in a timely and professional manner and I pride myself on my ability to communicate but this article has helped me reshape and fine-tune my profile and proposal strategies. Thank you!

Great article. I always try to provide the best proposal with the most detail that helps those hiring know that I can get the job done in a timely and professional manner and I pride myself on my ability to communicate but this article has helped me reshape and fine-tune my profile and proposal strategies. Thank you!

I have read several articles like this on how to submit a proposal. But I still i don't get hired. even when I explain to them what they really want and how it could be done still no reply

Very nice article. I made improvements to my profile while reading it. Thanks

Still not hired.Am even becoming tired of this.

This article is really great as I am new to this part of Elance. Although I am very good technically I know I missed something when I don't receive any reply at all to my bid- thanks.

SEO Margate Florida

It is really thought-provoking article working as milestone for freelance writers, particularly the beginners. It meets the needs of both writer and client as well. It is matter of great felicity to go between the lines stated above.

I got too least job

I got too least job

What is frustrating to me when bidding on a job and you put down your worth down in terms of payment --then you see others bidding at $5.00 per recorded hour for transcription. It drives me insane. I am a perfectionist and it takes some time to do accurate transcriptions and I feel I am worth a decent wage. It's like it's driving the cost down but at the same time, I am sure quality suffers for us all. I love elance and will continue to try and stay a float and be the best that I can be.

This was a great article by the way...

Very helpful article. Thanks.

Thank you so much for your helpful massage

Very Helpful article, thanks!